4 Benefits of Augmented Reality for your Brand

Let’s start with the basics.

What is augmented reality: an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera) – Webster Dictionary

How is it different from Virtual reality?

Virtual reality usually has a headset involved, and immerses you inside an experience, rather than overlaying it, as AR does through an app.

But why should you care? 

  1. An interactive user experience – Allow your product, app, or ad to give a new use or cool buzzworthy interaction – Ex. Solar panel charger below
  2. An opportunity to show a different side of the brand  – Provide the consumer with an opportunity to see the story behind the product they are  buying with how each piece was made.
  3. Personalized experiences – Allow a customer to customize their product (see converse example below)
  4. Let a consumer try your product before purchasing it – Imagine if you’re a beauty or clothing brand and a consumer can see themselves wearing the product to see if they like it.

This all allows for a deeper connection with a brand.

Here’s the best part – AR allows brands to offer more to their consumers than ever before. It allows an opportunity for the consumers to use a medium they are already comfortable with (a camera or an app) on a greater level on how when and where they want to engage with a brand campaign, product, advertisement or the packaging.

Check out some cool examples below: 

Haggen Das, Concerto

Haagan Daaz created an AR campaign where the consumer downloaded an appand then pointed the camera at the lid. “A symphony musician would appear in 3D on the lid and play you a song for about 2 minutes until the ice cream reached the correct temperature for consumption.” The user had a unique interaction while they waited for their favorite new ice cream flavor (with a lot more patience) and more satisfaction.

Solar Phone Charger

Nivea gave solar panels in their print advertisements for consumers to charge their phones. Imagine a young millennial reading their favorite magazine at the beach but running out of juice on their phone to snapchat to their friends? Nivea to the rescue.

This is not only useful, but it’s something people will definitely brag about and tell their friends.

Converse

Converse used AR to provide a cool experience on their sampler app  – giving the consumer the keys to choose their favorite sneaker – point the phone at their feet – and bam, it’s on their foot (through the phone). They can see if it looks awesome, or awkward, or so good they have it buy it right then.

Why should your brand consider AR over VR? It’s an easier way to step into the land of virtual marketing and advertising. It doesn’t mean it’s better, it’s just a way to get your feet wet, without having to develop as much (typically).

And if your brand has the budget, and the marketing team to put the strategy behind it, give it a shot.

image source – http://www.augment.com/blog/3-consumer-giants-who-used-augmented-reality-for-retail/

This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

Instagram Stories Ads Are Here…Are you on Board?

It was inevitable…once Instagram introduced Instagram Stories (expiring content as in Snapchat), it was only time before they would allow an Ad

opportunity for brands in this venue as well.

But are Stories really getting enough traction to matter? Yes.

According to Instagram: In the five months since it launched, stories has grown considerably. Now, more than 150 million Instagrammers use it daily. And stories is contributing to more content and engagement. 

A great example from Instagram is one of AirBnB – Global leader in accommodations, Airbnb, is using Instagram Stories to help build awareness and buzz around its largest product launch to date—Trips on Airbnb. Through a series of 15-second videos, Airbnb highlights the ability to access unique experiences by connecting travelers with local experts who share the same interests, from art collectors to avid hikers. Using broad (25-44) targeting of men and women in the US, Airbnb is gaining awareness of its new product by using Instagram’s new immersive, sound-on storytelling format. Airbnb is excited to tap into interest targeting for future campaigns to drive their message home among their most relevant users.

In turn, Stories Ads are going to get traction too. They are going to be less invasive as they are skippable, so the Instagram user decides which ones they watch or don’t watch. The brands have a choice of using an “unclickable” 5-second photo

or a 15-second video.  The videos are sold in auction at a CPM (vs. Facebook where’s a 3 second CPV). Best part? You can ensure your ads are right for the audience through targeting, of course.

4 ways your brand can test Instagram Story Ads:

  1. Show an experience through a series – Since stories are meant to show a consecutive flow (i.e. a story), it provides an opportunity to let your brand share an experience from beginning to end. Perhaps it’s the entrance to an event, or how an influencer is engaging with your product in 2-3 creative ways. For example if your brand is a beauty brand, it could show the influencer examining the product, using it, and speaking to how the experience was.
  2. Product launch – Since Stories are considered new, of the moment content, it’s a great way to show a sneak peak to a new release. Some brands provide influencers and loyal consumers with exclusive releases. Perhaps it’s a way to share this product with a larger potential group of fans with exclusive access before it’s open to the public.
  3. Provide never before seen content – Imagine your brand is about to release a new video series, but you want to test out a smaller version through Instagram to understand the traction for the content. Or perhaps it’s a smaller piece, that will then allow consumers to go to the larger format, on your site.
  4. Give your loyal fan base a chance to feel the love through exclusive features. Perhaps you pick the best fans, and show new potential fans how much these people already love your brand, and why.

How is it different than Snapchat? It’s a self service skippable video format. And although Snapchat isn’t going anywhere, Instagram is definitely on the verge of taking a chunk out of Snapchat’s game.

Is your brand ready?

image source – pixabay 

This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

Unskippable vs. Skippable Ads

Let’s start with the basics.

What are skippable ads (via Google): A 30-second ad plays to completion, or until skipped by the viewer. The skip rate is an unbiased measure of engagement, and can be used as an optimization metric. You can create re-marketing campaigns based on whether or not viewers skip the ad. Cost-per-impression (CPM) is the same, whether or not the user skips it.

What are non-skippable ads (via Google): Non-skippable in-stream ads are video ads that may appear pre-, mid-, or post-roll while viewing partner content. … It’s up to you to determine the best balance between views/watch time…

For a long time, skippable was the way to go. It gave consumers the option, and didn’t make the experience to get the content they wanted as daunting. However, as time rolls on, the websites and networks have to think about not just the consumer, but also how they’re going to balance the priorities of the brands who are advertising with them. The brands need a real opportunity to be seen to grow their awareness of a campaign/product, and/or create engagement with the content they are putting out (ex. video completion rates – VCRs).

Many media vendors these days are going towards unskippable advertising for shorter ad units (ex.15 seconds), providing more value and investment for ROI by the brands who put their media budget towards pre-roll advertising with networks and websites.

It allows 3 great opportunities for brands:

(1) the opportunity to ensure the brand message is out in its entirety and not cut off;

(2) determine if the KPIs for the video are being met (outside of video completion rates, as that can’t be the a valid KPI for unskippable video ads);

(3) determine which networks are really working for driving further engagement with the consumer, and which ones only provided views (in the past).

In addition to this, YouTube, has said they are taking away the 30 second unskippable ad in 2018. Why? According to Google (via Verge) – “We’re committed to providing a better ads experience for users online. As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers.” This is interesting, as it appears that longer form video pre-roll (30 seconds or more) actually do quite well in the skippable format anyway. Consumers actually do watch the whole ad and are likely not to skip even if it’s more than 15 seconds. What does that mean? Consumers are on YouTube to watch a certain type of content, and if your video content is related and relevant to them, they’re more likely to tune in and finish watching before they watch the video they intended.

Note: they will still allow non-skippable shorter forms of video.

As for other networks, they are providing more opportunities for advertisers to continue to do non-skippable (in the shorter format as mentioned). In the end, it’s not about which ad unit you have, but about where you’re placing your ads and within what context for the end consumer. Next time we can discuss more about this. Stay tuned.

This post originally ran in Socialnomics. 

image source – pixabay

How to Reach your Brand’s Audience on Pinterest

Gone are the days of just Facebook and Twitter as the main players. Nowadays, there are countless apps popping up, and typically being born from the original pack, or at least being acquired by them.

To date we have: Facebook, Twitter (yes, still here), YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat (in no particular order). The visual platforms with content that lasts temporarily seem to be all the rage. They allow consumers to share with less fear, and feel excited to consume content that is more exclusive by brands. However, it doesn’t mean the players like Pinterest are going anywhere. They have a different focus, and a different purpose for the consumer who uses it. As snapchat is for quick consumption, Pinterest is for taking the time to peruse and discover.

Pinterest has been a contender for a while, being known for it’s pivotal role in referral traffic to websites, and hitting the consumer during moments of discovery and planning, with a visual tool that makes it simple and easy. People (although still mainly female) use it to plan life events (i.e. Marriage, babies) and festivities. They look for large inspiration, as well as daily ones. For example, one person may go on Pinterest to find their meal prep recipes for the week, while another may go on to plan their friend’s bridal shower.

But why should your brand care? According to Social Draft, “nearly 75% of Pinterest users have purchased something on the platform or because of the platform.” So you’re thinking, ok great – but will they look at my product or brand? Considering the average time on the channel is about 15 minutes, there’s a good amount of time to get your brand out there, with the right search optimization (keyword strategy) and frequency of posts (on average 5x a day) with bright, quality images that grab consumer eyes on the channel.

The other cool thing is that according to social marketing writing, 80% of content are re-pins – meaning that people are likely to share your content if they find it beneficial to themselves and their own community. And if you’re in the food and drink category, you’ve basically hit a goldmine as it’s one of the top 3 categories on Pinterest. And some of the most re-pinned words include “bake” and “recipe” … Yes, goldmine.

But if your brand has other categories to consider, think through the trending topics as they’re most likely to get repined, and/or hit up your target audience based on categories and days that hit hardest for them. For example: Fitness (Monday), Fashion (Thursday), and Travel (Saturday).

Still not convinced? According to viral woot:

  • A Pinner who close-ups on a pin is 1.6x more likely to sign up or convert.
  • A Pinner who saves is 3.9x more likely to sign up and 1.6x more likely to convert.
  • A Pinner who clicks thru is 4.5x more likely to sign up and 7x more likely to convert.

But before you go there, remember to focus on your content and the quality of it too. For example, the color tone that does the best is reddish-orange. It’s also good to have a couple dominant colors, rather than the blue/white that works better on Instagram. Lastly, it’s best to have no faces/people as objects with minimal background perform best.

In the end, it’s always about test and learn and seeing what works best for your brand and content strategy. This month, pick five pinterest tactics, that ladder up to your overall channel strategy, and see which ones work best for your brand’s content. Then…do it again.

Originally written for Social Media club. 

What’s your Brand’s Digital Refresh

As you wave goodbye to 2016, and January is hitting you right in the planner, your marketing mind is thinking, ok, what is 2017 for my brand? What can I do this year to take my brand further? How can I make a larger impact? How can the brand break through the clutter and demonstrate it’s our year.

First, you start with Data. If you find the time to invest in collecting the right data, and ensure you then in turn take the time to analyze it properly, you’ll find the data as your gold. It’s the ammunition you need to find what is working, and what you need to do more of.

For example for most brands the bread and butter is google analytics, crm, search and social analytics (in addition to any larger media program learnings).

Here are the main areas to ensure you’re looking at the right data (no matter the brand):

SEO and Paid Search:
– Time on Site
– Referral Traffic
– Content engaged with
– Bounce Rate
– Keyword and campaign performance

These are helpful to see how your overall campaigns are performing, which channels are bringing in the most traffic, what people are searching for in regards to your brand, and in turn what times/days your brand receives the most traffic.

CRM:
– open rates
– click through rates
– a/b test on subject lines

It’s best to find your category for benchmarks so you can see if your rates are below or above average and go from there.

Social:
– Engagement Rate
– Best and Worst performing posts (content types per channel)
– Day/time
– Cost per (View, Click, etc)

Each channel will be a little different, but it’s good to look at each separately for social, but also together to see which channels are best for your investment, especially when boosting posts.

With these mandatories, you can see what is working best for your brand across channels. The best part is you’ll probably seen some synergies across channels. For example a certain type of content may resonate well with your consumers no matter where they are. In turn, some types of content may work better on certain channels.

It’s good to evaluate the above every 3 months, and then every 1-2 months thereafter to ensure you’re getting a full yet also recent picture of your brand.

In turn, after you’ve looked at your data, you want to make sure you move fast with it. Once you see something is working well, churn out that content. Get more up on your blog or website for your consumers to engage with.

Another thing to consider as we go into 2017, is the things that matter to consumers. Consumers are searching on their mobile for things that matter to them at that very moment. In moments like this, it is more likely about being both mobile and local. Ensure your product/brand is accessible on a local basis. For example if you have key markets, ensure your product is available to your consumers via online or in store. If it’s only in store, ensure it’s able to be searched online so the consumer knows where to find it. If it’s online, ensure the purchase process is simple and easy. Whether it’s through a third party or your own site, be sure your consumer feels safe with the purchase, and also finds it convenient. So convenient that they can pay through an app or your website in minutes of finding it.

Lastly, don’t forget to be nimble. Be ready to change your tactics, and try new ones. The brands who fall behind are the ones who are unwilling to change and try. Ensure your success by being the ones who do.

This post was originally written for socialnomics. 

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.

6 Ways to Win on Instagram for your Brand

Instagram strategies

Instagram, a visual social platform, known for memes, gifs, and lifestyle-focused posts is where fashion industry pros live, collaborate, and grow relationships. It’s a place to build your brand from a visual standpoint, and allow your audience to see the story you want to tell.

There are many “tips and tricks” posts out there about using Instagram for your business. But we want to go beyond just “tips and tricks”, and instead delve a little deeper into strategy and tactics to show that…

True success is found through well thought-out planning, consistency, and dedicating time to make sure the channel grows for your brand and your business.

Here are 6 ways to grow your brand within instagram

Hashtags:  We all know that hashtags allow us to associate our Instagram posts with a category, an event, or a point of view. Using them is a great way to help your posts get found.

But how many of you are using them for search, discovery, and engagement? Hashtags can be used to your advantage to identify and connect with new customers, editors and other media, collaborators, and retailers. The thing here that you have to remember is that you need to take the offensive. Rather than just using hashtags in your posts and hoping you’ll be discovered by the people I listed above, you have to carve out the time to go find them yourself.

What are some ways to do that?

  • Search for your competitors, potential collaborators, complementary brands, and people who have already bought from you on Instagram and see what hashtags they’re using.
  • Make a list of the most commonly used hashtags (separate by industry hashtags and customer hashtags) in excel.
  • Search each hashtag and look at “Related” and add any relevant tags to your excel sheet.
  • Regularly search each hashtag, look at the posts under “Most Recent” and open them up. Start engaging with the people who are posting with these hashtags.

Posting Times: Keep in mind the posting times that appear to work best for your audience.

The goal is to test what does work by trying a few different days and times with a similar kind of post and then determining the ones that work the best. This way you aren’t wasting time on posts that aren’t going to reach your audience. However, keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily the case with partners or influencers you work with. Their posting times will vary against yours, and that is great. It means you’re reaching a wider net of people and hopefully gaining followers too.

Notifications: We all saw the “turn on notifications!” posts that lasted way too long across Instagram. While we tended to ignore these for the most part, I would suggest turning them on for a select few top people.

The goal with doing this is to be notified of a few things:

  • When top competitors post a picture, you can be notified to check it out and then observe who is commenting and liking, and how well their different posts are working for them. Take note of types of posts, times of posts, hashtags used, etc. You can start to do some great customer research this way too.
  • When your favorite editors or bloggers or podcasters post a new picture, you can be notified and then leave a thoughtful comment that helps to start building that relationship.
  • When top complementary brands or possible collaborators post, you can be notified and then leave a thoughtful comment that will be seen by the followers of that brand; hopefully they’ll click through to your profile and check you out too! Which would be great since you have the same customer.

Competitor’s Followers: This one is tricky and should definitely be approached with care. But checking out the followers of your competition, clicking through to their profiles, and engaging with them can be a great way to build your following. One big point I’d like to make here:

  • Do not just open up the list of followers and immediately follow all of them.  This is lazy and often a waste of time.  It’s certainly harmless but in terms of the time and energy that the brand/business is spending, it’s pointless.
  • Instead, take time to go through the lists of followers of your competitors, open them up, see if they seem like a desirable follower for your brand and start engaging — follow, or comment, or like a few of their photos.

Strategy and Tactics Take Time: This is something a lot of us don’t want to hear. Clearly, the strategies and tactics listed above are not something that you can do in five minutes time. They take a lot of time and patience. If you decide that Instagram is going to be your main social channel (as many fashion brands do), then it’s important that you take the time to really use it. If you’re simply posting your pics with some hashtags and occasionally commenting things like “nice!” or “love this!” on other people’s posts, then you don’t have an Instagram strategy. You have a social media hobby.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

6 Specific Ways You Can Promote Blog Posts to Get More Reach

promote blog posts

You have a dedicated blog for your brand and you are penning thoughtful blog posts on a weekly basis. But then what? How do you make sure that your audience is discovering the blog posts, reading them, and following through on your specific Call to Action?

There are 6 areas where your business can dedicate time as part of your distribution strategy for your blog. The main areas are the organic channels you can use within social, supplemented with some paid support, and last but not least, email.

And one thing to remember, social media doesn’t mean as much without great content, so your blog posts are amazing fodder for it. The key is to ensure that your posts and distribution are in line with one another. Some musts:

  • Using key visuals from the posts
  • Linking directly to the content
  • Making sure there is no teaser content that appears to be bait and switch

Be honest and authentic in your distribution and always a/b test where possible to make sure the content that is working the hardest is the one you spend your time (and money) on.

Facebook (and Facebook Paid) – Assuming your brand uses Facebook to distribute overall brand content, it is a great place to promote your blog posts. Although the channel has become more of a media channel where paid media is necessary nowadays to get more eyeballs on your brand’s content, it is a cost efficient place to spend media dollars. You can a/b test different ads and see which ones work for which target audiences. In addition you can dedicate certain dollars to different audiences in case you have more than one.

Twitter – A place where customers typically go to get news and articles (in real or near time), it is a great way to distribute content related to cultural awareness and topical conversations already occurring in the space through relevant hashtags to your blog post.

Pinterest – A channel known for great referral traffic, your blog posts can go further as long as you supplement them with great visuals to use on the channel. Typically it’s good to use vertical visuals, that really pop in color. In addition, ensure that you link to the blog post that it’s referring to directly, and add the appropriate tags (not hashtags) that will allow people to find it within search. i.e. Make sure you are using regular people speak for the description and tags so it will be found easier.

Instagram – Supplement your blog content with short, succinct, quick digestible content for Instagram. This can be a teaser or in addition to to your blog post. And when people want to learn or read more, make sure the direct link is in the bio for them to click on since Instagram still does not allow links to be clickable within the post.

Paid Search – Like Facebook Ads, paid search opportunities on Google will allow you to drive more traffic to your blog posts. You can use keywords that people already are searching for to drive your paid ads in front of the right audience. It’s typical and suggested to a/b test ads on Google and put more money behind the ones that are working better for your content (i.e. driving click throughs).

Email – Your email is a great place to distribute your blog posts because it allows your brand to directly message people versus hoping they’ll discover it. The key thing here is to test your subject lines, and ensure the most prominent content you want your reader to engage in, can be found at the top and they don’t have to get to it.

Nowadays with the likes of Gmail, most people can preview email content without even opening the actual email. So your subject line, first few lines of your email, and headers have to work extra hard. This doesn’t mean dumping everything at the top, but it does mean placing proper keywords and content that your reader will want is prominent and entices them to open it further.

In addition, remember that not everyone turns visuals on in their email when they’re viewing the email. So, be sure that you have Alt text for your visuals and that you aren’t relying solely on them to do your heavy lifting for consumer interest and conversion. They should be great visuals, but a supplement to your content.

Lastly, it needs to be something they can skim – and skim quickly to get to the parts they care about. So keep it short, succinct, and lead them to the blog post to read more.

And when you’re considering your distribution strategy remember that your customer is interested in your brand and wants content that is valuable to them. Distribute it where they are and where they hope to consume it.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

What to Put on the “About” Pages of Your Website and Social Media Platforms

your about page fashion brand

The About pages of your social channels and website are important. They allow your community the ability to quickly understand what your brand is, what it stands for, and simply put – why they should care. The About page of your website will be more in-depth; a place where you can refer people from social to learn more, as you’ll have less space in social and need to be more succinct and captivating.

Your Website

Your website is where your brand can be as short or as long as you want in order to tell your story. The key here is to remember that while it’s your About page, it’s really meant to convey how your brand can help your potential customer. So when you are writing “about” your brand, make sure that you are not beating around the bush. Start with a strong statement that represents your brand while also making a connection with your customer.

Once you make a connection with your reader, and make them feel as if they are understood and in the right place, then proceed into your story. Your story should have a short summary and then flow into the details; they can read these if they’re interested in learning more.

Allow your reader to choose what they want to learn about with easy sections to navigate. Bold type, sub-headers, and bullet points are all great tools for this.

Finally, make sure there’s a call to action in your About page. What do you want them to do after they read it? If you have a particular campaign or product release you can direct them there. Or maybe you want them to sign up for emails or follow you on social media?  What ever it is, make sure they can navigate to that with ease.

Some tips on content:

  • Tell your story: Allow people to see who your brand is through some creative and inspiring storytelling. Show how your brand came into being, why your product/service was the one you chose, and why it’s so exceptional. Show its unique characteristics, and even get into the details of how your product was formed. Allow people to see your journey, and feel like they could be apart of it.
  • Be human / have a personality: Don’t just speak in industry jargon that the reader may not understand. Be human and personable and use everyday speak to tell your story.
  • Be visual: Use pictures and video to tell a more captivating story. For example, consider graphics to show how your product was made. Use a video to give a tour of your office or factory.
  • Allow people to connect: Give people different opportunities to connect with your brand. Use email to send direct messaging, provide links to your most prominent social channels, and provide easy ways for them to contact you directly in case they have questions or want to learn more (i.e. email address, physical address, phone number).
  • Be memorable: It isn’t easy to be memorable, but using unique ways to demonstrate your “about us” page can allow your brand to stand out a bit more. For example if you use fun marketing content types such as gifs, short video, and or interactive ways for the reader to navigate your content based on their interests.

Facebook

Since Facebook has a longer About section than any other social channel, it’s a good opportunity to leverage it. Use the short description to be pithy and to the point, and the longer description (in case your follower want to read more) to explain a little more about the brand. Consider it the cliff notes to your website About page.

  • Consistent look and feel: Make sure your social channels have a consistent look and feel to your website.
  • Share your story: Share a story that will relate to your community on Facebook and what they will care about.
  • Allow it to be personable: Considering it’s social, you want your brand to be more human and less like a robot (always, but especially here). Allow your brand to speak as if you were talking to your community through a comment or a post.
  • Link back: Link back to your website so they can dig in more, and/or purchase. Use the multiple link sections in order to link back to specific areas of your website and other social channels.

Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

Since these social channels have very little real estate for your About content, make sure you have a short one liner that will communicate what your brand is about and why the visitor should care (and therefore follow).

  • Be captivating: Be alluring with your short description. Say something that makes them go “Yep!” The goal is to make the visitor feel completely understood and want to be part of a community.
  • Use your #: If you have a brand or campaign hashtag, place it in the bio for more awareness.
  • Call to Action: Make sure to use words that relate to the link below like “Join us”, “Sign Up”, “Shop Now”, etc.
  • Link back: Link back to your website so people can learn more (or directly to your latest campaign, blog post, or opportunity to purchase).

In the end, the main takeaways are to be personable and tell a story. The About page isn’t supposed to be a doctor’s manual. It’s meant to be another way to reach your audience and show them why they should choose your brand to follow, engage with, and in the end, purchase from.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Why tumblr Still Reigns with Millennials and Fashion Brands Today

tumblr fashion brands

tumblr, the microblogging platform that a lot of brands use to market themselves, has evolved over the years. And luckily, it has not gone downhill despite its acquisition by Yahoo.

Over the last year or so tumblr has remained a budding platform for niche audiences, especially in the millennial sphere, lending itself to more visual media, especially gifs, short video, and beautiful photography.

Here  are three reasons why the platform has continued to stay prominent within its audience set:

  • The audience still runs the content – The audience on this platform (although younger), is excited to be there. They’re excited by the content, some of which they create themselves, and some of which they curate. They’re reblogging, sharing, and keeping it within this channel.  It’s a place where people get creative, show a unique side, and get extremely visual.
  • Content can live on – The content doesn’t disappear within seconds as it does on Twitter. Similar to Instagram, but more so, you can re-blog a post months later. A piece of content can live on for days, weeks, months, or even the following year. It’s a platform where content doesn’t go stale, if it’s still cool and relevant. It doesn’t matter if it was from a month ago or an hour ago, the audience can find new things that they wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere – kind of like Reddit in that way.
  • Brands that stand out, understand the medium – And the brands who really make it in this space are those that take to the channel. Those that aren’t just recycling content from other social media spaces, but are truly making content for tumblr. Looking at brands like Converse – who uses animation to set their sneakers apart – tumblr is a place for them to show another side to their product. A creative window into the product, the brand, the story behind it, and the audience who is so obsessed with the brand already.

The key takeaway here is that tumblr may be quiet at times, but it’s still a hub of activity. It’s a place that creative and artistic things happen, and brands, especially retail and product brands, have a place to stand out.

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. 

New Social Media Platform Called Peach for Your Fashion Brand

peach social media platform

Peach, a new social media platform by the founder of Vine, is being described as simple, GIF oriented, and a cross between Twitter, tumblr, and Slack according to the likes of Venturebeat and Mashable. 

For consumers it’s a social network where they can say very little, and do more with actions through their phone.

Current conversations between users include GIFs, drawings, emoticons, emoticon actions, and more.

What’s the appeal of Peach?

Right now it’s new and shiny, and simple. You can express how you feel easily and visually. It’s another way to interact with your friends outside of text, but similar to it, so it’s close enough to normal behavior that’s it’s  easy to adopt quickly.

Will it catch on like Snapchat did? Will it be a whole other beast? It’s hard to tell as it was just released but within a couple of months we’ll have a better idea.

The lessons so far are this…

When it comes to content, there are two trends with consumers:

  1. Quick, simple and visual – for those on the go, who want to consume what they want right away, share it if they like it, and move on. So for startups and fashion brands, this content is that of instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, and Snapchat. Allowing the consumer to get a quick story, an invite to an event, a view into a product line, or a quick peek at something coming up. And being able to like it, share it, and move on quickly is what they’re loving.
  2. Smart, insightful, and potentially more longer form – for those who want more information and want to learn more from their content. This is for when people have a little more time on their hands, such as a longer commute, an evening on their couch. For your brand this is great for blog posts, a youtube video, and launch content. This allows for a consumer to really dig into what the brand is about, a new campaign, a full look into a product line, or a recap of an event that they may have missed. And perhaps then signing up for the next one.

And now we wait to see what happens with Peach.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

4 Ways for Improving Marketing for Your Fashion Brand in the New Year

fashion brand improve marketing

It’s that time of year again. We look back, and we evaluate our marketing KPIs and ROI. Did our campaigns work? Was our strategy successful? Did we move the needle with our tests? The answers to these questions will help us with determining…

What marketing efforts will you continue with in the new year? What will you leave behind?

As you work to plan your marketing for the new year, you need to first start by asking yourself:

  • What are my business priorities this year?
  • What have I learned about my business and m costumer in the past year?
  • What is my budget for this year?

Once you have these things in mind..

Set KPIs that matter for your brand. And that are realistic.

For example if your brand is focusing on video content, consider video views has a priority. If what your brand really needs is for people to go to the site to interact with content, then consider referral traffic and time on site. In the end, every brand needs conversion, but other measurements sometimes need to come first – i.e. awareness that your brand is out there. In regards to awareness, consider social traction such as likes, comments, shares, and follows.

Set budgets that will help you fulfill your goals.

Budgets can be tough to work with if you don’t have a lot, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find workarounds and tests…even new ones. Do your best to buffer your budget so you have a little extra later in the year for a new test, as well as adding more to something that is doing very well. For example if you invested in creating new content and need more visuals for your product showcase, consider using the extra money for great high res photos and videos to promote it further.

Be nimble with your efforts.

Try things, work fast, test quickly, learn, and adapt and modify on the fly. That’s the best part of using channels like social media. It allows you to see what content is working, what media posts are helping to boost your content, and of course which channels are actually reaching your audience on the levels you need. It allows you to determine within weeks or even days what you should invest more in, versus dump and move on.

Invest in your content.

Time has flown when it comes to social media and the channels that work. We’ve adapted to the snapchats and periscopes of the world, but we also realize that without great content, the channels don’t mean as much. We need content that will resonate and connect with our audiences, before we can even think through partners and distribution.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

The Five Social Media Channels to Keep an Eye on in 2016

social media channels

As marketers of our own brands, we know that there is generally a new shiny social media channel around every corner. But that doesn’t mean that our tried and true social media channels will disappear. What it does mean is that these channels have to stay on top of their game and ensure that they offer what brands and people want today and tomorrow.

Facebook

Because it is a media maven. This channel allows brands to target in a way that most other channels cannot yet. It’s because people give so much personal data to Facebook, and therefore Facebook can share this information with brands; you get to know more about your target than you expected to know.

In addition, with the rush of live streaming apps, Facebook is entering that game too. Their current streaming app is in beta, but by early 2016, people, and hopefully brands, will have their hands on it. Why does this matter? Just look at how many people already use Facebook. And with all the targeting, it’s even more intriguing to brands.

Instagram

Owned by Facebook, and with the opening of its ad services, Instagram is becoming another hot bed for brands. In addition (like Facebook) Instagram has a habit of releasing apps that can be integrated with its main app – such as the recent Boomerang (GIF maker).

Periscope

The app that is used by many consumer brands for live event streaming. From media brands  to fashion brands to publishers, this popular app is owned by Twitter and isn’t going anywhere soon.

Snapchat

Through its discovery network, Snapchat has made itself known to brands as more than just another app used by teenagers and millennials. It’s an app that allows brands to reach an audience who is hungry for exclusive cool stuff.

YouTube

Just because there are a ton of other video apps out there now, doesn’t mean that YouTube has lost its cred. It is still the #2 search engine on the internet. That says something. From famous YouTubers to thoughtful brand content, YouTube still has a lot to offer brands, especially through its partner and influencer networks.

What new apps will come out in addition to these? I guess we’ll have to see.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

How to Use Event Coverage to Create a Library of Social Content

event coverage

We all know how important it is to create a library of social content for our brands. But we’re often left feeling like we’re scrambling to find or create that content. We know owned content is best, so we’re always trying to create some good stuff to share.

One place to look to for creating a lot of social content for your fashion brand is events.

Having a photo shoot? A video shoot? Attending a trunk show or social event? Whether it’s for a product release launch, a party, or a campaign, you can use these happenings to create a collection of content that can be posted, reworked, and dripped across your various social media channels.

There’s just one thing to remember, you need to plan assets in advance. The content you capture will end being used within multiple channels and different objectives/purposes for your brand’s marketing goals.

The channels that matter for style brands and visual content especially for event footage include: Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Periscope, among others. Each channel has a different purpose for your content, and in turn, will need different types of shots and formats. For example, you may consider the following for content timing:

  • Teaser content: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook
  • Live: Periscope, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat
  • Recaps: Blog, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube

And the following for content formats:

  • Photos – posed and candid of attendees, product shots, influencers, and background
  • Video – short and long form
  • social video – 20 seconds or less
  • sound bites – interviews

Your brand may have hired a content producer (photographer/videographer) unless you have an internal resource. Alternatively you may have a partner brand/collaborator who has the resources for you both to use. The key is to prep them. And not just high level, but details of the types of shots you want. Write it down and include visual examples and followup by ensuring you explain it in person. Have them come early so you can chat before the event. Make sure you include:

  • Brand characteristics
  • voice/tone
  • look and feel
  • types of shots/video (i.e. product, people, scenery)
  • items you must capture
  • different angles you may want
  • where the shots will be used (ex. social / ad)
  • examples of previous shots to demonstrate brand
  • examples of shots that don’t work

Think about the content you’re capturing in terms of event coverage that you’ll be sharing in real time and soon after, but also in terms of social content for future use. Things like patterns on fabrics and stylish shoes worn by guests can be visually beautiful evergreen content to add to your library.

And if you have an event partner – make sure you capture some of their stuff too. Showing some social love is always good karma.

At one of my photo shoots for a client, we planned out a presentation of shots we wanted, didn’t want, extra shots (if we can get it), and used multiple types of technology. For example, although we had a professional photographer/videographer taking the pro shots, we also used an iPhone. We got behind the camera and shared some real time footage during the shoot. Teased the content to the audience. Gave them something to look forward to. Yes, the shot wasn’t as great as with a Canon or Nikon, but it was content that could be shared right then and there. And sometimes, that matters just as much.

In the end, it’s better to have more than not enough content. The goal is to have content to share immediately, content to share soon after, and content to add to your library for future use.  Your audience will note the quality and way you told your event story. They’ll appreciate seeing what they may want to attend next time.

Plan it. Capture it. Share it.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

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. 

Checklist: How to Create a Successful Social Strategy for Your Brand

social strategy fashion business

It’s important to remember that great social media content is the key to being successful on any platform. It sounds obvious but a lot of brands (especially those with minimal resources), post things on social, just to post. There’s not a thoughtful approach. Furthermore, social media is more than a channel. It’s not just Facebook and Twitter. It’s a behavior that people have daily. And in order to reach them, brands need content that truly connects with their target audience.

So how do we build a social strategy that will be successful for your brand? Let’s consider this formula:

First: Do the Research

  • Identify your target based psychographics (what they value and care about)
  • See where they spend time online (are they on Instagram 10 times a day or do they tweet every last thought that pops into their heads?)
  • Compare how your competition fairs on these channels (what are brands that are similar to your doing?)

Second: Put Together Your Plan

  • Identify your overall purpose or goal for each platform (think more creatively than “making more sales”- mailing list sign ups is a good one)
  • Choose a few different kinds of content that you think will resonate with your audience (be specific- if you want to post inspirational quotes, what kind? About what topic? Around what sentiment?)
  • Identify the platforms you’ll use and their purpose for your brand and reaching your customer (i.e. customers use Pinterest to dream/plan – let them dream about their upcoming Fall wardrobe made by your brand)
  • Consider content formats and frequency per channel (i.e. Twitter will have a larger frequency than Facebook)
  • Identify content sources for creation/curation/co-creation (how will you make these graphics? Where will you find these interesting articles? etc)
  • Create success metrics to measure by (video views, website visits, social shares)

Third: Get Moving

  • Create the content!
  • Test your content
  • Measure your content against the goals you created
  • Review and assess, then make changes as you learn what’s working and what’s not

Tools You Need:

  • An editorial calendar to keep track of your monthly content per channel, and allows you to plan ahead for upcoming cultural events
  • A scheduling tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite
  • A budget to boost and target posts that are successful and important for an upcoming campaign or product launch

Finally:

  • Create a crisis and response management plan for when things go wrong – because eventually something usually does
  • Determine how you will mix in customer service or separate it from your posts within each channel

Your content is part of your brand’s identity and it should be created with similar thought and care as your collections.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Social Strategy Checklist for your Brand

 

social strategy fashion business

It’s important to remember that great social media content is the key to being successful on any platform. It sounds obvious but a lot of brands (especially those with minimal resources), post things on social, just to post. There’s not a thoughtful approach. Furthermore, social media is more than a channel. It’s not just Facebook and Twitter. It’s a behavior that people have daily. And in order to reach them, brands need content that truly connects with their target audience.

So how do we build a social strategy that will be successful for your brand? Let’s consider this formula:

First: Do the Research

  • Identify your target based psychographics (what they value and care about)
  • See where they spend time online (are they on Instagram 10 times a day or do they tweet every last thought that pops into their heads?)
  • Compare how your competition fairs on these channels (what are brands that are similar to your doing?)

Second: Put Together Your Plan

  • Identify your overall purpose or goal for each platform (think more creatively than “making more sales”- mailing list sign ups is a good one)
  • Choose a few different kinds of content that you think will resonate with your audience (be specific- if you want to post inspirational quotes, what kind? About what topic? Around what sentiment?)
  • Identify the platforms you’ll use and their purpose for your brand and reaching your customer (i.e. customers use Pinterest to dream/plan – let them dream about their upcoming Fall wardrobe made by your brand)
  • Consider content formats and frequency per channel (i.e. Twitter will have a larger frequency than Facebook)
  • Identify content sources for creation/curation/co-creation (how will you make these graphics? Where will you find these interesting articles? etc)
  • Create success metrics to measure by (video views, website visits, social shares)

Third: Get Moving

  • Create the content!
  • Test your content
  • Measure your content against the goals you created
  • Review and assess, then make changes as you learn what’s working and what’s not

Tools You Need:

  • An editorial calendar to keep track of your monthly content per channel, and allows you to plan ahead for upcoming cultural events
  • A scheduling tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite
  • A budget to boost and target posts that are successful and important for an upcoming campaign or product launch

Finally:

  • Create a crisis and response management plan for when things go wrong – because eventually something usually does
  • Determine how you will mix in customer service or separate it from your posts within each channel

Your content is part of your brand’s identity and it should be created with similar thought and care as your collections.

This post was originally written for startup fashion. 

Your Brands Needs a Social Strategy

fashion business social media marketing

Social media still seems new to some brands, but it’s not a new part of marketing. There are people hired for brands to run global social departments in order to stay competitive within the space and stay fresh and engaging with their customer base.

With startups, a social media strategy is an important piece to the overall marketing strategy.Sometimes with little time and little resources, we jump on social channels and run with haste, rather than with quality and thought-through content. Let’s change that.

Social media is:

  • Visual- Important for fashion brands to be able to show off their assets.
  • Fast- You can get sneak peeks and new off the shelf products in front of them right away.
  • A connective tissue- It allows you to connect to consumers in a way that no paper magazine ad could.

Great things for a startup who needs to make its presence known, and fast. But with the right strategy, there’s so much more you can do.

  • Gain Customer knowledge- You’ll get to see what your customers like and don’t like, what types of content they prefer, and where they prefer to engage with you.
  • Have faster customer service- It allows you to respond faster to their concerns and excitement.
  • Be competitive- It allows you to stay on top of your most fierce competition by listening and keeping a close eye.
  • Make it personal- It allows your startup and brand to connect to consumers on a personal level through responding in real time, answering questions, praising them for being awesome.
  • Build Relationships- And in turn allows you to build an army of advocates who will speak on your behalf.

These are just some of the reasons why you need to think strategically about your social content and not just post and be on social media because you know you should be.

You need to think through your target market, where they play on social, and what content is right for them (and your brand). We’ll talk about that in detail in our next article.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

When NOT to jump onto a new social channel

 

social media fashion business

The marketing swimming pool has many deep ends, a lot of which you can’t always see if there is a bottom to touch. With a new app or social channel coming out every day, week, and month, it’s hard to know when to leap and when to stay in the shallow end.

While it’s great to be an early adopter, sometimes it’s best to chill and observe; see how and if other brands are using the platform and then decide if it’s worth exploring.

Here are four times when you should indeed stay away from the deep end and let others cannonball first:

When the user interface is too much effort

For example, when Ello was first released, it was not user friendly. It was black and white and not appealing to use (like apps such as Instagram). It is fun to explore as a user, but as a brand it is still fairly uncharted territory outside of some journalistic brands like WSJ.

When the platform doesn’t seem to have captured your target audience

For example, your audience may not care to be on meerkat, but it may embrace Periscope due to so many others using it already. Mashable uses it constantly for its tech talks, while others use it for showing insider and live events. Try to do a little research to see if your target market is actually using the platform before you jump in and devote time to it.

When the resources to make it happen would be at the cost of marketing campaigns that are already working for your brand

Contrary to what some may think, every time you add a new platform to your social media mix, you’re draining more resources, both financial, creative, and time related. For example, creating video content takes time to plan, executive, edit, and distribute. It takes planning and content strategy upfront.

When it makes sense to learn from the ones who do it wrong/right first. And jump in later with a better strategy.

For example, when all the kids ran over to snapchat to see what the buzz was. The buzz was good.

Still unsure and curious?

Try using the platform on your personal handle/username first. Test it out to see how it works and why people would be curious about it. Put on your consumer hat and see if you would be interested in hearing from a brand through this new app or channel. If yes, give it a whirl (but not at the expense of things that are already working for you).

Lastly, keep your life raft nearby. Sometimes you just need to jump out after testing the waters.

This post was originally written for startup fashion. 

 

Nostalgia Marketing: A phase?

 

Since the beginning of #throwbackthursday and the more recent #flashbackfriday – consumers and brands have been taking a look back at what the past was and means. It could be a memory that was cherished, an accomplishment achieved, an uphill battle overcome, or just something really funny.

Apps like Timehop have allowed people to look back more frequently and see where they were a year or more ago on this very day. Facebook allows you to see friendships from years ago. It’s typically fun and enjoyable (unless it’s a memory you wish you didn’t have to relive – oops!) and something people are excited to share back out to let others remember too.

And there’s more…

Old bands have been reuniting and creating new albums and having concerts together. Casts of TV shows are being resurrected for new seasons (i.e. Heroes).

Older fashion styles are coming back for another season too. Additionally so are old past times like listening to records, reading actual books, playing with toys from generations ago.

What’s old is new again.

Brands realize that too.

It’s an opportunity for brands to create new content (from old content or events). It allows the brand to show another side to the brand through history and well-received content/events. For example, if there is an iconic package or product, a brand may look back at the beginning and show the evolution over time. And brands are already doing this.

But what else can brands do to take advantage of nostalgia and how consumers are excited about it?

Brands can:

  • Create experiences to relive the “new old” in a way that’s unique from before
  • Create a series that brings it life (i.e. a comic book, video series, or offline event that reoccurs).
  • Allow fans to share their old experiences through the new lens
  • Keep it authentic by leaving some to the imagination rather than forcing the nostalgia
  • Bring back best sellers to surprise and delight – i.e. Calvin Klein and their 90s campaigns; pumpkin flavored everything; troll dolls; classic old school converse and adidas sneakers; and more.

Nostalgia…not just a thing of the past.

This post was originally written for Social Media Club. 

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.

Part 2: Leveraging your brand advocates

brand advocates

In my last post we spoke about how to court your brand advocates, this time we’ll dig a little deeper on how we leverage them to your brand’s and their optimal potential.

As I mentioned before, a brand advocate is “someone who loves your brand and will support it through multiple phases, including but not limited to loyalty in purchase, word of mouth, sharing on social, and encouraging friends and family to convert too.”

That’s a lot of potential, but the key is to harness them in a way that doesn’t alienate them through the “relationship.”

Two great ways to make that happen include

  • Amplifying your brand advocate’s voices
  • Allowing your brand advocates to be more than just one person, to be a part of a larger community

Amplify Their Voices

When one advocate praises your brand and says “I love you and your product,” most brands typically respond with things along the lines of “likes” and “favorites.” Some go further and respond or comment back with a “Hey X, thanks so much for the love. We think you’re great too!” This is important, and shouldn’t be ignored. The small value actions such as likes and favorites are important when done within 24–36 hours. It shows that your brand is paying attention. Commenting matters even more. The sooner your brand can comment in return, the more appreciated that brand advocate will feel about their relationship with your brand. They will feel heard and will want to continue that dialogue.

But there’s an extra step that is not often taken. Amplify the advocate’s voice through your brand’s voice.

Here’s what I mean.

  • Your brand could feature some awesome advocates on your website site. Maybe have a page dedicated to them.
  • You could start a blog series where you spotlight an advocate once a week or twice a month. Interview them- who are they, what are they all about.
  • Repost some of the stuff they post on social media.
  • Or more specifically, “regram” an advocate’s gram when they were featuring a product of yours they may have been wearing. Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack do this well. Nordstrom Rack will see products that people are talking about on Instagram and ask to regram them on the brand’s profile. It is not only super flattering, but sometimes an ultimate sign of brand love. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but it can be. Nordstrom also comments and asks to use Instagram photos within their website experience.

Those are some ways how you can take it a step further with the social and fan integration.

Let Them be a Community

This one is difficult. A community isn’t always brand built, it’s typically consumer led and naturally occurs through mutual affinity for an interest. For example, there is a cult of fans who are obsessed with Converse and will only wear that brand. They show their love through social, and support one another. For example, if one Converse lover sees a pair of kicks that they haven’t before, they are stoked to check them out. Even if they try to literally buy them off another converse lover’s feet at that exact second. It’s happened.

Will every brand be Converse? Probably not. But it doesn’t mean your brand advocates won’t be excited to be a part of a community that shares their interests. Remember, it’s a lifestyle that your brand exemplifies; such as a fitness lifestyle for a yoga clothing line.

Read more on what your brand can do here to let them be a community, be checking out the full post on Startup Fashion.