Know Your Brand Audience and Give Them What They Want

Knowing your brand audience isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity when it comes to marketing well. It allows you to provide value to the audience that matters most, and ensure you can target directly to them.
Three ways to learn a little more about them include:

  1. See what they’re reading – sounds unexpected, but it’s true. Think about the content your brand would put out and see who else is writing similarly. It could be a competitor, or it could be an influencer, or it could be an author. Consider checking out blogs related to yours and see who is leaving comments. What do they have to say. What do they have questions on? What do they feel is most important? What relates to their needs and interests?
  2. Understand their needs – That leads us here. Listen to what they’re saying. Listen to them in social media. Keep listening to what they tweet, post, and comment. Make a list of what it is that they struggle with. What obstacles they’re trying to overcome. How can your brand help? What can your brand offer to fulfill those needs? For example, can your brand offer content or a product to help? If not, canyour brand partner with someone else who can to share the value given?
  3. Learn their interests – By learning what else they like outside of what your product and service, you can potentially offer more value. You can also target them better. For example, Amex learned their audience loved music, and wanted special access to events. What did they do? They gave it to them. They offered them exclusive offers to events, and an ability to have access that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Once your brand has a grasp of what they’re doing outside of your brand. What their needs and interests are…then what?

  1. Create the content – Create content that can be geared towards your audience. It can be an email campaign, blog posts, and/or social media content. For example if your brand wants to start simple, perhaps it’s through Instagram and Pinterest first. Allowing your brand to be discovered through hashtags and search. Providing short, visual content, that allows your consumer to receive small snippets of value, while building out your arsenal by learning what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Repurpose It – When you create a great piece of content, leverage it further. For example if you have a blog post that is awesome, use some of it in an email. Take  a quote and post it on Pinterest and link back. Share a valuable point through Twitter with a relevant hashtag. Syndicate it on another medium.
  3. Target it – Use the interest targeting and demographics data and target it to the audience you want. If you want awareness, broaden your target a bit, to get more fish.

In the end, your audience is always a moving target. Like any individual they grow, change, and evolve. Their interests and needs change with them. Keep listening, and learning, and in turn test and see what works.

This post was originally written for Socialnomics.
Image source: 98togo

Battle of the Animated Content: Rise of the GIFs

 


According to Twitter’s blog – “last year, people on Twitter shared over 100 million GIFs…”- no big deal right? Perhaps that’s why Twitter has also allowed brands and consumers to discover, consume, and share GIFs even more easily through GIF search on Twitter. And if that’s not enough you can search more on tumblr. And even dating apps like Bumble allow you to respond via GIF. It’s a whole new world…

Have the GIFs taken over? Are emojis in trouble? Game of the “Animated Content” to show us who will take the Throne?

So what does that mean for brands?

Brands should consider how GIFs can play into their content strategy, especially within social media and blogs. GIFs are shareable content and allow consumers to relate and get a feeling or emotion a lot faster than reading through a bunch of text. Especially when consumers are going to pass through your content in seconds, through their newsfeed, a GIF can catch their attention. It may have actual stopping power if it’s engaging and creative enough (fun, funny, and relatable). And stopping power is a hard thing to do, especially when social media is so cluttered, through both paid content and organic. Both curated and original. Both visual and not. GIFs are a way to grab attention, and then your brand has to remember to take it from there, because a GIF can only do so much.

And if your brand is unsure, there are other visual animations that you can consider. For example, emojis are still at play. Some brands use them in subjects line in email marketing in order to get a consumer’s attention in their inbox. We all know the inbox is a mind field of clutter, and getting a consumer to get past the subject line and preview, to actually open the email is no small feat. Others use emojis in their social media text to represent a certain emotion or feeling, that can be relatable to consumers.

Remember, your brand has to evaluate and consider whether it’s worth curating existing GIFs (or emojis, etc) or creating your own. The key here again is relevance to the consumer. GIFs alone don’t mean anything, but within context and surrounded by key messaging related to the brand, they can provide an opportunity to engage with the user on a different level. For example, consumers enjoy content that allows them to share it with their own friends and audience. If your content can get to that level, then you’ve reached true engagement with your consumer. Because nowadays it’s not about the eyeballs you get on your GIF (and content), it’s about the action the consumer takes when they see it. Will they like it (ok, cool), will they share it (better), will they comment positively (also, cool), and/or will they start following your brand to get more content (even better).

Still unsure? Just look at the new Apple iOS for the iPhone. It allows consumers to share GIFs built into their keyboard. In addition, consumers have had the ability to add and use different emoji keyboards, as well as create their own Bitmoji to communicate with. There are some consumers who only communicate through imagery now (hello, Snapchat). This is a white space for brands to enter. Imagine your brand (example Top Shop) having created your own imagery (emojis, gifs) for consumers to have access to and use as part of their communication. It becomes organic use of branded content or related content. Your consumers are now sharing a piece of your brand, a story through their eyes. A whole new form of UGC.

Always do your research and only enter this universe, if GIFs/Emojis are relevant to your brand. It has to be authentic to work well. For example is the brand voice/tone humorous, entertaining and/or human. We hope so (at least with the third). If so, your brand can find GIFs that are able to be shared within the brand tone, without going against the grain of the brand. For example, an athletic brand could find humor in training, and/or provide a quick tip on how to do something. A financial brand, could find irony in finances, that allow consumers to relate. While a fashion brand could find something fun and entertaining to share. Something that consumers are like, wow that’s cool – I must share this now.

In the end, GIFs are here people. Embrace them at your own risk (i.e. at your own fun). And when you’ve had enough, they’ll be something new and shiny around the corner, of course.

3 Ways to Use Google Analytics to Grow Your Fashion Business

google analytics fashion business

Google Analytics, a free tool through Google, is one of the best resources for brands when it comes to uncovering trends, data, and insights about the consumers who are coming to your website in order to improve and grow your business.

According to Orbit Media, the terms you need to know in order to get started and understanding your dashboard and use it frequently are the following:

  • Users: These are people who have visited at least once within your selected date range, and includes both new and returning visitors.
  • Dimensions: These are descriptive characteristics of an object. For example, browser, exit page, and session duration are all considered dimensions.
  • Metrics: These are individual statistics of a dimension, such as Average Session Duration or Screenviews.
  • Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of single-page visits, meaning that someone left your site from the same page at which they entered; aka, they didn’t interact with your site.
  • Sessions: A session is the period of time that a user is actively engaged with your website.

When it comes to growing your business there are three areas you want to focus on:

  • Traffic Sources – Where they’re coming from.
  • Audience Profile and Demographics – Your visitor information.
  • Behavior on Site – What they’re doing when they get to you.

Traffic Sources

You want to look at your traffic sources to see where your audience is coming from and what sources are working the hardest for you. Let’s take a look at what types of sources may occur and why they’re each relevant to pay attention to:

  • Direct: Visitors that came directly to your website by typing in your site URL. This means your awareness is pretty good and people are wanting to discover or learn more about what your brand has to offer. That is a great thing. If this is lower on the list, then it means your awareness still needs some work, which as a startup is not a shocker. Getting direct traffic is never easy, and is something to strive for, but not be worried about at the start.
  • Organic Search: These results are free and amazing. An organic search visitor is someone who is searching for you or something/someone like your brand. They are interested in your product or service and either want to learn more or purchase. If they find you through organic search, it means your SEO strategy is working well. If this % is lower on the list, it’s an indicator that you should work on your keyword strategy and what could help drive your SEO up against your competition.
  • Paid Search: People who found you through your Adwords campaigns, which is good too. It means your paid search strategy is working. Again if this was lower on the list, then either your budget is low (no problem, you can work on that), or you need to reconsider your bid strategy on the keywords you’ve chosen.
  • Referral: Referral traffic is a great source because it means that other sites are linking to yours and creating more traffic for you. It may behoove you to give them a high-five back and link back to them if it’s appropriate. This could also mean that your syndication strategy is working well across blogs and websites.
  • Social: This section used to be within referral traffic but now broken out to give you a clearer picture to see which social channel are working hardest for you and driving the most links back to your site. It gives you the opportunity to see what channels need to work harder, and which ones you may want to invest more in.
  • Email: The visitors that came from your email campaigns; like social it allows you to see how hard your strategy is working in this channel and if it needs some optimization.

Audience Profile and Demographics

The audience section allows your brand to dig into insights of your website visitors and see a little more about who they are and if it fits who you thought your target consumer was/is. It allows you to dig into:

  • Gender – understanding if there’s a balance or if your brand skews in a particular direction
  • Age – understanding the mindset by age/life-stage
  • Location – understanding where your audiences are coming from
  • Browsers – understanding where to test your content (always)
  • Mobile devices – understanding how your content is being viewed

Knowing this data allows you to tailor your content a little better, and understand which audience is actually consuming it versus not. For example if your audience is predominantly female, you may want to ensure you don’t start creating content that will scare them away. If your audience is younger (millennial), you don’t want to suddenly start putting out content that will not be of interest to them. Not only does this help with the content you create, but it helps with the messaging of the content. You may use more casual tones with younger audiences (assuming it fits your brand tone and voice that you’ve established). In the end it’s always a balance of your business goals, brand voice, and consumer interests.

Behavior on Site

The visitors’ behaviors on your site will help indicate what content on your site is actually working. You can see:

  • What pages people spend time on – to see if where you are driving them is working, or if there are other pages you should be focusing on more (i.e. certain products, particular blog content, etc)
  • Look to see the flow on your site – how do people travel from page to page, where do they seem to go naturally (or get stuck)
  • Where’s the drop off? There is probably a particular place people automatically bounce from or get stuck and leave. See if there’s a way you can route them back around (so they don’t leave) to where you want them to be, or to content that seems to be working well for your brand.

Your Homework: Go play around on Google Analytics and see what it means for your brand.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

BECAUSE LIVE STREAMING CONTENT STILL NEEDS PLANNING

Today, live streaming has taken a new identity. Multiple identities in fact. From Meerkat (sorry buddy), to Periscope (from Twitter) to Facebook Live to YouTube Live (and many other players we just can’t remember the names of), live stream has become a necessity for digital marketers today. It’s not a tool we are considering, it’s a tool we have to consider as marketers. Especially, if your audience includes the millennial audience, you are already behind if you are not live streaming your content.

So how do you start if you haven’t already? How do you optimize if you are already checking it out?

You need a plan.

As with any digital marketing channel, you have to approach it with a strategy and content plan. You need your content to align with your overall marketing content, but you need to align the content for live stream to that particular channel. You can’t have it recycled to this channel. Sorry kids, that won’t work. It’s a whole new beast. Plus, you can’t edit as you go. It’s live.

Instead strategize the following:

  1. What’s your purpose for being on live stream? Does it work for your brand?
  2. What’s the story you want to tell? Is it about a product? An experience?
  3. What is the end result? What do you want your audience to takeaway?
  4. What is success? How will you measure that?

If the above calculates and makes sense to move forward, plan your content and time how you will execute (and who):

  1. Who’s the cameraman?
  2. Will someone speak or will it be based on the environment?
  3. What’s the script? You need a rough idea if there is someone speaking.
  4. Storyboard the shots.
  5. How long will the videos be? How many do you need to tell the story?
  6. How often will you shoot?

Distribution:

  1. How will you audience know you’re there and how to discover your brand?
  2. Help them find you – promote it. And promote some more. The worst thing you can do is spend time creating cool videos and then no one seeing it.
  3. Ask your fans to share. Why not?

Lastly, see if it works. Pick a measurement plan and test plan to see if your brand is going to be successful at live streaming or not. Sometimes it’s the content you choose that you need to test and not the live streaming part. So test different types, different cadences, and different tune in times. And of course, allow your fans to take part.

This post was originally written for Social Media Club. 

How to Use Promoted Pins on Pinterest to Grow Your Fashion Business

 

promoted pins

Promoted pins opened up to the masses over the past year, which is huge for smaller businesses and startups, and allows brands to reach more of their potential customers through this ultra visual social platform.

What are promoted pins?

Promoted Pins are a paid advertisement opportunity for your brand to choose your best pins to appear in the most relevant places within Pinterest with selected targeting to drive awareness, engagement, or traffic to your website.

Why it works:

The Pins appear natively within Pinterest so it allows consumers to engage with your content as if it were a part of their regular Pinterest experience. It is not interrupting their feed or visual exploration and discovery of pins they are excited to check out.

How to choose your pins:

Remember why people are on Pinterest. They are there to discover and plan. Those are the native behaviors of Pinterest users on a daily basis between fashion, fitness, food, weddings, vacation, so on and so forth. They want to be inspired. They want to discover. And they want to plan their own lives through those ideas.

In addition, because there is so much content on pinterest, especially within the fashion sphere, it is important to be consistent and have regular weekly content. When you see which one of your weekly content is performing well, you can decide which of those pins to promote.

Case Study by Pinterest on MVMT Watches

MVMT Watches started using Pinterest as a way to connect with women. When they saw higher-than-expected engagement, they ramped up their strategy.

The watch company adds Pins of products as well as lifestyle photography, though high quality, close-up shots of watches perform the best.

“A lot of people that come for Pinterest are in discovery mode, looking for products to purchase for themselves or others,” said Jake Kassan, CEO. “Pinterest is different from other channels but when done correctly, it can have huge results.”

MVMT Watches promoted their Pins and saw higher average order values and conversion rates from visitors referred to their site from Pinterest. In fact, Pinners convert at a rate 2X higher than users from other channels.

Targeting:

You can target based on gender, location, and devices. Targeting allows you to reach more people who fit your brand based upon your target audience. It helps if you have a certain offer you want to serve to a particular location so you can zero in. Or if you only care to reach people on the go, perhaps you want to reach people on their smartphones versus desktop. These are things to consider as you decide on your promoted pin strategy.

Keywords:

When it comes to keywords be sure you choose strategically. You can choose and up to 150 keywords – so you definitely want to do your research. Check your keywords using Google Adwords Keyword Plannerunless you have another tool you prefer. Also, be sure to check the keywords within Pinterest, as Pinterest search can be different than on Google. People typically search on Pinterest the same way that they speak, so you want to write descriptions in plain language as much as possible.

Try answering these questions like:

  • What is it?
  • Where is it?
  • Why is it interesting?
  • Why should the reader keep clicking through your brand’s board?

Also remember to write text that will travel well, as your boards and pins will be re-pinned and shared out. Make sure your captions make sense out of context of the Pinterest channel, so that when they’re re-pinned and shared, people won’t be confused by content that’s specific to your brand or your brand’s board.

Purpose of the Pin:

Lastly, but definitely not last in your strategy – you need to consider the purpose of your promoted pin. Is it to gain awareness, engagement, or drive traffic to your website? Knowing the purpose can help you determine the message of your pin, how much money to put behind it, the targeting, and how to measure success.

  • Create awareness for your brand by using a channel full of people wanting to discover.
  • Create engagement for your brand content and particular campaigns by allowing people to interact with certain aspects of your campaign. For example you would pay for a closeup, repin or click, not a view. You can then make each piece of that engagement interactive and allow your audience to get more out of each piece of that content.
  • Create more traffic to your website by allowing people to get more of the story on your site.

Great examples according to Pinterest, of this include:

  • Adore Me increased Pinterest-referred revenue by 4000%
  • Zola increased conversions by 44% and clickthrough rates by 50%
  • Dot & Bo quadrupled the number of people visiting their website, increased repins by 6000% and boosted daily clicks to their site by a whopping 18000%
  • Living Royal saw a 31% decrease in cost per acquisition (CPA) and a 6x increase in traffic within the first month of paid promotion on Pinterest
  • MVMT Watches found Pinners convert at a rate 2X higher than users on other platforms—and with higher average order values

My overall advice: A/B test to see which pins work best.

Test different imagery and copy. After a few tests you’ll start to see a pattern and learn which ones work best for your audience on Pinterest and you can invest more with that specific type of content going forward.

Another thing to keep in mind is the longevity of content on Pinterest. Once your content is on Pinterest, people will re-pin it over and over. It will live across the channel for much longer than your original campaign, so your content needs legs. Will it make sense later? Food for thought.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Facebook Reactions Made Social Media a Little More Emotional

facebook emotional reactions

Last month Facebook released Facebook Reactions. These are additions to the “like” button, allowing consumers to have additional emotional reactions to posts without having to actually comment. The choices range from happy to angry to sad to wow, with 6 in total.

The cool thing is, “when a user thumbs over each of the emoji, they animate like tiny GIFs. For “wow,” the yellow face tilts upwards, its mouth agape. For “haha,” a squinty-eyed emoji tilts its head back in a fit of laughter.” (via Wired)

As of right now, this can only occur on the original post, and not within the comments thread.

But what do the new Facebook reactions mean for brands?

You Can See Some Stats
Right now your only option is to go through Facebook and the native Insights Dashboard and dive into each post detail to see what reactions are occurring for your brand.

Advertising is Weighed the Same
For the short term, Facebook will treat each of the reactions as an equal sentiment to the “like” button. It will allow Facebook to see when users may want to see additional content similar to what they are reacting to.

However, as Facebook’s algorithm becomes smarter and distinguishes between the reactions, the content that is served up to the user will differentiate based upon the reactions and how the user appears to feel.

Illicit a Positive Reaction with a Contest/Giveaway
Brands can do more now. There are some brands like Chevy taking advantage and asking their followers to “show the love.” It can be risky, or it can be bold. Perhaps both.

There are some brands incentivizing their users to show positive reactions in order to win a contest or sweepstakes.

Although it may seem like your brand should try to figure out a way to evoke a positive reaction from each post at all times, it also makes sense (and is more authentic and real) to allow the user to have a real response; allow them to make up their mind.

This post was originally written for startup fashion. 

So You’re Saying There’s Another Live Streaming App?

live streaming app

Facebook has entered the livestream game with Live, and are we surprised? No. Does it matter? Definitely. We’ve written about it before – when Periscope entered. It mattered then, because Periscope, brought to you by Twitter, made Livestreaming simple and and easy. It brought it to the masses, although Snapchathas been playing in this space, for a while too.

The reason we keep caring about the new guys, is because they’re making live streaming more powerful. These apps are being brought to you by the powerful names you already know and the technology behind them is a big deal.

Periscope is backed by Twitter, Snapchat is backed by a huge audience, and Live, is now brought to you by Facebook.

And Facebook as you know – has everyone, along with everyone’s mom, dad, grandma, and neighbor on it. Brands want to be everywhere their audience is, and Facebook basically has the monopoly on that. So when Live was released, we had to see what it’s all about.

Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Live:

Ease of Use

  • All within the Facebook App. For audience members who don’t want to download a new app, this may be helpful.
  • You can broadcast it, save it, and share it directly to your feed.
  • You can subscribe to your friends and people/brands you are fans of and be notified when they broadcast.

Ability to Save/Replay

  • This is great for more views over time
  • Allows for more content in your arsenal

And the big differentiation – who will see it

According to Techcrunch:

Facebook’s filtered feed might be worse for real-time breaking news streams, and the re-sharing isn’t a big thing there. But if a stream gets lots of viewers and feedback, Facebook can automatically push it higher in the feed so it’s more visible. Basically, Twitter relies on explicit amplification by viewers while Facebook’s algorithm chooses who sees what stream.

The key takeaway here, is that it depends on where your audience is.

Some brands have a larger audience on Twitter, while others rely more on their Facebook community, while others are still building both, and it may help to try Periscope and Facebook Live and see which works.

My advice, try both and test to see which one is best for your brand. When you’re a startup you’re nimble and have the ability to test quick, learn fast, and move forward with what works (and drop what doesn’t).

And it doesn’t hurt to see what your competitors are doing. If one seems to be working better for them, perhaps you should be there too – just be sure to find a way to tell your story differently.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Checklist: How to Plan Your Video Content Creation

video content creation checklist

In the past we’ve talked about the value of video content for your brand, and how it’s important to addvideo content to your social strategy, but when it comes down to the actual video content, it’s not simply a point and shoot situation.

It takes time to plan your video content and produce something of actual value and so when you distribute it, your audience will be excited to engage with it.

Step One: The Big Picture

  1. Will this be a one-off video or a series of videos?
  2. What is the direction of the video: interview, how-to, documentary-style?
  3. Is it long form or short form?
  4. What is your budget for the video production and editing?
  5. Do you have all the proper paperwork and rights for distribution?

Step Two: The Content Strategy

  1. Will the video be connected to a larger campaign such as an event or a launch?
  2. What will be the overall theme of the video?
  3. What are you trying to communicate?
  4. What is the takeaway for the audience? What do you want them to do or feel or think after watching it?
  5. How many formats will you need?
  6. Where will it be distributed? How will you get it out there?

Step Three: The Story

  1. Have you written a script for your video?
  2. Have you created a storyboard for it?
  3. Have you cast the people for the video?
  4. Have you found a location for it?
  5. Have you created an “alternatives” plan for location and cast?
  6. How many different ways can you shoot the video to keep it interesting?

Step Four: The Shoot

  1. Can you take photos and social video of behind the scenes while you’re there? (i.e. periscope with your iPhone while you’re shooting).
  2. Can you re-use the same location and cast a few times? (i.e. make the most of it?)
  3. Can you shoot extra footage? Having more is better than not enough (you can always edit later).
  4. Do you need to shoot something again? Don’t be afraid to do this, it’s your brand.

Step Five: The Editing

  1. Have you watched the B roll for extra content?
  2. Can you edit some extra formats? (i.e. short form clips for social posting)
  3. Are you there with the editor during this process? This is how the story can unfold, so be there to help.

Step Six: The Distribution

  1. Is everyone who said they would distribute playing their role? You’ve put time and money into this video so don’t be afraid to follow up and confirm their help.
  2. Do you have a social media distribute calendar ready? Make sure to post your video more than once on certain channels (i.e. Twitter, Instagram), as not everyone will see it the first time around.
  3. Can you let people see the full picture? (before, during, after)

Step Seven: The Afterwards

  1. Have you learned anything from this process?
  2. What worked well and what didn’t?
  3. What would you do differently in terms of the team, the story, the editing, or the distribution?

And something to keep in mind during the entire process is to be mindful of opportunities to extend the budget, especially when you’re on set. For example shooting extra shots such as B roll and taking photos will be worth it when you can extend that content later.

This post was originally published on Startup Fashion. 

FIVE THINGS 2015 TAUGHT US ABOUT DIGITAL MARKETING

Digital marketing changes quickly. We’ve known that forever. But lately, it’s changing even more quickly. Our current social media channels are evolving everyday. New competitors are rising through the wood works even faster, but what does that mean? What should our brands care about? What should we takeaway from 2015?

There are five areas, which will impact brands the most. They are based upon the content we create, the ways we disseminate the content, how we amplify it, and the money we are able to put towards it.

CONTENT IS THE WAY

Without great content, not much else matters. The content our brands create must be agnostic of channel and device. It needs to be able to travel the web when being shared, promoted, and shared again. People need to be able to interact with the piece of content on whatever channel they choose and prefer.

SOCIAL IS A BEHAVIOR

Many consider social media a channel, but social has become a behavior. It’s a way of living. We, as consumers, consume content in an instant. We purchase through mobile while we are commuting. We swipe left before we have a chance to engage because we make our decisions in an instant. In turn brands need to be able to grab our attention faster, and keep it before we swipe away. We share when it’s entertaining or informative. We care about what’s shared, because it’s a perception of our personal brand. We wouldn’t share something that’s uncool or boring. As brands, we need to be in tune to these behaviors.

AMPLIFYING ACROSS WEB IS A MUST

Brand have to realize that it’s valuable and important to promote across the web today. Gone are the days of focusing on channel by channel, because as discussed content needs to live everywhere. When a consumer shares a video from YouTube, it can go from Facebook to Twitter to email to Apple TV. Brands must optimize and promote across the web and across devices.

VIDEO IS CLUTCH

With streaming video, video that disappears in seconds or hours, and Facebook profile pictures being able to be videos instead of just pictures, video is not just a choice. First it was visual, now it’s more than that. Consumers want to capture stories and experience things. It’s not about a product, it’s about the experience around it. It’s the brand story and what it stands for. And video is one way a brand can help do that.

HAVE A BUDGET

And the most important. Ensure your marketing team has a budget they can actually work with. Unfortunately, some brands give their marketing teams a little budget as an afterthought. This is no longer enough in order to grow awareness and engagement from a brand marketing standpoint. Without this, your content, your plans, won’t be able to reach their true potential. As you put together your 2016 plans, and you think where you want your brand to be, determine the amount of budget you’ll need to get there, and put an extra amount in (trust me, you’ll end up using it).

And now, let’s make it even bigger in 2016.

This post was originally written for Social Media Club. 

Emojis: Are They Right for Your Fashion Brand?

emojis fashion brand marketing

Emojis, emotional indicators that allow us to (as consumers and brands) share what we are feeling at any given time, whether that’s through text, a social channel, chat, or email. It’s a way to connect on a level beyond the words you say. It’s not anything new. We’ve been using them since the days of chat rooms and AOL. But, now…

Emojis allow fashion brands to measure how their customers actually feel about your pieces, your brand, an event you host, or a cultural phenomena, really.

Here’s a quick look at how people are using emoticons today:

  • To express emotions
  • To demonstrate a state of being
  • To communicate a moment in time
  • To communicate a lot with a little (on the go sharing)

Here’s a look at how your brand can take advantage of this:

  • You can connect emotionally through social signals of happiness, anger, indecision, sadness, laughter, comradery, and excitement. The shared symbol of a thumbs up, three little hearts, or even a latte create an instant feeling of connection between the one who posts and the one who views.
  • You’re given an opportunity to understand what sort of things elicit an emotional response from people. You can use this as a measuring stick for your content creation.
  • Stand out in email communication. At least for now, you can make the emails you’re sending stand out among the crowd by having fun with emoticons in the subject line.

Should you use emoticons?

If your brand has a playful and creative side, consider it. Not every brand has the right audience for it.

  • Is your audience millennial?
  • Heavily using social media?
  • Willing to try new apps?
  • Is your brand adventurous? Humorous? Willing to consider gaming?

You don’t need to answer yes to all of these questions, but you need to consider them when deciding if using emoticons is right for your brand.

If you’re not into using them, you can still sit back and listen. It allows your brand to measure sentiment analysis as channels like Facebook open up for more emotions to be used through status updates and comments. Pay attention to what causes your audience to feel excited, frustrated, and special. Learn from it. Adapt based on it.

 This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Your Checklist for Working with Influencers to Grow Your Fashion Brand

fashion brand influencers

Influencers is a word that seems to be used all too often. At it’s most basic, it is a word that defines a celebrity, journalist, advocate, social media “star”, or anyone who’s thoughts and opinions have a strong impact on the people who follow them.

Working with influencers to grow awareness of your fashion brand can be a great strategy. But first, you have to identify them.

The biggest thing to remember is that it isn’t just the number of followers a person has that characterizes them as an influencer. It’s typically that they are an expert in a subject matter in some capacity.

Whether you’re a startup or an established brand, it’s important to have some set parameters when working with influencers for a program. This helps to avoid issues when it comes to relevance and authenticity of content and ensuring the brand and influencer will work well together.

Here’s Your Checklist for Working with Influencers to Grow Your Fashion Brand

  1. Start with a lot of research: Check their background, check their current posts. What are they saying, how are they saying it? Do they engage with their following or do they delete comments they don’t like? Do they have an email signup on their website– then sign up. Are they on the platforms that you have seen the most traction for your brand? How often do they post? You cannot do too much research.
  2. Make sure they are on-brand: Do they have the same vibe as your brand? Is their tone complementary to yours? How do they communicate?
  3. They are still using their voice: While it’s important that their tone is complementary to yours, you also want to make sure that they still have their own voice. You want to make sure that don’t ever compromise their own brand in order to make money.
  4. Who are they working with already: Check to see that the influencer isn’t working with your direct competitors recently (at least in the last year).
  5. Are they too obvious: Meaning, often, once an influencer becomes more famous he/she may start saturating their content creation with sponsored stuff. When this happens, they often lose the respect of their following. So it’s good to check if they are still doing original content and sponsored posts are not their primary source of content.
  6. Give ideas: Some influencers (especially celebrities) may be great at what they do, but not so great at coming up with ideas for sponsored content. Don’t be afraid to give them a nudge towards what they could do, so when they create an Instagram post, it doesn’t seem like a blatant ad.
  7. Lay out the terms: Be sure you have stated everything that you want done in the collaboration upfront, including the number of social media posts per channel. How many blog posts you get, whether you’re included in any emails, etc. Also make sure that your brand can utilize their name and the content they create throughout owned, earned, and paid media. Don’t make any assumptions.

The last thing your brand wants is to be associated with sponsored content that isn’t original and valuable. So take the time and follow the list.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Digital Marketers Rejoice: Instagram Multi-user Testing and What it Means

Since brands began their “invasion” (we all know consumers felt this way at times) of Instagram, digital marketers have been feeling the pain. There is no way to post seamlessly through the Instagram platform for multiple accounts. It’s led many down the path of testing third party apps, and many particularly into frustration. And typically both.

Now with the announcement of android multi-user beta testing in play, it could be a whole new playing field. What does this mean?

For brands and digital marketers:

  • Ease of handling multiple accounts. This doesn’t just mean personal and professional (but it does for many of us). It also means for agency and multi-brand folks, the ability to jump from one product line to the next without having to log out.
  • Assuming this allows for multi-login alerts at the same time, it would provide marketers with easier listening and in turn engagement with the target market.
  • Saving hashtags, because when you logout, you lose the ability to auto-fill your most recently used hashtags.
  • Less money spent on third party tools for something a native tool should allow for
For consumers:
  • Faster response by brands for questions, contests, and engagement with UGC content
  • Potential to be “seen” by a brand as a significant / loyal consumer sooner
  • More content they want to see
But for now we wait. We wait for the beta test to expand to iPhone and to all Instagram users (rather than just beta testers). We wait for Instagram to give us what we’ve been hoping for … for far too long.
Until then.
This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

How Brands can take Advantage of Instagram’s Search Feature

Instagram has been working on making their search functionality better for quite some time. The latest updates allow consumers to discover more and to follow and engage with fresh new content. Instagram is similar to twitter or tumblr in some ways where you can see what’s trending and decide to check out the conversation and/or follow the user.

Why does this matter? Three reasons.

REAL TIME

When a brand sees what is trending, it can use this as an opportunity to see how it relates to the brand. Is the topic an opportunity to create content that is relevant to the conversation? Is it on brand to do so? Is it an opportunity to stand out within the conversation or with content that the brand already has, but can tweak for that day?

DISCOVERY

A brand can see which influencers are prominent within search categories, allowing digital marketers to see which ones could be opportunistic to work with for sponsored or co-created content within the space. For example, if your brand is a travel brand and you want to work with a food blogger who travels around the world, you can see which ones are prominent on Instagram through the search and discovery functions vs. randomly using Google or sifting through pages on Instagram.

TOPICAL POSTING

When your brand sees what types of topics are bubbling to the top, it allows an opportunity to plan out what will trend around certain times and cultural events. In addition, there is a local overlap element allowing your brand to see what locations are stirring more conversation. Plan how your brand can be apart of that conversation when consumers search and discover too.

In short, it’s for real time and planning. Because in reality, we all know that real time marketing takes some planning and preparation. For those who can write, design, and gram a photo in 90 seconds or less , I salute you.

For the rest…plan, but plan efficiently. Be nimble and be ready or someone else will be.

How to be More creative with Instagram

fashion brand instagram

Instagram is a hot platform for the fashion industry. It allows fashion designers, fashion brands, and fashion enthusiasts to create and share their favorite looks, styles, and upcoming product lines within seconds. We know this. Instagram is awesome.

But what else does Instagram allow for brands?

The key is creativity. And planning.

Use an artistic lens: Some Instagram bloggers take everyday objects and make them into an artistic photo. For example, one shot I saw used kitkat candy pieces as the black keys on a piano. It was crafty and fun. While this has nothing to do with fashion, a similar play could be done with a hanger, a sewing needle, or a sketchpad. Doing stuff like this demonstrates the creative side of a brand.

Add locations: Now that locations are becoming a part of discovery and trending posts, it is more appealing to add a location in order to join conversations. Similarly, this is an opportunity to look into what’s trending and what locations already are, in order to plan out real time (or near time) content.

Create a full look book layout: Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more brands utilizing each photo as a piece of a larger photo (or look book). It’s interesting to see one by one, but when you go to a brand’s page and look at the images together, it’s beautiful. The pieces of the larger image are an incentive to take a closer look. And it’s definitely an opportunity to stand out for a new line, special offer, or event coming up.

Lastly, look to see what your fans are creating and sharing. It could be an opportunity to emulate or demonstrate how much you appreciate their creativity and style too. For example, regram theirs, or use their photo as inspiration for your own and credit them.

It’s a great way to go beyond the typical Instagram shot and stand out among the many other Instagram bloggers and brands out there.

See original full post on Startup Fashion.

Exclusive Content: Make consumers feel special

exclusive content

Exclusive content is the new black. It’s one of those things that people get excited about and never quite goes out of style. Whether its the 90s, 00s, or now, consumers want to feel like they’re in the know. The cool club. That they’re getting special exclusive stuff that maybe their friends aren’t…yet.

Your brand can be that content creator.

You can create content that makes your current and future customers feel as though they are the most important and special people around.

So how do you do this? It doesn’t take as much time as you may think. There a few ways that you can make your content appear more exclusive without the extra time spent. Here are a few ideas:

  • Provide exclusive content on a specific channel. For example, allow your Instagram or Snapchat fans to get an inside look into your upcoming product that hasn’t been released to the masses yet.
  • Better yet, allow them to impact what the new product line will be called. Snapchat is easier for this exclusivity, as it can’t be as easily shared onto Facebook as Instagram can. On the other hand, if your brand does prefer Instagram (which is a great vehicle for visual content), sending a private DM to fans can do the trick too.
  • Give your blogger collaborators the spare set of keys: Allow 3-5 bloggers to also give away the product. This way you reach more people who may be interested in your brand, but are still providing an exclusive opportunity for fans.
  • Make opportunities time sensitive: Whether a contest or something else altogether, create a feeling of exclusivity through small windows of time that makes the entire experience extra special.

To read more on how you can lead up to this, and follow up with your consumers, check out the full post on startup fashion.

Podcasts: They’re Cool Again

fashion podcasts

Have you played around with Podcasts yet?  I know, it’s not all that appealing because there are no visuals but they’re actually cool again. It’s not all about visual content when you’re trying to attract new audiences.

Podcasts are no longer un-cool content. They’re inspiring, engaging, and great for on-the-go consumption.

Just think about SERIAL and how it gained momentum. If it sounds vaguely familiar but you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, here’s the deal: It was a weekly podcast that was so suspenseful and well done that people got completely hooked on the story and could not wait until the release of the next chapter. Yes, it was a suspense filled podcast, but just because you’re not sharing a suspenseful story, doesn’t mean you can’t share something that will keep people coming back for more.

If you’re interested, you can check out this list created by Who What Wear fashion podcasts, of the most awesome fashion podcasts for your listening pleasure.

The key with using podcasts to build community around your brand, figuring out a way to tell a “story” that makes listeners want to come back for more.

Podcasts allow brands to reach new audiences and build community by:

  • Marketing themselves to an audience who wants to learn more about a certain category
  • Telling a story through chapters
  • Allowing a brand advocate to voice their brand love
  • Giving an influencer the keys to speak on the brand’s behalf
  • Creating referral traffic back to a site experience to learn more
  • Allowing the audience to see a different side of the brand

For most brands, visual content has been key – especially with Instagram, Pinterest, tumblr, Snapchat, so on and so forth. However, it doesn’t mean that ‘on the go’ and ‘easily consumable’ content has to be visual in order to be engaging. There are multiple ways to tell your brands story, and podcasts are another tool for the toolbox.

To check out the full original post, go to Startup Fashion.

Invest in Great Content

Content takes many shapes and forms these days. It can exist in as small as a tweet, to a Snapchat video, to website copy, to a whitepaper. Every brand has different formats and types that work best for them and their audiences in order to reach their marketing and business objectives. However, does a brand always have to invest in creating content themselves? Not necessarily.

Content sourcing for supplemental content is smart and it’s to a brand’s advantage when done well. But what type of supplemental content is right for your brand? That’s the answer you need to determine based on the following criteria:

Gain new audiences

Rather than using paid social or paid media to target new audiences, it helps to find different ways to reach those audiences. For example, partner with other brands/publishers or influencers in the categorical space to create content.

  • Partner with a Brand/Publisher – These days there are so many content houses ruling the content space. They are creating content every minute of every hour in every category – from NY Times to Mashable to Techcrunch to Refinery29 to Vogue. And they have the eyeballs already. These publishing houses are partnering with brands to create content in order to allow access to their audiences – for a cost of course. The difference is, it’s more natural to read an article in Refinery29 that was done through a partnership than check out a banner ad. People are more willing to share this article with their friends and family, too.
  • Partner with Influencers – From the bloggers like Cupcakes and Cashmere to the YouTube stars like Jacklyn Hill to many more…influencers are all around us. They can be bloggers, video stars, journalists, food Instagrammers, or a reputable advocate who has a large voice on Twitter. They aren’t one size fits all, and it takes time to find the right one for your brand (or the right ones). The key is to work with the influencer from discovery through execution. You want to ensure they understand your brand, your product/service, and what your objective is. But be sure that you don’t keep the reigns too tight. Let the influencer keep their voice and allow them to create the content in a way that is going to resonate with their audiences.

Create different content formats

Sometimes your brand doesn’t have the resources or talent to create a type of content – such as Vine videos. Why waste the effort when you can outsource to an expert who can do it much faster…and better. There are three ways to go about this.

1) Have the expert use their name as the creator and let it be in their voice/tone/way. That way you can also gain new audiences and a new format for your brand.

2) Let them ghost-create the content for your brand in your brand’s voice/tone so you have more content in your arsenal.

3) Co-create it so you have it in your tone/voice but also in a way that allows the creator’s name/voice to be shown. And in this case you both can distribute/promote it.

Content…is costly. But it shouldn’t always have to be done by your brand in-house. The best part is when you do co-create and/or create supplemental content through third party resources you create an advantage for your brand.  An advantage of being cutting edge and innovative.

This post was originally written for Socialnomics.

Why the new standalone app Layout by Instagram is worth downloading

Instagram app Layout

Layout, the latest standalone Instagram app (since Hyperlapse), has hit iOS. The app allows for users to easily collage your photos in unique and simple ways and then instantly share on Instagram and/or Facebook.

Instagram claims that it isn’t trying to create yet another collage app, but to create one that makes collages easier to make and more user friendly.

So what does this mean?

In short, it’s a new feature app that allows Instagram users (and photo takers) to have another tool in their “artistic” toolbox. The collages have some set parameters, but from there you can fiddle around and make your collage your own.

Having played around with it, appears to take some of the best features of other free apps such as PicStitch and combine them with ease of use, and a much friendlier user interface.

The Layout features to consider when creating your next collage:

  • Ease of sorting through photos on your phone
  • Adding multiple pictures at once to the collage
  • Taking pictures for the collage instantly (in multiple succession)
  • Unique grid options that aren’t just one size or shape
  • Unique ability to shift and mirror the images for different viewpoints

Why it matters to consumers:

The app allows consumers to have more fun when taking photos to post. It allows them to post more photos at once and in turn create/make a story out of the moment they are sharing.

Why it matters to brands:

As consumers can share a more detailed story of their moments, so can brands. When it comes to events, product shots, new releases, and behind the scenes – Layout is a new tool to keep in mind. It will allow your brand to show different views of the same product at once versus sifting through multiple photos.

Read more on why it matters to brands on the full post at Startup Fashion.

5 Simple Yet Effective Ways to Promote Your Brand’s Blog

 

Having a blog is awesome. Promoting it’s content is even more awesome, if done well. The below list addresses simple but effective ways for your content distribution strategy.

1. Share, share, share – It seems self-explanatory to say share your blog across your social channels. However, it’s not just about sharing, but it’s about the way you share. Ensure your blog is baked into your social content strategy for weekly and monthly cadence opportunities. Leverage pop culture opportunities to boost the presence of your blog’s content into relevant conversations. And of course, ensure that the blog link is easily available within your bios or social posts.
Example: Equinox blog and their Instagram Account.
unnamed
2. Sign ups on your website – The best way to increase referral traffic to your website and blog are by having the two within the same domain. Even if you have a blog hosted on tumblr, you can still have it within your domain too. So when you ask your consumers to sign up for your blog, not only are you getting your blog out to more people, but you’re collecting leads for your brand as a whole.
3. Email and newsletters – Just like you want to ensure you are promoting the awareness of your social channels within emails or newsletters, you want to do the same for you blog. Perhaps the content from your blog is the primary content within your weekly/daily emails. This allows for people to see your brand as not just another brand, but a content source for information, tips, news, and more.
4. Cross promote – Your brand most likely has some partnerships – whether it’s for the brand as a whole or content partnerships. Use those to help cross promote content for them, and in turn for you. It allows your content to get in front of extra eyeballs and hopefully traffic back to you on a regular basis.
5. Guest bloggers – You never have to create all the content on your own. And when you decide to allow guest “expert” bloggers to take a stab at your content – it not only allows extra voices, but a another way to engage new audiences. Not only will these bloggers be writing for you, but they’ll [hopefully] be promoting their pieces on social media and on their own blog. This allows for extra “free” promotion, and in turn traffic to your blog content.
What other ways does your brand like to share?

This post was origially written for social media club – see more here:  http://socialmediaclub.org/blogs/from-the-clubhouse/5-simple-yet-effective-ways-promote-brands-blog#sthash.55kCuOpZ.dpuf

 

Three brands who understand content marketing

It’s easy to focus on the negative, especially when it comes to the news, how we feel about brands who have mistreated us, the person who didn’t hold the door, etc. It’s especially true in the digital world, where marketers are competing for the next big campaign, and looking to see what another brand did wrong. It’s unfortunately too easy to be negative.
Then there are brands who try to bring out the positive, through their campaigns, their messaging, and their spirit. Those are the brands that are tough to talk badly about – mainly because they pull it off so well.
A few I’ve noticed (big and small) of all time and as of late are:
1. Equinox - Yes, a gym, but so much more than that. Their content game includes (but is not limited to) quality image content that is easy to consume on the go, and also highly shareable. Their hashtag, #equinoxmademedoit is enough to make you want to see what they’re about. Their gyms are not just welcoming from a comfort and active level, but their digital content encourages you to give a little more. The brand is making a name (even if it’s smaller than some) to kick your own butt, and keep kicking it. To encourage yourself to be a better fit, healthy you. And I see no problem with that.
2. The Tig - A content site by Meghan Markle, has inspired many females (including myself) to look at myself with a new lens. The content motivates one to appreciate oneself,  love who you are, and what you like in life. In addition, the brand encourages people to be ok with where they are in life – whether it’s married, engaged, having a baby, and/or single, such as in their latest Valentine’s Day post.
3. Dove - Known for it’s encouragement for inner beauty as well as loving your body (whatever shape), has a new campaign called#SpeakBeautiful. Instead of reading “mean tweets” or festering on the negative beauty comments that people are saying about themselves…Dove is helping change the story. The brand wants to inspire others to help “change their story” too.
These three do seem to have something in common. It’s inspiration and owning who you are, and focusing on being a better you. As marketers, we sometimes promote items that aren’t always about “the good,” but when they can be, it’s pretty great. Applauding those who have help put forth such great campaigns who inspire the rest of us to kick it up a knotch.
This post was originally written for socialnomics. 

Video Content – Not just an option anymore

video content fashion brand

The latest news in the battles of the social channels has been that Facebook is going over YouTube’s video domain. Facebook recently tried to “own” the Grammy’s conversation, and now is trying to “own” as many Superbowl related Ad opportunities as possible.

But what does this mean for startups and smaller brands? A lot actually.

As much as large marketing and ad budgets are nice to have, it’s not just about the money. It’s about the content. The key trend here is video. Over the past couple years we’ve noticed Vine, Instagram Video (including hyperlapse), Snapchat and more come into the social video space — joining the ranks of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Vimeo.

Smaller brands need and should figure out a way to invest in visual content, including video. Especially in the fashion industry where visuals are key to sell products and services.

Video can tell a story that a picture may not be able to portray fully.

  • Video can demonstrate how the founder came up with his/her idea for the startup
  • Video can show how the piece of clothing started from a piece of fabric
  • Video can allow an event to come to life in real-time
  • Video can allow consumers to see into your brand
  • Video can allow consumers to connect with one another
  • Video can allow for more user generated content (UGC)
  • Video can demonstrate that your brand is on top of its game

Although some video content can be expensive, there are ways to make video happen without breaking the bank. It’s not just about the ad budget, it’s about the story. Each brand has a story to tell.

The key is finding the story consumers want to hear. So before you go out and make a dozen videos for social, your blog, and your site. Listen first. Do some digital listening research to understand what consumers are talking about, asking for, and actually want from your brand…

  • Use free tools like Google trends to understand what people are searching for in regards to your brand and your competitors.
  • Topsy is a great tool to see if certain numbers are working and what people are saying in that conversation.
  • Look back at your Twitter stream to see what questions your audience was asking. Do they want to know more about your product and service? More about your founder?
  • Look to see where your audience engages, and what they engage with. For example on Pinterest – what do they love and repin most?
  • Do a poll or survey to see what your audience wants. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking directly.

Does your brand have questions on how to get started with the right video content? Reach out in the comments!

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

How to: Market to the Instant Generation (Gen Z)

fashion brands marketing instant generation

Gone are the days of waiting for a catalog and thumbing through it casually. Today and tomorrow are the days of instant consumption. From brands like Instacart who allow purchases to be delivered within hours; to Snapchat which allows for people to share messages and then they “disappear” instantly.

It’s become a consumer world where things are not just desired instantly, but expected instantly. It’s a user behavior that impacts brand marketing from content strategy to content distribution to purchase behavior. Let’s break down what that means and how fashion brands can be on top of your game.

Content Strategy: consumers want their content in easy, consumable formats.

  • Short, visually-aesthetic content. The quality of the picture can grab a user’s attention more than any title will.
  • Think buzzfeed type lists, 10 – 30 second videos, and photo slideshows. Content that can be consumed within minutes is more likely to have less bounce rates.
  • Blogs posts with headlines that demonstrate the main points with a couple glances. When people are in a rush, give them the gist. They’ll dig in if they are interested in reading more.

Content Distribution: consumers want their content on the go, and within seconds.

  • Content should be formatted for any device – computer, tablet, mobile, and nowadays even a smart TV.
  • It should be within the channels they prefer to frequent (not only where the brand wants to be). For example, if your consumer is planning their wedding – they are searching on Pinterest. While someone who is in a discovery mode, may be perusing tumblr as they stroll.
  • Ensure load time is quick. Your website needs to be able to load before they get distracted by the next puppy walking down the street.

Purchase Behavior: consumers want to be able to purchase from anywhere, at anytime.

  • It goes without saying that your site should be developed to be device-agnostic. It’s not just mobile first – it’s however the consumer will see it, it needs to be a good experience.
  • Some brands have gone beyond the mobile website and developed apps for purchases. Take Nordstrom for example – consumers can go on their site, but their app allows for easier viewing and filtering of products due to its formatting. This is not to say every brand needs an app; the main point is your customers want an easy experience to purchase at their fingertips.
  • Determine your largest sites for referral traffic. As a consumer brand it may likely be Pinterest or Instagram. If so, use those social channels to allow for purchasing too. Leave the purchase link in the bio for Instagram. For Pinterest, ensure that the referral link goes directly to the purchase link. Quick easy ways to allow consumers to purchase without having to pay for sponsored opportunities within those social channels.

And in the end, remember to ask yourself one thing. As a consumer, is your brand’s experience what you would hope for?

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion.

Digital Marketing Myth: Content Must be Visual

As digital marketers, many of us realize the need for visual content. There are more visually appealing social channels then we can count – but of course you have the usual suspects such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest and more. Should you have visual content? Yes. Should it be your only content? Not necessarily.

We’ve probably all heard of it by now, but Serial – the podcast – is a great example of this non-visual content trend. An old medium, but great engaging content. Why did it work? A few reasons:

  • Great content – It didn’t have to be visual to be great content. The key was the story. The story was engaging, suspenseful, and it got people talking.
  • Word of mouth – It got people talking to their colleagues, their family members, and their friends – in person and on social.
  • Suspense – It was told in a manner that left the listener excited for the next episode release.
  • Short – It was long enough to feel like something you’re investing in, but short enough that you could listen to an episode on a train ride, a gym workout, or while you’re cooking dinner.
  • It was real – The people and the content were real. The history and storyline were true. It made you invest in what was going on because you wanted to know more.
Great podcast, and now the people want more. The next season will come in 2015, and the masses are waiting. Why? Again – content doesn’t have to be visual to be great and shareable. As you can see from the Topsy screenshot below, the topic is still being talked about (for many of the reasons outlined above).
The reason this podcast (and many others) work is because they allow people another way to consume content on the go. It’s an easy way for busy people to learn more, delve into subject they don’t normally have time for, and/or just be entertained. As mentioned above, podcasts can be 5 min, 30 min, 1 hour (etc). The lengths allow for someone who consume the content while they’re completing other tasks – which is not always the case with watching a video, reading an eBook, etc. No need to flip a page, or scroll through a blog post when all you have to do is change the volume to level you prefer. This also reigns true for audible books – just check out Audible and the fact that you can subscribe to the service like Hulu or Netflix.
Podcasts  may be an old content format, but old doesn’t mean bad content. It just means you need to put in the effort to make it engaging and great (like all content).
Image sources: Serial Podcast, Topsy
This post was originally written for Socialnomics

The Process for Launching a New Website

As digital marketers, we are constantly launching and shipping. We want to get our brands on the top of their game. We want to launch fast and we want to launch something that will make a splash.

Here’s the thing – we sometimes forget or lose sight of the time and effort it will actually take. Launching something – especially a new site, takes way more time than you initially may consider or plan for. So instead of kicking yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are doing your next big launch (such as a website):

  1. Do extra research – A lot of times when we have an idea, someone else has it too. Make sure your idea isn’t already taken. And if it is, that’s ok. Maybe your idea has a new spin or an advantage the previous one hasn’t considered. Make sure yours stands out. When I had my new recent idea, I searched and searched for similar sites. I didn’t want to come across as just another inspiration site. It had to be unique.
  1. Ask people for their opinions – When I was designing my new site, I had to consider the look, the logo, and the name. I had a friend design my logo and luckily my partner and I had similar taste so we didn’t go through many reviews. However, we needed outside opinions too. For example, when we came up with the brand name, we wanted to ensure it resonated with our audience. We polled a large group of friends who would be un-biased…”Did they think it meant the same thing we did?” Thankfully, yes.
  1. Plan buffer time – So, our site launch was supposed to be in September. It launched in January. Four months later. Why? Because our site took longer to build than we expected, we had hosting issues, and came across little things we didn’t “plan” to crop up. We didn’t add cushion time. So instead of fretting (or fretting too much) we changed our launch date. We wanted it to be a time when the site would resonate and make more of a splash. The New Year was the new plan.
  1. QA and QA some more – This is one thing I let slip from my mind. If it looked good on my browser and my phone it must look great everywhere, right? Nope. Check every browser – even (gulp) Internet Explorer. Check multiple devices and types of devices. And do it more than once.
  1. Make a promotion plan – You did all that work, so you should promote it too! It’s one thing to go live, it’s another to go live with a bang or two. Depending on the type of brand and launch you should consider the following:
    1. Email your contacts
    2. Post it on your social channels (and personal channels if you can)
    3. Do a blogger or influencer outreach prior to launch for extra eyeballs
    4. Ask friends to share

In addition, plan to promote for more than one day or two. Promote every day during your launch week. Why let the buzz sizzle after a day, when you can keep the party going?

And…speaking of launches, I’m pretty proud to announce my new site – Radiate Daily. What is it? It’s not just another blog. Radiate Daily is an opportunity for women (and men) to harness their confidence around personal style, health, fitness, and in turn their daily lives. Personal style is something that we all have, but sometimes takes longer to be comfortable with. As the saying goes, “Fashion fades, style is eternal,” and Radiate Daily is here to help everyone be more confident with their own. Come check it out, and share your story! #radiatedialy

Image source: grumpy cat

This post was originally written for: http://marketingontherocks.com/

Five CTAs to Consider for your Brand’s Content Marketing

 

CTAs for branding and marketing content

When it comes to your website, email marketing, and social media, your content needs a call to action (cta). What is it that you want your reader to do? The CTA usually drives your audience to have an interaction with the content and engage (click, like, share) or potentially go somewhere else (such as your product page to purchase).

A great CTA can create responses from the audience and potentially convert them from a prospective customer to an actual customer (or a current one to a loyal one).

Here’s the thing though, not all CTA’s have to drive to a product or service.

Sometimes a CTA that leads to entertainment, valued content, or helpful tips is enough to make your audience excited for your product or service in the long run.

Here are 5 Alternative Calls to Action for Your  Branding and Marketing Content:

Email: Cross promotion between social and email is a great way to get awareness of your content. Perhaps include some of your Instagram favorites in your email newsletter and allow your readers to “share” their favorite with specific hashtag. Allow them to be a part of your community and potentially be highlighted in your email next time.

Website: Have them “subscribe now” to your newsletter for information on events or entertaining videos, not necessarily sales and promos.

YouTube: Instead of leading them back to the site to purchase a product from your videos, perhaps have a simple annotation to go to the next video. Let them enjoy more awesome content, because they’re obviously watching the video for a reason. They’re interested!

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion – to read the full list of CTAs including Facebook and tumblr, check out my full post here. 

 

7 Ways to Keep your Blog Content Fresh

fashion business blog

We all go through writers block. Sometimes we’re sitting tapping the keys on our keyboard but nothing is coming to mind. The well is running low and you’ve “run out of things to blog about”.. but is that really true? Maybe you’re just not looking in the right places.

There are some ways to prepare yourself in advance so the well doesn’t run dry. And there are things we can do to keep ourselves motivated for those times we are feeling a little less in the mood to blog for your fashion business.

  • Monthly brainstorms - This may seem abhorrent and like a huge task, but it’s super helpful in the long run. Take a couple hours before the beginning of each month and think about what’s going on culturally for that particular time. What is going through consumer’s mindset. For example in October your consumer may be planning a Halloween party, thinking about Fall shopping, boot season, fall fashion layers, the upcoming holidays, and nostalgia for everything autumn. Then chart out when it would be best to publish each piece so you know what you’re writing about each week.  Best part – when the next year comes around, you’ll have a shell to begin from and tweak.
  • Ask your audience - Seems like a no-brainer but sometimes we forget our largest resource. Our audience! It is who we are writing the blog posts for, after all. Why not put out a poll or question to your audience via your preferred social channels to ask what they want more of, or less of.
  • Read other blogs – Really. Subscribe to as many as possible, whether it’s via email, Twitter, or a reader app like Pulse or Flipboard. It helps to have resources at your fingertips. Read them, and read them daily. They’ll help you feel on top of your game, and give you new ideas on a more frequent basis.
  • Write about what you are passionate about – May seem silly, but when you’re passionate about your topic, it will shine through. Your voice will carry further, and your audience will engage more. No one wants to read a blog post that is lame and boring, written by someone who just pumps out blog posts like a chore. They want their writer to be excited to write to them. So, write about the topics that you care about. You’ll be happier, and so will your audience.

To read about my 3 other tips including formats and curation, check out my full post on Startup Fashion!

Is tumblr the right blogging platform for your brand?

 

tumblr blogging platform

Do you have blog for your brand? I know, you’ve got a lot to do. But blogging is really important for reasons ranging from SEO to customers relationships. When it comes to choosing a a platform for your blog, you may want to go with WordPress, which definitely has it’s advantages. Or you may be considering tumblr.

A lot of brands ask about the benefits and “is tumblr a good blogging platform for a MY brand?”  Here’s one way to look at it.

  • Do you want a blog that people are excited to engage with?
  • Do you want a community that is hungry for your visual content?
  • Do you want a blog that people “re-blog” today, tomorrow, and even 6 months from now?
  • Do you want a blog that allows fun features like polls?
  • Do you want a blog that you can post to on the go?

If you said yes to even a couple of the above questions, then tumblr may be the blogging platform for your brand.

tumblr is not just a blog, but an online community of people who are creating, curating, consuming, and sharing content every minute of every day. Consumers are there for one reason – to find and consume content they are interested in. So why not be where your consumers already are?

tumblr is extremely effective for visual friendly brands such as those in the fashion industry. Brands like NordstromClub Monaco and others have taken full advantage – including letting it be another path to purchase for their brand lovers. Furthermore, influencers in the fashion industry realize it’s another place that an audience will love to check out brand collaborations.

To read more on the benefits of tumblr and why the advantages could be right for your brand, check out my full post on Startup Fashion!

Image via Omarukai

Tips to Invest in Visual Content for the Digital Space

Content isn’t just about blog posts, whitepapers and only written content. Content can be anything from a Tweet to a TV Commercial. Unfortunately, some brands write a great article, and then just slap on a photo. The photo for that article is what will entice people on social channels to actually consume your content and potentially share to their audience. For example, when posting an article on Pinterest, unless your brand’s photo is visually appealing, the likeliness of someone clicking on it is slim to none. And who wants to Re-Pin an article with a blurry or unappealing photo? So before you choose any photo (or video), consider investing your money and resources to something that’s of higher quality and more engaging to your target audience.

Here are some quick tips to invest (and some ways that don’t break the bank):

1. Don’t just rely on your smartphone camera – It’s definitely easy and convenient, especially for apps like Instagram to shoot and share immediately through your phone. However, for better quality shots an investment on a good Canon or Nokia may be worth the few extra bucks. That way you can have more effective photo shoots of your products, services, influencers, and events with a little less stress.

2. Have a committed resource (or freelancer) – Taking photos isn’t a 5 minute job. It takes time to get the right shot. Additionally if your brand is committed to posting every day on channels like Instagram, Pinterest, and/or tumblr, you need the assets to do it. It’s ok to have multiple shots from one shoot, but it’s important to have variety.

3. Curate - Not only is this helpful to not put all the pressure on your brand, but it helps to highlight others in the community who also have great content. And if karma is real, it’ll definitely come back around.

4. UGC – Your consumers will like and maybe even love to be highlighted. I admit, when I posted a picture tagging Nordstrom Rack a couple weeks ago, and then the brand took notice not just by liking my photo, but regramming it to their feed – well I may have done a little dance or two. I was ecstatic. It was the ultimate compliment by a brand I admire. So not only is that a way to win over a consumer, but it’s more content for your arsenal!

Screen Shot 2014-03-23 at 5.43.42 PM

How to use your new awesome visual content wisely:

1. Facebook – Considering it’s almost impossible to get noticed organically on Facebook nowadays, the more you can do the better. Ensure that each post has a featured image that is bright colored (blue is always helpful), with the main product/service/person standing out clearly. It helps if it’s an image a consumer would be excited to share.

2. Twitter - Instagram will not show up in-feed anymore, so consumers have to click out to view the image. However if you post directly through Twitter than it will show up. It’s more likely that someone will click on your Tweet and the link in your Tweet if the image is enticing.

3. Instagram – My favorite as of late – can’t help it. It’s fun, easy to share, and addicting to follow others. Make sure your content stands out in the crowd. A helpful tip is to ensure you post regularly (daily) with pictures that are high quality – not blurry! The filters are fun, but most brands don’t use them because they take away from the photo and make them lower quality. Also if you want to feature your pop of color, don’t use a filter to take away from it.

4. Pinterest – Some people think you can only post images on Pinterest – not true! You can post articles, infographics, and more. However make sure that there is an image that goes along with said article that makes it pop and appealing to the crowd. Mashable does a great job of repurposing their blog content on this visual channel, which in turn leads to great referral traffic back to their blog.

And don’t forget to have some fun with it. Show off your brand with some behind the scene pics of your team, your product being made, your event being planned, or even let an influencer take over your instagram account one day to show their take on your event or brand.

This post was originally written for Marketing on the Rocks.  

Why you Should Supplement your Content Creation with Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Benefits

Creating content is a beast. You heard right. A beast. It can take hours to plan, write, edit, and schedule accordingly. And truthfully most brands have a hard time doing it all themselves.

Some brands need to source out, curate, and/or co-create content in order to supplement the content they create themselves. One way to do this is working with guest bloggers. They can be a real asset as you create your content strategy and calendar

Let’s discuss some of the benefits to your brand and to the guest bloggers who choose to contribute…

Benefits to Your Brand:

  • You have more content resources
  • You have more time to focus on the content your brand is creating
  • You have a new viewpoint that you may not have considered before
  • You begin to create a content arsenal
  • Depending on your content strategy, fans of your brand may be more likely to trust and see value when a third party is writing about it
  • You gain a new audience through the guest blogger’s social amplification
  • You become a trusted resource for content and in turn, your fashion line

Benefits to the Blogger:

  • Growth of your expertise through reputable sources
  • Growth of your personal brand
  • Growth of your audience through cross-promotion
  • Extra money to continue building your personal brand/ business

What are the five things you need to consider as you start down this road? Check out my checklist here on my full post on Startup Fashion!

Know your Brand’s Audience With These Tips

Profile. Whether you’re a small business or a global business, knowing your audience is the backbone of selling your products and services. Without this knowledge, you’re basically throwing stuff at a wall and seeing if it sticks through your content marketing, social media engagement, and product marketing strategies. Does that sound effective? I didn’t think so. Here are tips your brand should consider to properly assess your audience:
1. Demographic Data – Take time to research genders, ages, geographical data, marital status, and household incomes. Even better is psychographic data including interests, attitudinal behaviors, lifestyle, including how connected they are (e.g. tablet users or desktop users). All of this data will help your brand carve your customer profiles with a larger picture to whom you are marketing.
2. Channels – Is your audience more apt to be on Flipboard vs. Pulse, or Twitter over Facebook, or perhaps they’re more into Tumblr and Instagram? Whatever the case, it’s important to understand consumption and sharing habits in order to know what content to put (so it’s right for the channel) and what channels to experiment with and dedicate time and money to in the long run.
3. Outreach Methods  Begin with your website analytics and discern the keywords used by visitors, which pages time was spent on the most, and where the bounce rates occurred. It is also helpful to gauge referral traffic and which pages led visitors to your website. For example, perhaps it was your Facebook ad or your fan page; or a Pictela unit that caused engagement to content on your site. It’s helpful to understand your audience patterns in order to get rid of the things that aren’t working, and/or fix things that you may not be doing great yet. Tweaking, in my opinion, is a part of brand management. Without constantly learning and tweaking, you’re not reaching the full potential of your audience.
4. Content Topics – This is where the lofty “editorial” calendar” is helpful in order to stay on top of the key holidays, industry events, and consumer mindsets, e.g. When your customer is more likely to be thinking of energy savings due to the cold temperatures where they live. With this calendar you can ensure that you’re focusing on the topics that are relevant to planned events you’ve thought ahead for, and also allowing your brand to be nimble to respond to things that pop up and are trending (and I don’t mean Beiber being arrested). As you look back on the past quarter you’ll assess which ones worked vs. could have done better – allowing your brand to “tweak” and focus on the topics that resonate best with your audience.
To read more on Content Formats and how to be nimble as a brand, check out my full post on Social Media Club !