5 Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2015 (Friday5)

This post was collaboratively published by Katey McGarr (Chicago) and Matthew Cannington (New York).

Having recently returned from attending this year’s Content Marketing World, our brains are filled with ideas on how to make our content work harder for clients. In addition to networking with potential clients and vendors from all over the world, we were able to spend time speaking with other content nerds about which influencer network gets the best bang for your buck, the various ways to measure content marketing, how to find the most compelling story for our brands, and how to tell that story in the most compelling way possible.

Here are five takeaways from Content Marketing World that we hope will inspire you and give you a glimpse into the world of content strategy and content marketing:

1. Write It Down

Seems like a no brainer, but this point has been reiterated over the past two years at Content Marketing World, indicating that brands are still operating without a written content strategy in place. Here’s what we know: documenting your content strategy makes your content 4X more effective; having a documented editorial mission makes your content 3X more effective. The act of articulating your strategy on ‘paper’ forces you to think about it, get stakeholder alignment and make strategic adjustments to optimize along the way. Planning content is just as important as writing and editing it.

2. Go Bigger, Braver, Bolder in 2016

Fair warning: we could write a whole article dedicated solely to author and Marketing Profs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley, whose brilliance and insight are always a highlight of CMW. Ann’s rallying cry for content marketing in 2016: “Bigger. Braver. Bolder.” While we all try to push ourselves and our clients to do bigger, braver, and bolder work every day, Ann’s recommendation took that one step further and clarified the need:
– Bigger Stories
– Braver Marketers
– Bolder Tone of Voice

Ann’s point of bigger stories really challenges us to go beyond the expectation of typical storytelling and disrupt what she called “industry fairytales”: look past what you are being told to find what people actually want. Being a braver marketer is all about taking those bigger stories and doing something different, whether it’s finding an interesting distribution channel or simply doing something unexpected with the content (in one instance, a B2B brand gave away their digital assets so that others could learn from them.) It’s about taking chances and having passion for what you are doing. Finally, we have to encourage clients to use a bolder tone of voice in all of their content, because it’s not just what you say, but how you say. A brand’s tone of voice is its “gutsiest asset” and, developed correctly, can be a crucial component to a consistent communications and content strategy. The tone of voice must be competitively differentiated while still delivering on the brand’s promise, and its why. Creating great content requires part brains, part heart, and part guts. Because, as Ann succinctly says, “The biggest missed opportunity in content is playing it too safe.”

3. Quality + Promotion

Fact: there’s a lot of crappy content out there. And seriously, companies are looking to create even more. Seventy-six percent of B2B companies said they plan to produce more content in 2016, with only 51 percent saying they plan to do so with more money. It’s the old quantity over quality argument on a national (and socialized) scale without assurances that people will even see it. To create quality content you need to attract people with stories they love. Companies that connect with consumers on an inspirational level are the fastest growing and most profitable. It’s also important to look at data and find out what your customers are searching for, calling about, tweeting about, then address these issues with meaningful content. You also have to ensure that people are able to find this content by amplifying and promoting it to the right audience, in the right channels. But we can only do that if we have the money. Consider this: 40-60 percent of Hollywood film budgets are spent on promotion. We need to reevaluate how we’re creating and distributing our content so that the quality content we create can be seen, shared and amplified to actual people and not demographics, because people are the ones who are buying our products.

4. Audience is King

We’ve all heard that “content is king,” but since audiences are the ones consuming content daily, they now hold the power. Audiences decide what content to engage with, promote or tear apart. In the past five years, their actions (or inaction) have dictated platforms to adopt a pay-to-play model, yet most brands continue to market to consumers as they always have – demanding attention. Yes, businesses need to advertise, but they need to provide value first in order for people to pay attention. Before creating content, understand how, when and why audiences engage to ensure content persuades and activates as intended.

To do this, brands need to become what their consumers are interested in, not the other way around. Think about the identity of the person you are trying to reach – Who is she/he? What does she/he want? What impresses her/him? Why would she/he buy what you’re trying to sell her/him? In order to effectively create content for your audience, you need to understand the person.

5. Follow the Consumer Purchase Journey

Content marketing is about answering your customers’ questions. The consumer purchase journey is nothing more than a series of questions that need to be answered. Understanding buying decisions and the people who make them is crucial to a strong content strategy. A key theme heard in multiple sessions at Content Marketing World is the need to map content to each stage of the buyer journey. Consumers have questions at each stage on their path to purchase, so giving them content that is relevant and helps facilitate a purchase is essential. As notable strategist and author Jay Baer puts it, the content we create should be “a bridge between commerce and the consumer,” meaning we should be reflecting the needs of people and how our product delivers on their need. The content we create should be used to tell stories, not stories about the brand necessarily, but stories about people and how our products answer an unmet need. Spell it out and make it easy for people to get your product or service afterward. It should never be content for content’s sake.

How can you make your content work harder in 2016?

Image credit: Search Engine People Blog

How to Crowdsource Your Next Video Campaign

Crowdsourcing Video Campaigns

Looking for a boost in creativity for your next video campaign? Crowdsourcing a campaign to previously unknown filmmakers brings new perspectives to existing ideas as well as provides insight into public brand perception. Crowdsourcing also allows businesses to see more proposals in an efficient manner, while getting a new twist to their own creative process.

Facebook Tests Video Feed to Sidestep YouTube

Facebook recently introduced a dedicated Video feed to a small portion of users. The feed joins several other video features and tests that Facebook’s been trying over the last two years. Facebook sees video as the natural progression from text to photos, and is determined to grow its video prowess.

Brands Must Pay to Play on Instagram

According to Business 2 Community, Instagram has now joined Facebook in the “pay to play” space as organic follower growth and engagement continue to decline. If a brand wants to grow their presence on Instagram, a budget is needed for advertising. Fortunately, Instagram advertising is now available and open to all. Read on to see their three recommendations.

LinkedIn Making All Groups Private & Launching Standalone App

Recently, LinkedIn announced that it will soon be making all groups on the network private. This change means that only members will be allowed to see content and contribute to posts within their group. In addition, LinkedIn will soon release their standalone mobile app in conjunction with Groups for users to follow discussions and conversations on the go.

How Hispanic Millennials Influence the American Experience – Hispanic Heritage Month Edition (Friday5)

This post was collaboratively published by Reynaldo Delgado (Miami), Andre Iturbe (Los Angeles) and Melissa Quiñones (New York).

September 15 to October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. This week’s Friday5 focuses on Hispanic millennials and their influence on the American experience.

Hispanic millennials comprise a hyper-engaged segment of the U.S. population that is rapidly growing, driving change and diversifying several pillars of American life as we know it. These ambitious individuals should not be overlooked – they are 22.7 million strong and represent 21 percent of the U.S. millennial Generation. Hispanic millennials are diverse and embrace their Latino culture yet are acculturated individuals who believe in the “American Dream.” This group is at the forefront of change and defining how the U.S. moves forward.

Here are five ways that Hispanic millennials are changing several aspects of the American lifestyle:

1. Politics

In 2015 alone, over 993,000 Hispanic-Americans will be turning 18 – that means that every month, 66,000 more Hispanics attain voting age. This merits much attention for the 2016 U.S. presidential election as up to one million Hispanic millennials can be registered as new voters. U.S. political parties will have to be strategic when selecting their presidential nominee as their support of the Latino community will be significant come November 2016.

2. Economy

Multicultural consumers now drive both population and economic growth in the U.S. This “Big Shift” is led by U.S. Hispanics at $1.2 trillion dollars (the equivalent to Mexico’s entire GDP), and the Hispanic market showed a gain of 155 percent since 2000. According to Nielsen, Hispanics are “Super Consumers” that can influence the general population, and have about 20 more years of effective buying power over non-Hispanic Whites.

3. Education

Hispanic millennials are enrolling in higher education at a greater rate than other American minority students. As a result, more Hispanic-Americans are working in traditional white collar jobs than in the past and are more inclined to become entrepreneurs than other minorities. This surge of educated Hispanic millennials is reflected in Hispanic owned business, which increased 43 percent to 3.22 million between 2007 and 2014, more than twice the overall growth rate of all U.S. businesses during the same time period (18 percent).

4. Social Media

While all millennials use social media networks relatively equally, Hispanic millennials are at the forefront with nearly 66 percent more likely to connect via mobile than their non-Hispanic counterparts. According to Pew Research, Facebook stands out as the most widely used platform with 73 percent of Latinos connecting while Instagram is emerging as more engaging among Latinos (34 percent). What differentiates Hispanic-American millennials is that culturally relevant content continues to be key when engaging this demographic. Univision and Snapchat have partnered to create unique content (via Snapchat’s Live Stories) around Univision events to reach young, highly digital Hispanic-Americans who consume the networks content on mobile.

5. Technology

Multicultural consumers have paved the way for new technologies, especially in entertainment. Hispanic-American millennials spend more time consuming digital video than the national U.S. average, and nearly three in four Latinos own smartphones (72 percent), close to ten percent higher than average in the U.S. Hispanics are also starting to “Cut the Cord” and are live streaming entertainment and sporting events. According to Horowitz Research, 51 percent of Hispanics are spending more than 20 percent of their total TV viewing time watching live-streamed content and have the highest penetration of being able to stream to TVs.

The Best of Twitter, Captured in Moments

Moments, the Best of Twitter

This week, Twitter launched Moments – curated content of the best of what’s happening on Twitter in an instant, allowing people to discover stories unfolding on the platform. Users can access Moments by tapping on the “lightning bolt” tab on the app and can also swipe through topics such as “Entertainment” and “Sports” to find more stories from the past few days. While Moments will roll out ad-free at first, the company already has deals in place with unnamed brands to run ads on the live-event section. Instead of promoted tweets, a new ad unit called a “Promoted Moment” will debut.

Facebook Lead Ads

Lead ads are now available to advertisers on Power Editor. With this ad unit, filling out forms is much easier for potential customers and more accurate for advertisers. Forms on lead ads are mobile-friendly and requires less typing from customers.

Pinterest Expands Buyable Pins to More E-Commerce Platforms, Reaching Thousands of Merchants

Pinterest announced it is expanding the reach of its “Buyable Pins” to e-commerce platforms like Bigcommerce, Magento, and IBM Commerce. Previously, consumers used the platform for research and made purchases “because of Pinterest,” but this move indicates a shift to having consumers make purchases “via Pinterest.” In addition to the expansion of commerce channels, brands will also be able to optimize the ROI of their social posts through the platform’s native analytics.

Tumblr Introduces New Privacy Feature

Tumblr Now Lets You Hide Your Blog from the Internet

This week, Tumblr introduced a new privacy feature that will allow users to keep their posts from being seen by the internet. Content can only be viewed on Tumblr.com and in its native mobile apps and will drive additional users to the site, making delivering targeted advertising easier.

Facebook Redesigns Mobile Profiles

With 4 billion views a day, Facebook profiles continue to be a popular piece of the platform. Now, mobile profiles are facing a redesign that will showcase more of what friends want to see versus what you want to share. Facebook is also testing “profile videos,” temporary profile photos and more to offer new opportunities for self-expression.

YouTube’s Most Native Ad Yet Puts Shoppable Cards into Organic Videos

YouTube has introduced another “native” ad, this time within the actual video. Beginning this fall, videos that highlight a product will now feature Shopping Ads that users can click through to learn more about the product and eventually buy it. Advertisers will be charged per click on the cards, and the platform will not profit from product purchases.

Twitter Reportedly Considering Axing Its 140-Character Limit

Twitter is reportedly building out a new product that allows users to share more than 140 characters in their posts. It is unclear whether or not the new update will take place within Twitter or on a completely separate channel, but the demand for more content has been clear with the popularity of OneShot, the screenshot mobile app.

Facebook Adds Support for 360-degree Videos

Facebook Adds Support for 360-degree Videos

This week, Facebook announced that it will begin adding 360-degree videos into its news feed. This type of content enables users to interact with the video and see everything that is going on around them within a 360-degree radius. The videos will be available on the web and Android apps first, with roll outs to iOS apps at a later date.

Periscope Turns Screenshotting into a Social Experience

Periscope’s version of a “retweet” is operational. The updated app now allows viewers to post screenshots taken during a particular stream. The change was added in order to encourage users to share the streams that they are currently viewing in a more engaging manner. The previous practice of alerting followers involved a tweet with a brief description and a link to the Periscope stream. This update comes on the heels of the announcement that Periscope will soon launch an app for the new and improved Apple TV.

Life on Twitter Visualizes Your Last 1,000 Tweets

A new tool, Life on Twitter, visualizes how Twitter users navigate the platform, including who they talk to, favorite emoji, followers-following ratio, most popular days of the week to tweet and most popular tweets. The tool, available for free, compiles the info by evaluating the last 1,000 tweets posted by a user.

Do You Have a Pinterest Plan for the Holidays? Check out Pinterest’s New Infographic

The holidays are a big time for Pinterest, given that they have over 170M holiday decor pins. Nearly half of Pinterest users start pinning before Thanksgiving, so having a plan in place right now for holiday activities is crucial to maximizing the opportunity of the season. Pinterest claims that 87% of users have bought something because of Pinterest.

5 Takeaways from Dreamforce 2015 (Friday5)

Dreamforce marks the point in time each year when nearly 170,000 marketers, sales professionals and technologists descend upon San Francisco to learn more about the trends, products and solutions that are shaping the future of business for the next year and beyond. Keynotes and sessions were dominated this year by how that the Internet of Things is changing the ways in which we operate and communicate.

Platforms are integrating, the cloud is connecting data and systems, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is fueling an “intelligence revolution.” These changes have some key implications for how marketers need to evolve how we do business and tell stories:

1. The Internet of Things and machine learning create major opportunities

Smart devices, connected equipment, sensors and wearable technology are getting more sophisticated and more prolific. By 2020, the average person is likely to have 26 connected devices. Businesses can use IoT to harvest and produce massive amounts of data that can then be analyzed and interpreted for many different purposes. Within a company or database, processes can be automated and algorithms allow machines to get smarter based on the data they are analyzing. This means number crunching and technical work can be handled by software. Actions executed by either consumers or other technology can trigger other actions without people involved. All of these systems are then connected by the cloud, allowing for the seamless flow of data from one platform to the next.

2. Figuring out what to do with data is a core challenge for the immediate future

All that data generated by IoT creates opportunities…but the learning curve is steep. 90 percent of the world’s data was produced in the last year alone, which means that we are only scratching the surface in terms of what we will have to work within the next 5-10 years. But there’s an incredible gap between the data available to us currently and what we do with it. According to Salesforce less than 1 percent of customer data is currently analyzed, which means it is being underutilized. We need to make sure we, and our clients, are equipped with the right tools to process data and use it to glean actionable insights.

3. Data-driven decision making means we tell can tell stories differently

It’s not just that there’s a new imperative to turn data into insights. We need to think about how to use those insights to drive our strategy, inform our planning and feed the stories we tell on behalf of our clients. In a creative newsroom, our clients are already starting to use data from online conversations, web traffic, social content performance, email marketing and consumer insights to inform content creation. We use those same insights to inform creative strategy for program planning. But, beyond the inputs we currently use, we should be thinking about what else we can do to tell new and innovative stories about companies and our client’s target audiences.

4. Consumers expect personalized experiences

Consumers increasingly expect companies and technology to learn from what they do and meet their needs accordingly. Of course they want a personalized browsing experience on the websites they visit and emails should certainly include personalized content. But they want more – they want their experience to be seamless from the sales rep in store (or online shopping cart), to the recommendations they’re sent and the customer service chat a year later. This desire for personal attention underscores the value in collecting data from consumers along their individual journeys, and letting those inputs trigger personalized communications and care tailored to their needs.

5. All of these changes impact the future of work

Understanding and evolving to accommodate the new opportunities provided by the Internet of Things and the technology that’s emerging to manage it requires a lot of organizational change. As processes are automated, job functions change as well. We have to prepare our clients to think differently about how they do business, but also how to manage those changes among employees. It’s not just about getting the right technology and tools in place, it’s also about creating the environment to make it work. We heard loud and clear at Dreamforce that the executives driving this intelligence revolution recognize the need for culture development and change management in conjunction with workforce development, process change and technology platform updates.

Ultimately, the intelligence revolution presents us new and exciting challenges and the landscape is changing at a rapid pace. It’s important for us to think holistically about how our clients can evolve to meet the needs of their internal and external audiences as they navigate these changes.

Image credit: Michelle Prieb

Twitter Debuts Its Custom Emojis

Twitter’s Custom Emojis Make Their Debut as an Ad Unit With #ShareACoke

This week, Twitter introduced a custom emoji that functions as an ad unit via Coca-Cola. When users tweet #ShareACoke, an emoji featuring two glass Coke bottles clinking appears in their post. To date, Twitter only utilized custom emojis in real-time for special events, such as the upcoming Star Wars movie and the VMAs. Twitter is testing this campaign with metrics including engagement, sentiment adoption, and total reach and, will then determine its future as a widespread ad option for other brands.

Facebook to Begin Testing Dislike Button

The most-sought-after feature on Facebook may soon become a reality, as co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network will soon begin testing a dislike button. Unlike on Reddit or YouTube, Facebook’s button will be meant to express empathy for a loss or negative story.

Google and Twitter Team Up to Offer Their Own ‘Instant Articles’ — With a Twist

Google and Twitter are working together to help publishers show “instant articles” to people who use their services on mobile phones. In the near future, Twitter and Google users will see “instant articles” load easily in the UI without being directed off-site. This is similar to what Facebook did several months ago, but one large difference is that Google and Twitter will make it an open source project in hopes of adoption among other technology companies. The new articles will appear as “snapshots” of the original article, and will include the same ads that would have originally shown-up on the webpage, helping retain their value.

Virgin Atlantic Hid Its Latest Ad Inside LinkedIn’s Job Listings

In an interesting advertising strategy on LinkedIn, Virgin Atlantic created a job listing to promote their Premium Economy cabin. They challenged “Evolved Travelers” to submit a job application for a “Freelance Flyer” position. The application also called for a 1,500 word micro-essay explaining how a free US to London flight would help the applicant’s career or life.

Letting Creativity Inspire Your Instagram Story (Friday5)

In recent years, the increase in popularity of visually oriented online services such as Instagram have paved the way for brands to exhibit new kinds of visual creativity. Though the latest updates allow users to think outside the box (literally – Instagram’s latest update now supports landscape and portrait images), the creative use of the service can help distinguish content even further and add new life to an Instagram page. Especially with the recent rollout of Instagram ad availability, it’s more important than ever for brands to distinguish themselves in a crowded newsfeed space.

Inspired by recent examples, here are new ways companies have been raising the bar on Instagram by harnessing its mobile-first visual approach:

1. Standing Out as Soon As They Click Your Profile

The shift from image templates to borderless, filtered images on Instagram allow for squared images in the preview to seamlessly blend together. This offers brands the opportunity to experiment with the creation of larger cohesive images to appear when one navigates to the profile page. Recognizing the popularity of food-related images on Instagram, Reynolds Wrap has created an “Endless Table” using this feature, which highlights different recipes as a piece of a larger visual puzzle. Taking it one step further, users are able to click on an image’s tags and navigate to a separate profile which houses the entire recipe, along with visual instructions.

2. Taking Followers on a Journey

The service’s tagging functionality can go beyond simply tagging influencers or other users with which the brand interacts. The ability to direct followers to an entirely different account allows brands to ease navigation and create a flow for creative content to bring their stories to life. Leveraging this feature to tap into the nostalgic element of childhood literary favorites, Old Spice recently developed a cheeky, sci-fi world within the service. By dedicating the corner of the image to a “tap here” call to action, users were prompted to learn more and interact with the content.

3. Playing up the “♥”

Facebook has the “like” and Twitter has the “favorite” but perhaps one of the most playful elements of Instagram is the ability to ♥ pictures that resonate with a user. Playing off of the uniqueness of this feature, the ARTBEATS Instagram posted a slew of illustrations which use a heart to “complete” the photo. From playing cards to Care Bears, the company found a number of ways to incorporate this element into the broader images.

4. Looping to it

The rising popularity of gifs to express emotion has led to services such as Facebook and Twitter engraining these moving images into their service’s functionality. While Instagram does not allow the direct uploading of such files, a recent shift to auto-play, auto-loop video content allows brands to “hack” this functionality and create their own Instagram gifs via video cinemagraphs. Making note of this, Budweiser served up both a perfectly poured beer and a clever take on a party photo to their Instagram followers.

5. Bringing Quizzes Back

Previously found in the back of your favorite magazine, the ease with which users can share and bond over quiz results online has paved the way for a resurgence in the format’s popularity. Brands have begun following suit by integrating these quizzes into owned properties or sponsored content offered on a digital media hub such as Buzzfeed. Hyundai recently took this onto Instagram, creating a personality quiz housed across 18 Instagram accounts and nearly 400 unique images to help guide users to the SUV that’s right for them.

By remaining constantly curious and simply taking a different approach to currently-existing functionality, brands can break through the noise and stand out from the crowd through content that resonates. How will you stand out?

Image credit: Reynolds’ Instagram

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