Leveraging M.ly in your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Musical.ly, with more than 133 million monthly active users, is one of the hottest mobile apps for teens and emerging Millennials. As described in the iOS App Store, musical.ly is, “the #1 music video community … musical.ly makes it easy and fun to create amazing videos and impress your friends. Simply select a sound and start lip syncing! Anyone can be an awesome singer with musical.ly!”

So, why should you as a marketer care about this app? With Twitter announcing that they’re retiring the Vine app, here at iProspect, we’re predicting that the influencers who are popular on Vine will migrate to musical.ly, potentially expanding the app’s user base at a rapid rate. For advertisers looking to target teens and Millennials, musical.ly has a lot of potential, just not in the traditional advertising sense. Instead, its potential lies specifically within the arena of influencer marketing.

Although musical.ly’s mission is to be a social network, they are technically a mobile app. Currently there is no official paid advertising available. “Advertising” or “marketing” on the platform today is based on partnerships with influencers who post or share organically.

However, the platform is still social in nature and it is likely (and we are hopeful) that it will follow Snapchat’s lead and offer paid advertising in the form of insertion orders followed by the inevitable self-serve ads API option. Therefore, while we recommend that brands think about and plan for musical.ly as a social platform where we can engage with influencers, we also advise brands to keep their eyes open for paid advertising opportunities, should they become available.

What is the value of musical.ly today?

The app is wildly popular with teens with more than 133MM users (called Musers) on the platform today and approximately 13MM new users joining each month.

The best way for brands to enter the space now would be through influencer campaigns and sponsored posts, rather than running their own pages. (This is also how Snapchat first positioned itself for brands.) Coca-Cola was one of the first brands to begin using the app this way, working with popular Muser “Baby Ariel” to seed their #shareacoke contest. Musers were asked to upload a post with #shareacoke to potentially win a FaceTime video call with singer Jason Derulo.

5 Social Media Marketing Tips for B2B Companies

Social media has evolved into an ever growing platform for B2B businesses to promote their products and reach out to potential consumers. More and more people are using some sort of social media everyday which is why it is important to develop a social media marketing strategy, whether it is a campaign shared through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Snapchat. This is a prime opportunity for companies to engage with their customers seeing that Facebook has 1.71 billion active users and Twitter has 313 million active users (Zephoria) (Twitter). You may ask yourself, “why are companies having a hard time using social media as a marketing platform?”. Here are five examples and tips of what B2B companies and marketing professionals should be doing to make social media marketing more of a success.

Keeping an active presence on your social media

A lot of B2B businesses believe they can post content on their social media and that is enough to garner interest in their content. However, that is not the reality we live in. Once a company posts on social media, they need to be ready to communicate with anyone that interacts with their post. 78% of marketers said they saw increased traffic with as little as 6 hours a week invested in social media marketing (Social Media Examiner). With the increased traffic produced from investing only 6 hours in your social media, more leads will be generated. See the infographic below on how IBM took advantage of a unique social media campaign. Keeping an active presence on your social media is important in building the key relationships via social media your B2B company needs to effective social media marketing

Humanize your company

By keeping an active presence on your B2B’s social media, you are able to engage more with your customers and answer any questions they might have. By being personal with customers, it gives them a sense of reassurance that the company is human and wants to engage with them. B2B companies that connect with buyers on an emotional level see twice the impact of those still trying to sell based on business or functional value. The most connected companies with their audience enjoyed 31% greater revenue growth last year (Webbiquity). Customers appreciate when companies get back to them quickly if they have a question they need answered. 60% of buyers who feel a “high brand connection” are more likely to purchase, even at a higher price, from those brands versus competitors (Webbiquity). This ensures brand loyalty to the customers that you engage and interact with on your social media accounts.

Choosing the correct social media platform

There are many platforms to choose from such as, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. First off, you need to think about several questions before you choose a platform to work with.

For example, Facebook’s purpose is to build brand loyalty and reputations through interesting content and informational posts. Whereas Twitter’s purpose is to deliver quick updates and promote new products with an instant feedback from your audience.  Once you answer these questions with the social media platform you have in mind, then you are ready to choose which ones to use. The most popular social media platforms to use are Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. In fact, more than 70% of all B2B marketers use at least one of the “Big 4” social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) to distribute content (Digital Marketing Philippines). Now that you have your desired platform, you now need to figure out how to use it to its full potential.

Use pictures to get more engagement

Buzzsumo found that when someone posts on Facebook, a post with images receives about 2.3x more engagements than those without (Buzzsumo). What this means is that for every one like you get on a post without an image, you could have had at least two more with an image. It is natural to be more attracted to an image rather than a lengthy text post. People are more visual learners and by giving them images instead of text, they will be able to understand the information much better. Now you cannot just post an image and wait for the people to begin flooding in. You have to post a relevant picture to what you are talking about. About 54% of B2B marketers said they’ve generated leads from social media strategies and posting with compelling visuals and graphics could help to increase that number even more for your company (Rick Whittington).

Paid Ads

If people are not finding your B2B website organically, you may have to explore the benefits of paid advertisements to attract people to your website. There are two types of advertisements companies can do on social media: sponsored posts and ads. Sponsored posts are posts done by the company to boost the reach of their content that was already published on their social media. Promoted Tweets have shown average engagement rates of 1 to 3 percent—much higher than traditional banner ads (Hoot Suite). The second option is another great way to advertise your company. The difference between ads and sponsored posts is that you create your own ad and can customize everything to your liking. On Facebook, desktop ads have 8.1x higher click-through rates and mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates than normal web ads (Hoot Suite). When you create your own ad, make sure that everything looks professional and is consistent with your company’s marketing ideas.

4 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Branding Agency

Branding is both a big topic and an inexact science. It’s no wonder that there are so many choices when it comes to choosing a creative team to help you share your story with the world.

From part-time web and graphic designers to experienced branding gurus, there is a lot to consider when selecting a branding agency.

So, how do you sift through your options and find the group that’s right for you? Here are a few tips to help you get started…

1. Start With The Visuals

Even though your brand strategy should be bigger than a simple logo (more on this in a second), it’s undeniable that the visuals of your brand need to be sharp and distinctive.

Or to put things another way, it’s not enough to choose a branding team that has good artistic instincts, but you shouldn’t ever turn your company’s identity over to a designer who can’t give you the look you’re after.

2. Look For The Perfect Fit

When a brand develops perfectly, it’s usually because there is an intersection between three important elements: the personalities of the business and its directors, the mindset of the creative team, and an understanding of the target market.

When any of these is in conflict – for instance, when stakeholders can’t get along or there is a lack of knowledge about the desired customer base – brands tend to go off track quickly.

3. Develop And Use A Brand Strategy

Even though the basics of your brand might begin with logos and color schemes, your overall approach should include a distinctive voice, consistent messaging themes, and even elements like the types and sizes of images that are used on your website and in printed collateral materials. That’s not going to happen by accident.

Work with your creative team to develop a written brand strategy that outlines who you want to be, what you want to say, how you want customers to feel. Then, refer back to it is you move forward with your marketing.

4. Let Your Brand Grow And Evolve

No matter how well you plan out your branding efforts, you are almost certainly going to come to a point where you’ll need to change the way you express yourself. Perhaps your business will get bigger, take on new products and services, or even change ownership.

When these kinds of shifts take place, you shouldn’t start over from a branding standpoint, but rather take advantage of the opportunity to tweak your identity and present a fresher face to the market.

The best brands are reinforced again and again over time, to the point that customers come to associate them with quality, value, or even happiness. But, establishing that kind of identity takes experience and a penchant for creative thinking.

So, follow these four tips and make sure you find the perfect branding agency for your business to work with.

Contact Avex Designs today to learn more about our branding and digital creative services.

Holiday 2016 looking good for Digital Marketers

The holiday shopping season is in full force, and if the headlines are any indication, things look super optimistic for digital marketers.  “Cyber Monday Sales Jump,” says a Fortune article posted on November 29th. “Black Friday Limps Toward Oblivion as Online Shopping Takes Over,” says a Bloomberg article posted the day after Turkey Day.  It’s no surprise that shoppers are getting savvier. After all, who wants to wait in long lines and fight for deals at brick-and-mortar locations? The chance to reduce the need for such inconveniences seems to be part of what’s driving the continued surge in online orders on Thanksgiving (the day before Black Friday). Some telling stats cited in the above articles include:

Now that Cyber Monday is behind us and the dust has settled, we wanted to look at some of our own data. Specifically, we wanted to review the year-over-year (YOY) changes in data for our larger retail clients over the period covering Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Here’s what we found.

Total Site YOY stats comparing 2016 to 2015:

While these numbers are very positive, they don’t paint as precise a picture for marketers as we’d like to see, certainly not from a Performance Marketing perspective. To increase clarity and better understand the actionable implications, we need to drill down into the details. While we obviously can’t call out specific clients, we can share that the following stats are based on analysis of more than 900 million impressions and 23 million visits over the largest shopping weekend of the year.*

A Performance Marketing Take on Cannes Lions

I was very fortunate to represent iProspect at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year and bring back insights from the event for both my clients and colleagues. I was initially skeptical about how much of the festival’s creative-focused content would directly apply to the very data-driven work we do for our clients on a day-in and day-out basis; but I figured out pretty quickly that most of the creative and brand advertisers there were asking the same question, only in the opposite direction. They wanted to know how data might be limiting creativity, and how we can best work together so that data improves creativity instead of compromising it.

To understand both viewpoints, we need to explore why anyone would view creativity and data as potentially opposing forces in the first place. We have all seen firsthand how data can help transform business outcomes by enabling us to optimize our campaigns in real time and measure the impact. Creativity, on the other hand, is a piece of the puzzle that is much more about unstructured play and spontaneity. There’s an element of magic to good creative – it’s hard to define, but easy to spot. The best creative work rests on a simple, underlying truth to which the audience can relate and which engages them in your story. While data can surely help us find that truth, too much formalized process and over-analyzed data can also spoil the magic. At the core of the debate is a simple question: how do we successfully blend the art and science of creative and data, and how much data is enough versus too much to fuel creative thinking?

iProspect hosted a panel titled “You’re Speaking My Language” on this very topic featuring industry experts from Carat, Google, Tumblr, Facebook, and Mattel and moderated by our President of Americas Misty Locke (@mistylocke_iP). While there was plenty of spirited debate, overall the panelists agreed that data is a valuable part of the creative process that can inspire your storytelling. The amount of data needed differs based on who you ask, but often a simple insight or data point from your own research can suffice as the foundation for good storytelling. On the flip side, too much data can cause “analysis paralysis” and prevent you from getting creative, so a healthy balance is in order.

Regardless of how much or how little data informs your initial creative strategy, the panelists agreed that it’s important to have a continuous data loop between data and creative once your ideas go to market so you can continuously refine and test your original concept. There was also unanimous agreement that creative can – and should – impact data strategy. Knowing how and what to measure is in part defined by the story you’re trying to tell and the medium and stage you’re using to tell it. Maintaining the data loop is challenging. Sometimes it breaks down, meaning you can’t accurately correlate creative impact to performance in your data output. This usually happens when you fall into common measurement pitfalls like relying on last-click attribution in digital or working with attribution models that lack in-store or offline data.

At iProspect, we like to say that the rate of change in advertising is always getting faster, so the rate of change is at its slowest point now compared to anytime in the future. The one constant is that good advertising comes down to knowing your consumer, knowing your business, and being a good storyteller. Data can help us learn more about the consumer, understand our impact on the business more clearly, and improve our storytelling potential. At the same time, crafting stories is a creative process, so we must respect the craft and nurture an environment of creativity by occasionally taking a step back, allowing ourselves to think big, and challenging ourselves by asking why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place. Ultimately, Cannes Lions was a reminder to everyone that data and creativity aren’t just related to each other, they depend on each other.