Public sentiment toward big banks tanked in 2008 and still hasn't recovered. But Wall Street mainstay J.P. Morgan seemed unaware of any lingering hostility when it launched a Twitter marketing stunt in 2013, inviting the public to a Q&A session with one of its head honchos.
Instead of asking for career advice as the company had suggested, people took the company to task over corruption and illegal foreclosures, forcing the social media team to rethink its engagement strategy. "Bad idea. Back to the drawing board," J.P. Morgan tweeted after the barrage of snarky comments.
It was a classic case of word-of-mouth marketing gone wrong. Brands use the Q&A format to engage its audience and spark a public conversation about the products. But if you're out of sync with the very people you're trying to reach, this strategy will quickly spiral out of control.
Marketers can't just drop in on social media when it suits their own timeline, and they can't control the discourse about their products if it doesn't understand how the public perceives them. Word-of-mouth strategies require brands to listen before speaking or -- in the case of J.P. Morgan -- tweeting.
While advertising, email campaigns, and thought leadership content get your brand in front of your audience, word-of-mouth gives you invaluable credibility. A customer might be intrigued by an article your CEO published, be tickled by a funny ad you ran, or think your web copy says all the right things. But a recommendation from a trusted peer or colleague will motivate her purchasing decision more than any of those strategies.
Sixty-four percent of marketers believe word-of-mouth is more effective than traditional tactics, which is why they use social media and other platforms to influence the conversation around their brands. Frederick Reichheld created the net promoter score for this reason: to track the impact different influencers have on a company's success.
Word-of-mouth data provides valuable insights into the consumer mindset. Marketers can shape their messages to respond to audience concerns, use the same language or slang as their target customers, and address customers' anxieties about the company.
Think about how differently J.P. Morgan's Twitter chat might have gone if the company had acknowledged the public mood toward big banks and presented the session as an opportunity for people to share their grievances and fears with the company's leadership. The move would have seemed less self-interested and gimmicky and more like a sincere attempt to gain public trust.
Geek Squad's Robert Stephens made waves when he said, "Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable." While that's an oversimplification of advertising's purpose, he has a point.
Word-of-mouth gets people excited about your company. Customers swap stories about the brands they use, recount their best and worst experiences, and discuss how competitors compare. There's powerful emotional sway there, and marketers must learn how to harness word of mouth for their purposes.
Many CMOs listen to online word of mouth, but they don't really hear their audiences. They analyze the conversation to see where they need to respond at the expense of really understanding customers' experiences.
That's still an improvement over the past, when brands wouldn't engage at all (even when comments were targeted directly at them). Many brands have moved beyond silence to some level of responsiveness, but it's difficult for small teams to keep up with the constant flow of consumer conversation. Efficiency often wins out over genuine understanding.
A better system is needed for collecting and responding to the information. Here are some tips for benefitting from word-of-mouth data while communicating authentically with your market:
Employ a robust listening program
Train your team to look beyond Facebook likes and Twitter follows. Track mentions on different platforms to get to the meat of customer conversations. What did they like or not like? What advice are they offering their communities about your brand? Don't jump in with an instant response; see their experiences from their viewpoint.
Develop an insights workflow
You need a system for organizing and analyzing the unstructured data you pull from social media and other popular feedback forums. Work with your IT, marketing, and analytics teams to create a method that goes beyond dashboard metrics to highlight noteworthy observations and insights.
Segment and validate the data set
Look for feedback trends among different demographics within your audience. Then, talk with customers to confirm your findings and get their take on your brand experience. Conduct a top-down investigation into known business issues, and let consumer conversations dictate your priorities for future campaigns.
Separate the signal from the noise
Get clear on the types of information that will help you improve. Don't let useful data get buried under irrelevant or superficial input. Build your system around finding the most accurate and trustworthy intel.
Act on your insights.
Data is useless if it doesn't inform action. Implement changes to your business, marketing, and advertising strategies on an ongoing basis. Customers will appreciate the effort, and they'll talk you up as a dynamic, responsive brand.
Companies spend thousands -- even millions -- of dollars on consumer research. But word-of-mouth provides market data in its purest form, and you can access it through social media every day. Word of mouth plays a huge role in brand perception, and it should guide the way you respond to and interact with your audience. Are you listening?
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Branded video is one of the most powerful -- and shareable -- forms of advertising in today's increasingly fragmented world of digital media. The videos that get the most traction often grab viewer attention with an engrossing narrative. Since even a single successful video campaign can mean big things for a brand, online video has become a crowded space, with lots of players competing for consumer attention. So we're bringing you the most-watched campaigns of 2015 to showcase the creativity and thoughtful storytelling that can help a video advertisement far surpass the competition.
Last year's top 10 list showed us the power of drawing heavily on emotion, with trends like female empowerment and World Cup-inspired messaging rising to the top. 2014's most-watched campaign was Wren's "First Kiss," which gave viewers a peak at an intimate moment between strangers. This year, the top campaigns are enticing viewers with all kinds of emotion-driven narratives, featuring everything from humor, tolerance, and inspiration, to action, innovation, and puppy love (literally). You'll see major players Adidas and Samsung show up on the list once again, as well as a few brands that may surprise you.
The statistics compiled in the following video round-up come from Visible Measures. Each year, Visible Measures looks at thousands of campaigns and ranks their performances by its MRC-accredited True Reach metric. True Reach takes into account both brand-driven and audience-driven viewership. This includes copies and derivative content such as responses, spoofs, mixes, and mash-ups across hundreds of the internet's most-visited video sites.
In addition to True Reach views, Visible Measures calculated each campaign's total social interactions. This number includes YouTube comments and ratings as well as Facebook likes, comments, and shares. The social interactions figure can help demonstrate which campaigns went viral organically as opposed to those that relied more on paid traffic. For example, though they didn't quite make the top 10 list based on True Reach, Budweiser's "Lost Dog" and Kleenex's "Unlikely Best Friends" both garnered more than 2 million social interactions, suggesting a high level of shareability.
Ultimately, brands are looking for eyes on their messaging, but those that drive consumers to engage and share often have the most to gain. With that in mind, let's take a look at what marketers and advertisers can learn from this year's results. Here are the 10 branded video campaigns people viewed most in 2015.
Editor's note: This list represents the top 10 campaigns released in 2015 as of November 19.
Whether you're a CEO or CMO, crowdfunding is a viable way to raise funds for your business or cause. Last year, 22,252 projects were successfully funded on Kickstarter, with more than 2 million people backing a project for the first time. Even with such great success, crowdfunding is not an exact science, and ignoring basic rules can lead to avoidable blunders and quick failure.
Here are four basic blunders to avoid when seeking backers on crowdfunding platforms.
Understanding each platform can make a difference in what funds you receive, if any at all. For example, Kickstarter is all-or-nothing funding. The site, which focuses on creative projects, also requires goal deadlines. You must reach your goal by the specific deadline in order to receive the funds. GoFundMe, a personal fundraising site, allows you to keep the money you raise even if you don't reach your goal. GoFundMe does not set deadlines, but both sites charge fees.
Companies raising funds should also be aware of the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Regulation A+. Regulation A+ is an amendment to Regulation A, which allows companies to raise up to 5 million dollars from accredited investors. Regulation A+ allows companies to raise up to 50 million dollars from accredited and unaccredited investors. Both regulations have Tier 1 and Tier 2 rules.
Knowing how much money you need to raise is one of the most important decisions you have to make before launching a campaign. Take into consideration the platform's fees as well as what you will be giving to your supporters. If you plan to give away a t-shirt, that expense should be factored into your goal because you will need to deduct it from the funds. If your project is on an all-or-nothing platform, missing your goal will leave you where you started -- with nothing. However, hitting your goal without factoring in all expenses will also leave you without enough money.
Know what you need. Every dollar counts.
Crowdfunding platforms are frequented by people looking to support projects, but you still have to get the word out. This may seem obvious, but winning campaigns have consistent promotion. Most successful campaigns launch with a strong network. Start with the company's employees. Ask them to support the campaign and make it easy for them to spread the word. Create a great crowdfunding page with videos, graphics, social media messages, and copy that they can share on social networks. Use employee advocacy tools such as SocialChorus to manage the process.
Of course, media coverage is important too and should be a part of your outreach. Strong media and social media promotion can be the keys to success.
Your investors are supporting your project, so they want to be involved. Plan to consistently communicate with them. Your campaign's page should serve as an information hub. Regular updates gives supporters an opportunity to share project info with their networks and hopefully help you reach more potential backers.
In all, great projects and ideas are launched on crowdfunding platforms every day. Increase the chance of reaching your goal by following these guidelines.
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AdSorcery, a startup company, unveiled a platform for publishers to circumvent ad blockers at the Houston Technology Center (HTC).
Barnebys, the online search and valuation tool for artworks, antiques, and collectibles that has taken Europe by storm, will officially launch in the United States with an office in New York City.
Crain Communications launched personalized digital business publications in nine new markets: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Washington D.C.
Eleven, Inc. announced that Aaron Richard and TJ Tshionyi will join the company as director of innovation, a new position, and executive producer of digital, respectively.
GSD&M announced a round of promotions, including Erin Bernethy to associate media director, Amanda Parker to media supervisor, Pooja Iyer to media supervisor, Dorothy Patterson to media planner, and Sarah Denney to senior media planner.
KBS launched a campaign with Steve Gleason's Answer ALS foundation in partnership with the NFL -- with "A game-changing moment," to drive donations to research by rallying NFL fans around finding a treatment for the disease.
LatinWorks announced the appointment of Christy Kranik, a 12-year veteran of the agency, and former Dell marketing executive, to the role of executive vice president and general manager.
MAGNUS Media announced the inception of MAGNUS Sports, a fully integrated division dedicated to the worldwide representation of major athletes.
Millennial Media, now AOL-owned, has launched their first new offering post-AOL acquisition.
nFusion has taken on a variety of new hires including Tania Orstoga as senior designer, Anne Bortz as strategy consultant, and Gabriela Torres-Soler and Emily Wood as marketing coordinators.
Phelps, one of the West Coast's largest independently owned marketing agencies, announced that Ed Chambliss has been named president.
Verndale announced its appointment of Deb Grant to VP, creative director.
Editor's note: We list the companies and people alphabetically. Our bimonthly column is always looking for announcements, so please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even though content marketing is a relatively young discipline, significant changes have already taken place since its adoption in terms of how content is consumed by users. It wasn't too many years ago when most online content was consumed on a publisher's website from within an internet browser. Fast forward to the present: You now have the majority of content being read from within mobile apps from major platform providers like Facebook and Twitter. This shift cannot be underestimated, and it will heavily influence where content marketing is headed in 2016.
1. Marketers will finally embrace the new mobile consumer dynamic and get out of the browser mentality.
According to a comScore report earlier this year, the majority of time spent on digital media takes place within mobile apps, with mobile apps accounting for 54 percent of people's digital media time versus 38 percent on desktop devices. The massive move to mobile consumption will continue to grow. As a result, content marketers will develop a "mobile-first" mentality and will change how they deliver content.
First, content will be explicitly created to support the mobile consumption experience. Users tend to spend less time reading a particular piece of content on their mobile device than on desktop browsers -- giving marketers much less time to make a meaningful impression. Therefore, three things have become critically important: 1) mobile content must be shorter and include compelling visuals; 2) content must load quickly as mobile pages have higher bounce rates; and 3) the content must support a single-page scrolling experience.
Second, calls-to-action will be used to grow a loyal following. One of the challenges marketers face when their content is read inside of mobile apps is that the apps try to get users to remain in their silos, and they don't want users to go to other sites. Content read via mobile apps is not nearly as sticky as on a desktop, and the likelihood of a revisit is very low. As a result, calls-to-action that get users to return -- have them sign up for an email subscription, for example -- will need to be integrated within the flow of content.
We live in an age of ever-increasing mobility, and marketers should take heed.
In 2014, mobile data traffic alone was almost 30 times greater than that of the entire internet in 2000. In accordance with Black Friday sales, mobile traffic made up 52.1 percent of all online usage on Thanksgiving Day, exceeding desktop browsing for the first time in history.
It's no wonder, then, that mobile ad spend will reach $28.72 billion this year -- a number that is expected to rise to $65.87 billion by the end of the decade.
When you're spending that kind of money, be sure you're using it wisely. It's essential to research and understand your customer base so you can create engaging, relevant content for them. But you can't just repurpose this content from your desktop strategy to mobile and hope for the best.
Your mobile strategy needs to stand on its own, independent of (but enhancing) all other marketing efforts.
The difference between desktop web browsing and mobile browsing lies in the name: The first takes place in the home, while the other takes place on the go. Although it might not be the only distinction, it's a critical one. And to be successful with mobile, you must know how to harness your content so it works efficiently and effectively on all mobile platforms.
Here are five ways to optimize that on-the-go experience:
Keep written content short
Whether you're stuck in traffic, on a train, or waiting for your latte at Starbucks, you won't likely have time to read anything in long form.
People expect to receive very brief content via mobile. Text should be succinct, punchy, and resonate quickly -- and pretty pictures help, too.
Add video and music
In 2014, 55 percent of all mobile data traffic was attributed to people watching videos. Mobile video doesn't make up a huge chunk of advertising spend yet, but it's growing fast. Experts expect mobile video ad revenue to top $4.4 billion in the U.S. by the year 2018.
Like text, you want to keep videos short and engaging. Build.com does a great job with its simple and easy to follow DIY how-to videos. If you're not confident about creating this content yourself, consider brushing up on some expert advice or hiring somebody to make it for you.
Use a single-page layout
Don't make users click through page after page. My biggest pet peeve about the BuzzFeed layout is that you have to click "next" on each point. This makes sense for BuzzFeed because each page turned provides additional revenue.
However, if you're creating single-hit content, get to the point and don't ask users to do anything other than scroll. For an example of a great mobile layout, check out Buscemi's Chamber site. It's quirky pictures and videos are all formatted perfectly -- which only adds to the brand's perceived value.
Make sure your site is mobile-responsive
If you don't have a mobile-friendly website, you're doing it wrong. Your site may come out on top in a Google search, but 40 percent of people will go elsewhere if the site doesn't function well on mobile devices.
Furthermore, all of your blog content should look good on mobile, too. Check out "The Biggest Loser Bootcamp" on your smartphone. It looks just as clean there as it does on your desktop, with its weight-loss calculator and videos all seamlessly integrated. This brand knows how to keep people on its page.
Track your visitors
Knowing how people found your site is just as important for determining your future spend as compelling content. Placing a cookie on a browser is already difficult, and with the release of iOS 9, following your users could get a lot harder.
I'm a big fan of using UTM-tagged links with Google Analytics, RJMetrics, or HubSpot. This is a powerful tool for acquiring leads.
The mobile-marketing space as a whole will only continue to grow in the future. Within five years, we'll see mobile spend outpace desktop spend, and digital spend will top TV and radio ad dollars. This is already happening in the U.K., and the U.S. is not far behind.
Take full advantage of mobile by doing it right, and your brand can ride the rising wave of the mobile trend to greater revenue.
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Programmatic media executions have been fraught with scrutiny and held to standards that direct digital buys have not typically experienced. In the past, skepticism, fear, and distrust of technology have given programmatic a bad name, making the term synonymous with less desirable inventory. However, the general sense of the ease and efficiency that programmatic affords has led many brands and agencies to take programmatic in-house.
Brands wanting more transparency and control over media buys have decided to take ownership of every part of programmatic execution. With this ownership comes the dedication of an immense amount of time and resources essential to building a successful operation. Many brands have achieved and thrived in this ownership, but it's crucial to understand that although running a self-service operation is appealing, it may not be the right option for all brands across the board.
While an in-house self-service enterprise offers more insight and intelligence into media buys, it takes time, money, and resources to fully develop and maintain. The truth is that many marketers that say they do programmatic in-house really only have a login or two to a DSP, and continue to operate via IO's. They have not established seamless or long-standing relationships with partners, nor are they necessarily pulling the execution levers themselves. Self-service programmatic, in this sense, does not mean that the work of managing tech and vendors goes away; it just means someone new internally is responsible with the right tools and background to have it run smoothly.
First and foremost, whether programmatic is done in-house or via a managed service offering, marketers should have access to the right technology for a campaign's success. This means partnering with multiple DSPs, SSPs, publishers, third-party verification vendors, measurement solutions, and many others to maintain the advantages that come with choice. This approach also attains a holistic view of what is necessary in successful programmatic executions. Forging and curating these relationships requires a dedicated partnership team that is responsible for constantly vetting, evaluating, and keeping up with the multitude of new offerings, existing vendor updates, and technological advancements.
Brands must also be educated about the full particulars of trading media -- the when, where, what, and how that goes into executing programmatic campaigns. The knowledge and skill needed to manipulate data, deliver to the proper venues, and use the best technology to drive performance is crucial to running a successful programmatic in-house execution. Managing these moving parts demands a knowledgeable and experienced operation of account managers, traders, and data scientists that provide strategic, analytical, and technical support across all aspects of campaign execution.
Finally, marketers should have transparency into the various points of media execution. Transparency not only refers to media cost, but insight into the actual implementation of a campaign -- the creative upload and tagging process, the targeting set-up on various platforms, the optimizations being made to drive performance, the wrap-up reporting, and the strategy moving forward. From beginning to end, it is imperative to understand where, how, and when media is running to ensure maximum return on spend and future success. Partners can often obscure how impressions are transacted. It is important for brands to keep them honest and require insight into their methodology and inner workings of campaign delivery.
Achieving programmatic expertise, acquiring the right technology, and learning trading best practices while successfully hiring, maintaining, and growing the right talent is much harder than it seems on the surface. It takes time, money, and resources to build and cultivate a world-class, comprehensive programmatic operation. When bringing programmatic media buying in-house, marketers should be aware of and prepared with the right tools to ensure a successful execution.
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Turning digital ad creative into a performance engine rather than a cost center is no easy task. Fortunately, technology has progressed enough within the industry to allow marketers to accomplish stellar real-time creative optimization so that each ad is built, tested, and served to the ideal target consumer in an automated fashion. For years the industry has been limping along with best guesses when it comes to creating compelling ads and reaching target markets. Digital advertising campaigns have been occurring in silos, with ads being created, served, and reported by separate entities with poor communication as to what's working. We need a better way.
One company that's taken the reigns in order to change the game is the marketing industry's first creative side platform, RevJet. Founder and CEO Mitchell Weisman, a marketing and ad tech veteran, speaks to iMedia about why automated creative optimization is the key to reaching target audiences and why our tactics must fundamentally change to improve the current industry standard.
LinkedIn has a lot of great features, but many of them are under-used. One example is LinkedIn groups, which provides a lot of opportunity for connecting and communicating throughout the marketing industry. Are you making the most of this social feature?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
"Like anything else, you wouldn't just run one ad for your new product or service. If you believe the improved LinkedIn groups are target-rich environments, then you need to focus your efforts to establish yourself as an authority. Make sure you are responding to articles from others and providing strong and objective feedback. Engage with the members and build your reputation within the group."
"Use the groups as a networking platform. If you go in there expecting to sell, you will be in for a rude awakening. You need to enter these groups fully understanding that your time is best spent engaging in conversation and building meaningful relationships. This isn't the place to pitch or acquire social constants or email subscribers."
"Marketers can use LinkedIn groups to their advantage by creating highly relevant groups that provide content of value. What separates a good group from a great group is active members who are posting interesting and helpful discussions. This can be facilitated by a good moderator."
"Group members will have to take a more active role in making the content on the groups more valuable to not only attract new members but to retain current ones. By adding this new layer of exclusivity to groups, the members of the groups become more engaged and the content becomes more valuable since discussions aren't as public."
"The new features really enable groups to function organically, more like forums. When administering a group for your industry, these upgrades enable you to do every marketer's dream -- engage. Grab attention with images as you do on other social streams, attract industry influencers and engage them with mentions, and get direct access to member's inboxes with "highlight" emails."
"LinkedIn's limited messaging inside groups can be hard for some, but the massive upside for the savvy marketer and communicator is how much easier it will be to stand out and connect. With fewer messages to compete against, you can garner the attention of your ideal client. It'll be a little more work upfront to only message your best possible clients, but the payoff could be huge."
"Marketers can no longer mass publish irrelevant material on LinkedIn groups in hopes to land some leads. To take advantage of these changes, one has to hit these groups with actual value that will result in interested leads. These new improved groups force marketers to be more honest with the material they publish and it will result in leads that will be more likely to turn into clients."
"LinkedIn is not the stage for you to shout "me, me, me!" You've just got to be engaging and be personable. I think now is the time to focus on fewer groups. LinkedIn is making a push to improve groups and get more people involved. Pick two groups you care about. Focus on being a great member in those first. Then add more groups."
"Groups will be even more tailored to specific interests and talents. The new algorithm for the discover tab displays results based on skills, industry experience, group memberships, etc. These factors determine what is recommended. Marketers will have to focus searches and clearly define target markets in order to use the groups to their advantage."
"There are a couple of ways marketers can use new features. You'll now be able to mention other group members by name to alert them, similar to tagging people on Facebook. This is a useful way to initiate communication with members who might not otherwise check groups that much."
"I've seen great Linkedin groups fall victim to spam and self-promotion, dropping users and engagement, and eventually becoming irrelevant. LinkedIn aimed to improve the quality of conversation within the Groups feature that many complain is often filled with spam. To take advantage of the improved LinkedIn Groups, play to the platform's primary goal: tighten the reins on membership and control spam."
"If LinkedIn is taking steps to make groups less spammy and boost engagement, then they become great places to go to for market research and customer engagement. Forget pushing a marketing message. Now, anytime you want to find out more about your target market, reach out to people and ask for their opinions via groups. Find experts who contribute regularly and turn them into brand advocates."
"There is more useless garbage on LinkedIn than people have time for, so don't add to it! Don't keep shouting into the void by posting generalized info to your entire base when it's only useful to about 10 percent of them. LinkedIn is creating a powerful platform corralling individuals in unique groups, so leverage this to get new product info or helpful tips directly to the customers who care."
"The more valuable conversations you can get going, the more fine-tuned traffic you can attract to your page. Write content and publish, publish, publish. Also, if you own or manage a group, curate all of the posts and discussions provided by other group members and praise those who contribute valuable content."
"With the changes that are now arising within LinkedIn Groups, members are gaining many more rights to publish content, approve pending group member submissions, and so much more. Involve your group members in your marketing and promotions. Let them take part in ideas that are shared within the group, and share their experiences with your company through photos, testimonials, and more."
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What defines social media success? In the early days of social marketing, brands raced to amass legions of fans and followers. The accumulation of likes, tweets, shares, and impressions were considered by marketers as benchmarks of success. For brands, success often meant building, but not necessarily understanding, its social audience.
With the deep pool of data now available to marketers, we've begun to see a shift in how social success is defined: less by volume and more by action. By focusing on social segmentation, brands can use consumer data and social metadata to gauge not only the effectiveness of their content, but also the actual engagement of their audience.
Given the volume of social activity and data associated with some brands, the task of segmentation can seem potentially overwhelming. To help manage it, we've identified four steps to social marketing success.
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