Why Choose Content Marketing?
Content marketing has moved from a niche brand offering to a marketing-must in a big way. It’s hard to think of a brand that doesn’t offer some kind of personalized content for its audience.
These days, people have unparalleled control over the ads that reach them. They can skip commercials, exit online ads, and skip YouTube pre-rolls after four (long, anguishing) seconds. Traditional advertising is now served up alongside the content that people are really trying to engage with – whether it be an article, Mad Men episode, or viral cat video. What’s different about content marketing is that it provides engaging and relevant content in and of itself.
That’s not to say that content marketing should stand alone. A brand can’t start a blog and end all other marketing and advertising efforts. More importantly, a brand can’t launch a blog without strategy. Content marketing should weave flawlessly into social media marketing and complement traditional advertising. It should match a brand’s personality, and be in-tune with its audience.
Good content marketing engages people and gives them something to come back for. Doing it well takes imagination, intuition, and strategy. And though every business should offer some form of content to their audience, they shouldn’t do it without strategic planning. It takes work and focus. But a successful effort can further brand awareness in an unprecedented way.
One success story we can speak to is Spark, a fashion and lifestyle blog we developed together with St. Vital Centre. Even though Spark was something we had envisioned for a while, it took years to come to fruition. There were marketing phases we had to undergo to ensure that there was an engaged audience ready to consume our content. We created a plan that was multifaceted, moving in stages from awareness and branding, to social media engagement, to content offering.
Early in our relationship with the Centre, we worked on increasing brand awareness with billboards, transit, and in-Centre signage. We spent time creating awareness of St. Vital Centre as an accessible and relatable lifestyle brand. Once awareness was achieved, we began to work on creating a more interactive and engaged brand, by building a social community and focusing on two-way advertising versus the traditional one-way. We created a social media presence for St. Vital Centre, and engaged audiences with contest microsites, quizzes, and frequent giveaways. We also began to elevate the fashion facet of the brand, producing unique style and beauty content for social media and seasonal campaigns. The high audience engagement and overwhelmingly positive response confirmed both the desire for this type of content, and its ability to affect sales.
For us, a blog was a natural fit for St. Vital Centre. Their brand is stylish and fun, aspirational but attainable, in-the-know without being a know-it-all – the perfect voice for a fashion and lifestyle blog. There was a void of high quality fashion blogs in Winnipeg, and we saw a perfect opportunity to fill that void.
Spark has been producing content for just over a year now, and together with our client and a talented support team, we continue to produce content that excites us as much as it informs and delights our audience. Developing good content is no easy task, and involves ongoing planning and post writing, coordinating and directing regular photoshoots (including booking models, photographers, and videographers), website maintenance, and more. Aside from content development, we are also in charge of bringing traffic to the blog. We achieve this through social media, contests, email subscriptions, in-Centre hoarding and backlit posters, and even in-store, on our “As Seen On Spark” product tags and stickers. Spark averages over 4,000 hits per month, and is steadily increasing.
And most importantly, the Centre has continued to report ongoing sales increases in key categories since the blog's inception.
Cards Against Humanity- for Branding?
We have all invested time and energy developing our branding resources to use when working with clients on their brand identity. Now Scott Thomas of Simple.Honest.Work. in Chicago has maybe come to our rescue with what he believes is the ultimate tool to make it even simpler and more effective.
With the help of Mark Temkin, one of the people behind the game “Cards Against Humanity”, Thomas has created a deck of cards with adjectives used by many of us to help clients define who they really are and are not. Each team member gets their own deck to sort through and then as a team decide what really applies to them and what definitely does not. Pretty simple.
Instead of funding the project on their own, they turned to Kickstarter.com to crowd source and have so far raised more than their goal. They are now also working on a “Not safe for the workplace” version, again with the “Cards for Humanity” people (I wouldn’t want to accidentally mix those decks up).
This venture will be interesting to follow and although I believe we will stick to our own tried and true methods, I can see these cards showing up in some branding agency boardrooms, or more likely, the “not safe” version being played every Friday afternoon in the lounge. Check it out!
Does Controversial Advertising Sell Product?
An ad for Just Liquid Soap states, “If you aren’t totally clean, you’re filthy.”
I recall fighting tooth and nail over some of the ideas my creative team would come up with in years gone by. With a sly smile, they would show me something that was way out there, something that could be argued was in the land of controversy…while others might say, in the land of bad taste.
“But it will get attention! And that is what we are all about! It will stop people in their tracks and make them pay attention."
“But it will royally screw up their brand," I would say.
Here’s one that you might remember that went viral in 24 hours and got 15 million views on YouTube in just eight days. The ad agency was tasked with dealing with Kmart’s out-of-stock issues. It’s absolutely brilliant and funny, but…
…but, it created backlash and made it onto the Today Show asking if the ad went too far. Messages to kill the ad flooded in, but Kmart’s agency followed with another brilliantly conceived, but…
…but maybe too much and off-brand, with kids sounding like they’re swearing on TV.
Kmart is a family-friendly retailer. And this campaign was counter to their brand image. It gained incredible attention, but did it sell product? Kmart’s sales fell over 2% in that quarter. The lesson learned here, I think, is that if you want to be controversial, it has to fit the brand and you have to create that edge in the shopping experience. Kmart didn’t and people who loved the ads found nothing new and exciting at Kmart. And those that hated the ads shied away from shopping there.
Here’s one that worked, but everything fits (and I received it in our office Christmas gift exchange…and (testimonial warning) it works!)…
32 million views on YouTube and a 90% increase in sales, expected to climb to $60 million. Reactions to the ad were extremely positive.
Here’s one that failed miserably and shocked everyone associated with the brand and was pulled the same day it ran…
I think you can see why. Of all things, “suicide” doesn’t sell. It can have impact, but look out!
I find that when we can fit the sentiment of the ad with the sentiment built into the brand, and we can be controversial, we can win. Otherwise, controversy can stink in advertising.
(with help from Terry O’Reilly at CBC’s “Under the Influence”)
So you want more Instagram followers?
In our current social media-filled world where everyone is vying for attention and trying to increase their following, it’s important to have a strategy. I’ve put together a few tips that can help improve your Instagram presence if your business hasn’t been getting the results you want.
First, let’s talk about followers.
When someone is deciding to follow you, it’s very much like a first impression. People know what they like, and really know what they don’t like. Someone will give your page a quick once over and decide if they like what they see in seconds. Of course I’m generalizing, but it helps to think of social media this way. As a whole, how are you portrayed at a glance?
Here are a few different types of followers. Try to decide who you have the best chance of appealing to, and figure out how you can cater your content for them.
1) The Beautiful Photo Lovers
Beautiful is the operative word here. Everyone has different taste in photography. Some people are minimalists, some people like cheesy clip-art. (Okay, we all know what camp I’m in.) But, quality tends to prevail and result in the largest following. People who follow accounts with gorgeous photography either do it for their own inspiration, to add a little beauty to their day, or to wish they took the picture first.
Even if your company isn’t H&M, photo quality matters. Uploading photos that are pixelated or over-edited will rule out these potential follows, and even worse, you may appear unprofessional. Invest in a good camera or quality photo-editing app if you want to go the extra mile. I recommend VSCO Cam or Afterlight. Please avoid over the top editing – I'm talking to you bokeh lovers!
2) The Avid Learners
Ah learning, the greatest joy in life. Before Instagram, I didn’t even know what “detox water” was – apparently adding fruit to your water helps rid your body of toxins. Who knew! There are multiple, wait thousands (millions even?), of fitness-themed accounts that are chock full of inspirational quotes, meal tips, training videos, etc. Users who follow accounts like this are interested in the subject matter, and want to learn more on a daily basis.
When you serve up insightful content it makes people feel like they’re making progress just by looking at photos. Other account themes include: foodie/recipe ideas, fashion/styling tips, DIY, bodybuilding, makeup how-to’s – you name it. If you can teach, then teach! With an account like this make sure you deliver, and offer up lots of fresh, useful content. Videos, quotes, infographics – that’s all great. Just stay on topic, please.
3) The Half Cousins Twice Removed
Take advantage of your employees connections, and invite friends from Facebook and your contact books! Invite them all - why not? People whom you have a distant connection with, locals/businesses who are close to you geographically; chances are they’ll know you too and might even follow back. Think of all the people you follow just because you know them. They may not have the greatest photos, but you support them to keep that connection.
4) The Adoring Fans
Whether it’s someone you idolize, a brand/store you love, or a growing movement you’re curious about; people like to be in the loop. If you’re lucky enough to be one of those people, sell it. Please your fans with insider access, a variety of content, and posts that showcase your personality. This goes for celebs, stores, news outlets, events, and new businesses.
5) The Jokesters
I can’t disregard all the joke accounts out there. I love @Seinfeldcaps and @menshumor pictures. I think the motive goes without saying.
(Combining elements from all of the above would result in a killer account, in my opinion.)
Here are some more tips:
• Be consistent. Choose a clear focus for your account and stick to it. If I’m following you strictly for pictures of nature, I don’t want a #selfie or breakfast photo thrown in there. Know your audience, and try to anticipate what they will like. Isn’t that all Instagram is, in a nutshell?
• Find followers from like-minded accounts. For example, if you’re a yoga company, try following Lululemon followers. Chances are they’ll like you too. Also, who else might your target market be following? Hmm..
• Use hashtags right, and sparingly. Using appropriate hashtags can bring in interested followers who have specifically searched that hashtag for content. At the same time, hashtags can look spammy. And no one likes spam. If you can come up with your own hashtag, that’s even better. But please, only use it if it makes sense. The growing trend of every new campaign just throwing together a hashtag is annoying. Who will ever use those!? Realistic usability is key.
• Don’t annoy people. Two posts a day, maximum. And that’s pushing it.
• Connect, connect, connect! Share your Instagram posts on Facebook and Twitter to show your existing followers you have another social media presence. Why not? Give your content another place to live. You never know who might be scrolling through your feed in the future.
• Timing matters. Are your fans on mostly in the morning, or at night? Think about it, when do you check your feed most often?
• Find your followers. Don’t just sit there and wait for people to flock to you. Search relevant hashtags, or look at specific geo-tagged locations where your target market might be and follow those people.
• Use Iconosquare. Iconosquare.com is a great tool for gaining insight about your account. It provides key metrics to help you find out who your most engaged followers are, what time of day brings the most engagement, and what your daily follower gain and loss looks like. Just be careful, this website is addicting..
And remember, when someone follows you, they have essentially agreed to let you into their life. All your photos and messages have been allowed in their feed, and you should appreciate that. Make sure to engage with your followers and give comments and likes. Because, well, that’s just a nice thing to do.
We currently run the Instagram account for @stvitalcentre if you want to see how we do social media around here. Make sure to check out all the social media work we do for St. Vital Centre here!
Audrey also runs the Instagram account @gowpg, and ours, @fusionadgroup. Follow for a follow? ☺
With the recent release of Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, there have been floods of people complaining about the durability of the phone. This in turn has sparked the widespread use of the term #BendGate throughout social media. KitKat, in particular, took advantage of this posted this tweet (below). With more than 23,000 retweets and 10,000 favourites, KitKat has far surpassed the record of Oreo’s ever popular, “You can still dunk in the dark” from the 2013 Superbowl.
Reminding us, yet again, how quick and clever comebacks can make light of even the worst PR nightmares.
So whether you’re a fan of Apple or not, grab a KitKat and take a #break!