When Google Reader was on its death bed this past summer, I couldn’t help but speculate as to why the decision was being made to shut down the RSS news platform. One of the prominent arguments I came across was that RSS always suffered from lack of consumer appeal. I agree to a certain extent. It's not that the standard user simply isn’t capable of grasping how RSS works, but I do recognize the struggle exists for standard users to make the most out of their RSS experience. My stance has little to do with any reader services that queue up the content, nor the subscriber functionality of RSS. The problem resides in the fact that not enough websites out there have been doing enough with their RSS capabilities. In order for the future of RSS to hum like a well-oiled machine in an overcrowded internet, the sources of content must become more robust, more niche and more versatile. The web is a free democracy - RSS must mirror this concept and empower readers with more choices when it comes to the content subscriptions that auto-filter into our daily digest of information we consider valuable.
RSS Food for Thought - The Buffet Analogy
Website owners should take notes next time they walk into a buffet (bear with me). When I enter a buffet, my stomach wants it all - everything. Contrarily, my heart desires something lighter and more healthy. Despite these conflicts of interest, I know ultimately that I am in a position to choose the most well-rounded plate that’ll satisfy the taste-budding opinions inside me that are constantly butting heads. I deliberate carefully. I look around and appreciate how the square footage of the buffet is broken down (much like websites) into subsections, by genres--italian, seafood, salad bar, sweets, etc. If you are like me, you make one stop per trip to the seafood section and you leave with shrimp and shrimp only, approximately five panko pieces. I know the salmon is there, it stares at me wondering if today is the day my palate makes that connection. But I’m here for the shrimp, and the buffet respects that. It’s why I return, unbothered, unfettered. Maybe tomorrow, salmon.
Websites must do the same. Allow your readers to subscribe to the things they desire consuming routinely. Recognize that a consumer’s stomach can only expand so far, so why force feed them? Imagine if said-buffet instead unloaded a dump truck of food on your table, forcing you to sift through it all to fill your plate. You’d probably choose a different buffet. In order to compete in this smartphone-crazed world where attention spans are rapidly shrinking, RSS functionality must become a diverse content buffet that allows readers the versatility to subscribe to either large chunks or tiny slivers of content. With all the multitasking we do on a daily basis (Facebooking, Twitter-skimming, Insta-gazing) how much room do we have left in the tank to read quality content when our mind settles down at the night’s end? RSS should be that cornerstone can’t-miss feature in the world of content that will bring readers what they want, when they want it.
Dissecting RSS: Empower the Contributors that make your Website Superb
Sure, “All News” or “All Articles” feeds are fantastic and important to have available for subscription, but let’s be real here. As readers, occasionally certain writers or writing styles come across as annoying, while others can hook, line and sink our return. Twitter gives you the option to mute someone’s retweets and empowers users with the choice to only follow an original voice. Websites should do the same for each and every contributor, syncing a RSS feed to each individual, even if they merely appear seldomly as featured guests. Whether a reader is subscribing to one writer, or a handful, RSS connectivity in this manner will bring readers back to the website when they feel like it and the content flow will never feel overwhelming, because they will remain in control. Who knows, they may pick up a piece of salmon along the way.
Broad categorical feeds are great, but niche keyword topics are golden
Sports, technology, news, health, science, fitness - the list goes on. These are great general feeds to have featured in a RSS section of a website, but are they really robust enough for readers to narrow in and get the most out of your website’s content? I consider myself a tech nerd, but have very little interest when it comes to the economics of the tech world. Those type of articles would keep me from ever subscribing. However, if I could pull a feed that dissected further into the tech section, I’d jump on the “smart tech,” “drones,” and “apple” feeds. And odds are, I may even jump from my RSS queue back into the general realm of the website to explore further, perhaps pick up some new interests along the way. Having the freedom to subscribe to my can’t-miss interests is key and brings a sense of organization when I’ve grown tired of web surfing for the day.
A website that simply “gets it”
Bloomberg View, an editorial division of what we know as Bloomberg News, is the cookie-cutter example of how a website should manage its RSS connectivity for its consumers. Tabs at the top of the page begin with a section where you can view all the content in a clean flow, queueing the articles chronologically for those wanting to browse the latest. The other two tabs are my favorite. The “contributors” section lists all the people who are posting content to the website. Inside, you can find the contributor’s bio, relevant keywords that provide a glimpse of what that writer is likely addressing in their editorials, and most importantly, a RSS feed clear as day at the top of the bio. Skip a tab over to the right, it gets even better. Inside the “topics” section, you’ll find a list of nearly 100 topics that take website categories to a new level. Climate Change, Oil, Olympics, Energy, Gadgets, China are the ones I’m currently subscribed to from the site. With a mixture of breadth, and narrowed specifics, Bloomberg View recognizes that niche topics of interest are fantastic candidates to sync with RSS.
When Google Reader etched its name in a tombstone, tech critics questioned if this truly meant RSS was perishing after all. My rebuttal is simple: Nas said the same thing about hip-hop music being dead and look what happened. He made another album. And another. Content, just like music, will never die, so long as readers are still lingering around with open eyes and cat-like curiosity. With new data continuing its exponential rise on the internet, websites have to recognize that RSS functionality must become more sophisticated if they expect to hold onto the unique interests of its diverse readership. Most of us can’t seem to read anything longer than 140 characters these days, but when our brains settle down and we’re done tapping and finger-swiping, RSS must be that pipeline for all the go-to information. Get it done, internet.
Do you really know your audience? With the intense content needs that all marketers face, it’s easy to jump right to creating content and pushing it out before figuring out exactly who you want to read that blog entry, white paper, or social media post. We know all too well that creating or curating enough content to keep up with the competition often outweighs other priorities, but it will pay off down the road to stop for a few minutes and learn about your audience. Once you’ve figured out who your audience is, it’s a lot easier to determine what they need and want. Creating content is one thing, but creating content that resonates with your audience -- making them want to come back to you or buy your product -- takes a little more finesse.
So, before you panic about how many blog posts or white papers you have to write this week, stop and consider the points below. Try to develop buyer and reader personas, either in your head or on paper, and look back to those every time you create a new piece of content.
1. Define your ideal target audience - for both buying your product and consuming content.
While the buyer persona is probably the most important audience to define, you may also want to think about a reader persona. Some people in your industry will be interested in purchasing your product (buyer persona), while others may be engaged members of your industry who are interested in what you do and may read or share your content, but are not likely to buy (reader persona). Both of these can be valuable for creating leads and brand awareness. Maybe your buyer persona is a CMO of a Fortune 500 company, but your reader persona is the social media specialist at a smaller company in your industry. Both are valid. When defining each one, think about what their job may entail, why they would come to you, and how you can best reach them.
2. Think about what their pain points and challenges are on a daily basis.
Now that you’ve created a general outline of your audience, or audiences (job title, duties, industry, etc.), you need to learn more about what challenges they face - so that you can then present them with thoughtful information about or solutions to those problems. Don’t just think about what your product or company does, but think about that person and what kind of problems they face day in and day out. Are they a marketer who is stressed about creating enough content each week? Are they in charge of helping their company stand out on social? Are they an apparel brand trying to engage their audience in new ways online? Try to make a long list of problems you think they might face, or even reach out on social media to find ou moret. From that list will emerge themes that you can create content around - content that will provide value to your audience, because you know them and their struggles.
3. Find out where they are online, and when.
The most engaging content will be content that is presented to your audience in a space they know and like, and in a format they understand. Because you’ve already created your buyer and reader personas, you’re halfway there. Think about your personas, and think about where they consume the most content. What are they doing while they consume the content? How much time do they spend? Are they engaging or just perusing? All of these small questions will have an effect on your content strategy. If you’re dealing with C-level executives, you might want to focus on content for LinkedIn or high-quality white papers for your website. If your audience is younger online professionals, Twitter and Facebook might be the right space for your content. And if you’re going for the teens and tweens, look to the latest popular social media apps like Vine and Snapchat.
Think about what mindset they might be in when they see your content. Are they lounging at home with their iPad, ready to read a thoughtful long-form article? Or are they trying to keep up with the latest news at work, with only enough time for a quick tip-sheet? Adjust the time you post your content based on whether you want to reach them at work, at rest, or somewhere in between.
4. What do they need to know about you and your product?
Now that you have a better grasp on what kind of content your audience or audiences may want in general, and when and where to give it to them, it’s also important to think about what information they need from you about your company and your product. While “sell, sell, sell” is not exactly a recommended motto in the blogging world, your audience does need to be informed about you and your company. What are your most frequently asked questions? What are the most common gripes or suggestions you hear? What might they be thinking if they are comparing you against a competitor? Content on your website, blog, or social media can be a great way to answer these questions and show your audience exactly who you are and what you offer them. Now that you’ve discovered their pain points, you can use thoughtful content to gently show them that you and your company may offer a solution.
Smartphones are everywhere these days, and are becoming progressively more and more integral to every aspect of our lives. We spend more than two hours a day engaged with our mobile devices, more time than we spend on desktop and laptop computers combined. But what’s even more important is how people are using them, and what it means for brands and businesses.
For starters, it isn’t just taking over e-commerce, although m-commerce has grown to nearly 20% of all online sales; it’s also making its way into brick-and-mortar stores. The percentage of shoppers using a smartphone to look for information about potential in-store purchases is at a whopping 61%, or more than half of all shoppers. These mobile-influenced shoppers also spent significantly more on average, and mobile commerce has grown by 45-to-50% from 2012 alone! The biggest value-add that the mobile experience gives customers are product information, price comparison, and (of course) customer reviews.
But don’t think for a minute that this means smartphones aren’t indispensable targets for businesses. Virtually all smartphone users are using their devices to get information about local businesses and for purchases while they’re there. In fact:
- 95% of smartphone owners use their device to look for local information,
- 77% will contact a local business as a result of what they find,
- 74% of smartphone shoppers wind up making a purchase either online, in-store, or on their phones,
- 71% of smartphone users wind up searching on their phone due to ad exposure, and, most importantly,
- 24% wind up recommending a brand or product to others as a result of smartphone searches.
So, what’s your strategy? No matter how big or small you are, you don’t
want to leave it up to organic searches alone.
Are you going to let Google or Bing determine what your customers find? Are you going to let the Walmarts and Amazons and Neiman Marcuses of the world corner the market on a quality mobile experience for their customers? The point is, if you’re ignoring smartphones, you’re ignoring the needs of the majority of customers, and your competition isn’t. If you’re not reaching out to them, someone else will be, even in your own store.
Over the next three years, m-commerce and mobile influenced store sales are projected to more than double, accounting for as much as 15% of all sales. So forget about phones at your own peril, because the companies that wind up growing the fastest won’t.
In this day and age, it’s rare to even think about buying something without doing a little online research. It’s become a natural part of the purchasing process, for things big and small, because who wants to get a bad price or have buyer’s remorse? If a customer is buying a new pair of running shoes, they will go online to see the features, specs, and reviews before clicking “buy.” If they are looking for a new laptop, they will most likely check out reviews on top tech websites, or even better, go look at the laptops in a brick-and-mortar store and then find the best price online. When it comes to business, marketing, and software services, the buying process isn’t so different. With a wealth of information out there on the web, why would you make any purchase without being well-informed? You wouldn’t.
So, if you know that your prospects are doing their own research and forming their own opinions before you even get a chance to email or speak with them, how do you engage and put yourself ahead of the pack? It starts with your content. It has to be out there working for you all of the time. Your customers or prospects are definitely doing their own research and surveying the competition before ever contacting you or clicking that “learn more” button. By that time, they are probably pretty closing to making up their minds. With that being said, your options for engaging that prospect before that point are fairly limited. You can’t email them or call them on the phone, but what you can do is give them the content they need to make a well-informed decision, hopefully leading them back to you instead of your competitors. If not, so be it, at least they saw what you had to offer. That’s a better scenario than that prospect passing you by because of a dearth of content on your company’s site. It’s time to give in to the fact that your prospect wants to be almost sure of their decision before ever speaking to a representative. Give them the content they need to do so.
Let your content do the talking - Is there enough content on your website? What does it say about you? Think about the customer and what kind of content they want to see to help them make an informed purchase. Look at your competitor’s sites and see what kind of information they are putting out there. You may not want to give away all your secrets, but put enough out there to give prospects a good idea of what you are all about and what kind of services you offer. Fact sheets, case studies, and blog posts that demonstrate thought-leadership in your area of expertise are a good place to start. If you’re not sure what kind of content to create, start with listing out your customers biggest pain point and business problems. Consider what you would want each prospect to know if you could, in fact, talk to them. Write blog posts or e-books about those subjects to make sure they are in the loop.
Put your content out there - your content is your best shot at engaging with a prospect before they narrow down the field, make sure that content is visible. Don’t hide it in a back page of your website. Put it out there and make it easily accessible or even downloadable. Integrate your blog into your main website so that with one click a prospect can read several posts that help them understand your brand and your purpose. Stay active on social media, too. If you are distributing your content to multiple channels every day, your prospect is more likely to see that content and keep you top-of-mind. The more visible your brand is, the more likely that prospect will keep you in the running and eventually click to contact you.
If you’ve done a good job with your content, your prospect will have a lot of knowledge about what you offer by the time they make the decision to become a customer. That means they will be making an educated decision and will be a lot less likely to have buyer’s remorse or be surprised when they find out exactly what you do. An informed customer is a happy one, so let your brand content do the work for you.
If you aren’t thinking about mobile as part of your overall content strategy -- you should be. It’s no easy task, but creating a comprehensive content strategy today has to include all important aspects of content creation and consumption, from blogging to social and definitely to mobile. You can probably guess where browsing and content consumption is heading based on your very own mobile habits. Typical online browsing may still be the norm at work, but when I get home and kick off my shoes, it’s my iPhone I reach for instead of my computer. Sure, it’s a smaller screen, but I can browse at a leisurely pace, multitask with Instagram or games, and pick it up and put it down whenever I want. It’s no wonder that mobile web browsing accounted for 30% of all web traffic in 2012 and is expected to account for 50% by this year.
So, if you’re not optimizing your website and your content for mobile, you could be losing out on a whole lot of traffic. In theory, that traffic could be even more valuable than the traditional traffic we’ve all been gunning for. Where do you want to reach your users most? At work during the day, where they are likely too busy to delve into a lengthy piece of content, or at home in their off-hours when they have the time to read and browse for enjoyment? That question doesn’t have a right answer, but if you’re hoping to increase your traffic overall, mobile is undoubtedly an important component to consider. While there are plenty of advanced ways to optimize and strategize for mobile, here are a few first steps to get you started.
1. Make your website mobile-friendly
If you want users to be visiting your site and spending time there from their smartphones or tablets, it absolutely needs to be optimized for mobile. There are two common ways of achieving this. The first is to build a version of your website for mobile -- one that is simpler, probably includes less text, and is easy to view and navigate from a smartphone or tablet. If you choose this option, it’s also preferable to include a link to your full website, just in case the user wants to see your full-functioning page. The second option is to use a responsive design for you site, which basically means that the features and content on your site will naturally adjust to fit whatever size device the viewer is using, be that a phone, tablet, or full-size desktop.
2. Stay active on social
If you think that your social and mobile content strategies are two different things, think again. When your users, customers, or prospects are consuming content on their mobile devices, they are most likely using social networking apps to do so. You want your content to reach your followers wherever they are. Spoiler alert: they are all over social. If you can create, share, or curate content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram (just to name a few), you will be getting your content out there and showing up in the mobile apps where they spend their time. Your audience is spending a good chunk of their time in social networking apps on their smartphones and tablets. If you’re reaching them on social, you’re also reaching them on mobile.
3. Don’t forget about email
Email marketing may seem like old-news compared to social, video, and infographics, but it can still be crucially important. If you have a smartphone, ask yourself how many times a day you check your email with that device. We won’t judge you. If you are like 72% of email users, that number will be 6 or higher. So, kill two birds with one stone and create some killer email marketing campaigns. Not only will it serve you well for web traffic and conversions, but you’ll also be getting a leg up on reaching your audience on mobile. If a user checks their email over the course of a day on their computer, tablet, and smartphone, sending them an email campaign means that you’ll be reaching them on all three devices, at all different times of the day.
Mobile users are snackers when it comes to content: looking for headlines to skim through, articles to quickly scan and then pass over, and maybe a comic or image to linger on for a brief moment. At least, that’s the conventional wisdom, and the mobile strategy that most companies are banking on.
Except what if it's not true? What if more than 80% of mobile users would watch long-form TV shows or movies on their phone if available? What if a majority of mobile users actually preferred long-form content to clips or snippets? And what if long-form content titan Buzzfeed was not only getting 50% of its traffic from mobile, but that phone users were spending twice as long reading articles than those on tablets?
As Buzzfeed’s CEO, Jonah Peretti says,
They thought, 'Oh, the Internet is about the shortest possible clips, and no one has attention spans.' [W]e see people spending 25 minutes on their phone, reading the story… People's intuitions about longform were wrong.
Reaching a large audience with mobile by streamlining your site is no doubt still important, but streamlining your content
is no longer an option. The so-called second screen
is becoming the primary screen for a large number of people, and this is true for both video and text-based content.
It seems counterintuitive, that people would choose to spend their time watching a movie designed for a theatrical experience on a 4-inch screen, or read a 6,000 word article on a device that’s an eighth the size of a single page. Yet that’s exactly what’s happening. As smartphones continue to penetrate the market, and a number of users switch to mobile devices as their primary computing devices, reaching a mobile audience with full-length articles, stories and videos is more important than ever.
In 2010, the average American adult spent just 24 minutes on their mobile devices a day, yet as of a few months ago, that figure had surged to 2 hours and 21 minutes a day. That increase hasn’t been because they’re spending more time skimming; they’re spending that time reading magazine-style articles or watching full-length videos. And if you’re not providing them with the same high-quality content on their mobile devices that they can get elsewhere, someone else will. You can cut down on any number of things for an improved mobile experience, but if you don’t want to disappoint your audience, don’t cut the content.
Co-editor of the 18th-Century French Encyclopedia, rebel against conventional narrative style, renowned critique of art and drama, predecessor of complexity theory, and advocate of feminine sexuality, Denis Diderot is one of my personal heroes. This Enlightenment polymath devoted much of his philosophical energy to championing Empiricism – the school of thought that holds that knowledge is rooted in observations we accumulate in life – over the then prevailing school of Rationalism – which holds that knowledge is rooted in hard-wired, logical patterns of thought we are born with. Rationalists build clean, coherent theories and search for data to support their conclusions; empiricists trade elegance for complexity, allowing observations to lead them astray into discovery, unearthing knowledge they didn’t know they were looking for when starting their quest.
To illustrate his preference for inquisitive empiricism, Diderot repurposes one of Aesop’s fables in his Thoughts on the Interpretation of Nature, published in 1754. The fable tells of a father, on his death bed, who advises his children that there is treasure buried in his field, but that he does not remember where. The children dig and scourge the field to find the treasure, but to no avail. The following year, they continue their search but with sharper tools, convinced the treasure must be buried deeper in the ground. Eventually, one of them sees some shining fragments and realizes he may have discovered a mine. So the children shift tactics. They give up looking for treasure to focus their efforts on exploiting the mine, which yields plenty. For Diderot, the children start as rationalists obsessed with solving a particular problem which was likely unsolvable and ended as empiricists, who “come to make discoveries more important than the solution itself.”
These debates between rationalism and empiricism still take place today, although in slightly different forms to match different stakes and discussions. And, with a bit of imaginative license, we can draw analogies between these two approaches to knowledge and the use of contemporary technologies.
Consider, for example, the distinction between search and discovery as tools for finding and curating content on the internet. Search tools provide exact character matches between the input entity one searches for and the collection of content one searches on; input “horse,” and the engine will scan content to find the word “horse” and return pages that contain that word as the result set. Multiple organizations are hard at work to refine these tools to intuit the intention of the searcher when conducting the search. The assumption is that, through our habitual use of search engines like Google or Yahoo, we’ve started to develop our own niche language for how we think queries are structured. For example, when an expecting mother is looking for a stroller for her son, she does not transcribe her literal question (“where can I find the best stroller for my son?”) but rather inputs a truncated phrase to mimic how she expects the search engine functions to get the results she wants (“best strollers”). If the engine is right, search can be powerful, extensive and precise. But the extent of the result set is always limited to what the searcher thinks he or she is looking at the outset. Search is the tool to help the children in the fable dig through the field to find the buried treasure.
Discovery, by contrast, extends the parameters of our initial inquiry to unearth content we may not know we’re looking for when we start. Words are not absolute, independent units with their own intrinsic meanings, but relative, dependent units whose meanings blossom in context. For each word, therefore, there are multiple related words that create clusters of meaning that index a topic, theme or context. To return to the example of “horse,” we might situate horse within the cluster of words related to the practice riding (tack, bit, saddle), the cluster of words related to similar species (donkey, zebra), the cluster of words related to sociology and demographics (aristocrat, noblemen, polo). Someone initially searching for “horse” may be interested in any one of these clusters. While a curating engine needs further information to discern the intended cluster, it can use subsequent activity to provide more accurate and relevant results going forward. Once given the cue to find content in a particular cluster, a discovery engine can return vastly different results than search: our horse-lover may start an inquiry with the word “horse” and end up finding a fascinating body of knowledge about Lully’s 17th-century ballets. To return to our fable, discovery is the tool that helps the children find the plentiful mine, riches greater than the treasure they originally sought.
The applications for content marketing are powerful. In today’s world, branding strategies have shifted from inundating repetition of single images and refrains to distributing varied content through vehicles that best align with individuals’ particular habits, interests and preferences. Like words, people’s interests are not discrete and absolute; they are tied into an integrated whole, each topic a Lilly pad connected to others by a root system of analogies, associations and experiences. Simply put, Trapit’s discovery engine enables content marketers to enrich their corpuses, filling them not only with precisely defined content indexed by search, but also with the vast body of related topics that extend horizons, providing consumers the novelty they want to retain loyalty to a trusted brand.
So often in life, it’s when we’re not intently focused on searching for something that we open ourselves up to discover the beautiful surprises that end up providing us the most meaning and happiness. A woman went shopping for shoes, and came home with her favorite dress (forget the shoes); Proust took a bit of a cookie and found one of the greatest novels of the 20th century; a man started a conversation with a woman on a plane and ended up marrying her, the love of his life. Knowledge we don’t yet know we’re looking for is out there to be discovered in the endless, dormant mines of the web.
- Kathryn Hume
Kathryn Hume leads marketing for the Risk Practice Group at Intapp, Inc, a software company that provides business operations technology to law firms. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Stanford University and focuses on the intersection between law, the humanities and new technologies.
I’m a Broncos fan, and boy was last night hard to watch. I’m also a marketer. This year, the anticipation of the Super Bowl held the promise of my beloved Broncos returning to dominance, and lessons through entertainment from brands that are household names and those looking to gain new audiences. According to the Content Marketing Institute, Content Marketing is “the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.” I read post after post from “fans” that watched the Super Bowl last night for the art. At Trapit we are feverishly working to build tools that enable marketers to surface only the most relevant content for their constituents. This year I was really excited to see how brands would incorporate content marketing elements into their commercials. Let’s take a look at a couple examples:
Squarespace: “A Better Web Awaits” –Believe it or not, Squarespace has been around for 10 years. This commercial features one web challenge after another for a total of 74 annoying things about the internet from things like virus warnings to a dig on parents who over-share photos of their children on social networks. They close with “we can’t change what the web has become but we can change what it will be, a better web starts with your website.” This commercial appeals to the individual pains as a consumer on the internet, and then attempts to switch to appealing to a business or brand. Perhaps if it had stuck with one user over the other it would have been more successful. This one is getting low marks all the way around this morning.
Coca Cola America is Beautiful- In this mashup of different voices and languages there are unique American faces -- white, brown, young, old, gay, straight, all singing different portions of America is the beautiful. Coca Cola has always strived to be a brand that unites consumers around a single idea that we are many but united. This commercial is creating a great deal of buzz and a fare amount of backlash for Coca Cola. Buzz is buzz so this one goes down for a win for Coca Cola.
Beats: Goldilocks- The commercial opens with “Once there was a girl hungry for the perfect music to dance to”. Beats music is using the Super Bowl as their launching pad for what they call the 2nd generation of music streaming services. When you visit their website, they describe their product as the first music service that understands you. Pandora, Netflix, and Amazon are stellar brand examples of how this type of personalization changes the consumer experience. Beats is going after mainstream listeners and, more specifically, women. According to Nielsen demographic data, 46% of the Super Bowl viewing audience is female, and more women watch the game than the Oscars, Grammys, and Emmys combined. I’ve been a loyal Spotify listener for almost two years, but I’m signing up for Beats today to check them out. Their ad worked on this woman.
Microsoft: “Empowering” Microsoft has been a long time supporter of the Seattle Seahawks, but in this ad campaign we see Microsoft attempting to bring humanity and technology together. They dabbled with this in the 90s but for the better part of the last 20 years this is an angle they have stayed away from. They are getting personal. It’s hard to watch this and not feel a tinge of gratitude for how technology enriches our lives. Win for Microsoft.
I have had a John Elway Starting Line-up figurine since I was a kid. It went to college with me, and it’s been on every desk for every job I have had in the last twenty years. That figurine and the memories of him serve as a constant reminder to me to never give up, leave it all on the field, and strive for excellence. Every time I see it I am flooded with childhood and professional memories of challenge and triumph. Let’s face it, most of us will never get the chance to play in the Super Bowl or work on a Super Bowl campaign. But, I’m convinced there has never been a better time to be a marketer. The best marketing efforts get personal and provide value. When consumers feel like you get them and have something worthwhile to give and you aren’t just selling them, they will flock to your brand. Are you doing everything you can to give your prospects and customers the content they need to be successful? At Trapit, we believe the content you share has to be personal and relevant. If you want to learn more about how we do that, come check out one of our demos.
With Super Bowl Sunday quickly approaching this weekend, and Sochi shortly thereafter, I am wondering as a marketer how many consumer brands are furiously working on their content plays to stand out. It used to be all about who could generate the day-after water cooler talk with the most shocking or original television commercial, and don’t get me wrong, it still is a huge draw, especially for me, but now the impact of the Super Bowl can be even greater for brands that create a before, during and after campaign on social media channels.
So how are brands harnessing the power of social during the big game? Well, it’s already started (if you like to be surprised in your Super Bowl experience, this is your official spoiler alert):
• Check out M&M’s facebook page - apparently the yellow M&M is up to no good and you have to watch the Super Bowl to find out why.
• Steven Colbert is sharing his snacking tips for the big game and leveraging his own brand for Wonderful Pistachios on Twitter at @getcrackin.
• And Budweiser already released its ad, and it is all the media is talking about today - Time, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, etc. Budweiser is definitely going for the heartstrings with a sequel to last year’s heartwarming ad.
But, as a brand, are you prepared for the unknown? Remember last year during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII when there was an unexpected power outage at the Superdome? Oreo took advantage of the opportunity to stay relevant and Tweeted out a starkly lit Oreo with the message “Power Out? No Problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” This message was re-Tweeted 15,000 times and got 20,000 likes on Facebook -- not bad for a one-off joke by a cookie brand. So how did Oreo put its own twist on the lights-out scenario so quickly? It turns out they had a 15-person social media team at the ready to respond to whatever happened online in response to the Super Bowl. So not only did they have a regular commercial run during the first quarter, they also had copywriters, a strategist, and artists ready to react to any situation in 10 minutes or less. And it certainly paid off.
Where should you focus? Facebook or Twitter? Well, the unofficial blog of Facebook features a 3rd party survey saying they will ‘beat’ Twitter in owning the social conversation around ads before, during and after the game. Here are the takeaways from the survey:
• One out of four viewers will post about Super Bowl ads on social media before the game.
• Facebook will dominate game time activity, with 55.8 percent of respondents posting on Facebook about the Super Bowl during the game. The next most likely digital action is sending a text message (41.5 percent), followed by a phone call (28.1 percent). Only 25.1 percent of respondents said they would be Tweeting about the Super Bowl. That’s a significant difference: More than one-half of respondents will post on Facebook about the Super Bowl, while only one-quarter will Tweet.
• 62.2 percent of viewers will re-watch ads after the Super Bowl.
• After the game, 73 percent of respondents will follow brands on Facebook or Twitter, and 27 percent will follow teams on those channels.
So no matter where you focus, there is no doubt that content matters and harnessing social channels is a key opportunity to build brand loyalty and engagement. I know most companies don’t have huge brands like Budweiser and Oreo, or the budgets that go along with them, but having a content plan, being ready to capture a real-time opportunity, and starting to push your messages before and after any important event is a growing best practice. So what are you waiting for? If you need some help check out our 7 Tips for Shareable Content.
Most of us have been to the public library. Certainly, in our academic lives, we went to the library to gather relevant information, allowing us to do our assignments. I remember having to do a paper about Christopher Columbus back in the days when I did not have the luxury of sitting home and surfing the web to find the facts and figures needed to complete my assignment.
I went to the library. Once there, I used the Dewey Decimal System – the card catalogue - to find the books that I needed to “check out” for my paper. I went to the section where the pertinent books were housed, and then I began the tedious process of my own curation. Without the magic of Internet discovery or search, I needed to physically leaf through volumes to find that which was relevant to the task at hand.
I like the metaphor of the library as it relates to content curation. Let’s take a step back and look at the history of how libraries came to be and, equally important, the role of the librarian. Librarians have actually been around since 8th century BC, when the “keeper of the books” had to oversee the thousands of tablets that contained relevant and important data. These early-day librarians were responsible to oversee the thousands of stored tablets containing content. These tablets were tagged, indexed, and arranged in logical order. The role of librarians has certainly evolved, but as we look back, isn’t it true that librarians were the first curators of content?
Today, more than ever, we need to find relevant content. 90% of all the worlds content that has been created in the past two years – thanks to the Internet and the ability it has given us all to be not only content consumers, but content creators. But now that we have this digital oasis filled with reams of information, it is a very difficult task to search for what we really need, accessible when we need it.
Marketers are creating content management strategies. They are focused on content marketing to become the authority in their industry, improve their brand equity, increase their following, drive more leads, and keep up with their competitors. Their strategies blend both created and curated content in order for them to keep up with the need to reach out to their audiences multiple times per day across multiple channels with compelling and relevant stories. When considering curation, marketers need to find the most efficient, economic approach, while ensuring they are receiving content that is pertinent and relevant. Many times the sources for this curated content are really not known and marketers are forced to, through trial and error, search for what they need. This is not efficient, nor does it render the intended results.
We understood this issue and have responded by building a digital library of original, quality content– a place where marketers can discover and curate the sources of information that they need to complete their assignments. As digital “librarians,” we take the time and focused attention to find the right sources, review them for quality, originality, and appropriateness, then we index, tag, and arrange them in logical order (thank you Mr. Dewey!). Only now, the content is not on shelves, but in that proverbial “cloud.” Sound familiar?
The library in the sky – the curator of the 21st century – brought to you through the inspiration of the scribes of ancient times.