Saturday, June 27, 2015

6 Rules of Thumb for Successful Brand Publishing

The Internet has made brand publishing ubiquitous. Gone are the days when brands required an intermediary to reach their target audience. Now, they have the luxury of reaching out to their audiences directly… through content storytelling

But how do they do this effectively?

In order to be effective, brand content must be mapped to business objectives and be appealing. Content storytelling is all about creating attractive, valuable and interesting information your customers are passionate about, so they actually pay attention and engage with the brand.

In the words of Mark Ragan, CEO of Ragan Communications, “If we tell our stories the right way, we have the ability to become legitimate publishers in our own right.”
People respond to content that is:

  • Sharable
  • Visually appealing
  • Engaging, and
  • Of good quality
Building a visually appealing and engaging website, writing regular blogs, e-mail marketing, use of multi-media (videos/photos/ Info graphics) and using social networks to target the audience are various ways to share a brand story. We know this. And in today’s hyper connected world, everyone’s a publisher.

So what could possibly go wrong with brand publishing?

In my opinion, quite a few things. And if your brand wants to publish successfully, it needs to keep these in mind.

1. Know your audience: Who is your target audience? Are you regularly listening to your buyers and potential buyers? Identifying your target audience and listening to their needs and wants can help a brand tailor its content across various platforms to maximize its reach.

Check out Dell’s Idea Storm website. Through this website, the company doesn’t just listen to its audience to address complaints, but also gives them a chance to solve the problems the company faces. They also post StormSessions, where they pose questions and challenges to customers and partners who then offer ideas/solutions on the issue at hand. This is a company which listens, and is actively interested in improving and investing in what their customers want. As of this writing, Dell has implemented over 549 ideas provided by its fans!

2. Content smarts: Do not focus on volume, but on consistency and quality of content. It is imperative to have a content plan in place in order to have meaningful, personalized interactions across platforms.

Example: Zomato helps discover great places to eat around you, and currently serves 22 countries worldwide. It believes in quality over quantity. And thus, it uses multiple channels for content marketing efficiently and effectively by following this principle.
Instead of overloading your blogs/Facebook/Twitter, quality and consistent content makes for a more meaningful and personalized audience experience.

3. Searchable: Search engines reward sites that deliver good quality content. So as you’re working on your content, keep in mind that it should be fresh, and of high quality, for it to be searchable. Nothing beats WUL when it comes to SEO! Agree?

4. Use of multi-media platforms (videos/photos/ infographics): Often, images and videos are easier for consumers to absorb than just text. In fact videos/photos help engage a wider audience. According to Facebook, users view more than 4 billion videos a day!

Amul, one of India’s oldest and most well-known food brands, itself a product of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (and the largest milk producer in the world), uses images in a very effective way.

Be it a cause or social issue, Amul is quick to jump into the story, often introducing the Amul girl into the landscape. This has made the brand iconic. Check out a few examples here; I’ll include a screen grab of one of their latest “Amul Topical” posts from Twitter to get you started.

5. Build a community: An audience might read your blog, consume and share your information, easily recognize your brand from rest of the crowd. However, a community is a set of people who are passionate about the brand, actively seeking out the content, and willing to share the content further.

I believe Buffer does an excellent job of community building, and I’m glad to be a part of its community. As someone passionate about “all things digital,” I always look forward to its content whether it is via e-mail or a tweet, and I invariably share the content with my network.

6. Be human: The once-regarded best practices for telling a brand’s story are now relatively ineffective in generating consumer trust. Thanks to social networks, today the audience’s trust is built via continuous brand engagement and direct conversations.

It is important for brands to build an emotional connection with their community and audience over time.

Especially if you have any connection to South Asia or the sub-continent, you will remember this beautiful video by Google, which made a huge emotional connection with that audience. It’s a story about two friends who were separated during the partition of India, and how they are reunited after decades.

If you haven’t watched it yet, please do, and then come back here. I’ll wait.

Did the video leave you in tears, or at least with a lump in your throat? That is exactly what I mean by being human and building an emotional connection.

Follow these six principles and, over time, you might have an Amul girl of your own.

What do you think are the golden rules of successful brand publishing? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: <DigitalRalph> via Flickr, CC 4.0

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Keep Your Marketing Efforts Afloat With Demand Marketing

Today, everyone is a publisher in the sea of content and it is imperative that the marketeers move towards better strategies with modern day storytelling. This is where demand marketing comes to play.

Demand marketing is an integrated mix of traditional and digital marketing methods which includes content marketing, PR and influencer relations. (Content marketing + PR + Social media = Demand marketing).

Here's an interesting info graphic by Onboardly explaining the concept of Demand Marketing.

Keep Your Marketing Efforts Afloat With Demand Marketing

Friday, April 3, 2015

Twitter Tips to Turn into a Twitter Pro

It is interesting to note that while for some individuals, social media platforms remain to be a mere tool or a means to connect with friends, for many it is an extension of their personality. Parallels can also be drawn on how enterprises/brands use these social media tools – they imbibe the ethos of customer driven marketing. 

In today's digital age, customers are increasingly interacting with the brands on social media and it is imperative to have a strong social media marketing strategy in place.   

While there are various tools which individuals and brands use to promote their products, I came across a very helpful 
info graphic bySalesforce on 'Twitter' which highlights the key ways to optimize the Twitter profile (both for individuals and for brands), best practices for tweet structure, and how to increase engagement. 

I'm sure most of you will agree that Twitter is a great tool for marketing and by adopting the tips shared in the below info graphic, it definitely will boost your Twitter presence and perhaps increase your Twitter followers. 

Read on to make a difference in your Twitter marketing strategy.

Twitter Tips to Turn into a Twitter ProClick To Enlarge

Via Salesforce

Friday, March 20, 2015

Do you want to #SizzletoBarcelona?

This blog is perhaps my first ever post on "FOOD!!" I'm sure people who know me well will be
surprised to read this post, since I'm not much of a foodie. However, I love to TRAVEL!

Are you guys confused if I'm writing about food or travel? Well, Hard Rock Cafe (HRC; @HRCIndia) gave me some food for!

In an interestingly executed social media contest, HRC invited people to try out their 'Sizzlers', a new addition to their food menu and asked people to spread the word on social media. All they wanted was to widen their reach and drive engagement on social platforms about their 'Sizzlers.'

What better than running a cool contest and giving a chance to people to #SizzletoBarcelona for the Hard Rock music festival 2015!!

The contest caught my eye when THIS happened - a Rolling Stone T-shirt by @Edelman_India to which HRC struck a conversation with me and I knew that I just couldn't miss the chance to check out their new menu.

It's interesting how various brands are trying to make 'that' connect with their consumers and the way HRC responded to my Tweet, is a great example of building a long lasting relationship with the end consumer.

Finally I visited HRC and tried out their delicious chicken ice cold cocktail and some Nachos! Great value for money, nice ambiance, the crowd was amazing, the service was superb and it was indeed a perfect way to welcome the weekend.

So, sizzle this weekend with the amazing Sizzlers at HRC and perhaps get a chance to #SizzletoBarcelona!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Journey from being Innocent to carrying a Baggage

Recently I attended my niece’s birthday party. She turned 2 this year and I was super excited to be a part of the celebration! Well, it was after many many years I got to attend a kids party and hence the excitement.

Most of you might be thinking if she celebrated her 1st birthday or if I forgot to attend the party? Err, she wasn't in the country then so technically her 1st birthday in India.

It was during the party I realized how innocent kids happy they are around people...there is no tension of the world in their mind...they don’t carry ANY BAGGAGE.

As we grow old, we start losing that innocence we had when we were kids. We think we know it all and do things as per our whims and fancies. There is no one to stop us. In our head, we are our own boss and we do things OUR way.

However, this cute lil birthday celebration made me go back the memory lane and helped me realize how far we have come - from being a kid to an adult, it sure has been a roller-coaster ride!

It was fascinating to compare the feelings and emotions of a kid to that of an adult in the party. For kids, a birthday celebration is a “big” thing. Gifts, cakes, flowers, people...everything gets them excited and happy. While the role of an adult is to ensure to make it a  memorable day for the kid to cherish all his/her life!

As an adult, we carry our own baggage. Always surrounded with tension about work, family, friends,
people etc. etc. But after watching these kids with innocence, smile and happiness, it just felt that life isn't “that” bad. While getting rid of the baggage is not an option, being happy while carrying it can make life painless and joyous.

Now that this year is coming to an end, let’s get back our innocence, gear up for the new year and spread happiness around.

It's time to cherish those memorable moments, the journey we call life and the people around us who made this journey even more beautiful.   

So, here’s wishing all my readers, well-wishers and of course my family, a very happy and blessed 2015! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From Press conference to Twitter conference

PR agencies in India have started weaving in digital arm to their overall PR strategy
and campaigns. However, there are many agencies which are still thriving on traditional mediums and don’t feel the need to venture into digital completely. This might be due to various factors including lack of resources or not being prepared for a change.

But for how long?

Since second half of 2013, there has been a downfall in the print industry (papers/magazines discontinued). In fact, many electronic channels have also discontinued few of their shows (for example, ET Now discontinued one of their most popular tech shows - Technohik, NDTV Profit cut back on all non-market-hour programming which meant the channel only needed a handful of anchors and reporters).

This trend is still prevalent and will continue to surprise the industry!

With such alterations in the media industry, the PR agencies get a window to get more creative and embrace newer avenues. It gives an opportunity for both the clients and traditional PR agencies to explore social media platforms more aggressively than before.

It’s imperative that agencies start thinking differently to sustain themselves in the ever evolving digital ecosystem. It’s time to change now and important to integrate offline and online mediums to fetch best results for a campaign/launch.

Xolo makes the move

That said, Xolo - a premium smart devices brand in India, made a very interesting announcement on Twitter!  

The company recently shared a tweet regarding their product launch exclusively on Twitter on December 05th, 2014. While it may seem little bizarre at the first instant, I believe this is the move we would eventually like to see by corporates. Here’s what the media/bloggers are already talking about!

According to industry experts, only people who have registered for the event will be able to participate in the one hour (12-1 PM, IST) event. While this still leaves me confused as to how the live event will be managed ultimately, it will be interesting to evaluate some pros and cons of Xolo’s exclusive Twitter launch:

  • Saves time (for media and others involved in the launch), money, travel, cost of booking venue/setting up
  • Finally we save paper!! - It’s annoying to see agencies still handing over press kits during events. E-mail sends across just the same message which is there in a press kit
  • Tracking who all participated in the event is easier online than sitting at the desk asking media to register themselves
  • Message/opinion reaches out to a wider audience while interacting with the brand in real-time
  • Twitter feed blasted with tweets - in case one is following the brand/ media. This definitely will annoy people who aren’t keen on the announcement
  • No face value - while during events, you do see the top management taking time out to brief the media about their new product. However, online medium can trick you with someone else replying on behalf of the senior management
However, I still believe it definitely is a good move by the company and kudos to the FrogIdeas team for bringing in this change! Unless we experiment, we would never be able to up the game.

So do you think Twitter conference will take over the regular/traditional press conferences in India?

Nonetheless, stay tuned for the pre-launch buzz at #TouchOmega and let’s wait and watch how India’s first ever smartphone brand performs at the live mobile launch on Twitter! 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

When the #AndroidOne launch in India went mute

Few weeks back Apple launched its iphone 6, 6+, Apple watch and Apple Pay. I’m sure most of
you must have tuned to Twitter and Apple’s live streaming to get real time updates on the announcement.

That’s how we have started consuming news, breaking news or any big announcements happening across the globe. Isn’t it? We love to share interesting news, stories and engage with the community.

But I guess the biggest search giant thinks otherwise!

AndroidOne – the launch without a social strategy

On a lovely Monday morning, Google was all set to host firm’s first global launch in India - AndroidOne. The idea behind launching AndroidOne was to cement Google's position in the low-cost smartphone segment for the "next billion" users, especially in developing countries like India.

Like any other big event, I assume that the pressure on Google India and the top down hierarchy was to ensure the event went smoothly and everything was perfect! Needless to say, making sure all top media/bloggers attended the event and got the firm the coverage it deserved for hosting their first global launch in the country.

Amidst all the madness, in my opinion, little did anyone think of a well planned social media strategy. Like every tech enthusiast, I glued to my Twitter feed to check updates on the announcement.  

While everyone excitedly went on tweeting on their way to the event and anticipated Google’s announcement, it actually fumed the journalists/bloggers when they reached inside the venue and got to know that the event was under embargo and no one in the room could share any live updates/information on social platforms.

How can you possibly stop everyone in the room from sharing updates without any prior notice of an embargo?

The event which started by noon was under embargo till 2:30 PM and the sale for AndroidOne products was slated to start from 3:30 PM on e-commerce websites including Amazon, Snapdeal and Flipkart.

It did amaze me when I started reading the tweets from media and I wasn’t really sure whether the launch is going to be a success or will the embargo kill the excitement around the launch.

Here’s a sneak peek of what the media/bloggers/netizens had to say:

Interestingly, had a live blog just for the event and by the tweets I read, it seemed like Google never informed the journalist about the embargo.

A new Twitter handle for AndroidOne India was launched post the announcement - @AndroidOneIn. It attracted few thousand followers within minutes and as of writing there are 3943 followers. There were few tweets on @GoogleIndia handle post the launch event as well.

In fact the next day, all the newspapers were flooded with launch news and interview of the spokesperson and it surely did make for an amazing offline PR activity.

However, In my humble opinion, this was a social media disaster. Do you feel being one of the biggest tech companies in the world, the positive announcement overpowered the negative tweets that went online?

Do you think Google wanted to set apart its social strategy from Apple?

I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment section below!