Monday, August 18, 2014

Did You (also) Believe these Myths about Content Marketing?

Content marketing allows businesses to connect with prospects and customers. Content marketing is hot and buzzing in the marketing world. Everyone is talking about content marketing. Content marketing is the gasoline for your social media marketing efforts ----Arrrrghh…you have heard all of this but still we all do know that it’s a fairly new phenomenon and it’s quite natural that there are quite a few misconceptions around content marketing – how to do it, what makes it more effective and what are the best practices.

At our agency, Midas Touch, we work with several businesses, in various industry verticals, and assist them with their content marketing efforts. Through our learning of last few years, we thought of listing some common myths about Content Marketing and also provide some rational explanation around those.

Myth 1: Blogs are the only ‘valid’ form of content
Undoubtedly, blogs are important. They can definitely serve as backbone to your content marketing strategy. Blogs are also excellent medium to communicate with your target audience. But don’t commit the mistake of thinking of blogs as only valid form of content. 

Don’t forget to incorporate other equally important forms of content in your strategy. These could include – eNewsletters, videos, case studies, eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, podcasts, webinar recordings or even memes! Such nuggets of content can be very effective in reaching out to your target audience through various social media platforms.

Myth 2: Anyone can write, so anybody can handle content marketing
Finding good writers is key to your content marketing strategy. Don’t go for the lowest
bidder because low cost can have a serious impact on quality. Good quality content writing requires not only language skills but also business senses, creativity and domain understanding.

Myth 3: Content marketing is same as SEO or Social Media
SEO used to be heavily dependent on the content aka keywords. But not anymore. Now search engines have started giving heavy importance to answers to specific questions and therefore the quality and depth of the content is more important than keyword stuffing. Undoubtedly, high quality content will definitely help in the organic searches for your website but don’t base your content marketing strategy based on SEO requirements. Similarly, social media should be used as a tool to disseminate the content to right target audience and remember, if you don’t have content, you won’t be able to share anything on social media. 

Myth 4: Content Marketing does not have any direct RoI
Depends on your definition of RoI. Good quality content is a very effective way to engage with your target audience. Conversations are also valid Return on the Investment of sharing the content. You get more brand awareness, customer connection, customer retention, and customer loyalty. And these, and more such factors, are not quantifiable in numbers and therefore can be construed as “no ROI”.  Every piece of content is different and based on the intent. The content which is written for sharing and commenting cannot be used for lead generation – that’s a grossly wrong use of content.

Myth 5: Content marketing is about Your Products/ Services
In fact, it is NOT about your products and services. Your brochure and other collateral is not content marketing. Well, content marketing has to be about and related to your business but it cannot be 100% about your business – then you are doing injustice in the name of content marketing. Today, people are searching for solutions to their problems. If your content offers them that, then you have a winner in hand. Try to provide educational and thought leadership content which will establish you as expert in your field and establish your image of a trusted partner.

Did I miss any? Drop a comment and I will include it in this article – with credits to you! :-) 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Getting beyond “ROI” to Measure the True Benefits of Social Media

According to a recent survey conducted by Decipher on behalf of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, 70% of the markets anticipate that in the year 2014, their companies will increase social media spending.

Social media is no more an option today. It solely is a matter of how effectively and creatively brands adapt this medium. Yes, it is very powerful and at the same time, it’s very tricky – I am saying tricky because social media marketing is becoming more and more complex. Everyone is talking social, every online website wants “social integration”, the number of social platforms is growing, social is within the reach of every smartphone holder, there is tons of data and there are hundreds of metrics to track. 

Brands have been spending on marketing since ages and understand the power of ‘being in front of’ the target audience and grabbing the eye balls. I believe what adds a little complexity in social media is the fact that there are certain aspects like clicks, visits to the websites, fans, followers etc., which can be very easily quantified and therefore there is always a temptation to link “RoI” with these quantifiable aspects and completely miss out on other qualitative aspects.

“What do you want to measure the “social” or the “media --- says David Alston of Radian6. Doesn’t it make you think about the true definition of RoI when it comes to social media? It definitely should - because the “Media” aspect is quantitative andSocial” aspect is qualitative.

Let me try and explain what I mean by this. Quantitative RoI means anything which can be measured in numbers – such as Number of visits to your site, number of leads, Increase in sales/ revenue, number of fans, followers, RTs, shares etc. Qualitative RoI is something which has very high qualitative value associated with it but it is hard measure it in number – this could include things like Interactions, Feedback, Loyalty, Trust, Passion or Brand Awareness.

Here are some of the examples of brands deriving qualitative and quantitative RoI through social media.

QUANTITATIVE RoI:
  • Southwest Airlines: Southwest Airlines attributes more than $1 million in additional ticket sales to its presence on Twitter
  • Marriott: Marriott has made more than $5 million in bookings from people who clicked through to the reservation page from Marriott's blog.
  • Dell: Dell Outlet made more than $6.5M sale through its Twitter presence.
  • Lenovo: Lenovo attributed a 20% reduction in call center activity to use of a community website for answers
  • Naked Pizza: 68.60% of total dollar sales came from customers who said they are “calling from Twitter”
  • Blendtec: Increased sales 5x by running the humorous "Will it Blend" Videos on YouTube.
  • AT&T Community: 21,000 customer queries were resolved through the community tremendous reduction in call volume
  • IBM: The developerWorks community saves $100 million annually with people connecting on the community instead of contacting IBM support.
  • Accenture:  Accenture is believed to have saved thousands of dollars per executive by using LinkedIn for recruitment instead of headhunters. 

QUALITATIVE RoI:
  • Starbucks: Generated lot of new product ideas by asking users what want from Starbucks.
  • Oracle: Trained 25,000 partners using social media which in turn not only reduced the costs but also boosted satisfaction and increased PR.
  • TurboTax: The Twitter campaign to respond and answer questions during key tax season established the company as thought leader in the space and found that customers were 71% more likely to recommend TurboTax.
  • Kogi Korean BBQ: Uses Twitter to let the customers know where the truck was and when it would be in their neighborhood which built a strong connect with the consumers.
  • Home Depot: Appreciates technical support employees on Twitter through tagging (Moral boosting, unique appreciation)
To summarize, here are few things you can remember about social media ROI:
  • Quantity is not always the only metric – 5 engaged followers are better than 500 non-active followers
  • Quality of interactions is crucial - 1 RT from an influencer can have much better impact than impressions to 1000 inactive ‘accounts’
  • Conversation is as important as conversion – Social media offers an opportunity for two-way communication and brands should definitely leverage it for building connections with the target audience
  • Negative comments also deliver RoI – provided you act on them in a right fashion. For example: If a brand properly handles negative comments from an irate customer on social media, other connected users automatically have a positive impression about the brand in their mind.
  • Advertising cannot tell you consumer sentiment but social media can –use social media for such things and that’s RoI for you!
This article was originally published in afaqs special report on social media. Download the complete report here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B2B Social Media - Doing it the Right Way

A lot is being written about social media and its applicability in B2B context. There are contrasting views about how B2B social media should be done, what is the ROI, do the rules change and so on.

In this article which I recently wrote for afaqs!, the number one website in Asia-Pac for Advertising, Media & Marketing professionals, I have described how B2B social media can be more effective, what are the things to look out for and how a strong content strategy and integrated approach can go a long way.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Exciting Times for Midas Touch - Award and Rapid Expansion Plans

The Year 2014 has started great for Midas Touch. Last year kept us super busy – of course for good reasons. Let me share the exciting news which made the last few months so thrilling.

On 13th Feb this year, Midas Touch won the award for “Best B2B Social Media Agency”. The award is conferred by ABP News and The Global Youth Marketing Forum. Midas Touch is the only agency to win the award in B2B Social Media category and we are the only agency to have won it for the second consecutive year. Yay - celebration time!! A BIG Thank You to all our customers, partners and employees for their faith and support.





Last year, Sanjeev Nambudiri came on board of Midas Touch as Co-Founder. Sanjeev comes with 22+ years of vast experience in sales and business development. As Sanjeev refers to himself, he is a recent but committed convert to the role that marketing & social media can play in growing sales and differentiation and sees a bright future for organizations willing to apply these methods. 

And finally, I am super pleased to announce the launch of our new website. Check out www.i-midastouch.com. The new website boasts swanky design, cool UI and more clearly depicts our positioning. Do share your feedback on how you like the new site.

Once again thank everyone – my Twitter friends, LinkedIn connections and you - the super cool blog readers :) 

Monday, January 13, 2014

3 Ways to Increase your Facebook Organic Page Reach

Towards the end of the year 2013, Facebook gave millions of brands a “not so good” New Year gift. Facebook changed its algorithm in such a way that brands observed a severe drop in the organic reach for their Facebook pages.  

Facebook bluntly ‘advised’ the brands to pay for ads if they want to reach out to ‘their own’ fans. Social media marketers and page admins were obviously very unhappy about this. To start with, brands already spent a lot of money in acquiring the fans through ads in a hope to reach out to and engage with a wide array of audience only to realize now that even to reach out to that audience, one would need to pay extra.

Although promoting individual posts seem like an obvious option, we were trying to find out ways of increasing the organic reach of the page updates – without having to pay ANY additional money to Facebook.

So here I share 3 awesome tips which will help you increase the organic reach of your Facebook page updates - absolutely FREE, without having to pay Facebook for that.

#1: Publish Text Updates

I know, I know – the good thing about Facebook is the visual impact and it offers you opportunity to attract attention of your fans through stunning visuals. But do you know that a text update has more reach than an update with a picture? Engagement might be low but the reach will surely be more.

I have noticed that for some pages, the reach of a text status update is almost 1000% more than a picture update! Can you beat that? Yes, it does sound very irrational and illogical, but it is true. Try it!



#2: Publish Albums

Another thing which has worked awesomely well for us is Facebook albums. Next time you post a status update, include more than 1 image. Even if you include 2 or 3 images, you will see significant increase in the organic reach of your post.

You can think of lot of creative ways of creating albums and reach out to more fans on your page.

#3: Post frequently when the fans are online

Facebook Insights is a real great thing which Facebook has introduced – provided you know how to use it well.  The Insights shows you the time when your page fans are online. You can keep a note of that and post your updates at that time.


  
You can plan to post multiple updates in a day – at the time when your fans are online – and start seeing more organic reach. The concept is simple, if you post your updates when the fans are online, it is more likely to appear on their timeline and the fans are more likely to interact with your updates (of course, your updates need to be engaging)

Are there any more tips which have worked well for you? Share the learnings – after all, social media is all about sharing knowledge and learning from each other :-)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crisis Management using Social Media – Buffer Case Study

On Saturday, I received an email with subject “Buffer has been hacked – here is what’s going on”. As an ardent Buffer fan and user, my first reaction was “Oh my god. What must have happened to my tweets/ Facebook posts?”. But when I opened the email, I was up for a pleasant surprise. Yes, I am saying a “pleasant surprise”. Here is why:

#1: The email did not beat around the bush but clearly stated the fact that buffer has been hacked and it’s a problem which needs to be handled. At the same time, the language and tone clearly showed that the Buffer team was concerned and apologetic about what happened. While things can go wrong with anyone, finally taking the ownership makes or breaks the deal.

 

  
#2: The email clearly stated what needs to be done next – which is most important.


#3: While the Buffer team was working round the clock for solving the problem, it made sure that team members were posting constant updates on their live blog, Facebook and Twitter. Having worked on software products for a considerable period in my career, I can fully understand how difficult it must be for the team to handle the issues and solve the technical problems. But at the same time, they made sure that they don’t keep the users in dark. I was amazed to see updates almost after every couple of hours.  The frequency of the updates clearly showed that the team was working round the clock over the weekend to take care of this crisis.



#4: Here is what completely amazed and blew me away. I posted a tweet congratulating the buffer team for their excellent crisis management and I got a personalized response. Note that buffer has 145K followers and I can only imagine the flood of mentions it must have got after the hacking incident. Responding to each tweet – that too in a so much personalized manner in incredible!

The personalized signature at the end of the tweet from Buffer team made me look at their “About Us” section to know really who the members are. What increased my respect for the team is the fact that the buffer team is only 13 people and the people who responded to my tweet did not necessarily belong to “marketing” or “social media” department. Belle is the Content Crafter there and Brian is the Designer!  Yet again, a fine example to emphasize the fact that marketing is no more confined to marketing department.




Key takeaways from this:
-          In case of crisis like this, be honest and transparent. Show the concern and at the same time, accept and take complete responsibility
-          Communicate the updates and tell the affected community that you are working on it
-          Social Media is a powerful channel – while you enjoy publishing news and achievements there, it can very well be used in such situations as well  
-          Social media is not ONLY marketing department job. The whole buffer team, right from the CEO to the Designer, all of them were on social channel, responding to queries, feedback and appreciations.
-          Give a personal touch to your social media presence– to be honest, the personalized response to my tweet made me write this blog post!


Have you witnessed any other fine example of crisis management using social media? Share your comments!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Brands Paying Heavy Price for Social Media Insensitivity

Yes, social media undoubtedly offers a great way to brands to connect with the consumers, build emotional rapport and have a more personalized connection with them. And when we talk about emotional connection, it is important that the brands remain sensitive about what they publish on social media.

Here are examples of some social media disasters where brands had to pay a heavy price for being insensitive on social media.

#1: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Recently Chipotle faked its Twitter hack. 


Undoubtedly, it got the attention from public. The number of followers increased – but are they really the people who want to engage with the brand? I doubt. The supposedly hacked tweets got thousands of RTs. But are these creating any value for the brand or for the audience? Not at all!

I firmly believe and continue to reiterate that brands need to look at quality of conversations and engagement through social media – rather than the numbers like followers and RTs only.

I am sure ardent fans of Chipotle certainly did not appreciate this stunt and somewhere the trust was shaken.  

#2:  Volkswagen India

Volkswagen India did a “vibrating newspaper” ad in leading newspapers across India. Indeed an innovation – it became the talk of the Twitter town and blogosphere. Positive and negative comments started pouring in. Volkswagen unfortunately was not prepared to handle the attention.

There were many tweets about the vibrating newspaper not being appreciated. In response to that (probably as a defense), Volkswagen India tweeted “Women would be dumb to call it a vibrator. Or maybe they do not understand real driving experience. #PunIntended #Volkswagen #Creative”.

Obviously such sexist tweet was retweeted many times and received lot of backlashing. Volkswagen deleted the tweet and all the ReTweets. But the following screenshot, taken by Nandita remained and that will continue to remind people about the insensitivity shown by Volkswagen. Yes, Volkswagen responded after more than 3 days that its Twitter handle was compromised and they are looking into it – but is anybody in the mood to listen?

(Via Social Samosa)
Mistakes happen but brands really need to learn handling negative comments on social media. Deleting the tweet or post is NOT an option.

#3: Hyundai

In April 2013, Hyundai released an ad for British market depicting a man attempting suicide by suffocating himself with exhaust fumes inside his Hyundai car. But he fails because the Hyundai ix35 fuel cell car emits only water vapor. 


While the ad makers were patting their backs when The Drum magazine named it as Ad of the Week, something happened - A few days after the ad was released, an advertising copywriter in London posted a blog post in which she posted the suicide note of her father who had committed suicide in exactly the same manner.

The blog post immediately went viral – and the ad became viral for all the wrong reasons. Hyundai did tweet an apology and withdrew the ad. But the copies of the ad were already out on YouTube and other channels. How to handle the crisis is a different story, but I think suicide should not be promoted in advertising in any way. Period.

#4: KFC, Thailand

In April 2012, after an earthquake of 8.5 Richter at the coast of Indonesia, the whole Thailand was watching tsunami warnings and was fearing the worst. At such time, KFC Thailand thought of ‘cashing’ on it and posted on its Facebook wall:

“Let’s hurry home and follow the earthquake news. And don’t forget to order your favorite KFC menu.

Such insensitive post, on the company Facebook wall, was obviously not appreciated by the people who were associated with the brand on Facebook. When thousands of people lost their lives in Tsunami, all this food chain could think of was its Chicken. Although the post was taken down later on, it had done the damage.

#
5: American Apparel

In October 2012, when Sandy Hurricane hit the East Coast of United States and was creating havoc in that part of the country, the leading retailer American Apparel thought that it could cash on this by offering ‘discounts’ to people!

(Via Forbes)

Along with a very ‘helpful map’, American Apparel sent out an email announcing 20% discount for 36 hours for the customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Unsurprisingly, the Twitterati backlashed it in a big way – to the extent where people announced on Twitter about them boycotting the American Apparel stores. The damage was irreversible. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Power of Social Collaboration to Create Your Personal Brand

I am super excited to be part of this event happening in Pune on September 7th. Apart from sharing my own learning on using social media tools for building a powerful personal brand, I am more excited to listen to the panelists and learn through the interactions.



When: September 7, 2013 11:00 am to 1:00pm
Where: Persistent Bhageerath, S.B. Road, Pune

Come and join us for an exciting Saturday morning!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

10 Tips for Writing a Great Press Release


The first question which could come to the mind of business owners is: what should I write about in the Press Release? Well, there are many scenarios when one can send out a press release. You could do a PR on winning an award, for announcing a new product, new office opening, new customer acquisition or announcing your grand expansion plans. Press Release is one of the most important forms of formal communications.


Here is a handy checklist of 10 things to keep in mind while writing your next press release.



#1: Keep it grammatically correct

Grammatically incorrect sentences, spelling mistakes is a strict NO in a press release. Proof read the PR (many times, if required) to ensure that there are no language errors in your PR.


#2: Keep it short and newsworthy

It is not enough that you are excited about the news. The press release needs to catch the attention of the reader too. Make it newsworthy by mentioning clearly as to what is so great about the news. Don’t make it too long – I would highly recommend keeping it one page or maximum two pages.


#3: Headline Makes it or Break it

The headline of the press release will make the reader decide whether she wants to read further or not. Make sure that the headline no longer than 8 words. I usually recommend including company name in the headline. If required, include a sub-heading giving more information about the news – but do know that the headline should not be incomplete without the sub-heading.


#4: Spend 80% time in writing the first paragraph

Well, don’t take it literally! What I mean to say here is you need to pay very careful attention in writing the first paragraph of your press release. Include the crux of the news in the first paragraph – the reader needs to understand what you wish to convey. Include your company name, the news, why the news is so great and what is your company’s take on the news.  But – this certainly does not mean that your first paragraph is ten lines long. The first paragraph should not be more than 4-5 lines with very short sentences.


#5: Include quotes

Include quotes from the management/ customers/ partners to bring in some personal touch and authenticity to the press release. Don’t forget to include the complete and accurate title of the person whom you are quoting.  


#6: Bring in hard facts, accurate numbers

Bring in solid numbers, hard facts and statistics, as appropriate, to your press release. These add lot of influence to the release and make it newsworthy.   


#7: Allow people to know more

Considering that you have written a press release which can intrigue the reader enough, ensure that you provide a website URL or some other information for getting more information. Typically reporters, journalists or bloggers do like to know the more stories about the news which are not written in the release.


#8: Include Boilerplate

Boilerplate is the standard description about your company which is used consistently without change. Readers like journalists, bloggers, potential investors, customers or job seekers usually read the boilerplate to know about the company. It is important that the boilerplate is small, concise and clearly states what your company is, what it offers and whom does it provide products/ services.


#9: Optimize the keywords and language

Many press releases go online today and you need to ensure that the press release uses the right set of keywords so that it also helps in your Search Engine Optimization efforts. But do take care that you do not load the press release with unnecessary keywords.


#10: Include contact information

Provide clear contact information with name, title, email address, physical address and phone number of your media contact. Reporters might want to connect with you for more information and clearly stated contact information makes the job easier.


Good luck with your next PR! With the hard work of creating a newsworthy item done, focus on cashing on it! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

15 Awesome Social Media Quotes

We all have been hearing a lot about social media marketing. It is no more a buzzword and businesses - small or large - have started adopting it in very creative ways to create engagement, connection and communication with their consumers. 


Presenting here are 15 really excellent quotes about social media which we truly swear by. Have a look! 


#1: We don't have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it – Erik Qualman

#2: Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social. ~ Jay Baer

#3: The beauty of social media is that it will point out your company’s flaws; the key questions is how quickly you address these flaws. -Erik Qualmann, Socialnomics

#4: Social networks aren’t about Web sites. They’re about experiences. -Mike DiLorenzo

#5: Quit counting fans, followers and blog subscribers like bottle caps. Think, instead, about what you’re hoping to achieve with and through the community that actually cares about what you’re doing. – Amber Naslund, Social Media Today

#6: The difference between PR and social media is that PR is about positioning, and social media is about becoming, being and improving. – Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents

#7: Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations. – Seth Godin

#8: The qualities that make Twitter seem insane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful ~ Jonathan Zittrain, Harvard Law Professor

#9: The problem with trying to determine ROI for Social Media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable. ~ Jason Falls (Social Media Keynote Speaker)

#10: Social marketing eliminates the middlemen, providing brands the unique opportunity to have a direct relationship with their customers. - Bryan Wiener

#11: Saying Hello doesn’t have an ROI. It’s about building relationships. Gary Vaynerchuk

#12: Social media isn’t inexpensive, it’s different expensive. 

#13: This is the most rapidly changing landscape ever–a year ago we did not talk about Pinterest, today it’s third in popularity after Facebook and Twitter.  - Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Media

#14: Social Media puts the “public” into PR and the “market” into marketing. - Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs

#15: Social media doesn’t create negativity, it uncovers it.


Reading these quotes, I thought you might want to read some social media related articles. Below are some of the most read articles on this blog:

  1. Handling Negative Comments on Social Media. Read here
  2. Social Media ROI – Measuring the Quantitative and Qualitative Results – Read it here
  3. Your 10 Most Common Social Media Questions Answered – Read it here
  4. Mind Your Facebook Page Etiquettes – Dos and Don’ts – Read the article here
  5. Don’t Believe if you Hear This About Social Media – Complete article here

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