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Using Vine for Brands

Clocking in at just six seconds, a Vine can make the old-school elevator pitch seem like a doctoral dissertation. But creative companies are finding a way to pack a lot of marketing muscle into the looping videos that are easy for both customers and brand-builders to create and share through social media. And some innovators are taking the video-sharing service, launched by Twitter in January 2013, from the smartphone to the big screen.

In September, Dunkin’ Donuts aired the first-ever television ad made completely from Vine video during ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown, the Monday Night Football pre-game show. The ads mimicked game replays and featured Dunkin’ drinks as players.

“I think that was an interesting and first-ever use of Vine,” says Ekaterina Walter, cofounder of Branderati.

It was also effective, with Dunkin’ Donuts representatives telling Walter each  #DunkinReplay Vine delivered as many impressions as a comparable TV spot at a significantly lower cost.

“So they found that it was a very high ROI,” said Walter, author of the upcoming book, The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand.

It was also a great way to squeeze in a marketing message in context and without really interrupting people’s viewing experience. The short video segments also fed viewers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for video content. To mark its eighth anniversary in May 2013, YouTube announced users uploaded 100 hours to YouTube every minute. And statistics collected by The 7th Chamber in fall 2013 showed five tweets per second contained a Vine video link.

“The attention span of an average customer is shrinking,” Walter said. “And so I think what’s happening is the shorter and more impactful the segments are, the more interesting and effective they will be.”

Vines that encourage interaction are one of the best ways to break though the marketing clutter. In one example, Urban Outfitters teamed up with Converse in a contest offering a cross-country trip and other prizes for Vines that creatively answered the question “Where do your Chucks go?” in six seconds or less, inspiring consumers to create their own content.

Other effective Vines offer viewers visual demos that show them how to do everything from clean rusty knives (as seen in Lowe’s Fix it in Six series) to mix the perfect Cuba Libre (as seen in Bacardi’s Six Second Cocktail series).

“People want videos that are useful and entertaining, and they want to know how you cater to their interests. Try a “how-to” or demo of your product – or present something interesting related to your brand,” said Eric Hinson, founder and CEO of Explainify, which creates brief explanatory videos. “This should go without saying for all social media, but don’t try to hard sell your products here.”

It may also be worth mentioning Vine viewers should probably complete the Lowe’s how-to before concocting cocktails.

The Benefits of Native Advertising

Native advertising has been garnering a lot of attention lately because it can provide value to an interested audience, with your publishing partner performing the heavy lifting to drive traffic to your content.

Native advertising ties your brand to your publisher’s audience, so it gives you a way to target a specific demographic where they already are consuming content. Your content’s job is to be engaging enough to entice readers to click, providing a return on your investment and giving your publisher an incentive to support future campaigns.

Initially, it was thought that branded content had to look like the surrounding news content and downplay the fact that it was created by a brand. However, it’s very likely that consumer don’t care; some are even more willing to click when they realize it’s an ad, according to University of San Francisco law professor David Franklyn.

For most native ads, 33% of readers say they don’t mind if it sponsored and about the same percentage are more inclined to read the content, according to Franklyn.

A willingness to click on these ads means your target audience cares more about the content you’re delivering than who authored it. It’s the title that draws in your reader, not the “sponsored” or “brought to you by” label. Readers are provided a value from quality content, and the association with the publisher builds credibility for your brand. 

To get the most out of native advertising, stick to established best practices:

  • Be transparent. Transparency helps build trust with your reader and this trust extends to your brand and your products.
  • Tell a story. Using a native ad on a site your audience already likes is a way to offer them relevant content that enhances their browsing experience. This isn’t a unit that provides a message with just a headline and image, so the entire article needs to tell an engaging story.
  • Help, don’t pitch. Native advertising often focus on solving a problem, but you’ll need to resist the urge to make it a full-on product promotion. Discuss the solution and provide a link to your site at the end. A sales pitch could turn readers off, while explaining how to solve a problem builds your brand as a thought leader in your industry.
  • Repeat. Native ads work best if you consistently provide quality content and build an audience. Find what works for your industry, whether that’s infographics or best practice lists, and create that content for the main problems in your industry; address one problem per post.
  • Develop metrics and standards. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your native ads, work with your marketer and publisher to determine what KPIs you want to track. After that, clarify the editorial standards of your deal so you can craft content that best drives your KPIs and keeps you in line with the publisher’s content, since they best know their audience.

Native advertising gives your company a chance to show off its knowledge about a particular subject and engage potential customers in a space where they already feel comfortable. Quality content that addresses customer problems and expands their horizons can be one of the most powerful inbound pitches in your repertoire.

Brand Advocates Supply the Boost Marketers Need

imageMarketing teams everywhere are trying to tap into the phenomenon of social media as it relates to brand and product, but you may not be aware of the direct impact your brand’s top social influencers have on sales. In brief, brand advocates posting about products on social media drive twice as much business to your company as other consumers. Are you employing a strategy that makes them want to promote your brand? Here’s what your marketing team should consider.

Social influence: Driving twice as many purchases

Forrester Consulting recently completed a research study on the buying habits of consumers online. The results say most paying customers are engaging the company via social media and, more importantly, those engaging brands socially on a daily basis are buying twice as often as those who rarely post about a company on social channels.

The activity among entertainment and consumer electronics buyers was especially notable. Entertainment brands reported 54 percent of those who posted or engaged a brand on social networks purchased their products in the past year, while only 24 percent of those not engaging the brand on social networks made a purchase during that period.

Electronics consumers followed the same trend, with 51 percent of the brand’s social network enthusiasts making a purchase against 26 percent of those who never posted or interacted with the brand on social networks. The value of the most engaged consumers also came into view: those who engaged the brand on social networks on a daily basis purchased 22 times in a single year, compared to 11.5 who checked in occasionally to Tweet, “like” or post about a brand on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.

Cultivating a relationship with brand advocates 

At New York’s ad:tech 2013 expo, the brightest minds in digital advertising brought evidence of the potential marketers can tap in brand advocates using social media. Daphne Kwon, CEO of EXPO Communications, noted that the most connected consumers on social media are women aged 18 to 34. Of the findings Kwon presented, there was a clear indication that social media influencers need validation from the brand. 

The simple act of “liking” positive engagement from social influencers made it more likely they would make a purchase of that brand’s products. Clearly, marketing teams that aren’t combing Facebook and Twitter to embrace advocates for their feedback are missing out on sales.

Examples of more direct engagement came from Pfizer’s marketing team on a Children’s Advil campaign. Pfizer’s Pina Hornyak detailed how the company launched promotions for the children’s medicine aimed at young mothers – the 18-34 female demographic engaging brands most on social media. By offering a bottle of Children’s Advil to 10,000 moms, Pfizer saw eight million impressions and 40,000 social posts about the product from the group. The mothers’ social networks ended up 30 percent more likely to buy the product following the campaign.

The path to high-quality engagement

Any marketing team devoting energy and staff to a company’s social followers is on the right track. Forrester suggested using multiple social channels throughout the customer life cycle was essential, but marketing experts say regular, positive engagement is the way to make brand advocates feel their time isn’t wasted on the company’s social channels. 

On that note, feeling compensated is a crucial part of the equation. Consumers active on social sites expect appreciation for their help. Highlighting their posts prominently on company sites may be enough, but you may also want to offer sneak peeks to these consumers – or even discounts and free samples on the order of Pfizer. These investments deliver handsome returns. 

Whatever the method, active and recurring engagement will validate the activities of brand advocates on company social media networks, making them more likely to keep up the fight for your company without much in the way of compensation. Since marketing data says they’re your best customers, it will be well worth your brand’s while.

Building Brand Relationships with LinkedIn

Adding LinkedIn connections and reaping recommendations may seem like just one more way to pass time on the internet, but LinkedIn is more than just an online resume repository. In fact, the social media site offers unique opportunities for marketers who want to reach one of the most desirable audiences online.

"On LinkedIn, brands build relationships with the world’s professionals by using highly accurate targeting to deliver the most relevant content,” said one company spokesperson. “Our members are in a professional mindset when they’re on the site, which desirable context for marketers who want to target highly engaged and receptive audiences.”

LinkedIn boasts 259 million members in more than 200 countries and territories and more than 84 million members in the U.S. alone. And those members tend to be affluent and educated, with 32 percent of U.S. users in the month-long period ended last week earning more than $100,000 and 73 percent holding either college or graduate degrees according to the digital ad firm Quantcast.

The social media site offers a number of ways to reach that audience, including paid programs such as sponsored updates, as well as free options savvy marketers can start using today.  Here are a couple of creative ways companies have leveraged the platform to provid a relevant value to the site’s targeted audience.

  • Human resources and payroll services firm ADP consolidated company pages for various units and regions and refreshed tired and outdated content. Today, ADP’s LinkedIn company page features tips on retirement and tax planning from in-house experts and incorporates useful content from industry blogs including the Society for Human Resources Management’s. The upgrades paid off and, in one year, ADP’s company page followers doubled to 85,000.
  • In advance of the 2013 U.S. Open, Callaway Golf launched “Hit the Links,” an interactive app that let LinkedIn members create the “ultimate foursome” using their own network connections. The application tapped into information in member profiles to round out the golf group, which members could then share on LinkedIn for the chance to win custom golf clubs or a set of Callaway’s HEX Chrome+ golf balls. The Hit the Links campaign also featured display ads targeting managers and members of golf discussion groups and sponsored InMails to golf discussion group members, which led to 1,500 new followers for Callaway’s company page and a sponsored InMail open rate of 32 percent.

LinkedIn members don’t have to pay for sponsored updates or targeted InMails to reap marketing benefits. Individuals and small business owners should start by making the most of the free services it offers, says Ivana Taylor, publisher of

“If you’re a small business owner, the biggest benefit you’re going to get from LinkedIn is the relationship building,” she said.

In order to build the strongest relationships, business owners should look at their personal profiles and company pages with the same critical eye they might turn to a resume or even an online dating profile. Add a professional head shot and make sure the data on LinkedIn matches the information on your business card so people searching the site will be able to easily find your profile and company page. From there, decide who you are trying to attract. Are you looking for new customers? Are you trolling for investors? Once you define your target audience, add product launch and demonstration videos, blog posts and pictures from your latest trade show appearance, photos of unique products or anything you think might attract the viewers you want. 

“Write that summary profile to the ideal customer,” Taylor said. “Doing the basics right will take some time, but it’s worth it.”

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