Author: Thomas Fleming
Storytelling is the best marketing. Have you ever heard that before? In the current age of media, it couldn’t be more true.
People don’t care for or pay attention to statistics or facts as much as they used to, mostly because they don’t translate well online. These days, the average internet or social media user responds more to things that they can personally connect with. Businesses with a strong and adaptive social media and online presence have utilized this knowledge and brought storytelling to the forefront.
Scroll down your Facebook feed. You will assuredly come across a video about a person or thing that tells a short story. Some videos don’t even have footage or unique content, but rather just tell a story through pictures and text. Yet these spread like wildfire across social media, much more so than if it were just a post full of text. Companies like Vox or Buzzfeed were social media pioneers in how they harnessed sensationalism to spread their works and draw people back to the site. Now, there are plenty of big companies who have delved into the world of digital storytelling in an effort to better connect with potential consumers.
The smartest companies know how to draw people in with stories, even when their company might not inherently contain a large number of interesting ones. General Electric Health recently created a 30-minute documentary, Heroines of Health, which tells the story of women bringing healthcare to their communities in India, Africa and Southeast Asia. GE has created its own social media campaign, releasing a one-minute clip of the story on a Heroines of Health Instagram page each day. In its first week, the clips have received a combined 250,000 views and 400 personal bookmarks.
Stories and clips like these allow companies to connect with the consumer on a personal level. This Rappler article just wrote about a recent marketing convention in the Philippines entitled #ThinkPH 2017, which put a large focus on connecting to the consumer through storytelling. Writer Marj Casal, who covered the event, pointed out how many of the summit’s speakers, including CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Philippines Donald Lim, emphasized the importance of using digital marketing to connect with people.
“Lim reminds us that websites and apps are just platforms and that we should look beyond them,” Casal said. “We should focus on capturing the human experience so brands become more relatable and approachable.”
Stories are no longer strictly told via longform newspaper articles. Now, they’re prevalent both online and across most social media platforms. The ability to tell stories is quickly becoming more and more imperative for companies looking to better connect with the consumer.
Many businesses are stuck deciding whether to use digital or traditional marketing. Although traditional has ruled in previous decades, digital is becoming more and more popular. In fact, 2017 will be the first year where digital spending will outweigh traditional spending, and it’s no coincidence. Digital marketing has surpassed traditional marketing because it’s the smarter and more effective option. Here are the four biggest reasons why digital marketing is the best route for any company.
1. Traditional marketing, like print or radio advertisements, can’t be aimed toward a specific audience like digital marketing can. These ways of advertising are like guessing games, being thrown into the public with the hope that someone will be interested. Digital marketing, on the other hand, can be meticulously tailored to a certain demographic, which both increases its effectiveness and allows for a more individualized message.
2. Old-fashioned advertising can’t offer any specific information about audiences viewing your advertisements. A company could run a print ad, for example, but they have no way of knowing how many people payed attention or what kind of people they were. In digital marketing, companies can target from the beginning. Modern analytics allow for companies to observe their campaigns in real time. Not only that, but they can follow through potential transactions, which allows retargeting to the ones who become costumers.
3. With the surging popularity of digital consumption, people are reading newspapers and listening to the radio less and less. Even television has seen a recent drop in consumption. According to the Pew Research Center, 38 percent of Americans currently get news from digital media platforms, surpassing radio and print at 25 and 20 percent, respectively. The most successful marketing campaigns are those that reach the most eyeballs. These days, current trends indicate that those eyeballs are online, and those trends only continue to increase.
4. Traditional advertising can be costly. Companies can pay thousands of dollars for a commercial, for example, just for the opportunity of a positive result. Additionally, commercial costs can fluctuate based on the length and the air time, so many commercials will get placed in unfavorable time slots if companies aren’t willing to pay big money. With digital marketing, the buy is more affordable. It can reach hundreds of thousands of people using online strategies, with the cost as low as mere cents per each result.
In today’s day and age, the world is constantly becoming more online, and digital marketing is the clear path for success. Not only is it more cost-efficient, but its metrics and analytical capabilities allow for constant improvement and tweaking, as opposed to its more traditional, static, counterpart. If you want your company message to be heard, and you want to fully optimize your marketing success, then digital marketing is far and away your smartest and best option.
AI and bots may be what’s next online
Automated response technology has often received a bad reputation for how frustrating it can be in over-the-phone and online situations, but recent artificial intelligence developments have brought a huge improvement to the art of the AI-human relations.
The chatbot has quickly become the new thing in business and sales customer service, and it does so with a customizable personality and style. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, for example, has a chatbot named Rose who helps customers with questions about the hotel and surrounding areas via text. But the chatbot often includes quippy remarks or comebacks, and has even been described as a “sultry siren.” Another example, Taco Bell’s TacoBot, helps customers place orders on an application. The bot allows anyone to fully customize their order and enter delivery details.
The biggest potential with artificial intelligence usage lies in costumer service for large-scale businesses. Bots can provide customers with a 24-hour availability, and with advancements in AI and natural language processing (NLP), bots are capable of understanding formal and informal dialogue, punctuation and even emojis. These bots can also act as an online consultant while a costumer is shopping, which is a great way to keep shoppers on the site and eventually buy product. “Businesses are gaining a greater understanding that the customer service aspect of social media and digital platforms will be critical going forward,” said Smirk New Media president Mike Koehler. “Using bots will enable businesses to make sure customers are delivered basic information and receive some interaction from brands.”
But while they chatbots can be helpful, they still need some tweaking. Some complicated costumer service situations can perplex basic AI, and they should still be supervised by a human. “There is still a critical piece missing in how a brand discovers the right voice for its content and shows humanity in its interactions,” Koehler said. “Fortunately, you still need humans for that.”
AI is quickly becoming a valuable tool for large companies, as it has provided a way to better connect with customers while simultaneously saving millions every year. Although there is room for improvement, chatbots are adequately programmed to serve an important purpose in the business world, and their usage will only increase in the future.
Social media has quickly become an integral part in almost every company’s marketing strategy. The two biggest social media platforms for companies are Twitter and Facebook, but Instagram can also be a valuable social media tool. When used correctly, Instagram can help a business showcase its product and increase its following. But there are plenty of businesses out there who aren’t using it to its full potential, or they’re making simple errors in social media marketing. Here are four easy do’s and don’ts for companies new to Instagram.
• Do utilize Instagram’s analytics. Instagram does an excellent job tracking your audience engagement; it’s one of the app’s best apps for businesses. Make sure to see what posts get the most engagement, as well as keep an eye on other factors like what time is most efficient for posting and which demographics you’re attracting most.
• Do create one consistent voice for posting. Ideally, there’s only one person who posts on your company’s account. But if not, make sure that each post feels the same.
• Do make your posts original and creative. Put some thought into what you’re posting, and avoid using stock photos. Some companies, depending on what they do, will come up with fun graphics or short videos to use on their social media accounts. Many other companies will take original photos and edit or filter their pictures to make them stand out. You can edit your photos as well, but don’t go overboard.
• Do find ways to engage with your followers. Ask for photos of consumers with your product and repost the best one. Use promotional strategies like awarding discounts or having followers like a post for a chance at a reward. Don’t be afraid to reply to commenters, but again, use one consistent voice and keep it professional.
• Don’t overpost. Nobody wants to have their feed cluttered with posts from one account. As a company, it’s good to stay active on social media, but you should limit your posts to one or two posts a day, if not just a handful a week. Anything consistently over that is way too much. It’s always a great idea to schedule your posts so that you make sure that they’re adequately spaced out.
• Don’t repost the same content over all your social media accounts. Each account should be unique and have its own voice and purpose. The worst mistake is to repurpose Instagram posts on Facebook or Twitter, where your post only features the link and doesn’t show the picture. Use Instagram for Instagram only and avoid crossing over.
• Don’t go overboard with hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to expose your account to new eyes, but there’s no need to fill the post with more than three or four. Put a focus on only using the most relevant hashtags, or the ones that might lead to an increased engagement or following.
• Don’t expect to have a massive following right away. It’s okay to have a small, dedicated following as your end goal. Additionally, never buy followers or pay for automated comments. Not only is it a cheap way to get quick results, but it won’t help you in the long run. Fake accounts don’t like your posts or engage on your profile and they won’t buy your product, so don’t waste your time with them.