My oldest son is a high school senior. Colleges and universities have been marketing to him since he first took the practice SAT as a sophomore. One thing I find it very interesting about this process is the majority of schools send information via direct mail. Yes, that’s to the traditional mailbox sitting out on the concrete curb in front of our home. Oh, he also gets email solicitations (all of which come to my personal email because he doesn’t use his account except when I tell him I forwarded something important). This begs the question: who is the audience? The parents, who are likely paying tuition, or the kid, whose future career is at stake?
You could argue we are both target audiences because, ultimately, where he goes to school will be influenced by a variety of factors that my husband, son and I consider. Various Google searches around college marketing bring back a host of articles on reaching this lucrative teen/young adult market, but there’s very little about how colleges should be using newer channels to reach prospective students. I found one story from earlier this spring about a few companies marketing themselves to colleges to help reach prospective students. Of course, I uncovered some newer strategies coming to light. Take Oculus VR, which does virtual reality campus tours. But, in my opinion, that’s a bit over the top. You have to get your target audience’s interest before they will even consider taking a tour.
It seems to me developing a smart, integrated content marketing strategy makes sense for higher education organizations wooing today’s teens. The ability to reach high schoolers through other channels, like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, might actually get their attention – and give me some relief from playing college research and application “project manager,” too! Plus, more and more parents use these channels every day and can facilitate the interactions.
By integrating more contemporary communications channels, combined with traditional marketing as part of a well thought-out content management strategy, colleges and universities could save a lot of money on printing and mailing costs, and actually spur interaction and conversation with both of their target audiences – the aspiring students and their time-crunched parents.Tagged content management, Integrated Marketing Communications, marketing automation solutions, marketing strategy, marketing thought leadership
A little more than a month ago, Facebook declined organic reach for company pages. While news sources disagree and firmly believe it's Facebook's ploy to encourage advertising, Facebook insists it has everything to do with increased user activity, translating to floods of content and its need to clean it up and deliver the most relevant messages to users.
Can't hate Facebook for that, right? We apply this principle to our business every day.
But if this is truly in place, and we aren't reaching the people who matter most to us and engaging as often, why should we maintain a Facebook presence at all? Why should we spend resources on a declining controlled media channel? I'll give you a few solid reasons businesses still should:
1. You can still strike a chord.
There is a method to this madness. Videos, photos and company updates resonate with a company page's fans more than links to other thought leadership pieces. Ever notice on your personal account that the articles your friends are most likely viewing are the ones that show up at the top? For instance, my closest friends are obsessed with Buzzfeed, therefore, funny stories and Top 30 lists cover my newsfeed.
Think about what your audience is up to. If there is significant buzz about something, jump into the conversation on behalf of your business. That's where you're more likely to float to the top of your followers' feeds.
2. Facebook is one of the first places people conduct their research.
As Eric mentioned in his recent blog post, we visit an organization’s website and conduct a search before we meet in-person. Facebook and LinkedIn are typically the first two sites to appear at the top of the search page. Make positive first impressions by consistently updating these social networks. You might not appear at the top of users' newsfeeds as often as before, but you're still engaging unique visitors who could potentially invest in your business.
3. You're judged on where you do and do not participate.
Businesses find value in a Google+ account because it helps boost SEO. While people don't engage on this platform as often as they do on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, imagine what your company's absence looks like when one of your most loyal fans logs on and can't find you. Your credibility diminishes, and depending on the person his or her allegiance might weaken.
Engage in all channels most applicable to your business. Even if they don't provide immediate business benefits, you'll uncover their value over time.
What do you think about Facebook's move? Does it make sense? If not, how should it accommodate those businesses that heavily rely on the social media platform to drive purchase behavior? Let us know on our own Facebook page.Tagged company pages, Facebook, Hannah Babcock, Morningstar Communications, social media marketing
The year is quickly coming to an end and 2014 planning is well underway for many PR and marketing professionals. WebDAM created an infographic, which contains 20 key trend predictions for marketers and PR pros to be on the lookout for next year. It comes as no surprise that digital marketing campaigns and tactics will continue to increase in 2014, but what are some less obvious trends?
Check out all 20 key trends predicted for 2014 on the infographic below. What key trends would you add to the list?Tagged 2014 Marketing Trends, Laura Jung, Morningstar Communications
Pinterest is still pandemonium after its launch in March 2010. What’s more – you don’t have to be a chef or wedding planner to successfully promote your business on the purchase-driving social media network. During Q2 2013, Pinterest accounted for 23 percent of social-generated e-commerce sales – up twenty percent in one year.
One of my clients recently asked what is deemed “Pinterest-able.” The following are useful tips from both experience and research:
Although Pinterest centers on visual imagery, take the opportunity to humanize your brand. Yes, infographics are hotter than ever, but smart Pinterest board variety is important, and customers appreciate seeing a human face they can connect to the companies they regularly interact with. Engage both customers and employees by posting pictures of day-to-day operations, company events, awards and community involvement. Challenge yourself to make it fun and up-to-date like Constant Contact has.
Always spend extra time becoming better acquainted with your audience. All in all, visual appeal will attract users to your Pinterest boards. As is the case across all aspects of marketing, you should always seize the chances to get to know your customers better. Establish relationships and regularly interact with them. Listen to them and better understand what they want.
Create boards that spark discussion. Assert subject matter experts with videos and articles that can all be found on one board. It’s okay to insert visually appealing PR coverage with graphics and photos. Avoid text only clips. It’s fruitful to share more information, but Pinterest is about catching pairs of eyes first.
Some B2B companies are uncertain about whether Pinterest is an appropriate outlet for them. As long as the company can brainstorm creative ways to promote the business and create content then it is 100 percent worth a shot.Tagged B2B, Constant Contact, Hannah Babcock, Morningstar Communications, Pinterest
The other day I overheard two teenage girls holding a conversation. Every other word included a hashtag before it. Really – in a face-to-face conversation. (#areyoukiddingme) I felt like I was in the middle of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s “#Hashtag” video spoof or the latest Subway commercial:
Granted, these two teens were probably playing off of these very same videos, but for me it reinforced the prevalence of hashtags in today’s conversations. While many people are really giving hashtags the business these days, the truth is, hashtags can be great for your business. It’s all about knowing why, how and when to use them.
There are many articles out there that dive deep into these areas. Some of the ones I’ve found useful include:
Mashable – The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtags
Social Media Today – A Rant About the Proper Use of #Hashtags
Marketing Profs – The Power of Hashtags in Promoting Music (And Just about Anything Else)
The Wall Street Journal – How Twitter’s Hashtag Came to Be
A quick synopsis of the basics:
Hashtags were created to help people find, organize and track content. While the hashtag originated on Twitter, several social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, now support this nifty tool.
When using hashtags for business purposes, as with all good communication, consider how your audience will use and engage the hashtag. For example, if you’re holding an event, a hashtag is a great way to link all news together and make the event easy to follow. You can also use hashtags to make your benefits or products more searchable. For example, #strategiccommunications could help others find Morningstar Communications in social media conversations. The key is ensuring the hashtags are relevant to your brand and your audience, and specific to the topic or event. Research what comes up when you search the hashtag you’re considering. Do you like what you find? Is it the conversation you’re looking to join?
At the same time, avoid overusing hashtags. Best practices show two to three hashtags are the maximum, otherwise your post begins to look like spam.
Don’t be afraid to use hashtags to help promote your business, but use them wisely and judiciously.Tagged Facebook, hashtags, Instagram, Morningstar Communications, social media, Tricia McKim, Twitter
Morningstar Communications’ weekly Facebook analysis shows an organic reach of 1,346 with 13 people talking about us and an increased like total of +6.
Okay, great, what does that mean?
At this point we can assume that most businesses out there have some sort of social media presence, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or one of the hundreds of up-and-coming platforms in existence. However, the measurement of its effectiveness can seem a bit on the arbitrary side.
“More is better” is the guiding principle behind measurement of social media’s effectiveness. 1,300 reach this week? Next week let’s shoot for 1,500. While that line of thought isn’t necessarily without merit, it’s a bit one-sided. Pictures of babies and kittens will probably increase your Facebook reach, but does that help your muffler shop sell more mufflers? Before you post on social media on behalf of your company, ask yourself a few questions:
Social media is a constantly changing field so it’s important not to simply accept the status quo regarding measurement. How does your business measure its social media ROI?
At a recent conference in Kansas City, I connected with a Forbes contributor about the value of reaching out to industry influencers via social media and the best ways to position your clients so you’re being strategic rather than pushy. With a genuine approach, the idea is that you’ll see a better return on your time and strategic investment. You’ll also build substantial relationships with key influencers and industry reporters, which is the goal we all strive for in public relations.
I have long been a fan of the seamless ability of personal and professional worlds to collide in a rather unique fashion via social media, so I was intrigued when this topic came into discussion. The idea of gaining some insight on how a journalist himself wanted to engage with PR people via social media was exciting and encouraging! Having recently employed these tactics and successfully secured client coverage via Twitter, the following are best practices I’ve learned along the way and from those my new Forbes acquaintance shared with me:
As the number of social networks continues to rise and the ability to reach consumers on their mobile devices becomes more relevant, businesses are scrambling to figure out how to take advantage of all the new platforms and delivery channels. And in the B2B arena, where the sales cycle is less transactional and far more sophisticated, business leaders need to be even more strategic and focused when implementing social media programs as part of their marketing mixes.
In addition to traditional marketing tools, social media can prove very effective in the B2B space. It’s all about finding the right platform and mix for your business, then ensuring your traditional tools – like your website – integrate and complement these new channels. Is your website optimized for mobile viewing? Can you effectively track what’s working?
The rising use of content marketing platforms helps move businesses from tracking clicks and “likes” to building relationships and measuring conversion rates. Still, without the right strategy, these fall short as well – especially because the number one challenge B2B marketers face is content development. From white papers to tweets to infographics, delivering relevant content to your target audiences takes foresight, effective planning, consistent implementation, and constant monitoring and tweaking.
As more opportunities arise in the social media space, marketers will continue to find ways to customize the best of these new tools for the unique needs of B2B companies.Tagged B2B marketing, Content Marketing, social media, social media marketing, strategic marketing
Recently I had the privilege of attending the emfluence Marketing Platform User Conference 2013, where Kansas City marketers got up to speed on digital marketing trends. Presenters touched on a variety of creative and effective e-mail marketing and social media strategies. It was during a presentation by Mark Fidelman, author and Forbes columnist, that I learned a catchy new phrase: “newsjacking.” Newsjacking, as Fidelman explained, is inserting your brand into a viral discussion of news.
A consumer example is how Oreo uses newsworthy events to its advantage—inserting an Oreo cookie into historical events like the Mars Rover landing for example. Their timely posts fit perfectly within the buzz around events, and are “eaten up” by consumers at a time when news is peaking on the topic.
Timing is key with newsjacking, Fidelman states. Don’t engage in newsjacking too soon before people are aware of a particular story or event. And definitely don’t engage too long after the story has happened, as people generally are ready to move on. The sweet spot for newsjacking is right before the news peaks.
Proactive pitching and social media are perfect avenues for newsjacking. Our team frequently engages in timely proactive PR to position our clients as thought leaders in their industries. For example, recently when the Supreme Court made an important ruling, we pitched an attorney from our client Stinson Morrison Hecker to a local publication to provide expert insight on the decision, resulting in a story that ran the next day. Leveraging thought leadership like that in the right place at the right time can result in a PR win for clients. It requires careful observation of the news cycle, and really knowing your clients so you can spot appropriate opportunities.
Give it a try! How can you take advantage of the news cycle to share the expertise of your organization?Tagged Holly Eckold, Morningstar Communications, newsjacking, proactive, public relations, social media
People often say they feel “naked” when they don’t have their mobile devices and gadgets with them. They’re lifelines for business, entertainment and every day necessities (like online banking, for example).
With that being said, many people are subjected to mobile advertising daily, particularly those who elect to download free apps instead of those that cost money – the more generally chosen option. If designed and disseminated correctly, mobile ads can be a blessing for both the advertiser and the consumer.
Mobile marketing is booming, with no sign of slowing down:
These statistics can be directly attributed to the fact that more and more people are buying smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.
Some people grumble about mobile ads. Some don’t give a second thought as they “X” out of them. Despite these encounters, mobile advertising is evolving and improving, meaning it will more likely grab consumers’ attention. Listen up, marketers: 63 percent of people surveyed wish the ads they saw on their phones were more entertaining. So, ads should be more like what we see on TV or even billboards.
Some marketers have been listening, and are starting to get it right. The following employ precision targeting without invading consumers’ privacy, and reduce wasted ad impressions along the way:
Not only does it allow businesses to market for free, but it also has advanced advertising techniques that reach a 200 million-member database. For example, its Targeted Status Updates give marketers a chance to provide tailored content to people who matter most to them. And, the ability to give presentation-style ads that usually only reach a few people now reaches a huge database of businesspeople.
On top of all this, LinkedIn’s mobile app is easy as 1, 2, 3 – user-friendly yet robust.
How do you envision the future of mobile marketing? Will it be powerful as projected, or fall short?
Can you think of any specific campaigns that inspired you to learn more about the product or service it advertised?Tagged 4INFO, B2B, B2C, digital marketing, Hannah Babcock, LinkedIn, mobile marketing, Morningstar Communications, precision targeting, wasted ad impressions