Adopt a “Mobile-First” Mentality

1.2 billion

Not implementing any mobile marketing efforts? You’re most likely doing more harm than good to your brand and business if this is the case. It’s almost 2014. Over half of the US population owns a smartphone. And that number will only continue to grow. Over 1.2 billion people on this planet are getting online via mobile devices. Long gone is the “yes or no” question of whether you should be optimizing your site for mobile or engaging in mobile marketing tactics. For the vast majority of major brands today, this is where your audience is going to be. On their smartphone. Not having a mobile strategy today can almost be viewed as a barrier of entry into a marketplace.

According to Latitude, over 61% of people have a better opinion of brands when they offer a good mobile experience. If you aren’t in mobile by now, make 2014 the year you put it at the top of your marketing priority list, otherwise you’re going to be missing out on a massive marketable audience.

 

The Hashtag: Time to #BuildAStrategy

By now, every marketer should know what a hash tag is…. and should be incorporating them into their marketing strategies and campaigns. If you don’t know what they are, and are not using them, you, my dear marketing colleague, are way behind the times.

Hashtags have become game changers in marketing today. They also have become iconic, globally relevant, and at times, extremely overused. They were originally developed by Twitter, as a way of filtering conversation. If you saw a hashtag in a tweet, for example “I went #snowboarding today at #MtHood, it was awesome”, each of the words with the “#” symbol before it will filter and and all other communication and conversations around those words. So the words “snowboarding” and “MtHood” would become hyperlinked to a much broader conversation around those two words.

Thankfully, for us marketers, hashtags have become relevant beyond the Twitter world and are used in other social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest. And here is a staggering stat that will convince any marketer of why they should be incorporating # into marketing messages: More than 70% of consumers use them today on mobile devices. And of these consumers, more than half look to explore new content when hash tags are present.

Because of this, it is absolutely critical for brands with social media activity to get on board the # train, but in a strategic and appropriate way. Before embarking on a new hashtag focused campaign, be sure to keep a few things in mind:

1. Know what you’re goals are, and the message you’re trying to communicate. Everything should be clear, concise and easy to understand. The hashtag should clearly tie back to the main marketing message. For example with The North Face’s “Never Stop Exploring” Campaign, the brand uses the same hashtag #Neverstopexploring.

2. Do some research around the words you are thinking of using for your hashtag. Are they relevant? Are they trending? Is a hashtag you are interested in using already being used, and being used for something completely unrelated to the message you’re trying to communicate?

3. Hashtags will never die. This is something to consider as well when incorporating hashtags into your messages. Using something generic that can be used across multiple campaigns might be a good idea. With The North Face example, the “Never Stop Exploring” campaign is a part of the brand’s culture and heritage. It is the brand’s tagline. Just like Nike’s “Just Do It”. These are words that most likely will never be removed from the brand, so keep that in consideration. As long as social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are around, hashtags will be too.

Hashtags-graphic

Digital Tools make it easy to understand your customer

Alongside maintaining growth and profitability, another key component to having a successful business is making the customer happy. The classic phrase, “The customer is always right” will always ring true no matter how big or small your business may be. Making sure the customer is happy will always be #1. And building long-term relationships with those customers is just as important.

One of the great benefits of building strong customer relationships the digital age is the wealth of information that comes along with those relationships. There are numerous digital tools available to marketers today to help them make informed decisions when building content marketing campaigns. These tools, such as Google Analytics, can help marketers understand what consumers respond best to. And, when it comes to the e-commerce side of the business, Google Analytics can help a business understand what type of visitors are coming to its site, where they are coming from (referral traffic), what interests them the most (pages viewed) and how long they were interested (time spent on page and bounce rates). Google Analytics is a free tool that tracks the efficiency of online marketing campaigns, and help marketers even make adjustments in real time when things (I.e., banner ads) aren’t performing quite to their standards. 

This ultimately can help brands learn what is performing well on their websites and what isn’t, so adjustments can be made. 

google analytics

2013 Social Media Review

I came across an infographic that highlights some pretty interesting social media statistics for 2013. Some of these numbers are pretty staggering, in my opinion. Our culture today has become so digitally obsessed, so the numbers do speak for themselves, but it makes me wonder what will 2014 have in store for us? A number of mobile only social applications grew tremendously in popularity in 2013, such as Instagram and Snap Chat, so what will be the trend in 2014? 

One thing that really jumps out is the percentage of referral traffic coming from social media sites to e-comm platforms. Pinterest drives more traffic to brand’s websites than Facebook, yet on average, only 10% of brands put a marketing focus on this platform. There is great potential for Pinterest to become even more of a traffic driver in 2014.

ecomm traffic drivers

Another interesting statistic from this infographic is that over 95% of all Facebook users log onto their account daily. Facebook has become a part of our normal daily routine. What do you do when you wake up in the morning? For most of us, that answer probably involves checking Facebook (or Instagram or Twitter) within the first 10 minutes of being awake. I know I am guilty of that. Most of us are probably guilty of scrolling through our news feeds first thing in the morning and the last thing we do before shutting our eyes at night.

So this is where your audience is. And brands need to go where their audience spends the most time, to make the most impact. The shift in marketing budgets from traditional to digital is happening at rapid speed. Even at my own company, two years ago our media budget was 75/25 print to digital. Now today it is the opposite. Everyone’s attention lies within one social platform or another, and a marketer’s attention should as well.

1387473671-social-media-year-review-13-must-know-statistics-2013-infographic

Incorporating Pinterest Into Your Marketing Strategies

Pinterest is fairly new social media platform that has grown quickly in the past few years. Starting in 2010, Pinterest, is a social media platform that acts as a tool for users to collect and organize the things that interest them most. Users can “pin” items of interest to virtual boards, sharing any kind of content from recipes, to fashion inspiration, outfit ideas, travel destinations, do-it-yourself projects, photos, quotes, jokes, etc.  It is one of the fastest growing social content sharing platforms today. And today we live in a world that has become increasingly digitally focused. 

Our culture revolves around screens, whether that comes in the form of a TV, computer, laptop, or smart device like an iPhone or iPad. People today are searching for and sharing more and more content. We live in a world all about sharing. Sharing things that are important to us, things that help create a certain type of status for ourselves, or things that update people on our daily lives. The more interesting the content, the more chances it has of being shared to the masses and going viral–something all marketers strive for when it comes to communicating their messages to consumers.

As content sharing continuously increases each year, Pinterest is starting to stand out from the pack of all other social sites in terms of growth in the third quarter of 2013. Pinterest was up 19.2% leading LinkedIn which great at 15.1% and Facebook, which had a 14.7 bump in its content sharing. Because this platform is seeing such growth, it would benefit most, if not all, marketers to pay a considerable amount of attention to it. Facebook and Twitter are definitely sites that a marketer should still pay close attention to, as they represent 75% of all content shared, but Pinterest is coming in at a close 3rd, in addition to email, when it comes to the next most popular platform that content is shared on. Meaning marketers should consider integrating this platform into their social strategies. 

Pinterest is a great way to engage with consumers with regards to highlighting new product or brand stories. It can be seamlessly integrated into an organization’s e-commerce platform and other social media channels like Twitter and Facebook. It converts browsers into buyers and can serve has a high traffic driver to your site as every item pinned can be linked back to your site. User engagement is “highly addictive” as users can spend several hours on the site pinning items of interest. And, almost 80% of users are female, who typically hold the majority of household buying power. 

Take a look at the infographic above for some more examples on the “Power of Pinterest”

Coming soon to an IG post near you: Ads

It looks like Instagram will be the next social media platform to take the advertising plunge. Instagram, the ever-growing popular photo-sharing social media platform, that is owned by Facebook, made its customers aware a few weeks ago that ads were slowly going to start making their way into users’ photo streams. If you are a user of Instagram, you may have noticed the first “sponsored” post float through your photo stream just over this last weekend. It was photo ad from Instagram, explaining the new advertising strategy and how in the coming weeks users would start seeing ads from a handful of select brands. These brands were identified as “already great members of the Instagram community” as Instagram wants to ensure its ads are creative and engaging. AKA, trying not to upset and of Instagram’s 150 million+ users who most likely are going to enjoy seeing ads creep into their photo streams.

I believe one of the great attractions to Instagram is the fact that it is advertisement free. While Instagram is offering users the opportunity to provide feedback when it comes to what ads they like or dislike,I still think flipping ads into a user’s photo stream is taking away a bit of the attraction that makes Instagram so popular.

Instagram is about capturing and sharing moments. It one of the most basic forms of social media out there today, but it is very impactful. Users are able to share a glimpse into their world through photos and videos, allowing friends, family and the masses to see the world their their eyes. It’s very personal on a lot of levels. I almost feel as though advertising through Instagram is going to invade this privacy.

Think about it: how many advertising messages are we served each day in some way, shape or form? When do we as marketers draw the line between using social media as a form of brand engagement and tool to build relationships with our target audience members versus advertising to drive direct response. Most brands today have Instagram accounts because users like to see and like inspiring,

fun, buzz-worthy photos, and this a great way to engage with fans through their own accounts. Why bring advertising into the mix? Yes, it will possibly increase a brand’s range and fan base, bring new eyes to the brand, but at what cost?