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 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Digital Marketing Intern

By Lucia Seprino
Oakland University

If you or your Digital Marketing company hasn’t hired your first intern yet, there is no better time than NOW. It might be time to ask yourself why you haven’t taken advantage of the opportunity. The increasing amount of pros outweigh the cons when it comes to hosting an internship program and these are the top five reasons why you need an intern.

1. Shape Your Future Employee

It’s likely that you will be providing one of the very first experiences that your intern will have in the digital marketing field. There are two ways you could look at this scenario. You could view this as an annoyance – you have to go over the basics with them, spend extra time being a mentor, etc. But you have here a golden opportunity to shape and guide a young mind into your dream employee. Most interns are in their junior or senior year of college, with hopes to attain a position in the field after graduation. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has consistently reported that 20-25% of new hires are sourced from the employer’s own internship program.

If you look at your intern as a potential future employee, things become much simpler. Take this time to teach them how to do things correctly the first time. They will be looking to you as an industry leader. If you guide and teach them the ins and outs of the business, it will make your job easier in the long run because you will know that you taught them (almost) everything they know! Your techniques, strategies, and company values will become the backbone of their real-world education. So shape those young minds and skip the hours of going through endless resumes. You have your future employee right here!

2. Give Back to the Community

You were once in the shoes of these eager students. In a competitive job market, it’s not unusual for companies to require new hires to have experience in the field before they will even be considered for an entry level position. The only problem is this has also caused a competitive internship market. Open up your company’s doors – you have the power to create an opportunity that will give someone the skills to succeed in their career. Bonus: It serves as a great public relations technique for strengthening relationships in the local community.


MORE: Hear more about ways to improve your digital marketing strategy at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


3. The College Student Perspective

Students are social media savvy! Always on top of the latest trends, college students will let you know what’s “in” and what’s not. Their insight can be very valuable if your target market happens to be in their age range. Not to mention, they will keep you up to date on all of the events going on campus that could be useful for promotional purposes.

4. Increase Productivity

We’ve all heard of the stereotypical intern tasks – coffee runs, paper shredding and filing. Don’t fall into the trap of forgetting about your intern and shooing them away with meaningless tasks. If you find yourself having less time to focus on your top priorities because you are so busy crossing everything off of your to-do list, have your intern help lighten the load. Students are excited to learn every aspect of the job. Sometimes we feel like we need to take on the responsibility for every task but there is nothing wrong with handing the baton over to a newbie. As long as they are trained properly, this will create less stress. Time management is extremely important, and instead of always being “busy” you need to refocus to make sure you are being productive. Use your intern as a helpful tool to make the company stronger.

5. Word of Mouth Advertising

As soon as word gets out that a digital marketing company is offering an internship program, word spreads FAST. Did I mention it’s a competitive market out there? Local colleges will soon reach out to you to offer tables at internship mixers, job fairs, and to have your employees offer seminars or be guest speakers on campus. Career service centers and related department chairs keep close tabs on local internships that are available because it is their responsibility to help students find them. Some colleges even require students to have at least one internship completed before they are able to graduate. It won’t be long before you’re one of the most sought after companies to work for by post-grads with a great reputation and relationship with several local colleges and universities.

Tip: Many universities have websites with internship listings that are only accessible to view with a student login. Reach out to college career service centers and they do the hard part for you! Send in your position description and they will be sure to spread the word and post on student pages that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Your new intern will be your biggest brand advocate. If they enjoy their time as an intern, they are going to tell everyone about it. Never underestimate the power of connections. You never know to whom your last intern is going to gush about your company. It very well may turn into your next big client. Having a new intern (or a few) cycling through each semester brings in a lot of new faces. It’s important to check in with them periodically throughout the internship to make sure they are comfortable and they are feeling fulfilled throughout their time with your company.

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Use Social Media and Digital Marketing Analytics to Increase Your ROI

By Brianna Shreve
Social Media Marketing Consultant
BST Athletics

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.

Brianna ShreveAfter working with small businesses to improve their social media marketing efforts, one thing is certain – many business owners are so busy with the day-to-day duties their business demands that they’ve failed to realize the importance of monitoring marketing efforts. Without tracking the analytics of your ads, however, there are no metrics to examine if they are effective. Learning a new skill can be time consuming, but there are options available that gathers the data for you, thus making it easier interpret the statistics to make more informed resource allocation choices for the future. The following five tools aid in this process:

1. Facebook Insights

This may seem like an obvious choice since it is built into the core of Facebook, however there are features within the tool that allows you to not only track the performance of your posts, but your competitors’ posts as well. The Pages to Watch feature will allow you create a list of your competitors’ pages to compare performance. You can use this tool to look inside your competitor’s post to see the success rate, and refine your approach accordingly. Moreover, on your specific posts, you can see how many people your post has reached, the location, gender, and age demographic, which is useful in determining if your post is relevant to those it is reaching.

2. Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics is a great tool to use when determining whether your tweets are effective and relevant. Twitter may still be thought of as a social media sight, however it is important to know that it is a source for news! It gives you the ability to analyze which tweets are a hot topic, and the demographic of the audience that it engages by net worth, interest, gender occupation, etc. This will give you the ability to segment your audience to provide more relative news and updates.


MORE: Learn how to utilize analytics from experts all across the region at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.


3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that every business with an online presence should use. It has many tools and functions, and if you are advertising on Google Adwords, it can help provide insight to improve your conversion rates and remarket to site visitors. With this tool, track the demographic, bounce rate, session time etc. to provide more relevant content. This tool can be a little more complex, but help articles provided can help you navigate usage.

4. Instagram Insights

Similar to Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights provides a limited view into your customer base. One feature that should be noted, however, is high traffic times. View what time of the day the majority of your audience is using the application to gain the most impressions. Given that the new story feed format is no longer in chronological order, it is not a guarantee that your post will remain on top for long organically. This feature can help identify what time you should post to reach as many people in your targeted demographic as possible.

5. FanPage Karma

FanPage Karma is a tool for analytics and monitoring that works with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It can help you identify the best times to post, the strongest and weakest posts, as well as how frequently you should post. Moreover, it also gives you the opportunity to learn about your fans, and other pages with a similar fan base. It is not completely free like the others listed above, but it does allow for excel reporting and other in depth features that can help allocate your resources more effectively.

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For more on marketing strategies:

5 Keys to Building a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

Can You Feel the Love? 5 Ways to Get Your Business Out of the Friend Zone.

By Sammie Schneider
Social Media Marketing Coordinator
AGA Productions

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.

It’s that time of year again. Valentine’s Day is here, seeking to remind us all to love each other. Some are already in relationships, expecting cheap boxes of those Russell Stover assorted chocolates. Others are not quite there and depend on this day to push past the Friend Zone.

emoji faces - Digital Marketing Boot CampBut what does this have to do with digital media and business? Well, it turns out brands experience the same effects of Valentine’s Day. Brands are constantly in the Friend Zone with potential consumers until a contract is signed. Every company wants to share the sweet, cream-filled delight of loyalty with their consumers, but doesn’t want to take the cheap Russell Stover route.

Social media platforms are the key to being the Lady Godiva of your streets. To be bold, modest, and leave a legacy. I’m not suggesting you ride horseback and naked through your town to prove your allegiance to the people of your community. Just be authentic and stand by what you claim. After all, a brand is a promise to a consumer. Make sure your social media reflects and enhances that promise.


MORE: Learn more about improving your relationship with clients at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15


That being said, here are the five steps to help you move toward a relationship with a client.

1. Make a confident approach

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If business with this client is your goal, then approach them confidently and be ready with reasons why it will work and why you are the best option for them. Don’t just stand by, frustrated, as you watch said client “date” another company. Think about how many relationships start on social media. Someone “likes” an Instagram post and suddenly sparks are flying. How is this any different when it comes to business profiles? Win them over through social interaction. Figure out your brand’s voice and make it personable and honest. Be inclusive and open, whether this means posting a “selfie” at an event, or reaching out to possible clients in the area by “liking” their photos or commenting on posts.

2. Evaluate perspective

Ever think about someone close to you and wonder why you’ve never dated? You start going through a mental list of pros and cons and base it off of what you want, and never look at things from their point of view? If you’re a business who is only focused on superficial commerce, the likely result is a friends-with-benefits deal. Maybe you’re into that. But chances are your customers want a real relationship. They want someone they can trust with their finances and values. Knowing what your target audience wants will lead to reliable, long-term investment. Social media acts as a great resource in finding out just what it is that your consumers want.

Host a Twitter chat answering questions, or craft regular Twitter polls to accrue valuable and instant feedback. Many media outlets allow for businesses to build a customer service program with listed hours of availability dedicated to speaking directly to people. Consumers want to be a part of the brands they value; they want to be able to shape them. It’s not just about what you want.

3. Don’t play the sex card

This isn’t just about the appeal anymore. Consumers want transparency; they want to know the inside you. They care more about the intentions of the brand than your Instagram aesthetic and wordy, fluffed up mission statement. Take this time to post behind the scenes moments of a typical work day, or post a picture of your view from the office window. You can be creative in the ways you execute your purpose and promote your products, but there’s no need to pass yourself off as something you’re not. Build your brand organically without attempting to imitate others.

4. The “C” word

Commitment. The only word that might be scarier than that “love” one that saturates all of our timelines and feeds around Valentine’s Day. So how can you reinforce the commitment between you and your consumers? It takes time to cultivate strong relationships. If they’re not ready to take the plunge after your first interaction can you really blame them? There’s no need to trick them into purchasing packages they don’t actually want, or to give false information that will lock your consumers into an unchanging contract. Sit down with your potential clients, ask them what they want out of your relationship, and provide flexibility so that your relationship can grow and evolve as the company does.

5. Be persistent

Your client may need time to process this information; no pressure, and no demands for an answer from your end. There’s a difference between persistence and pressure. Use Facebook Connections to target those who might be on the fence about an upcoming event. Send a brief, light reminder encouraging them to attend. Use Instagram Insights to learn about your followers so you can tailor your content and post at the best times. Use software such as Hootsuite to manage Twitter and Instagram profiles. With this, you can post based on analytics so that your followers have a better chance of seeing your content more frequently. You can also rotate ads every three to five days for fresh, but effective marketing. This allows for persistence on a more subtle level, without direct pressure.

They have the information needed. You’ve given your pitch. Continue fostering that relationship by keeping up the friendly social media connectivity and being genuine in your posts. If a consumer sees the true face behind a company, they will be more comfortable getting to know you better. And you will increase the possibility of a relationship.

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Read more about customer relationships:

Think Like a Customer

 

Think Like a Customer

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.

Whenever you get into a conversation about the digital marketing landscape, you are going to hear people say “be authentic,” “don’t sell,” or “make a connection” and these are all correct – but how do you do all that?

One of the biggest questions I get from clients is on how to be authentic, which as a question seems silly, right? Just be yourself. However, in a larger marketing context connected to an entire campaign, that answer is pointed in the wrong direction. The key to social is not necessarily for you to be yourself (although that helps), the major key is that you act like your customer.

What does your customer want from the brand? What should their journey be through to conversion? What should the experience be after the sale? What do you want them to say to a friend? The answer to these questions stems from you understanding what your customer is like in the first place.

Say you are a lawn care business who wants to execute a campaign on Facebook because you understand that your audience is there waiting. The thing is, they aren’t waiting for you. Nobody is using Facebook for the ads, or the sponsored content, or the native advertising. They are on Facebook to connect with friends, laugh, blow off steam, or waste some time.

Knowing this you could put up a photo of a lawnmower with text that reads: “Book your lawn care appointments before spring and save 10%” and that might work.

The alternative is that you could put up a video of your team making a lawn look amazing and in that video the homeowner is on their deck drinking iced tea and reading a book, the text of that post would read: “what would you do with an extra 2 hours every Saturday this summer?” At the end of the video the book now button would appear and you would have made a connection with your customer.


MORE: Learn to put the human touch back into your marketing at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15


Why?

The person who is booking lawn care services wants to save time. They either don’t have it to begin with or they just don’t like mowing the lawn. So, if we are thinking like our customer our ads need to address what they are feeling and why they would be interested in you in the first place. What would I do with 8 extra hours a month because of your service? No idea, but you have my attention.

Which, after all, is the goal: attention. Marketers are driving clients to social because people don’t watch TV ads like they used to, they don’t listen to radio like they used to, and they don’t pay attention to billboards like they used to. Marketing continues to change but the single constant is that you need to go where the customer is and start thinking like them. Your customer is very savvy and has zero time for terrible display ads in their Facebook feed.

You want to win in the social space? There are lots of tips and tactics that can help you get there but until you understand what your customer wants and how they want to get there, you are going to spend a lot of time trying out different versions of your brand’s authentic self before you hit a home run. However, if your competition is better at listening, better at creative, and better at connecting than you are, you don’t have time to guess on what might work.

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

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More by Eric Hultgren

Welcome to the Age of Ephemeral Marketing

The Growing Power of Podcast Advertising

By Leslie Youngblood
Digital Growth Director 
National Chamber Program

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.

Social—been there done that. Banner ads and other OLA—over it. So, what’s next in digital advertising? Undoubtedly the podcast.

Many of us are somewhat familiar with the format and a few zeitgeist-y shows (Serial anyone?), but many advertisers and marketers have limited knowledge on how to utilize this developing powerhouse.

The aforementioned Serial helped the podcast platform break through and drive ad dollar interest. Billed as one of 2014’s biggest cultural phenomenon’s, the series’ season one episodes had been downloaded more than 80 million times as of February 2016. Now that’s a lot of ear drums.

Podcast advertising is also driving sales that are 10 times greater than two years ago, up 70% compared with prior years.

While the audience grows—21% of all Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, the same number of Americans who use Twitter—so does the advertising spending: an estimated $35 million spent in 2016, up 2% from 2015.

This unprecedented boom can be attributed to several advantages podcast advertising offers:


MORE: Learn more about podcasting at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15


1. Spots, spots for everyone!

From big money, branded podcast sponsorships to more easy-on-the-budget pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll spots, large companies and smaller startups have multiple access points.

2. The right ears, every time

Content of current podcasts range from film to music to business, education, politics and more. Program audience can also be broken down by gender, ethnicity (African Americans are found to be a growing podcast demographic), and buying habits, just to name a few, ensuring your ads are getting to the specific audience of your choosing.

3. And those right ears are more open

Unlike TV or radio, podcast listeners tend to listen through the ads. Most often the host of the podcast speaks to talking points provided by the advertiser, weaving in his or her own related experiences. This more organic, personal product endorsement is more impactful than simple show filler and has also been shown to result in a stronger brand relationship between the brand and the audience.

4. Brand recall like, “whoaaaa!”

According to a May 2016 survey of 11,123 podcast listeners by Midroll Media, a leading podcast advertising network, podcasts drive strong brand recall and intent to buy.

midroll screenshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image courtesy Midroll Media. http://www.midroll.com/midroll-study-shows/

Another interesting information nugget the Midroll study found was that a brand’s relationship with listeners grows stronger with continued exposure. Because you’re reaching listeners in a more intimate setting, it’s as if you’re having a direct conversation with them, making messages more meaningful. Talk about building a loyal base.

For podcast advertising, it’s still just the beginning. The space is growing rapidly, offering a ripe number of advertising and marketing advantages for those brave enough to explore and experiment. Godspeed.

For more on podcasts, click here:

Radio Steps Up in the Digital Age

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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.

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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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