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Insights: The EGC Blog

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No stranger to battling social platforms for dominance, Facebook, which has been challenging YouTube to be the "King of Video", is taking on Twitter’s Periscope.  Facebook Live is becoming the live streaming choice of some pretty powerful brands.

Facebook Live Hits the Jackpot with Sports Broadcasting 

The battle between Periscope and Facebook Live is heating up this summer as the NBA and USA Basketball announced this week that they will be live-streaming a total of nine men’s and women’s exhibition games via Facebook Live. The livestream kicks off tonight (Friday, July 22) at 9PM ET with USA basketball’s game against Argentina.

Facebook is making a big play for more sports content on the platform, launching its new Facebook Sports Stadium this week. Steve Kafka, product manager at Facebook, declared: “With 650 million sports fans, Facebook is the world’s largest stadium. People already turn to Facebook to celebrate, commiserate, and talk trash with their friends and other fans.”

Facebook Sports Stadium will serve as a content hub with posts and commentary from your Facebook friends, teams, leagues and journalists, as well as stats, play-by-plays and game info, such as TV broadcast channels and times. While sharing TV broadcast info for the American football games featured now in the stadium, clearly the timing of this announcement and the NBA announcement is not a coincidence – and the goal is to grow the integration of the stadium and Facebook Live.

In addition to challenging Periscope and traditional TV networks for live sports content, Facebook Live offers a unique reach and amplification through Facebook notifications and real-time engagement.  Facebook reports, “…people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.” Adding to the excitement, Facebook Reactions, the new emojis such as “Love” and “Wow” float across the screen as the live event is taking place.

Brands are Jumping on the Advantage

A variety of brands are now leveraging Facebook Live to build their communities and engagement, from comedians like Amy Schumer (who is set to stream her Madison Square Garden pre-show on Facebook Live) to nonprofits like animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue.  Even political brands are using Facebook Live to broadcast campaign events (like former Secretary of State Clinton’s town hall in South Carolina and the GOP Convention’s Facebook Live broadcasts).

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Although Facebook Live is relatively new, the early adopters, such as well-renowned powerhouses like Disney, Dunkin Donuts, and Target, have shown the huge advantage of this new marketing tool.  Dunkin Donuts’ head of social media, Melanie Cohn, went so far as to comment in an interview with Digiday, “When Live came out, I thought, ‘Facebook is finally getting it right. Facebook is about scale. Periscope isn’t.”

Are you looking for opportunities to grow your brand with Facebook Live?

 

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It’s been about a week since Pokémon Go was released in the United States (July 6th, 2016), and in that time, it has completely consumed the attention of social media. As of July 13th, 2016, the app has hit 15 million downloads and its users are spending more time playing Pokémon Go than they are using Facebook or Snapchat.

This is not surprising, considering Pokémon’s cultural significance. Pokémon originated in 1996 as a Game Boy product that was inspired by insect-collecting. Players navigate a path through a region of the Pokémon universe on which they find (and capture) wild Pokémon and battle non-player character (NPC) trainers. The objective is to catch all species of Pokémon, defeat NPC Gym Leaders, challenge the region’s Pokémon League, and become the very best. In the last 20 years, the Pokémon universe has been brought to life through more video games, a trading card game, manga, and comics – thus creating a community of Pokémon lovers worldwide. The release of Pokémon Go truly brings this game to the next level.

Pokémon Go is an “augmented reality” (AR) game that allows players to become a Trainer and catch Pokémon in the real world around them. The app uses GPS to display a map of the user’s location that shows them Gyms, PokéStops, and Pokémon that are nearby. Gyms and PokéStops are locations that Pokémon Go users physically walk to (i.e., to move an avatar in the game, the user has to physically walk wherever they need to go) for items, battles, training, and other gameplay. Many of these locations are found at landmarks or in public places like parks. It is not uncommon to see hordes of people playing Pokémon Go in places where there are clusters of PokéStops and Gyms. In fact, it’s pretty hilarious to watch.

These locations are pre-determined, and as of right now, there is no way to create a new PokéStop or Gym at your local business. Some popular restaurants and bars, however, have already become Gyms and PokéStops. This is because these spots were chosen based on geo-tagged photos that have been uploaded to Google. Niantic has stated that while they are currently overwhelmed with business-related inquiries and questions, they are also doing their best to assess potential revenue streams and determine the extent of how involved businesses can get in the future.

As of right now, Pokémon Go does not have advertisements within the game. That hasn’t stopped small businesses, however, from figuring out ways to capitalize on the craze. In the game, you can purchase a Lure Module. This device attracts Pokémon to a player’s location for 30 minutes. There are tweets and posts all over social media reporting on restaurants and other small businesses that have dropped Lure Modules in and around their businesses. This draws Pokémon Go users in the area to visit the restaurant and catch some Pokémon. Once Pokémon Go users arrive, it’s up to the local business to figure out how to turn them into customers.

From a social media perspective, there is a lot of potential here. Pokémon Go is truly taking over news feeds and timelines across all platforms. Its users are passionate and excited, and they want everyone to know they’re living their childhood dreams of catching them all. People are genuinely excited to see their beloved nerdy passion from the 1990s return to the mainstream. (This is especially true for people who are in their 20s and 30s.)

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And it's not only Pokémon Go players who are talking about it. Even people who don’t play Pokémon Go are talking about Pokémon Go. Posts and memes about how Pokémon seems to be taking over everything can be found across all social media platforms, and are often shared by people who do not play the game. While there is a whole community of people who were brought together on social media by their passion for Pokémon, there is an entirely different community of people who are uniting because of their annoyance with how much everyone else is talking about this game. It’s been a week since the game’s release – but there is still time to take advantage of the social media conversation.

Because the hype is still so intense, all it takes is a tweet or post about a PokéStop or Gym near your business to invite users to play near your location. Players notice, and respect it:

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If you’re looking to get involved even more, try dropping a Lure Module and see how much traffic it generates. If your business has any following on social media, advertise that you’ll be attracting a ton of Pokémon to your location! This is a truly rare and particularly unique opportunity to engage with customers and make a lasting impression on them by reaching them through something they’re passionate about.

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It is no secret that “inbound marketing” – the practice of letting potential customers come to you (the brand or business) as opposed to going out to them (i.e., “outbound marketing”) is an effective strategy that has become the preferred method of advertising. In the past week, there have been a lot of reports that re-emphasize the power of inbound marketing. And, there are some subtle but strong changes taking place.

The opinion in some circles is that the battle between “inbound” and “outbound” is over, with “inbound” the undisputed winner. An article recently appeared in Forbes, with the to-the-point title: “How Inbound Marketing Killed Cold Calling,” by Steve Olenski. Mr. Olenski asserts that the outbound method of cold calling was at one time an effective means to secure prospects. But the advent of digital technology (and eventually inbound marketing) took over and made the old fashioned method of cold calling obsolete, and he concludes: “Cold calling is an inefficient use of a business’s time and resources. Your salespeople are great at building relationships, so to squander their time and talent dialing cold leads (a job that can be easily automated, by the way) is criminal.”

Taking a somewhat gentler tone, Heather Baker, writing for Business.com, states that cold calling can still yield results, but based on findings from the Harvard Business Review, it not very strong (succeeding only nine percent of the time). And yet, as Ms. Baker points out that in spite of the proven effectiveness of inbound marketing, there are still die-hard fans of traditional marketing tactics: “…some companies (or their old school CEOs) are still resisting the wonder that is inbound marketing. Business2Community says it’s because they either don’t know what it is, they don’t understand how content can drive sales, or they don’t have the resources to oversee it in-house.” If that is the case, then these companies need to be brought into the twenty-first century (and the old school CEOs need summer sessions in learning inbound marketing).

In developing a basic foundation for inbound marketing, Mr. Olenski stresses the importance of doing research, having the right conversations, and automating the process. Ms. Baker goes on to include setting benchmarks and goals, selecting the right keywords, and choosing promotion channels, among other points to practice. There is a lot to this process, but it can (or rather, has to) become a primary strategy in every company’s marketing presence.

And, whether you are a novice or a seasoned rock star at inbound marketing for your business, there are new trends on the immediate horizon to be aware of. In a report published this week for Tech.co, Victoria Heckstall detailed these latest developments, and cautioned that regardless of whatever high-quality tools a business has at its disposal, not paying attention to what’s going on will prove costly. The trends that Ms. Heckstall starts off with are an increased popularity of user-generated content and (coinciding with this), a decreased interest in guest blogging (which, however, is debatable – see below). Other trends include the effectiveness of marketing analytics, visual storytelling, and (in a development that proved some naysayers wrong) a revival in the power of email marketing.

Ready to scrap building that influencer network now? “Not so fast,” warns EGC Content Strategist and Developer Amy Edel-Vaughn. “While over-reliance on influencer content may have slowed interest in some areas of content, when a brand really knows its audience and connects with the right influencers, this content can have a powerful impact. The key is to feature guest blogs or content from experts that adds value for readers, sharing inspiration, tips and tricks that they crave and need to get the most out of your product or offering, to showcase opportunities. Guest blogs can introduce new audience to your brand and be an effective means of broadening your reach. Be thoughtful in approaching the right guest to develop content that your audience cares about.”

Ms. Heckstall concludes that although the changes taking place have not been major (and will consist primarily of making minor tweaks), keeping on top of navigating and managing inbound marketing is crucial to success: “…what inbound marketers will discover is the biggest change is in the way they communicate with their target audience. They will no longer write to them, they will send them video content and image content. If you already have a successful inbound marketing campaign, you have no reason to make any radical changes.”

But don’t toss out your content strategy for an all-video approach just yet. As EGC’s Search Marketing Manager Evan Calafates cautions, “Video dominating all manner of content could very well be the case in the future, but in the meantime the preferred response is still…. you guessed it, a nice and happy medium between the two. Until powerful engines such as Google and others start giving the same weight to video as they do good ole fashion copy, we should maintain a blend of both when communicating with our audience. The key isn’t to be the first one using a digital trend, but to be ready and have a plan for when it becomes the norm.”

Regarding one trend that Ms. Heckstall points out, the increase in the use of storytelling in inbound marketing might receive the most visibility in the future. As Hana LaRock points out in Business 2 Community, there is no secret trick behind storytelling. There are benefits to communicating via a story that may not be immediately evident, including ease of understanding and the chance to build trust with existing and potential customers. A story that is relatable, can trigger emotion, and has a humanistic approach is equal to one facet of very strong inbound marketing. As Ms. LaRock states: “Stories have characters, settings, dialogues, and a plot, much like the process of generating a lead.”

So, that is the story (no play on that last paragraph intended) of where inbound marketing is (and is going) in the course of the next year. As you can see, this is a winning model of advertising – for marketers and customers alike.

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Since late last week, Britain’s history-making, world-shaking leave of the European Union (more commonly referred to as “Brexit”) has dominated the news. And the news and developments regarding this event are ever-evolving. The certainty is that change will come to the global market, which, of course, encompasses marketing. And the underlying question is: What will be the impact of these changes?

Whether ironic coincidence or fate, the announcement of Britain’s withdrawal of the European Union coincided with the finish of this year’s Cannes Lions: International Festival of Creativity in France. (As the more famous Cannes Film Festival celebrates achievements in film making, the Cannes Lions recognizes to those in creative communications and advertising.) Advertising professionals from (literally) the world over that attended Cannes Lions received this news at the same time, at the same place – and were witness to each other’s reaction. 

The prevailing mood for the last week has been shaky. Reports and articles from news venues have tried to remain realistic, if not pessimistic. Patrick Coffee, writing for AdWeek, recently posted an article with the (somewhat hopeful) title: Advertising Leaders Say Britain's Exit From the EU Is Disappointing but Manageable.” (But then, what constitutes the meaning of “manageable” in a situation like this?)

Mr. Coffee featured a quote from Michael Roth, CEO of Manhattan-based Interpublic Group, a global leader in international marketing solutions: "The decision will lead to market volatility in the short term, no question. But the U.K. is a key market to our clients and our own company, and together we'll find footing in this new world. Longer term, as long as open trade remains a priority, markets should normalize, and that's the timeline we're focused on."

Going further with this attitude, Ad Exchanger’s Alison Weissbrot feels that Britain will have to reassess and readjust, but it could very well still hold the place of being “the epicenter of European advertising.” In regard to doing business with the United States, Ms. Weissbrot received some insights from Andrew Shebbeare, chief product officer at Essence, who feels that the decrease in value of the pound note might make it less expensive for American companies to transact business with Britain: “London agencies and staff look 10% cheaper to US and Asian businesses than they were a week ago...The weak pound will act in favor of UK exporters, including agencies serving global clients.”

As of now, the future ramifications of this still new international event remain uncertain. As Jack Marshall of The Wall Street Journal, writes: "Media and advertising firms, like other corporations, have to assess the impact of potential economic turmoil on their revenue as well as the effect of currency fluctuations on that revenue."

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shutterstock_365675468.jpgA headline from yesterday’s AdAge popped out at EGC Group Craft Beverage Division’s Executive Director Jim McCune: “Lowdown: Is the Craft Beer Boom Ending?” In a story that raises doubt and concern about the future of craft beer, quoting “Dramatic Slowdown of Craft Beer Continues,” Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada brands are “now both in decline,” and “combined volumes for the Top 12 craft brewers grew only 1%.”

EGC’s Jim McCune responds to the headline: “My answer is YES and NO.”

Jim continues:

“The boom itself is slowing a bit as the industry becomes historically saturated with nearly 4,300 U.S. breweries. The market has also become a confusing mix of ‘True Independent Craft Brewers’ and ‘Crafty Crafts’ – a term coined for small and independent microbreweries that major beer players have purchased.


“But is craft beer dying? The answer is a strong NO. While craft beer growth slowed this year to 6% as a whole compared to last year’s 17%, understanding the craft beer landscape is key to understanding the data and thus answering the question.

“Pulling Blue Moon and Shock Top out of the mix, craft beer growth jumps to 9% growth, and pulling Sierra Nevada, Boston Beer and New Belgium Brewing – it jumps to 16% growth.


“What this means is that real craft beer isn’t slowing at all, but the larger microbreweries and the ‘Crafty Crafts’ that the biggest breweries produce are starting to fatigue, while thousands of other small, energetic craft breweries grab more of the market share – 12% the last we heard.

“The craft beer boom may slow, and it’s true that only the smartest and best beers survive, but the industry is in its infancy with significant room for savvy, independent craft beer brands that brew fresh, local quality product to grow.

“Craft beer is here forever.”

McCune is director of the Craft Beverage Division of Melville-based EGC Group. Reach him via jimm@egcgroup.com or at 516.935.4944.

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As Father’s Day approaches, it is time to review the latest in “dadvertising.” Many of you may remember Angel Soft’s “Happy Father’s Day, Mom” commercial that touched a nerve with the public last year. The controversial commercial featured adults talking about all the ways their mothers stepped up and raised them, basically taking on the role of both mother and father. Even though some people enjoyed the commercial, the majority condemned the ad for perpetuating the image of a stereotypical absentee, passive father.

Despite the commotion that the Angel Soft commercial created amongst consumers, Old Navy didn’t seem to care. This year, for a short period of time, the retailer carried a shirt that read: “It’s Father’s Day.” Upon a closer look, however, the shirt reads: “It’s Her Day” in bold letters.

Old_Navy_shirt.jpgKnowing that Old Navy has since taken down the item from their website, it begs the question as to why companies are belittling fathers – and on their own holiday for that matter. Aside from the Angel Soft commercial and Old Navy t-shirt, this is not the first time that fathers have felt undervalued on Father’s Day.

When it comes to driving conversation and sales, brands tend to focus on the social mom. Companies underestimate, however, how social, vocal and influential fathers have become. According to a Pew Research Center report, a whopping 75 percent of parents on social media (meaning social dads) are more active online than ever before.

Even so, a survey conducted by Social Media Link illustrates how Father’s Day doesn’t get nearly as much attention as Mother’s Day. In fact, Americans spend $7.4 billion less on Father’s Day than they do on Mother’s Day every year.

In order to get an idea of how dads interact online, Social Media Link surveyed social dads in the social media community, Smiley360. According to the survey, about 95 percent of social dads celebrate Father’s Day and two-thirds of these dads agree that Father’s Day does not receive as much media attention as Mother’s Day.

So, how can your company help make fathers feel important?

Countering the strategies of Old Navy and Angel Soft, focus on the social dads! You must get social. Fathers everywhere now engage with brands online, connecting with their favorite gadgets, foods and fashions. Tweet and post your hearts out as the calendar leads up to Father’s Day in order to direct customers to sales channels and provoke conversions. (Maybe even throw in a nice Father’s Day competition or giveaway.)

Since not all dads have the exact same interests, try to appeal to each demographic. Social dads engage with electronic brands, food and beverage brands, and men’s grooming and fashion brands online. Knowing that these are the things that social dads desire, brands should create posts that target their needs and interests.

So, start the social conversation and honor all of the great dads out there. Good luck “dadvertising” and have a happy Father’s Day!

 

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The big headlines this week about Instagram have focused on the rollout of their new algorithm that’s changed how posts appear in newsfeeds. For example: Why your Instagram feed is now out of order, Why an Algorithm Does Not Mean the Death of Instagram, and Instagram users threaten to quit site over changes. Snarky takes on the change have included: Instagram’s non-chronological feeds are rolling out now, so just suck it up and Dear Millennials: Instagram doesn’t owe you anything.

Why the freak out over the change? As EGC Senior Social Media Manager Adam Chan reported in his blog, The Internet Freaks Out About Instagram’s New Algorithm-Based Feed, “We fear change.” He adds, “If you haven’t already noticed, every time a social media platform puts out a significant update, people tend to go into an uproar, start rumors, and tweet about their dislike for whatever the new update is. In the end, people adapt and continue to use the app and we all move on rather quickly.”

Less buzzed about — but very important news for marketers and brands  has been Instagram’s official announcement of the upcoming launch of a new set of business tools. For many years now, businesses have taken advantage of the platform in order to expand and interact with their customer bases. Even though Instagram has been a vital component in various companies’ marketing strategies, the current functions of the platform were not cutting it.

The business community vocalized the necessities that were currently underserved in the hopes of implementing change. After interviewing hundreds of businesses, Instagram stated that three key needs became clear: the ability to stand out, get insights, and find new customers.

Instagram Business Tools were created with those values in mind. The app will now allow users to create business profiles, get insights and have the ability to promote their posts.

With the Business Profile feature, companies can now be recognized as a business on Instagram. This function gives businesses the power to choose how they want their customers to get in touch with them through a contact button located on their profile. The button will enable consumers to call, text or email businesses directly, as well as get directions.

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Insights on Instagram grant businesses the ability to learn more information about their followers’ demographics and the resonance of their posts – all from within the mobile app. The Insights feature will include things such as top posts, reach, impressions and engagement around posts. This cuts out the complicated, third-party analytics programs.

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The ability to promote gives way to mobile ad creation. Businesses are able to turn well-performing posts into advertisements with just a few taps. Users can now pick a post they have already shared on Instagram and add a “call to action” button. The app will also offer suggestions based on a business’s audience and budget, giving users the ability to target their customers for any length of time they choose.

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Now, what does this update mean for your business?

By making Instagram business-friendly, users will be able to connect with even more customers, increasing overall brand exposure. Instagram Business Tools opens doors for companies to interact with new and potential customers, while also augmenting their discoverability amongst partners and retailers. These functions will help businesses retarget their Instagram audiences and thus expand beyond their current following.

Having the ability to learn more about the behavior and demographics of your audience will lead you to effectively create more relevant and timely content. Businesses will be able to refine their marketing strategies, understand their audiences and grow their companies more efficiently with these tools.

Instagram is taking a step in the right direction, but for now businesses will have to wait patiently until the business profiles are rolled out in the “coming months.”

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It has been two weeks (Thursday, May 19 to be exact), since Candace Payne, a Dallas-based mother of two, became a real-life “overnight sensation” – all because of a trip to her local Kohl’s Department Store. Candace is now a social media celebrity, Kohl’s stock has skyrocketed, and a certain franchise has gained (unpaid) publicity beyond imagination. Welcome to what may well be this year’s rock star moment where social media benefited not one – but two – brands (by accident, it should be noted).

First ­– here is a major spoiler alert. If you are one of the few people on the planet who have not seen the video of Candace after her shopping trip to Kohl’s, read no further until you have watched it. (Here is a URL to a page on NPR that carries the video, and to an accompanying article.)

Candace tells her story. On returning merchandise to the nearby Kohl’s – still reveling in the enjoyment of her birthday – she decided to buy herself a present. Her joy and enthusiasm is (to put it mildly) infectious – even as she struggles with difficulty in removing the mask from the box (which, it is revealed, has the ‘Star Wars’ logo on it). Finally, the big reveal: a mask of Chewbacca (Han Solo’s Wookie co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon), complete with audio of the iconic growl.

The rest of the video shows Candace wearing the mask and happily laughing (“I’m a happy Chewbacca!”), as the “Wookie growl” plays on and off. Early on, she states, “I had to share with my friends on the Internet webs.” Well, that share has multiplied by the millions – and continues.

As a result of her new-found celebrity, Candace’s recent adventures, according to Star Tribune, have included appearing on the “The Late Late Show,” where she drove James Corden to work ­– with surprise passenger J.J. Abrams in the back seat. (View video here.) She also accepted an invitation from Mark Zuckerberg to visit Facebook headquarters. Finally, as ABC Good Morning America duly reported, Candace is going (or rather has gone) to Disneyworld, where she in fact met Chewbacca. (Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. several years ago could not have been more providential!) It is said that imitation is the best form of flattery. Well, here is an imitation (with a twist) on Candace’s video. (Hint: Imagine if Chewbacca himself was in her position.)

In addition, it's just been announced that Southwestern University has added itself to the list of brands joining in the media sensation. The school presented her with full scholarships for her entire family during a visit while she was in Florida. 

And Candace is not the only one whose fortunes have changed. As Phil Waba explained in (appropriately enough) Fortune: “The clip has been seen by 135 million people as of Monday morning [May 23], making it the most watched video ever on Facebook Live.” Mr. Waba then adds: “That means 135 million and counting (with millions more having seen the clip on YouTube) have heard someone talk about what Kohl’s sells and imply how easy it was to return items. That compares to the 34.4 million people who watched the Oscars in February for which Kohl’s was the exclusive department store sponsor.”

And how has the ‘Star Wars’ franchise fared? Well, according to Mr. Waba, the talking Chewbacca mask was out of stock at Kohl’s (not surprisingly), as well as ToysRUs and Walmart. As a “thank you” to Candace, Kohl’s salespeople have stopped by her home to give her what Mr. Waba terms “’Star Wars’ swag.” So, the ‘Star Wars’ brand is top-of-mind (and will be for a while), and December 17, 2017 – the projected release date for ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ – will be marked with anticipation for many.

What then, can marketers learn from this? Although the story of Candace, her purchase from Kohl’s, and the popularity of this video was all by chance, it is a reminder for brands to cater to their customers and make anything and everything as memorable as possible. The brand stays top-of-mind if the experience is memorable. In theory, this could have been a perfect “micro-moments” situation.

If other merchants and stores have an easy, no hassle exchange policy – customers should be made aware of it. Any other perks and pluses (however seemingly small) should be highlighted whenever a return customer enters a particular store. Who knows what could make someone’s day better? Ultimately, however, Candace’s story proves the power of honest, as demonstrated by almost off-the-cuff remark that turned out to be a compliment to Kohl’s and its policies. As Mr. Waba points out, Candace represents “…suburban mothers of young children looking for bargains, making her more relatable to fellow customers than Hollywood actresses.” Again, the key point is honesty. And the takeaway for every advertising campaign is to keep is to keep it simple and honest (or transparent, to use marketing jargon).

On a closing note, Rachel Martin of NPR admitted that this video reduced her to "literally weeping, she was laughing so hard," and she interviewed Candace about her new-found fame. Candace’s response at that time: “"I'm like, y'all, come on." (After watching the video, can’t you just see and hear her say that?) Since then, she has gone on to say: “When simple joys turn to extravagant joys, this is what you end up with. When you have a heart full of joy, it will change everything!”

May the force be with Candace Payne, Kohl’s, and of course, ‘Star Wars.’

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On Tuesday, May 24th, Twitter officially announced that they would be making updates with their 140 character limit. Twitter stated: “In the coming months we’ll make changes to simplify Tweets including what counts toward your 140 characters, for instance, @names in replies and media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) will no longer ‘use up’ valuable characters.”

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Here is what’s changing

  • Replies: When replying to a Tweet or tagging someone, @usernames will no longer count towards the 140-character count. You can also say goodbye to the .@username tactic that would allow your reply tweets to be broadcast to all of your followers.
  • Media Attachments: Photos, GIFs, videos, polls or quote tweets are now considered attachments to your tweet and will no longer count towards your 140 character limit.
  • Retweet and Quote Tweet Yourself: You are now able to retweet yourself. (This will be great for resharing posts you’ve made in the past.)

Here is what isn’t changing

  • Links: As far as the sharing of links goes, they will still count as 24 characters towards your tweet of 140 characters.

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When comparing Twitter to other social networks such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube, it’s almost as if Twitter is too scary and hard to use for the average user. New user growth and direct response advertising growth on Twitter have been sluggish the past few years. This new update is Twitter’s latest attempt to revamp their platform and usability, with the goal of appealing to new users.

This update can only help the platform. As most Twitter users and marketers want to talk to each other and their customers, the 140 character limit is what makes Twitter...well, Twitter. But why limit the people who are trying to communicate on your platform? If the Internet and social media has taught us anything, it is that people love to share photos/videos. This new update gives people more options and feels less restricting whenever they choose to use Twitter.

AC3.jpgFrom my own standpoint as a marketer, this latest update is like music to my ears. Trying to get a brand’s point across in 140 characters is hard enough. Also, we no longer have to worry about attaching a photo – which would normally take up 24 characters.

This update will give our social media team more flexibility when writing content for brands. Twitter is definitely headed in the right direction by giving its faithful community what they want by allowing users to get the most from their tweets. In addition to this update, Twitter recently introduced ‘Moments’ and has even more plans for 2016: “We’re exploring ways to make existing users easier and enable new ones, all without compromising the unique brevity and speed that make Twitter the best place for live commentary, connections and conversation.”

 

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cropped-2.jpgThere are two frequent questions that are asked when trying to make the most of any (if not every) digital campaign. One is: “How strong is the quality of the content in the marketing?” The other is: “Is the SEO working as efficiently as possible?” The truth is – both questions deserve equal time and attention.

EGC's Search Marketing Manager Evan Calafates comments, “I always find it funny when I read an article ‘SEO is Dead’ when there’s more than 3 billion searches a day on Google alone. SEO is very much alive and still heavily reliant on the content. The key points to keep in mind would have to be to find the opportunities, or if you’re refreshing content of an existing page, to not hinder any successes you have organically for that page. Keeping these two areas in mind and allowing the writer to do what they do best, and write great content for the USER will set you up for success in organic search.”

Content Strategist & Developer at EGC Group, Amy Edel-Vaughn, adds, "It's critical for brands to have a solid strategy. Inbound content, such as blogs and guides, need to work in concert with outbound content, such as paid social. And SEO must be part of content planning from the beginning. Here at EGC, Evan and I work together to build content plans, and also include the Creative team from the beginning of development. We need to move beyond the days of silos and work together to create the best possible holistic plan for our clients."

Indeed, every facet of a digital strategy deserves as much detail and care as possible. With so many competitors who are posting and promoting just as many campaigns to attract and convert customers, it would seem obvious that content marketing and SEO would get the same degree of curation – and ideally – complement one another (if not be combined). Ironically, that is not the case a lot of the time.

A recent article appeared on MemBurn, entitled Need Proof That Content Marketing is the Future? Here It Is by Bianca Delport, who states up front that when it comes to the importance of content marketing over SEO (or vice versa): “The truth is that this argument is completely null and void. Why? Because the only way in which to really maximise one’s digital marketing results is to incorporate aspects of both disciplines into one’s marketing strategy.” 

Ms. Delport’s case for acknowledging and accelerating the use of content marketing is based on several developments that have taken place over the last several years. The first was the update to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, where content was emphasized over keywords. Another variable concerns the increased demand for mobile-friendly accessibility; or rather, the potential for a website to still receive high rankings in Google – providing that the pages have high quality content – regardless of whether or not it has a corresponding mobile site. (And with the “everything mobile” mood of today, that conclusion says something.)

The final factor that Ms. Delport highlights is the emergence of Google featured “snippets,” which provide quick and to-the-point answers to any number or types of questions a user might type into (read “as”) in the Google search engine. If a “snippet” has the best content, it will appear higher in a search result – even if its corresponding website is not in the number one spot.

(One cautionary note on “snippets” and related Google’s Quick Answers to keep in mind is that information is not always accurate or verified. An article in The Record points out: “Unfortunately, as long as Google has a commercial interest in appearing omniscient, it probably won't work to improve knowledge panel transparency.”) So there are pros and cons to “snippets.” The pros are that answers to random questions can be found quickly. The cons are that there are no guarantees that the information is correct (depending on the subject and complexity of the question).

Whereas the tone of Bianca Delport’s article focuses more on content marketing, Aaron Agius, writing for Business 2 Community, counters this: “Even if content marketing is your main strategy, there are some SEO essentials all businesses need to take advantage of.” Mr. Agius goes on to report that a number of companies (some of which are classified as Fortune 500), have neglected best practices when it comes to SEO.

Missing keywords in home page titles, failure to include meta descriptions, and not properly naming images via keywords separated by dashes are among the weaknesses in the SEO presence of these companies. Mr. Agius makes the following point: This is bad for SEO, but it also reduces content marketing effectiveness by creating a bad user experience.

So, it has been established that content marketing and SEO must work in unison. A third question (joining the two at the top of this blog) emerges, which is: “Where is the balance between SEO and content marketing?” When it comes to SEO, Mr. Agius advises to fix broken links and always adhere to Google’s best practices. In conjunction with this, content marketing tasks to maintain include creating buyer personas, identifying campaign objectives, mapping content, and developing a promotional strategy.

And, maybe it is coincidence or a natural connection, but there are practices where SEO and content marketing actually overlap. These include researching keywords, applying meta descriptions, and measuring and adjusting SEO analytics along with campaign results whenever necessary.

Effective integration of content marketing and SEO, Mr. Agius believes, can be accomplished through learning about an audience via search, using search engines as a content marketing channel, and applying content creation strategies to improve SEO. (Once again, note the connection of how each strategy is supplemental and beneficial to the other.)

Content marketing and SEO…to quote a lyric from the song once sung by Frank Sinatra…”you can’t have one without the other.”

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