Is your brand promise credible?

Reading about September’s BrightonSEO conference in the UK I was similarly amused and impressed by one of the speakers’ claim that his new start up, EmberAds, will, “make online advertising a bit less rubbish”.

Amused perhaps because of the innate Englishness of the phrase: the English being probably the only nation that uses ‘rubbish’ as an adjective (or a noun for that matter); and ‘a bit’ echoing the Brits mastery of understatement.

But I was impressed because it takes guts to reduce your brand’s promise to little more than damage limitation. But there is an honesty about this proposition that gives it integrity and credibility, making it far more powerful than the safe but oh-so-tired ‘we’re going to give you the world’ approach to brand positioning.

It also recognises that awkward truth that nobody wants to admit, that your industry is a bit…well, rubbish. In doing this it empathises with your customers’ frustrations and needs, hopefully winning their affections before your ‘more rubbish’ competitors do.

A bold but refreshing take on the traditional ‘we suck less’ positioning statement – proof perhaps that sometimes less really is more.


Social overload

You‘ve set up a gazillion social media accounts for your brand. Now what?

It’s usually a directive from above. ‘We need to be on X network.’ ‘We need to have a Y account.’

Wrong approach. Calm down, have a biscuit and think about this for a second.

The points made in this article are right on the money.

It’s not about quantity it’s about quality. Make your content compelling and relevant. Sales guff makes you look silly on social media. Do less and do it well (this should apply to everything actually). You don’t have the resources to manage all those accounts effectively. You probably don’t have the resources to manage two accounts properly. And if they are neglected or mismanaged they will do you more harm than good. Do some ROI analysis before leaping in – and don’t underestimate the ‘I’ bit.

The article quotes Steve Jobs:

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”

Getting results takes time, effort and energy. Sure, your personal facebook page didn’t cost you anything but your business’ social presence will. It will cost you double-figures man-hours a week and a considerable amount of time and energy crafting your tone of voice, creating your content, making sure you are seen in searches and building the kind of credibility that your followers will respond to.

You need results today? Then you should have started a year ago. Calm down and have another biscuit. Start now, review constantly and plan realistically about when your efforts will bare fruit. Dedicate resource to the task properly. Managing social media isn’t something your existing resources just ‘slip in’ around what they’re currently doing. If you want results you will have to add resources or trim back on other activity.

Having a clear objective is key. Are you trying to grow referrals to your website, sell directly from your social media pages or build a community around your brand? If you don’t have a clear objective you have nothing to measure your success against. Make a plan and follow it.

What social media platform(s) you use should be dictated by where your audience is and whether the medium is the right fit for your product or industry. For example, if you are selling industrial grade widgets for a specialized heavy manufacturing process, the chances are that you don’t need to be talking to all those young women looking at food recipes and summer fashions on Pinterest. But if you are a fashion retailer then that’s exactly where you need to be.

Your net promoter store is your most useful measure of performance. It represents the percentage of customers who would recommend you. You are trying to maximize the number of people who rate you 9 or 10 out of 10. This comes down to quality product. Social media won’t save your brand if your product or service is below par.

Your marketing team will make the best judgments on your social media strategy. Let them. You can help them best by focussing on getting the product or service right and removing obstacles for them so they can believe in what they are selling and gain your brand the credibility it needs online to grow business.

Compound Pinterest

Pinterest is the new poster child for social media and the question on the minds of marketers is how to use its platform to hawk their wares.

According to a free Pinterest marketing kit from Marketing Profs currently available on their facebook page, the image-oriented blogging service was recently added to the top 10 in Hitwise’s Social Networking & Forums category, it was the target of over 11 million unique visitors on January 20, 2011 (a little out of date but gives you the idea), up a mind-boggling 815% from six months earlier, and traffic has been growing on average by over 60% per month.

Pinterest’s main user group appeal seems to be in hobbies and crafts, skewed towards females (58%) aged 25-44. Retailers like Nordstrom and Macy’s are tapping in to this by using the site as a visual catalogue for women’s fashion and homewares. Martha Stewart has 11,000 followers. Etsy is the most popular source of pin content.

What stands out is that Pinterest’s performance looks considerably more robust than Twitter’s did at the equivalent stage in its lifecycle. Should the online corkboard continue on this trajectory it is likely to become one of the most dominant forces in social media, if Twitter’s popularity is anything to judge by. Pinterest is retaining users 2-3 times more efficiently than Twitter did at this point in it’s infancy. 80% of pins are repins proving that Pinterest’s virality is almost epidemic in nature. When Twitter was this age, only 1.4% of its tweets were retweets. And Twitter’s decay rate (falls in usage after the initial excitement has worn off) was twice that of Pinterest’s.

This all bodes well for the future of Pinterest in the socialsphere. So, what’s in it for marketers?

Well, according to the Marketing Prof’s kit, Pinterest’s viral nature is driving referrals up the ying yang, more than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. This is especially the case for food, fashion and furnishings. It’s caught up with Twitter in referral traffic and the growing number of eyeballs on the site suggests that the referral stats will only climb.

Pinterest is compellingly visual and doesn’t provide for wads of sales guff, which means it’s likely to continue to engage visitors on a more powerful emotional level – and keep them. It’s a potentially useful consumer insights tool for brands, allowing them to see who’s liking, pinning and repining what. A presence on Pinterest can also help with your SEO. It’s a huge network and it presents great backlink opportunities.

Some major brands are actively showcasing themselves on Pinterest. Check out Virgin Atlantic and Macy’s. It may or may or not be right for you as a marketer, depending on your industry and resource levels. But it’s free to use and growing in dominance as a social network so it should be on your radar at the very least.

Going SoLo

The world generated 1.8 zettabytes of data in 2011 according to Forrester, who also predicts that marketing spend on email, mobile and social will more than double to $16 billion by 2016.  They also tell us that nearly two-thirds of consumers are active on social networks every week.

No huge surprises here, but it serves as a useful reminder to businesses that they need to go where their customers are. I’m not sure how much I’m fancying email as a promising marketing platform of the future, but mobile and social are clearly the way forward for marketers as consumers spend more time on the go for business and pleasure, and increasingly socialise via technology.

SoLo marketing (location based social media marketing) increasingly marks the zenith – the point where mobile and social converge – for consumer brands looking for a generous slice of the action. Context is key, reaching consumers in a way that is relevant to where they are and on a platform that allows them to share the experience with their networks.

Foursquare, with nearly a million registered businesses and 8-figure strong consumer base, and the growing number of services like it, are ideal for businesses trying to net passers by and get them to shout about it. But retail businesses can also benefit from a whole slew of activities that promote their location to potential consumers in the area, such as blogs, directories, coupon apps and optimsing their websites for mobile. This link takes you to a neat little shopping list:

If your business relies on drawing customers in to your physical location, then it’s well worth reviewing how many more of your marketing dollars need to be allocated to going SoLo.

Oh, and 1 zettabyte = 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. Fascinating.

Googling goggles

Google Goggles allows you to search using pictures.

The concept is still in it’s infancy so it won’t work so well on less readily identifiable objects, but the potential ignites the imagination.

It has some pretty clear educational benefits for sure, like researching objects and places of historical, cultural or geographical interest.  Could it eventually be used to provide guidance for solving every day challenges, such as diagnosing technical or engineering (or God forbid, medical!) issues simply by taking a photograph of the problem?

What impact will this technology have for marketers? It could help consumers access product information in stores (like code scanners), or allow them to identify the vendors of products they see and like? In any event it will increase the importance of image usage in the search optimization process. Time for a new product shoot methinks.

podcasting black belts

I’ve been listening to these guys’ podcast on Internet Marketing for about 5 years now. SiteVisibility are SEO and digital experts in Brighton, UK. It’s the best podcast on the subject out there by a long chalk and you need to subscribe this instant if you are interested in the winning the web war.  I’ve never tired of it so I don’t mind it giving it a plug. I understand they record the podcast opposite a pub, so you can sometimes hear barrels being delivered across the cobble stones. Sigh.

optimising search

Even after all this time and despite the collective genius of google’s revered sandal-wearing wizards, search still seems to be in the dark ages doesn’t it? I mean, I search for a product or service and get a gazillion results. It’s all quantity, no quality. I search for cake, yet I have no idea if it’s good cake or bad cake.  Result? Next to useless. Imagine a world of search where results reflect the quality of the offering. This could be possible based on information available on the net, such as reviews, prices, opinion, customer base, etc. Search needs to return real value to the user, not a directory of who spent the most on SEO.