social media marketing

To simply say your brand needs a presence on social media would be about the biggest understatement one could ever make. It is vital that you not only have a presence on social media, but that you know how to properly navigate the various social channels out there. And there’s only one proven way to do that: get a social media expert. Here are three reasons you need to do just that:

1. Time

  • Do you have time to develop a content calendar with content optimized for each social network? Do you even know what that means or how to do it? A social media expert does.
  • Do you understand the optimal times to publish content across social networks? Understanding exactly when these optimal times are ensures the highest customer reach and engagement.
  • Taking the time to complete and analyze reporting so you gain a strong understanding of:
    • Content performance across social networks
    • What’s driving clicks to your website
    • Your audience
    • Industry trends and conversations that will inform future content development
    • Industry influencers in which you can develop a content sharing relationship with

2. Expertise

  • A social media expert knows how to optimize your content for each social network. They know the secrets and tricks to posting to each network. They know the content and type of language that performs best. And they have the resources and time to stay on top of the trends and constant changes social networks make like:
    • Instagram post links are not clickable.
    • Twitter only allows 140 characters, yet Direct Messages can exceed the 140 character count
    • The SEO value of a Google+ post
    • The longevity of Pinterest content

3. Brand Awareness

  • Once your brand has mastered the Time and Expertise criteria, awareness and website traffic will greatly improve as a result. You’ll find your investment in getting the right experts to be well worth it.

What do you think? How is your social media team making an impact for your brand? Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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inbound marketingWe keep hearing how important it is to drive traffic to your website. But the question is how?

With inbound marketing.

In simple terms, inbound marketing activities bring customers into your website – blogs, podcasts, social media, videos, SEO and other content marketing efforts. So how is the content on your inbound marketing different than what’s on you website? Let’s look at a blog verses a website.

Blog

  • Content is updated frequently and is conversational in manner and tone
  • The content can link to a conversation within the blog or on social media
  • The content is topical and less static
  • It’s a way for customers to get answers, stay informed and stay connected to your brand

Website

  • Content is static and does not change often
  • The manner is less conversational and more business focused yet the tone stays conversational
  • Content is organized by hierarchy rather than date
  • Communication is based around your business, products and services

The key is to invest in inbound marketing efforts that not only capture the attention of your audience, but invites them to engage with your brand. When you do that, you’ll see a boost in your website traffic.

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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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“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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sbx_logo_evolution_2

Brands evolve in many ways, some very visible, others not. Graphic identity is the most visible, and personal, sort of change. But it can be a risky business: The Gap, The Big Ten, and Starbucks have all had recent changes which have garnered some pretty strong, and often negative, consumer response.

Today consumers are more protective of “their brands,” taking ownership in ways that are different from the past. Once passive users have become active stakeholders. So change has to be done carefully. That’s where an evolutionary approach can be effective. Sometimes subtle changes can be the most powerful, altering people’s perceptions without anyone realizing anything is different.

Of course, sometimes more dramatic change is required. It’s worth noting the most successful such updates occur when they’re purposeful, yet respectful, of the past.

Whether your evolution is subtle or drastic, one thing is certain. Change for its own sake, or to make something more current in and of itself, is not the route to success.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your visual Brand Evolution:

  1. Consistency – While it seems contrary to change, consistency is a critical component to successful changes in branding. Marketers sometimes miss that consistency doesn’t come from a logo alone, but rather, it is something that is built and developed through many elements in a brand identity system. Consistency engenders loyalty and with time, a sense of authenticity. It is the design and use of a robust and thoughtful identity system that allows brands to practice consistency across geographies, throughout communications, and within product and service experiences. Consistency generates greater awareness and familiarity; when it is done well it can even give a brand the flexibility and credibility to evolve. A good example being the new www.shareacoke.com campaign, which shows the true power of a consistent brand.
  2. Authenticity – The most successful brands use change to signal true change at a company. A new identity says something is new. If it’s the same old product and attitude, change could very well disappoint.
  3. A Process for Communicating Change – So you’ve made the decision to change. You’re excited. You’ve done your homework, written the brief, and explored your options. You’re ready to unveil a fresh new identity. How do you make your announcement and make sure that you’re not merely rationalizing the change with “brand speak,” but actually creating a positive impact on your business? Communication of change is critical, because it is human nature to find comfort in the familiar. Over time, we’ve found two critical factors to communicating change with success. They are both about giving people reasons to believe, or “walking the walk” versus merely “talking the talk.”
  4. Internal Communications – The first people to talk to are the people inside. They are people who represent the brand, sell it, support it, and bring it to life. Too often, insiders are last to know. It’s unfortunate, but there are too many examples of insiders being the last to know when it comes to company news like new branding or new communications. When you engage support from the inside out, you build ambassadors among those most able to help manifest your vision day in and day out with your customers.
  5. Contextualize – Context is critical to delivering a meaningful evolution versus a purely aesthetic or ego-driven change. When these two considerations are in balance then you earn the privilege of being able to change your brand and to do so while allowing people to consider it “their brand” as well as yours. Big brands need to have the courage to change, but they need to do it with respect for their past, with sound reason for evolution, and a smart plan as they announce their news to the world.

 

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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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building brand

It seems like you can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting an ad guy espousing the benefits of evolving your brand. So how do you separate the pretenders from the contenders? How can you tell the hucksters from the buck-sters? In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Turn on your TV, go online, read a magazine – do you see much evolution out there? We see a lot of stuff that looks exactly the same. Do not confuse wacky advertising with brand evolution. In fact, we believe one of the biggest reasons everything looks the same is because most of it is just plain wacky and there is no actual evolutionary branding. Anyone can stick a new logo on the ad, that’s not evolution, either.

Here are 5 ways to really be evolve your brand in your messaging:

1) Talk to your core (but invite others to listen in). In this era of specialization, you can’t be everything to everybody. Stop trying to appeal the largest common denominator. Be a reductionist, both in your messaging and your targeting. Brands evolve from the inside out.

2) Stop talking to yourself. An unexpected insight cannot come from within – it must be discovered externally. The simplest insights are unexpected. Reject complexity. Be simplistic. You can tell the brands that are talking to themselves: their messages are complicated. Evolution is simplistic…natural.

3) Sell something with your ad. It’s not trendy, or wacky but selling your product or service hard is not for the faint of heart. It’s hip these days to say, “people don’t want to be sold and they are bombarded with messages all day.” Okay, so what? In the face of that how will you sell? Some agencies do this very well. They’re not ashamed to drive transactions.

4) Be a category of ONE. Courage means having the conviction to break away from the conventions of your category. Most brands can swap their logos with their competitors and nobody would really be able to tell the difference. The insurance category is a recent exception; Flo, The Duck and Mayhem are distinctly different directions within the same category.

5) Trust your eyes and ears. If it can’t pass the “out loud test” – it will fail. You’re a smart marketer, so prove it. Maybe the best campaign of this century is Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World.” It’s the first time a beer brand sold beer to a target that “doesn’t always drink beer.” But, it works because it was the smartest approach for the brand. It was the smartest way to talk to their target. This is brand evolution at its best.

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