Brand Integrity Makes a Big Difference to Consumers

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As a child, you were no doubt taught about the value of honesty. It’s one of the first moral lessons most parents try to impart onto their children.

Closely intertwined with honesty is the expectation that you will be held accountable for your own actions.

In marketing, these very basic fundamentals can sometimes be forgotten. However, these days consumers have a way to digitally voice their concerns about companies who lose their way.

Brand integrity is a big deal. People want to know they can trust companies before engaging with them.

Here are a few ways you can earn the trust of your audience.

5 Ways Brands Can Nurture Trust

Research by the Sprout Social Index shows that millennials are most likely to call out brands on social media. Almost 60% of this group have complained about an issue they’ve had with a brand online.

With a global platform, social media has the power to really influence a lot of people, for better or worse.

Because of this, brand integrity matters more than ever today.

1.    Honesty Is the Best Policy

Trustworthy brands have no reason to lie. They can be totally open about their company, offering full transparency about their values, beliefs, and products.

This is especially pertinent in the food industry. Dining chain, Panera Bread is a great example of this, as they launched a marketing campaign in 2016 that provided customers with “transparent menus,” which listed all the ingredients, calories, and nutritional info for each and every item.

2.    Focus on the Customer

The best brands have a customer-centric focus. They ask their consumers about the problems they are facing and then offer tailored solutions. By providing real value, the brand nurtures more trust with their customers.

3.    Trustworthy Brands Have Got the Customer’s Back

When a company rises to the top, there will always be opportunities to exploit its power for more money.

Apple turned down the FBI when they came knocking. The Federal government wanted the access and ability to unlock Apple’s phones, but the tech giant refused.

This was a major statement of brand integrity from Apple. Customers knew they could trust that their personal privacy was in safe hands.

4.    Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

When Chipotle had an outbreak of E.coli, it could have spelled the end for the popular chain of restaurants.

However, they were quick to react. By closing down locations, implementing new safety measures, and communicating with the public, they were able to limit the damage.

Of course, they took a hit, but the quick response curried favor with many customers who respected the openness and genuine apology that was made.

5.    Use Social Media to Connect with Customers

Social media enables any company to build brand integrity if they use it correctly. Staying active in niche communities online will help with brand visibility, and it can also humanize your brand so people don’t view your business as just another faceless corporation.

Trust Takes Time to Build

A business can’t develop trust with customers immediately.

It doesn’t matter how fancy the store is or how friendly all the staff members are. Only by offering real value without any strings, and building relationships with your target audience can you nurture the trust that is necessary to make sales.

Brands that put honesty and transparency among their top priorities will get there faster.

By standing up for your customers’ best interests, and protecting them when they need it most, companies can forge stronger bonds with people.

That will serve your business well for the future.

The Essential Evolution of Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

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Influencer marketing has been around for decades, but it is always evolving.

The rise of social media has seen an explosion in the popularity of using influencers, with many companies implementing an influencer marketing strategy into their plans for brand growth.

However, as competition intensifies, the game is changing.

If you want to get the most from partnering with influencers, you need to know just what is going on in the current digital landscape.

How Influencer Marketing Has Changed

Today, you need more than a decent Instagram presence to be a credible influencer. Brands expect more, and as a result, influencers need to work harder to deliver the goods.

Influencers Are Buying Followers

Advertising giant Unilever is leading the charge for greater transparency with influencers. This is in response to the flux of “fake influencers.”

People are buying up bot followers to pad their social media accounts in an effort to dupe brands into believing they have a much larger audience.

By doing this, these influencers command a higher paycheck, which will inevitably yield a poor return due to this fabricated following.

Content Reviews Are More Common

Growing concerns about brand safety motivates companies to demand more, as they want to make sure they get value for money.

It’s becoming more common for brands to ask for content reviews, which means influencers could find themselves redoing work more often.

Considering 94% of consumers will show loyalty to brands that are transparent, it’s a smart move to make sure your influencer partnerships run smoothly.

5 Steps to Implementing a Successful Influencer Marketing Strategy

As with anything in marketing, a solid plan will boost your chances of success. With influencer marketing, that concept holds true.

1.    Define Your Vision of Success

Your influencer marketing strategy needs to lay out the end goals, and then chart the journey towards achieving them. You must have a clear vision of what you want before hiring influencers.

2.    Find Influencers Who Are a Good Fit for Your Brand

Ideally, you should look for someone who:

  • Is trustworthy

  • Is passionate about your products

  • Has a genuine audience that is large and engaged enough to help you achieve your goals

  • Knows how to create great content that reaches your target audience

3.    Look for Long-term Partnerships

If you only focus on one-off projects, you’ll always be wasting time looking for a new influencer. Save yourself the time, money, and stress by developing long-term partnerships with authentic influencers that can help build your brand over time.

4.    Focus on Instagram

The world loves visual content nowadays, and it’s likely to stay that way. More than 90% of influencers prefer Instagram over any other platform.

So, if you want an influencer marketing strategy with a mind on the future, then Instagram is your best bet.

5.    Be Unique

As with any other channel, influencer marketing is becoming congested. To cut through the noise, you need to find unique ways to connect with your customers.

Cosmetics giant L’Oréal decided to work with a group of micro-influencers instead of more well-known social media stars. The gamble paid off, as it helped them nurture trust with a much wider audience because people found the micro-influencers more relatable.

The Right Influencer Is Worth Finding

Some of the trust has been lost in this form of advertising because of misleading engagement and dishonest practices by some influencers.

However, having an influencer marketing strategy is still a viable, cost-effective method of spreading brand awareness and establishing a position of authority in many industries.

The stakes may be higher now, but if you can find influencers who are aligned with your brand and goals, they could become great brand ambassadors and take your business to the next level.

Why Social Media Reach is Really Dying

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Having trouble reaching your audience on social media?

You’re not alone.

Over the past decade, social media marketing has become one of the most powerful tools in the modern marketer’s toolkit, allowing businesses to build an audience with relative ease.

However, times are changing, and it’s no longer easy.

Social media reach is being hampered by several factors, from saturated markets to an ever-evolving digital landscape.

Now, your company must adapt to survive.

How the Facebook Algorithm Has Changed the Game for Marketers

At the start of 2018, Facebook announced some big changes were afoot.

The platform was to shift focus back to connecting people, rather than giving preference to media consumption.

The new algorithm effectively put marketing content in the backseat, which was bad news for marketers hoping to grow their brand on social media.

Since then, some companies have reacted well, while others have made some mistakes. Specifically, they’ve bought into the widespread belief that organic social media reach is dead. 

One of the Most Harmful Social Media Marketing Trends

Research from BuzzSumo found that content engagement on social media has dropped by 50% since 2015. With less interaction on their posts, many companies have turned their attentions to other marketing streams, such as email.

While that in itself holds vast potential for building a loyal audience, you shouldn’t close the book on social media marketing just yet.

A common trend now is for companies to manage their social media marketing in-house, as opposed to hiring an agency. While this certainly cuts on costs, there are drawbacks to employing an avid social media user fresh-out-of-college.

Sure, they’ll know a few things that the rest of the office might not, but when it comes to strategy and marketing skills, you could find yourself falling behind the competition.

Unfortunately, many small businesses persist with this venture, which more often than not, leads to a flood of low-quality content that delivers little return on investment (ROI).

5 Strategies to Boost Social Media Reach in 2018

So, just how can your business deal with the issue of declining social media reach?

Here’s what you should be doing:

1.    Video

When Facebook say video content boosts engagement, it’s worth taking note.

Facebook Live is another option. Although it doesn’t have the same social media reach as native videos do, studies indicate it still trounces text posts.

Native or live, video content is the indisputable king of content now, and it’s here to stay.

2.    Visuals

From GIFs to infographics, catchy images to thought-provoking photos, visuals make a big difference to your content, as proven by the 87% increase in engagement.

3.    Ask for Engagement

Sometimes, to get more likes and shares, all you need to do is ask. But beware of bait-like posts. Instead, aim to incite genuine discussion and conversation.

4.    Paid Ads

With social media reach on the wane, many marketers are exploring paid advertising.

Facebook ads don’t cost much, and with some clever strategy, you can target specific segments of your audience. Ultimately, this ensures your content reaches the people you really want it to.    

5.    Use Brand Advocates

Social media marketing still has the power to build networks. By reaching out to friends, family, and trusted associates, you can get help to amplify your content.

Teams who post their content on personal pages can harness this potential, as people are 16 times as likely to engage in content from a friend rather than a brand.

Quality Over Quantity Is What Matters In Social Media Marketing

Social media reach is not what it was, but it isn’t quite dead yet.

The game has changed, and companies must evolve with it.

Focus more on quality rather than quantity.

By embracing new social media marketing strategies, your company can still build a strong brand on social platforms. Over time, these methods will deliver a solid ROI, and help you achieve real growth.

10 Digital Tools for Everyday Effectiveness (and Fun)

We asked the E29 team to share some of their favorite tools that they use every day. This list is by no means exhaustive, but you may find something in here that you didn’t know about before and it could save you time and make your workday more productive too. Some of these are also good for personal use, so read on and share any tools you love in the comments.

1. Slack

Megan says: “Slack is a [great tool]! A few of us in the office use it all the time and helps us stay connected. It’s so easy to message, send files, ping people during meetings, and know when people are online or not.”

Slack has definitely changed the way work teams collaborate. Launched in 2013, Slack has grown to have 8 million daily active users in 100 different countries. If you thinking, why do I need another tool for collaboration and project tracking, it’s more intuitive than you might think and very easy to keep track of activity for each project, client or team. I’m sure you’ll be surprised how much time it saves you.

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2. Pinterest

Annabelle says: “I’ve been using this app for a few years now and I use it for everything! My wedding, Honeymoon, Fashion, Home Decor and Organization. I remember before getting married I would spend hours and hours looking up ideas and wedding DIY’s every day. Not only did I had the wedding of my dreams, but we saved a lot of money thanks to all the great ideas I found.

Features I love from this app?

I was looking for a Jute rug for my living room a month ago, so of course, I went to Pinterest to look for ideas. I saw a pin of the rug I wanted, click through to Pottery Barn's website and purchased it on the spot.”

Fun fact you may not have known about Pinterest: It is headquartered in San Francisco and took several years before becoming one of the main social networks. 81% of Pinterest users are females.

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3. Screenshot Tool

For a tool that is both a feature and a utility, I use the screen capture feature on my phone and Mac a few times a day, at least. I love screenshots and I really don't know how I would survive without them. On the iPhone X to take a screenshot, you click the power and one of the volume buttons at the same time. On pre-iPhone X phones, you hold down the home and power buttons. And on a Mac for a screenshot, my favorite way to do it is to press Shift + Command + 4 and then select what I want from the screen. Of course, there are many tools for screen capturing. What's your favorite?

Screenshot created from an iPhone X

Screenshot created from an iPhone X

4. Repost for Instagram

Anne says: “I'm sure most of you are familiar with this one, but it's been a game changer for me just because it makes sharing content from other people on Instagram so much easier. All you have to do is copy the link of the post you want to share and then open up the Repost app. From there, you can share the post and caption if you like to your own Instagram feed or story. I went ahead and purchased the "premium" Repost package, which allows you to repost content without the watermark. For an $8.00 investment, you can clean up your Instagram feed without having to include a bunch of watermarked images - totally worth it.”

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Note the repost icon in the lower left hand corner of the image. This can be removed with a subscription.

5. VSCO

Anne discovered this app about a year ago while hunting for better filters and presets for Instagram pictures. This is far and away the best photo and video editing app she has used. VSCO's motto is, "By Creators, For Creators" and you can see why once you explore their arsenal of filters. Once you select a filter you really like, you can go much, much deeper and truly adjust your photos and videos to balance and refine them to your liking. 

The other cool thing about VSCO is they have an online community where creators can share their photos and videos so you can search through all sorts of original content based on style, filter, color scheme, topic, etc. It's a great source of inspiration if you're looking to change up your Instagram feed. This one will help you up your Insta-game for sure.

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What’s your favorite Instagram tool?

6. SimilarWeb

I use it a lot for competitive research to see where a client stands compared to their competition. There's a great Chrome extension that lets you see the results and easily screenshot them for use in presentations.

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7. SpyFu

This tool shows us competitor information for organic search and paid search. It's great for understanding spend, rank and keywords. 

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8. LIKEtoKNOW.it 

Melissa says, “This app works with Instagram to make posts about clothing, beauty and home items easy to source and purchase. It uses influencers and links to retailers online. 

Here’s how it works: Download the app and link it to your Instagram account. When one of their ambassador's posts an outfit or specific item you would like to purchase on IG, you can like the post. It must be tagged with LIKEtoKNOW.it. Then it becomes part of your feed within LIKEtoKNOW.it. In the app, you can choose items and it links directly to the retailer for purchase. 

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At the end of the week LIKEtoKNOW.it sends a recap of what you liked.

The app is an evolution from their first version. They now provide a better experience. I can go directly to the app, scroll through people I follow and purchase the items I see. 

The app features clothing, accessories, and home decor. Great find for me!”

9. Google Analytics

Melissa says, “The Google Analytics app is my new favorite! I love having Google Analytics right at my fingertips. You can see specific campaigns, e-commerce transactions, where people are visiting from etc. The information is so easy to comprehend and you can dig deeper if needed.

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10. Marco Polo

Amie says, “For personal use, my cousin introduced me to an app a couple of weeks ago called Marco Polo. I’m loving sending video messages to my family across the country and to my sis in London. It’s so much more personal than a text or voicemail.”

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Your turn: What are your favorite digital tools for marketing, productivity or just plain fun?

A Millennials Take on Influencer Marketing (Hint: You Need It)

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As a millennial, I LOVE influencers and I can assure you influencer marketing is not going anywhere. Influencers or bloggers are real women (and men) and they live and breathe their personal brand. They are authentic, reachable and major #inspo. Social media is the future of advertising, and using influencers is the best way to succeed at it. Whether your company is big or small, you need to start using influencers. Here’s why.

Influencers cut through the noise of typical advertising. They reach their niche fans through their many social channels. Using influencers uniquely allows you to target your desired audience where they are spending the majority of their time (nearly nine hours a day). They bring authenticity that any marketer dreams for.

I manage many social pages for my company’s clients and our influencer content 99.99% of the time outperforms our other brand-created content. (81% of marketers agree with me). Not only do they produce beautiful content for our social pages and website, they share their content along with their highly regarded opinion to their loyal followers.

Millennials want to see transparency. We want to see companies doing good, being accountable, and acting trustworthy. Influencers provide transparency, trust and the ultimate approval. Millennials will ignore the big ads that marketers think target them (unless they’re funny or star David Harbour). But millennials will trust and NEED to stay at the same hotel in LA that Chiara Ferragni did. Or NEED to own that swimsuit that Alexis Ren wore on her latest Instagram story.

You’ve probably never heard of most of the influencers making bank (millions each year), but your target audience has. And clearly, they’re killing it.

Everyone from Nike to Santa Cruz Organic can benefit from influencers. Not every influencer is a high-impact influencer, there are micro-influencers that smaller brands can greatly benefit from working with. While working on our clients, Chicken of the Sea’s social pages, I’ve seen one of our micro-influencers produce BEAUTIFUL content while not getting many likes/comments/shares on his own page. But, it performed extremely well on our pages. I know he’s going places.  

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. When choosing an influencer, do you research! If you’re looking at them your competitor is or has. Make sure your competition has NOT worked with your influencer in the past. I ran into this problem while working with one of our clients Chicken of the Sea. I noticed that some of our old influencers also worked with Chicken of the Sea’s top competitors StarKist and/or Bumble Bee previously. A quick search for “tuna” on their blog revealed their work history. To me it implies that the influencer sees Chicken of the Sea as replaceable with its competition, and so will their followers. And that will not help sales.
  2. Check their following on all of their social media channels. Know what your dollars will get you. Find out what kind of interaction do they get on their posts. Do they interact with their fans? One of my favorite foodie influencers Ambitious Kitchen replies to nearly all of her follower’s comments on her Instagram posts validating her strong relationship with her followers.   
  3. Influencers disclaiming that they are getting paid for their services is not very well defined. Many will just have #ad at the end of their post. And tbh most people aren’t reading to the end of the post to see that. Make sure your influencers are complying with FTC endorsement guidelines, which have changed.

As if you needed another reason to start doing influencer marketing, a 2015 survey by the Tomoson indicates that businesses are making $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. No wonder 59% of marketers intend to increase their influencer marketing budget in the coming years.

Josh Leibowitz, Senior VP, Cunard North America and chief strategy officer at Carnival Corporation best puts it “There’s a little bit of the American dream in these influencers. They’ve built a business and they’re out having a point of view, they’re being creative, recommending things, seeing the world. … [They can] do things that they love and get paid for it.”

Lastly, don’t forget about YouTube as a popular influencer spot. That’s how you’ll get the Gen Z kids to buy your “cool” new backpacks. But more on that next time!

IMHO,

Megan Wood

5 Changes to Make Right Now to Your Facebook Ad Strategy

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Facebook recently announced significant changes to their news feed algorithm that will prioritize human interactions over branded content. CEO Mark Zuckerberg cited a desire, “…to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us.”

Change has been in the air for some time as Facebook spent the better part of last year under governmental scrutiny for its role in spreading misinformation and fake news.  Additionally, in its Q4 earnings report, Facebook posted a decline in its daily active user base (albeit small) for the first time ever.

The extent to which publishers and brands would be impacted by these impending changes was uncertain. The announcement provided more insight, but the true impact remains to be seen.

As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

As expected, the reaction from the ad community was another round of eye rolling directed at a media outlet notorious for changing their algorithms with little to no advance notice. Marketers are often left in the lurch scrambling to explain to clients why ad performance changes dramatically from one week to the next. Thankfully this go-around, Facebook has provided advertisers enough advance notice to begin making adjustments to their content strategies.

Here are 5 shifts marketers should make now to help brands prepare for these changes.

1.     Develop more meaningful content that actively engages consumers and encourages a dialogue within the community. The key is figuring out how to loop in brand relevant messages at the same time.

2.     Move away from any content using engagement bait as Facebook has already called this out as a behavior they will penalize.

3.     Be prepared to pay more to maintain on par results with past ad performance. Organic reach has been on the decline for quite some time and this may be the final nail in the coffin.

4.     Produce higher quality video content that actively engages viewers. Even better if it’s live video. Facebook’s not-so-secret ambitions crystalized last year with the introduction of Watch. Growing their video platform will continue to be a key focus for the publisher moving forward.

5.     Look at creating groups to help build your community. Groups operate on the basis of audience engagement, so this is a tactic likely to perform well under the new algorithm.