The Social Scene in 2015


Posted by Erin Schroeder, Copywriter & Online Specialist

As more marketers have joined the social scene this year and discovered new ways to connect with their customers, the big question is this: How will things look in 2015?

A new article from Forbes gives us an idea by providing some practical projections, including which social sites are likely to gain steam, which may fizzle a bit and what the social picture could resemble as a whole.

Right now, the big buzz is about a new platform called Ello. Currently in the beta testing stage and only accessible by invitation, Ello is being described as a “hip” channel that will rival Facebook in many ways. Its tagline is “Simple, beautiful and ad-free,” and in its manifesto, the user-centric site promises to never sell member info to third parties.

While the article predicts the rise of Ello, it also forecasts a major decline for Google+. Why so? When put in the ring with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the consensus is that the social site doesn’t really offer its own distinct value.

A few other predictions for the social scene in 2015? Here’s a summary:

  • Facebook and Twitter advertising will become more popular among businesses in an attempt to further improve reach and results
  • Instagram will keep growing as the trend toward image-based social sharing continues to build
  • LinkedIn will remain the social site of choice in the B2B realm and the gap will keep widening among the competition

To cap it all off, the final prediction for social media in the year ahead is the fundamental role it will play in content marketing. As marketers work to publish and distribute new material more regularly, they are expected to discover just how effective social media has become in getting this content in front of their intended audiences.

Surviving the “Form Filtering Phase”


Posted by Brenda Timm, Vice President – Strategic Communication & Online Services

You’ve written a clever subject line and your recipient clicks to open the message … success! The intro copy is so compelling that he or she takes the next step and clicks the link to the guide/e-book/tip sheet, etc., you’re sharing … hooray!

But, unfortunately, the celebrating often ends here as this is the point where many would-be readers drop off.

Why is this the case?

When confronted with a lead generation form, many people suddenly decide that the content they’re about to download might not be worth the hassle. They might see all those fields as too daunting and immediately forget about the value the piece may have to offer. Or, they might question how you’re planning to use the contact details they’re asked to provide.

Whatever the case, the good news is that there are many ways to help your readers through this “form filtering phase.” Here’s a start:

  • Along with the form, add some supporting bullet points to the page with content highlights that serve as a reminder of what’s to come. Other options? Pull out an excerpt or a quote that teases the information within or preview some data and percentages (people love numbers!).
  • Consider the information that is most essential to collect and simplify your lead generation form to as few fields as possible.
  • Mark only the required fields with asterisks and make the rest optional. Note the specifics so readers understand exactly what needs to be filled out.
  • Add your privacy policy and reassure respondents that their contact details won’t be passed around. Don’t have enough space? Link to your policy.
  • Be clear on the call to action. Start with a fitting headline such as “Get Your Free Guide” and end with an appropriate button like “Download Now” or similar.
  • Include a contact number or email address in case the reader chooses not to download your content, but has a question or still wants to reach out.

It’s a big deal when readers open your message and click to take action. Don’t risk losing them at the sight of a lead generation form … follow some simple steps to help readers make it all the way to your content.

Bringing Influencers On Board


Posted by Dave Willems, CEO & Principal

When we throw the term “influencer” out there, it can have a variety of definitions. An influencer can be an industry expert or a brand advocate … a colleague, a team leader or someone who is just really well-connected within your community.

So why are these influencers so important to have on board?

A recent article from SocialBro reports that 74% of customers rely on social media to guide their purchasing decisions today. And where do you think the typical influencers tend to spend a good chunk of their time?

Yep, you guessed it. Social sites.

According to the article, influencers are 40%+ more likely to get people to look up information than regular users are, and they are 90% more likely to persuade others to choose a particular brand.

Those are some pretty significant stats, aren’t they?

Here’s our take on a few common traits the article shares about influencers that show why this group has become so instrumental on the social scene today:

  • Thought leaders – People often seek out the opinions of influencers because they trust their knowledge and experience in a certain area or field.
  • Plugged in across multiple channels – Along with being active on social sites like Facebook and Twitter, influencers are also putting their voices out there via columns, blogs, e-newsletters and other digital-based outlets.
  • Trendsetters – A characteristic many influencers share? They love to follow the latest trends! They’re ready to try new technologies or support business ideas that show promise.
  • Confidence builders – We can talk all we want about how great our product or service is, but influencers can help back up those claims. They’ll dish out the product reviews and share their thoughts on the best features.
  • Targeted – If we can identify who our influencers are, we can market to them directly. The upside to that? It’s like a ripple effect once they start spreading our story to their own circles.

Now that so many people are turning to social channels as part of the purchasing process, influencers play a more important role in marketing than ever. Do you know who yours are, or is it time to get some on board with your brand?

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Online Content: Finding the Right Length


Posted by Erin Schroeder, Copywriter & Online Specialist

As we write content to be published online, the question of “how much is too much?” comes up again and again.

There’s no right answer for any one channel, but thanks to some in-depth research and comparisons from BufferSocial, we have a better idea for what seems to work best.

Here are some of the findings for the ideal copy length by content type:

  • Tweets – 100 characters
  • Facebook posts – Less than 40 characters
  • Email subject lines – 28-39 characters
  • Blog posts – 1,600 words
  • Headlines – 6 words
  • Online seminar – 18 minutes

Do you see the trend here? For most types of content, it seems that shorter copy wins out.

Consider tweets. Each time we post something on Twitter, we’re limited to 140 total characters. It’s often hard enough to stay within that count and convey what we’re trying to say, so take away 40 of those characters, and it’s an even bigger challenge.

Or how about headlines? Suppose you write a very compelling article that covers a bunch of great information and you’re given the task of summarizing the piece in just six words. Not such an easy thing to do, is it?

But think of how people typically use the web today. They’re looking for information quickly … often scanning content on their handheld devices while on the go and skimming their news feeds for the topics they find most interesting or relevant.

Of course, as we write, not every piece is going to fit these guidelines, and some audiences may be less ‘sensitive’ to length than others.

Take this blog post as an example. In the end, it will come out to just over 300 words. We managed to get the headline down to the recommended six words or less, but didn’t feel that a 1,600-word post made much sense.

That’s the key … consider the suggestions for ideal length in your writing and then decide what is right for your readers.

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Case Study: BloomReach & the Red Dress

red dress

Posted by Brenda Timm, Vice President – Strategic Communication & Online Services

Have you heard the story about a little quiz on a red dress that’s making its way across the web?

It all began with the BloomReach Personalized Discovery Platform, a product that combines different applications to understand what people are searching for online across various channels and devices, and then match them with the appropriate content.

BloomReach aims to understand how people see and talk about products, and to show customers how it does this, the company developed an interactive quiz built around a single red dress.

What BloomReach found in terms of engagement and results was pretty unexpected.

Launching a quiz via the ion interactive platform, BloomReach created a visual design for a red dress and then paired it with a bunch of questions that asked readers about everything from cut and color to fit and occasion. The quiz quickly went viral and had a huge participation rate after BloomReach used a multi-channel strategy of social channels, targeted email tactics and paid ads to distribute it.

With a 70% conversion rate, the quiz’s engagement rate was much higher than anyone could have anticipated; but what really came as a surprise to many who were following the survey was how differently all of the participants described the exact same item.

Consider neckline. While “square” came in as the top answer, others explained the neckline as “scoop,” “sweetheart” and “tank.” And when asked what occasion someone would wear the dress to, responses ranged from “birthday party” and “clubbing” to “gallery opening.”

To one, it was seen as fancy, and to another, it was casual. Interesting how people can have such varying interpretations, isn’t it?

While the quiz underscores just how captivating a simple visual can be in getting people to engage, it also shows how diversely consumers may be thinking about – and planning to use – our products.

The red dress project from BloomReach provides a great reminder: it’s essential to consider every perspective possible when it comes to marketing an item.

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The Upsides to User-Generated Content


Posted by Erin Schroeder, Copywriter & Online Specialist

Some of the most memorable ads we’ve been introduced to incorporate elements like high-tech special effects, complex video shoots and celebrity cameos.

But these costly campaigns are starting to be supplemented – and sometimes even totally replaced – with a different approach that is much simpler and a lot more affordable: user-generated content.

It’s a concept many big-name brands have been testing for a while now and one that they’re having some great success with.

A Trend with Traction
Consider Burberry. Back in 2009, the British fashion house first launched the “Art of the Trench” campaign that asked people to submit photos of themselves wearing their favorite trench coats from the luxury label. This remains a highlight section of the Burberry site five years later and still includes an invitation for visitors to submit their pictures.

Sure, the user-generated approach to content was a logical fit in the fashion realm, but it has continued to catch on in other industries in all kinds of fun and creative ways.

A few of the more recent examples include the “White Cup Contest” from Starbucks that asked customers to design their own coffee cups and post them to Instagram or Twitter as well as Coca-Cola’s current “Share a Coke” campaign that encourages participants to share their soda-loving selfies.

Perhaps the company with one of the most exciting user-generated campaigns right now, GoPro is getting a lot of attention for its customer-created videos that are popping up online. The manufacturer of self-mounted cameras has even added its own YouTube channel where people can see clips of divers to snowboarders adventuring with their tiny cameras in action.

Why the Growing Popularity?
So why is user-generated content such a big deal these days? The answer seems to be a combination of things.

First, people can relate to this content and they like that it feels so genuine. There’s no scripted dialogue going on between actors, and consumers are captivated by the chance of getting a glimpse into someone’s real life.

It’s also cost-effective. Information reported on GoPro showed that the company increased its marketing budget by just $41,000 in 2013 and upped its net income by $28 million in the same year. How is this possible? A campaign focused on user-generated content can drastically cut expenses since much of the work – including production – is already done.

Plus, with all the latest technology available, we’ve transitioned to a time when the quality of user content has improved significantly and is much more functional.

How about your company? Are there any opportunities for you to take advantage of user-generated content and launch a photo sharing project, fun contest or other campaign?

If current examples serve as any indicator, you could have a successful strategy on your hands.

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