What Type of Content My Target Audience Will Find Engaging?

Content is King; a statement that has held true since the age of advertising. Like all great things, content marketing has evolved and improved over time. Gone are the days when brands would simply pin-up posters of their products in any given location to try and entice consumers.

Ogilvy Rolls Royce Ad

Take the above ad for example; published in 1958 by David Ogilvy’s company, the ad created a sensation among Americans of that era, and greatly pushed the sales of Rolls-Royce. Reading it today, you may find it hard to skim past the long content, but Ogilvy utilised one of the most powerful elements in advertising that still holds high regard today: Audience Engagement.

He did so by using a powerful Headline that was able to connect well with the emotions that the Target Audience felt at that time (the posh society of post-war America). Flash forward 6 ½ decades, Ogilvy’s methods of engagement are still applicable but have been morphed to fit into the current scenario of an internet and technology savvy world.

Content marketing is an advertiser’s new best friend; 71 percent of consumers today feel bombarded with ads on social media. Instead, they want more than just a flashy product commercial; they want an experience, a little taste of what to expect. Content Marketing can achieve that by creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content. The method also adds a layer of trust in Target Audience, Creating what brands crave the most: Loyalty towards their products. Since this is an extensive article we’ve split it into sections to make it easier for you to navigate and read through.

  1. Why must you implement a content marketing strategy
  2. Popular content forms in use today
  3. Platforms on which content marketing thrives
  4. The content marketing formula
  5. Brand/Product/Service specific content marketing

Why must you implement a content marketing strategy?

Leads/Sales for a long period over new channels:

The fact that content marketing gives you an open playing field to mix and match with various content forms over a multitude of platforms, there is a big chance for your brand to generate leads, improve sales conversion and ultimately get closer to your Target Audience on a more personal level.

Reach consumers who use ad blockers:

Everyone hates a pop-up ad; they’re annoying, disorient you from an online experience and are generally considered as spam. Content marketing provides a more genuine, trustworthy advertising approach, one that actively induces consumer interaction.

Get Organic traffic/SEO:

Without SEO, anything you publish online will be lost forever in the massive sea of stars that is the World Wide Web. Content marketing has proven to be an SEO friendly marketing method, and provides credibility with boosting organic traffic.

Ad Fatigue:

Imagine seeing the same ad over and over again as you scroll through your Facebook feed. It can get annoying to the point where consumers lose interest in what the ad is trying to communicate. With content marketing, marketers can keep the essence of the ad fresh while varying the way the ad is presented.

Popular content forms in use today

Infographics:

Pretty much self-explanatory in its naming, Infographics is a presentation of data in a visual way. The concept is widely popular among readers, and gives license to creative freedom in graphical presentation, adding loads of value to the written content. Being a more comfortable way to consume information from, Infographics are likely to be shared three times more on Social Media than general content posts.

inphographic

Memes:

Short and sweet, Memes are one of the easiest content forms you can make. But bear in mind that they are not used for information, rather for entertainment. If done right, memes have a high chance of going viral, as consumers love nothing more than to share something outright hilarious.

Meme

Videos:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then videos are worth a million. No matter what you are promoting, there are always ways to present in on the screen. Videos have proven to be one of the most searched forms of information or entertainment, so to give your SEO a big boost, consider making one that is relevant to your brand, product or service.

Guides and E-Books:

Guides are a detailed form of content and specifically meant for sharing information. Guides work well for SEO purpose as Google’s crawlers are now paying more attention to long-form content that mixes and matches other content forms.

Guides & Ebooks

Book reviews:

There is a book for everything today, and your target audience is bound to pick up one. Avid readers will love to know how good a book is before they have a read, plus it gives off the impression that you are well versed in your subject matter, adding a layer of credibility to your brand. You can induce some consumer reaction by asking personal reviews.

Book Review

Product Reviews:

Like books, product reviews will boost your brand’s credibility, and if you engage professionally with services providers and manufacturers that are relevant to your industry, that credibility increases tenfold. Collaborate with influencers who can review your product and add a trust factor among consumers.

Product Reviews

“How-to” posts:

The age old 5Ws & 1H concept is still effective to date, and a “How to” post is something that is frequently searched. If you are SEO hungry, “How to” posts will help generate the same, as the format takes advantage long tail keyword searches, ultimately bumping up your site ranking.

How To Post

List:

Humans are hardwired to be obsessed with lists. If you make one relevant to your product or service, chances of it being read are very high. Lists are everywhere and can comprise of anything, and Google analytics have revealed that a numbered list (odd numbers count) are the most popular.

Lists

Case Studies:

Nothing spells professionalism better than a good old case study. Need to explain what your product or service is and its impact on consumers? Perform a case study with all those intricate details. Ultimately, you’ll get a healthy dose of credibility and if promoted well, a strong consumer following.

Case Study

Podcasts:

The radio may have lost its charm among general audience today, but audio files still hold high regard among commuters who like a good plug and play of useful information. If your Target Audience falls under such a category, podcasts could be a useful medium for some knowledge sharing.

Podcast

Remember, there is no hard and fast rule that you must try every form of content marketing. Instead, focus on adapting and implementing an idea into a select content type. When that idea morphs into a quality piece of content, your Target Audience will evolve from one-time consumers to a dedicated and loyal fan following.

Platforms on which content marketing thrives

No matter what type of content you choose to work with, you’ll need a base, a platform on which you’re content becomes viewable. In the online world, content representation into three types.

Platforms on which Social Media thrives

Paid Media:

Media that is bought and sold for; online advertisements like Google AdWords, Facebook ads, YouTube ads and sponsored content, have shown a very high percentage regarding reach towards the Target Audience, and is also reliant on ROI. Strong reach may increase the chance of a targeted user getting convinced to purchase, yet may not provide a longer, more sustainable impact that permanently etches your brand into the consumer’s memory.

Owned Media:

Owned media refers to platforms through which your content is promoted. Your Website, Facebook Page, YouTube profile, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts are types of owned media. Think of owned media as your virtual office, space for you to actively promote everything your brand represents and connect to your Target Audience in the online world. Since owned media is just a platform, you are free to use it in any way you like for your content marketing needs. How effectively you use it, with your chosen content strategy, will determine the overall reach and interaction with potential consumers.

Earned Media:

Even if your brand is marketed well online, consumers need to be certain and feel a sense of trust with your product. You can achieve that trust factor through earned media; sharing of social media content, Twitter mentions, blog mentions, product reviews and influencer marketing. Of course, to gain such high level of trust among consumers, it takes time, but also pays off handsomely, in the long run, immensely boosting your brand loyalty.

The content marketing formula

Content marketing isn’t something you could just cook up out of an empty pot. The process requires careful planning and meticulous detailing with a whole host of ingredients blending to make fantastic pieces of share-worthy content on various platforms.

The Basic Formula:

Content Marketing = Ideation + Creation + Publishing + Promotion

Content Marketing Formula

Ideation:

Everything begins with an idea. It is from this seed that your entire content marketing plan branches out. To come up with a path-breaking idea you need to do research and lots of it. You achieve great content marketing when you bridge the gap.

“What they’re looking for”- Analyse your Target Audience:

This is the first and most critical step towards creating your content plan. When you can understand who our audience is and what their expectations are, you will be able to create more relevant content. Analyse these aspects:

  • Audience demographic (age, sex)
  • Audience geographic (location)
  • Audience behaviour (reactions towards competition brand’s content)

When you narrow down the points mentioned above, your next step is to hunt for relevant topics that are trending, valuable and share worthy and in some way link to your brand, product or service.

Analyse the Target Audience

“What we want to say”- Create a content strategy:

Question yourself as to why you are about to create a piece of content. What is your end goal with the content you are about to create? To make this easier and more understandable, create a content strategy. Your strategy must be able to answer one or all of these goals:

  • Boost brand awareness
  • Increase brand reach
  • Page promotions
  • Boost website visits
  • Focus on consumer interaction

Remember, strategies could change even after your content is created and published. Be open to a trial and error method before you push for massive promotions.

Creation:

With your strategy set and your ideas in full flow. It’s time for the actual creation of your content. Again, depending on your Target Audience, your type of content will have to vary in, but make sure you stick to a content formula that is valuable, relevant and has great visual appeal. Based on current market trends and audience expectation, keep your content fresh by mixing and matching its various forms like GIFs, Blog posts, Infographics, Videos, etc.  Ultimately, your content creation must sync well with your strategy and be able to:

  • Solve a problem
  • Trigger a purchase decision
  • Add value to SEO
  • Entertain

Creative Social Media post

Publishing:

Much like creating content for that relates to your Target Audience, publishing your content must also have a timed approach. Google Search algorithms and Facebook’s targeted post boosting have made it easier for marketers to preselect a publishing time and date, resulting in better and more accurate reach to the consumers. It is important to optimise content that is share-worthy on mobile devices as well, with a majority of consumers now spending more time on smartphones.

Publishing funnel

Promotion:

With over 27 million pieces of content being shared every day, your content is just a small grain of sand in a huge desert. To make that little grain noticeable among the rest, you need to make the most out of the promotional options available. So how do you amplify your content?

promotion strategy

Remember, none of these techniques will work wonders unless you connect them with the golden catalyst of content marketing- Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is a broad topic, so we’ve saved it for another detailed post.

Brand/Product/Service specific content marketing

Since content marketing is an ever-evolving subject matter based on shifting trends and change in consumer behaviour, there is no surefire successful approach to choosing an approach to your strategy. But, some content strategies work well over others depending on your brand, product or service. Let’s look at a few successful strategies.

Content Marketing for B2B:

When it comes to B2B content marketing, ultra-professionalism is important. Your task as a marketer will be to convince other business of working with you or using your services. Make sure your content is concise, to-the-point and expresses heavily on your services and the benefits it could offer to another business.

Best Platforms:

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress Blog/Website, YouTube, Google AdWords

Content Type:

Emailers, Helpful blog posts (Tips/How-to), Product Reviews, Product/Service specific social media posts

Content type for B2B

Content marketing for FMCG:

For FMCG brands, the content strategy must heavily revolve around consumer interaction. This means marketers are free to explore all sorts of content and modify them in a way that involves consumers intrigued and curious to know more about the brand’s products.

Best Platforms:

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Guest blogging

Content Type:

GIFs, Memes, Influencer promotions, Product specific social media posts, Guide based blog posts

content type for FMCG

Content marketing for real estate:

With a recent influx of the real estate market in India, developers are making a move into the online space to boost their project promotions further. As always, the competition is fierce, so the best reach towards consumers decides the big winner. Considering how huge the real estate industry is, having an online presence for developer and broker, while also complementing each other’s presence, is vital for the success of a real estate brand in the online space.

Best Platforms:

Facebook, Google AdWords, WordPress Blog, Twitter

Content Type:

Emailers, Helpful blog posts (Tips/How-to), Influencer promotions, Product specific social media posts, Landing pages

content type for Real Estate

Content marketing for lifestyle brands:

Lifestyle brands, especially those in the fashion industry, have a mainstay in the digital marketing space. To get better online presence, lifestyle brands must be appealing both to targeted consumers and businesses.

Best Platforms:

Facebook, Instagram, Google AdWords, WordPress Blog/Landing Page, Twitter, YouTube

Content Type:

Emailers, Helpful blog posts (Tips/How-to/Lists/Guides), Influencer promotions, Product specific social media posts, Video Promotions

content type for lifestyle brands

We end by quoting a famous line by David Ogilvy, “Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine”. Content marketing is the most trusted and honest form of marketing and one that is sure to go a long way in establishing a healthy relationship with your Target Audience.

Are there any innovative content strategies you’ve cooked up? Feel free to share the in the comments below.

Social Beat partners with Orange Flower Awards in Bangalore

We are glad to Partner with the Orange Flower Awards, organised by Women’s Web. The Orange Flower Awards are India’s first awards for women for digital excellence. The initiative aims at recognising women who are digital creative superstars. This encompasses women who are writers, cartoonists, social media mavens, photographers.

The Women’s Web is an online platform that enables women around the country to talk about their real stories and experiences. The organisation is the largest online community of women in India with 8 million readers since 2010. An inspiration to 800+ women entrepreneurs, the platform hosts 1500+ writers and bloggers. There is a wide diversity in the kind of topics that are featured on the platform. One can find women’s views on social issues, parenting advice, relationships, entrepreneurship, travel, lifestyle and even Tech and Finance! Started in 2010, Women’s Web has been growing with the love and readership of women in India and has been applauded by The Hindu, Deccan Chronical, PepperTV and won many awards such as the Women Icon and Biz Divas award.

The premise behind hosting the Orange Flower Awards is that women in India are continually innovating and reinventing to change the digital world we live in. Any woman above the age of 18 years can nominate themselves or someone else for the Awards. Although the awards are meant to recognise the work that women have done in this field, nominations from men are also welcome in specific categories where their work has empowered women in some form.

The Jury panel comprises of renowned journalists and authors like Gita Aravamudan, Kiran Manral, Ashok Banker, Mita Kapur, Samhita Arni and Sowmya Rajendran. Other panellists include Archana Doshi, Natasha Bhadwar and Aparna V Singh, who is the Founder and CEO of Women’s Web. The structure planned is going through digital and also has on ground events in 5 cities – Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad. The gala awards night is scheduled to take place on the 8th of January, 2017 in Bengaluru.

You can catch all the action and the recent happenings of the event on their page. You can also choose to attend the event in any of the cities.

7 tips on how social media can be leveraged by fashion brands

For a fashion brand to be successful, the people behind it must understand, they are not just selling a product, they are selling an entire lifestyle! This has become increasingly easier to convey to the customers, since social media made their entrance. The use of social media in the fashion retail industry is on the rise, because of visual channels like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and YouTube, simply because image is what these brands are selling.
Creating a solid, quality social media following should be a big part of any brand’s social media strategy and these channels are providing the perfect platforms for engaging with users, in order to raise brand awareness, drive website traffic and generate sales. With this in mind, we present seven ways to leverage social media for your fashion business.

Show the personality of your brand!

A platform like Instagram is perfect for a lot of things; including sharing ‘behind the scenes’ pictures for your brand, like major fashion house Chanel or Dolce & Gabbana does. This will make your followers identify with your brand on a more personal level, and that makes them more likely to choose your brand next time. It also portraits a certain lifestyle, to which the consumer wants to belong, and again is more likely to choose your product.

chanel

To know more about how to use Instagram for your business.

Use the content from your followers

When it comes to fashion on social media, one of the great things is that your followers will often create a lot of content for you, and it is right there for the taking! User-generated content works like word of mouth endorsement, with the users advertising your brand by sharing photos of themselves wearing your products. These posts, ofcourse reach the followers and provides free advertisement for your brand, but even more important, you can also share these pictures from your own platform, which not only makes the user feel valued, but further more provides any potential customer with an even more relatable post. Companies like Calvin Klein and Nike has some dedicated followers, who always posts their brand.
If you have yet to build up a strong group of followers, that automatically posts pictures of your products and tags you in it, you can consider running a campaign, that urges people to compete in posting their favorite outfit (including your brand, of course!), giving them a chance to win a price from you.

nike

Influencer marketing

In today’s world where people believe people more than brands, Influencer marketing has become the most effective way of advertising. Over the time, many brands from different sectors and industries have shifted their marketing strategy to influencer marketing. Tie-ups with popular influencers help brands reach the right target audience.

craftsvilla

Craftsvilla a well- known e-commerce fashion brand achieved great results through influencer marketing. The brand did a campaign with famous fashion influencers across different social media platforms. Neha, one of the fashion influencers shared her experience with crafts villa on her blog and other platforms titled ’Embrace the ethnic wear this season with craftsvilla.’ This post on Instagram received great amount of engagement from her followers.

crafts-villa

 

If you have not explored influencer marketing its time you leveraged this option. So, go ahead and try it out today!

Pin it

According to recent statistics, India has around 8.19 million Pinterest users. It is one of the fastest growing social platforms and allows users to save pins and create boards with anything from DIY projects to wedding ideas and fashion tips. Many fashion brands have used this platform successfully. It is a good idea for brands to explore Pinterest more.
Pinning just your products every time might make it monotonous for your users, hence, sharing some ideas or content related to the industry will be a great idea to increase engagement.
Gehna, one of India’s leading jewelry brands has over 5,000 followers on Pinterest. The brand has created boards belonging to different categories based on occasions and festivals. This is an interesting way to showcase your products. It makes it easy for followers to pin jewelry that they like directly from the category they are looking for.

pinterest

For more tips on how you can use Pinterest, find out here.

Videos

Videos are always more engaging than just images. Video options are available in every social media channel today, be it Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, etc. Top Fashion brands are using videos as a promotion tool. You can showcase your products, take your audience behind the scenes, live stream a fashion show, etc., which in turn will drive more engagement to your page.
Free people, a fashion brand from the US has leveraged the videos feature on snapchat to connect with their target audience. Since the brand caters to the current generation, they decided to reach them through a medium that is most used by them, which is Snapchat. The employees, take their fans behind the scenes by giving them tours of the showroom, models during photo shoots, etc. The brand also connected with their fans on a personal level through a campaign called “Question Wednesdays”where snappers can personally snap their questions to the brand’s snapshot account. They even ask snappers personal and friendly questions. The overall involvement and engagement through Snapchat that Free People provides users ultimately creates a valued and elite relationship for the user.

snapchat

Snapchat is one platform that needs to be explored for your business. Check out how you can use snapchat for your business here.

Wider reach

Reach a wider set of audience by targeting the right audience through your Facebook or Instagram ads. Instagram has proven to be the most appropriate and a successful platform for any fashion brand to leverage. Create and place ads with visually appealing creatives on Instagram with a Shop now or Buy no call to action button.
Fossil, created a look by putting together products that would appeal to their target segment and at the same time communicate their brand’s personality. They did this through an Instagram ad in which they used a very attractive image with a call to action button and also added a quirky caption.

fossil

 

Enhance customer experience

Customer service is always key to any business. It is essential to make sure your customers are happy with your products and services. With social media you can do this by responding to their comments, queries, messages or tweets as quickly as possible. Also, ensure you come across as fun and exciting. People on social media do not want to interact with anything that is monotonous or dull.
Another way of making customer experience a delight would be by easing the process of shopping. With the introduction of social shopping, brands can use this feature to reduce the purchase process. Facebook shop is one of the best ways to do so. So, go ahead and leverage this feature for your brand today!

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and explore all these tips and tools today! Find the right one that will suit your business and make the best use of it.

– Other contributor to this blog is Stine

Vikas at MDI, Gurgaon on Role of Content & Influencer Marketing

It was an interesting evening spent at MDI Gurgaon with students of Consumer Behaviour. We were talking about the role of Communities, Content & Influencer Marketing on Consumer Behaviour. See the below slide share for details on the discussion we had.

The students had a lot of questions, especially around influencer marketing and its ethics. Many of these can be found in the FAQs of Influencer Marketing here.

MDI-Gurgaon-Influencer-Content-Marketing-Lecture-Vikas-Chawla

 

Learnings from Social Media Week, Bangalore

It was a full house at the Social Media Week, Bangalore this year! A great line up of speakers and interesting mix of panel discussions kept us all hooked to our seats. The event was organized over two days and witnessed some great industry experts share their knowledge and experiences with the crowd. Be it two 18-year-old drop outs building a child-caring app – ‘MyChild’ which is now used in more than 135 countries or a ladysingle-handedlyy fighting against one age-old social stigma – Menstruation by using comic books and social media – It was everything a Social Media Week should be.

The event started on a high note with India’s Ad Guru, Prahlad Kakar’s session on Brand Building Through Story Telling. He took us through a journey we would never forget. Sharing stories from his personal life and experiences captivated the audience. A maestro at storytelling, he gave away some important tips on how to build a brand by telling its story in a manner that makes the brand a hero!

Following Kakar’s session, we had Arnav Ghosh from Blippar India talk about Visual Marketing and Changing Consumer Context. The session addressed the scope of Visual Search and how we’re moving towards a future where Physical reality and augmented reality will blend into one. He was highly lauded for his talk and presentation of Blippar, an app that turns everyday objects into consumer-centric interactions. We will be writing a blog post later this month on how Visual & Voice search are going to change digital marketing forever.

Speaking of Visual and Voice, how can one not mention one of the most interesting sessions on cricket by cricket journalists Prem Panicker, Gaurav Kalra and Bengaluru-based popular Twitter personality Ramesh Srivats. Cricket has not only changed as a game but also how people look at it now and what they have to say about every little aspect. Apart from taking part in debates and writing out blogs, Twitter has become the new medium to express or oppose one’s opinion. Though Twitter is infamous for its social media ‘Wars’, it has also given an option for fans to follow the game through live-tweeting. Ramesh agrees saying, “Discussions on cricket are like everything else on Twitter; part stupid and trolling, part insightful and intelligent.”

There were a couple of more interesting talks on People Intelligence and Monetizing Digital Content by Amartpreet Kaur and Mahesh Narayanan, Saavn respectively. There was a very interesting panel discussion with Ganga Ganapathi, VP, Ogilvy as the moderator and Anshul Chaturvedi, G.M, Wohoo and Anjali Gupta, IBM as panel members discussing on ROE (Return on Engagement). They talked about how digital has become an integral part of marketing strategies for brands and what engagement means to the brands. The three of them shared their views and thoughts on how to measure engagement and the effectiveness of campaigns online. Many a times engagement is a great short term goal before arriving at return on investment (which for many brands is leads, sales, revenue and referrals).

The evening continued on an exciting pitch and witnessed digital expert Kiruba Shankar shared his knowledge on the future of communication and how podcasts play an important role in it. The session was interactive and had a lot of guests sharing their thoughts and ideas. Kiruba himself has multiple podcasts which can be seen here.

Day one of the Social media week ended on an exciting note and anticipation for the second day was higher. Sandy Carter from IBM shared her views on Social Intelligence and how important it is for a marketer to identify negative and positive sentiments. She is responsible for IBM’s worldwide focus on startups and having her kickoff day 2 at the event was an absolute delight. She spoke at length at about how even startups are starting to leverage big data and actionable people intelligence to connect with consumers around the world. She gave an example of Chocolate Jhony who has been able to leverage SnapChat and other social media channels to expand to multiple geographies.

Following Sandy Carter’s sessions were various more interesting sessions on Influencer Marketing, Snapchat and on breaking a taboo through social media. A gripping debate on “The ugly face of influencer marketing” amongst some of the industry experts like Kiruba Shankar, NanditaIyer, Karthik Srinivasan and G.Nivedithwas probably one of the best sessions of the day. There was a lot of discussion on whether influencers should sell their soul by reviewing and writing about topics that they don’t personally use. For example, should a technology blogger partner with a beer brand or a fashion brand. Challenges faced by influencers were also covered and many of these are similar to the Influencer Industry Report we had launched earlier this year.

There was also a stand-up comedy by Satish Perumal whose rib-ticklers cracked up every single soul in the room! His joke of the day had to be – In a city where people are dying because of potholes, the only person who can use a helipad has left the country!

A jolly-good week with people from all walks of life coming together to tell their story on how social media – a medium – is more than just Sharing, Liking or Commenting, was what SMW’16 was all about. While leaving the event with the same enthusiasm was one thing, learning to ‘Tell A Story To Sell Your Brand’ was another insight that we take back to our working desks.

For those who could not make it to the event, here are some key bytes from the sessions from both the days –

Storytelling is the heart of every communication” – Mr. PrahladKakar

Visual Marketing is the bridge between the physical and digital worlds” – Arnav Ghosh, Blippar

Content is always paid for, either the brand pays for it or the users pay directly to consume the content” – Mahesh Narayanan, Saavn

A brand is the strongest when it is clear about what it has to offer to its customers” – Ganga Ganapathi, VP, Ogilvy

As the industry matures, most Influencers will have disclosures and be more true to their identity” – Kiruba Shankar

Social media gives you a new kind of surround sound from cricket matches. – PremPanicker

Social intelligence moves the needle of your social media presence to social business”. – Sandy Carter, IBM

Occasional trending does not build long-term emotional connect with consumers” – Alokedeep Singh, Titan

For those who attended the event, do share your experiences and highlights in the comments below!

Blogging as a Career Option

Have a particular interest that you are extremely passionate about? Then blogging is the perfect way to start exploring your interest. Blogging is a hobby or a way to build your brand. It is a powerful tool, which can be a great PR for you and your brand. A blog is a simple, easy-to-use platform for connecting with and sharing timely and relevant information with customers. It’s your direct communication channel.

From an online journal at 1,000 words per post to a simple 140-character Twitter feed, blogging has taken center stage largely because of how useful it has proven itself to be in almost all areas of business. If successful, blogging can be a good way to make money and a full time career path as well. However, before we start talking about making a career out of it, the first step is to determine a topic of interest and set up the blog.

 Top Blogging Platforms

To set up your blog hardly takes 30 minutes.  If you are planning to start the blog, then here the various top blogging platforms that you can use.

  • Word press

WordPress is one of the most popular free blogging platforms that is excellent for the bloggers. It has numerous templates to choose from. Apart from this, have the option to go for the WordPress customization to personalize the blog with your own designs.

  • Blogspot

Blogspot is an extremely convenient platform and it is also one of the most common one that people use.  It has few template designs at your disposal, but the good thing here is that the Blogspot allows you to customize the blog and create splendid fonts, images and lots of other important things

  • Tumblr

Yet another free blogging website, Tumblr has gained a significant amount of reputation over the years simply because of its user-friendly interface and easy to understand features. There are plenty of stunning blogging themes and awesome features that help you to create a fine blog. The best feature though is the fact that you can synchronize Tumblr account with the various popular social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter to update your feeds made in the social sites at a distinct location.

  • Weebly

Weebly comes with a drag and drop feature to create a website. It’s simple and easy to understand interface makes weeebly one of the best blogging platforms. A very unique thing about this particular website is that you can also use it as a content management system that provides you an opportunity to earn some money by designing the websites for the other clients.

  • Livejournal

A service for journals and blogs, that also offers privacy controls, photo storage, publishing tools, style templates, and online communities for many interest.

 Driving Traffic To Your Blog

Once you have finalized on the topic and template, you need to concentrate on increasing traffic and your following. For a blog to be successful, you need more than great writing. You need to market your blog to the right audience and generate traffic to your blog. So how do you build that traffic? Here are a few tips you can follow.

  • Participate

Commenting on other blogs and participating in social media networks and groups is vital to building traffic to your own blog.

  • Marketing

Even a great blog post in useless without a little bit of marketing and promotion.  Promote your blog on social media like Facebook or twitter and post links more than once to get some attention. Whatever method you choose for your blog, take it seriously and don’t leave marketing your own blog up to chance.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Get your blog SEO optimized by using common search queries throughout your writing. This will move your blog closer to the top of search engine result pages, and make people more likely to read your posts.You can also access the traffic by using website traffic statistics software Google Analytics or the simpler traffic statistics software that should come for free with your hosting account.

  • Guest blogging

Guest posts are the articles, which a blogger writes for some blog/websites other than his/her own blog. Such guest posts have a link-back to the author’s blog, this helps in getting recognition, reader’s attention and search engine’s attention as well. Writing on other’s blogs is a great way to tap into their audience and introduce yourself to new people. Find blogs you enjoy would be able to write great content for.

Monetizing the Blog

The blog is now popular? So how do you make a living out of blogging? A common misconception is that bloggers in India cannot make substantial income via blogging alone. However this is not the case. There are many leading Indian bloggers who are making lakhs of rupees from blogging. So if you have a blog and have not monetized it yet, now is the time! There are a number of things you can do that will help. Here are a few tactics that you can use to monetize your blog:

  1. Be an influencer

Influencer marketing is a new concept that is picking up in India, where brands connect with popular bloggers and influencers who promote products by creating original articles, reviews, videos & social posts to over their followers. With increasing internet penetration and digital spending, influencer marketing is all set to grow in the near future. According to a McKinsey study, marketing-inspired word-of-mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, and these customers have a 37% higher retention rate. Bloggers have become important influencers because they are seen as authentic and have loyal followings. When a blogger recommends a product it seems more trustworthy than traditional advertising.  Websites like  influencer.in lets you register as an influencer and be part of their campaigns.

So keeping this in mind, brands are willing to pay influencers to promote their product. There are bloggers who work for free as they are passionate about writing, but there are bloggers charge a huge fee and we most brands are willing to pay for them.

  1. Freelance

If you have a popular blog running for a while now on a particular subject, then a lot of websites, paper or magazines will be willing to let you write for them and pay you for it. Freelancing is a way of earning money through your skills and expertise. For example, if you have a fashion blog that is doing well, you can write for fashion lifestyle websites. You will be amazed at the number of people willing to pay you money for your advice, which you were probably giving out for free until now! To implement this, you can have a landing page on your blog and have a catchy title like “Hire me” for potential recruiters to find you.

  1. Direct ads on your blog

This is a great way to make money out of your blog. How it works is that you get to choose which ad will be displayed on your blog and you also set the price for the ads. In this method advertisers get in touch with you directly to place ads on your blog, thus eliminating the middleman. When a reader click on the ad, you get paid a commission or you can choose to charge a flat fee to the advertisers on a monthly or weekly basis. Advertising networks such as Google AdSense, BuySellAds, TribalFusion, and BlogAds have made it relatively easy for bloggers to monetize their work.

Top Platforms to discover Influencers for your Brand

With the quick rise in demand for Influencer Marketing, there is a need for tools and platforms to aid brands identify the right influencers and engage them. Many platforms have cropped up that either aid you to identify the influencers yourself via a DIY tool or connect you to the right influencers for your brand based on your requirements. Some of them are free while others are either freemium or paid platforms. Let us take a look at the top platforms to discover Influencers for your brand and help you connect and engage them in your marketing campaigns.

Top-10-Influencers-Infographic-Content

1. Klout

Klout is one of the most well-known tools in the Influencer Discovery and Engagement space. Launched way back in 2008, it analyzes the social network presence of an individual to arrive at Klout score. Last year, the tool was updated to serve as a content curation and content discovery platform for users.

Main features:

  • Research, segment and manage influencer lists
  • Quick overview of the social influencer of your brand’s potential influencers
  • Perks program feature to engage influencers (in Klout for Businesses)
  • Amplify reach via native ads (in Klout for Businesses)
  • Keyword search for influencers, though the functionality is not as advanced as others

2. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a paid tool that offers content marketing plus influencer identification on a single dashboard. Quite useful for content marketing by brands, it allows you insights into what type of content works best in your industry / target audience. There are multiple subscription plans available based on requirements of your brand, with the basic plan starting at $79 per month.

Main features:

  • Topic Search for the most popular content being shared
  • Research and track influencers based on keywords & hashtags
  • Influencers search has an option to segregate influencers based on different profiles like bloggers, journalists, etc.
  • Option to export data(csv/xls) for deeper analysis

3. Kred

Kred is a paid tool for influencer measurement that helps you to identify and engage with influencers based on its Kred Scores. The metrics behind the Kred Scores is more complex in comparison to Klout. The platform provides two types of score- the main Kred Influence Score and the Kred Outreach Score.

Main Features:

  • A more comprehensive scoring system that takes into account all aspectsofinfluencer activities on Twitter to arrive at the synopsis of an Influencer’s influence
    • Kred Influence Score based on followers, retweets, mentions and replies for a profile
    • Kred Outreach Score based on the frequency of the tweet/retweets, replies and mentions
  • Community level influencer filtering like sports, technology, marketing, etc.
  • Additional services like Rewards Service and Email Marketing to engage influencers

4. FollowerWonk

A simple tool from the house of Moz, FollowerWonk is a search engine & analytics tool that focuses exclusively on Twitter for Influencer discovery and tracking. Rich engagement metrics and competitor influencers following are some great insights provided by the tool.

Main features:

  • Twitter Profile Search based on parameters like bio, location, name & url to help you identify influencers based on your requirement
  • Breakdown followers based on Follower count, tweet count and authority
  • Audience Comparison Tool that allows comparison of profiles to check audience overlap and mutually exclusive audience vis-à-vis your competitors
  • Visual infographics and interactive charts for your tweets, followers and RTs
  • Export reports for future reference

5. Keyhole

Keyhole is a freemium Hashtag tracking tool to discover content & influencers associated with an event or campaign on social media. It can pull-out influencer profiles, conversations and top trending content using a particular hashtag.

Main features:

  • Currently available across Twitter & Instagram
  • Detailed insights such as top influencers, recent conversation sources, top links/sites & top posts
  • Easy exporting of any data to your clipboard
  • Additional features like Audience Intelligence Reports for paid subscription users

6. Influencer

Influencer.in is one of the leading influencer marketing platforms with more than 5000 influencers listed on the platform. The platform offers brand influencers across a wide range of categories such as lifestyle, fashion, sports, travel, healthcare, technology, etc.

Main features:

  • Tracking and identifying the right influencers for your brand
  • Campaign ideation and Influencer engagement
  • Customized Campaign Analytics and Tracking reports
  • Content marketing and amplification
  • Strong influencer network for the Indian market

7. Topsy

Topsy is an interesting tool that allows you to track the influencers who are sharing a specific piece of content – it can be your competitors article, link or a tweet. It allows you to pull out all users who share a content relevant to your industry and automatically filter the most influential sharers. It supports upto 10 different languages that includes English, French, German and Spanish.

 

Popular Influencer Marketing Campaigns in India

The latest buzz word in the digital marketing world that is steadily catching up with brands is ‘Influencer Marketing’. Western companies have leveraged this strategy of marketing for the past few years and the trend is quickly catching up with Indian brands as well. Brands in India have actively come up with successful influencer campaigns for the past 2-3 years.

What is Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a term that has risen from the realization of brands about the power, peer influence and customer recommendation has over other forms of marketing. Especially in a time, where consumers have started using social media in huge numbers and have been public about their views about brands and products. Brands have realized that people are largely influenced by second-hand information from opinion leaders and this has led to a lot of brands identifying top influencers in their respective fields to try and reach out to consumers better.

Once brands have identified Influencers in their particular domain, it is important that they find a means with which they can connect to them and make them speak about the particular product. The engagement plans have to be well thought out and shouldn’t look too commercial. Here are a few popular influencer marketing campaigns in India, that companies have used to engage and leverage the power and reach of influencers.

  1. Lenovo Yoga 2 tablet – YoGa2bFree

One of the top influencer marketing campaigns in the country came from Lenovo for their Yoga 2 tablet range. Lenovo hired four famous twitter celebrities namely film critic Mihir Fadnavis, gadget guru Ankit Vengurlekar, actor Ashwin Mushran and food blogger Kalyan Karmakar. Rather than using these four influencers to simply do the customary sharing of features of the tablet, they were actually shown being trapped inside a box.

The campaign invited consumers to answer questions and find clues that could help free their favorite Twitterati. Participants who answered all their questions rightly would win a free Yoga Tablet. 

  1. Launch of Cadbury Glow

 A few mid-range twitter influencers along with Bollywood fashion and lifestyle blogger Miss Malini were roped in to promote Cadbury Glow which targeted the super-premium chocolate market. The campaign focused on the key aspect of Cadbury Glow which allowed people to share personalized notes, songs, photo albums and videos along with it.

One of Miss Malini’s friend made a video for her and shared it on twitter which she retweeted bringing in a lot of traction towards the product.

  1. Philips Air Fryer 

Philips had introduced its latest kitchen appliance Air Fryer in 2012 and there were very few who knew its application and use. It allowed deep frying of a variety of food items with 80% less oil consumption. Despite such a huge feature, the Air Fryer remained relatively unknown in the market.

This is where Philips along with its digital agency Ogilvy One roped in Sanjay Thumma who is known for his cookery channel on YouTube called Vahchef. The campaign started a six month long show called “Philips Superchef” that managed to create a lot of awareness amongst consumers.

  1. Colgate Charcoal Toothbrush 

Colgate launched its new SlimSoft Charcoal Toothbrush and decided to bring it into public view using an innovative and unique campaign. The campaign was for 3 days where key influencers targeted by Colgate were sent an item that was completely black in color each day. The first day was a black mug followed by a WhatTheBlack Times newspaper and on the final day the black charcoal toothbrush.

At the same time Colgate also started a #WhatTheBlack contest on Twitter where bloggers and top Twitteratis had to write their top 5 black things without actually revealing anything about the brand or product. This led to a lot of speculation among consumers who came up with a variety of guesses as to what the product was going to be. These two campaigns brought about a great deal of attention to the debut of the Charcoal Toothbrush.

  1. The Madras Song 

The Madras Song was released by the Murugappa Group to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Madras. Murugappa Group teamed up with socialbeat.in and roped in bloggers from diverse fields to blog and talk about the song. The song went viral and within 5 weeks generated almost 2.5 lakhs views.

Twitter hashtags like #FavMadrasMemory and #Madras375 Celebrations were created which turned out to become very popular among Chennaites.

  1. IBuyFresh

IBuyFresh’s campaign to reach out to its audience interested in cooking & recipes online invited influencers to visit their warehouse and blog their experience to help spread the word. The campaign received attention from local bloggers in the respective field and helped a great deal in popularizing the brand among consumers.

  1. Raintree Hotels

Popular luxury hospitality chain Raintree started an interesting influencer campaign to promote their recently renovated hotels. They invited top travel bloggers to stay and share the experience to fellow travel enthusiasts following them. The campaign worked remarkably well in letting people know about the renovation and the various special services offered.

  1. Opera Coast Campaign 

Opera’s latest browser, Opera Coast had features that would change the way people would use a browser in the iOS. The browser was designed without an address bar, forward and backward button and other features that made it completely unique from any conventional browser.

The campaign used kinetic sand which is a soft, stretchy and non-sticky sand that can be used to make innovative shapes. The brand identified a particular set of creative professionals as influencers which included artists, media & ad folks, illusionists, entrepreneurs and musicians. Each of the influencer was sent a surprise package containing kinetic sand and a personal note asking them to spend time making something with the sand.

The influencers pleasantly surprised by the package, shared their experience about the iOS browser and also how they liked the surprise campaign.

  1. Ford India Campaign 

Ford launched Ford Fiesta Powershift Automatic via social media to promote the ‘Real People, Real Experience’ approach. It invited auto enthusiasts in the country to drive the newly launched car and thereby prompted them to share their experience through their respective media.

The event was held in Buddh Racing track in Noida and the track was specially designed for drivers to discover the key features in the car. The list of people included bloggers, businessmen, photographers and designers who were all known to be auto enthusiasts. The campaign drew a lot of attention from people across various social media like Twitter, Facebook etc.

  1. Allen Solly #ShootforSolly 

To promote the brand’s entire chino range, Allen Solly came up with the #ShootforSolly campaign. The brand handpicked 22 people across 7 cities in India consisting of 11 eminent personalities and 11 budding photographers.

The models were asked to pick up a pair of Allen Solly chinos and shirts and then coordinate with the selected photographer for a photo shoot to be planned completely by the model and photographer.

Allen Solly not only managed to make the 22 influencers talk about the campaign, but also created a buzz about the chinos and how they suited different styles and body types.

All these campaigns focused on the essential aspects of Influencer Marketing. They targeted the right influencers and built a campaign that would naturally make influencers directly or indirectly endorse their product. These campaigns are excellent examples of Influencer Marketing done right.

Click here to launch your Influencer Markerting campaign in India

Influencer Marketing–Final nail in coffin for traditional marketing?

Voice of the Brand or Customers?

Social media marketing has brought about a quantum shift in the way marketing is done. It has moved the focus from “The Voice of the Brand” to “The Voice of the Customer”. The balance of power in the purchase funnel is now more skewed towards the customer & his peers, slowly changing the way brands market themselves. Earlier, the entire focus used to be about roping in a brand ambassador and roll out your story. Today, your story is okay but what really matters is the story that’s going on between the millions of bubbles on the social cloud. Add to that, the “bigger bubbles”- the social media influencers, and you are in for a different game altogether.

Word-of-mouth results in 200% sales in comparison to paid advertising

Yes, the above statistic is true, according to a McKinsey study. To delve deeper, they also result in 37% higher retention rate of customers1. Riding this trend of word-of-mouth/recommendation marketing, a form of marketing has gained prominence – Influencer Marketing.

What is Influencer Marketing?

The term “Influencer” in itself can be defined in 10 ways by 10 different people. And, each can be vindicated. A 2014 study by Augure2revealed the following:

  • 79 percent say influencers are able to mobilize opinions and create reactions
  • 73 percent say influencers have large online communities focused on specific topics
  • 62 percent say influencers have a significant share of voice on a given subject

In simple terms, it means shaping the opinions about your brand using the most influential people amidst your potential customers. If you are a brand, you make friends with the most influential people at a place where you want to sell. Now, they talk about your brand and recommend you to their followers (potential customers).

With the explosive growth of social media, the process explained above happens digitally. The influencers talk about your brand on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter or on their blogs, which impacts the purchase decision of their followers.

How do you get to know if he/she is the “right influencer”?

Who knows, he might be! Okay, so a brand wants to engage with influencers to talk about the brand and their product / offerings. But, who to connect with? It can be quite tempting for a brand to connect and partner with an influencer with large number of followers but is “number of followers” the right metric?

Brand Influencer selection is very important step for a brand before jumping in. This has to be dealt with in 2 steps:

1.  Qualitative Filtering

The first step is Qualitative Filtering that allows you to filter out the “Social media influencers” who cannot be “Your Brand Influencer” no matter how many followers they have. The parameters to be considered here are:

  • Content Relevance & Quality – Look at the domain of the influencer and whether the domain matches your brands requirements and the quality of the content being churned out is right for your brand to be associated with. Example- A sports blogger cannot be the right influencer for a packaged food brand)
  • Audience Relevance & Quality – The followers of the influencer might or might not be the audience you are looking out for. Example- If you are a lifestyle brand, targeting a premium audience, then it would pay to target influencers with a similar audience following.

2.      Quantitative Selection

Once you have a shortlist of Influencers you can associate with, comes the next step of finalizing the list of Influencers you would like to reach out to. This can be done based on the following formula:

Influencer Influence = Audience Reach*Audience adhesiveness*Quality Score

Audience reach: calculated by the no. of followers

Quality score: a relative scale of 1-10 for the expertise & credibility of the brand

Audience adhesiveness: Engagement with his audience; can be based on the number of retweets, likes and replies over the period of last 2 months

This approach can provide you a decent shortlist to kick-start the influencer marketing efforts for brand-building and lead generation. There are umpteen case studies that showcase how brands have been able to amplify their marketing efforts. Most importantly, it has not been the case only with the medium/smaller brands but the bigger brands too, are laying focus on influencer partnerships.

Miss Malini makes Cadbury ‘Glow’- a case study!

When Cadbury Glow was launched in India by Mondelez International, it turned to social media influencers to create buzz around the offering. It roped in Miss Malini and other Twitter Influencers to talk about Cadbury Glow, its special features like personalization with notes, songs, photos or videos. For example- Miss Malini’s friend did a video of her and uploaded on Cadbury website. The link was then shared and tweeted by Miss Malini.

Start building influencer relationships before need them – it’s a coin with 2 heads!

Building relationship with influencers and leveraging them, works on a foundation of quality offerings and superior customer experience. In cases of mismatch between expectations and offerings, social media easily amplifies negative sentiments about your brand. This not only puts your brand at stake, but also marginalizes the credibility of the influencers associated. It is possible for some brands that at this point you may not require influencer marketing. But, as the proverb goes – you don’t dig a well when you are thirsty. Drawing an analogy, this is the time to build a strong influencer network. Moreover, influencer partnerships act as a validator for your own content marketing campaigns. So you see it’s not a zero-sum game. One of the few ones that give you a win-win hand! Whether this rings the death bells for traditional marketing, only time will, tell but what’s for sure is that marketing shall never be the same again.

References:

  1. http://tribalmedia.co.uk/blog/2015-online-influencer-trends/
  2. http://www.augure.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Influencers-marketing-Report-2014-Augure.pdf

 

Content Marketing helps startups connect – Social Beat featured in the Economic Times

For Spidey fans a trivia which says Andrew Garfield admitted to shedding tears the first time he wore the Spiderman costume shooting for The Amazing Spiderman, could be priceless. And for a startup that sells super hero merchandise, this exclusive trivia on their interactive blog could mean serious business. Stories told through videos and blogs are taking the place of advertisements for several startups that are using content to engage with customers.

“Every industry has a story to tell, if they look hard enough. And people continue to love interesting narrative,” said Lakshmanan Narayan, founder of Chennai-based Unmetric, a social media intelligence platform whose company has been serving clients like Toyota, American Airlines and Lowe’s. Most startups working in the online space find content-based marketing or content marketing as a medium to connect to the customer and prefer it over direct marketing. Without pitching brands directly, content marketing looks at generating relevant content that educates and creates awareness among customers.

“Content marketing allows us to engage the customers better by sharing information that is useful for them,” said Rishi Khaithan, cofounder of BuildMyEvent, a Mumbai-based platform, which connects its customers to venues for their events. It also provides platforms for its vendors to connect with the customers via their blog instead of individual marketing.

“Startups don’t have the money to compete with the big names,” said Vikas Chawla of Social Beat, a Chennai-based digital agency delivering social media marketing and ecommerce consulting. “They have to do things in a different way either around the product or around content. Content marketing helps them to do that.”

“People get sick of ads,” says Pradeep Rajadas of Sociall.in, a Chennai-based social media marketing company . “Diversity keeps you engaged. So you have to start spinning stories to which customers can connect to and through which you can promote your brand,” he added. Sociall has developed and marketed content for city-based real estate companies, focusing on the lifestyle, neighbourhood, appreciation of land and so on. The company has also produced content around “investment opportunities” in technology productivity hacks from tech, ROI from your latest smartphone purchase and so on for a gadget retailer.

This article was originally published in the Economic times