16 Digital Marketing Insights

I recently attended “The Digital Media Roadmap: Are You Off-Roading?” sponsored by the Chicago AMA and came away with some great digital marketing insights. I hope to utilize them in my own digital marketing endeavors and wanted to share them here.

Speakers at the program were Larry Kramer, author of C-Scape: Conquer the Forces Changing Business Today; Deborah Powsner, head of Research & Marketing, B2B, Government & Local Markets, Google; and Casey Winters, director of Online and Interactive Marketing, GrubHub.

Here are some of the key points that I took away. Hopefully they will be helpful to you as well:

  1. The four C’s of digital are Consumer, Content, Curation and Convergence.
  2. The consumer is in control.
  3. Strong content trumps distribution.
  4. With the explosion of information, there is a growing need for content curation.
  5. We will continue to see a convergence of media forms. Marketing, advertising, PR will work together more.
  6. Advertisers and content companies must find more ways to collaborate.
  7. Every company will become a media company and in the content creation business.
  8. Key in the digital environment is to monitor and respond quickly.
  9. Look for ways to integrate video into your digital efforts.
  10. Seventy-eight percent of people conduct research online prior to purchase.
  11. Search query growth has increased by over 100 percent in the last three years.
  12. Find out what people are saying and searching for in your industry to leverage search growth.
  13. Get Google’s +1 button on your site. It allows people to recommend your brand to their network in searches.
  14. Take control of and respond to every customer touch point, including social media and all others.
  15. Build and interact where your customers are, not where you want them to be.
  16. Think about how to improve your timing, access and responsiveness in the digital environment.

These are some great insights to put to work in your digital program. What do you think about them? What insights would you add?

Quantity vs. Quality: Content

Have you noticed there’s no shortage of information these days? The speed at which content is developed and disseminated is truly amazing. But just because content can be published early and often, should it?

It is important for individuals and businesses that are serious about content marketing to publish frequently. However, becoming enslaved to an overaggressive production schedule has the very real potential to lead to a quality problem. Make no mistake; poor content is worse than no content.

Poor content is not helpful. It raises questions about the overall quality of the publisher. It sends people to other sources (perhaps competitors). It tarnishes reputations. Simply put, this type of content is better left unpublished.

If you produce content for personal or marketing purposes, seek a healthy balance between quantity and quality. How frequently you can publish and still maintain a minimum level of quality is a question only you can answer. But don’t feel pressured to circulate content before it’s ready. It’s okay to wait. Better quality content pays more dividends in the end. It has more impact and gets shared. Make certain to take the extra time and put forth the extra effort to ensure value and quality mark the content you develop.

How do you balance content quantity vs. quality?

Successful Writing for Social Media

The great thing about social media is, well, it’s social. It’s okay, even expected, to have a more relaxed and informal tone when we write for social media. We have to be careful, however, not to allow the conversational nature of social media to lower our standards for good writing. That would be a mistake that would hurt your business or your personal brand.

Here are some rules I try and follow when writing for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and various other social media platforms to take advantage of their unique nature and write for success. Perhaps these can be helpful to you as well as you try and make friends and have an impact on social media.

  • Do the work – This is where it starts. It does take effort to write well in any medium, and social media is no different. It helps to remember that good writing does have a payoff for you and your business.
  • Get to the point – There is so much information to consume these days that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Granted, some information takes longer to explain. But generally the quicker I can get to the point, the happy my readers will be. With a blog post, try and make your point in the first paragraph and then support it with the rest of the post (hopefully I did that here).
  • Use understandable language – Common everyday language works best, especially for social media. I make sure to try and explain terms that I think might be confusing.
  • Practice good grammar – Ever seen the Twitter or Facebook post from the person who doesn’t use punctuation marks and capital letters? I really want to try and follow what that person is trying to say, but he or she is making me work too hard. Off to the next thing. Also, everyone has typos now and again, but I try and proofread posts to make sure they’re clean.
  • Leave a takeaway – Especially with Facebook and Twitter, a quick and understandable message is greatly appreciated. This adds value for your readers.
  • Make it funny and lighthearted when possible – Everyone likes to smile. Enough said.
  • Always pay attention to tone – Even though offending someone may not be my intent, it’s easy for digital messages to be misinterpreted. I take great care to eliminate any possibility of that happening. Proofreading helps with this point as well.
  • Get better – Good writing is a process. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve “arrived” as a social media writer. Recognize there’s always room for improvement.

I’d love to hear what you think about writing and social media. Feel free to lend your expertise as well by leaving a comment.

Actionable Ideas for Building Blog Readership

For most people, there’s no getting around the fact that it takes significant time and effort to build a popular and well-read blog. It just won’t happen overnight, so patience will be needed. If attracting more readers is one of your blogging goals, consistency and focus will be important to your long-term success. Try implementing this blog growth action plan and sticking with it.

Content is King

The single most important factor in growing readership will be generating quality content. This type of content is new, creative, informational, well presented, helpful and memorable. Generating quality content will not be easy, but is well worth the effort. To generate this type of content, make sure that you know your subject matter, have developed your own angle on the information and made it easy for the reader to consume. Commit to a process of posting this great content at least once a week. If you can post more often, great, as long as you are confident the content is of quality.

Word of Mouth

Look for ways to network and promote your blog in your circles of influence. Your colleagues, family, friends, acquaintances and anyone else you might meet are potential readers. Make the opportunity to introduce them to your blog and encourage them to check it out. Tell them to feel free to refer their networks as well.

Be Well Written

Look for opportunities to write guest posts for other blogs and even articles for print publications. In your bio information be sure to include your blog address so that people can find it. As with posts on your blog, remember that your guest piece needs to be quality content so that others will want to follow you. If you don’t have the time to author fresh content for other outlets, consider leaving well-written comments on blog posts that relate to your topic area.

Selectively Increase Your Digital Footprint

Leverage your presence on Facebook or Twitter to promote your blog posts. If you haven’t been very active on either platform, it’s time to get going. The key is to make sure to be active and engaged on whatever platform(s) you’re on. Focus on one if that’s all you have time for and try and be as consistent as possible. It’s better to focus on one platform than be on both and be ineffective. Twitter has worked well for me as a place to easily connect with new people and to stay engaged. If you can actively participate on other platforms such as LinkedIn that’s great, but be sure to include Twitter or Facebook as well since they are the predominant social platforms right now.

Be realistic about the growth of your blog. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It will take much time to gain traction, if that’s key to you. The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process. The rest will hopefully follow in time.

Much more can be said about growing blog readership. What ideas would you add?

To Grow Followers for Your Brand: Communicate Benefits

I came across a great blog post by Brian Solis titled “Why I Don’t Like Your Brand on Facebook” that communicates some important lessons for marketers hoping to increase followers for their brands. Through an experiment, Solis found that very few brands explained why consumers should follow them on Facebook.

His findings point to the reality that marketers, who are used to promoting benefits for their products and services, often fail to do the same for their Facebook pages. I believe this is in all likelihood true not only when it comes to Facebook, but Twitter, LinkedIn and other brand social media outlets. Rarely do I see brand messaging that conveys the reasons I should follow on social media.

Clearly, it’s time to start thinking about social media outlets in the same manner we assess and promote brand offerings. It starts with an evaluation of the content strategy of the outlet and the value that it provides to the consumer. Once that is determined, it needs to be communicated clearly and persuasively. Carving out a clearly defined social media value proposition will go a long way towards gaining an advantage over your competition when it comes to social media.

If growth in social media is important to your brand (and it should be), greater time and resources must be allocated to communicating the benefits of your social media outlets. When possible, create extended marketing efforts that promote these benefits. Go beyond simply: “Like us on Facebook.” Awareness that your brand is on Facebook doesn’t necessarily lead to preference. Consumers can just as easily follow your competition. Give them compelling reasons to follow your brand exclusively.

Of course, sometimes given the marketing piece it’s not possible to go beyond a simple social media awareness building message. The opportunities are sure to be there, however, to begin making the case for why consumers should follow your brand. It’s time to start marketing what we offer on social media.

What do you think?

Strive for Public Relations Over Publicity

The terms are often used interchangeably, but are quite different: public relations and publicity. One deals more with quality than quantity. One has more depth and the other merely exists. One elevates and the other creates only recognition. When it comes right down to it, public relations is what offers the most benefit for you or your brand and should be practiced most often, not publicity.

Contrary to popular opinion, the goal of any good public relations program is not to be seen anywhere and everywhere. That’s publicity. Public relations is more strategic. It is concerned with ensuring, as much as possible, that key messages are communicated with accuracy and impact.

Publicity wildly broadcasts to anyone and everyone, without discretion. Public relations, however, places priority on the most effective media outlets, those that have at least a somewhat sizable audience or community and that represent the specific target for the person or brand.

The goal of publicity is merely to be seen. There is some value to that, but the highest and best calling comes from creating perceptions, strengthening belief and influencing behavior. That’s what true public relations is concerned with accomplishing.

Anyone can be involved in publicity. Public relations takes an insightful strategic planner. It takes someone who can say no to the 90 publicity opportunities in order to focus on and properly execute the 10 real public relations opportunities.

For the public relations professional there are two roads to take. Which one are you on?

Let me know what your take is on this issue.

Impact Picks – Week of March 14, 2011

Journalistics: Press Release or Press Delete

When developing a press release, take great care to give the reporter a reason NOT to delete. Following the eight tips in this post will dramatically increase the readership of your releases.

SmartBlog on Social Media: How Market Research can Benefit from Twitter

Twitter can be a rich resource for market research. This post covers some of the benefits of Twitter research and explains how some companies are leveraging the platform in their research efforts.

SOCIAL MEDIA WORKBENCH: Four Things To Do If Social Media Is NOT Increasing Sales

Social media should offer opportunities that can beyond engagement to actually increase sales. If your social media efforts aren’t making the cash register ring more often, take a look at these tactics for getting things going in the right direction.