You Don’t Need an Instagram Strategy

You don’t need an Instagram strategy. Or a Snapchat strategy. Or a Facebook strategy. At least not yet. Instead, figure out what makes you or your brand remarkable to that specific audience group and then make sure you convey your message in a way that will resonate.

Go ahead, answer the question, “What makes you remarkable?”

This is a reoccurring problem in social media. Brands optimize community management and native ad spend network by network. They use data to hit the right audience, the correct time slots, and then drive more traffic.

But the content and conversation is lame, or as Ann Handley says just good enough. The whole initiative suffers for it. More than 90% of the problem cases I examine boil down to bland over-messaged content and social network “conversations”.

A Snapchat Strategy In Play

SnapChat

In some cases content created haphazardly for social networks feels awkward, lacking context and meaning. Just yesterday I was looking at the general Washington, DC feed on SnapChat, and in the midst of the updates Jim Beam ads ran, ten seconds each. The ads featured the new brand’s new apple flavored bourbon spots.

The product is designed for millennials, but the spots were the usual high gloss ads you might see during a football game or on ESPN.com. They seemed so out of place compared to the raw user generated videos of DC hipsters. The Jim Beam ads felt like a complete intrusion. So, there you have it. A SnapChat strategy targeting the right audience in the right place with almost no relevance.

Differentiation Requires More

growth strategies

Here’s a message to the marketers of the world trying to reach hip social media audiences. If you want to differentiate and stand-out in an increasingly competitive and noisy marketplace, reach deeper than “me, too” social media strategies and ads.

Think I’m off on this? Check out the top approaches CMOs are looking at for growth over the next twelve months, according to the CMO Survey. Market penetration is the only category that’s expected to shrink while diversification is the area targeted for the most growth.

Every marketer and every agency is under great pressure to create strategies that will leverage new media. I’ve been there, too. It’s so important to take the time, pull back, and do it right. Use all of that data to inform and build better content and conversations that people will actually care about.

Social media is a method to reach people, but throwing unremarkable junk out there to meet a data-centric strategy that points to where the right audience is won’t work well. You need to engage (let’s not go too far down this 2008-esque thread). And you need a remarkable story to compel audiences to engage back. The content is just the vessel. If your offering is not remarkable, if you don’t have a conversation, then expect mediocre results.

This really shouldn’t be a surprise. If you have a strategy to leverage a tool instead of a valuable and interesting reason to talk with your customers — regardless of medium — then success will be hard to achieve.

Why Yik Yak Makes Sense to Me and Snapchat Doesn’t

Yik Yak has received a lot of media attention as of late, most of it negative from fearful adults. One psychiatrist [on Fox News] called it the most dangerous form of social media.

Funny. Yik Yak offers the most obvious form of social media to me, much more so than other youth-driven apps like Snapchat. Yes, the critics are right. It allows people to be as mean as they want to be without repercussion, and that’s why everyone is afraid of it. But it also let’s people show their barest souls.

I’ve been on Yik Yak for less than a week, and I have seen some incredibly sad and beautiful and funny updates. It’s touching, a reminder of what Robert Scoble and Shel Israel called Naked Conversations during the blogging era (think 2006-7).

Oh, by the way, Yik Yak expressly states in its rules that people aren’t allowed to troll. Further, really nasty updates can get voted off the island. I noticed the fear mongering articles didn’t mention that.

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Conversations is what social media was supposed to be about. Not providing the optimal social marketing expertise, nor was social meida meant to create personal branding platforms to generate influence (which was a movement that arose in 2008). Social media was supposed to be about people interacting with others in a transparent authentic fashion.

And Then There Is SnapChat

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Yik Yak offers honesty where the more popular Snapchat network offers naughtiness and the potential for public spectacle. Snapchat’s value lies around the promise that you won’t be able to see content ever again, that it won’t exist. People love the thrill of the momentary content, some of which is wacky, weird, naughty and/or crazy.

Some brands are capitalizing on this platform, both individuals and corporate (Taco Bell pictured above). Yet, the opportunity is a fleeting one in my mind. Is Snapchat a zeitgeist, a reaction to the over-indexing of Twitter and Instagram by companies and data spiders? Or is it a network that will stand the test of time?

Personally, I find Snapchat to be absurd. I don’t understand why people would post content under their own name only to have it disappear. Maybe that’s the writer/photographer in me speaking.

Nevertheless… So you want to post something mischievous or naughty. People will still remember you posted it. And I hate breaking it to all the sexting youth of America on Snapchat, people can still make a record of those pics and updates.

So why not post it elsewhere where it is public and the content remains? I just don’t get it (cranky old man).

If I have to choose between entertainment or relating in my social media, I’m always going to lean towards the relatable. With its forced anonymity, Yik Yak offers both. But if you are going to opt for entertainment via spectacle, at least you can’t take credit for it or shame yourself for a few shout-outs.

Maybe anonymity makes Yik Yak a lot less exciting to marketers. But it sure makes for a better user experience.

What do you think of Yik Yak?

So You Are a Marketer

Imagine this conversation.

“So, you are a marketer,” said the prospect. “In your mind, what makes your company stand out?”

“That’s right,” says Marketer X. “I have one of the most followed blogs in the business, I’ve written x book on marketing, and I have an extremely well followed Twitter account. That’s why brands like xx, xx, and xx trust my company with their digital marketing.”

“But your website doesn’t offer a responsive design,” said the prospect. She swipes her iPhone and shows Marketer X a painfully small rendition of Marketer X’s company blog/website. “Why not?”

Unfortunately for most marketers (and PR pros), they won’t have a chance to defend themselves because the prospect won’t give them a meeting.

This is the curse of digital. When you become wed to the medium, you must evolve with it. And though many have built businesses around digital, they are struggling to adapt to the mobile revolution.

You, see I wrote a blog post for Gravy analyzing top marketing and PR bloggers for their responsive design and social network presence. What I thought would be a quick research exercise turned into a three-hour odyssey. Many, many of the top voices in the business don’t offer a responsive, adaptive or a mobile specific website design.

This is in spite of smartphones outselling computers. Heck, mobile is driving 31% of all web traffic today, and that number will only grow.

The marketing digirati disconnect occurs in spite of blogs regularly citing how important mobile is becoming. Or that marketing consultants use mobile media throughout the day to maintain social networks. Or that they regularly sell digital media strategies.

It was shocking moving from site to site. Whether the website failed to offer any mobile design at all or a cheap WP Touch plugin bandaid — which was great in 2011, but not OK for 2014 — I left surprised.

Perhaps many of the voices offering marketing savoir faire are really just strong in social media with a grounding in a more traditional discipline. But like big data and the analytical skills it requires, mobile presents a new domain that’s often simply batched in as part of the overarching marketing mix. That’s a mistake.

The Necessity of Offers a Mobile Friendly Site

Mobile is not a new wrinkle. People interact with media differently using smartphones, which in turn requires new communication approaches.

The contextual marketing revolution that everyone is talking about pivots off of mobile location. It requires relevancy and a strict approach towards permission-based marketing. Further, to succeed you need to understand geofencing and how distance triggers different behaviors.

Many methods that work on a computer or even a tablet, don’t translate on a mobile phone. Here are a few examples: Long text pieces, a lack of rich media, comment centric media, and generally small calls to action (e.g. links and small buttons) that aren’t easily pressed on with a finger.

Instagram, Snapchat and Vine are rocking it in large part because of their simple nature and rich media formats. These types of short rich media posts work well on mobile platforms. Further, Twitter’s renaissance has as much to do with the rise of smartphones as it does with Jack Dorsey’s return to the helm.

Moving forward, 2014 is the year of separation. Clients will start qualifying vendors by their ability to deliver a mobile experience. And while most social media marketers don’t feature a responsive design for their consultancy, enough do. Part of qualifying marketers will include an analysis of their own mobile offerings, including responsive or adaptive website design.

In the post social media revolution era, talking responsiveness is cheap. Sites speak louder.

What do you think? Is a responsive, adaptive or mobile-specific site a must?

Image by Seron.

My Big 5 Marketing Predictions for 2014

I am presenting a free Vocus webinar this Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the five big trends that will impact marketers in 2014. Vocus is a client of Tenacity5 Media.

Everyone wants to know the most important trends of the new year for their marketing program. After reading thousands of posts and reports and sifting through corresponding data about marketing, these are my five bold predictions for 2014, and what you should do about it.

Trend 1: Mobile Begins to Dominate

Google Glass will grab the headlines, but old-fashioned mobile marketing will command the budget. Thanks to responsive and adaptive designs, geofencing, and diverse mobile media properties, businesses can deploy customized campaigns to attract customers on the go. As ROI increases, expect mobile specific efforts to become the next marketing boom.

Key Statistic: In 2014, 3.7% of the total U.S. ad spend will be mobile ($6.2 billion). We saw 81% growth this year in the U.S. market, with that rate slowing down to 61% in 2014 and 53% in 2015, when mobile will make up 8.4% of the total ad spend. Source: ZenithOptimedia.

Trend 2: Wearable Moves to the Wrist

Wearable computing hype will move away from the head to the wrist. Google Glass is too awkward and clunky to be anything more than a niche product. Meanwhile, Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit continue to show how wearable computing can quietly be accepted in day to day lie. Expect Apple and Samsung to take advantage of the form factor, and define the market.

Key Statistic: Google Glass will move 21 million units in annual sales by year-end 2018. Source: BI Intelligence

Trend 3: Vine Becomes a Major

In 2012 we saw the rise of Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. 2013 was promising but less successful with Vine and SnapChat.

But toward the end of the year interesting acquisition chatter between Facebook and SnapChat commanded the headlines. Then Facebook delivered a vain attempt to replicate video messaging functionality on Instagram (the McDonalds business strategy strikes again).

There are serious monetization issues with SnapChat. Facebook is turning the Instagram platform into something for everyone, and at the same time nothing distinct.

Vine is already tied into Twitter’s ad platform, and will benefit from its unique video only format. Expect Vine to breakthrough in 2014 because of its simplistic utility, short video, and Twitter’s increasingly successful ad platforms.

Key Statistic: At the end of September, Twitter-owned Vine grew a whopping 403% between the first and third quarters of 2013 according to Mashable, Statista and GlobalWebIndex. That makes the video app the fastest-growing app of the year; it now has more than 40 million users. Source: Business Insider.

Trend 4: Native Advertisers Clean Up

As native advertising continues to expand and infiltrate traditional publishing and social media, consumer trust will decline and legal action will increase. Brands and media properties alike will come to understand the impact sponsored content makes on trust. Native advertisers will clean up their offerings, and brand reputation will take precedence over short term gains.

Key Statistic: The most popular forms of native advertising in 2013 were blog posts (65%), articles (63%), Facebook (56%), videos (52%), tweets (46%), and infographics (35%). Source: Hexagram.

Trend 5: Marketing Automation Improves

The potential for marketing automation is well documented as is its impact on the bottom line. But most automation solutions are hard to use. Marketers don’t have the analytic and technical skills to succeed.

What is hard must become easier. Companies will put pressure on their teams and vendors to make marketing automation more useful to their businesses. Training and user interface evolution will make marketing automation a bigger success.

Key Statistic: Just 16% of B2B companies use automation solutions extensively, and 14% of B2C companies leverage the solutions set.Source: Research Underwriters and Ascend2.

During the webinar I will provide actionable steps if you would like to explore these trends and stay ahead of your competitors. I hope you will join us!

Featured image by Desmond.

Full Visual Integration

Jen Consalvo of AOL

Perhaps the most noteworthy change in digital media in the recent past is the rise of visual media. From photos and now increasingly videos, we’ve seen Instagram and Pinterest become two of the top social networks, both ranked in the top 50 U.S. web sites overall by Comscore. And to boot, Facebook and Google+ have reacted making visual media core components of their networks. That’s not to mention new upstarts like SnapChat and Vine.

The revolution continues with the full integration of visual media. Jen Consalvo, COO and co-founder of TechCocktail, is presenting next week at xPotomac on the visual revolution. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the things she’s going to talk about…

GL: How has photography changed social networking in the past two years?

JC: Photography has always been a means to communicate, but the tools that have become more mainstream in the past few years have made visual imagery much more integrated and seamless in terms of the flow of our communications.

When the social tools we use everyday include images within the flow, so that we’re not clicks away from images, they become the conversation, not merely an attachment or secondary thought. Just look at all the 2012 memes, like “Texts from Hilary” or the Ryan Gosling tumblr blogs “Hey Girl” – you can quickly see Images and video are the primary communication tool.

GL: Infographics, fad or forever?

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