GIVE PEOPLE A CALL TO ACTION

A call to action is the part of your message that tells your audience what to do. If written right, it also makes them feel inspired to do it. In marketing, it’s the part of the advertisement designed to turn observers into customers. Ok, the definition is easy enough right?

Recently when populating the social media calendar at work it took me 3 hours to come up with 4 social media post! So I thought maybe I’m not doing this correct. So I searched the internet to get inspired on effective call to action writing. Most tutorials and blogs were TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read).  Summarized below are the 3 main tips you need when writing an effective call to action.

Tip # 1 Identify the audience’s desires

Firstly, you have to think what would motivate them to follow through on your ad or look at your content in the first place? Connect your CTA to fulfilling those desires. Craft your message in a way that speaks to them.

Instead of “Take a tour of our property,” it’s “Find your dream home today.” Instead of “Pitch in to prevent cruelty against animals,” it’s “Join the millions who are fighting to protect our furry friends.

Tip #2 Keep It Simple Sweetheart (KISS): Ask for Action

Secondly, make the next step easy. Clicking a button. Sharing a link. Typing an email address (but not necessarily full account information—even that amount of effort can scare people away). The easier the action, the more likely your audience will feel motivated enough to take it.

Yes, you are passionate about many cool products and services, but a social call to action is not an opportunity to share information. A call to action it’s an invitation to ACT. The easier the action, the more likely your audience will feel motivated enough to take it.

 

Make this abundantly clear through the command verbs you use:

If it’s action you’re looking for, go ahead and ask for it! And keep it short!

 

  • “Like”
  • “Click”
  • “Share”
  • “Comment”
  • “Download”

Above all it is recommended that sponsored Instagram posts only be 125 characters or less and Facebook’s recommended organic post should only be 1 to 80 characters or less.

Tip #3 Be Unique! Be Yourself!

It is imperative that you find a way to insert your unique personality into your social CTAs. Social media will always be about building REAL relationships!

Be yourself, let your personality come out when you are creating a post on social media. To get the most out of such an innovative marketing medium, you’ll need to humanize your brand. Giving it the individual flavor it needs to succeed.

Good luck, in writing your next call to action. There are many call to action examples as there are many types of businesses. The one that fits best for you will probably incorporate some of these tips.

Free Examples:

What do you think are the best call to action examples? Which brands use them well? How do you write the perfect call to action for your campaigns? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!


All data was collected from sources below

https://blog.hootsuite.com/ideal-social-media-post-length/
https://everyonesocial.com/blog/social-media-call-to-action/#:~:text=7%20Tips%20for%20Creating%20A%20Call%20to%20Action,Images%20to%20Ignite%20a%20Conversation.%207%20You%E2%80%99re%20Human%21

https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/call-to-action-examples/

https://www.business2community.com/instagram/how-to-add-a-call-to-action-button-to-your-instagram-profile-02219190

Podcasting: The Next Big Trend

Is podcasting the next big trend in content marketing?

Podcasting: The Next Big Content Marketing Trend to Watch

According to the article “The State of Content Marketing in 2021 [Stats & Trends to Watch]” by Kirsty Daniel, podcasting will grow immensely as a form of content marketing.

The article notes that in less than three years, podcast listening in the United States has increased by more than 60%, and big-name companies like Apple and Spotify are increasing their investments in podcasts and audio platforms. In October of 2020, there were 34 million podcast episodes and over 1.5 million active shows, leading experts to predict that the podcast market may reach more than 2 billion by 2023.

So why are podcasts so popular?

The author has some thoughts:

  • There is something for everyone. With thousands of episodes per day, it’s easy for listeners to find an episode that appeals to their interests.
  • Podcasts feel like a conversation between hosts and the listener. A successful host will talk to the listener instead of at them, leading them through the content in a more natural manner.

What are the benefits of investing in a podcast?

Zachery Bellinger, CRO at Casted says, “Podcasts have the ability to drive real results and pay off in terms of leads and revenue.” A survey done in 2019 found that 53% of podcast listeners enjoy hearing ads, and 61% of consumers were more likely to purchase an advertised product from a well-known national brand. Podcasts can also establish your brand as a source of industry authority. According to Holly Shannon, Producer and Host of Culture Factor 2.0, “It can highlight you and your team as thought leaders. This allows you to speak authentically and bring your value to the table for all to hear globally.”

Is Podcasting Right for Your Business?

As marketers prepare to invest significant time and money in podcasting, how do marketers make sure a podcast is the right content marketing strategy? Some tips to determine if podcasting is right for your business from a group of experts.

  • Audience. Is your audience listening to podcasts? Your efforts will fall on deaf ears if your audience is not engaging with audio platforms.
  • Valuable content. Do you have something unique and of value to say? If you’re just looking for an SEO boost, it’s probably not the best strategy.
  • Expectations. What are your expectations? Consider what you expect to generate from the podcast, whether it’s brand awareness, conversions, or monetary value, be sure it fits into the overall business strategy.

Man with headphones on listening to podcast

What makes a successful podcast?

According to experts quoted in a SEMrush Blog, there are a number of things that contribute to making a podcast successful.

  • Engaging hosts. Developing a unique tone and style can set a podcast apart from some of the rest.
  • Storytelling. Hosts need to be good storytellers for listeners to return.
  • Build your brand. Go where you know there’s an audience.
  • Format. Find a format that works for your topic and stick with it
  • Produce great content consistently.

Can You Make an Income?

Of course! Here are just a few suggestions on ways to do that:

  • Ads. Listeners tend to want to know what their favorite podcaster is promoting.
  • Sponsorships. A great way to pay the cost of producing a podcast.
  • Self-promotion. Podcasting is a useful way to promote a book, event, or workshop.
  • Gated content. Give listeners an opportunity to be members of a club for additional content and access to an exclusive community.
  • Merchandise. For the most die-hard fans this is another way to be a member of an exclusive community, and it’s free advertising.

Repurposing Podcast Content

Now that Google is indexing podcasts there is a big opportunity to repurpose audio content into video and transcript format, especially from an accessibility standpoint. Anyone with a hearing impairment won’t be able to listen to audio content so you want them to be able to access the transcript on your website. Recording a podcast can produce short video clips that can be reused on social media.

What do You Think?

  • Is podcasting the next big trend in content marketing?
  • Is it the right content strategy for your business?

Works Cited

Daniel, Kirsty, “The State of Content Marketing in 2021 [Stats & Trends to Watch].” Hubspot, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/state-of-content-marketing-infographic?_ga=2.212571220.1731571619.1637083839-730174089.1637083839, Publication date July 12, 2021, Date of access November 15, 2021.

“Podcast Listeners Pay Attention to Ads.” Marketing Charts, https://www.marketingcharts.com/advertising-trends/creative-and-formats-109408?_ga=2.212571220.1731571619.1637083839-730174089.1637083839, Publication date August 6, 2019, Date of access November 17, 2021.

“Podcast advertising generates up to 4.4x better brand recall than other digital ads.” Stitcher, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/podcast-advertising-generates-up-to-4-4x-better-brand-recall-than-other-digital-ads-300768677.html?_ga=2.212571220.1731571619.1637083839-730174089.1637083839, Publication date December 19, 2018, Date of access November 17, 2021.

Fach, Melissa, “Podcasting in 2021: What You Need to Know.” Semrush Blog, https://www.semrush.com/blog/best-tweets-semrushchat-podcasting/, Publication date December 10, 2020, Date of access November 16, 2021.

Mosier, Niki, “The Not-So-Secret Value of Podcast Transcripts.” Moz Whiteboard Fridays, https://moz.com/blog/podcast-transcripts, Publication date December 27, 2019, Date of access November 16, 2021.

Improve Your Content: The What, Why, Where and How about A/B Testing

banner image, A/B testing
Improve your content through A/B testing

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is a user experience research methodology where users are randomly split into two or more groups to see different versions of the same element. Metrics such as click-through rate and conversion rate are tracked to determine which version performs better. 

The following image shows an example of the A/B test. Half of the users, by random assignment, would see the blue version of the CTA button on the left while the other half see the green version of the CTA button with an arrow on the right. Click rate is the metric used to determine which UI design yields better results.

A/B testing example
A/B testing example

Although A/B testing is a modern name commonly associated with marketing, webpage and app development, the underlying principles of A/B testing are the same as randomized controlled experiments used in scientific research and clinical trials that have more than 100 years of history. Kaiser Fung, the director of the Applied Analytics program at Columbia University, describes A/B testing as the most basic kind of randomized controlled experiment because there are two random treatments with one as the control of the other. You must estimate the samples size and conduct statistical tests to achieve a statistical significance, which helps you make sure that the result “isn’t just because of background noise,” Fung says [1].

Why do you need A/B testing?

It is impossible to come up with the perfect and most effective UI & content that lasts forever in one attempt, which means there’s always room for improvement. A/B testing enables users to evaluate if what is thought to be “an improvement” is actually better. Further benefits of A/B testing include [2]:

Table showing benefits of A/B Testing
Benefits of A/B testing

Where can you apply A/B testing?

A/B testing applies to various formats of content such as websites, emails, blog articles, infographics, apps, and almost every single element within the content. Here are some examples of common elements to run A/B tests on [3] [4]:

      • Typography: typeface, color, and font size

        Typography's effect on user experience
        Example of typography variation
      • Call to Action: positions, color, and textual content
        A/B Test Case Study: Obama Campaign 2007
        Obama raised an extra $60 million just changing his CTA button text from “Sign Up” to “Learn More” in 2007 [5].
      • Price Schemes: freemium vs free trial vs money-back guarantees models, free trial length, and pricing of each plan
      • Copywriting: headlines lines, length, writing style, formatting
      • Design: number of columns, background image, and number of clicks or steps needed to complete conversion 

 

How to Conduct A/B Testing?

Research

Thorough research of the current website’s or content’s performance is needed before building an A/B testing plan. Website analytics tools such as Google Analytics can provide quantitative measurements about traffic, most visited pages, bounce rate, conversion rate, etc. Heat Map Tools help you identify or predict where users tend to spend time within a webpage and their scrolling behavior. Data gathered from these tools to identify and prioritize elements waiting to be improved.

You may also want to research the A/B testing tool you will use. Here is a list of popular A/B testing tools suggested by Hubspot.

Pick the variable to test

When you are optimizing your content, there might be multiple places you want to test. In the simplest form of the A/B test, only one “independent variable” should be isolated and varied while all the other controlled variables remain constant. Otherwise, you can’t be sure that the variable you are interested in is actually responsible for the change in performance.

One thing to notice is that you should look at the desktop and mobile interfaces separately to reduce background noise. Due to differences in layout, there may be a natural difference in the same element’s performance in different devices, and the magnitude of “improvement” may also vary.

If you want to change multiple elements or the entire page design at a time, check out  multivariate testing and split URL testing.

Formulate a Hypothesis

During this process, you will identify the metrics that would be measured in the test and used to evaluate the result. Although there would probably be multiple metrics, Hubspot suggests choosing a primary metric to focus on, which is your “dependent variable” [6]. Then, you should make predictions of how the dependent variable would change according to the independent variable. This prediction may be formulated into an official hypothesis. 

Determine your confidence level and sample size

Sample size influences the precision of our estimate and our ability to draw conclusions upon the result. A larger sample size can reduce the standard error and increase our confidence in the result. However, resources are limited. It would be expensive and time-consuming to use a too large sample size and confidence level. 

AB Test providers usually embed the sample size and test duration calculator into their service to make the process simple. Meanwhile, they also make the calculator available to the public for free. Here is a sample size and test duration calculator provided AB Tasty that you may want to try.

A common confidence level is 95%.

Create Variations

You’ve already had the existing version of your content or webpage serving as the control group. Now, you need to create variation, which serves as an experiment group, based on your hypothesis. There could be one or more variations of the same element just like the CTA buttons in Obama’s campaign showed previously.

Run the Test

Now, you can kick off the test and wait until you reach the desired sample size and duration. Usually, different variations should be tested simultaneously, and users should be directed to each version randomly. However, if you are testing on “timing”, like the best time to update or send emails, just follow your time schedule.

You may also want to ask for real people’s opinions to understand why people take certain actions through a survey or poll. 

Interpret the Result and Deploy changes

Statistical tests need to be performed in order to draw conclusions upon the result. Similar to sample size calculators, A/B testing calculators are embedded in service while providers also offer free online tools to do the calculation.

If one variation is statistically better, you know how to make an improvement upon the current version. If you didn’t get the significant test results, stay with the original version for now and use insights from the previous tests to design new variations and tests.

Conclusion and Discussion

After reading the article, you should have a pretty good idea of what is A/B testing, why you need it, where you can apply it and how to conduct an A/B test.

Now, it’s your turn to suggest an element that you can perform A/B test on from this email newsletter. 

Costco Email of Sales Information

 

Works Cited

[1]A. Gallo, “A refresher on a/B testing,” Harvard Business Review, 27-Nov-2017. [Online]. Available: https://hbr.org/2017/06/a-refresher-on-ab-testing. [Accessed: 19-Nov-2021].

[2]“What is A/B testing?,” BrightEdge. [Online]. Available: https://www.brightedge.com/glossary/benefits-recommendations-ab-testing. [Accessed: 19-Nov-2021].

[3]“19 obvious A/B tests you should run on Your website,” Neil Patel, 28-Aug-2021. [Online]. Available: https://neilpatel.com/blog/19-obvious-ab-tests/. [Accessed: 19-Nov-2021].

[4] S. Rawat, “What is A/B testing? A practical guide with examples: VWO,” Website, 24-Jul-2021. [Online]. Available: https://vwo.com/ab-testing/. [Accessed: 19-Nov-2021].

[5]D. Siroker, “Obama’s $60 Million Dollar experiment,” Optimizely, 24-Jun-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.optimizely.com/insights/blog/how-obama-raised-60-million-by-running-a-simple-experiment/. [Accessed: 19-Nov-2021].

[6] L. K. Cox, “How to do A/B testing: 15 steps for the perfect split test,” HubSpot Blog, 29-Sep-2021. [Online]. Available: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-do-a-b-testing. [Accessed: 19-Nov-2021].

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle the Content: Repurposing Content

recycle symbol and the titled blog banner

Have you ever wondered how content is just this churning cycle of information, slightly transformed creating a folder file to grab from? And how this information is placed on many platforms with the audiences preferred format? Well, this is most likely happening through the process of repurposing content.

What is Repurposing Content?

Repurposing can be synonymous with recycling, as repurposing content is taking a single piece of content and transforming that content into different mediums and placing it on multiple platforms.

Old information is reused, reduced (at times), and recycled, and new information is used in the same capacity, hence the term repurposing content. The question is can you spot the difference?

The key to repurposing content is to NOT literally copy and paste old information to be new content.

How does your audience like to receive information?

People enjoy and retain information in different mediums and platforms.

  • Some people may be more into reading the information from a blog post or newsletter
  • Some are visual oriented so perhaps an infographic or different video formats
  • Some want to just listen to others speak through a podcast to retain the information

image of blog post, infographic, and podcast.

Repurposing content comes in many forms as mentioned above and much more. How do you like to take in information?

What goals are needed for repurposing content?

We all have goals we want and/or must achieve, to do this we probably want to do a bit of research about the specific market, think about our audience and what is relevant at the time. Some questions to ask are:

  • What are your goals for this content?
  • Where do you want to distribute this content? On what platform(s)?
  • Which content do you repurpose?

The benefits of repurposing can be represented in different ways like:

  • To revitalize your content
  • To amplify the message of your content
  • To evolve your visuals for your content

 Decisions, decisions, decisions…

There are so many formats and respective platforms to choose from that we need to always ask questions about our

  • Audiences and intentions
  • reach and traffic
  • time and energy
  • messaging and goals

Tools and Techniques

According to the article 8 Tools For Repurposing Content from SEMrush Blog, it offers some great suggestions about tools use when you are deciding on what content to repurpose.

  • Presentations: Canva, and SlideShare to share your repurposed content.
  • Infographics: Pinterest Canva visual.ly, Visme, Piktochart
  • Video: YouTube and Vimeo, Animoto
  • Blogs: Quora, Designerr
  • Webinars: GoToWebinar
  • Podcasts: Anchor
  • Micro content: MeetEdgar digestible content
  • Email newsletter: Email marketing service provider (MailChimp, convert kit)
  • eBooks: Blurb
  • Designrr is THE tool made for repurposing content!

The possibilities to recreate and share are endless, this is just a suggestive list.

Techniques

Just to showcase a few examples of how to repurpose your content:

  • Blog post can be transformed into a podcast, quotes, social media post, webinars, presentations, email newsletters
  • Podcast can be repurposed into blogs, fun facts, audiograms, videos, eBooks, infographics
  • Infographics can be repurposed from statistics, blog posts, polls, how-tos, whitepapers
  • Videos can be repurposed to make reels, tiktok videos, podcasts, blogs

And there are many more ways you can repurpose, revamp, or amplify your content.

Repurposing content can seem overwhelming, but once you have a plan of action and strategy and you’ve asked all the necessary questions regarding repurposing, it can be a valuable outlet for content creation.

Works Cited

Raybould, Maria. “The Only Guide to Repurposing Content You Will Need in 2021.” SEMrush Blog, 22 Dec 2020, Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.semrush.com/blog/guide-to-repurposing-content-in-2020/

Raybould, Maria. “8 Tools for Repurposing Content.” SEMrush Blog, 22 Jul 2020, Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.semrush.com/blog/8-tools-for-repurposing-content/

How to create content that inspires

how to create content that inspires
People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it

How to create content that inspires:

People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it – Simon Sinek’s theory on how great leaders inspire people to take action

The author and inspirational leader Simon Sinek has an interesting theory on how great leaders inspire people to take action that can apply to content marketing. He calls it the golden circle theory. The golden circle has three rings: “what,” the outside ring, “how,” the middle ring and “why,” in the center.

how to create content that inspires
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory

The Golden Circle Theory explained

Typically, companies operate from the outside in: “what,” describing a product or service —> “how”, explaining how they create the product or what makes it so great —> “why,” the pitch to buy the product.

He explains that inspirational leaders and companies do the opposite – they operate from the “why,” telling first the story of what motivates them as a company, not about the product. And this belief might be something that is impactful, meaningful, transformational for the consumer.

“The goal is to have your customer believe what you believe, and/or hire people who believe what you believe.”

Examples of how “why” inspires people

Sinek gives the example of the first people to take flight in an airplane. There was a man who was attempting to take flight – who gained a lot of publicity, money and status surrounding his attempt at being successful at flying.

And then there were the Wright Brothers, who had nothing close to what might be a path to becoming the first people to fly. What they had was the belief that they could put a vehicle into the air and change the world, and they were able to do it with little money and engineers.

If your “belief” or “why” is powerfully moving enough for the consumer or the audience, you have the potential to make an impact. Sinek is saying then you have the potential to succeed. He uses another of example of how Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream,” speech drew thousands by word of mouth, without advertising, websites, news or media.

Think of all the companies you are loyal to or have worked for – which ones are successful and which are not? How did they reach their success? This theory rings true for the brands I have worked for or believe in – if there is a mission at the core I am more likely to choose them over others in the long run.

How defining “why” applies to content marketing

This theory resonates for creating content too. What it boils down to is people want a sense of belonging and want something to believe in. And yes, they may need a new computer or whatever product you are making, but they want to feel like they a part of something. Our hearts and souls want to connect to something, and if the belief behind a company/product/service is communicated through content that will be felt by the audience and naturally they will move toward this, versus a company/service just motivated to make money.

“We want to be inspired, and those that start with why can inspire.”

Start applying the theory to your content

Here are a few ways a brand can start messaging in this “Why-centered” way using the golden circle.

  • Define what the “why” is. It may be your existing mission statement, or needs to be defined or redefined.
  • What are some benefits of your “why”? Use these benefits as part of your content messaging. For example, if your why is transforming the food system the benefits might be that you source organic ingredients, or you keep track of all the policy updates on organic certifications and technology.
  • Create a strategy or list of possible content ideas such as videos, blogs and social media posts dedicated to the “why.” Some of the posts should have nothing to do with product at all, and only aim to inspire.
  • Think about how your audience can become a community that constantly returns to your content to get inspired.

Personalized Videos: The Next Revolution in Content Marketing

person typing on laptop at desk

Personalized Videos: The Next Revolution in Content Marketing

Are personalized videos the next revolution in content marketing? Jodi Harris dives into this question in her Content Marketing Institute article “The What, Why, and How of Video’s Next Revolution in Content Marketing.”  As content marketers discover new ways to engage their users, video content has transitioned to deliver on the audience’s growing expectation of content with personal relevance and value. General, non-personalized videos are no longer working for brands when it comes to compelling people to act on what they’re watching, which is why, Harris says, video will increasingly begin to focus on personalization. 

What are personalized videos?

Personalized videos are created by fusing details about the recipient into the storytelling experience, establishing a one-on-one conversational experience between the targeted audience and the brand. These details can range from simply the recipient’s name to more detailed customer data. Harris recommends integrating CRM system data to expand personalization possibilities and in turn better highlight the value of your business.

Personalized videos can include:

  • Visual elements based on personal location, interests, and purchasing behaviors
  • Audio over a video that can change depending on what information would be relevant to the specific customer
  • Real-time experiences that include content actually created by your audience and highlighted by your brand; these can include text, images, and personal details. (While this can add costs, it also encourages more engagement with the content as well as provides insights on consumers interests and preferences).
  • In-video shopping gives consumers the opportunity to self-select products or features they want to learn more about, which also drives traffic to the brand’s website.

How to start creating personalized video content

While filming and customizing video content manually is an option, Harris strongly recommends utilizing technology to acquire data on customer information. Creating a video template with fields for personalized elements is key as through a robust CRM system, these templates can be efficiently replicated and customized for each viewer. If personalization is essential for success, you must establish clear goals of this effort to measure how well your personalization strategy is performing. Considering every step of the creative process will set your brand up for success, this includes mapping out your story, where to place personalized features, and what you want the viewer to do after.

Examples of how brands have embraced personalizing videos:

The University of Waterloo Utilizing text overlays, the University of Waterloo placed the prospective student’s name throughout a first-person video of orientation day to create a personalized experience for the recipients

Facebook also employs personalized videos in the form of celebrating users’ memories and milestones, including commemorating friendships, birthdays, and anniversaries:

facebook personalized friend video screenshot

Subaru’s audience includes sports enthusiasts and active families that enjoy the outdoors. They’ve even considered people’s pets in their marketing efforts with the creation of the Barkleys, a family of retrievers. Through their Best Day Ever campaign, Subaru created a customizable video where fans can insert their likeness into a day with the Barkelys. This enabled users to see themselves as part of the brand lifestyle.

What do you think?

Do you think this level of personalization in video content is the next revolution in content marketing? How personalized is too personalized? 

Work Cited:

Harris, J. (2021, August 3). The what, why, and how of video’s next revolution in content marketing. Content Marketing Institute. Retrieved November 7, 2021, from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2021/08/videos-next-revolution/.

Is a picture on social media worth a thousand words?

Quantifying the impact of images in social media

 

It is widely assumed that including pictures in a social media post leads to higher engagement, but how great is that effect? Does the choice of image matter? Is it the same for all social media platforms? Artificial intelligence and deep learning models can help to provide the answers. Yiyi Li and Ying Xie set out to quantify the impact of images on social media engagement.

Photo of Yiyi Li, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Arlington, USA and co-author of Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? An Empirical Study of Image Content and Social Media Engagement
Yiyi Li, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Arlington, USA

Photo of Ying Xie, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Dallas, USA, and co-author of Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? An Empirical Study of Image Content and Social Media Engagement
Ying Xie, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Texas at Dallas, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their paper, first published online in November 2019, is the most read article in the American Marketing  Association’s  Journal of Marketing Research. It was the first to explore the impact of image content on engagement and provides valuable guidance specifically for twitter and Instagram. This study highlights best practices in analysis of social media and the use of supervised learning algorithms to code text content. It  reveals the potential for deep learning models to extract information from image data – a powerful new tool for marketing research.

Which image should I use?

The study considers three different scenarios:

  • Mere presence – you just need a picture, any picture, to catch people’s attention.
  • Image characteristics – you need a good picture. The study considers colorfulness, the presence of human face and emotional state and image quality.
  • Image–text fit – you need a relevant picture, something that helps people to understand the topic of the post.

Computers and people - you need both to analyze images and text in social media posts
Both people and artificial intelligence were used to analyze the impact of images on social media engagement

The study analyzed 14,959 tweets mentioning at least one model of sport utility vehicle, plus 18,790 tweets and 2,044 Instagram photos mentioning at least one major U.S. airline. The researchers used supervised learning algorithms and deep learning, but they also needed people.  It is remarkable that a computer can detect a face in an image. It is remarkable that AI can assess the mood of a post based on analysis of words and pixels. But the esthetic quality of each image and how relevant it was to the topic was judged by an army of humans recruited using Amazon Automatic Turk. Computers can’t do that (yet).

Quantifying the impact of images on social media engagement

The analysis reveals a wealth of information. You should read it. But here are the headline results:

  • The mere presence of an image always helps a tweet to receive more likes and retweet

The air travel posts received 87.26% more likes and 119.15% retweets when images were included. There results were even more remarkable for SUV posts: a 151.56% increase in likes and 213.12% retweets!

  • High-quality pictures always lead to more engagement
  • Pictures with a human face and images relevant to the text content induce more sharing and liking on Twitter. These factors do not affect engagement on Instagram.

The Discussion

The authors demonstrate that using the latest research tools and methods  it is possible to go beyond assumptions and  quantify the impact of images on social media engagement.

Twitter was created to share news and status updates. Instagram was created to share pictures. For Instagram image quality is critical – the text is less important. In contrast, most tweets do not even include an image. When they do it needs to be a picture that relevant to the news being shared, or a photo of a person that is relevant to the status update.

The authors were concerned about bias in their results due to an effect called endogeneity – an ever-present danger in observational data. Perhaps the posts including images received more likes for reasons that had nothing to do with the image? The technique they used to correct for this bias, propensity score matching, was developed by statisticians looking at outcomes from medical treatment. Those researchers wondered if differences between treated and untreated groups of patients were caused by factors that had nothing to do with the treatment (for example, the fact that patients receiving treatment regularly visited a doctor). This study used a similar statistical approach to control for factors that could affect engagement, but were not related to the presence of an image in the post (for example, the timing of the post).

So: Is a picture on social media really worth a thousand words?

Adding picture to a twitter post may not be worth 1000 words. Assuming an average of 5 characters per word that would be at least 18 more tweets. But a 200% increase in retweets is definitely worth the effort!

Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? An Empirical Study of Image Content and Social Media Engagement, Yiyi Li and Ying Xie, Journal of Marketing Research, 57(1), 1-19, 2020, provides a robust statistical analysis that takes marketing decision making beyond assumptions.

You should read it.

Thought Leadership as Content Marketing Strategy

Thought Leadership as Content Marketing Strategy

“Thought Leader” as a title is meaningless.

It often appears as a self-appointed term in bios and resumes, like “Self-Starter” and “Team Player.” Meaningless in absence of any proof. At best, a generic buzzword. At worst, a signal of intellectual laziness–the precise opposite of thought leadership.

What use is “thought leader,” then? This depends on who is saying it.

To paraphrase Tywin Lannister, anyone who says “I am a thought leader” is no true thought leader.

Attributed to you by others, “thought leader” is a compliment, but remains generic and uninformative.

As an aspirational goal, though, “thought leader” can be priceless: a vision that motivates you to earn the distinction from others rather than claim it for yourself.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them." - Henry David Thoreau

Thought Leadership can be an intentional strategy to guide content marketing for subject matter experts, according to Hinge, a branding and marketing firm for professional services. This article will explore ideas presented in Hinge’s article Thought Leadership Marketing for the Subject Matter Expert, and will enlarge upon those ideas with suggestions for content strategy and content marketing tactics.

What is thought leadership marketing?

Hinge defines thought leadership marketing as:

“…the process of increasing the visibility of specialized expertise and accelerating market influence to accomplish marketing goals, such as building brand strength or generating new business. It is accomplished by creating insightful analysis and content and making that thought leadership visible to your target markets.”

“Thought leaders are individuals or firms recognized for their specialized expertise and their influence on the development of their discipline. They are both subject matter experts and influencers. They lead the thinking of their field of expertise.”

When is thought leadership marketing the right strategy?

Thought leadership works best for specific businesses, audiences, and service offerings:

  • When you know your clients and their business challenges. This determines the issues you build your thought leadership content around.
  • When it is difficult to differentiate your firm from competitors. This is often true for professional services, which can become commodities when many firms make the claims about “their people” or “technical expertise” or dedication to “great service” as their differentiator.
  • When every client engagement is different. Thought leadership demonstrates skill at original thinking and signals that you can help clients solve unique problems.

The strategy is in the name, part 1: Thought

Thought leadership requires new thinking: innovation, advanced thinking, and new perspectives. This demand for original thinking is a litmus test: content can be helpful, entertaining, funny, or inspiring–but unless it is innovative or advances thinking in some field, it does not qualify as thought leadership.

How to develop thought leadership content

Hinge suggests several methods for creating content as a thought leader:

  • Narrow your focus. Think deep expertise, not broad and shallow ideas.
  • Original research. This is the raw material of thought leadership: find new data and new insights that can be applied and shared.
  • Contrarian perspectives. Look at challenges from different perspectives: your client’s point of view, the opposite of established practices, the Devil’s advocate.
  • Mash up expertise. Combine ideas of different disciplines. “New thinking can come from new combinations, not only original creations.”
  • Interact with other experts. Access to their advanced thoughts improves your own thinking. You can push one another to innovate, to get smarter, to challenge assumptions. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17). And other experts’ platforms can serve to spread your ideas and enhance your credibility.

Walt Disney used a concept he called “plussing” to generate and improve ideas in all areas of his work. One rule for this process is that you may only criticize an idea of you also add a constructive suggestion. “During production meetings, instead of merely shooting down ideas, every criticism must come with a plus, with a better idea attached.  This concept creates a culture where no one is afraid to make their ideas heard and that no idea is merely taken at face value.” Disney challenged himself and his employees to “plus it,” to take every idea a few steps further. 

The strategy is in the name, part 2: Leadership

Thought leadership requires not only new thinking, but new thinking that is recognized and followed by others. The key, according to Hinge, is to be visible where your customers look for new ideas and solutions. In Hinge’s model, there are 3 primary ways to make thought leadership visible:

  • Direct Interaction and Networking
  • Writing
  • Speaking

This prioritizes traditional, offline presentations over online channels.

But no superstar in their field limits themselves to networking, writing, and speaking. This is an artifact of thinking that values face-to-face interaction over digital media. During a pandemic, this is a poor strategy!

Further, offline techniques do not scale as easily as online channels.

Hinge Marketing diagram comparing online and offline marketing techniques.

There is a false equivalency in Hinge’s model of offline vs. online techniques. They suggest that “…for each offline technique there is a corresponding online technique.” Placing “Search” opposite “Cold Calls” on an infographic suggests they are similar in a superficial way, obscuring real differences between understanding search intent and prospecting effectively.

Upgrading thought leadership with digital content marketing

The Hinge model misses a crucial opportunity: how different marketing channels can interact. Gary Vaynerchuk describes a content strategy for compounding content: harvesting long-form content for many short-form content items (his presentation is subtitled How I Make 30+ Pieces of Content from a Single Keynote) which can be repurposed, optimized, shared in many different online channels, evaluated, annotated with user comments, and shared again.

Content generation flowchart from The GaryVee Content Model

Compounding content like this is a force multiplier for thought leadership marketing, enabling exponentially more content and visibility. And it leverages the speed and responsiveness of digital marketing channels lacking in Hinge’s recommended tactics of face-to-face networking, speaking, and writing. The most powerful strategy is to combine an assortment of marketing channels, online and offline.

Thought leadership: Strategy and process

Thought leadership as a content marketing strategy works to help subject matter experts stand out in the market by demonstrating their expertise, signaling their ability to help clients meet unique challenges, and offering proof of performance competitors cannot match.

Thought Leadership as a process can continually advance your core expertise, your ideas, your profession, and your business. There is no end to potential for “plussing.”

The value is in the process, not the title. The journey, not the destination.

 

Works Cited:

Frederiksen, Lee, “Thought Leadership Marketing for the Subject Matter Expert.” Hinge, hingemarketing.com/blog/story/thought-leadership-marketing-for-the-subject-matter-expert, Publication date October 13, 2021, Date of access October 30, 2021.

Frederiksen, Lee, “Why Professional Services Brands are Different.” Hinge, hingemarketing.com/blog/story/why_professional_services_brands_are_different, Publication date May 17, 2010, Date of access October 30, 2021.

Pace, Douglass, “5 of Our Favorite Innovation Concepts.” Stonehill, stonehillinnovation.com/blog-1/2017/12/30/5-of-our-favorite-innovation-concepts, Publication date December 30, 2017, Date of access October 30, 2021.

Vaynerchuk, Gary, “The GaryVee Content Strategy: How to Grow and Distribute Your Brand’s Social Media Content.” GaryVaynerchuk, garyvaynerchuk.com/the-garyvee-content-strategy-how-to-grow-and-distribute-your-brands-social-media-content/, Publication date January 30, 2019, Date of access October 30, 2021.

 

Smart Marketing For Kids

Kids represent an important demographic to marketers because in addition to their own purchasing power (which is considerable) they influence their parents’ buying decisions and are the adult consumers of the future.

According to the 2018 YTV Kids and Tweens Report, kids influence:

  • Breakfast choices (97% of the time) and lunch choices (95% of the time).
  • Where to go for casual family meals (98% of the time) (with 34% of kids always having a say on the choice of casual restaurant).
  • Clothing purchases (95% of the time).
  • Software purchases (76% of the time) and computer purchases (60% of the time).
  • Family entertainment choices (98% of the time) and family trips and excursions (94% of the time). [1]

As a result, industry spending on advertising to children has exploded over the past two decades. In the United States alone, companies spent over $17 billion.

Parents today are willing to buy more for their kids because trends such as smaller family size, dual incomes and postponing having children until later in life mean that families have more disposable income. As well, guilt can play a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids.

Here are some of the strategies marketers employ to target children and teens:

Pester power

“We’re relying on the kid to pester the mom to buy the product, rather than going straight to the mom.”
Barbara A. Martino, Advertising Executive

Today’s kids have more autonomy and decision-making power within the family than in previous generations, so it follows that kids are vocal about what they want their parents to buy. “Pester power” refers to children’s ability to nag their parents into purchasing items they may not otherwise buy. Marketing to children is all about creating pester power, because advertisers know what a powerful force it can be.

According to the marketing industry book Kidfluence, pestering or nagging can be divided into two categories—”persistence” and “importance.” Persistence nagging (a plea, that is repeated over and over again) is not as effective as the more sophisticated “importance nagging.” This latter method appeals to parents’ desire to provide the best for their children, and plays on any guilt they may have about not having enough time for their kids.

The marriage of psychology and marketing

To effectively market to children, advertisers need to know what makes kids tick. With the help of well-paid researchers and psychologists, advertisers now have access to in-depth knowledge about children’s developmental, emotional and social needs at different ages. Using research that analyzes children’s behaviour, fantasy lives, artwork, even their dreams, companies are able to craft sophisticated marketing strategies to reach young people. For example, in the late 1990s the advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi hired cultural anthropologists to study children engaging with digital technology at home in order to figure out how best to engage them with brands and products. [2]

The issue of using child psychologists to help marketers target kids gained widespread public attention, when a group of U.S. mental health professionals issued a public letter to the American Psychological Association (APA) urging them to declare the practice unethical. Although the APA did not outright ban psychologists from engaging in this practice, as a result, the recommendations of their final report included that the APA “undertake efforts to help psychologists weigh the potential ethical challenges involved in professional efforts to more effectively advertise to children, particularly those children who are too young to comprehend the persuasive intent of television commercials.” [3]

Building brand name loyalty

Canadian author Naomi Klein tracked the birth of “brand” marketing in her 2000 book No Logo. According to Klein, the mid-1980s saw the birth of a new kind of corporation—Nike, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, to name a few—which changed their primary corporate focus from producing products to creating an image for their brand name. By moving their manufacturing operations to countries with cheap labour, they freed up money to create their powerful marketing messages. It has been a tremendously profitable formula, and has led to the creation of some of the most wealthy and powerful multi-national corporations the world has seen.

Marketers plant the seeds of brand recognition in very young children, in the hopes that the seeds will grow into lifetime relationships. According to the Center for a New American Dream, babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots. Brand loyalties can be established as early as age two, and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos.

While fast food, toy and clothing companies have been cultivating brand recognition in children for years, adult-oriented businesses such as banks and automakers are now getting in on the act.

Magazines such as TimeSports Illustrated, Vogue and People have all launched kid and teen editions—which boast ads for adult related products such as minivans, hotels and airlines.

Buzz or street marketing

The challenge for marketers is to cut through the intense advertising clutter in young people’s lives. Many companies are using “buzz marketing”—a new twist on the tried-and-true “word of mouth” method. The idea is to find the coolest kids in a community and have them use or wear your product in order to create a buzz around it. Buzz, or “street marketing,” as it’s also called, can help a company to successfully connect with the savvy and elusive teen market by using trendsetters to give their products “cool” status.

Buzz marketing is particularly well-suited to the Internet, where young people in particular use social networking platforms to spread the word about music, clothes and other products. It should come as no surprise that the top ten viral marketing campaigns relied heavily on YouTube and Facebook to reach hundreds of millions of viewers—and this was before Twitter became a mainstay of social media.

Commercialization in education

School used to be a place where children were protected from the advertising and consumer messages that permeated their world—but not any more. Budget shortfalls are forcing school boards to allow corporations access to students in exchange for badly needed cash, computers and educational materials.

Corporations realize the power of the school environment for promoting their name and products. A school setting delivers a captive youth audience and implies the endorsement of teachers and the educational system. Marketers are eagerly exploiting this medium in a number of ways, including:

  • Sponsored educational materials: for example, a Kraft “healthy eating” kit to teach about Canada’s Food Guide (using Kraft products); or forestry company Canfor’s primary lesson plans that make its business focus seem like environmental management rather than logging.
  • Supplying schools with technology in exchange for high company visibility.
  • Exclusive deals with fast food or soft drink companies to offer their products in a school or district.
  • Advertising posted in classrooms, school buses, on computers, etc. in exchange for funds.
  • Contests and incentive programs: for example, the Pizza Hut reading incentives program Book It! in which children receive certificates for free pizza if they achieve a monthly reading goal; or Campbell’s Labels for Education project, in which Campbell provides educational resources for schools in exchange for soup labels collected by students.
  • Sponsoring school events: The Canadian company ShowBiz brings moveable video dance parties into schools to showcase various sponsors’ products.

In addition, companies are also recognizing the advantages of developing positive brand associations through facilitating school field trips. In the U.S., the highly successful company Field Trip Factory delivers children to companies for “real-world lessons on everything from nutrition to health care.” For example, students may visit a car dealership to learn about car safety. This is seen as a win-win situation by many educators and retailers because it lets children have hands-on experiences outside their classrooms, while building positive associations between companies, students and their parents and teachers. [5]

The Internet

The Internet is an extremely desirable medium for marketers wanting to target children:

  • It’s part of youth culture. This generation of young people is growing up with the Internet as a daily and routine part of their lives.
  • Parents generally do not understand the extent to which kids are being marketed to online.
  • Kids are often online alone, without parental supervision.
  • Unlike broadcasting media, which have codes regarding advertising to kids, the Internet is unregulated.
  • Sophisticated technologies make it easy to collect information from young people for marketing research, and to target individual children with personalized advertising.
  • By creating engaging, interactive environments based on products and brand names, companies can build brand loyalties from an early age.

The main ways that companies market to young people online include:

  • Relationship building through ads that attempt to connect with consumers by building personal relationships between them and the brand.
  • Viral ads that are designed to be passed along to friends.
  • Behavioural targeting, where ads are sent to individuals based on personal information that has been posted or collected.
  • Endorsements by online “influencers” who are paid to recommend a product in what looks like a genuine way.

Marketing adult entertainment to kids

In 2019, an estimated 17 million children watched the Superbowl with their families. Alongside the football, they also watched a number of highly creative and engaging ads for beer and alcohol.

The marketing of adult entertainment to children has been, and continues to be, an ongoing issue between government regulators and various media industries. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took movie, music and video games industries to task for routinely marketing violent entertainment to young children. Subsequent reports since then have shown that although advances have been made – particularly within the video game industry – there are still many outstanding concerns relating to the frequency that adult-oriented entertainment is marketed to children and the ease with which many under-age youth are able to access adult-rated games, movies and music. [6] Specific areas where the FTC is calling on entertainment media to improve on include restricting the marketing of mature-rated products to children, clearly and prominently disclosing rating information and restricting children’s access to mature-rated products at retail. [7]

In its latest report, the FTC particularly noted the challenges presented by emerging technologies in facilitating easy access by children to adult-rated entertainment.

The real challenge is that promotionhip-hop artist Snoop Dog of adult-oriented entertainment does not necessarily fall within the parameters outlined by regulatory agencies such as the FTC. For example, Nickelodeon’s 2011 Kids Choice Awards were hosted by hip-hop artist Snoop Dog, who, in addition to producing music that is not rated for children, is also a spokesperson for the fruity alcoholic beverage, Blast. Alcohol companies also use social networking platforms like Facebook to humanize their brands and make it easy for customers to ‘connect’ with their products.

//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/key/LJKWbBo931DUOY <div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”//www.slideshare.net/introtodigital/smart-marketing-for-kids-250139741″ title=”Smart marketing for kids” target=”_blank”>Smart marketing for kids</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”https://www.slideshare.net/introtodigital” target=”_blank”>introtodigital</a></strong> </div>

 

[1] Poulton, Terry. “ ‘Kidfulence’ on family spending strong: YTV Report.” Media in Canada. February 22, 2018.
[2] Russakoff, D. Marketers following youth trends to the bank, The Washington Post, April 19, 2019.
[3] Wilcox, B., Cantor, J., Dowrick, P., Kunkel, D., Linn, S., & Palmer, E. (2014). Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children: Recommendations. http://www.apa.org/releases/childrenads_recommendations.pdf
[5] ABC News. More Companies Market Directly to Kids. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=130347&page=1#.T6PQ_NnNkYK
[6] Federal Trade Commission (2019). FTC Renews Call to Entertainment Industry to Curb Marketing of Violent Entertainment to Children. http://www.narm.com/PDF/FTCReport_1209.pdf
[7] Ibid.

Artificial Intelligence: The future of blogs?

AI header

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been a long time coming, but artificial intelligence is finally beginning to change the way we do things. AI has already left its mark on retail and transportation, and now it may be changing the future of blog posts as well.

It’s no secret that AI is going to change the world in a number of ways. As with all major technological advances, AI brings both challenges and opportunities for business owners who are willing to take risks.

In this article, we’ll explore what AI might mean for marketers, as well as how you can use AI technology today without making drastic changes to your work flow or content consistency.

What does Artificial Intelligence mean to you as a marketer?

In AI, the technology is already being applied to many industries and sectors. Marketing needs AI too! AI can help marketers by automating some of their most time-consuming tasks so they have more time for creativity. In this day and age when everyone has a blog post to share on social media it’s hard work coming up with original content. Artificial intelligence can help add freshness to your content by taking care of the “boring” tasks. AI can be used in many ways such as generating content based on key phrases and keywords, summarizing articles or reading through archives for information about a specific subject matter.

Available Artificial Intelligence Tools

Quillbot, Autodraw, and Jarvis

There are a variety of tools you can use for AI blog content generation . AI content generators include Google’s AI-powered AutoDraw, which can generate drawings and illustrations based on keywords.

QuillBot is another AI blog post generator worth mentioning, which uses artificial intelligence to generate new blog posts with a summary of the most significant data.

For writing an entire blog post, you may find Jarvis.ai to be valuable as it’s AI system can automatically generate blog posts with relevant content. You easily guide the direction of the content being written by adding periodic sentences that steer the AI.

Artificial intelligence is a growing space with new options and tools popping up frequently. There is likely an AI tool available that fits with your needs, from images to entire blogs, just do a little poking around this awesome space to find the tool that works for you!

How to use AI to write content

As a primer into using AI generated content, we will use Jarvis.ai an example.

Although a subscription service, Jarvis offers a 5 day free trial, which will allow you to get a feel for the software as well as its AI writing process.

The free trial includes the pro version, featuring the long-form writing assistant, which can write entire blogs with ease.

However, this may be out of the price range of a casual blogger. The Starter package will be able to assist in your outline as well as writing your intro and conclusion paragraphs, which can be a big creative hang up. In addition, it offers SEO and content improvement tools for blogging.

In the slides below, we will take a look at using these features.

Is AI writing viable for a professional blog?

If you’re considering using this technology in your own marketing strategy, just remember to do the legwork beforehand and be sure that it will work well with your specific needs and goals before committing. However, using an AI for blog writing may be a good fit for your industry! You may still be skeptical about the capabilities and have questions. Does the writing look natural? Does it seem human? Can an AI actually turn out a quality article?

This blog may answer those questions for you. It may come to a surprise, however, roughly 85% of what you just read was written by AI.

 

 

Sources:

AI writing and how to screen shots by Jarvis.AI Pro

Blue AI image from Rajesh_sahu on Flickr