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Online Marketing

This Company Is Hitting A Social Media Marketing Home Run

New year’s resolutions are in full swing and people everywhere are trying to improve their health.  Whether it’s losing weight, eating better, or exercising more, millions are determined to make 2015 the year of change.  With so many different options out there, an effective social media marketing strategy can make all the difference in the world.

There’s one company out there that I see using social media particularly well, so I spent some time taking a closer look at their strategy.  The company I am referring to is Beachbody and one of its driving forces is fitness trainer, Shaun T.   If you haven’t heard of Shaun T. , you’ve likely heard of one of his home- based workout programs – Insanity, Hip Hop Abs or T25.  The thing that really stands out to me about the way social media is being used in this case is that even though there is a large company with several products to sell, at the end of the day they still understand that social media is all about people connecting with people not big brands selling to people. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean…

Empowering People Translates to Social Marketing Success

With over 1.2 million likes on his Facebook page, Shaun T. has an incredible reach and platform to promote his products.  It’d be easy to get greedy by going overboard with promotional content (though Facebook is really working to discourage this now).  But instead you will find posts with free workout ideas, recipes that can be made on-the-go, and encouraging videos about staying on track with goals.  The content on this Facebook page is all about a person connecting with his fans on a level that’s much deeper than just seeing him in a workout video.  He even goes as far as to share very transparent posts about wanting to skip workouts because he’s too tired or caving in and eating junk food.  As all of us know, these struggles are very real, yet we often think these “celebrities” don’t have to go through them.  By humanizing the brand, he becomes much more authentic.  Fans of the page feel like they actually know the person behind the videos just as they might know one of their regular Facebook friends.  This makes asking for the buy much easier and much more natural when the time comes by building BLT (Believability, Likeability & Trust).

People Want To Buy From People

The social media strategy used by Shaun T. to launch the latest workout video, Insanity Max: 30, has been very well received.  Rather than continuously promoting the product, he started educating his audience on the exercises from the video ahead of time by posting free short workout videos.  Branded as the “Holiday Edge” workouts, these exercises could be done anytime, anywhere and were perfect for the hectic holiday season when many people fall off track.  This made the launch of the actual product a natural extension of something he was already doing.  In fact, followers were actually looking forward to and counting down the days to the release.  That type of loyalty across social media is something we all hope for.

Insanity Max 30

Re-purposing Content Across Social Media Channels

I use Facebook as my primary example, but the social reach extends well beyond just Facebook.  The other thing that stood out as I spent some time analyzing things is that nearly every piece of content is being re-purposed effectively.  All too often we get overwhelmed with all of the social media outlets available. forget that not everyone follows us on every platform and people definitely don’t see everything we post.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  I urge every customer to get the maximum mileage from every single piece of content and Shaun T. is definitely doing that here.  Each post is being re-purposed for Instagram, Twitter and might even be a topic on an upcoming podcast.

For example, a video may be posted on FB that also appears in an edited version on Instagram, is also part of a Tweet with a similar theme and even makes its way into a podcast as a topic.  So essentially the content is developed one time and repackaged for each social channel.  And it’s done so with a purpose.  This significantly cuts down on the development time and greatly extends the shelf life of social marketing efforts.

4 Questions We Should All Be Asking

As I wrap up this mini case study, I think there are 4 questions that we should all be asking:

  1. How can we add a human element to our social presence?
  2. What problems can we solve that make our audience better customers?
  3. How can we incorporate multimedia content into our social plan?
  4. What ways can we re-purpose our content across social channels?

If you can answer these questions, I think asking for the buy, click or conversion becomes much more natural.  Make selling a natural extension of what you’re already doing…not the ONLY thing you’re doing.

Need Some Help?

I’d love to talk about your social media marketing plan, so contact me now and we will make it happen!

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New SEO is Now Online Branding?

As 2014 comes to an end, this is the time when marketers naturally reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one.  Over the past couple months, I’ve written about must have’s for 2015 marketing plans and some dynamic shifts in Internet marketing as we know it.  But I wouldn’t be considered an online marketer if I didn’t touch on one of the most dramatic changes we’ve seen over the last couple of years – the evolution of SEO (search engine optimization).

I recently participated in a webinar with Rand Fishkin from Moz entitled: Cracking the SEO Code for 2015: Tactics to Love vs. Leave and I’ve got to tell you he pointed out some pretty eye opening things.  These are things that many online marketers are doing wrong and things that must change if there’s any hope in your website showing up in Google.  I’m going to break it all down with a few major points from the presentation.

Gone are the Days of Traditional SEO
The good old fashioned tactics of trying to match on-page for exact phrase keywords by using the phrase in the domain, headings, within the content and links are just that – old fashioned.  That’s no longer what SEO is about.  In fact, Rand pulled up several Google search examples showing the first few results not even mentioning the exact keyword phrase at all in the traditional on-page SEO way.

It’s now about understanding user intent and moving away from keyword matching to topic association.  What topics are you the authority on and what type of content naturally revolves around those topics?  Sure, keywords are naturally going to be used, but it’s not necessary to setup a new page for every single keyword – it can all be grouped together into one page with info around a specific topic.

Google Search

Google is Becoming Smarter
Google is functioning more like a person and less like a robot.  It’s getting better at understanding user intent.  It knows what people actually want to read based upon social signals and the searcher’s  behavior.  Results are also becoming more personalized and it’s increasingly difficult to “dominate” a keyword or phrase across the board.  It’s now about what Google is able to associate with your brand vs. what keywords you’re using.

Real Brands are Winning Search
Google is now learning more toward rewarding brands.  Brands are what people know and trust.  Brands are what create quality content that people actually want to read.  The days of being able to setup a website, publish a few articles and expect to instantly begin getting traffic for the keywords your site is targeting are history.

Ranking well in search engines such as Google is now about being in more than one place, developing a reputation and consistently producing different types of useful multimedia content.

Winning at the New SEO is Winning at Online Branding
If you want to be successful in getting your website to rank well in search engines such as Google and get a good deal of organic traffic, it’s imperative that to truly understand your company’s brand.  What are the unique strengths of your company and how can you create a truly unique online experience centered around those strengths?

The best tactic to employ here is what Rand referred to as “modern content investments.”  What type of content marketing plan can you put together to create information that is:

  • One of a kind – it could take weeks or months to develop it, but no one else ever has
  • Relevant – extremely on point with user intent
  • Helpful – solves a problem or multiple problems the user is facing
  • Uniquely valuable – there’s a high level of worth to the info you’re providing
  • Great UX – the content is easy to consume/interact with on all devices
  • Likely to spread – who will share this content and why?

What to Do Next
Take the time to really think about your brand.  Not just the way you see it, but the way your customers do.  What do you want to focus on and what problems are you trying to solve?  Now, every single piece of content you put out should easily be tied back to solving those problems or discussing those topics to create the ultimate brand association in Google’s eyes.

If more brand development needs to be done, that’s OK.  The sooner you can nail this down, the easier it’s going to be to understand how you’re going to be able to win at the new SEO – online business branding.

Need help?  Contact me to talk online branding strategies.

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3 Movements Every Digital Marketer Must Watch Now

As always, there are a lot of changes going on in the digital marketing world right now.  From the ever evolving social media networks to new technology to radical shifts in the way traditional services are delivered.

One thing is for sure, 2015 is going to be an exciting year.  A year where I think digital marketers are really going to have to think long and hard about the way they are reaching customers.  As I was thinking today, there are 3 things that come to mind that I will to be paying attention to in the new year.  Things that, while not exactly related, have the potential to represent big changes in the marketing world.

Facebook Algorithm Changes

There is a lot of buzz in the social media marketing world right now around upcoming Facebook changes that will begin in the new year.  To sum it up, basically Facebook is going to give even less visibility to “overly promotional” posts.  While most businesses understand that their fans do not want to see “overly promotional” content in the first place, it’s still unclear exactly where the line is going to be drawn.  One thing is for sure, it means even less organic reach for Facebook brand pages.  And if you are a social media marketing manager or just happened to inherit that responsibility at your company – you know organic reach has already dropped significantly.

What does it mean?  Well, it simply means now more than ever if digital marketers really want to reach people on Facebook in a meaningful way, it’s going to require a budget to do so.  Facebook is continuing to adopt a pay to play model and that’s not going to change anytime soon.  This also means that other social networks will quickly follow and begin to move toward this model.

The other thing that this means is that some companies will simply drop their Facebook page all together.  One notable company to already do so is Copyblogger.  A very well known name with over 35,000 likes and they dropped it.  Why?  Because the ROI on the organic side just wasn’t there.  I highly recommend watching this eye opening video (it’s a bit on the long side, but 100% worth it) regarding Facebook advertising.

WATCH: Facebook Fraud

Wearables

Wearables are everywhere right now.  I’m not just talking about smartwatches here, I’m talking about fitness bands like the Jawbone Up 24 and Fitbit Flex.  We are now able to monitor more than ever and get data in real time.  The more connected we become throughout the day, the more avenues digital marketers will have to reach customers in new ways.  While the messages may be the same, the delivery and strategy behind reaching people at the exact moment in time on the exact device that’s right for them will present new marketing challenges. 

I expect all of this to be taken to another level when the Apple Watch is released.  When a player like Apple comes to the market, it has the ability to really change everything.  If Apple gets its watch right on the first try, we will see an accelerated growth and mass adoption come very quickly.

What does it mean?  This means one more place potential customers will be looking at your marketing message.  It means making sure your message reads well on an even smaller screen.  Making sure your website is 100% responsive – even on a watch.  Basically, it means one more thing to add to your overall marketing strategy when you think about your typical customer life cycle.

Apple Watch

Uber-Sumer Movement

By now most of you have probably heard of services such as Uber (rideshare and taxi service company that gets you a driver in minutes via an app) and Airbnb (services that allows you to rent a place to stay from local hosts in 190+countries), but have you heard of Feastly?  Feastly allows “everyday” people to become cooks and essentially turn their house into a scaled-down version of a restaurant. 

This shift powered by the millennials of  everything being right now.  People are becoming used to getting things immediately, the way they want it and how they want it.  Instant gratification is being taken to a whole new level and it’s becoming expected from consumers.

What does it mean?  It means taxi services, hotels and even some restaurants are potentially going to have to reinvent themselves or die.  These concepts could be what services like Netflix were to Blockbuster.  It’s a radical shift, but it’s one that’s very real and cannot be ignored by marketers.

Uber

What Do You Think?

How do you think these changes will impact marketers in 2015 and beyond?  I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. Contact me.

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3 Simple, But Overlooked Ingredients for Marketing Campaign Success

Marketing-IngredientsThere’s less than 2 months left in the year and all of us want to close out 2014 strong.  It’s times like these when marketers and business owners tend to just go, go, go.   But, when it comes to marketing strategies these busy times can cause us to lose focus and over complicate things as a result.  With so many websites, so many ways to communicate, and so many things you want to do, now is the time to think about how to simplify your marketing success.  Let me tell you how.

I believe all successful marketing campaigns have 3 simple ingredients.  While these ingredients are very simple, they are often overlooked.  I see it happen time and time again.  Missing one of these ingredients is like trying to make a loaf of bread without flour.  It just doesn’t turn out well.

Let’s think about it for a minute – every time a customer or prospect takes the action you want it’s because 3 things happened.  3 very simple ingredients came together just right.

Ingredient #1 – Right Message.  You sent your customer or prospect exactly the right message to capture their attention.

Ingredient #2 – Right Time.  They received your message at the perfect time.

Ingredient #3 – Right Device/Medium.  You reached them using the right method of communication.

Take a look at this short video to see these 3 ingredients come together perfectly…

Example #1: Meat Pack Shoe Store – Hijack

Watch this video from the Meat Pack shoe store in Guatemala to see these 3 things come together perfectly…

Think about this video for just a minute.  Why was this “Hijack” campaign effective?  The answer is easy.  The potential customer was offered a significant discount (right message) while they were in a competitor’s store, likely close to a purchase decision (right time) on their smartphone (right device).  At that point, converting on this campaign for anyone who was targeted was super easy (and even fun) to do.

Example #2: WestJet – Christmas Miracle

Another example of an incredible marketing campaign coming together is shown in this WestJet Christmas Miracle video, take a look…

Sure, this WestJet example involved plenty of planning, but when you think about it the concept was simple.  We’re going to give awesome personalized gifts/go above and beyond (right message) while people are traveling for the holidays (right time) and do so in person (right device).

What Do These 2 Examples Have In Common?

Not only do Meat Pack and WestJet nail all of the 3 must-have marketing ingredients, but they create a truly unforgettable customer experience.  The type of experience that captures attention and the type of experience that customers WILL tell others about.

So, now it’s your turn…

Before you move on with any type of strategic planning on your next online marketing campaign, be sure you’ve got the 3 must-have ingredients right.

1. Right Message – What is the message you want to send to your customers or potential customers?  Maybe it’s an educational message to help them better understand how a product or service works.  Maybe it’s a special discount on Black Friday to help drive some immediate sales.  Whatever your message ends up being, make sure it’s incredibly clear.  Too often we get caught up in all of the other things that come along with an online marketing campaign and lose sight of what our actual message should be.  Don’t be the person sitting there asking yourself again, “what was it we actually wanted our visitors to do?”

2. Right Time – Timing is everything when it comes to planning an effective marketing strategy  Does it make sense to send your message immediately before or after some type of business transaction?  After that, how long is too long?  Getting your timing right can be the difference between a 5% response rate and a 15% response rate.  Look at data, ask your audience ahead of time and test it until you get it right.

3. Right Device – In the marketing industry, especially in today’s world we say “device,” but really it’s any method of communication.  In one instance, sending a text to someone’s smartphone immediately after a purchase offering $10 off the next purchase in exchange for feedback about their experience might be just the right device.  In another instance, sending a hand written follow-up note at the end of the year to your customer along with some holiday goodies might be exactly the right “device.”  I guess what I am saying is that just because we have all of these technological advances and new “devices’ available, doesn’t mean we should lose sight of some of the “old school” ways to communicate.  A hand written note or even a face-to-face transaction can be just the right “device.”

Need Help?

At Focal Point, we make sure our customers get the 3 ingredients to marketing success right, every time.  If you’d like some help with your next online marketing campaign or need some assistance when it comes to strategic planning, please get in touch with us today.  We can help you create that customer experience you’ve been wanting to deliver.

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2 Key Things Starbucks Absolutely Nails In This Video Marketing Campaign

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy analyzing what the big brands are doing when it comes to marketing campaigns.  A recent online video marketing campaign that caught my attention for the Starbucks global branding campaign – Meet Me At Starbucks.  This is essentially a high quality, HD video production that was shot in 28 countries in a single day.  While it’s one continuous video that’s about 6 minutes in length, it’s broken down into several mini vignettes each telling it’s own story.  There are 2 important reminders in this video  First, take a look at this 1 min video recap (you can watch the full video here) before I share my thoughts…

1. It’s not about you, it’s about your customers.

“It’s never been just about the coffee.” This line really encapsulates the entire Meet Me At Starbucks online marketing strategy of putting the customer first.  One thing you will notice when watching the video is that while most of the scenes take place at a Starbucks, the product placement of Starbucks’ drinks is actually very subtle.  And while it’s very subtle at the same time it’s incredibly effective.

You see, this online video marketing campaign demonstrates to me that Starbucks “gets it.”  Sure, the coffee is good, but even more important is the customer experience.  For the most part, people don’t meet people at Starbucks to drink coffee.  People meet people at Starbucks to do business, share stories, and build relationships.  Drinking Starbucks coffee is just something that happens as a part of that experience, but it’s never been just about that.

By creating an extraordinary customer experience, Starbucks has been able to position itself in a way to where they don’t always have to “sell” their coffee.  The customers and their experiences have become a big part of the Starbucks brand.  So much so that this entire campaign focuses primarily on the customers, yet will likely still help them sell more coffee than if it were the other way around (focusing on the coffee).

2. No technology can ever replace face to face communication.

“Good things happen when we get together.”  This line really hits the nail on the head if you ask me.   I have been a marketer for a long time.  I have seen a lot of changes in technology over the years.  These changes include things that have made what I do easier and things that have, quite frankly, made things more difficult.  I must say, I couldn’t agree more with this particular statement used in the Starbucks video marketing campaign.

The reason why I love this particular point is that I think as a society we hide behind technology too much.  It’s easier to send a text than to call.  It’s far easier to just FaceTime or Skype instead of driving or flying to meet in person.  Or at least we perceive it that way.  The list goes on and on.  Yet with all of the great advances in technology, most will admit there’s still something about meeting face to face that adds to the whole BLT factor (believability, likeability, trust).  Think about it…no matter how comfortable you become with technology, there are probably still a few things that you’d much rather do in person.  That’s because there’s just something about getting together that no technology can replace.

As good as Starbucks is with their online marketing strategy and social media marketing campaigns, they still understand that at the end of the day it’s about people coming together.  This is what made their business grow into what it is today and what will ultimately continue to drive their sales.  No technology will ever be able to change that.

 How Can You Apply This to Your Business?

Think about the customer experience you have created with your business/brand. It might have been awhile since you’ve taken the time to do something like this, but I assure you it will pay off.  Consider the whole process of doing business with your company/working with you.  Is it a smooth, enjoyable experience?  Is it something people are likely to tell others about?  If it isn’t, why not?

Going off the second point, I would just urge you to take the time to see your customers in person whenever possible.  I take great pride in the friendships and partnerships I’ve built over the years through networking.  I love meeting with my clients face-to-face and feel that’s truly when we do our best work.  As Starbucks reminds us, “great things happen when we get together.”

So, now I guess there’s only 1 thing left to do:  Let’s get together at Starbucks some time soon. 

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Why I Am Focused On My Content Marketing Strategy

Focal Point Video Marketing

As of late, I have really been making it a point to focus on the content marketing strategy for my business.  Having been in the marketing industry for over 25 years, it only seems natural to begin to share some of my thoughts, opinions and stories via my company blog.  You see, for a long time I have been known to my network as the “video guy” and while video production is definitely one of our core services here at Focal Point, there’s so much more to the story. It has always been my passion to build an Digital Marketing Agency that is truly engaged in the success of each client.

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What’s All The Buzz About Drone Videos?

Opinion Post:

 

Being a video production company in Indianapolis, we get a lot of questions about the latest technology and trends in video marketing.  Here lately, there’s a very hot topic that keeps getting brought up – drones being used for video.  It’s no surprise as drones are being discussed more in the media and showing up more at events as they become more affordable to the masses. Today, I am going share my opinion on the matter and offer some advice when it comes to video marketing.

Drones or Helicopters with Cameras?

First of all, let me just start by saying that I don’t particularly care for the word “drone” as it relates to video production.  If you ask me, the word “drone” just has a negative connotation that comes along with it and I think that has led to much of the controversy surrounding  the use of drones in the video industry.  Once you start to think of “drones” as what they really are – remote control helicopters with cameras (unmanned aerial vehicles), suddenly the perception is different.  You see, flying helicopters with cameras really isn’t that foreign in the video production industry.  After all, news channels have been flying around capturing shots on video for years.  The big change is that now these helicopters are unmanned and now they’re being offered at a price point that’s more reasonable to the general public.  This is attracting more novice videographers and hobbyists thus leading to some of the drone controversy.

How Are Drones Being Used

One thing is for sure, drones (flying helicopters with cameras) are capturing some amazing aerial shots for video.  Here recently, this video from a 4th of July celebration went viral on YouTube with over 9 million views.

While this is more of a “fun” use of a drone for hobbyist style footage, just stop for a minute to think about the potential for drones to be used for video tours of golf courses or for real estate development.  It opens up a whole new aspect of HD video production that was previously too costly for many businesses.

But the more the idea of drones being used for commercial video production services is discussed, the more the regulations from the FAA are interpreted to mean that such use of drones is illegal…at least right now.  While there is still some gray area, it’s understood that “the FAA states that any commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles — that is, use without recreational or hobbyist intent — is illegal.”  So, what exactly crosses the line between recreational use or hobbyist intent and commercial use?  Is it solely the ability to make money?

Here’s What I think About Drones

In my opinion, that’s where the FAA really needs to come up with a clearer definition and more realistic ruling that’s fair.  I question how using a drone as a tool to produce an HD quality video for a business is any different than any other piece of equipment that might be necessary.  Sure, there’s the concern for privacy and safety, but isn’t that a concern with real helicopters or other videos shot in the a public forum?  It’s for these reasons things such as media releases, waivers and permits exist.  I think the methods/tools for regulating the use of drones in a commercial setting already exist.  It’s just a matter of the FAA making an informed ruling on how these apply to this new technology….and as one might expect I anticipate that will take far too long.

DJI Phantom Vision

Photo of DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus from DJI.com

 

 

 

Photo of the DSLR Octo from Cinedrones.

Photo of the DSLR Octo from Cinedrones.

So What Happens Next?

As this recent article on drone entrepreneurs suggests, the video production industry is not going to wait for the laws to catch up.  As the technology continues to advance, the price points continue to become more affordable and the trend continues to catch on – drones are going to make their way into commercial video production.  Eventually the laws will be forced to adapt to the technology rather than the technology adapting to the laws.

How Do Drones Fit Your Video Marketing Strategy?

I love new technology just as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest while losing site of your video marketing strategy.  There’s a lot of buzz around drones in the video industry right now, but until some things are sorted out the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward for most commercial applications.  What I mean by that is that if you’re struggling to get videos completed or measuring the results of a recent video marketing campaign – then trying to figure out if you should be investing in a drone for anything other than recreational use shouldn’t be a business priority.

5 Key Marketing Ingredients That Led To ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Success

Photo from ALSA.org home page

Photo from ALSA.org home page

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge is a huge success.  A success in raising not only awareness, but some serious money to fight a very serious disease.  Sure, there are some people who just don’t get it and are quick to criticize the way some have completed their “challenge.”  But the one thing no one can deny is the effectiveness of this campaign.

So, what makes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so effective?  I think it all comes down to these 5 key ingredients…

1. Engage & Empower Your Audience

Without a doubt, the most important thing the ALS Association did was engage and empower their audience.  Not only did they give people a chance to make a difference, they gave them a way to quickly and easily reach others to do the same through a “challenge.”  Combine this with the importance of the cause and other ingredients below then it becomes easy to understand why this campaign is such a success.

Think About This:
How can you give your customers the power to spread the message for you?  Maybe it’s a referral program.  Maybe it’s an online contest.  Whatever it is, your customers need to be armed with the knowledge and ability to act as brand advocates.  Make it easy to love your business and easy to tell others about it.

2. Predictable, Yet Suspenseful

People love things that are predictable.  It’s one of the core reasons that television shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy have withstood the test of time.  They follow the same formula episode after episode and it’s incredibly effective.  People know what to expect and there’s something to be said for that.  At the same time, there’s the suspense of wondering who will, how much money it will be and how the game will play out on any given night.  Suspense is a equally as effective as predictability and the reason people keep coming back for more.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge combines predictability with the feeling of suspense.  When you scroll through your newsfeed and see 10 different friends doing the challenge you already know few things.  You know they’re probably going to accept the challenge, you know they’re likely going to dump a bucket of ice water on their head and you know they’ll probably challenge others to do the same.  For the most part, the videos follow the same formula over and over…

Yet there’s still a great deal of suspense.  You want to see if the person will actually dump the bucket on their head, wonder how big it will be, and might even be curious who they’ll challenge next.  These are the reasons why if you’ve spent any time on social media over the last few weeks you’ve probably watched several of the ALS #icebucketchallenge videos.  Even though people know what is going to happen in the video, they still want to see how it all ends.

Think About This:
What can you add to your business’s online marketing plan that is predictable, yet keeps people coming back for more?  One great example of this is Moz’s (formerly SEO Moz) Whiteboard Friday.  Every Friday, you can expect to watch a video to see Rand Fishkin or another member of the Moz team explaining business search engine optimization strategies using a whiteboard and markers to illustrate key points.  Just as much as the key ingredients are the same week after week, the content changes just enough to keep people coming back for more.

I challenge you to think about a concept or series similar to Whiteboard Friday that allows your audience to quickly get a feel for your company and the services provided.

3. Key Point: There’s No Substitute for Good Old Fashioned Fun

The ice bucket challenge is raising a great deal of awareness for a very worthy cause and a lot of it just comes back to good old-fashioned fun.  There’s just something fun about dumping ice and water on your head.  There’s something fun about challenging others to see if they will do the same.   This is a big part of the reason so many kids and families are getting involved.  It’s a fun experience to share together that ultimately supports a very worthy cause.  At the end of the day, everyone wants to have fun and it’s even better when you feel great doing it.

Think About This:
What can you do to make your brand fun?  Is working with your company an enjoyable experience?   Maybe you can identify parts of your business process that may be perceived as “boring” by employees or customers.  Take a few moments to think about how you could make those areas fun.  It could make all the difference.

4. Clear Call To Action

Donate to ALS.  That is the call-to-action.   For the most part, the “rules” seem to be understood that if you accept the challenge you donation $10 to ALS and if you decline you donate $100 to ALS. Now, yes, there has been a lot of debate about whether or not you have to donate if you accept the challenge of dumping ice water on your hand, but most people still understand that a donation is what actually makes a difference.

Think About This:
Let’s bring this one back to your website.  If someone comes to your website, is it clear what you want them to do?  Sign up for an email campaign, fill out a quote request, download a free guide?  Maybe these are your top 3 objectives.  But, what if you picked just one and built your entire site around that one objective?  Let’s say you want to grow your list of subscribers.  As one marketer found out,  a homepage website redesign could mean a 300% increase in sign-ups.  With results like that, I’d say it’s worth giving it a try for at least a month.

5. Harness The Power of Video Marketing

Would a similar challenge that required writing a few sentences about why you donated to ALS and challenging others to do the same be as effective as making a video?  Maybe, but it’s not likely.  There are 2 reasons why video was the perfect medium for the #icebucketchallenge – videos are easy to make (ok, ok so you may have to find a bucket and some ice and get a little messy) and they’re easy to watch.

In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of using images and videos as part of your social marketing strategy.  Using video as part of this ALS cause marketing campaign was absolutely the right call.  The videos automatically play on Facebook, they’re easy to edit on Instagram, they’re a bigger part of Google Plus with its YouTube integration and they’re even getting more plays via Twitter.  While not every video is award-winning or even well planned, in many cases they’re still far more effective than words when it comes to getting people to take action.  And when it comes to making donations to ALS, people are taking action like never before.  As reported on 8/22/14, over $41 million has been donated to ALS in less than 1 month.

From the NY Times on 8/22/14:

“Donations to the A.L.S. Association, a Washington-based nonprofit that funds global research to find treatments and a cure for the disease, have surged since the challenge started trending in late July. The group said Thursday morning that it had received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 until Aug. 21.

More than 739,000 new donors have given money to the association. That’s more than double the $19.4 million in total contributions the association received during the year that ended Jan. 31, 2013, according to a filing with the Internal Revenue Service.”

Update: As of August 25th, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $79 million dollars!

Think About This:
Does your company have an online video marketing strategy?  Have you considered how much easier it might be to show your product work rather than try to explain it?  A marketing report near the end of 2013 showed that 1 in 2 consumers say YouTube videos have influenced a purchase decision.  Among other things that influence purchase decisions are blogs and social media sites.   So imagine if you combine it all by making video a core part of your social media marketing strategy.  It just makes sense.

I Challenge You…

I challenge you to think about what has made the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge such a social media marketing success.  I challenge you to consider how you can apply elements of that success to your online marketing strategy.  But most importantly, I challenge you to take a few minutes to learn more about ALS and make a donation if you haven’t already.

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3 Articles To Make You Question Facebook’s Branding Strategy

Facebook Branding Questions

Question: What one or two words come to mind when you think about Facebook as a brand?  Just think about that for a moment.

Sure, we all know that Facebook is a giant.  We know that people spend more time on Facebook than any other site.  We know that it’s a necessary part of any social media marketing strategy and a great way to reach our potential customers.  But is Facebook getting away from what it does best – connecting people?

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve read 3 articles that make me wonder about Facebook’s branding strategy.  As a marketing professional, I’d be curious to know what Facebook’s branding strategy looks like big picture and if it’s in line with the way users perceive the site.  These 3 articles will explain what I mean by that…

1. Facebook Did What?  Really?

Did you know Facebook recently did a psychological experiment on over 600,000 of its users without them knowing?  Odds are you didn’t know unless you read this article about it.  Sure, Facebook has done some things in the past to raise some red flags, but from a marketing viewpoint this one really makes people lose trust in the brand.  So what did they do?  Well with one group of people they displayed a much higher than normal amount of negative updates in their news feed.  As you might guess, the other group of people got a larger than normal amount of only positive updates.  In essence, they played with people’s emotions without them knowing it was going on.

A lot of people spend a ton of time on Facebook with many of them being affected either consciously or subconsciously by what they see on the social network.  How do you think these people felt after finding out they might have been part of this experiment?  Where does this fit in with Facebook’s marketing plan?

One viewpoint is that Facebook is a free site and yes, these people did agree to the terms by signing up and using Facebook that allows things like this to legally happen.  But, there’s still something to be said about how people perceive Facebook as a brand because of things like this.  If Facebook eventually becomes a smaller piece of a good social media marketing strategy, will things like this make people finally decide enough is enough?

Need to take a closer look at your branding strategy?  Contact Focal Point today!

2. Is Facebook Getting Away from Its Original Brand?

Paid Social media marketing is highly effective and I’ve seen Facebook greatly improve its ads over the past couple of years.  But does introducing so many advertisements alienate the person who just wants to use Facebook to stay in touch with family?  Does the need to make money as a publicly traded company prove to be a frustrating user experience in the long run?

Facebook used to be about connecting people to people.  Now it’s much more about connecting brands to current and potential customers. To a certain extent, the “human” aspect might be disappearing.  I recently read this article about a guy who liked every single post he saw on Facebook for 48 hours (Note: Apparently “liking” everything resulted  in a few choice words, but it’s still worth the read).  Soon his entire newsfeed became all about advertising and business.  The human element had almost disappeared, completely.  That’s pretty wild when you really stop to think out it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that it’s necessarily a bad thing for businesses to target customers by using highly effective data that’s shared via Facebook.  What I am saying is that a lot of Facebook users who aren’t on the site for business don’t want that and feel they’ve been a victim of the old bait and switch.

3. Facebook Messenger App Update.  No Big Deal, Right?

The Facebook Messenger feature has changed over the last couple of years quite a bit.  In fact, I’ve seen some customers prefer using this over email.  Very similar to how Twitter can be, sometimes it’s easier to get in touch via social media vs. fighting the never ending email battle (you all know what I’m talking about).  Recently however, I saw several marketing professionals resist upgrading to the new Facebook Messenger app until they were absolutely forced to do so.

A lot has been written about this and there are still several myths out there about what exactly this means to users.  The thing I found interesting is that the reason most people resisted is that they felt forced to do this update and they were concerned about their privacy being violated.  It seems people initially avoid change for a long as possible when it comes to Facebook and, in general, don’t really have trust in the brand that their info will be safe.  From a recent Huffington Post article:

“A quick look at these permissions (Facebook Messenger) reveals it can indeed access your entire address book, send SMS messages, record photos or videos using your camera, know your location at all times, access the Internet when it wants, and a slew of other pretty creeptastic things.”

After looking into it further, people are mostly getting stirred up about these 5 Facebook myths and in most cases Facebook Messenger is less invasive than the native Facebook app itself.

Facebook Messenger

What Does Facebook’s Branding Strategy Have To Do With Your Business?
These are 3 simple reminders that the importance of having a clear branding strategy in place at your business cannot be overlooked. I wanted to share these examples with you to suggest that it’s possible for even the largest of brands to lose touch with their users/customers over time.  Remember, the reality of your business branding strategy isn’t how you want to be perceived, but how your business is actually perceived by your audience.

At the end of the day, Facebook is still a vital part of an effective social media marketing strategy.  That being said, it’s examples like these that may one day cause this giant to fall.  So, let me ask you again after reading this – what one or two words come to mind when you think of Facebook as a brand?  Share in the comments below!

Need Help With Your Branding Strategy?
Let’s make sure your brand message is clear.  Read more about how our team can help you develop a clear brand identity.

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2 Must-Haves for Every 2015 Online Marketing Plan

It’s never too early to write a blog post predicting the keys to a successful online marketing plan for the following year.   After all, the hope is that readers like you will get the message and start taking action now.  Well, I’m here to fill you in on the 2 online marketing plan must-haves that are going to make or break your success in 2015.

2015 Online Marketing Predictions

Before we get started, let me just say that these are two trends that many online marketers saw coming but were still overwhelmed by how fast they happened.  Let me also say that your online marketing plan and marketing strategy needs to include these things because they are not going away.  They will only continue to become more apparent.

1. Multi-Device Consistency and Compatibility

Is your brand represented well on every device?  Businesses who aren’t thinking about this question are getting blindsided everyday when they realize that 30% 40% of their website traffic is coming from smartphones.  And another 8% – 10% from tablets .  All at once they realize that beautiful website design isn’t exactly user friendly for the majority of their potential customers.

We live in a multi-device world.  We watch TV with our iPhone in hand.  We regularly switch from PC to tablet throughout the day.  If a potential customer views your site from their desktop at work, gets distracted and comes back later that night from a smartphone – will the experience be consistent?  It’s no longer a choice.  Responsive website design is here to stay and the customer experience MUST be consistent or sales and leads will be lost.  End of story.

Statistics from a recent Marketingland.com report:
“Mobile web traffic has grown 50 percent over the past year and now represents more than 25 percent of all internet visits according to a study by Wpromote. The company looked at traffic to 35 of its client sites, including e-tailers, B2B industries and consumer services.

Consumer services was the category with the highest percentage of mobile traffic at 33 percent. B2B sites had the lowest percentage of mobile traffic at 16 percent.

Source: Wpromote

With a much larger sample of sites, StatCounter shows a higher aggregate percentage of mobile traffic in the US market:

  • Desktop: 68.8 percent
  • Smartphone/mobile: 21.4 percent
  • Tablet: 8.7 percent

Recently I was told by mattress retailer Sleep Train that roughly 40 percent of its traffic now comes from mobile devices. This is also true for sites that offer real-world or “local” information (e.g., Yelp, YP). These sites are seeing traffic north of 40 percent from smartphones and tablets.”

Who is doing responsive website design well?
Take a look at WeAreIU.com.  It’s a website all about helping Indiana University upcoming freshmen prepare for the college experience. The majority of the content is written by students, for students.  The mobile version of the site features a condensed menu with the “Must Reads” front and center using large text that makes it easily clickable.  The content is the start on this website and they make the best stuff easy to find.

WeAreIU

Make Your Website Look Great on Smartphones

Ready to talk about a responsive website design for your business?  Get in touch with Focal Point here to chat.

2. Visual Approach to Social Media Marketing

I don’t need to cover the importance of social media marketing.  By now, you’ve heard it a million times and you get it.  But what I can tell you is that social media marketing skills are going to become like Microsoft Office skills – every new hire is going to need to have them.  It’s just that important.  The other thing that I can tell you is that having a visual marketing strategy for your business is going to be the most critical thing to your success on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

These social media sites continue to make changes that put more and more emphasis on images and videos.  This isn’t going to change anytime soon.  Facebook continues to increase the size of images in its news feed.  Twitter recently made changes to the way its images are displayed, added filters, etc.  Google Plus allows its users to show off their photography skills like never before.  Instagram continues to grow in popularity along with Pinterest.  Is your company adapting to these changes?  Are you using video and images to tell your story?

Stats about Visual Content Marketing:
Hubspot put out an article about the effectiveness of using images and videos in content marketing entitled 19 Reasons You Should Include Visual Content in Your Marketing [Data] back in 2012 (hint hint – you should be doing these things by now) and the trends mentioned have only become more true today.  Here are a few of my favorite points:

15) Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them. (Source: MarketingSherpa16) Mobile video viewing increased 35% from 2010 to 2011. (Source:Nielsen)

17) 25 million smartphone users stream 4 hours of mobile video per month. 75% of smartphone users watch videos on their phones, 26% of whom use video at least once a day. (Sources: Ooyala and Ipsos)

18) Mobile video subscription is expected to hit $16 billion in revenue by 2014, with over 500 million subscribers. (Source: Ooyala)

19) Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. (Source: Internet Retailer)


Who is using visual social media marketing well?
Remember Dollar Shave Club?  They’re the ones who had to wildly popular video that went viral back in 2012 (go here for a reminder).  Well, they’re still at it and doing a great job with their social media marketing strategy.  Take a look at the example below.  Simple.  Funny.  Best yet, it gets interaction and drives sales.  This one FB post had 276 likes, 44 comments and 25 shares.  Not bad for a post about razor blades!

Dollar Shave Club

Ready to talk about your visual content marketing?

Focal Point can help you share your story through the use of stunning photography and video that can be incorporated into your social media marketing strategy.  Contact us today to talk about your visual online marketing strategy!

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