Digital Marketing Experts: It’s Time to Rethink How You Connect with Your Audience

By Daniel Lai

For many companies struggling to find their place in today’s digitally-driven world, lack of a clear marketing plan and failure to adapt to new platforms means getting left behind and losing business.

That was a key message marketing experts laid out to more than 200 attendees during the Detroit Regional Chamber’s first Digital Marketing Boot Camp last week at the College for Creative Studies. The event was sponsored by MLive and Motown Digital.

Sola Obayan, principal consultant at BTO Solutions and founder of the Social Media Association of Michigan, said at the heart of any good digital marketing strategy is understanding what a target audience wants and crafting that message to draw in potential customers to a company’s website.

“Oftentimes we get caught up in the ‘what’ or ‘how’ message when really we should start with the ‘why,’” she said, drawing on examples from companies like Hallmark.

The greeting card company reaps millions of dollars every year by playing off of customers’ emotional response.

“Think about how you want your audience to feel when they engage with your brand,” Obayan said. “By building that bond with your audience, you can drive action.”

Don’t Build Your House on Sand

Before a company jumps on the latest social media platforms, it must first take the time to invest in a user-friendly website. Two of the biggest “no-no’s” Obayan often sees from small and medium-sized businesses are confusing websites and stretching resources and messages across too many social media platforms, a phenomenon she called “shiny object syndrome.”

“Don’t build your house on sand,” Obayan said.

Michael Taylor II, creative partner for SS Digital Media, agreed that a company’s website is key.

“You have to do a good job of providing the customer with the content promised,” he said. “If you send someone to your website via social media, they shouldn’t have to spend time searching.”

Taylor was part of a panel of experts led by Eric Hultgren, director of marketing at MLive Media Group, that also included Lynn Haliburton, senior account executive at Marx Layne & Co., and Dan Fuoco, interactive marketing manager for the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Hultgren said businesses must invest in websites that are mobile-friendly.

“If your brand is not here, you do not exist to the customer,” he told attendees, holding up his smartphone.

Fuoco said platforms like Facebook and Twitter are also good to promote a company’s news coverage, or “earned media” in order to increase brand awareness. However, he stressed that the platform a company chooses to use should correlate to its message goals and target audience.

“If you aren’t posting minute-by-minute updates than perhaps Twitter is not the space for you to play in,” he said.

Drawing on examples from her client, McDonald’s, and its use of social media to promote the limited release of its signature Big Mac sauce in certain stores across the country, Haliburton said social media can be a good tool to “shock and delight” loyal customers.

Putting Humans Back in the Social Media Driver’s Seat

The most important advice of the day came from Marcus Burrell and Eric Thomas, senior partners at Saga MKTG.

Thomas said too many businesses forget to talk like humans when engaging with customers online, a phenomenon that can have dire consequences for brand positioning.

“People often forget the ‘social’ part of social media. Don’t be afraid to engage and start a story with your followers. What do you want people to know about you or your brand?” Thomas said. “The most important thing we can do as digital marketers is speak to and with people, not as a robot.”

Understanding your audience and pushing out messages that connect with them is critical, Thomas said, pointing to the success of President Trump’s Twitter growth during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“He speaks in a way that makes people want to listen. He has mastered his digital messages for his demographic,” he said.

Finally, Thomas said when communicating with customers on any digital platform, “don’t tell stories you wouldn’t want to hear.”

To read more digital marketing tips, check out the Digital Marketing Boot Camp blog page.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Digital Marketing Boot Camp: Lessons Learned to Connect with Your Online Audience

By Nick Mattar

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s inaugural Digital Marketing Boot Camp, held on Feb. 15 at the College for Creative Studies’ A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, brought together more than 200 attendees for a half-day of dialogue on improving the digital marketing footprint of their businesses.

Keynote speakers and panelists provided attendees with recommendations and to-dos that could be implemented immediately.

View key takeaways from the event below and check out the Chamber’s recap of the day.

The Evolving Social Media Landscape and What It Means for Your Business

  • Before embarking on a major social media campaign, consider the overarching “why” as much as the tactical “what” and “how.”
  • Don’t fall for “shiny object syndrome,” which is the desire to have the latest and greatest tech or social media capabilities (i.e. don’t rush your company onto Snapchat if you cannot answer the “why.”)
  • Your company’s website is its home – it must facilitate the campaign’s end goals, so it needs to be user-friendly and mobile responsive.
  • Instagram is the social media platform with the highest engagement rate, whereas Facebook reaches the lowest percentage of followers.
  • Email marketing is the digital marketing platform with the highest conversion rate, such as sales, event registrations or anything else that involves turning a lead into a customer.

Trends and Tips to Improve Your Digital Marketing Strategy

  • Your company’s message should be adjusted to resonate with the audience that is being targeted.
  • When it comes to social publishing tools, do not “set and forget” but instead keep an eye on your posts at all times to monitor conversations and remain authentic.
  • Data and research are necessary to evaluate user behavior; your (the employee’s) experience is not the same as the user’s experience.
  • “Dark social” media is the social media conversation occurring without a hashtag or is otherwise difficult to find – more than 70 percent of your brand’s discussion could occur in this space.
  • If you are targeting millennials, you should probably be on Snapchat.
  • To combat Facebook’s decreasing engagement, set a budget for your Facebook page rather than depending solely on organic engagement.

Putting the Human Touch Back Into Your Online Presence

  • A brand’s online presence is a reflection of the brand’s story, thus it should not be solely focused on selling products and making money.
  • Successful online brands and names are rooted in the ability of viewers and customers to relate to the brand.
  • Your social media posts should not always focus on selling products, but rather writing materials that your audience wants to read.
  • Social media is the essence of speaking – use your voice and don’t try to “deliver” the information.

Looking for more facts and analytics to bolster your digital marketing strategy? Check out MLive’s Digital Marketing eBook, produced exclusively for the Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

Plus, learn more tips and read a full recap of the Chamber’s Digital Marketing Boot Camp here.

Nick Mattar is the director of marketing at the Detroit Regional Chamber.

5 Keys to Building a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

By Robert Courtney Collins
Founder
Robert Courtney & Associates – A Boutique Branding Agency

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

Having a digital marketing strategy is paramount to survival in today’s business climate. While many people use social media platforms daily, very few understand how to leverage these platforms and reach maximum potential. Sometimes a strategy may appear to be effective, but without exercising certain building blocks you’ll likely find your strategy breaking down. Here are 5 principles every digital strategist must use to build a solid foundation and launch a successful marketing campaign.

1. Identify Key Channels

Everybody should have a primary platform and a secondary platform that’s properly maintained every day. Depending on your industry it’s very important to pick the platform that matches your audience best. If you’re in an industry that produces great visuals you will want to use Instagram. If you’re attempting to reach a younger audience, you will want to use Snapchat. Facebook should be everyone’s primary or secondary platform because of its reach and amount of active users.

2. Create Quality Content

Never shortchange your prospective audience with content that isn’t the best quality you can produce. Whether it’s photos or videos the quality of your content speaks to who you are as a brand. Content should also be informative or creative to make your brand stand above your competition.


MORE: Hear more about building up your digital marketing strategy at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


3. Don’t Sell, Be Authentic

Traditional business practices have conditioned us to do the hard sell and pitch our product. But, with good planning, research and a service or product you believe in you can be authentic and let the selling happen naturally. Communicate your core message properly, passionately and precisely and nobody will be wondering what you’re selling or if you’re selling — they’ll be thinking about buying.

4. Establish Brand Consistency

Brand consistency is about making sure your name, logo, tag line and hashtags stay uniform across all digital platforms. Because the digital landscape is filled with different mediums, platforms, and networks bombarding millions of people every day the most effective companies know there’s an amazing power to connect consumers to a brand when marketing campaigns are easily identifiable and connectivity strategies are consistent. A digital marketing strategist would do well to examine all social platforms connected to a business to make sure brand consistency is in tack.

5. Be an Expert in Your Field

Being an expert means you not only have a deep knowledge of your own business, consumer needs and industry trends but that you are constantly analyzing your competition. When building your own marketing plan it’s essential to know what your competition is doing so you can decide exactly where to channel your digital marketing resources. The best digital strategies are often directly connected to the most well researched, and educated ideas.

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Radio Steps Up in the Digital Age

By Kevin Ketels 
President
Kyrris Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

domMedia fragmentation and digital distribution have dramatically changed the way consumers listen to music and talk radio.  In my interview with radio executive Dom Theodore, he addresses why these changes took place and how broadcasters are leveraging digital technology to help compete.

How has the radio media landscape evolved since you and I were kids in the 1970’s?

Radio is a much more sophisticated business than it was in the 70’s. Back then, FM was just finding its footing, and most of the revenue was made on the AM dial. As the audience migrated to FM, and the FCC changed signal-spacing requirements, more FM stations popped up creating more of a splintered audience. Then, in the mid-1990’s, the FCC changed ownership rules and essentially lifted the cap on the number of stations that can be owned by one company in the same market. This brought in tons of new Wall street investors to radio, and as traditional broadcasters sold stations to mega-companies, these new owners focused on cost efficiency and finding ways to operate with fewer people and more syndicated programming. Then came the ‘digital disruption’ that made so many new audio entertainment technologies available to consumers, and you now have a much more splintered audience than ever before.

How does radio compete in an era of consumer media fragmentation?

It starts with recognizing that radio is no longer just radio – we are in the ‘audio entertainment’ business. There are more content delivery systems than ever before, but the secret to effectively competing in this new world is to focus on the actual ‘delivery’ – the content – and take an agnostic approach to ‘delivery system.’ This means that radio personalities need to be multi-platform, and available in both real-time during their live shows, and on-demand anytime through other platforms. They also need a social media presence and content that extends far beyond their radio show. But it all starts with a great talent.


MORE: Hear more about podcasting and radio at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Can you give us some examples of digital tools that are now being used in the industry to better connect talent, programming and/or advertisers with your audience? 

Terrestrial radio stations absolutely must have a presence across digital platforms – and most savvy personalities are using social media – particularly Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat – to better engage with audiences. Also, the audience expects content to be available on-demand, so you’ll find podcasts from your favorite radio personalities on iTunes, Soundcloud, etc. Radio stations also typically employ online research methods to determine what songs to play – often soliciting their listener’s opinions online and using that data to determine programming decisions. And of course, we use digital advertising campaigns to drive audience back to the radio station for contesting, special programming, etc.

And there are plenty of radio station audio streams available online, in addition to internet-only channels… like my own ‘The Blaze Radio network’ – which is Glenn Beck’s single biggest affiliate – producing a bigger audience than any one of our terrestrial radio affiliates. As the ‘connected car’ becomes a reality, consumers will soon have access to every streaming radio station in their vehicle. This will be a game-changer, and will allow real-time audience analysis and audience reaction measurement… what is now the broadcast business will really become a narrowcast business with very individualized media experiences.

Kevin Ketels is President of Kyrris Marketing, a Detroit marketing and communications agency, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. 

Read more from Kevin Ketels:

Don’t be a Social Media Bore

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Have we lost all sense of authenticity? Influencer marketing trumps passion for products

By Daniel Cherrin
Founder and CEO
North Coast Strategies 

I want Kylie Jenner to like my work as a PR professional and I want her to post it on Instagram.

jeansIt worked for Fashion Nova. Jenner, the youngest and most successful of the Kardashians, with her Kylie Cosmetic line, recently posted a picture (a pic for the Gen Y’rs) on Instagram (Insta for the Gen Y’rs) and simply said, “I love my Fashion Nova jeans,” gathering 2.2M likes.

Traditional media is great if you can get it and a good PR agency or publicist should have the relationships or wherewithal to help you determine what is news. However, influencers have followers and if they can promote your product on their Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter account, you will see visitors to your website spike.

Disney, BMW, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple are some of the most authentic brands according a recent article in Business Insider, but they too pay influencers to talk about them.

Adidas, for example, created a group of their own influencers, called the Tango Squads. These are groups of socially savvy 16-19-year-olds, in 15 select markets, creating content around soccer. According to Marketing Week, “Each group is managed by an Adidas in-house team, who share exclusive content and new products with the group, before they are even unveiled on Adidas’ Twitter or Facebook channels.”


MORE: Hear more about social media marketing strategies and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Influencer marketing goes beyond Adidas hiring Kanye West or Puma hiring Rihanna, or even Dunkin Donuts tapping Vine sensation Logan Paul to promote a donut.

This makes my job in PR much more difficult as well. Newsrooms are shuttering and the journalists that remain are working on multiple stories and being asked to post their stories first on Facebook and Twitter, even cover the event live using Facebook Live.

The trick with influencers is to find the ones who have significant followers, within the 10,000 to 100,000 range, but who also still illicit good audience engagement that drives results.

You can look for a celebrity and pay big bucks by working through their agents, you can work directly through the celebrity if you have the relationship, or you can also work through an influencer agency to find the right influencer for you.

In working with a celebrity or other influencer, you want to research their background, interest, and passions.  Make sure there is some connection between your product and the celebrity before contacting their agent. To gain an influencer’s attention, follow these four tips:

  • Find the hook. Make the connection and make it personal. Influencers are constantly being inundated with pitches. In your pitch, let them know you follow them and give an example of why you were attracted to them. This includes why they are the perfect fit for your product and how their followers could benefit from it.
  • Find the money. Influencers make a living by getting paid to promote products, so be prepared to budget for influencer marketing, but feel free to negotiate fees creatively.
  • Be prepared to give up editorial control. Influencers want to do it their way and don’t want you to tell them what to say or how to say it.
  • Know the law. There are laws now directing influencers to provide certain disclosures. Depending on the industry, such as medical devices, food and cosmetics, additional disclosures and diligence are required.

In advising companies today it is important for PR agencies to tell their clients that it is in their best interest to develop their own content and find the influencers to broadcast their message. Whether you pay them or not, it is important to find the right people to talk about you and your product.

Although I cannot offer you jeans, I encourage you to share this article, to tweet it, post it and tag me with any post at @DanCherrin (on Twitter, Instagram).

DANIEL CHERRIN | is the founder and CEO of North Coast Strategies and a partner with M10 Marketing, an integrated marketing agency. Through advocacy, collaboration and strategic relationships, Daniel Cherrin has built a successful career, as an attorney, lobbyist and public relations professional. This includes serving as the Communications Director for the City of Detroit and Press Secretary to the Mayor of Detroit, federal lobbyist for the Detroit Regional Chamber and the owner of an independent public affairs consultancy. Daniel believes the way forward is to engage! Through strategic communications, strategic relationships and something valuable to share, Daniel works to protect and enhance the reputation of organizations and people in the public eye. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCherrin or www.NorthCoastStrategies.com.

Read more from Daniel Cherrin:

Are you listening?

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How to Build a 24/7 Social Media Customer Service Program When You’re Not a Big Brand

By Steve Poole
Digital Marketing Manager
Michigan First Credit Union

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

In today’s world of instant gratification, consumers expect immediate and effective service when reaching out in any channel, including social media. Brands like Zappos, XBox and Delta offer dedicated support channels and teams to provide assistance 24/7. But, what if you’re not a big brand with fat pockets? How do you build a customer service program that scales to meet the needs of consumers 24/7, knowing that time, budget and resources are limited?

Social Media Marketing Meets 24/7 Customer Service

In 2014, Michigan First Credit Union rolled out a new program for our members to connect to a live customer service representative 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Dubbed 365 Live, this program added horsepower to our call center operations, ensuring that customers could call at any time and receive an immediate response and resolution to their issue. Our marketing team’s social media efforts needed to scale to meet this heightened level of service.


MORE: Hear more about social media marketing strategies and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


We already knew that social media customer service doesn’t live within a “9-5” schedule and our marketing team was already responding to opportunities and issues outside of traditional business hours. Now, we were being challenged to create a seamless experience for our customers regardless of the channel or the time of day. Here are some of the lessons our team learned along the way:

1. Gather your stakeholdersIt sounds elementary, but ensuring that all the right parties have a seat at the table right from the beginning is absolutely essential. Departments we spoke with included human resources, IT, marketing, risk/compliance and our existing call center. We also needed buy-in from our executive team to ensure top-level support.

Gathering these teams together allowed everyone to share their questions, concerns and comments. Additionally, it allowed all teams to play a role in setting the strategy and standards for the program. Standards focused on a set response time for customer service requests via social media channels and processes for managing customer inquiries. For example, our call center determined one hour is the appropriate response time for non-call requests. While we almost always answer social media comments and inquiries much faster than one hour during business hours, we needed to determine how this service promise would impact our ability to answer questions and concerns during weekends and evenings.

2. Determine who “owns” the social customer service program

Traditionally, stand-alone customer service departments have handled all customer requests via phone, email or contact forms. However, as everyone that works in social media can attest to, the volume of customer service inquiries via social channels is increasing. This creates the question: who is responsible for those requests? Should the call center team be trained to handle social channels or does the marketing team extend their reach to monitor social channels 24/7? Is it a hybrid approach?

Determining ownership can set the direction for the social customer service program. In many cases, the program can be rolled out in phases. Initially, marketing receiving additional resources to monitor at later hours. Soon we will begin a project to train call center teams on how to monitor inbound inquiries during non-traditional business hours, eventually moving the service requests away from marketing.

3. Address any security and compliance issues right from the start

If you’re already leveraging social media for customer service, there is a good chance that certain processes are in place to ensure customer concerns are addressed quickly and archived for reference. But what happens when the customer service team “leaves” the office and answers tweets, Facebook posts, reviews, etc. from home? Do processes need to be changed?

In regulated industries, such as banking and finance, it is imperative that everyone involved in customer service issues is aware of current industry standards for compliance and security. For example, we can only answer very general customer service questions via a public forum such as Twitter or Facebook. If someone wants to know what time our locations are open, we can absolutely help them. If a customer has a question about a specific account, we need to take the conversation off-line and interact with them in a secure way. That also means that certain types of situations may not be able to be addressed while on the go and via mobile devices. While marketers are often quick to criticize brands that reply to customer inquiries with almost robotic responses, it’s often missed that companies within certain industries are required to respond a specific way. Often times, we tailor generic, yet personalized responses to customer service issues on social media to ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations. What is most important is the offline follow up in these situations.

Another common issue with scaling a social media customer program is how to deal with remote access. For example, remote access to client information is often limited due to the sensitive nature of certain documents. Marketing can often be one of the teams with restricted access. In our situation, the marketing team regularly found itself answering customer inquiries outside of the office. A valuable best practice is to flesh out how certain types of customer issues are handled when addressed inside the office and from a remote destination. That way, all parties involved know the appropriate responses to different situations.

Many brands are often operating within a strictly defined box and cannot step outside without running into security and privacy issues. There is little flexibility in these areas and social media programs must be built and adjusted accordingly.

A common theme found across these lessons learned is that planning to scale a social media customer service program involves more than simply managing channels. There are certain steps required to not only better service customers, but also protect the brand and ensure digital efforts are in alignment across the company. Being efficient with available resources, ensuring stakeholders are engaged, addressing compliance issues early and assigning ownership of channels will lead to a smoother, more impactful rollout of your 24/7 social media customer service program.

Steve is the Digital Marketing Manager for Michigan First Credit Union and its affiliates Michigan First Mortgage and Michigan First Insurance Agency. Steve oversees the social media channels, web strategy, digital advertising, in-branch digital, email campaigns and more. Michigan First Credit Union is one of the State of Michigan’s only state-wide credit unions and is amongst the first in the country to offer a 24×7/365 live and local call center with online chat and social media customer service.

Steve’s expertise lies in social media, content marketing and drafting astonishingly mediocre fantasy sports teams.

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Will LinkedIn Change the Gender Gap in Boards?

Will LinkedIn Change the Gender Gap in Boards?

By Brenda Meller (Zawacki)
AVP Marketing. Nonstop Marketer. Connector and LinkedIn Ambassador.
Walsh College

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

This month, I spent significant time researching board members for an MBA class assignment. As is the case with many boards, nearly every person on this company’s board was male, despite the fact that women are more than half the workforce, the breadwinner 53% of the time, and make 85% of household purchase decisions (Source: 3percentconf). During my research, I discovered that the younger board members (typically age 50 or younger) had the largest presence on LinkedIn.

It also made me realize that the more comfortable one is with embracing technology and sites like LinkedIn to share your information, the more likely you will be found by board search committees.

If you’re not active online and are named to a board, it’s common to find that you were referred by other board members. Knowing that like attracts like, and that boards historically have been predominately male, the likelihood is that when a board has an opening, the selection committee is going to suggest people that they know. If the company is in a male-dominated industry surrounded by other male leaders, it is likely that male board members will suggest other men in their network. They may be doing this without even realizing their gender bias, a term commonly called, “unconscious bias” (check out this Fuel Leadership video on Freep.com featuring Inforum’s Terry Barclay).

However, as I was conducting my research, I reflected on organizations like Inforum and Crain’s Detroit Business that are emphasizing the importance of gender-balanced boards and actively working to move the conversation and initiatives forward. Numerous studies show that gender-balanced boards improve a company’s bottom line. The word is getting out, and I believe it is going to reach a tipping point.


MORE: Hear more about utilizing LinkedIn’s resources and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Over time, it is natural to expect that the more women who are active on sites like LinkedIn will help to increase the likelihood that board search committees will find them when they are seeking to diversify their boards.

There is also talks of the retiring baby boomer generation, and the “silver tsunami” of management changes ahead of us in the next few decades (read the Huffington Post article by Meghan H. Biro).

Certainly, increasing your LinkedIn presence is one way towards a board seat. Within LinkedIn, you should also read about how LinkedIn is helping organizations find non-profit board members: https://nonprofits.linkedin.com/find-board-members.

Ladies seeking a board seat: are you active on LinkedIn? If not, perhaps it’s time to refresh your LinkedIn profile, and get ready for those future board position searches. Then, inform your trusted connections in board positions (both men and women) to alert you of any board opportunities that match your skill sets.

Gentlemen: do you consider yourself an advocate of women on boards? If so, you’re in the growing group of “manbassadors” who are critical to helping us achieve gender equality and thereby supporting your company or organization’s profitability (read the 3 Percent Co’s article about “manbassadors” to learn more).

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Are you listening?

Why monitoring social media chatter can make or break your reputation

By Daniel Cherrin
Founder and CEO
North Coast Strategies

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

THE TAKEAWAY

If you or your company are not on social media, you should be. After all, just because you or your company are not Tweeting or otherwise posting pictures or updates, does not prevent others from talking about you. It is important for you to listen to the chatter, know the influencers or where the discussion got started in the first place.

Why? To protect your reputation and bottom line.

dan-cherrinNews now spreads in a matter of seconds thanks to social media and mobile technology. Whether the news is positive or negative, brands have to be able to react almost instantaneously with as much information as they can possibly assemble when their brand is mentioned. When a response is late, it is often too late. To avoid this, data from all media sources must be collected in real-time. This way companies have the ability to assess when they need to respond to inflated media exposure as quickly as humanly possible and can send out a timely message when they do.

New technologies and new business models have emerged to deal with our complex data-driven world. Across the media spectrum of social media and blog posts, online news mentions and Tweets, corporate communications teams are overwhelmed with data associated with their brand mentions, not to mention our own.

To protect your reputation, companies need to be armed with the ability to assess when or if they need to respond to inflated media exposure, “fake news,” or angry customers, as quickly as possible.

In fact, there are two billion people with some sort of social media footprint.

  • Uploading 1 hour of video to YouTube every second
  • Posting 500 million Tweets per day
  • Liking 4.5 billion posts on Facebook per day

I guarantee you or your company is somewhere in there. @DanCherrin.

Yet, 61 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are without a social media presence.

Every day, new technologies are emerging. Just take a look at all the new and cool products emerging from the Consumer Electronic Industry (CES) show this month. In 2016, we saw

  • Facebook Live*
  • Instagram Stories*
  • Instagram Live*
  • Snapchat Memories Feature
  • Twitter Live

*Facebook owns Instagram.

In 2017, we will see more live videos, producing better content that people will crave with even shorter attention spans. We will also see more fake news posted on sites that look credible and reposted to give it even more credibility.

What does that mean for you?

  • We are becoming more active on social media
  • People are relying on it for information and taking the information as truth
  • Customers are turning to it for validation and support

Social media is no longer about what we had for dinner. It is even more than just broadcasting the latest news. It’s about creating a community and connecting with influencers to do something.

“On a typical morning, I see plenty of raw, unfiltered commentary on what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong; requests for new features, complaints & product support, event the occasional high five.” Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, wrote recently in Fast Company. Unlike most CEOs (other than President-Elect Trump) uses social media to talk directly to his customers in real-time.

So what are they saying about you? Social listening is a process of monitoring the social media chatter about you, your company, its brand and its leaders — In real-time with in-depth reporting.


MORE: Hear more about social media marketing resources and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


There are companies who have created algorithms to monitor your brand, your competitors and your industry.  Companies such as Zygnal, Nuvi, Meltwater, and others. While you can set up your own Google Alerts or leverage other free systems, there is nothing like getting pinged the moment someone is talking about you.

Why is it important to listen?

  • To protect your corporate reputation
  • To monitor what your colleagues and others are saying about you
  • To enhance the customer experience
  • To identify and leverage the influencers
  • To prevent the spread of fake news or bad information
  • To keep tabs on the competition
  • Identify media and influencers driving a story; see the point of origin and how fast    the story evolves

Just because your company is not tweeting or posting, does not mean that others aren’t talking about you online…They are! When you are ready to post or are ready to respond, listening to others on social media will help you respond in ways that matter. And knowing the best time to respond.

Whether you are a big business or small, or even a solo-preneur like me, you should have someone listening for you, who are prepared to engage with data and insight.

According to Nuvi, “At the end of the day, having enormous amounts of data doesn’t mean you have all the insights you need to drive your social strategy forward. A good analysis tool is what gives your data its true value.”

It is time you understand what is being said about you and who is doing all the talking – good or bad.  You should create systems that measure, monitor, analyze and track the conversation and find the resources to help you with any planning or the response and correct and misinformation.

If you are saving lives every second everyday, then you better monitor what is being said abut you. If you want to gain your customers’ trust, then you better know what they are saying about you and make media intelligence central to your business

  • Leverage data to inform strategy
  • Monitor the competition
  • Protect your brand

Before you get started…

  • Know what and whom you be should be monitoring
  • Know who you should be following
  • Know what is preventing you from achieving your objectives

NOW LET’S START THE CONVERSATION!

DANIEL CHERRIN is the founder and CEO of North Coast Strategies, a public relations + affairs firm.  Through advocacy, collaboration and strategic relationships, Daniel has built a successful career, as an attorney, lobbyist and public relations professional. This includes serving as the Communications Director for the City of Detroit and Press Secretary to the Mayor of Detroit, federal lobbyist for the Detroit Regional Chamber and the owner of an independent public affairs consultancy. Through strategic communications, strategic relationships and something valuable to share, Daniel works to protect and enhance the reputation of organizations and people in the public eye. You can follow Daniel at www.northcoaststrategies.com and @DanCherrin on Twitter.

 

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1,000,000 views later. My secret to social media success.

By Eric Thomas
Senior Partner and Brand Specialist
Saga Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

My Social Media Stats (Built in 15 Months):

Blog views: 1,697,925 (and counting)

Linkedin: 4,501 Followers

Facebook: 3,601 Friends

Instagram: 1,048 Followers

Published or Cited by: New York Times, Free Press, Metro Times, Next Shark, Web Designer News, Deadline Detroit.

Speaking: TEDxDetroit, IDSA Design Conference, Pancakes and Politics, Creative Mornings, Black Women’s Expo, P.U.L.S.E. Adult Literacy Conference, Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium 2016, The Start Up Effect, Millenials Change at Microsoft, Launched / She Is Project, Urban Consulate, Branding Your Story 101, The PR MANdate, PRSA of America – Video Storytelling, Biz Grid Live, Appearances on the Karen Dumas Show, Appearances on Brenda Perryman

It has been 15 months, 32 blogs, and over 1.6 million views (not counting republishing) since I first started sharing my thoughts on LinkedIn. The success of my blogging has changed my life. But this didn’t all happen by mistake. This is actually the result of an experiment that popped into my head in the Spring of 2015.

My business partner and I were revamping our marketing agency and realized that it was our opportunity to create something that the world actually needed. The Storytelling Agency — Saga . A hybrid between a marketing and branding agency, it leverages our unique cultural identity and experience in business development. We decided to get back to basics. How do humans communicate? What makes them tick? How do ideas spread?

This started us on a journey to create a brand, build a skill set, and develop a circle of influence that fit the type of impact that we wanted to make. If you are trying to change career paths, build a company, or develop a media presence these are the steps I used to go from “that graphics guy” to “Storytelling Expert” in a little over a year.

The Law of Random Collision

The universe in all of its vastness is mostly atoms and matter, colliding and creating new things. True magic happens when there is density. I fundamentally believe that everything in the universe operates this way. Everything from bumping into an old friend to life its self is a result of happenstance. Greatness happening is a matter of creating more opportunities for that greatness to happen. Simply put, you’re more likely to go viral if you create more chances for yourself to go viral. You’re more likely to be seen if you’re in the public more often. This sounds simple, but it’s a crucial part of creating a brand that we don’t see as a part of our career strategy. So how did we leverage this universal law to build our brand?

Build and Activate a Network

March 2015 I had about 1300 Facebook friends, 300ish LinkedIn Connections, no Instagram, and a basically dead Twitter. I had to decide where to focus my energy and what to build up. Two master networkers in my life, James Logan and Lakyra Shackelford, kept telling me about the power of Linkedin. My expertise was mostly business based, so that became the home for my professional identity. Facebook was by far my largest network and much more informal. It’s where I could be myself and build an audience in an organic way.

On LinkedIn I reached out to people that made sense for my network who seemed to be thought leaders or success. I sent each person a personal message about why we should connect. I did that for 5 months before I even published my first blog. Why blog where there are no readers?

Important point: My channels might not be your channels. Think about where you can make the most impact with the skills you have. Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all different and require different strategies and strengths.


MORE: Check out more ways to grow your social media following and tell your brand’s story at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Produce. Provide Value. Be Authentic.

David Ogilvy, sometimes regarded as the father of modern marketing, placed a heavy emphasis on writing. He often preached that great campaigns started at the written word. I figured that writing a blog would be great practice to creating the types of campaigns I dreamed of. My biggest challenge? I didn’t know how to write yet, or so I thought. The last time I wrote anything was before I dropped out of college almost a decade prior. One day my business partner and I realized, “Hey, if people like the things I say, maybe they’ll like them if I write them down too?” But what to write about? The things I care about. I can’t be the only one that worries about these things.

“Write the way you talk. Naturally.” – David Ogilvy

People will always parse words and even data, but it’s hard to rebut your genuine lived experience. Taking something you’ve studied and worked in for years and filtering that through the unique lens of your identity creates the type of content that can’t be copied. Most importantly, it can make topics that have been covered before fresh again.

“Experience + Expertise is a powerful combination.”

The Virality Equation

Content + People + Timing

First, if you don’t produce you won’t be seen. Second, if no one is around to see what you create then it won’t be shared. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to snapchat it, does it really matter? Thirdly, going viral is like a lightening strike. It happens when you least suspect it, but only when the conditions are right. The bulk of my LinkedIn audience came from being a first mover on the design disaster that led to Steve Harvey botching the Ms. Universe contest. How Bad Design Wrecked Steve Harvey’s Universe is by far my most read blog.

Analytics for my blog “How Bad Design Wrecked Steve Harvey’s “Universe”

Analytics for my blog “How Bad Design Wrecked Steve Harvey’s “Universe”

I wrote this the night it happened, published it at around 2AM and woke up to thousands of reads. Much more than my typical average of 200 or so at the time. I didn’t just cover what happened, I provided a solution, based on my particular skill set, complete with a redesign. 1.5 million views on LinkedIn is rarified air. As far as I can find I’m in the top 20 most read ever. Even the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, weighed in and shared it.

Stay Relevant. Take a Stand.

Even with the international reach of my Steve Harvey blog, nothing has had such a profound impact on my daily life like Why I Hate Detroit. I’m stopped almost daily by someone that’s read it. It’s become the way I’m introduced. Though the Linkedin post only got a little north of 130,000 views, one could speculate that it’s been much more widely viewed. It was republished in the Metro Times, published in an abridged form by the Detroit Free Press, and covered by Deadline Detroit and Mlive. I landed television interviews and it was even cited by the New York Times which resulted in a call from Soledad O’Brien. Not bad for an opinion piece that I thought was too long and frankly too dangerous for my career to post. Why all the shares and love? It was honest, grounded in facts, rooted in my experience as a life-long Detroiter, and most of all timely. Even Dan Gilbert, reigning king of Downtown Detroit, told me he thought it was a good read.

“No Brand with values is for everything or against nothing.”

At the end of the day, speak openly and authentically to your tribe. They will reward you with loyalty.

Set Goals. Leverage Success.

When I first started blogging I set a modest goal. 1,000 reads per month. If I could expose 1,000 people to my personal brand each month I’d be happy. At this point, that would be 15,000 reads. I’ve exceeded that goal by a great deal. Next was to speak at conferences and become a thought leader around storytelling.

In the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to lead storytelling workshops, speak at the IDSA Design Conference with heroes, present at TEDxDetroit, share a Crain’s 20 in their 20 award with my business partner, sit on numerous panels, and elevate the relevance of storytelling in business from a buzzword to a business function for many businesses in the city of Detroit and beyond. More importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to share a story of success and opportunity while representing my community and neighborhoods like mine in what I hope is a positive and authentic way.

When setting out to build your brand, be honest and realistic. My goal was to move the needle significantly within 2 years. I think I’m well on my way. Even overnight successes don’t happen overnight. Aim, strategize and get closer every day. It’s time for me to switch into the second phase of my grand experiment. I hope you use what I learned in Phase 1 to build strong and impactful brands.

Eric Thomas will deliver the closing keynote with his business partner Marcus Burrell at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

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Welcome to the Age of Ephemeral Marketing

By Eric Hultgren
Director of Marketing
MLive Media Group

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

As marketers we have spent years, and in some cases careers, crafting campaigns that stick in the mind of the consumer. These campaigns could have been commercials with catchy jingles, logos that burn into the zeitgeist of an entire country, and products that define a decade or if you were lucky, a generation.

In 2006 the marketing industry was introduced to the idea of media that was social and in the past decade has adapted to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Instagram. But four years ago an app appeared on the scene that once again turned the marketing world on its ear, Snapchat.

Comscore ranked Snapchat as one of the fastest growing apps in its 2015 mobile report along with Uber, Tinder, and Fitbit. The largest demographic on the platform are millennials and with $200 billion in annual buying power marketers are working hard to connect with them. The idea behind Snapchat is simple at first and perhaps why it has been so easily dismissed by brands and marketers alike as the “thing” that teens would use to send provocative photos to one another. But the idea of ephemeral marketing, or messages that disappear after 10 seconds, not only opens a new lane of content creation, but it more closely mirrors the way in which human beings interact with one another when a device is not a part of the equation.

If two people meet at a coffee shop and begin a conversation, when that conversation ends it is not recorded for all eternity as a series of 0’s and 1’s, instead it disappears as a fleeting moment between two people in which they begin to build more moments together that evolve from a singular meeting into a full fledged relationship.

Isn’t that the goal of your marketing? Turn people into customers, customers into advocates, and advocates into magnets to bring their friends to your brand through word of mouth (WOM)?

A study done for the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences found that “most marketing firms do not see social media as a vehicle for cultivating and winning customer loyalty” (Nadeem, 2015) This statement is not reflective of how a brand should act in the marketing space in 2016 or certainly 2017. In a post-Snowden era, customers want a footprint in the social media landscape that isn’t overtly tracked and re-messaged the way it might on Facebook or Instagram. Thus, it should not surprise marketing practitioners that Snapchat should be, if not part of the marketing mix in 2017, at least be something with which the marketing team experiments.

Before a strategy can be crafted it is important to understand where the app came from in order to predict the trajectory of its next 12 to 16 months. In the summer of 2011 Evan Speigl, Bob Murphy, and Reggie Brown launched an early version of the app at Stanford University. In its earliest iteration it was called Pictaboo and by the fall of 2011 they only had 127 users. A disagreement among the three founders led to Reggie Brown being removed from the company. At that point, Speigl and Murphy changed the name to Snapchat.

Toward the end of 2011 the team noticed that use of the app spiked between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., which was when high school students were in school and flocking to the app that made their photos “disappear.” Those photos were called snaps. Snapchat crested past 100,000 users in the beginning of 2012 and they received funding from Lightspeed Ventures to build a server system to address the growing user base.

Snapchat’s next evolution was the video snap in which Facebook responded with the “poke” that emulated Snapchat down to the “ephemerality” of the poke disappearing. The poke did not stick but helped raise the awareness for Snapchat who experienced its second growth spurt and by February of 2013 was seeing over 60 million snaps a day. By the summer of 2013 users sent 150 million snaps a day and Taco Bell became the first brand to join the platform.

Taco Bell was one of the first brands to launch a Snapchat account and announced it on its Twitter account, just another step toward this moment of ephemeral marketing.

In the fall of 2013 Snapchat stories appear which is when Snapchat allows users to string together 10-second snaps that stay in narrative form for 24 hours. Snapchat stories were the app’s answer to a timeline. In November of that year Facebook reportedly offered to purchase Snapchat for $3 billion dollars. Evan Spiegl turned the offer down as Snapchat had yet to monetize the platform.

A year later, Snapchat introduced “our story” which was Snapchat’s first attempt at curating snaps around live events like the Super Bowl, The Grammys, elections, or holidays. In January of 2015, Snapchat would launch “Discover” which would be a curated list of publishers who create an always-on daily refreshed channel guide with media partners like Vice, ESPN, The Food Network, CNN, VOX, and MTV.


MORE: Learn about Snapchat and other upcoming social media innovations at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Next, Snapchat introduced geofilters so users could continue to customize their snaps with stamps that would help to add context to the images the users’ friends would see. McDonald’s was the first brand to launch geofliters at all of their locations, a move that Taco Bell would emulate –  they recently created a Quesalupa filter for all the stores for the launch of their new food item.

Snapchat also understood that the platform could be daunting and confusing at times, so they launched a “safety center” in conjunction with three non-profits in order to create a place where teachers and parents could learn about the platform and how they could better understand how their children might use Snapchat and the pitfalls to avoid.

That brings us to the modern era of marketing where brands have access to more information about their customer than ever before. Yet, few brands seem to execute social strategy with any sort of depth and even fewer understand the potential that a platform like Snapchat can provide those who adopt early. In fact, 95% of businesses have social media accounts but fewer than 50% of them use them with any regularity. When you speak specifically about Snapchat, that number drops as many brands just don’t understand how to execute on the platform.

Earlier this year, Buzzfeed did a piece where author Ben Rosen enlisted the help of his 13-year-old sister and her friend in order to understand the platform better. In the course of the experiment Rosen asked his sister’s friend what her parents thought: “Parents don’t understand. It’s about being there in the moment. Capturing that with your friends or with your expression.”

Snapchat is the idea of being in the moment that most brands struggle with and why after this tweet was sent out in the Super Bowl of 2012, many brands rushed to create war rooms for this sort of ephemeral marketing:

Oreo tweet screenshot from the Super Bowl and how it relates to Snapchat as the new age of ephemeral marketing

So what makes Snapchat so different? Aside from the ephemeral nature, the platform actually works in the opposite direction of every other social medium out there. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest scroll from the top of the screen or device towards the bottom as new content arrives like a waterfall into the various “newsfeeds” of those platforms. Snapchat swipes right to left and up to down giving a depth to the platform that becomes both more immersive and harder to pick up intuitively.

So why should you pay attention?

First, because 78% of the population is using social media in the United States and second, because the 150 million users (60% of them under the age of 30) on Snapchat are highly engaged with the app. These users send snaps to their friends and are looking for fun and entertaining content that they spend time on the app with. In fact, two-thirds of users on Snapchat create content daily (10 billion streams of video a day) and upwards of 12,000 photos are shared every second on the platform.

To put that in perspective, it would take you 10 years to watch the snaps that will be created in the next hour and when it comes to sharing photos Facebook and Instagram cannot even compete with that volume even though Facebook has a user base that is ten times the size. In a recent study from Edison Research, it found that Snapchat is currently the most powerful social medium in the United States with the ages of 12-24 and is the second most used social media application in the United States overall. There is even research from the University of Michigan that shows using Snapchat makes the users happier.

What should your brand do on Snapchat?

We spoke with Jill Thomas, vice president of global marketing at Cinnabon who said, “we are very, very clear about who the brand is – the voice and message. We have one brand voice. So what that means is you have to trust those with a role in our social voice to do the right thing.”

Once you understand your voice, what should you create?

There are two ways you can go here. You can create a new story every day like Cinnabon and Taco Bell might do, but for some brands that might be a bit daunting. The other option is to storyboard a bit and put out content on a consistent basis, just not every day. Cyrene Q is a Snapchatter who creates really elaborate snap stories 2-3 times a week taking the time to hand-draw her content:

Many people are familiar with Snapchatter Cyrene Q, who creates elaborate snap stories by taking the time to hand-draw her content.

The lesson is to be intentional with the content. According to Thomas, “the team is so highly committed and engaged because we all have a shared passion for the brand. For me, that comes from the responsibility of managing a brand that is beloved by the consumer… we all feel a responsibility to our brand fans to do our very best.”

Of course, you are still going to get the questions about return on investment, and again Jill Thomas sums it up nicely. “Anybody who is trying to do the math – doesn’t really get the beauty of it. (But yes, we do math and understand what we can about the interaction.) When you are early into something you don’t want to get bogged down with that. Also, I don’t need those numbers to tell me that Snapchat is the right place to be. Ask any 16-30 year old and they’ll tell you. Maybe other brands aren’t asking the right questions?”

Eric Hultgren will moderate a panel discussion at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp.

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