Is Google+ REALLY a dead man walking?

 ImageImage

 

2014 has seen lots of predictions and lots of rumors for the IMC practitioners as a whole.  2012 saw the words ninja and guru thrown around, and 2013/2014 has been content marketing and storytelling. Brands as a whole realize mobile marketing needs to be a big focus for reaching customers, ranging from mobile optimized website to location-based advertising.  

 

2014 has also brought other rumors and one that had me dusting off one of my unused apps, Google+.  Google changed the algorithm and Google+ post were ranking high in Google search, only makes sense to leverage one of your services to promote the other.  Some believe that a link in a Google+ share isn’t treated like a regular web link.  While Google+ may not be the savior of SEO, it was being leveraged to help with those rankings.  Also many make fun the social network for being empty, but you will find niche groups on there and an excellent way to connect.  For example, I am on there with the HootSuite North American Ambassadors and love seeing posts daily from those in the group and the weekly reminders of #HSUChat on Twitter. 

 
Then three days ago, Vic Gundotra, head of social at Google and Google+, announced that it was time for a new journey and he’d be leaving Google.  Many people are saying Google+ has one foot in the grave or dead or in a coma.  According to TechCrunch, who is hearing from multiple sources is that Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  Meanwhile Google is denying this rumor and it will have no impact on the Google+ community and Google’s Larry Page has already named Google+ VP of engineering, Dave Bresbris to fill the top spot.
 
As IMC practitioners and students, we need to understand every social network and honestly I am shocked by those who aren’t using the Twitter still.  If nothing else, it is important to understand the use for business for the purpose of digital/ social media marketing.  Does Google+ have a place in your strategy or do you see it having a place in 2014 for content marketing and ranking?
Advertisements

Three Ways Brands Could Use Apple’s Unreleased iWatch

Image

 

Image Rending by Todd Hamilton

As someone who loves the idea of wearable tech and uses a Nike Fuelband, the idea of an Apple iWatch has me more than intrigued! If you haven’t seen the video rendering by Todd Hamilton, then take a moment to watch this video:

 

Then came the exclusive by CNET on April 18th, Nike had fired a majority of their Fuelband team.   According to the CNET, Nike would be dumping their wearable hardware-efforts and focus on software only.  Originally the third version of the Fuelband was to be released as early as this Fall, but since the recent news, this has been nixed completely.

Now as you may or may not know, Apple is said to “possibly” release information about their newest app called, Healthbook.  However, this sort of app and what Apple is wanting to do with it would mean some sort of wearable tracking device.  We already know that Apple and Nike are tech buddies and on April 10th, Nike announced their Nike+ Fuel Lab.

So now that I have the stage set for what “should” be announced later this Fall, let’s talk social and emerging media integration.  We have already dumped pagers, bag phones, and in some cases our laptops.  While the rumored iWatch would have iPhone integration, it would allow you to get alerts on your wrist and leave your phone in your pocket.

  1. A vibration alert for stores I have liked that uses deeper iBeacon integration – If I am close by to a Starbucks and the store could push a deal alert that would notify my iWatch.  The alert would ask for my approval and send a coupon to my iPhone to use at that particular location.  As the usage of iBeacon grows, this only makes sense with an iWatch-like-device and something I can see brands leveraging very heavily for brick-and-mortar stores.
  2. App-integration – Thinking of apps like MLB, who allow you to store your purchased tickets in the Passbook app already.  What if you could pull up passbook on your iWatch and it produced a bar code that the ticket taker could scan on your watch and let you into the ball park.
  3. iTunes and purchases – this is another possibility down the road and yes I am looking deep into the crystall ball on this one.  The largest bank in the world is Apple’s iTunes store, with largest amount of bank information stored.  Could Apple ever install NFC into the iWatch allow you to make purchases with your bank information that is stored in iTunes? I think it could be a big possibility.

So I have thrown together my top three ways I would love to see iWatch used.  What else or how else could brands utilize this un-released device to better grow their brand?  Do you see any possible uses with Instagram, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+?

Building a Personal Brand Through Emerging Media

Emerging media and other socially-connected tools is allowing for the everyday person to build their own platform or brand.  No longer do you need to be a celebrity to gain a following, just a niche area that you are passionate about and get started.  The question is, where do you start? First you need a home-base, also known as your blog.  My goal this year is to make the jump to self-hosted wordpress.org and utilize many of the key plug-ins that can help me really mold my blog and optimize it how I feel best.  

 

One of the fastest and best ways to grow your reach for your blog is through sharing.  Be sure to include network sharing for LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, and other network that can help you grow.  Pinterest is definitely great option as long as you have included an image in the blog that will also draw engagement on Pinterest.  

 

Now that we have addressed blogging, lets look at Twitter.  Creating a Twitter account is the first step and being sure to choose a name that will reflect well of your brand.  This could be using your name and middle initial if that is taken or going with something around the topic you love.

 

Once you have the account setup, I would recommend downloading HootSuite onto your computer and then the app on your smartphone.  If you aren’t familiar with HootSuite, it is a social media dashboard that allows you to check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, WordPress, and soon Google+.  Create a few tabs starting with your Twitter stream, your tweets retweeted, interactions, and scheduled tweets.  If you start feeling comfortable in the dashboard, you can also create streams for specific hashtags or keywords you want to follow and track.  This works really well around conferences who use a hashtag for corresponding tweets around the conference.  

 

If you have downloaded HootSuite or any other Twitter client to your smartphone, I would then recommend adding a read it later function to your Twitter account.  My favorite is Pocket App, which allows me to click and hold on a tweet and pocket the tweet with the link for reading later.  I pocket around 30 tweets a day and “try” to come back to these later through the Pocket app on my iPad, iPhone or my Macbook Pro (all free).

 

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/40168555″>Introducing Pocket</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/getpocket”>Pocket</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

After all the tools are in place, next is following key people on Twitter.  If you follow one person you find who inspires you, then look at who they follow.  Read their tweets and see who they follow too, this can take you down a rabbit hole, but is worth it! 

 

Next be sure to retweet others and comment, sharing is caring on Twitter and can really help you grow your followers and in the end make some offline connections down the road.  Extend that over to other platforms like Instagram too! 

 

What other tools or tactics help you grow your personal brand? Leave me a comment below and let’s share! 

 

The Emerging Media New Kid on the Block: Vine

Image

 

At the beginning of 2013 Twitter released a new app called Vine and for those who aren’t familiar with Vine, you can create 6-second videos or 6-seconds of stop motion video.  While it started out as users creating short-form videos of random stuff, some extremely creative and some not so much.  It has now matured into brands using the new kid on the block to reach their audience in a new way.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sold on the Vine from an IMC standpoint, but quickly retract my thoughts after a friend created a company around helping brands use this new emerging media and has been very successful.

 

Mini-Ads

A brand can create short creative ads and embed these into a tweet.  Here is a sample what he created most recently for Pillsbury Toaster Strudel and their “Breakfast Buccaneer” theme.  Pretty creative, right?

 

 

Peek Behind The Curtain

I previously mentioned this in my post about Instagram, but it remains true with Vine also.  The major benefit with Instagram is the 15-seconds of video, but Vine makes you get more creative in your usage.

 

New Product/ Product Demos

Vine is a great emerging media tool to showoff a new product.  Debut the new product or show it off in action through short teaser videos that will help in building excitement or buzz around the product debut.

 

Contests

Vine is a great tool for having your followers create content with a corresponding hashtag.  Disney pulled with the premier of their Vine account, in which they asked people to Vine your Disney side for a chance to win a $1,000 or grand prize trip to Disney.

 

How-To’s

One of the best brands out there has to be Lowe’s and their #lowesfixinsix videos.  They use the six second platform to create short how-to videos or little creative hacks for around the house.  Knowing you are getting valuable ideas that are short and to the point has already gained Lowe’s over 15,000 followers on Vine.

 

 

 

If you would like to learn more about Vine, I would recommend reading Social Media Examiner’s post on 16 ways business are using Vine.  In the article, they highlight other uses of Vine, which may come in handy if you decide to add this to your content strategy.  Most importantly, just have fun with the app and show the human-side of your brand or business.  Those who use creativity and humor are the ones getting largest amount of followers.  As Vine grows (no pun intended) I will be interested to see if or how they monetize the platform going forward.  In a world that thrives on shorter content and more visual, I see Vine having a bright future as more and more people start to adopt this new tool for their brand.  

 

What do you see as some of the biggest barriers for those brands who haven’t started using Vine yet?

 

 

 

Instagram Like the Big Brands

Image

Instagram is one of those platforms that keeps increasing in popularity and will continue with the rise of visual marketing.  What Instagram started it was a place to take selfies and food porn pics, has now turned into a viable option for businesses and marketing.  Instagram over the last few years has seen a boom in the number of brands and business jump onto the platform.  Some of the benefits of Instagram, is it can increase customer loyalty and create buzz around your brand, if done correctly.     

 

CREATE BUZZ WITH INSTAGRAM CONTESTS

A fun way to engage your followers and create that buzz is through a contest.  This can easily be implemented by having your users take a photo and tag it with the hashtag of your choosing.  This will allow you to easily search through pictures that have used the hashtag and allow you to share some from the community.  It is important to note to not choose a generic hashtag for your contest.  I recommend testing a few out and doing a search on Instagram, if you don’t find any results, then it could be a winner.  

 

BUILD LOYALTY THROUGH ENGAGEMENT

Too often I see a brand that posts a picture and gets a lot of comments, but never ever responds to anyone who will ask a direct question.  If you have rules for Twitter when responding to a question or concern, I would recommend possibly implementing that same strategy with Instagram.  I have been impressed by the person or brand that took time out to directly comment and tag me in the comment, just to make sure I saw it and read it.  

 

PEEK BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Remember Dorothy, in the Wizard of OZ as she peeked behind the curtain? In this case you are the wizard and welcoming that peek.  This can be incredible for a brand to show the behind the scenes of a photo shoot, maybe employees in the office or even setup for an event that is coming up.  What better way to generate a lot of excite around an event and asking your fans to use the “official” hashtag for the event.  Social Media Examiner is having their annual “Social Media Marketing World” and uses pictures like the one below to show key locations for the event locations. 

 

Image

 

Recently, Instagram published the Instagram Handbook for Brands, but don’t worry you won’t be getting your hands on it.  However, they do have an excellent Instagram for business blog and Tumblr blog which highlights pieces from the handbook.  I would definitely recommend checking it out and getting inspiration and ideas from it. 

 

 

What else would you add to this list of ways to use Instagram? 

 

Five Foundations For Your Emerging Media Strategy

Gone are those days of creating a campaign that you push to TV, print and radio and then sit back to see what happens.  Today emerging media is becoming the methods of choice in reaching your audience.  So what does emerging media mean to you? Do you solely think what’s new in social media? Perhaps you think of video, mobile marketing, content marketing or gamification, but it really all of these areas rolled up into one.

 

Leveraging the various platforms in emerging media can make a world of difference in accomplishing objectives for your business.  How many times have you watched ABC’s Shark Tank and heard Mark Cuban ask about marketing and advertising? They almost always say, “I used social media to get the word out.” What I find simply amazing with emerging media is the fact it is disrupting every single industry out there.  Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, recently said that companies adopting social have 20% more revenue and 60% higher profit growth.  Thinking about those percentages, what would that mean for your company or business? While most businesses can create a Facebook page, Twitter profile, Vine, Instagram, and YouTube account, many don’t have a strategy for publishing and interacting on these emerging social media platforms.

Brand Advocates

  • Point 1: BE AUTHENTIC – I can’t stress this point enough! Really show what your company is all about in your posts, pictures, videos, and tweets.  If you post, make sure to be ready for the comments to roll in and respond to followers.  While gaining new followers is great, creating brands advocates is your goal.  Make sure to show that human side of your brand too!
  • Point 2: BE INTEGRATED – your emerging media platforms should be integrated across every department.
  • Point 3: BE ENGAGED – your passionate fans will engage you, be ready to engage them back.  This is where you will find the true value of your Facebook fans and Twitter followers.
  • Point 4: UTILIZE YOUR INFLUENCERS – your influencers are your brand advocates.  While brands still use celebrity endorsements, that word-of-mouth marketing that comes from your brand advocates will help influence your customers.
  • Point 5: BE OMNIPRESENT – your fans and followers are everywhere, be everywhere! I had a meeting with an executive about a year ago and we were discussing social media within the organization.  I made the point that people were already at the table having a conversation about the brand, now it’s important for that brand to pull up a chair and join in the conversation.  We hear a lot about real-time content marketing, but I would argue real-time conversation is extremely important to your customers who engage you.  Over time, this can create those brand advocates mentioned in point 4.

Jay Baer of Convince and Convert wrote a book called, Youtility.  Jay’s definition of being a “youtility” is about help and not hype and Jay gives a great example in this talk:

Being a “youtility” is one of the best ways to create brand advocates and I think sums up my 5 points in this post.  Are you seeing any brands out their incorporating this strategy and what emerging media platforms are they using to accomplish this? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.