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Video engagement on Insta is peaking… Get your brand on board!

(MARKETING NEWS) Video engagement on Instagram is surging. This growth in engagement makes it a perfect time to get your brand on board.

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Cyclical trends

Video may have killed the radio star in 1979, but digital trend analysts are finding that video may be killing the selfie star in 2017.

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Researchers at NewsWhip, a social media analysis group, found that while the good old fashioned photo still receives on average the most user engagement, video posts from brand influencers in 2017 have received anywhere for 32 to 687 percent more engagement than this time last year.

The year of video

Despite launching in 2013, Instagram video has faltered, until brand parent Facebook decided to expand the length of them from 15 to 60 seconds in May of 2016. Hootsuite found that just after one year of the length extension, 80 percent more users watch video on Instagram.

Another reason why social media marketers dubbed this year “the year of video” is due to the multiple ways to draw viewers in, versus the sharing of a photo post. For instance, a brand can go live, which sends a push notification of going live to followers, unless a user has turned it off. When things are finished, the video can then live in Instagram stories above the rest of the feed for 24 hours.

Good news advertisers

Advertising in Instagram feeds using video is also receiving more attention. Typically, a photo post draws more likes, but a video post draws more comments which reinforces the idea that users are taking the time to think about it.

Advertisers will pay big bucks for someone to think about their product enough to comment.

In response to these reasons, big brands on Instagram are increasing their video output.

So why should you care?

If a small business isn’t using this tool, it is going to cost them additional engagement as more brands begin to utilize video in their marketing plans. Consider taking the time out to experiment with video on Instagram one time a week when your followers are most active.

Use your videos to tell your brand’s story, highlight an exciting new product, or go behind the scenes in the warehouse. The key when trying anything new is consistency and building a brand presence.

#Instagagement

Alexandra Bohannon has a Master of Public Administration degree from University of Oklahoma with a concentration in public policy. She is currently based in Oklahoma City, working as a freelance filmmaker, writer, and podcaster. Alexandra loves playing Dungeons and Dragons and is a diehard Trekkie.

Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible; if your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Put LinkedIn Groups to work for your brand

(MARKETING) LinkedIn may feel like a grandparent’s wonderland, but it still yields power for your company, and the secret sauce is in the LinkedIn Groups.

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LinkedIn Groups have a bad rap. Often times, they are filled with useless information, people you don’t actually want to connect with, and for businesses, look like they offer less value for broad engagement.

However, the way we market to consumers on LinkedIn is different.

In the way that Twitter and Facebook give us the broad audience exposure, and Instagram engages the consumer in a creative way, business should think of LinkedIn as a forum, the online place of meaning.

A place for meaningful connection that can generate business, new employees, partnerships, leads, and even research! Sharing content creates meaningful engagement with your audience (and for entrepreneurs, that meaningful connection is your competitive edge – FYI). You can also use that group to generate ideas and learn more about your demographic.

Creating a LinkedIn group isn’t hard – it only takes a few simple steps.

1. Go to LinkedIn.com/groups (and login to LinkedIn).

2. Click “My Groups.”

3. Hit the “Create Group” button.

4. Breathe, the easy part is over.

5. What’s the goal of the group? A user group? Engaging with brand ambassadors? A way for you to find leads? Sharing ideas? Collecting data? Think about that so you know what content you’re going for.

6. You need to make your group a good place to be, so encourage welcoming posts. Propose an introductory post (share your name, how long you’ve used a product or service, and how it benefits you, for example).

7. Set group rules that facilitate professional and meaningful interactions (and hold people to it).

8. Engage with comments and messages to create meaningful relationships with the purpose of your group.

9. Read LinkedIn’s tips on growth – always think of how to use this tool.

10. Brush up on best practices.

11. Maintain the group – it’s part of your job now, leader. And not managing well hurts your brand, and you don’t want that.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool, and LinkedIn Groups aren’t the grandma way to engage your people. We want meaningful contacts on LinkedIn, and you want to build a reputation as a thought leader and a meaningful engager.

So get a group started, run it properly, and don’t treat it like another public page. It’s all about the value here, friend!

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Business Marketing

What skills do marketers need to survive the AI takeover?

(MARKETING) Quality marketers are constantly evolving, but getting your head around artificial intelligence can be a challenge – let’s boil it down to the most relevant skills you’ll need.

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When Facebook and Twitter were born, a new era of social media was ushered in, opening the gates for new areas of expertise that hadn’t existed before. At first, we all grappled to establish the culture together, but fast forward a decade and it is literally a science with thousands of supporting technology companies.

So as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over marketing, doesn’t that mean it will replace marketers? If you can ask your smart speaker in your office what your engagement growth increase was for your Facebook Page, and ask for recommendations of growth, how do marketing professionals survive?

Marketers will survive the same way they did as social media was introduced – the practice will evolve and new niches will be born.

There are 7 skills marketers will need to adapt in order to evolve. None of these are done overnight, but quality professionals are constantly grooming their skills, so this won’t be stressful to the successful among us. And the truth is that it won’t be in our lifetime that AI can quite process the exact same way a human brain does, even with the advent of quantum computing, so let’s focus on AI’s weaknesses and where marketers can perform where artificial intelligence cannot.

1. Use the data your new AI buddies generate.

In the 70s, the infamous Ted Bundy murders yielded the first case that utilized computing. The lead investigator had heard about computers and asked a specialist to dig through all of their data points to find similarities – a task that was taking months for the investigative team. After inputting the data, within minutes, they had narrowed their list of suspects from several hundred to only 10.

We’re not dealing with murderers here in the marketing world (…right, guys?), but the theory that algorithms can speed up our existing jobs is a golden lesson. As more AI tools are added to the marketplace to enhance your job, experiment with them! Get to know them! And continue to seek them out to empower you.

Atomic Reach studies your content and finds ways to enhance what you’re delivering. CaliberMind augments B2B sales, Stackla hunts down user-generated content that matches your brand efforts, Nudge analyzes deal risk and measures user account health, and Market Brew digs up tons of data for your SEO strategy.

See? Independently, these all sound like amazing tools, but call them “AI tools” and people lose their minds. Please.

Your job as a marketer is to do what AI cannot. Together, you can automate, do segmentation and automation, beef up your analytics, but no machine can replicate your innate interest in your customers, your compassion, and your ability to understand human emotions and predict outcomes effectively (because you have a lot more practice at being a human than the lil’ robots do).

2. Take advantage of AI’s primary weakness.

As noted, you have emotions and processes that are extremely complex and cannot be understood by artificial intelligence yet. Use those.

How? Compile all of the data that AI offers and then strategize. Duh. AI can offer recommendations, but it cannot (yet) suggest an entire brand strategy. That’s where you come in.

And more importantly, it cannot explain or defend any such strategy. One of the core problems with AI is that if you ask Alexa a question, you cannot ask how it came up with that information or why. This trust problem is the primary reason marketers are in no danger of being replaced by technology.

3. Obsess over data.

AI tools are young and evolving, so right now is the time to start obsessing over data. What I mean by that is not to use every single AI tool to compile mountains of useless data, but to start studying the data you already have.

The problem with new tools is that marketers are naturally inquisitive, so we try them out and then forget they exist if they didn’t immediately prove to be a golden egg.

Knowing your current marketing data inside and out will help you to learn alongside AI. If you aren’t intimately familiar, you won’t know if the recommendations made through AI are useful, and you could end up going down the wrong path because something shiny told you to.

Obsess over data not by knowing every single customers’ names, but be ready to identify which data sets are relevant for the results you’re seeking. A data scientist friend of mine recently pointed out that if you flip a coin five times and it happens to land on tails every time, AI would analyze that data and predict with 100% certainty that the sixth flip will be tails, but you and I have life experience and know better.

Staying on top of your data, even when you’re utilizing artificial intelligence tools will keep you the most valuable asset, not the robots. #winning

4. Don’t run away from math (no wait, come back!)

One of the appeals of marketing is that math is hard and you don’t need it in a creative field. But if you want to stay ahead of the robots, you’ll have to focus on your math skills.

You don’t have to go back to school for data science, but if you can’t read the basic reports that these endless AI tools can create, you’re already behind. At least spend a few hours this month on some “Intro to Data Science” courses on Udemy or Coursera.

5. Content is God.

We’ve all said for years that content is king and that feeding the search engines was a top way to reach consumers. You’ve already refined your skills in creating appealing content, and you already know that it costs less than many traditional lead generating efforts and spending on content is way up.

Content can be blogging, video, audio, or social media posts. Artificial intelligence will step in to skyrocket those efforts, if only you accept that content was once king, but is now God. What is changing is how customized content can be. For example, some companies are using AI tools to create dozens of different Facebook ads for different demographics, which would have taken weeks of human effort to do in the past.

Because content is what feeds all of these new smart devices, feeding your brand content effectively and utilizing AI tools to augment your efforts will keep you more relevant than ever.

6. Get ahead of privacy problems

Consumers now understand what website cookies are, and know when they’ve opted in (or opted out) of an email newsletter, but to this point, humans have made the decisions of how these data choices are made. Our teams have continually edited Terms of Service (ToS), all done not just with liability in mind, but to offer consumers the protections that they want and have come to expect.

But AI today doesn’t have morals, and consumer comfort is not a factor unless humans program that into said AI devices. But it still isn’t a creature of ethics like humans are. Ethical challenges going forward will be something to stay ahead of as you tap into the AI world. Making sure that you know the ToS of any tool you’re using to mine data is critical so that you don’t put the company in a bad position by violating basic human trust.

The takeaway

You’re smart, so you already knew that the robots aren’t taking your job, rather augmenting it, but adding AI into your marketing mix to stay ahead comes with risk and a learning curve. But seeing artificial intelligence for what it really is – a tool – will keep your focus on the big picture and save your job.

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