#RealTalk: A 24/7 Marketing Toolkit
Effective marketing today is all about being real with consumers. As smart devices and hordes of time spent on social platforms make for constant interactions with people, interpersonal relationships increasingly turning into text- and image- based messaging. In an “always-on” world, modern brands today should take on a more human voice and build real, casual connections with consumers globally vs. “talking at” them with traditional media vehicles like TV and print advertising. Tone, humor and warmth should be colloquial and feel like they are coming from a friend. Here’s a toolkit and how to do it right.
1) Social Media Posts: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat continue to be a dominant way to interact with many people for free. Fun interactive brand posts with induce fans to talk about your brand globally with low cost and commitment — usually with some sort of call-to-action trigger. Recommendation: Lofi is the new hifi…keep it real and make it look like it’s coming from a talented someone’s iPhone vs. an ad agency.
2) Videos: YouTube and Vimeo have changed the way people view and interact with video and film content. Quality content can grab audiences and allow them to easily share on their social platforms. Best in class practices: Keep it short, relevant to the audience targeted, and either useful (i.e. beauty tutorials) or entertaining (i.e. comedy) — with branding organic and to a minimum. Also leverage influencers — popular YouTube creators treat subscribers as if they were friends, using signature tones with constant feedback. Creators are creative director, media platform, market research, and producer — all in one.
3) Podcasts: With many people commuting on cars and trains, podcasts have become the new radio station. There is seemingly a podcast for every topic under the sun, and fans of podcasts tend to be uber-enthusiasts that listen and share daily. Effective use of podcasts for brands should be “inspired by” a brand equity — so pick podcasts and personalities that are relevant for your brand and have established audiences. Tip: let the creator’s subject matter be the focus so your brand message doesn’t feel forced. A simple sponsorship can be really effective here to create positive brand association.
4) Blogs: Whether for reviews or tutorials or slice of life stories, blogging is still big. Blogs are providing information at consumers’ fingertips often written with an entertaining human style. Expert tip: Use blogs to build brand knowledge and direct link to e-commerce for conversion — possibly leveraging affiliates who have built-in audiences.
5) Images: Seems obvious, right? But static images, memes, emojis, and gifs are the handwriting with which people communicate today. These images are a great way for brands to showcase their products while also drawing in consumers. Best-in-class tip: Build collaborations and visibility through hashtags, which automatically extend your media platform for free. The hashtag IS the new influencer and a key way that people search today (check out #shotoniphone). Also try location tags to capture a specific audience.
6) Testimonials and Reviews: A human voice reviewing a product, talking about its benefits and advantages and disseminating information, is extremely effective in influencing product opinion. Rather than fabricating these, consider a seeding strategy where you routinely gift a grouping of consumers to sample your products and provide honest feedback on e-commerce and review platforms.
7) How-to Guides: We all know “Googling” is synonymous with info gathering. No one person has all the answers, but Google definitely does… By writing tutorials and guides on subjects related to your products, you not only highlight the advantages of using your products, but also real life applications involving a certain product as well. Tutorials can do that distinguishes your brand or product from others in the market can also induce conversion.
8) Whitepapers: If you’re looking to add expert credibility and a more academic voice to your brand, consider whitepapers. They are a great way to get potential customers interested in specific issues related to your brand, and then present the matter in a way that makes the content easy for the customer to understand.
9) Listicles: Perhaps the biggest article rage on the Internet today, every other content website seems to be featuring listicles…and for good reason, they draw in audiences. Most people don’t have the time nowadays to read through heavy articles and prefer short and interesting bullets about brands, products and ideas. Listicles are just that, and the informal tone used in them serves to make readers feel as if the writer is someone they personally know.
10) E-Books: E-books have really become the new books. Easy to locate and download, readable anywhere as long you have a smartphone, and typically shorter than traditional books — they provide interesting perspectives on various lifestyles, strategies and products. Tip: Keep them short and focused.
11) Newsletters: E-mail newsletters remain a marketing tactic that just works. The most effective ones act as a magazine of useful content, sometimes linking to a content microsite, like Equinox’s Furthermore. Just be sure to make these less about advertising and more about lifestyle content with brand offers fluttered throughout organically. Remember, the “unsubscribe” button is very easy to press.
Modern brand marketing is quickly evolving to platform-specific content from trusted “friends.” Consumers actively interact with these media, building loyalty and personal connections with your brand and sharing with their social networks. These content platforms are on 24/7 algorithms and bots can create feedback loops that automatically boost these dialogs, increasing the opportunity for direct conversion in a way that traditional media simply cannot compete with. Just keep the conversations real, human, and colloquial.