A Refresher Course: Digital Marketing Basics

strategyAfter reading an article by Mashable “Does Your Business Need a Full-Time Social Media Team?”, I was once again reminded how complex and time consuming creating a digital marketing strategy can be. After all, there is an entire industry dedicated to the social media marketing of businesses and corporations. And as part of a digital marketing team, I thought it would be a good idea to reiterate the basics of developing a successful digital marketing strategy.

Digital marketing strategies rely on incorporating traditional public relations principles with current social media trends. But to be successful, it’s important to find the right strategy. Specifically, this means researching your audience, choosing the appropriate social media, and creating measurable goals all in an effort to engage and build with your audience.

So when developing a digital marketing strategy for a class project, internship, or at a job, here are some key things to keep in mind:

Know your audience.

It’s simple, the more you know about your target audience, the better your strategy will be. However, knowing your audience means you must do a significant amount of research to fully understand your audience and their expectations.

Identify where your audience goes on the web for information, paying special attention to “pain points.” Pain points are problems or weaknesses apparent in the current marketing strategy. These pain points aren’t currently adequately (or perhaps not even at all) the audience’s needs and expectations. Think like your audience. Pain points can help you identify opportunities that allow you to better connect with the audience. Understanding how your audience currently interacts with the product or company will help you market to them more effectively.

Choose social media platforms based on audience and audience research.

It’s easy to become over zealous when adding social media into your strategy. At first, you might feel pressured to incorporate Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Vine, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and every other social media platforms into your strategy, but take a step back and really look at your research and audience. Ask yourself, “Is my audience active on Twitter?” “Do they really use Instagram?” Questions like these will help you focus on where your audience is actively participating on the web. From there, you can peruse and take notes on the types of content your audience most frequently interacts with.

The key to successfully using social media as part of your strategy is not to stretch your brand. It is always better to be sincerely engaged with your audience on one or two platforms than just to have a presence on seven or eight platforms. Successful social media management requires a fresh supply of relevant content and daily maintenance. Actively participate in your chosen social media outlets and don’t worry about the rest.

Set realistic, measurable goals.

It’s easy to become overly ambitious when setting your marketing strategy goals. It is extremely important to set goals that are attainable and measurable. So, how do you do that?

Firstly, understand that marketing strategies take time. Strategies do not work overnight, and receiving substantial feedback on your strategy often takes weeks and months. Develop an overarching goal to your strategy, but make sure to create smaller goals throughout your timeline in order to track your progress. Smaller, more refined goals will allow you to make adjustments to your strategy along the way.

Secondly, a marketing goal should be measurable. Measuring your strategy means being able to compare metrics according to a set timeframe.

Not an analyst? Don’t worry. There are hundreds of free online analytics tools available on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Facebook even has their own analytics tool, called Facebook Insights, and they’re getting better all the time. Facebook’s Insight tool now helps you benchmark your marketing strategy, see when your audience is online, and better visualize Page Likes growth through new graphs.

Like every company, every strategy is different. At the most basic level, digital marketing strategies strive for research-rich audience data, relevant and appropriate use of social media, and measurable and attainable goals to be successful.

Hope this is a helpful resource for your digital marketing endeavors!

Politics of the Future: Digital and Social Media

What if President Obama held press conferences not in the White House, but on Google Hangout? What if he answered questions asked by the American people, rather than the news correspondents? Earlier this month India’s Finance Minister P Chidambaram did just that. The minister participated in a live video conference that lasted hour, but the conference sparked conversations that lasted quite longer (e.g. #askthefm).

“People have been calling this era of computers, the Internet, and telecommunications the ‘information age’ … What we’re really in now is the empowerment age…This power is shifting…to a new paradigm of power that is democratically distributed and shared by all of us.” – Joe Trippi, author of Revolution Will Not be Televised

President Obama's current Facebook banner.

President Obama’s current Facebook banner.

Today everyone and everything is going social. Barack Obama and Fançois Hollande are on Facebook, and even The White House, the WTO, and the United Nations tweet.Digital media has become a new form of infrastructure. The United Kingdom offers virtual tours of Parliament buildings. The EU website has an Audiovisual Newsroom. Online presence is a public expectation.

The virtual world has a very real influence.The last two years proved digital and social media’s power to mobilize entire nations (i.e. revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Syria). Minister Chidambaram’s conference is further evidence of a growing desire to not only pay attention to the man (or woman) behind the curtain, but to eliminate the curtain altogether.

 

Why You Should Become a Blogger

So, you want to break into the field of digital media? It can take time, but a great way to gain experience while still in school or working in another field is to start blogging. Choose a specific topic to write about, but try to not keep it too narrow. Maybe you will write about a hobby or passion you have, or maybe it will be a blog about trends in social media, anything that excites you. Once you decide on a category, the next step is to chose a platform.

Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360

There are many free platforms you can choose like WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr. WordPress and Blogger are more traditional styles while Tumblr is more visually oriented. If your hobby is an outdoor hobby that can be accompanied my many photos, you may to use Tumblr. If your topic is more professionally orientated, Blogger or WordPress may be a better choice.

After that it is time to build up a community on Twitter. If you are not already on Twitter, set up an account. If you are, start following similar users and start reading their blogs, commenting, and retweeting and replying to their tweets. Think of similar bloggers as your allies, not your competition they may be your only audience for a while. Many seasoned Twitter experts  advocate for using your own name and having your profile picture be of yourself. It makes it more personal that way, people will be more likely to engage with a person, rather than an icon image.

Getting an audience takes patience and time, but does pay off. The trick is to publish often and regularly. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Once you are established, guest posts are a great way to get more exposure. I was lucky enough to land a guest post on a popular blog with a large readership and my post was re-syndicated on the PR Daily. This would have never happened if I published the same piece on my own blog.

So go ahead, let the world hear your voice speak with authority on a topic you know about. You may enjoy it even more than you though, and it might even land you a job.

Privacy Concerns with Instagram

Instagram’s recent changes to its privacy policy and terms of service became effective on January 19, 2013 after causing quite the stir among users who feared a breach of privacy.

Many people were lead to believe that updated terms would allow the company to sell user pictures to advertisers without their knowledge, permission or compensation. However, this is not the case. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom clarified in his blog post that “Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos – you do.”

The recent launch of Instagram web profiles also raises some concern about privacy. The new profiles feature a collage of recently shared photographs that form a header along with a profile photo and bio, giving others a snapshot of the photos you share on Instagram. In addition, you can follow users, comment & like photos and edit your profile from the web.

With the new web profiles, anyone is able to view a public user’s Instagram profile online. To those who worry that their photos will now be on display for the whole world to see, have no fear. As long as your photos are set to private, your photos will be visible only to logged-in Instagram users you’ve allowed to follow you. Those who don’t want to share their photos on the Web can simply set their profiles to private.

Ellie Goulding Hosts Album Signing via Google+

I always like finding unconventional uses for social media, and British singer/songwriter Ellie Goulding wins the award for the day: today, she’ll become the first musician to host an album signing in a Google+ hangout.

From what I gather, there will be a form to “gain entry” to the event, and signed albums will be distributed to fans via snail mail. Admittedly, I was never much of a Google+ user, and Google’s effort to de-throne Facebook as the king of social media largely failed and Google+ looks more or less like a ghost town (seriously, when was the last time I logged in? Forever ago?), the “hangout” group video chat feature was one of the better things to come out of it, and I think Ellie has found an extremely creative use for it.

 

Ellie Goulding is no stranger to social media network-based interaction, either. The music video for her song “Anything Can Happen” was made with fan-submitted Instagram photos.

Both the Google+-based hangout and the crowdsourced music video are extremely clever uses of a social media platform, and exactly the kind of fan unconventional, fan-driven interaction that more social media marketing companies should be striving to drive! I’m not personally an Ellie Goulding fan, but much like composer Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, it is something a broad range of people can participate in without having to travel anywhere, and something that people can point to and say “Yeah, I did that. And it was awesome.

The Best of Both Worlds

Pinstagram, a free service that displays your Instagram photos in the Pinterest waterfall format. Since Instagram did not have a web or iPad application, this is the perfect pair. Pinstagram combines two of the hottest social networks into one easy to use application available on the web or iPad.

Personally, I love this new application, it makes it a thousand times easier to view your Instagram pictures. Once you sign in with your current Instagram account, your pictures are automatically displayed in the waterfall format that every Pinterest user in a costume too. This layout allows users to view more pictures at once.

Pinstagram also offers additional views of pages. For example there is your home page, most popular page, your profile page, and a page which displays the photos you have liked. Additionally Pinstagram allows users the ability to search for a specific tag.

If you have been waiting for Instagram on your Ipad, this new application offers the best of both worlds. I love that the digital world is always trying to think of the next best thing, and I think the creators of Pinstagram have found it. Everyone loves Instagram and Pinterest, so why wouldn’t you love them as one, I know I love it!

Is Pinterest getting political?

Politicians on Pinterest. An alliteration I never thought I’d hear in a million years. But it’s happening. Barack Obama, Newt Gingrich and Ann Romney (GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s wife) all have Pinterest accounts. At first, I thought it was odd. Then I went on Barack Obama’s page and saw the Pet Lover’s for Obama board and my opinion softened.

While these pages are cute and entertaining for a quick second, it’s hard to imagine that there’s any real value to a Pinterest page in terms of campaign strategy. But, an article in the PR Daily changed my perception. Pinterest has 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors to it’s site and they’re mostly women. It’s a critical demographic that politicians often struggle to reach.

But what separates Pinterest for any other social media account? The fact is, Pinterest is about personality. In a few seconds, visitors have the ability to see what candidates like, their passions and their unique interests. It humanizes them, something that a debate or public statement can’t exactly do.

Pinterest isn’t political in the least. Most people don’t spend their daily lives debating politics or reading the Washington Post from front to back. So for your average person, Pinterest is able to connect politicians to them in a way that is natural. Seeing Ann Romney’s patriotic cooking ideas or viewing a photo of the Obama’s at a family dinner give politicians a human element that is often absent.

It’s such a lighthearted and fun social media platform that politicians may seemingly have no place on Pinterest. But at the end of the day, we want politicians to understand the problems that we face as average citizens. And for that reason, it’s a smart and strategic move for politicians to have Pinterest accounts. Although I may never make that complicated red, white and blue cake that Ann Romney found on Pinterest, I can still appreciate that we both wish we were amazing cooks.

Chirpify to Expand Twitter

As Twitter quickly grows everyday, more and more opportunities slowly arise for Twitter to expand its domain. That is exactly what the latest startup, Chirpify, is doing by teaming up with PayPal. Chirpify will allow users to purchase anything from companies that also use Chirpify from their Twitter-enabled smartphones. In addition to shopping, users can transfer money to other users in a peer-to-peer transaction as long as both are using Chirpify. Beyond what is already done, Chirpify and future applications will only expand and demand more from social media marketing agencies as a necessity, not just an afterthought.

There are high hopes for Chirpify given the combination of a majority of cell phone sales being smartphones and people becoming more comfortable shopping through the internet. If Chirpify takes off, it would become the first major add-on to Twitter to expand it’s reaches as a social networking tool. With social networking sites quickly trying to expand their reaches by diversifying, it’s plausible they will eventually morph into near-identical entities. Seeing as how for example Facebook has its marketplace, which seems on par with Chirpify. If that were to happen, what would happen to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook? Would they possibly merge into one giant site? All we can do is wait and see.

New Resource Guide a Must-Read for New Media

If you are looking to understand social media marketing, search engine optimization, blogging, digital public relations, Google, and more, you are in luck. Richard T. Cole, professor of public relations at Michigan State University and Derek Mehraban, owner of Ingenex Digital Marketing, have combined their expertise to bring you the resource guide to be successful in new media. Titled New Media Driver’s License: Using Social Media for More Productive Business and Marketing Communications, this book will better equip you to build your own personal brand, help to market your products, start a blog, write public relations news releases, master social media websites, and much more.

Why is new media so important? New media is the answer to the on-demand access to content at any time, any where, on any digital device. Educating yourself in the new media ways will give you the advantage on the evolving world of digital media. Keep up with companies who are also learning to adapt to these new forms of media in strive to create an edge for themselves. Employers will be looking for prospective employees with knowledge in new media. This resource guide is your tool to accomplishing just that.

Using StumbleUpon’s New Ad System as a Marketing Tool

With 20 million members, StumbleUpon helps users to discover and share the best of the web. As you rate websites, your interest is shared with other like-minded users. The StumbleUpon experience is about seeing the exact content you want to see.

StumbleUpon has introduced a new ad system, titled Paid Discovery. Users can choose to use this system as a way to post their website to the constant stream of content that users are “stumbling” onto. Up to 5% of stumbles are dedicated to Paid Discovery. The system guarantees the right audience is landing on your content. An ad is not created. Your website is the ad.

What content is StumbleUpon Paid Discovery looking for? The StumbleUpon community wants to see photos, articles, videos, experiences that them smile, laugh, or in thought. Entertaining, informative, and visually appealing content works the best with users as more scores will rise in your favor, thus increasing the chance your content goes viral.

If you do choose to start a marketing campaign with Paid Discovery, there are different options for how quickly and how many users will reach your content. The engagement of users are measured carefully as you are only charged for the users who engage in your content at the level you specified. Factors that play into this include time spent, share rate, page interaction, activity, etc.

The benefits of using Paid Discovery are worth the awareness you will produce. The system will guarantee
discoveries, reach an engaged audience in relevant traffic, and pay for only the unique visitors you targeted.