All posts tagged content

There is no doubt that social media lends itself to negative behaviour. The inadvertent anonymity it offers makes it ripe for abuse from spineless, cowardly bullies.  Its advent represented a revolution for stalkers. Imagine how they must have rejoiced when they realised they could now invade their prey’s personal space from the comfort of their own (smelly, dark, closed-curtained?) bedrooms.

Social media doesn’t just aid people with existing behavioural problems.  It unleashed a whole new wave of disciples. I mean, it’s fairly normal these days to keep tabs on your ex via Facebook, but the news is full of cases where dumpees have taken revenge on dumpers via social media, whether it be posting illicit photos or other, equally cringe-worthy actions of public shaming.

Social media represents the evolution of bullying – providing a platform for constant psychological torture and creating a cyber-hell that transcends into real life. From the vicious trolling on Twitter, to the teens coerced into suicide via Facebook and Ask.FM, to ‘catfishing’ (? fodder for another blog methinks!), we are relentlessly bombarded by accounts of hideous (in)human behaviour facilitated by social media.

There is no doubt that, in the wrong hands, social media is a powerful force of evil, BUT(and you’ll be delighted to hear it’s a great big, shiny, BUT) it has also shown itself to be an equally powerful force for good.

For a recent example of this, just google ‘Dancing Man’. In a nutshell, hideous fat-shaming bullies posted photos of a man dancing on his own to 4chan (an anonymous bulletin board) with the caption: “Spotted this specimen trying to dance the other week. He stopped when he saw us laughing.”

DANCING-MAN

As you can see, in the first photo, the man is dancing happily, while in the second he looks downtrodden and embarrassed. So far, so despicable, and an example of social media at its worst. BUT (it’s another shiny one!), rather than join the bullies in their persecution of an innocent man, most people have felt sorry for him.  A group of female dancers, lead by Cassandra Fairbanks, started an online campaign to find him. Their aim? To fly him out to LA to dance with them, thereby sticking two fingers up to bullies everywhere.

The online search, spearheaded by the hashtag #FindDancingMan quickly went viral and after just 12 hours, the man got in touch with the following tweet:

dancing_man_found

Now, he has been sent a VIP invite to dance party in LA with 2000 women and Moby and Pharrell DJing.

A similarly heart-warming tale is that of disabled pensioner, Alan Barnes.  The partially-sighted 67 year old was left with a broken collar bone after being mugged outside his home in Low Fell, Gateshead. The distressed pensioner was scared about staying in his home because he no longer felt safe there.

After reading about his story, kind-hearted local beautician Katie Cutler set up a fundraising page to help Alan with the cost of moving to a new home. Katie had hoped to raise a few hundred pounds, but by the power of social media, her appeal went viral and thousands of pounds poured in from around the world. She ended up handing over a whopping £324k to the pensioner, whilst simultaneously restoring his faith in human kindness.

katie_cutler_alan_barnes_hug

On a smaller scale, a Brighton blogger and newly-single mum who tweeted about not being able to afford any toys for her 3 young daughters last Xmas, was staggered by the results. In her own words:

‘…strangers who had their own children and family to buy for, yet took the time, and budget to pick presents for my daughters (and me!), wrapped and sent in time for Christmas. I don’t think a more generous thing will ever happen to me in my life and I am humbled by the milk of their kindness.’

Click here to read more of her story.

So, how’s that for some heart-warming examples of the kindness of strangers, expedited by social media? Sadly, there will always be wrong uns who choose to go over to the dark side, but let’s take heart in the fact that it’s not their stories that the global social media community chooses to celebrate  and share.

 

hoverboard

I don’t know about you, but it’s taken me a while to find my 2015 stride.  I mean, it’s hard to believe that we’ve finally reached the year that Marty Fly visited in Back to the Future II. So it turns out that we don’t have flying cars, there isn’t a female US president and hoverboards are not the favoured transport of the younger generation.

The film did, however, accurately predict handheld tablets, 3D movies and video conferencing. In comparison to 1989, when it was made, the technologies of today are unrecognisable and far-fetched.   But as with everything, the progress has snuck up on us gradually. We don’t bat an eyelid at Google glasses and Skype is pretty run of the mill these days. It’s easy to dismiss how far we’ve come.  The advances in marketing since 1989 are even more radical. Our industry changes so rapidly and hindsight nearly always provides a glaring missed opportunity or ‘could have done better’ moment.

So, how to grab the marketing bull by the horns in 2015? My top tip would be to stop chasing marketing trends and take some time to design a strategically driven marketing mix for your business. It can include several compatible strategies and merge traditional and digital channels to produce the perfect brand-oriented marketing blend.

It may sound obvious, but successful content marketing is reliant on a content marketing strategy.  This strategy is essential. It guides your otherwise eclectic content marketing efforts and is the cornerstone to digital marketing success. Whereas content was undeniably king in 2014, in 2015 it will take on a more presidential role.  By which I mean it is pivotal to all your communications, not just an insubstantial figurehead. Make sure that you are investing in content creation and curation.  You can no longer afford to ‘wing it’, using an ad-hoc/when you’re not tied up with other things approach.

Let’s not forget that the bastion of content marketing is a customer-centric vision.  In 2015, our ongoing quest is to improve the customer experience.  Customers these days are incredibly aware of their worth, and empowered by the knowledge that a single complaint on social media can have a costly impact on a brand.

So, in a nutshell, the best way to apply this to your content marketing is:

  • Get personal – connect, engage and listen intently.
  • Customise – where possible make sure your content is always relevant to your target audience and tweaked for brand relevance.
  • Entertain – within reason, you can’t go wrong if you’re entertaining your customer.
  • Build brand ambassadors – they will be worth their weight in gold.

The other key aspect of marketing in 2015 is to ensure that you THINK MOBILE FIRST. Smartphones and tablets made up 60% of total digital media time spent in 2014 (up 50% from 2013). 2015 looks set to build on this, as analysts are predicting that by 2017, mobile will represent 91% of all internet use.

The key learning here is to keep mobile users at the forefront of your mind in terms of all website updates and marketing communications. If you ensure that you keep the customer front of mind in all your marketing activity you should avoid falling foul of 2015’s big bombshell…DIGITAL DISAPPOINTMENT. Digital natives are the most spoilt and demanding customers ever.  Find a way to make meeting their digital expectations the core of your business and you might just be onto a winner.

Bells and whistles are all well and good, but sometimes, when it comes to content, simplicity is still best.

It always comes back to your brand.  If you’ve got an edgy, hi-tech product aimed at the youth market, then by all means, knock yourself out with the all singing, all dancing (quite literally) video mash-ups.  In this crowded, competitive market, image is everything and your status on the Coolometer is what differentiates you. If however, yours is a more sedate, middle-of-the-road product; a staple, non-luxury item, then the Ronseal approach is often still the way to go.

I mean you wouldn’t expect Apple to take the same approach to content marketing as Tena Lady would you? The key is never to lose sight of your brand values.  They are what your customers have bought into in the first place and what you want their word of mouth recommendations to focus on. All of your content output needs to work hard at reflecting and reiterating these.

Keep a consistent voice, that reinforces your brand personality and talk to your audience(s) using the tone and channels that they like best. Don’t fall prey to what a colleague of mine used to refer to as the ‘my sixteen year old daughter says…’ phenomenon.  What he meant was the tendency of older, senior executives to pretend they’ve got their finger on the marketing pulse by latching onto observed teenage behaviours, regardless of whether they are brand relevant.

You can Instagram and Google+ away to your heart’s content, but if you’re trying to sell commemorative plates to the over-seventies, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t try something new. Some behind-the-scenes SEO copywriting on your website, and a welcoming, insightful blog are just as relevant to the silver surfers as the Playstation generation. You just need to understand your audience and select your content armoury accordingly. Simples!

Blog

noun

  • a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.

verb (blogs, blogging, blogged)

  • add new material to or regularly update a blog:it’s about a week since I last blogged
    • ·   [with object] write about (an event, situation, topic, etc.) in a blog:he blogged the Democratic and Republican national conventions as an independent

 

To Blog or not to blog?  That is the question.  You think you should, but you’re not entirely sure why, or how to go about doing it successfully.  Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Lots of our clients start off this way… and end up with fabulous, engaging blogs that deliver competitive advantage to their brands.

So for those of you who want to, but need a bit of guidance, here’s my quick and tasty recipe for a perfect blog (peppered with the obligatory food puns):

Key Ingredients:

Content is King. It goes without saying that great content is imperative. In fact, I’d go as far as to say. Good content is well researched, well written and pertinent to the target audience.  If you have something original at your fingertips then you’re at a distinct advantage, but if not, don’t fret.  Just make sure that your take on what may well be a tried and tested topic exudes brand personality and adopts a perspective that resonates with your target audience.

The Perfect Title. The title should seduce your reader but also aid your SEO and therefore, your audience’s ability to find you.  So whilst tongue-in-cheek, witty and hilarious titles are good in one sense (the reader seduction angle), unless you’re very clever, they might be counter-productive on the SEO front. If you can achieve both, that’s brilliant (and you can probably stop reading now as you’re clearly a blogger extraordinaire)

The Ronseal approach to an Introduction. I.e. It does exactly what it says on the tin. The internet reader is notoriously fickle, with an attention span only slightly longer than that of the proverbial goldfish.  Your clear, yet simultaneously compelling title therefore needs to be followed by a concise, revelatory introductory paragraph.

Make the Format Accessible. Meander-y, verbose streams of consciousness may have earned Virginia Woolf literary adulation, but it doesn’t cut the mustard  for the modern day blog. Language should be simple, easy-to-read and to the point.

Size isn’t Everything.  Or length I should say.  Between 500 and 800 words is perfect – long enough to concisely present your content, but not too waffle-y and snooze-inducing.

Invest in Aesthetic Appeal. It’s not shallow.  Looking nice is important…in blogging terms at least.  It’s an integral part of the user experience and another factor in the ‘you-versus-all- the- other -bloggers –out- there’ contest. Make your headers bold and enlarged, your key points stylistically pertinent and stay on-topic and on-brand. Add images to break up your text and illustrate your point.  You can even throw in a video or two to really spice things up.

Let Your Brand Personality Shine Through. Don’t lose sight of why you’re doing this.  Whilst your blog can (and should) be on a wide range of relevant topics that interest your target audience, remember your aim is to increase engagement with your brand.  You want to create a brand voice that people want to listen to and want to hear more from.

Little and Often. Once you’ve started blogging, you need to make sure you keep at it.  From an SEO perspective, the need for regular updates is obvious. From an engagement perspective it’s just as crucial to keep on keeping on. Once you’ve attracted people to your blog, you want to keep them coming back.  Regular updates are the best way of doing this.  I always find it disappointing when I check out a new website and their latest blog was months (or even years) ago.

Preparation time

With a bit of practice you should be able to knock up a simple, commentary-lead blog in an hour whilst a research-based blog might take you a morning.  Given the resultant increase in engagement levels you can surely spare the time?  If not, why not outsource it to professionals.  Our blog-writing service is extremely competitive, costing from just £25/blog.

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

Well, I didn’t actually prepare them myself, and there’s more than one, but I’m sure you get my drift.  Here are a few of my favourites to get your creative juices flowing:

http://www.theskintfoodie.com

http://www.cocoandme.com

http://eatlikeagirl.com

http://www.goop.com (controversial I know but I have to confess I do quite like it)

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Beauty is skin deep. It’s the personality that counts. All of these adages, with us since our formative years, are pertinent when developing a winning brand in this digital age.

Creating a successful online brand is not a challenge for the faint of heart.  It takes work, investment (of time and money) and a level of skill and understanding that does not come naturally to everyone.

For lots of small companies, social media has simply become another box to tick on the start-up checklist.  They set up profiles on Facebook and Twitter, build up a modest following, knock out a few tweets and link Facebook to Twitter, thereby killing two birds with one stone. Job done. Right?

In a word – NO.  A successful social media strategy will make your brand SOCIABLE, LIKEABLE and PROFITABLE, but you’ve got to put the effort in.  And you’ve got to have self-awareness, or at least awareness of how you are perceived by customers and prospects.

I always recall a meeting with a retailer who, during one of his many abrasive yet dull monologues informed me that he modelled his brand’s social media personality on his own – “clever, sociable and witty”. Our survey says eeeeh, uuuuh (Family Fortunes reference – I can’t quite figure out how to write it phonetically). His online persona did mirror his real-life personality, but needless to say it displayed none of those attributes.

Creating a great digital personality for your brand does not always come naturally. The days of loudly touting your wares via broadcast marketing techniques are well and truly over.  The modern way requires a customer-centric way of thinking and the ability to listen and change tack according to what you hear. Consider social media a virtual dinner party.  Your challenge is to be the most charming guest.

This is achieved by getting striking the right balance of, what I call (in a Miranda stylee), Campaign and Brand messages.  Spend 70% of your time on Brand messages – decide on key topics of interest for your target audience and use this as a basis for your curated content. DO NOT talk about your brand, but rather, flesh out its personality, bringing it to life and making it likeable.

Spend the remaining 30% of your time promoting Campaign messages ie, incentives, competitions, calls to actions etc. (basically anything with traditional marketing scope)

By maintaining this balance you will be the entertaining dinner party guest; the fascinating, witty person that everyone wants to sit next to, not the ‘let’s talk about me’ bore that everyone avoids. And if you’re struggling, why not call in the experts?

April Fools day image

It took my lazy bank holiday brain a few seconds to realise that the article promoting Virgin’s introduction of glass-bottomed planes was in fact a hilarious April Fools’ jape.

Cue instant flashback to secondary school, where the morning of April 1st was spent in fear of humiliation at the hands of merciless 5th years (I believe they’re called Year 11’s nowadays. #showingmyage).

These days, falling momentarily for a media deception does not fill me with the same sense of fear, but I am still deeply lacking in April Fools’ Day spirit.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1st is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. Funny.

In Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages….so, let’s face it Rumblechatters, it could be worse. I’m thinking that joke would wear thin pretty quickly.

So, did you fall for any seasonal pranks this year? As you know, Rumblechat are all about the digital world, so we were delighted to spot some virtual corkers:

• Google were feeling particularly mischievous, announcing that Youtube has actually been an 8 year competition to choose the best video of all time and the site is now ready to announce the winner and shut down. Google also announced the launch of Google Nose, providing smells for whatever you type into the search engine – just bring your nose close to the screen, press enter and inhale.
• Google were clearly on a roll as they also turned Google Maps into pirate treasure maps for the day – tee hee.
• Twitter announced that they were going to start charging tweeters to use vowels, but wouldn’t charge for consonants or ‘y’s.
• Mumsnet offered a one day course (1/04/2013) on the theory and practice of vajazzling
• Hotels.com ran an advert in the express offering overnight stays at Buckingham Palace

…and so the mirth continued. Did any such jests have you suckered / rolling in the aisles? If so, please do share.

My favourite story of all this bank holiday was the one about Freddie Mercury smuggling Princess Diana, disguised as a man, into a gay club…unbelievably, it turns out this one’s true!

David Meerman Scott has written an interesting piece on why brands should create original content rather than taking a strategy of “content curation”.  Content Curation is where you point to good content and add value by removing the noise ever present on the web.

David’s overall point is valid, but it is important to implement a strategy that is right for your business.

For the food food businesses we work with, I always recommend a strategy including content curation.   Creating really good original content is a great way to deliver value but it is also often very expensive.  It is also not always the right thing to do for your business.

As a restaurant, you’re primary job is to deliver an exceptional experience, with exceptional food every time.  As a food producer, your job is to deliver an exceptional product that excites your customers.  If you run a digital food business, then your primary job is to deliver exceptional original content.

Delivering an exceptional website and letting your service slip – Simply not acceptable.

However, something I always try to stress, is that if you’re delivering an exceptional food experience you will be doing things along the way that can be turned into digital stories that people will love.

We work with a coffeeshop, who are so particular in the quality of their coffee, they make modifications to the grinder!  That is a beautiful example of a story that should be told digitally, and can e very cheaply!

So then next time you’re working on the project, think about whether it would make good content, and take lots of pictures if it will!