At Make Happy, we get all kinds of questions from business owners who are just dipping their toes into the confusing and often contradictory world of digital marketing. For the last couple of years, the online advertising industry has been in a bit of a tizzy as reports of fraudulent metrics, from click wars to spambot followers, have flooded our newsfeed.
When it comes to social media, companies often take a spontaneous approach: they have a product or service and post things that are relevant to said product or service. Now, it could be worse, i.e not being present on social media at all, but it could most definitely be better. Social media is a powerful tool which, when harnessed properly, can be used to drive more potential clients to your brand. And more clients = more potential sales or a larger network.
Close to two-thirds of US adults are now gamers (Nielsen, 2015) – a finding shared by Peter Jonas at this year’s film music and technology festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas (March 11-20). The head of North American games and mobile app sales at Facebook told us the reason the number is so high is because it includes casual mobile gamers, who would not consider themselves to be in the same category as hardcore console players.
The number-one game genre on Facebook is slot machine games played by “mobile whales” (big spenders in-app) – of whom 73% are married with children. “Would these people identify themselves as gamers before they identify as parents, friends, executives?” asked Jonas. “The answer is no. [As a brand], are you breaking out of the stereotypes?”
Kym Nelson, senior vice-president of sales at live-streaming platform Twitch, agreed that games continue to offer huge opportunities for marketers: “[There are] 146 million women in the US who play casual games,” for example. And while mobile gaming is on the rise, it’s not cannibalising traditional console gaming: two out of three console gamers also play on mobile.
As an example of what’s possible when advertising and gaming meet, Nelson talked through the Chappie Challenge, a Twitch campaign promoting Sony’s sci-fi movie Chappie. Over a six-week period, Twitch players were able to challenge the eponymous robot to the game Evolve, with the chance to win $15,000 in prizes. The result was more than one million streams of Chappie content, 24 million impressions, and “incredible chat interaction and engagement” on Twitch.
Utility is the key for marketers when it comes to engaging gamers, according to Nelson: “Brands need to think about what value they’re offering the user playing the game.” She pointed to Covet Fashion, a fashion app that currently boasts more than three million users, as an example of a perfect symbiotic relationship between game and brand, as users “click to buy as they play the game”.
A recent survey reported by Forbes found that 63% of marketing leaders indicate agility as a high priority, but only 40% rate themselves as agile.
So, what is agile marketing? Marketer Gizmo describe it as “a tactical marketing approach in which marketing teams collectively identify high value projects on which to focus their collective efforts,” often using “sprints,” or short periods of intensive work. Businesses deploying these tactics enjoy improved rates of business performance, employee satisfaction and adaptability – all contributing to sustainable growth.
Here’s a run down of my favourite examples of agile social media marketing. Take note!
Oreo’s Superbowl response
When a blackout shut off some of the football stadium lights for half an hour during the 2013 Superbowl, Oreo jumped at the opportunity to get in on the buzz blowing up on social media. Their tweet received over 15,000 retweets and millions of impressions. Compared to the millions of dollars forked out by brands for a coveted advertising spot, Oreo received a significant share of the Superbowl’s audience for a fraction of the cost, in time as well as money.
Lesson: Flexibility is key; consider having a team on standby.
Photo by Oreo Cookies
Responses to London’s #TubeStrike
This summer, social media blew up in the face of strikes on the London Underground. Brands that hopped on to the buzz included Renault and their fleet of free cars, Fitness First with free use of their facilities using an Oyster card, and Strada’s free coffees. My favourite, though, has got to be Innocent Drinks’ use of humour in the face of an otherwise frustrating situation. They’ve nailed the tongue-in-cheek, off-beat playfulness that has helped accelerate brands on social media.
Lesson: Keep it fun.
Photo by Innocent Drinks
Ben & Jerry’s respond to marriage equality
When the UK government were in talks to legalise same-sex marriage in March 2014, Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with charity Stonewall to launch their ‘Apple-y Ever After’ limited edition ice cream alongside a campaign urging consumers to write to their MPs expressing their stance on marriage equality. Of course, once legalised, brands ‘came out’ the wood work to celebrate the landmark (whilst also accelerating their own presence.)
Lesson: Plan. Have a recipe or partnership up your sleeve.
Photo by Ben & Jerry’s
As Youtse Sung from Econsultancy points out, agile marketing is not riding off a surge of tweets, but “responding to data, trends or customer behaviour in a way that is both fast and smart.” Responding to market disruptions and cultural moments does not mean making it up as you go along.
I’ll leave you with a thought from one of my favourite authors, Herman Melville. He once said “it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” Fear of failure isn’t productive, but neither is not learning from failure. Agile marketing can be fun, so fail fast, but Iearn fast too.
If you’re posting without a hashtag then you’re missing out on the opportunity to increase your exposure.
A hashtag is not just a tool that helps group social conversations, it brings together a vocal community of users by opening posts to be viewed by all accounts. When these users are brought together in the right way, the value of the hashtag increases.
Famously, Cancer Research UK found social users posting pictures of themselves with no makeup along-with the hashtag ‘#NoMakeupSelfie’ in order to raise donations for the charity. Impressively, in just 6 days over £8million had been donated through user generated hashtagging.
It’s not just charities that can benefit from a useful hashtag. Lancôme asked their followers to post ‘bare faced selfies’ for the launch of the DreamTone serum. Not only did they receive positive engagement on social platforms, but remarkably, the selfie gallery on the company’s website generated a 4% conversion rate for the product.
The power of a well thought through and executed hashtag has been proven time and time again. Here are three tips for using hashtags more effectively.
1. Give your hashtag a purpose:
You must be selective about the topics you’re associated with. Make a list of the 4 topics you want to become involved with and do some research into what thought leaders in those areas are already hashtagging. This will give you a baseline understanding of what’s trending in those areas.
2. A brand hashtag that resonates.
Choose one #hashtag that represents your brand’s values and also engages users to click-through or start a conversation. For example toilet paper brand Charmin uses #TweetFromYourSeat to open and encourage engagement from social fans.
3. #Don’t #overuse #the #hashtag.
Using too many hashtags actually devalues their strength. It can even cause further damage by causing a loss of followers and permanently damage your branding. Instead, Twitter officially recommends that you use no more than two #’s per tweet.
Some people use hashtags for fun, others to promote their brand, regardless, you want your posts to be simple and filled with useful content that engages the user to click on your link, visit your website or even buy your product. Hashtags, used correctly, open these posts up to a new audience.
Image: CC/BY/2.0 Ognian Mladenov
Ghost writers are essentially writers for hire. They are paid by the named author to write copy but take no credit for the work produced. Books, blogs and social media are all examples of platforms that a ghost writer may be hired to write high quality copy for. According to Ebyline, 80% of published books are ghost written.
As the Washington Post reminds us, ghostwriters have channeled the thoughts of politicians, celebrities and business leaders with little or no credit since the 17th century. Those who hire a ghost writer usually do so because they have neither the time or desire to write. It’s a ghostwriters role to help them convey both the meaning and message of whatever subject is of importance to them.
However, a reader must be convinced that the author has written the copy themselves. Failure to capture the persona effectively can be damaging to the author’s career. Vlogger Zoella’s book ‘Girl Online’ presents as perfect example of ghost writing gone wrong. After failing to capture Zoella’s online identity, readers and journalists hounded the Vlogger on Twitter until she eventually admitted to using a ghost-writer. The scandal forced her to ‘quit the internet’ leaving her 4 million followers behind.
Here are my three tips for successfully ghost writing an online persona:
Who are you writing about?
One of my authors, “X”, is a very successful 62 year old male entrepreneur. I am a 21 year old female graduate who loves a good use of an emoji. Needless to say we have completely different interest, opinions and ways of expressing our thoughts. Understanding the author’s tone of voice is crucial at this stage. If possible, ask to spend time in a meeting where the author will be talking and engaging with others. From this you can begin to analyse their sentence structure, thought processes and expressions.
Understand the purpose.
Whether you’re writing a book, blog or speech you must understand the purpose of the project. For “X” the purpose was to raise the entrepreneur’s profile in order to become a thought leader. For this to be successful, there should always be at least 3 main topics to write around. We sat down with “X” and entrepreneurship, leadership and growth were the topics that were most suitable. I have the general knowledge to write across these three topics, but general knowledge will not convey the appeal of a thought leader. I had to immerse myself in the world of entrepreneurship, leadership and growth in order to not only report on news, but to also have a strategic point of view.
On a visit to “X’s” offices we had overheard his staff talking about their boss’ great new social media page, that was the moment I realised that I had the tone of voice and topics right. People who interact with “X” all day were not aware that a ghost writer was responsible for the content or activity. It wasn’t an overnight process, we went through vigorous trial and error testing for content, sentence structure and opinion.
The real reward for ghost writers comes in the form of successfully remaining unknown to readers.
Image: Flickr CC/BY/2.0 JulienDft_Photo
This month we welcomed The Year of the Goat and in true New Year tradition, we have 8 tips that will help you declutter, re-invent and energise your social sphere for new opportunities in 2015.
Give your platforms a spring clean.
Audit your existing social platforms to assess the performance and relevance of your channels. By shutting down any platforms that have not been used in years, or those that you do not see having any long term value, you will open up time and resources to other marketing channels.
Explore beyond social.
Mobile messaging apps, such as Whatsapp and Snapchat, have continued to rise in consumer popularity. These platforms are ripe for innovative marketing strategies to develop. Evaluate the opportunities for to connecting with your consumers through additional avenues.
Keep your social eyes and ears open.
Listen to the valuable insights your consumers, competitors and industry influencers are posting. The information you receive can be used to improve your social media strategy, enabling you to stand out from the social media clutter. Listening to your customers is the first step for designing an innovative marketing strategy.
Mobile, Mobile Mobile!
If your website is not mobile optimised – you’re in the wrong century. With smartphone penetration expected to hit 2.5billion in 2015, we need to ensure all online content is optimised for mobile.
Implement a testing culture.
It’s hard getting it right all the time. However by conducting A/B split campaign testing across your social and digital content, you’ll be able to understand the types of content that works better for your consumers.
Improve the user experience.
The Year of the Goat is making us think more about how humans and digital experiences can converge. Businesses must improve the user experience of their digital content. Sending a direct message that has been personalised, is a simple way of converging a human experience into a digital one.
You have to know where you stand in the present to map out your future. The same applies to you social media strategy. By investing in a social media analytics tool, you’ll ensure the right data and metrics are provided to track your ROI.
Social is not just linked with online platforms.
Platforms such as Slack are enabling employees to talk beyond the confines of their department, helping your company achieve optimal efficiency, by streamlining internal processes, improving better work efficiency and communications. Platforms like Slack are breaking down the barriers of in-house structures and opening the doors for innovation.
When I started my very first marketing job, many moons ago, social media was a hot topic. What should brands talk about on social media? Is it worth it? What on earth’s a hashtag? In the years that have followed, social media has gained widespread acceptance and is considered a mandatory part of the marketing mix.
However, as Mark Ritson points out in Marketing Week, the data which demonstrates the value of social media to brands is questionable at best. Reports tend to be based on users who already follow brands on social media, those who don’t are left unexamined. Further, much analysis is dedicated to the relative merits of social media channels compared to one another, Twitter vs Facebook for example, rather than Twitter vs email marketing.
So does this leave wide open the question of whether all this tweeting, posting and hashtagging is actually adding any real value to organisations? As an unashamed proponent of social media marketing I would argue no. That I have seen daily the difference social media can make to brands. However, to use social media marketing effectively I think its important to understand what social media marketing is, and what it isn’t.
What social media marketing is:
- A part of the marketing mix, to be used in conjunction with other channels and tools.
- A great way to build durable relationships, with your customers, with your future customers, with press.
- The ideal channel to show off your brand personality in fun and creative ways. To give a layer of humanity to your corporate brand.
- A way to demonstrate your passion and expertise in the field you operate in, and to activate and be a part of your customers’ passion.
- A unique tool that allows you to step in to your customers’ worlds and understand them on a human level. Find out what they like, what they hate, what inspires them and what leaves them cold.
What social media marketing isn’t:
- A magic bullet to resolve all your marketing issues
- The most effective way to drive direct sales
- A short term win
If you know what you are trying to achieve, if you are willing to put in the resource to really build an engaging and authentic social presence and if you accept that one tweet does not equal one sale, then social media can be an incredibly effective part of your marketing mix.
Photo by MKHMarketing/ Flickr/CC by 2.0
A study into the impact of social media on consumers published this month has revealed that one of the most profound effects social media has on consumers is to build trust in brands. By facilitating conversations between consumers, and between consumers and brands, trust increases, as does intention to buy.
So how can you harness the power of social media to help consumers trust your brand? Here are three rules to make your brand’s social presence trustworthy:
1. Be there: first of all make sure you have a presence on the social channels which your consumers use most. By being there you can start forging the connections, starting the conversations and demonstrating the expertise that will ultimately build trust in your brand.
2. Be authentic: don’t make promises your brand can’t deliver. In the transparent digital world all brands now must inhabit, any outright lies or even half truths will be likely uncovered and your brand authenticity viciously sacrificed to placate the gods of digital outrage.
3. Listen, hard: listen to what your customers and prospects are saying on social media. When they talk about your brand, are they expressing trust, if not, why not? Use this insight to make changes necessary to develop trust, and then use social to communicate these changes.
Are you using social media to effectively drive growth for your business? Try our one day social media training course to start seeing a return on social activity. Call Sophie on 0207 269 6990 or click here to find out more.