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.

Engage Millennial Music Lovers with Digital Marketing

By Lydia Michael
Wayne State University

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 music industry has seen a shift in consumption from owning music towards accessing it through various streaming platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music and soon to be launched Pandora Premium. These streaming platforms along with other digital marketing tools are utilized by marketers while consumers spend more and more time on their mobile phones. This is also where one-on-one communication between artists and their audience, more notably related to indie artists, has become a crucial part of fan engagement and success. So how should digital marketing tools be used strategically? Let’s look at Pandora’s AMP and mobile live streaming options on social media.

Pandora’s Free Artist Marketing Platform (AMP)

Pandora’s music team analyzes each song using 450 distinct musical attributes. Based on this music algorithm, new music offerings with similar musical characteristics are customized for listeners who are introduced to music they will gravitate towards. The AMP was introduced in Q4 of 2016 and allows artists to better connect with fans through several free features.

  1. By promoting featured tracks across Pandora, artists can receive insights about their music in real-time. This is provided through thumbs up or down given by listeners, so that artists can optimize audience and fan engagement.
  2. Recording customized Artist Audio Messages such as calls to action can be added before or after a track, which can equate to higher engagement when targeting specific markets.
  3. With Ticketfly integration utilizing event location, fans can also be directed to buy tickets.

MORE: Learn all you need to know about music marketing, streaming, and more at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


Live Streaming on Social Media

Unlike other social media platforms, content shared on Snapchat disappears once viewed, unless part of a story that is available up to 24 hours. With 150 billion daily users, this platform attracts the coveted millennials (born 1982-2000). Due to the live video feature, artists can use this promotion vehicle for live shows, but also to share exclusive and rare content off stage.

In Q4 of 2016, Instagram made this live streaming feature available as well, although the platform tells a long-term story through visuals. The Facebook-owned platform currently boasts 500 million monthly users and serves as a promotion vehicle for live music and heavily for one-on-one communication. Recording artist Selena Gomez is followed by almost ¼ of the platform’s user base at 108 million. Indie artist Chance the Rapper has managed to accumulate a following of 3.1 million.

With approximately 1.8 billion active users, Facebook has jumped on the bandwagon with live streaming while it continues to serve as the artist one-stop shop. Notably, Facebook leaves the video stream up indefinitely until the user decides to remove it, yet it remains less of a personal communication platform between artists and fans. It can be used more for promotional purposes without being too focused on sales in order to maintain an organic connection with fans. Popular artist pages include Shakira at almost 105 million likes and Eminem at 90 million. Indie pop/electronic band The xx shows 3.8 million likes.

While all of these digital marketing tools serve a unique purpose, the key is to cross-promote all platforms to reach maximum engagement and visibility. Simply adding those usernames as part of the artist bio can accomplish this. Additionally, listing current albums, tours or other relevant content helps increase awareness. Most importantly, when artists choose to establish a presence on any channel, there should be clear intention and strategy to fill this channel with compelling content long-term. While there is no current social media tracking tool that allows for identification of the same follower on various platforms, it is important to diversify shared content and its exclusivity on each tool, exposing digital natives to music as a new wave of the industry.

Lydia Michael is a global marketing and branding professional in the entertainment and music industry. She recently completed her MBA studies at Pforzheim University in Germany.

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For more on audio in digital marketing:

Radio Steps Up in the Digital Age

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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Generation Z and Snapchat: The Future of Advertising

By Nick Mattar
Director of Marketing
Detroit Regional Chamber

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.

Every generation is scrutinized more than the last, reviewed tirelessly and considered to be lazier than all others. Millennials are currently the targets of studies, articles and blog posts that aim to point out some flaw in the way they live. However, the generation following millennials is beginning to finally pick up some traction in the internet world – Generation Z.

Generation Z is commonly referred to as the crop of people born after millennials, beginning in approximately 1997 and ending sometime after 2010. Different scholars use different years as the generation’s advent, but the common ground appears to be the late 1990s. These people have lived their entire lives with the internet, coming of age as Facebook and Google ruled. Their number one source of communication has been texting and their number one method of purchasing (or pirating) music has been online.

While millennials were awkwardly learning social media and determining how “social” to allow their personal information to be, the younger Generation Z watched in amazement as the early 2000s teenagers moved from AOL Instant Messenger to MySpace to Facebook. Each site offered the ability to show more user information and provided less privacy. Enter Snapchat. In late 2012, Snapchat gained notoriety as the first app that allowed users to send photos or videos to individuals without saving them first. The files would be instantly deleted unless the recipient had the wits to screenshot the photo. Essentially, Snapchat re-introduced privacy to the world of social media. Millennials, Generation X and baby boomers all thought the same thing when Snapchat hit the market: explicit photos. The question everybody over the age of 18 thought was, “why wouldn’t you want something available to the masses that could potentially go viral?”

After all, the chance to go viral and gain internet fame was all the rage in 2012, with YouTube and Google acting as catalysts for sharing millions of videos. New internet stars were made daily, culminating with Psy, a Korean singer whose hit “Gangnam Style” topped the charts after becoming the first YouTube video to amass one billion views. Internet success like this began spilling into mainstream business, as well, as social media marketing positions opened with the hope that whoever was hired would help make the company “go viral” and thus gain more awareness and subsequent revenue.

But Snapchat changed that notion. People began thinking about what they could do with photos and videos that did not save to their mobile devices.. First adopted by teens and younger millennials, Snapchat began processing 700 photos per second one year after launch. As the app became more popular, features were added with new, goofy options to change your photos or videos. To explore the most recent iteration of Snapchat technology further, consider the options users have when taking photos or videos:

  1. Users take photos/videos and add a “filter,” often changing the background color or adding a pre-loaded, geo-targeted graphic, sometimes sponsored by major brands
  2. Users take photos/videos and use “lenses” to morph their faces from a pre-loaded set of options, sometimes sponsored by major brands
  3. Users send the final, stylized photos/videos to friends

With all of these new options, the desire to act more random and strange is elevated due to the heightened sense of privacy.


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


Snapchat is expected to surpass both Pinterest and Twitter in terms of total unique users in the United States. Despite trailing Facebook in terms of total users, Snapchat boasts more unique teenagers using the app plus exponential growth in the under-12 age group. While millennials and Gen Xers are now adopting at a more rapid pace, it is clear that usage among teenagers is the highest, with anywhere from four to six billion videos being viewed daily.

With Snapchat so popular among Generation Z, what does that say about this younger generation?

It is clear that Generation Z values their privacy more than past groups. Witnessing the social media failures of those before them, Generation Z took cues and found solace in the social network that did not necessarily include the “social” part: Snapchat.

Having said all of that about Generation Z and Snapchat, what does that mean for business?

The ability for businesses to advertise on Snapchat has only been available for less than a year with tangible returns still somewhat unknown. Taco Bell has provided the single most successful Snapchat campaign thus far, offering the ability for users to turn their heads into tacos during Cinco de Mayo. It was used over 220 million times, providing more brand awareness than any television ad short of the Super Bowl. Moreover, Taco Bell’s latest campaign aims squarely at Generation Z more than any other group. The company publicly stated that the youngest group of people with buying power is their target audience, especially with their new Quesalupa product launch in early 2016.

Television is still the most powerful advertising avenue for brands but Snapchat is quickly becoming a valuable advertising asset. Pricing can be steep, but for Taco Bell, which spent $750,000 on their Cinco de Mayo ad, the expense has proved to be a worthwhile endeavor. Revenue numbers have not been released for the 2016 fiscal year, but when one considers the additional publicity from the Snapchat lens and the ability to call Taco Bell an innovative marketing company, it is clear the lens has provided the company with a tremendous value add.

The expectation is that Taco Bell’s 2016 revenue will climb and a large part of that will be thanks in part to their recent investment in Snapchat. With Generation Z now having buying power from allowances and part-time jobs, Taco Bell has become the first company to capitalize on it by reaching their target audience in an easily accessible method. The long-term results can be difficult to quantify today, but the ability to reach out to the newest generation with buying power is something that will undoubtedly pay dividends in the future.

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