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.
Smirk New Media celebrated its seventh anniversary this summer. That milestone compelled us to step back and be grateful. We survived every variable a startup grapples with and adapted to those challenges. Watching our team grow was the best part. Each new face is defining our culture for the better and contributes to every win.
We are thrilled to welcome a new strategist to the Smirk family, Emily Martinez. Emily will bring her passion for social media marketing strategy to account management and content development. We will give her the floor to introduce herself in her own words.
I am from Austin, Texas, but the Keep Austin Weird vibes weren’t enough to stop me from crossing the Red River for college. I attended The University of Oklahoma and graduated with a degree in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science.
When I came to Norman for school, I thought I would always end up back in Texas, but four years later I found myself in love with OKC, the Thunder, and the Keep It Local atmosphere. Part of me will always be deep in the heart of Texas, but Oklahoma City is such a unique and lively place to live that I could not be happier starting my career here!
Apart from the social reasons, Oklahoma City was the best choice for me because I was interested in refining and enhancing my digital marketing skills. From my research, I knew that Smirk was a pioneer in the field I was after, so I set my sights on their firm. I have acquired a diverse set of skills and I intend to utilize and build upon each of them at Smirk.
I am a very passionate worker and have been performing in a professional setting since 2011. My first true passion was writing, and I was able to build upon that during a two-year stint as an Intern/Contributing Writer at the Austin American Statesman. Through my coursework at OU, I discovered Social Media Marketing and fell in love with the idea that these platforms transformed an industry previously reliant on billboards and newspaper ads to a conversational, accessible, and personalized market.
I threw myself into my studies and found internships and extracurricular activities that allowed my knowledge to grow. My most recent experience allowed me to explore a facet of digital marketing I did not have as much experience with search engine optimization. I have always been fascinated by technology and how things work, so SEO meshed very well with my “techie” side.
Considering my background in journalism, passion for social media marketing, and love all things tech, setting my sights on a career in digital marketing was a no-brainer. I counted down the hours to my first day at Smirk and I am loving every minute of it!
However, I haven’t given you the full scoop on “Who is Emily Martinez?” just yet. I mentioned my first passion was writing, which has now evolved into digital marketing, but now I want to touch on my other passions in life…
First, dogs. I love all of them, but I especially love my two bloodhounds that we rescued last year named Brick and Daisy. If an opportunity presents itself, I will show you their Instagram page that is run by my parents (@brickanddaisy). Second, Star Wars. I have R2D2 and Chewbacca on my keys and a Millennium Falcon figurine on my nightstand, and if you haven’t seen the original three movies, I would be glad to give you a verbal play-by-play. Finally, Italy. I spent a semester abroad in Arezzo, Italy, and the food was phenomenal, the people were friendly, and I hope to live in a Tuscan villa when I retire.
The number one metric in digital marketing? Eyeballs.
The problem? Consumers are doing everything they can to protect their peepers from brands online.
The latest news – a new survey showing ad blocking on laptops is now at 40 percent of all users. On mobile, the number is 15 percent and rising. After years of flashing, spinning and stalking banner ads, consumers have gotten sick of being sold to in certain ways.
What they still want though, are stories.
In a world where consumers are building walls, great online content can be a ninja for brands, sneaking over the wall and through the cracks to stand right next to their audience. Content wins the ad blocker game because social media users have already opted into a relationship with brands. That audience wants to be part of the give-and-take of attention and solid storytelling. But they will shut their eyeballs if that content is boring, trite, too salesy, predictable or not valuable to them. The challenge for content creators then is not a piece of code that could make your brand disappear, but an emphasis on quality which will keep it alive, well and visible.
— Mike Koehler
Smirk Slant is a series of short blogs offering quick reactions to the latest news in social media and digital marketing.
Smirk New Media announced Monday Allie Carrick has been named president and managing partner, effective immediately.
Carrick is a six-year veteran of Smirk and has served as managing director for the last year-and-a-half. She will now lead Smirk’s team of strategists and handle day-to-day operations.
Founder Mike Koehler will remain chief strategist, focusing on strategic partnerships, brand growth and future initiatives.
“Allie has been an essential piece of Smirk’s growth since the minute she joined the team. We believe, without question, she is the top digital marketer in the state and her work reflects that,” said Koehler, who launched Smirk in 2010. “We see this as another chapter in the company’s progress. Allie will inspire our team every day.”
Under Carrick’s leadership, Smirk has expanded its brand portfolio and improved execution across its clientele. These actions helped drive solid topline growth and expanded the company’s market share in Oklahoma City and beyond.
“In an industry that never stands still, I’m excited to take this step forward as we continue to grow and expand our services,” Carrick said. “I am proud to work with our team to produce cutting edge digital strategies, original content and an empowered staff in a culture of creativity and innovation.”
Koehler looks forward to concentrating his attention on bringing more of the innovations to digital marketing that lead Smirk to be the first independent social media marketing agency in Oklahoma.
“I’ll spend a lot of my time thinking deep thoughts about how digital marketing is changing the world and keeping Smirk on top of it,” Koehler said. “This continues to be a revolutionary business, and the future is very, very bright.”
Carrick is also the past president of OKC Social, the local professional group for digital marketers.
About Smirk New Media
Founded in 2010, Smirk New Media specializes in all things digital, executing robust digital marketing strategies and social media management for organizations of every size and industry. Smirk’s team is a powerhouse of marketing, social media, SEO, pay-per-click, public relations and advertising experience. Smirk serves clients across the U.S. from its headquarters in Oklahoma City.
In the years since social media first burst onto the scenes, there’s always been a jostling among the platforms to prove which is best, most popular and actually making a profit. Facebook has emerged as the giant, but that doesn’t mean the second place hasn’t turned into a mad scramble.
At Smirk New Media, we preach that your audience should dictate the platforms your business uses. It’s still true and the cornerstone of many strategies, but when it comes to walling off the contenders from the pretenders, what comes next?
In the case of Instagram vs. Snapchat, it’s the burden of quality.
I’ve been using both channels more over the past year, consuming Snapchat Stories, before Instagram replicated the concept, then continuing to watch them butt heads day after day.
Instagram has always been the better product, both for the user and for an advertiser, as well as an exceptional experience. Why? Because when you step into the Instagram mindset, part of that is an expectation is to post great photos. It’s also about extra takes of the overhead shots of your salad, snagging the best Oklahoma sunset and, of course, the kids.
Something clicks when a user is on Instagram that doesn’t click when they are on Snapchat. Maybe it’s because Snapchat still carries around its grimy reputation that it’s not a showcase of the photos as much as it is of immediacy? That’s all fine and good until they compete on equal ground on something like stories and pursue brands.
A story that tells an experience – a trip to the Oklahoma City Thunder game or a special trip with your family – has so much more vitality on Instagram. When a brand approaches both, ready to spend dollars to promote quality content, they are going to choose (demographics being equal) where quality is built into the social media community.
During this battle with Snapchat, Instagram continues to survive, thrive and innovate under the protective parentage of Facebook. And with more than a billion users worldwide, Facebook remains the undisputed giant of social media, but Instagram is quickly becoming its most gifted and talented child.
Smirk New Media is looking for an experienced communicator and innovative digital marketing pro to join our team in Oklahoma City. Our strategists are problem-solvers for our clients’ digital marketing needs. They work on a range of projects, promoting and protecting our client’s online success with great content and informed strategy.
Check out the position description below and let us know if you think you’re up to the job.
Digital Marketing Strategist
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Time Requirement: FT 40 Hours / Week
Working with our senior staff, strategists collaborate on client social media strategies and are responsible for day-to-day execution of social media campaigns; tasks include creative brainstorming, content creation, monitoring, profile maintenance, frequent engagement/conversation, customer service, targeting and managing advertising campaigns as well as analyzing metrics.
We need a team player who can wear a wide range of hats (these are metaphorical, you will not be required to actually wear a hat), will take ownership of his or her projects, and can move seamlessly between the strategic and the tactical.
Why Smirk? Smirk is one of the fastest growing independent digital marketing agencies in the region, working with brands of all sizes from local businesses to Fortune 500 companies. We love what we do and who we work with. We’re passionate about going above and beyond for our clients. We challenge ourselves to deliver more creative, cohesive and engaging content to help our clients stand out from the crowd — and we have a great time doing it.
What We’d Like to See
- Creative, versatile self-starter who is comfortable with both taking initiative and working in collaboration.
- Visual thinker with an eye for dynamic images or video.
- Strong verbal and writing skills as well as a keen eye for detail.
- Active accounts across key social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. If you haven’t updated your account since attending your cousin’s birthday party in 2015, we’ll notice.
- Team player able to seamlessly integrate with a diverse group.
- Ability to meet deadlines and organize the many details that need to come together to create a big impact for our clients.
Duties & Responsibilities
- Develop digital marketing strategies that meet client objectives.
- Write creative, engaging marketing content specific to each social media platform.
- Craft website copy using effective SEO practices for client websites.
- Stay current on the latest digital trends.
- Analyze metrics on engagement and follower growth and adapt content strategies accordingly.
- Collaborate closely with our group of strategists in design, strategy, and production of client websites or social media content.
- Prepare monthly reports to update staff/clients on predetermined metrics.
- Work in a laid back, yet ambitious team culture with a flexible schedule.
- The opportunity to work with an interesting and varied group of clients.
- Unlimited access to the Ms. Pac Man machine in our office.
To apply, please send your resume to email@example.com.
To post or not to post — that is the question. Tis nobler on social media to suffer the wrath of an audience than to post nothing at all. And by posting incorrectly? To die; to fail.
We won’t continue to quote Hamlet, but what an outstanding guy. In this part of the play, Hamlet is debating his own life and, to the extreme, what your brand is doing if they don’t have a social media presence — slowly killing themselves.
Mike Koehler, Smirk’s president and chief strategist, spoke to students about managing brand social media accounts at the PRSSA Regional Conference on Feb. 26.
“Social media is the Walmart greeter of your brand,” said Koehler. “Consumers are researching brands online and social is their first stop.”
Why does Walmart have greeters? Even if you had a horrible shopping trip, which could never happen at Walmart… there is someone with a smile telling you to “Have a great day!”
Consumers look to your social for your positive presence, how active you are within the community, what values you have or don’t have. It is your audience’s introduction to your brand.
Let your brand speak for itself. Publish content that reflects your brand. If you’re a dog shelter you don’t need to celebrate National Lollipop Day. Is there a way to make that event relevant to your brand? Maybe.
Every piece of content your brand features should pass two simple tests:
- Is this relevant to my brand?
- Does this add value to my audience?
Anything less than this and you are training your audience not to pay attention when you appear in their feed.
Some brands believe a lack of social activity will shelter them from negative reviews. When users critique your brand on Facebook, even if you don’t have a Facebook page, it will still tag your company and appear when other users search for you. Your active presence and timely responses speak volumes to users researching your brand.
Let us help you discover your voice. Smirk helps industries of all kinds find their voice online and connect with customers. For any questions about elevating your social presence, contact us about setting up a consultation.