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Speech bubble made with people iconsWith the rise of social media, blogging, image-sharing and the 24/7 access to the online sphere, consumers are filling the internet with information about brands and product experiences. The opinions of users have now become so important for customers that according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Review sites and niche blogs have brought specific user information to the fingertips of potential buyers, while traditional media revenues are declining in importance.

So as a brand, are you going to fight against user-generated content with lawsuits and copyright, or are you going to embrace the changes and the marketing potential they provide?

1. Endorse bloggers and reward their loyalty

Tool company Fiskars has their very own community of endorsed Fiskateers, who blog about and share crafting ideas and tips. There are now several thousand Fiskateers who meet regularly at community events, and the most engaged and passionate members are honored at special parties and gatherings.

This sort of community building strengthens brand loyalty enormously, but it can also be used to create content to reach a wider audience. Walmart Moms is a group of endorsed bloggers who write about home and lifestyle topics and have a large following. While these Moms have a wide sphere of influence, it is important to note that they were already passionate about Walmart’s products and are volunteers, and so choosing them to represent the brand feels more authentic than paying for a celebrity endorsement. In return they get access to new lines and products, as well as gaining a wide readership for their blog. Continue Reading »

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Many B2B companies find themselves at a distinct disadvantage compared to their B2C colleagues when it comes to marketing their brand online. White papers and complex technical brochures just don’t share well on social media, so how are you going to get your message out there to potential customers, or engage better with your existing ones?

This is where video can help you. From short, quirky Vines to longer explanatory films, video can show the visual side to your brand like nothing else.

We’re going to look at five different ways B2B brands are harnessing the power of video.

1. Find the fun side of your brand

You might expect fun and flippant advertising from the more customer-facing brands, but many B2B brands are becoming experts at finding the lighter side of what they do. Intel in particular has got creative on Vine to produce some neat short animations that sum up both their products and their take on world events. From cyclists racing over laptops for the Tour de France, to Intel chips scoring a goal at the World Cup, Intel is finding innovative ways to show off its products in creative, 6-second loops.

  Continue Reading »

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Malcolm GladwellTransformation isn’t easy. It requires changing not only people’s minds, but their hearts as well. Not a simple task.

But in a history of mankind there were plenty of inspiring examples of people who brought forth transformative change. Facing plenty of negativity, they did so fearlessly, never giving-up, never backing down. So the question becomes: what is the magical human formula that drives people like that?

This week at INBOUND in Boston I had a pleasure of hearing Malcolm Gladwell, who talked about the same very topic. According to him, people who drive transformation share three traits:

Courage

Courage to explore the unexplored. Courage to defy the nay-sayers. Courage to persist when the whole world seems to be against you.

People who possess the courage are:

  • Massively open and incredibly creative, willing to consider all kinds of innovative solutions.
  • Conscientious, willing to follow through on their ideas.
  • Disagreeable and independent, willing to disagree with what the world perceives as a ‘norm.’

The combination of these three is what brings true magic to light. Some people are creative, but not conscientious, they have no ability to execute on the idea. Some are great at execution, but lack the openness. It is also not enough to have ideas and the discipline to carry them out, one has to tune out the nay-sayers, and the rest of the world, if necessary. The last one though is extremely hard for us humans to do because we naturally crave approval of our peers. Continue Reading »

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Sprinklr acquires Branderati advocacyIt used to be that a “brand becoming a movement” was only for select few, companies like Apple and Harley Davidson that were able to build a tribe and ignite more that just a need for a slick product, rather inspire a sense of belonging. But that is no longer the case.

This is a story of #AdvocacyAtScale, of advocacy marketing coming of age.

This week Sprinklr, the leading independent end-to-end social relationship infrastructure,  announced their acquisition of BRANDERATI, the platform for advocacy and influencer marketing. (Disclosure: I was a part of the amazing leadership team that built BRANDERATI brand over the past year.)

This is a big deal. Not just for our team personally, but because of what it means for the industry. The addition of BRANDERATI fuels Sprinklr’s aggressive growth and creates the only fully integrated, enterprise-grade paid, owned and earned media (POEM) solution, an essential ingredient for marketers looking to optimize spend and maximize ROI. It also signals to the industry the importance of advocacy as part of the marketing mix. Advocacy strategy is not just a fancy term to be written about or a nice-to-have anymore, it is now a core marketing discipline that every major brand needs to make a part of their overall strategy. 

Why?

Consider this. According to McKinsey, marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word-of-mouth generates more than 2X the sales of paid advertising. Deloitte states that customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate. And according to Zuberance, offers shared by advocates convert at a 4-10X higher rate than offers shared by brands. Need more data to persuade you? Look no further than this presentation. Continue Reading »

On the face of it, influencer marketing seems like a winning combination: brands pay influencers – people (not necessarily celebrities, but often well-known and respected individuals with a large following) – to talk about their products, driving sales and winning new customers. It’s a popular approach to marketing, with 68% of global marketers seeing influence marketing as a lead generation and customer acquisition tactic and 74% of global marketers reporting they will use influence marketing as part of their marketing strategy in the next 12 months.

But not every company is sold on the idea. It can be very expensive to use influencers in your marketing, and it can be a short-term. But changing your thinking about what exactly influencers are, and how you can use them can bring benefits to your marketing strategy, both in the short term and into the future.

1. Get to know your influencers

When your influencers are more than your sales people it can be hugely beneficial – for both of you. Kia Motors built up a two-way relationship with bloggers and online influencers through its Kia Social Club. By building long-term partnerships based on shared passions, such as parenting, safety, adventure, or lifestyle, Kia have been able to enable their bloggers to generate meaningful content around subjects that matter to them. The results are impressive: Social Media Examiner reports that Kia Social Club reached over 198 advocates, received 24,000 social endorsements and resulted in more than 30 million engagements.

2. Let them use their own voice

Kim Kardashialebronn might charge $25,000 to mention a brand in a Tweet to her 18 million followers but does this really reflect well on your company, or does it run the risk of backfiring, like Lebron James’ Instagram photo of his Nike sneakers with the caption “These are simply the best!! Ultra comfy and can wear them with anything. I’m ordering 100 pair right now. #kicks #Nike #family”? His 2.2 million fans could clearly hear the thunk of an awkwardly-dropped endorsement and didn’t react well. Not only that, but trying to pass off an endorsement as a celebrity’s own words without full disclosure can contravene the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations on advertising.

So the advice here would be to allow your spokespeople to be open about their relationship with your brand, but give them the space to talk about their experiences with your products in their own voice. It will appear more natural and won’t land you in trouble with the regulators. Continue Reading »

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