On understanding digital, for your business…

Almost every single meeting I go to these days, involves a conversation around brands wanting to grow their own e-commerce, so they have more margin control and customer data that is truly their’s, rather than a partner like Amazon’s. The problem is that most founders, brand managers and even CMO’s lack the digital chops to get it done. That is not an insult, just an observation from the field.

Truth is there are plenty of great branders and marketers out there who never had to learn digital, especially this current landscape we live in. Nowadays many are just a bit outside of their comfort zone. As a result, they either try silo’d tactics with shiny platforms like Curalate, HubSpot, Mixpanel, Bounce Exchange etc., that ultimately fail because they are not part of a bigger, more strategic plan OR just sit on the sidelines and don’t actually do what they know deep down needs to be done.

We created a product called The Digital Deep Dive a couple of years back to help brands change that trajectory and get a handle on their digital footprint. With each passing month the need gets stronger and the ecosystem becomes more diverse and difficult to navigate. You must be looking under the hood to assess if you are doing things the right way and that you are setup to win. It is not a complex concept and the impact is a powerful and meaningful one for any online business.

Ready to get serious about content, analytics, email, marketing and conversions?  Just DIVE in!

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

What’s the story with Instagram Stories?

how-to-use-instagram-stories-for-business

A year ago today, Instagram rolled out their “stories” product. It was a direct shot across the bow of Snap, Inc. and many wondered if it would stick the landing as a real and viable product.  That month we posted our thoughts on the product and gave recommendations on how brands might want to go about tackling the shiny new toy.

A year later and Instagram Stories are a powerful force in the social media ecosystem.  According to this post on Instagram’s blog, which was sort of a birthday wish to itself, over 50% of businesses posted an Instagram story last month.  Even more amazing is that it has drastically increased the time spent by their 250 million+ active daily users, making it a more valuable platform for consumers and creating increased consumption opportunities for brands.

It quickly went from a dip your toe in situation to a front and center focus for many brands and we have found that it produces a power punch of impressions, accelerates reach and engagement and helps produce better results from brand and influencer collaborations. This is top billing placement, on the platform where the most users are paying the most attention. If you have a brand that is looking to communicate with customers and followers online, then this is a story you want to write yourself into.

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On why you can’t afford to not create video…

viral_videos1

With all of the compelling stats behind the need for video today, brands should be sprinting to get in the game, yet many are still mostly on the sidelines. I would say that the number one reason I hear as to why, is that they “can’t afford it right now” and will revisit it later. In my opinion this is a big mistake and I would strongly argue that they cannot afford not to spend on video. Let me explain.

If they are already committed to social media, trying to grow their own e-commerce platform (to earn better margins, have a direct dialogue with consumers rather than a 3rd party partner such as Amazon etc.) and really any type of online messaging, and they actually care about results and ROI, then video has to be a part of the mix.  It offers increased exposure, cheaper CPM’s and higher engagement. So if you are in digital marketing and looking to optimize your game, then you cant leave your 7 iron in the bag.  It is literally your number one tool to improve performance and get more for your dollar.

I think one of the fears with video is that it is just cost prohibitive. Historically this has been true as the market pricing has been high and for the most part is still out of whack. So if and when a brand actually takes the leap to create a brand video and shells out a lot of money, they say to themselves or their provider that the video “has to go viral”. They say that because they need massive reach and game changing results to rationalize the high price tag. You don’t need video to “go viral” (what does that really even mean anyway?) you need it to help augment your social content and storytelling and improve your website experience, email marketing and paid social efforts. With video, the performance in all of these categories skyrockets. You immediately compromise your results by not finding a way to “afford” video.

Now the problem is that most pure play video shops don’t really want to create micro content videos for social media, as they see it as the underbelly of the video space. They want to do longer form, higher priced and more intricate pieces. I get it, those are great, profitable and more fun. That doesn’t mean that the market doesn’t still need these videos in a very big way. On the other end of the spectrum there are interns, freelancers and even young and resourceful internal employees who can create one off videos. The issue there is the messaging is typically disjointed, not pursuant to a real strategy and these players don’t typically understand what works and does not work on social/digital. You really need a partner who gets it.  (ahem…Sircle Media…ahem)

Most brands (especially in a crowded category such as the healthy CPG space) need at least 3 core videos:

Product Front and Center Video: Puts your main product(s) on display so potential customers see your packaging and/or get a feel for what your product is. We recommend you feature your hero lineup and present that on Facebook and Instagram.  This you would boost to fans of competitors perhaps.

Describe The Product Video: Puts your main USP’s on display and can highlight the WHY behind the WHAT for one or all of your products.  This would target special interest groups for your ingredients or perhaps even be used as part of your retargeting efforts to move buyers further down the funnel that have already signed up for your email, visited your website and/or even engaged with your Facebook or Instagram content.

Retailer Call Out Video: Lets consumers know where to find you (i.e. Whole Foods) and conveys that the brand is “bigger/better” as it is in many stores/doors. These can be used to target fans of that retailer AND/OR can be used as part of your dark posting strategy, set to really drive foot traffic locally into a specific retailer without muddying up your timeline.  This is a very important tool to help your sales people out in the field, who are trying to get and keep your products on shelves.

All three of these video types are simple, yet impactful for your business online. The game has changed and brands need to adapt to it.  I spoke with a prospect this week and they had a brand/hero video (they paid a lot for back in 2015) front and center on their website.  It was actually uploaded on YouTube (because that was the default back then) and was just playing through a viewer. The video is cute and actually had thousands of views, but the problem was that YouTube was actually showing ads against the video and those ads were for another CPG. So if a consumer saw that and then clicked on the ad, it would actually take them away from the brand. In that sense it actually hurt that the video had a lot of views on YouTube.

So the bottomline is that any brand or business looking to win online needs to rethink video completely. They need to solve for a way to get videos made, to create many rather than one (why put all eggs in one basket?) and to understand how and where to use them in today’s online ecosystem.  Our recommendation is to not sit back and watch others in your space do it, while you wait til you can afford it. That is something you definitely cannot afford to do.

 

 

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On Facebook TV…

170214142847-facebook-tv-app-780x439

Facebook is making moves to get onto your TV screen and it is coming sooner than most think.  Mark Zuckerberg said back in 2014 that the platform would be mostly video within 5 years and they are moving quickly to carry through on that prediction.

This piece on CNN Tech back in February highlighted some updates on this front and shared insight from a Facebook earnings call:

“I see video as a megatrend on the same order as mobile,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and cofounder, said on an earnings call this month. “That’s why we’re going to keep putting video first across our family of apps and making it easier for people to capture and share video in new ways.”

Facebook advertising is already the most powerful and competitively priced marketing vehicle out there and this represents a potential new frontier for marketers and the social network. It is an interesting and exciting time for both parties.

In this piece on Social Media Today, Andrew Hutchinson breaks down some recent moves Facebook has been making on the “TV” front.  It is interesting to see them go after Houseparty marketshare. This is yet another example of FB listening to the success of a social media darling and fast growing platform, and then potentially taking it from them. Perhaps even more interesting is the prospect of watching The Ball Family on Facebook TV.  Whether you like them or not, original programming like this is likely to capture a lot of attention for sure.

What nobody can ignore, are the consumption trends when it comes to video and like it or not we will all be consuming content via very different channels in the coming years. For consumers this means more access to great content, in what many argue is already the golden age of programming. For marketers and storytellers it means thinking video first, as well as what formats they will be consumed on.

If you aren’t solving for how your brand or business will put out video content, including live action, motion graphics and Facebook Live, then you are already late to the party. That is something all brands should be looking to remedy….quickly!

 

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On video content and its current dominance in social media…

9da8119efd58b04fb23de90c886b25a0

At Sircle Media we have have been talking about the importance of video in your online content game plan for some time now and the momentum just keeps on increasing on the topic.  It really is a must have component up and down the communication funnel, from long form marketing pieces, down to short form social media communication assets.

Animoto released their The State of Social Video 2017: Marketing in a Video First World Report and the numbers were staggering when it came to proof that video is a force to be reckoned with.  The infographic offers many compelling stats that should make marketers pay attention, and we break down some key takeaways here:

  • 64% of consumers say watching a marketing video on Facebook has influenced a purchase decision in the last month.

Facebook video is the main frontier, especially in crowded categories where you want to stand out from the clutter with your USP!

  • 81% of marketers are optimizing their social videos for mobile viewership, including 39% that are creating square and/or vertical videos.

Consumers are watching on mobile devices, so you must be thinking in that format first. Be native!

  • The report also found that social media video drives brand engagement and sales with 83% of marketers reporting they are confident Facebook video content will drive purchases

I repeat, 83% of marketers are confident that Facebook video content will drive purchases!

  • Marketers feel the most confident about reaching customers with video on Facebook and YouTube. Consumers are still viewing on these platforms, but are also starting to expand the platforms where they’re watching branded video content. The top three channels they’re watching videos from brands are Facebook, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat.

It is no longer the case that your video strategy is synonymous with YouTube.  The consumption is coming from other channels and you need to be thinking about how and where you will be distributing during the creation process.  The good news is that the consumers are there, the data clearly shows they are watching videos and then they are taking action based on those messages.

Any marketer not getting in on this action, is making a huge mistake!

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On Facebook Live (Part Deux)…

facebook-live-scenic1-1920

Long live live video!  We talked about Facebook Live here in this blog a year ago and since then, the platform has exploded.  As Facebook continues to dominate the content scene, there is a real wave of momentum on their live video platform. The Social Network wants to be much more than families sharing pics and friends pushing memes (though both are great) and the ability for brands and personas to push out their message in a live format is killing it right now!

Facebook live (and Instagram live can be done at the same time with another phone/camera to kill two birds with one stone) is a definite recommendation for a brand looking for diverse ways to get content out to their audience and reach new people too. This piece on Mediakix breaks down some compelling stats, and we highlighted two below:

Facebook Live Videos Are Watched 3x Longer Than Videos That Aren’t Live Anymore

According to Facebook, users watch Facebook Live videos 3x longer than videos that aren’t live.

Users Comment On Facebook Live Videos At 10x The Rate Of Regular Videos

Facebook Live is a dream for engagement, driving comments at over ten times the rate of non-live videos. Again, because the focus of Facebook Live is a window into and interaction with a moment in time as it unfolds in real time, commenting is about being a part of a live conversation.

Here is a great piece on how to harness the power of FB Live and we have seen much of this work in practice for our clients over the past few months. Take our client Paula’s Choice Skincare for example.  They have a very charming and knowledgable Founder, who feels very comfortable getting in front of the camera.  Though not everyone needs to be quite as skilled and poised as her, it certainly helps their cause.

Before we go live, we announce it to the fanbase so they “tune in” to the time we will be broadcasting. This is much like a TV show (pre TIVO/DVR of course) and meant to get fans to adjust their schedules to digest some real interactive content.

18010237_10155225985604004_2380018938365916695_n

Also, after you run a FB live, you can edit the post and add a CTA to it, to get people back to your website. It is a good tactic to add a link and say something like “we’re sorry you missed us live, but if you want to hear the biggest takeaways from it, click here:” which could send users back to the website to consume a blog post about the live session. This is an excellent way to generate e-commerce sales and/or retargeting opportunities, as part of a conversion funnel.

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 7.03.08 AM

The (organic mind you) reach and engagement on these has been excellent.  Facebook rewards the effort with exposure in user’s feeds and wants to put this type of super relevant and useful content front and center. To top that off, we encourage brands to share and/or add something like:

“Never miss a live post again!  Make sure you LIKE us on Facebook and go to your settings and be sure to turn on notifications when we go live and “see first” to not miss any valuable posts.”  When you get people to take that action you will dramatically increase your reach and engagement on live.

Our recommendation is to not overthink it, and to just get started. Get on with an iPhone or a camera with an inexpensive tripod and just get talking. Some easy topics are: a new product announcement, new location opening, new branding explained and/or just some interactive Q&A about products or services.  Do it, and then assess and adjust as you go along. This is definitely about documenting rather that carefully crafting and creating.  Once you see momentum, you can better stage the presentation and create a more structured model.

You need to take that first step and remember that this is about hacking underpriced attention AND riding the Facebook Live video wave. FB wants to push it hard, and you should grab their fin and let them take you with them on the ride…

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

Ready for Reddit?

reddit-1920-800x450

A client recently asked me whether or not they should “get involved” with Reddit. Their target demographic is female and they are in a very crowded and subjective vertical, so I recommended they pass. This report which was done in October 2016, clearly shows that the majority of the audience is made up of males 18-25 and offers a lot of other insights into this insanely popular, but very unique platform.

The community is the asset with Reddit and that community abhors self promotion or anything that seems advertorial.  The biggest thing with Reddit is you need to be 100% authentic and if users sense that you are fake and/or somehow not open, honest and transparent, then they will crush you and call you out.  Even if they are wrong and you are being sincere, it is too late once that happens.

I equated it to walking into a comedy club and a comedian starts laying into you. They might be totally off base with their comments or observations and have you pegged wrong, but once they say it and the laughs start rolling in they will continue and it is literally impossible to go back and undue it. Better bet is to just walk out and never look back.

Brands or personas (Elon Musk, Bill Gates etc…) can host AMA’s (ask me anything) in an attempt to strike up an open and honest dialog with potential consumers. This works in their favor as it can immediately ignite massive exposure and chatter within this highly active community. Reddit users are passionate and spend 10+ minutes per session, which is very attractive to marketers of course.  You will get good and bad chatter for sure, but if you are prepared to answer them openly and honestly (and ok with taking a few gut punches along the way) it can be worth the time invested for sure.

I did some research on brands “doing it right” and came up with some examples:

Uniqlo has been on Reddit since 2012. Arielle Dyda, a Uniqlo e-commerce manager, uses her personal account to respond to fans. When Uniqlo has a deal, Dyda shares it with the popular fashion subreddits. Referrals from Reddit have been shown to drive 20% of Uniqlo’s total online sales for a deal.  Uniqlo’s presence is genuine and natural. Their brand is strengthened by using someone who knows the community and is upfront in her approach.

Amazon is equally strengthened by brand ambassadors like AmazonJosh and AmazonAndrew, who monitor game and collector subreddits for questions, and give extremely nuanced product recommendations.

From personal experience I find it to be like an angry and aggressive Tripadvsior or Yelp:

This company recently pitched my company through a random email solicitation.  When my employee (24 year old male) went to look them up, he found this write up:

Have any of you guys ever received an email from brandzooka? Are they scammers? Or can they be trusted

Then some user named PaddyoColorado (coincidence they are in CO) replied with:

Brandzooka is a real company – a start-up in Boulder Colorado – that helps small businesses run targeted video campaigns to specific audiences on all kinds of web sites. They help the little guy advertise where only the big guys used to play.

Then in typical Reddit form, they got crushed:

“It looks like you’ve created this account for the sole purpose of writing this “review”.”

“Brandzooka have sleeper cells everywhere it would seem. Trust no one lol”

“Spam straight from this company in the weed state came into my server’s inbox too. There is no opt-out in the e-mail, and it was sent to a non-public “admin” e-mail account along with a non-existent “yde” account.

“Bounced it straight to SpamCop, as well as sending a PM to a MyWOT user.”

This made me pass on taking the call for sure. That company might actually be great, but I read it on Reddit that they might not be and I am not even giving them a try.  That is powerful persuasion for sure!

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

An important day at Facebook…

facebook-messenger-day

On March 9th, The Facebook product team shipped yet another Snap body blow with the rollout of Messenger Day. The functionality is incredibly similar to Snapchat and allows users to post limited time content to their day, that they can share with all or some of their contacts on the platform.

Here’s how Messenger Day works:

  1. First make sure you’ve updated your Messenger app so you have the latest version.
  2. Open Messenger, and tap on the camera highlighted with a sun to celebrate this launch. Doing so drops you right into the full-screen camera. Or, tap the “Add to your day” button at the top of your inbox to get started.
  3. Snap a quick selfie or take a photo or video of what’s around you.
  4. To add art and effects, tap the smiley face icon in the top right and then tap to add to your photo or video. You can also add text over your images by tapping the “Aa” icon, and you can overlay a drawing by tapping the squiggly line in the top right corner.
  5. Once you have your photo or video the way you want it, tap the arrow in the bottom right corner. You can then add directly to your day, save it to your phone’s camera roll, and/or you can choose to send it to a specific person or group of people. The photo or video that you add to your day will be viewable for 24 hours.

Currently it is only available to users and not pages, because they dont have access to the Messenger app, which is available only to individual users. This makes the feature more accessible to small businesses, contractors, and public figures that have a large number of clients or interested users as Facebook friends. That will likely change soon.

As with all platform developments, it is smart to experiment with ways to leverage for your business. We encourage brands to get involved early so they can get ahead of the field. This piece from Social Media Examiner serves up some early adopter tips on how to use it for marketing. Enjoy!

 

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On Instagram carousel posts…

Instagram made another power move last week, by introducing the ability to publish a carousel of images or videos in one post on the platform.  Now brands (and individuals) can share multiple pictures to better tell their story and not be limited to only one piece of content. This is a game changer for the social network that yields the best “attention grabbing” opportunities already.

While you were able to post up to 5 images as part of an advertising buy already, now you can post up to 10 and it doesn’t need to be an Ad unit. As a result, you can add more context to any story and use a large grip of images and/or videos to do so.

You just select the pieces you want to share, and then post them as a grouping.  Users will see small blue circles at the bottom, subtly telling them to scroll and consume.  This represents another body blow to Snap, Inc., as it pulls more user attention inward with the newness of it. Also, by introducing the swiping of content, which has not historically been part of the IG interface, but has been part of the Snapchat ecosystem.

Over the coming months you are sure to see many carousel posts and lots of creativity, as brands and individuals look to stand out from the clutter. We are all in for sure.

Add a comment

Tags: , ,

On playing the content game the right way…

The Fhitting Room, knows how to play the content game the right way. It doesn’t hurt that their Founder is a marketing maven and super savvy Entrepreneur, but they also clearly understand how to leverage the tools at their disposal in today’s digital landscape.

They came to Sircle for some help with content creation and together we crafted some videos about their incredible staff. In the crowded personal fitness space, especially in NYC, it is hard to stand out from the clutter. Besides being a one of a kind, excellent workout, they realized that their people are the foundation of what makes them special and represent a real unique selling proposition in the market.

We created a video series that highlights the stories behind these amazing humans and we used that social content natively on Facebook to draw users in. In doing so we leveraged the platform’s love for video, to hack increased organic and paid reach for targeted visibility in Manhattan. The content strategy/journey only begins there…

Once the user clicks through to consume more, they land on a FHITPRO profile page that takes you into a much deeper conversation about the trainer. You learn about their back story, a 21 question series about their personality, their Spotify playlist (content a prospect or customer can enjoy from home or work) and then it even links to their schedule, so people can book a class and experience them for themselves.

This funnel directly leads to bookings and email captures for future marketing. It also leads to retargeting opportunities that can be custom tailored based on the trainer(s) that the visitor viewed while on the site. This way the business can use content and strategic marketing to covert them later on, if they don’t transact up front, which is highly likely.

For those who do book, they now have a more intimate relationship with that trainer when they arrive. As a direct result, the customers are becoming more transformational than transactional and more sticky to The Fhitting Room brand in the process. This is mission critical for any small business looking to flourish. #wellplayed

Add a comment

Tags: , ,