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Pinterest, you’ve got my interest!

30 Jan

Guest post by former Copeland intern Stefanie Grieser

Blogging advice: Love it or leave it , a previous Copeland blog post stressed that regularity in a blog is key and in order to achieve that you must love blogging and “wholeheartedly believe in it.”

Well, I guess that puts me in the “leave it” pile. I did, however, discover something that gives me a happy medium. It’s this new thing called Pinterest.

As it turns out, I am not the only Pinterest fanatic. Apparently it’s the new “it” social media thing and is rapidly growing. So what is Pinterest? What makes Pinterest so great? And why is not just another social media sharing service?

Pinterest is an online, virtual pin board. It creates virtual links through images and videos, called ‘pins’ which can then be categorized, organized and shared on ‘pin boards’. I like to think of it as some sort of mix between a blog, Twitter and Flickr.

In today’s digital era, images and photos are far more likely to be shared than an article. There has been a significant shift in the power of visual content which makes the visual aspect of Pinterest very compelling, but that’s not the only factor that makes it so successful. Few other social networks have captured the combination of self-expression, content sharing and visual imagery in such asimplistic way.  On top of that, it is another great marketing tool that engages conversation, forecasts trends and drives product sales.

Pinterest Marketing

And why can Pinterest work for your business?

It’s focused. Like I said, pin boards are categorized by interests and the search functionality will allow customers to find products or services they are already interested in.

On the other hand, people also love to surf Pinterest and you don’t even have to be a member to simply browse. This allows customers unintentionally stumble upon your product. Can anyone say goldmine?

The photo has a link that redirects your customer back to your site where they can purchase the product.

It a social network (duh), allowing you to engage with your customers.

There is so much room for exploration and creative marketing campaigns!

Graphic Designers (Heck, even ad agencies), this one is for you. You can showcase your portfolio on Pinterest, provide a description on the piece, the concept behind it and any other information you might want to provide. The same goes for artists and photographers.

Restaurants and bakeries, you can upload photos of your dishes. NPO’s you can share your orgainization’s story through quotes and pictures to promote your cause.

LinchPinSEO’s infographic shares some more neat ideas on Pinterest marketing so check it out.

As a marketing student, I created a pin board that focuses on advertising and is my substitute to a blog. I have already pinned some of my favourtie advertisement work. My comment below the image allows me to explain why I enjoy (or don’t enjoy) a certain advisement or marketing campaign and credit the specific agency. The comment isn’t as long as a blog post of course, but doesn’t have a word limit either. I can still write a short blurb expressing my opinion. People can comment on my pins just like they comment on a blog and can also “repin”, similar to Twitters retweet function. It is a work in process, but feel free to check out my Pin Board!

All in all, I believe that this new social media platform has huge potential and room for creative, innovative, engaging and focused marketing strategies.


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Is SEO now a complete waste of time?

17 Nov

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is the mystic – or so the ‘gurus’ will have you believe – art of ensuring your website’s content is found organically by search engines and clambers to the top of search results. To clarify, when I say search engines, the efforts of SEO experts are generally focused on one search engine, the omnipresent Google. This is understandable as the SEO industry was born alongside Google and like the Pilot fish, has been swimming alongside, feeding off its oblivious benefactor ever since.

But has Google switched direction leaving the SEO experts out in the cold(water)? This may sound like a statement to bait a response – sorry I’ll leave the fish analogy here – but try typing ‘mobile phone’ into Google and what do you see? It’s probably something like this:

Google kills Search Engine Optimisation SEO

This is a screenshot from my desktop PC. The area inside the black tint is the full extent of a browser maximised for a typical 1024 x 768 screen, the green speech bubble is from the first organic result after web-traffic giant wikipedia which is nearly always going to appear first.

What this example shows is that three quarters of the available content space is devoted to ads. The organic – or non paid – links start appearing way down the page, below the initially visible screen real estate! This is fine if your digital marketing strategy is to ‘hope-users-ignore-everything-that-first-appears and scroll-down-to-find-your-result’. Good luck with that!

Is this indicative of a move away from organic search listings? Not quite – would you still visit Google if all you got was ads? It’s still going to provide relevant content to users, but the balance has definitely shifted to showing you relevant paid ads over relevant organic results.

The argument that Google is prioritising paid content is enforced if you look at your analytics. In October Google announced that for non Google verified sites it will no longer show you what keywords people used to get to your site organically (here’s a clearer analysis of the announcement). These ‘referer’ links are like gold dust for website owners and provide you with free keyword analysis with which you can further optimise your site.

Returning to the original premise. Is SEO a waste of time? Well, if your product or service is in a saturated or crowded market, and if you’re relying on your website’s organic performance in Google search results to drive business then there’s a good chance the answer is yes.

However, the good news, for the moment, is that SEO for organic traffic is still worth pursuing if your product or service is not in a fiercely competitive market. From my tests, search results for non saturated markets attract fewer, or no ads leaving plenty of space for your business listing to compete organically. A good SEO strategy will keep your content fresh, which will always appeal to customers and encourage repeat visits to your site. Additionally, if you buy  keyword based ads with Google, the cost of your ads is in part determined by the relevance of the content on your website.

Moving forward, to me it seems that to ensure your business gets found online you will soon need to widen your focus. Worry less about your placement in organic search results and start budgeting for keyword based ads. With Google starting to withdraw the freebies, the ad space is going to get more competitive. Unless you’ve Apple’s cash pile this means that the stakes are raised for every dollar of your online advertising budget.  Keyword analysis, online copy-writing, integrated marketing strategy and media expertise – to place, monitor and optimise the ads – are all going to be more important.

The free ride is coming to an end.

MTV lessons on how to “Express Yourself”.

23 Aug

In a previous tweet I referenced a study commissioned by MTV who clearly understands and has managed to stay ahead of their elusive millennial audience, and wants to keep a good thing going. (http://bit.ly/nGxgEM).

So how has MTV done it? I suppose large budgets help. But throwing money at this target audience isn’t the answer – the solution requires far more creativity. And although research can help pave the way for great strategic marketing and advertising, many of the gem insights outlined in the study findings are things that MTV has been doing (well and at light speed) for quite some time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

One study finding that MTV has managed to dominate is the idea of brand evolution that is as timely and fluid as the very audience they’re working to attract and retain. So what’s the secret? In order to be considered an evolutionary brand one requires creative thinking, strategic and certainly customer insight, but most importantly, a willingness to constantly re-evaluate and reinvent yourself – to be(come) a Madonna-esque brand if you will.

Madonna in Famous Gaultier Cone Bra

Let’s look for a moment at the chameleon that is Madonna. What is it that’s captured our attention and held it for so many years? Is it the fact that she’s a great singer? Arguably, she’s no better or worse that every other female artist out there. So what is her key differentiator? It’s the fact that she isn’t afraid to express and reinvent herself…often. Think back to the 90’s – just because she’d historically wore sheer tops during her shows didn’t mean she couldn’t pull off a Gaultier cone bra with amazing and unforgettable impact. She has continued to make risky moves, but has stayed true to her personality and she’s pulled them off with 100% confidence.

It’s this approach that has Madonna’s and MTV’s audience looking to them as the end-all-be-all for trends in music, fashion and life. So how can we all create a brand connection this deep with our audience? Is it really as easy as it sounds – taking your brand and stretching, pulling and twisting it into variations of itself in order to keep it engaging and compelling in a way that competing brands are not? Absolutely!

The trick is recognizing that you (and the brand police within your organization) need to get creative, act fast when opportunities arise and consider approaches you wouldn’t have previously considered. While you certainly want to keep in mind any foundational work you’ve done to build your brand, you have to be willing to push the boundaries of brand guidelines so new evolutions feel like natural extensions of your brand personality, not just a “strategic plan for creating emotional engagement” – your audience will see right through it.

Last but not least, don’t over think how you will evolve your brand, just follow your brand intuition and have fun with it. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead, Express Yourself!

 

Quantity still rules online

13 Jun

Our industry talks about striving for quality content and engagement online. It’s not about counting followers or web visits, we say, it’s about providing value, interacting, creating meaningful relationships. Having a few raving fans instead of thousands of indifferent passers-by.

It’s a noble proposition, but it still doesn’t seem to be true. Quantity still rules on web. It’s easy to find:

• one-picture-per-page slideshows that drive page views at the expense of user experience.
• competitions determined by votes (read: traffic entrants can bring to the site).
• breezy “top 10” content that tends to pull in large numbers of readers.

Why is quantity still king?

Society: the mechanisms of hit movies, songs, and bestsellers have trained us well.

A love of big audiences: people naturally want as big an audience as possible for themselves, a message they believe in, or the website that they’ve invested effort in.

Follow the money: each new visit to a site is an opportunity to earn advertising revenue. One metric that ad networks use to value a site’s quality (and therefore remuneration) is its traffic. More visits = more ad revenue.

Measurability: quantity is so easy to measure online. Quality is more of a guess based on pages viewed per visit or time spent on the site. People tend to use the high-quantity=high-quality shortcut.

Publicity: Media love to profile the viral video with millions of hits, or the celeb with millions of Twitter followers. People are drawn to the perceived instant publicity of getting to the top of their category in views or traffic.

We need more companies like Klout that show quality of influence beyond numbers of followers, which is on our profiles like a badge of honour. We need more web editors that are trusted to profile the best-quality web content and bring the most interested, passionate readers to it. We need better metrics to evaluate engagement. Until we do that, it’s still a popularity contest on the web. Down with the Count!

Can Ads Inspire?

9 Mar

TED, is a non-profit organization devoted to ideas that are worth spreading. Their talks are inspiring, fascinating, and down right addictive.

I’ve been known to disappear into my room for hours only to emerge wide eyed while muttering new facts about brain mapping or mantis shrimp (fastest strike in the animal world).

These videos provide such instant appreciation and intrigue that to follow them up with a piece of disinteresting corporate advertising would seem ill-fitting.

So, a couple months back TED challenged the world to develop ads that are “worth spreading”. Ads that could run in harmony on their site.

“We want to encourage development of ads-with-a-difference. Ads that engage our audience authentically, intelligently, and delightfully. Ads that people will want to share because, like the rest of TED, they encapsulate ideas worth spreading”

Well, the finalists are now in. 10 ads were chosen based on innovation, intelligence, authenticity, humor and craft.  The winner will be announced March 21st .

Some you may have seen already and some will be new, but sit back and enjoy. And then if you are so inclined- share.

Watch the finalists

I’m curious to hear your reaction. I wasn’t blown away by all of the entries but a few hit the spot. I wonder if genuine interest is immediately weakened the moment a consumer realizes they are being sold to.

Also, is it more difficult to pass along  an advertisement because you are then standing behind the product as much as you are the advertisement?

Check Out ‘Checking In’

18 Jan

The key to effective social media marketing tactics is to develop genuine, meaningful relationships with your followers/friends.  Some business are aware of this, yet continue to shoot out mindless chatter about new products or upcoming events because they’re not sure how to deliver a more valuable or engaging message.

So what works?

Through designing campaigns around check-ins, companies are creating awareness and attracting and engaging their fans.

Facebook Places, for example, is location-based like foursquare and allows friends to share where they have been.  It was launched in August and is quickly becoming an impressive marketing tool for businesses.

In Australia, for example, Onitsuka Tiger by Asics launched a popular awareness campaign for Sydney Bicycle Film Festival using Facebook Places.  Over this 4 day festival, there were 10 designated check-in points which were featured as ‘Onitsuka Tiger Check-in Points.’  For a chance to win a souped-up bike and Onitsuka Tiger goodies, contestants had to check-in to 3 of the 10 points then answer a question on the Onitsuka Facebook wall.

Their results?  50% of the event’s attendees checked in as soon as they arrived.
Another great interactive awareness campaign using Facebook Places was launched by the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center of Santa Clara, CA.  The goal of the campaign was to bring bodies into the mall and to promote its stores.   In exchange for checking in, shoppers receive 15-30% off coupons to specific stores.


Westfield reported their campaign to be successful and currently have over 4,000 check-ins.
These types of campaigns are effective because they’re interactive and reward their participants.  The means of using Facebook Places and prompting your fans to go to various check-in points provides a sense of adventure, while placing incentives behind your social media campaign gives your customers a purpose.

Getting it right in the new marketplace

9 Oct

Guest post by Maureen Blaseckie

After more than a few rides around the sun, one thing I’ve noticed is that, regardless of the medium, marketing works when it shifts the consumer from a passive to an active observer (note my way of avoiding the cliché “engages”).  Make me think, laugh or reflect and the chances I will remember that product next time at the mall have increased substantially.

The obverse of this idea is equally as strong.  If I’m sitting on the couch and see a lady dancing with her mop (or spurning it for the more exciting latin lover style mop) my only reaction will be to bump the fast forward to triple speed.

The same holds for print ads, billboards and, now, targeted ads in social media. The other morning when I logged into Facebook I did notice the ads next to my profile but only long enough to wonder who the hell they thought I might be: tattoo removal, addictions counselor training, hearing loss and massage therapy…?? Yes, got my attention all right but I don’t recall putting anything in my personal information to indicate I was an ageing biker chick.  That is not how to use new media.

There was a profile update, however, from a friend commenting on how the bus is now full of people who smell like his grandfather thanks to the, yup, Old Spice Guy. That is how to use new media.

What it comes down to is the new marketplace is exactly like the old marketplace.  If someone is interested in what you have on display, they’ll stop for at a moment. While they are there at your table, that’s your chance to reach out to them, to involve their minds, stimulate their sense and, most importantly, treat them with respect.

(Follow Maureen on Twitter for more of her nifty thinking.)

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