Your Facebook is posting, the tweets are flying and your videos are streaming. But what are you getting out of them? How are they performing? Are your impressions up? How should you tweak your social marketing efforts to engage more people? If you’re analyzing your social media, you know the answers to all these questions. If you’re not, you’re probably missing out on many opportunities.

When it comes to marketing, there is no magic bullet – especially when it comes to social media. But when you incorporate analytics, you can:

  • Better understand your target audience and demographic information like gender, age groups, where they reside and more.
  • Track engagement to determine the type of content that is resonating and performing well with your audience.
  • Adjust your content strategy to create more impressions for your brand.

marketing analyticsSo how do you do this? One easy and effective tool is Google Analytics. With just a few clicks, you can see what ads and social networks are driving the most traffic to your website. You can also track your bounce rate to determine if your landing page is truly supporting your social content and advertising.

But let’s not forget the power of people. Chances are good that your brand has dozens, if not hundreds, of brand advocates and industry thought leaders. Reach out to them. Start engaging. Grow a social media relationship with them. Let their trusted voice tout your brand’s virtues.

By simply analyzing your social media content, you’re giving yourself a leg-up on your competition. This real-time information not only enables you to adjust your current content, but also gives you the ability to optimize your future content in a meaningful, effective way to gain more impressions.

And that’s the goal, after all.

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We live in an information age. And not just basic info. We’re talking targeted, content-rich information. People are demanding. They want what they’re looking for now. Immediately. And they get it on their computers at work. Their tablets during lunch. Their smartphones while standing in line at the grocery store. So how can your brand compete in this over-saturated information age? According to an article released earlier this year in Marketing Tech Blog, video marketing is the answer.

Here are a couple highlights:

  • 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video
  • 65% of video viewers watch more than ¾ of a video
  • Using the word “video” in email subject lines boosts open rates 19%, CTR rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%

So this begs the question: Do you have a YouTube channel for your brand? If you don’t, you need to get started. A basic User Channel or a Brand Channel are absolutely free. And a Custom Brand Channel is very affordable and gives you even more flexibility. Once you have one, the sky’s the limit. Your emails will have more power. Your website will generate more traction. And your message will reach more people.

Let’s face it, attention spans are short. People don’t read marketing materials like they used to. Call it edutainment. Call it branded content. Just be sure to call it yours.

Do you have a favorite brand video you’d like to share? Want to discuss who’s doing branded content right? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or on Twitter with the hashtag #BrandEvolutionist.

*Video credit to Ian Marceca, Motion 3D Content Specialist at The Partnership.

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Some say that social media is starting to wane in popularity. Others say it’s about to rise to new levels. And there’s data to support both points (go figure). But one thing is for certain: as long as there is a media channel that people go to, marketers will try to reach potential consumers on it. Here are seven things to watch out for in 2015:

1. The rise of Ello

elloYes, it appears as if Facebook may have some competition. Yet they promise an ad-free experience and to never sell users’ information to third parties. Hmmm, sounds interesting. Let’s see what marketers have to say about that…

2. Increase in Facebook ad pricing and demand

square-facebook-512As Facebook continues to lose post reach due to the “Filtered Feed Problem”, demand for promoted posts and ads is rising – along with their pricing. And by all indicators, we’re only going to see more of the same.

3. Twitter’s new business ad model will gain popularity

twitter-icon-png-13So far, Twitter’s testing of a new fee structure to allow businesses pay of certain performance-based actions rather than just retweets or clicks is gaining traction. This will give small and medium business owners much more flexibility.

4. Google+ will fade awayGoogle-Plus-Icon

Duh.

5. Instagram will become essential for image-based social marketing

Instagram_icon320x320Again, duh. With 200 million monthly users and counting, the rise in photo and video sharing, and the fact that marketers tend to like to show their products, this one is a no-brainer.

6. LinkedIn will be “the” B2B social network

LinkedinRight now, LinkedIn is slightly behind Facebook but has a small lead over Twitter with B2B folks according to the 2014 Social Media Examiner survey. But that appears to be changing as LinkedIn gains even more momentum. Besides, most companies don’t care to read your post about what you had for dinner last night.

7. Social media marketing will finally receive its rightful place as a key component of content marketing

Social_Icons

As more marketers realize the importance of content marketing, they’ll also realize the importance of distributing that content to their consumers efficiently and effectively while expanding their reach.

 

So what do you think? Will these come true or are these predictions just another sip of the social kool-aid? Time will tell.

 

Read more on Forbes.com in the article titled The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2015 (link to http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/11/19/the-top-7-social-media-marketing-trends-that-will-dominate-2015/).

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How Evolutionary Planning Can Help Brands Avoid Marketing Pitfalls in 2015

In our last post we talked about how Brand Evolution is most easily associated with what a brand looks like. But that just as often, it’s about how marketers react to the changing business or cultural landscape around them.

Cashing in on the world’s scariest brand name, Ebola

While Ebola isn’t technically a brand, that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying to cash in as if it was. And it’s not just makers of hazmat suits; it’s Ebola T-shirts and coffee mugs and even a line of snazzy neckties and plush toys. Wow, fun for the whole family!

The Partnership, Top Atlanta Ad Agency, Blog, Brand Evolution, Ebola, Lysol, PPC, Public Healthcare marketing

The Ebola PPC effort didn’t go viral as planned

Some very big brands saw an opportunity, too. And that’s where our story about marketing in and around the public health space really begins. With a team at Lysol, rolling out a digital campaign to capitalize on rising public Ebola anxiety.

It must have sounded like a great idea at the time. Lysol is, after all, a medical grade disinfectant that kills lots of germs. And consumers were clearly scared. Sounds like a win win, right? Except for one thing; there was no research proving what they were suggesting was true.

While that may have caused someone to raise a red flag in the past, in the digital age, temptation often trumps sensibility. So they put up a site and did some Ebola PPC to come in right above the CDC. But instead of getting a “Pharrel’s hat Looks Like the Arby’s Logo” like reception, the media picked up on the story and raked them over the coals for trying to cash in on consumer fear instead.

Be careful trying to “Dunk Your Oreo in the Dark”

So of course they ended the campaign and the clamor seemed to abate quickly. Though there may be some financial repercussion; RB, which makes Lysol, saw their stock begin to trail the market averages since then. While that may be due to other factors, the lesson is clear. Despite everyone’s collective desire to innovate and push the boundaries faster than the competition, sometimes it makes sense to do some homework before engaging in what public health people might call risky behavior.

The Partnership, Top Atlanta Ad Agency, Blog, Brand Evolution, Ebola, Lysol, Public Healthcare marketing

Source: JWT Anxiety Index, …Cons. Anxiety Around Ebola, 10/14

If they had done their homework, they might have learned that while 92% of consumers admire companies taking steps to fight Ebola, only a quarter of people give CPG makers permission to be such a company. This was the result of some timely research on consumer anxiety surrounding Ebola done by CPG savvy market researchers at JWT.

Planning vs. the “throwing the spaghetti at the wall” trick

There’s no doubt we’re all under pressure to make things happen. But let this tale be a lesson. Just because pretty much anyone with fingers/thumbs can use Twitter, that doesn’t make everyone equally qualified to decide how a brand should use it.

If brands don’t keep this in mind; if they don’t plan and vet ideas carefully, the result can be akin to “throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks.” And as you can see below, there doesn’t seem to be a difference between that and doing what Lysol did.

The Partnership, Top Atlanta Ad Agency, Brand Evolution, Ebola, Public Health Marketing

This is the Ebola virus, which as you can see bears a strong…

The Partnership, Top Atlanta Ad Agency, Blog, Brand Evolution, Ebola, Lysol, Public Healthcare marketing

… resemblance to spaghetti tossed at the proverbial wall

The problem for many marketers is, while the landscape around us changes daily, the methods we use to plan amidst constant change have not.

To address this, we created a new kind of strategic process called Brand Evolution PlanningTM that takes the more traditional linear planning process and modifies it to function as an infinite loop. The result is a way for brands to keep pace with the constantly evolving, never ending stream of inputs that might otherwise cloud their decisions.

While it can’t guarantee a brand might not run into a challenge like Lysol faced, Brand Evolution Planning can help brands be a bit more agile so that in the event something unexpected pops up, they’re ready.

It isn’t a brand, but we helped the CDC give it an identity

If BEP sounds of interest, we’d welcome a chance to talk. It will be 2015 in the blink of an eye. If you don’t move quickly (carefully), you might miss it.

BTW, if talking about Ebola seems strange for an agency; note we’ve known about it longer than most people outside the CDC, because we learned about it from the CDC. A few years back we built one of the first sites to educated the public about deadly diseases of future concern. Hantavirus was the prime focus then, and the CDC credited our work for helping them save a large number of lives around the world.

The Partnership, Atlanta Ad Agency, Top Advertising Agency, Brand Evolution Blog, Ebola Brand Identity Logo CDC

Visual identity The Partnership created for the CDC’s first Ebola public health education program

But Ebola was a growing concern, too. To help increase awareness of this then little known disease, we created the Ebola brand identity you see here (created using slides of the virus) which we later incorporated into a variety of CDC health education materials.

Funny thing is, our team still recalls going to meet CDC Ebola experts who we observed through the protective glass of their Level 4 Lab. As they exited, they were sprayed with some sort of chemical. “What’s that?” we asked.

“Lysol,” of course.

Too bad that story wasn’t online a few months ago… but it is now. And with that…

Here’s wishing us all a healthy, well planned and germ free 2015.

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“Brand. Brand. BRAND BRAND BRAND BRAND BRAND!”

There, we said it! The “B” word!

It may be OK now. But not many years ago, as marketing rocketed into digital, you often encountered a “what are you, a dinosaur?” glare if you mentioned it in a meeting. OK, maybe not at Nike, or P&G. But you had to be careful in a lot of other places.

We’ve come a long way since then, and most marketers embrace brand as part of all things digital, too. But in a meeting the other day, when an impromptu Brand Evolution discussion veered right to design, we realized the scope of what “Brand Evolution” is about may take a bit more time for some to grab on to.

The Partnership Atlanta Ad Agency Brand Evolution Kodak

From The Brand Evolution archives, filed under, identity design is just a part of the equation

 

 

So let’s set the record straight: Despite the topic of our prior blog post, Brand Evolution is not just about what a brand looks like. If it was, the visual evolution shown here would have led this one time most recognized brand in the world to have spawned the iPhone or GoPro or some other game changing device.  But instead they stand as a great example of how Brand Evolution can be about so many things other than design, such as consumer insight, innovation, corporate culture, etc. All of which can make great design seem irrelevant.

The point is, while design is often a part of it, Brand Evolution is less about looks than about proactively navigating the constantly changing environment brands live in today. Part of that change is driven by technology, which was a primary issue for Kodak. But it’s also about evolving consumer norms and expectations, shifts in the economic, political and environmental landscape, and evolving demographics and media consumption habits, to name just a few.

Ultimately, when we speak of Brand Evolution, we’re talking about the entire world your brand and customers live in today. Then taking a critical look at where it’s all going. And making plans for how you’re going to evolve what you’re doing, or not, to STAY AHEAD of the game. Or to CHANGE the game. Or better yet, BE THE GAME.

How a brand accomplishes this is something each marketer will need to determine for themselves. In fast-paced times, the rule book for managing change is rewritten daily.

Though The BrandEvolutionist does have an approach of our own that constitutes a good start. Check back soon and we’ll share a bit about it. It’s not magic. Though we’ll warn you, it may have you suddenly sending out giddy tweets ending in #BWORD!

Until then, we’d be happy to hear your thoughts or chat about your own Brand Evolution.

BTW, if you worked at Kodak, don’t take this personally. The BrandEvolutionist was there a few times, too, and saw first-hand it was a challenge that may have been too big for anyone to solve.

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Some brands evolve like wine and become better over time. While others, improperly cared for, become spoiled.

evolution_wineOf course, this is nothing new. Inattention to detail is often the road to marketing ruin.

But in our current social media infused culture of instant gratification, consumer expectations have been raised to a level such that, if you are not evolving in a steady fashion, making your brand better vs. older with age, your downward slide is a bit more visible than ever.

There are other evolutionary parallels between brands and wine to learn from. From cultivation to crushing to barrel aging, to bottling, and finally to opening, decanting and pouring… the making of a great wine is an arduous process. But there is one supremely critical element that dictates how wine evolves; oxygen. Wine, like brands, needs fresh air to evolve.

And that’s where the true parallel begins. Just like wine, brands achieve their best when nurtured in an environment where they are able to breathe and grow. That process can be as simple as breathing a bit of new life into a brand. Or it can take the form of a total resuscitation. Regardless of which end of this evolutionary spectrum a brand might be in, here are five lessons learned from fine wine to help even the most jaded brand approach things in a fresh new way.

1. Getting better with age – With fine wine, vintage can breed authenticity. But it can also lead to complacency. So stay true to your roots, but don’t rest on your laurels. In this market, we all know that age does not always come before beauty.

2. Embrace ephemerality – Wine is alive, evolving every day. Same for brands, and the environment that surrounds them. Case in point; today, everything is media. And it changes constantly. So brands need to change with it. So try new things at POS, or via mobile. Maybe, dare we say, check out Vine?

3. Listen to your audience – As with great wines, the audience that buys them is constantly changing, too. To stay in tune with their evolving needs, brands require constant check-ups. So test, learn, and adjust. Don’t be afraid to try a new varietal, it might be your next big hit.

4. Packaging and identity matter – There’s never been a time when great design was as important as it is today. A standout wine can languish on the shelf, while the right label can make an everyday wine leap right into your customer’s hand. Enough said.

5. Let it breathe – As noted, brands need fresh air to stay relevant. So keep your ideas and content current and creative. Remember, there are a lot of bottles on the shelf to choose from.

Of course the final connection between evolving brands and wine is to enjoy Everything in Moderation. You may feel a need or the pressure to change your entire brand. But gradual evolution is typically more effective than an overhaul. As with wine, too much of a good thing can make a brand groggy in the morning.

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AppleApple

Apple is the apple of every marketer’s eye. So many lessons to be learned from the gang in Cupertino. Without pontificating a long, drawn-out case study, let’s just look at how the logo evolution reflected the cultural transformation and evolution of the brand.

Apple’s logo is a mark that has subtly and softly moved from its initial representation of an orchard to the mark of the rainbow apple of the late ‘70s, when it became a “real” brand. The silhouette never changed, only the inside, which is a direct reflection of how the content of the brand has changed. Today, it’s a very elegant, yet minimal mark that relates well to Apple’s current product line-up. They have evolved from “creative community” to “global design leadership.”

 Milk

GOT Milk Image“Got Milk” launched in 1995 by the California Milk Processor Board (and later adopted nationally by The Milk Processor Education Program) allowed the entire dairy industry to join

the rarefied air of household-name brands like Coke and Apple. The campaign delivered total top-of-mind awareness. With a slogan that itself had spawned a million imitators, Got Milk? became a part of pop culture… Got this? Got that?

So what do they do at the top of their game? They changed the game! Why? Because, while milk sales have grown steadily over the years, a plateau was caused by the emergence of an entire industry of non-dairy milk like beverages riding on milk’s fame and fortune. Almond milk and soy milk and alternative beverages like energy drinks stole share, attention and shelf space from milk;  just as Greek yogurt has taken share from traditional yogurt. Enter the new slogan, Milk Life which glorifies the nutritional benefits offered by milk that many of these other products can’t deliver.

Special K

Special KSpecial K courageously took their products into new markets via extensions that made Special K a lifestyle/health/weight management brand versus a bland low-cal cereal brand built on sacrificing taste along with calories. Special K now offers a popular new cereal made with Quinoa. Their current web site, and American supermarket shelves now sport over 60 unique flavors, products and brands based on the Special K concept.

Special K was once just a line of cereals. Today, it’s a diet food empire. Special K’s evolution to stay relevant is critical for Kellogg. The company, which also makes Frosted Flakes and Eggo waffles, has been struggling to grow sales at a time when Americans are looking for on-the-go options. Last year, Kellogg even transformed the Special K website into a more sophisticated weight management site. Visitors can sign up for meal plans that help them reach their diet goal; at least one Special K product is included each day’s plan. The site now has more than 2 million members.

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darwin

At the heart of Darwin’s theory was the idea that each species adapts to its environment. From this process of change, new species arise. This theory has relevance to marketers seeking to spread their message in a changing marketplace; let’s call it marketing evolution.

While on a journey aboard the HMS Beagle, Darwin observed that every island of the Galapagos had its own type of finch. While these birds were closely familiar, they differed in subtle, but important ways. This holds truth when a marketer attempts to distribute their message across various platforms.

Darwin theorized that organisms best suited to their environment had a greater chance of survival and reproduction. They passed along their key survival characteristics to their offspring

Today’s marketers distributing brand messages through multiple platforms are prone to Darwin’s theory. Competing for attention in each channel, key “survival traits” are necessary to be optimally successful. Context and relevance matter — if they are neglected, the message disappears and the brand faces extinction.

Below are 5 theories Darwin outlined in On the Origin of Species, and how they apply to content marketing evolution:

1) Evolution “While species come and go through time, they change during their existence”: Branding and marketing isn’t new. Brands have always relied content to survive. But, content has evolved over time. It started as stories told around the fire to teach and entertain family and friends. Make sure your brand can evolve with the times. The best way to accomplish this is to use stories about your business. Story-building is how consumers will remember your brand.

2) Common Descent “While organisms descend from one or more common ancestors, they diversify from the original stock”: Diversify your content! Use various techniques – text, photos, info-graphics, videos, etc…

3) Species Multiply “Diversification involves the population of one species changing until they become two distinct species”: Allow your brand message to multiply. Create subsequent content around your core brand and products. Your brand will take on exponential lives.

4) Gradualism “New species don’t occur suddenly. Rather evolutionary alterations happen with small incremental changes inside populations”: Content distribution is not effective simply by getting it out there. Adapt it powerfully for each platform and channel.

5) Natural Selection “Evolution occurs due to differences between individual species therefore some variations provide improved chances for survival”: Just as natural selection affects species competition, each piece of marketing content struggles for attention. Success is not about mass volume attention but about the most relevant content to the most relevant consumer. Create content that ensures that. Successful messages survive.

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