Month: March, 2015

30 Mar

So many apocalypses, so little time

Mike Koehler social media Tags: ,

You better make sure you are on Ello. And Kik. And Tinder. And Snapchat. No wait, make that Meerkat. Or probably Periscope. It’s a game-changer. They are all game-changers. AND YOU MUST BE ON THEM.

And don’t forget to make your website mobile-friendly. And optimize your spring holiday chatter. And make sure your dog is hashtagged.

If not, it’s digital marketing doomsday.

It’s been quite a few weeks in our world, not to mention a tumultuous start to 2015. Platform performance is shifting under our feet, as many of them continue to wrestle with how to meet the demands of revenue, while still innovating and, honestly, keeping shareholders and advertisers very happy. Plus, I think Mark Zuckerberg is planning to build a house on the moon, so those Facebook dollars need to keep flowing.

But it seems like the more we talk to customers as well as potential clients, things aren’t getting more complicated, they are getting more simple. There is something to be said for keeping up with the latest social media networks as well as understanding the best practices online. Digital marketing strategies are, after all, based in a world that is much more nimble and fast-paced than traditional media.

At its heart, the pulse of what we do remains the same.

I was putting together some slides last week for a presentation in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I think I finally created one that distills how we explain our process, our execution and our explanation of return on investment.

And it had nothing to do with hair-on-fire hysterics or an overwhelming amount of do-this-or-else finger-wagging. It has to do with making it easy for people to understand how social media works.

strat-slide

I don’t dismiss any of the ideas we’ve shared here before: That businesses benefit from teams like us to help them keep track of trends. Strategy is still at the center of everything we do and bad content is definitely bad content.

But if we treat each day like the walls are going to come down and don’t react to every tweak that happens and every feature that drops, we lose sight that we should be building content-and-customer relationships – not bunkers.

19 Mar

Smirkcast Episode 5: Brand content value vs. noise

Allie Carrick Content, Podcast, Smirkcast, social media, social media strategy Tags: , , , , ,

In this episode of Smirkcast, Smirk New Media strategist Allie Carrick explains why content should still be the foundation of any social media strategy, how to put content quality first and breaks down what effective content looks like for brands these days. Allie gives tips to help brands craft content that adds value to the conversation, instead of consuming it with noise.

Play
10 Mar

Google+ splits into Photos, Streams and Hangouts

Michaela Lawson Google Plus, social media Tags: , ,

A significant announcement from Google was overshadowed last week in the wake of “the dress” debate that split social media conversations.

According to WIRED, Google+ has finally met its imminent demise as a competitor for Facebook and Twitter and has announced its breakup. Google hopes to continue as a social network site, though. With these changes, your social, interactive experience won’t be relegated to a single screen with too much white space and not enough people.

As social media has shifted from updated streams of content to specialized and specific aspects of communications through photos and messaging, Google+ follows the trend by splitting their services into their own platforms.

The original concept of a one-stop spot for all things social is changing into three branches (or more) of the social sphere – Google+ stream, photos and communication. Much like other platforms, which have specific functions, Google intends for each of their platforms to excel in their own ways.

Google+ already excelled in photo storage, editing and sharing that offering users advanced techniques, like the capability to combine multiple photos to create one with everyone smiling and create high-speed gifs of your favorite successive shots. Now, the service will optimize these features, making storing, editing and sharing your photos even more enjoyable.

Hangouts were also a versatile communication tool for Google+ that supporting text, audio, video, emojis and photos for a variety of communication outlets and preferences.

This multi-platform split allows for Google to continue observing the things that make their users unique individuals, which Google+ excelled in as a platform. It transcended all other services and created an image of the individual user, allowing Google to tailor advertisements to the right audiences on the right avenues.

Content will still stream on Google+ and businesses can still generate creative content on the platform, leading to better SEO and higher search rankings. The specialized streams and photos will allow businesses to maintain a multi-platform voice for their audiences and specialize messages based on the function of the stream or platform.

Businesses can optimize the photo album feature of Google+ as its own branch, allowing easy sharing between co-workers and create and archive photos from their business for future marketing pieces.

Hangouts will become a specific messaging platform, similar to Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, allowing for businesses to have open and instant communication with each other and consumers.

So, whether the dress is blue and black (which it is) or white and gold, the more important split is the one on Google+, which will open the possibilities for more specialized (and useful) platforms for businesses and consumers alike.

06 Mar

Moneyball comes to social media

Mike Koehler Content, Facebook, Marketing, Small Business, Social, social media, social media strategy, strategy Tags: , , , ,

Mark Zuckerberg is many things, but he’s not a dummy. He’s also a multi-billionaire. He also holds (and pulls) the strings on a social media platform very important to us and our clients.

So it’s been no surprise as Facebook has become more focused on money. Since going public, Facebook is looking for a steady steam of revenue. And, frankly, for too long we’ve been able to leverage content on the site, especially promotional business content, to a captive audience without ever having to pay a penny to Facebook.

That all changed at the beginning of this year, when Facebook turned around the rules of what kind of reach sales-driving content got for free. The answer: Zero.

Boosting posts and buying ads in order to improve reach is now a must for all businesses. And for people sitting in our seats as strategists, so is the importance of understanding the nuances of just what they are getting for that money. This is not a matter of throwing tons of money at a platform and all your problems are solved. Like everything with social media, there are a lot more intricacies to that, especially if you are looking to reach very specific audiences with very specific messages.

This is where we can put into play what seems to me to be the Moneyball aspect of social media strategy work. For those of you nerds who haven’t been plugged into sports for the past decade, “Moneyball” is a best seller written by Michael Lewis, about how the Oakland A’s used data to make decisions about the players they would add to their team rather the gut instincts of their scouting department, because it allowed the A’s and their limited payroll to compete with teams like the Yankees who were able to stock up on talent with big-money contracts.

This Moneyball idea has since spread to many other sports teams and businesses, who are looking to analytics in order to draft the best players and make their personnel dollars stretch when it comes to competing with other, often larger and more revenue-rich, organizations.

As someone who works with small and medium sized business, and is part of one myself, this Moneyball philosophy has a lot of appeal. But I’ve also seen the idea of precise targeting of dollars in social media spending be trampled by a run-away elephant of brands who are throwing cash at agencies, who in turn throw it at the platforms with no real strategy in place. Aside from the strategy of SPEND!

This is the New York Yankees plan, and I guess works at times, but it becomes a battle only the most bloated powers can fight.  A big enough company could, in theory, buy so many ads on so many platforms to make any targeting unnecessary. They want to reach everyone, and indeed they will reach everyone. But then does that reach turn into transactions, or by then are people so sick of the brand buying its way in front of their eyeballs that they want nothing to do with them?

And on the agency side, is there any effectiveness in taking loads of money to buy a wide reach when none of those customers are going to have any relationship with your brand. It’s like we say about follower and fan numbers – you can get a billion Chinese people to like your page if you pay enough money, but unless your small business in Edmond needs a billion Chinese customers it doesn’t do you any good. Anyone who has done and continues to do this sort of unfocused cash dump for clients is only interested in their piece of the cash dump.

Now let’s get back to Moneyball. What does that look like in the digital marketing space? It looks a lot like targeting to a very nitty-gritty audience in order to make $5 or $10 a day into a potent weapon, while at the same time using great content to continue to service the audience who are sticking with your brand every day on social media. Fortunately, the platforms continue to provide us in the social media strategy building world with metrics, statistics and data that shows results, often in real time, just as the originators of Moneyball had at their nerdy fingertips when they were determining the real value of players who got on base or were efficient with each at-bat.

In a world of online marketing, where every dollar counts, where every piece of content is a doorway between your brand and a potential sale, and where the rules can be changed from day-to-day on the whim of a young billionaire, it pays to be agile and able to make smart moves instead of big ones.

02 Mar

How I learned to give up and love Instagram

Mike Koehler Content, Instagram, Social, social media, strategy Tags: ,

We’ll skip the gory details of life in the 1980s and skip straight to today’s underlying premise: I’m old.

Totally. For sure.

But as social media has evolved over the past decade or so, I’ve tried to evolve with it – while remaining true to my favorite platforms. But for all of the changes sweeping across the web, up until the past few weeks, one social network had failed to trip my trigger.

Instagram.

Didn’t like it, didn’t get it, understood the value for a brand and as part of a social media strategy, but otherwise, it was one big meh.

That was until early last month, when we revitalized Smirk’s dormant account and I began to check it regularly. The Smirk New Media team already had some diehard Instagrammers and we had been executing content on some interesting client accounts, but in February, it all clicked.

One of the biggest benefits I’ve seen is how Instagram really redefines how you see potential content as well as how you can frame content with a little more eye to artistry than some of the other platforms (especially now that Facebook seems to be going against the grain to de-emphasize photo content in order to prop up video reach on Pages). Plus, at the moment, they’re not playing games. When users log in, they will see the most recent content from ALL of the accounts they follow.

As a big fan of Twitter hashtags, I’m also interested in how Instagram has grown its Twitter culture. I’ve witnessed first-hand how clients (and my teenage son) have connected with subcultures and ardent fans just based on hashtag use. Though I’m still not crazy about wild hashtag abuse on Instagram – the record I’ve seen for one post is 27 – I think using it as a niche audience finder is great.

Knowing Instagram’s solid audience numbers amongst the young – Fieldhouse Media’s latest survey found 80+ percent of college athletes are using it daily – it’s fair to say there are strategic advantages to using it. Are there workflow issues with it? Lord have mercy, yes. But, for the most part, Facebook’s ownership has done its best not to muck up a good thing, and if that continues, I just may like it more.

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