Illuminate: The best way to connect with your audience

Illuminate the way you connect with your audience. Create a short and fun video, aka “splainer,” to engage and inform your viewers. Here’s a splainer we created for Illuminate – a children’s health and wellness blog by Arnold Palmer Hospital. Check out the blog for more of our handiwork!

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The debate big debate: To Google+, or not to Google+

So you’ve heard the hype about Google+. You’ve caught snippets of its new features and heard word of its competition with Facebook, but you don’t quite get the benefits and aren’t completely decided if you are going to sign up for an account.
New social media platforms can be overwhelming. Heck, a lot of people are still figuring out how to integrate Twitter into their social media routines. We’ll give you the rundown of Google+, and help you decide if this is one social media weapon you might consider adding to your arsenal.

Circles

In the real world, we have different circles of relationships. We have work friends, friends we like to have fun with on a Friday night, family and so on. So, sharing things on social networks should work in a similar fashion. With Google+, you can create different circles of people and share photos accordingly. This way you can share only your most flattering pictures with Grandma.

Hangouts

The next best thing to a real life conversation. Google Hangouts allows you to video chat with up to 10 people at a time, and even watch YouTube with them. You can let specific friends or entire circles know you’re hanging out, allowing other friends to join in the conversation at any given time, just like in real life.

Instant Upload

If you have a Facebook, you know how great it is sharing mobile photos of your latest adventures. If you have a Facebook, you also know how un-great it is uploading those photos from your phone onto your account. Enter Google Instant Upload. Your photos and videos will automatically upload to an album on Google+ that will be kept private until you choose whom you’d like to share them with.

Sparks

This feature is sort of like Google News, only you receive all of your updates in one place, and links, articles, videos, etc. are easily shared with friends. Let Sparks know some things you’re interested in and it’ll send you some things it thinks you’ll enjoy.

Huddle

Google Huddle simplifies the back-and-forth of making plans with multiple friends via text messages. Huddle creates one simple group chat where all your friends can text at once. Less time texting, more time doing.

+1 Button

This is a feature that, in many ways, resembles the Facebook Like button. Just hit the +1 button on a page to let everyone know they should check it out. If you’re a business, having the +1 button on your page will help you stand out and get better traffic. This is definitely a feature you don’t want to miss out on, even if you opt out of creating a Google+ account for yourself.

So what does this mean for your business?

Considering Google+ is still in what it calls a “field trial” and hasn’t yet rolled out its business account option, the truth is no one can be certain. The success of social networks is generated by people. And since Google+ is still in a trial mode, we can’t predict how it will be received by consumers. But what we are seeing is an undeniable buzz and excitement about this social media platform.

There’s no doubt that Google+ makes connecting and sharing with friends an absolute breeze. It also looks like the social network will revolutionize the business world. Functions like Huddle and Hangouts may play a significant role in the way colleagues and clients communicate remotely, allowing up to 10 people to communicate at once via their personal computers by video or by text. And the +1 button is an obvious benefit for businesses receiving increased traffic thanks to the button’s ability to increase your website’s popularity and visibility.

We’ve seen more and more employers ban Facebook from the workplace, and older generations deny its marketing benefits due to its college-centered demographic. The Google brand may bring about a more widely received approval from businesses and older demographics, based on its professional reputation. Unlike Facebook, Google+ wasn’t first released with a college-only clientele.

The future looks promising for Google+, and while we don’t suggest creating an account for your business just yet (Google promised to unveil an account for businesses soon), we encourage you to set up a personal account and become familiar with the platform. While Google+ is still in trial mode, and the popularity of its future is still not certain, now is a great time to become acquainted with the functionality. To create a personal account and start exploring the platform, you currently have to be “invited.” If you don’t have a friend who’s got an account, we’d love to invite you! Just email us at info@bigeyecreative.com and you can join the party, too.

So there you have it. The wonders of Google+. It’s hard to say how this social media platform will fare against the social media giant that is Facebook, but there’s no denying Google+ has some truly innovative features that improve connecting and sharing with friends, family and even coworkers. And that’s a real plus.

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Ben & Jerry’s Twitter Treats, promotion in a creative way

Most Twitter users hardly ever use all of the allotted 140 characters they’re allowed to tweet. Ben & Jerry’s decided to utilize this fact to promote a witty campaign called Fair Tweets (see the video splainer – a BIGEYE favorite), not only for its company, but also for a good cause.
On May 14, in honor of World Fair Trade Day, Ben & Jerry’s asked Twitter users to donate their spare characters to raise awareness of Fair Trade. They created a user-friendly application that allows people to type tweet whatever they’d like and automatically fills in the remaining unused characters with a Fair Trade message and hyperlink. So, if your tweet is only 20 characters, Ben & Jerry’s will immediately fill in a 120-character message about Fair Trade for you … and they might even throw in a link or hashtag too.

Once your message is created, you simply click the “Tweet It!” button, and your Fair Trade message is sent off to Twitter for all of your followers to see. It takes two seconds (depending on your typing skills), and spreads awareness for Fair Trade around the world. Not to mention, it leads people to Ben & Jerry’s as well. Promoting a cause through your company is always admirable, but Ben & Jerry’s showed us how to make it clever and fun too. We think they deserve two thumbs up for promoting themselves and a good cause in a cool, non-garish sort of way. Don’t you?

To learn how to effectively incorporate twitter into your campaign, contact us here!

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What to Expect in Marketing in 2011 and what you need to know

If 2010 was up for a marketing superlative, it would definitely be voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” This past year, we saw the launch of the iPad, the expansion of the Facebook “Like” button to other popular websites and the rise of singer-songwriter Justin Bieber, who can thank YouTube for the fact that he can now retire at age 16. But while 2010 focused on finding new, bigger and better vehicles to market products and services, 2011 will focus on tying them all together. Gunning for the “Best-All-Around” title, 2011 will be the year that we see businesses weave online, print, broadcast, mobile, and social media initiatives together into a greater marketing plan to achieve bigger goals. And the leaders of the pack will be those who recognize this need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Read on to find out more about Covenant’s projections for 2011, and how big-picture thinking could lead to a big ROI.

1. Video

In the next three years, 90 percent of the Internet will be video, according to Cisco Systems. Video has become a powerful way to talk directly to your target audience and build upon or strengthen the relationship they’ve already established with your brand. Video can also be repurposed on multiple platforms, from your company’s website to its Facebook Fan page. Your customers can even share the videos with their friends and family by reposting links or by embedding the video itself onto other Web pages. And the unique thing about video is that it can still be viewed years after it is initially posted.

There are many ways that video can be utilized on the Web to not only promote your brand, but also to establish it as the go-to resource in your industry. If you’re a healthcare facility, add a five-minute tutorial on tips to avoid the flu before cold season (such as washing your hands, just like Mom always said). If you’re a homebuilder, show short clips of a remodeled cabinet you did, with before and after shots. The idea is to think of a topic that will interest your customers, and then hire a professional to do the work. While flip cameras are great for taping your grandma doing the electric slide at your cousin’s wedding, they won’t deliver the same professional look and feel that a production company can. In order to effectively position your products and services in your marketplace, it’s crucial to get the right message, sound and light in place before you start rolling.

2. Digital Marketing

The last time someone in our office used a phone book was to get to the last Sweet’N Low packet on a hard-to-reach shelf. And we would venture to say the same is true for many of our clients (unless they prefer Splenda). More often than not, consumers are looking online to gather information and pricing for the products or services they need. Therefore, companies will need to move their rates, discount packages, services, and offerings where their customers are looking for it: online.

In addition to making it easier for your customers to include you in their budget for the upcoming year, it’s also more important now than ever to include digital media in your own. With new channels and capabilities being developed daily on the Internet, websites are becoming far more complex than the five-page, static HTML pages they once were. They’re incorporating instant messaging, applications, video, podcasting, gaming, blogs, social networking, and dynamically generated content pulled by an RSS feed from other sites. All of these separate initiatives are great to keep your audience coming back for more, but this year, business leaders will need to develop an overall digital marketing plan to play out how each initiative will work together to achieve their company’s greater goals.

3. Social Media

By now, even old-school business executives that were once hesitant about jumping into the social media pool are taking the plunge. It’s no longer a question of whether or not you have social media, but rather how you decide to utilize it, and whether or not those initiatives have resulted in an ROI. Offering free giveaways or coupons to people who “Like” you on Facebook is a great way to build your audience in the beginning stages. But after you get their attention, it’s just as important to keep it there. This will happen by engaging your customer through relevant—and frequent—posts, messages, photos, videos, and other offerings. It’s also important to include a call-to-action in order to drive traffic where you want it to go, such as sharing a link to a new product or service featured on your company website. This year, expect to see more in the realm of Social Listening Research and Influencer Marketing, which allow you to analyze your target audience members to better understand your customers and their needs.

LinkedIn, a professional networking website, will also continue to be a social media platform to watch in 2011, with more than 12 million small-business leaders on its site, according to its blog last year. It’s become a huge resource for finding a job, finding a job candidate or making a connection with a potential business partner.

4. Multi-channel and Integrated Marketing

It’s great to market your company across different mediums, from online, print and broadcast to mobile applications and social media platforms. But if the vehicles you’re using to promote your brand don’t cross promote one another, you’re missing out on a lot of business opportunities you could have had if they did. For example, this can take the form of a billboard with a QR code (barcode readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones), print advertising with a mobile phone SMS call to action, or a link on a company website that redirects to its Facebook page to “Like” them. It should always come full circle. You want to engage your audience to interact with you and your brand, not just hit them once with a well-designed piece that leaves them thinking, “OK great, but now what?”

It simply isn’t enough to just do a newspaper advertisement or buy a radio spot anymore. It must be integrated into multiple platforms and, consequentially, be strongly branded to your company on those platforms. This will change the role of your audience members from recipients to participants.

5. Personalized Marketing

You may have already noticed this on Facebook, but in 2011, expect to see more websites with personalization capabilities. This means that if you frequently visit a website, it will track the keywords you search for and post and store this information in its database to customize what’s displayed on the site the next time you visit. It not only determines what’s displayed based on the keywords you search, but also by the pages you visit within the site and, for first time visitors, even the referring URL that linked you to the site.

With the astronomical growth of Groupon and LivingSocial in the past two years, smart startup companies are starting to use geo-location capabilities to drive foot traffic to their local businesses. This acceleration would largely be driven by discovery via location-based social experience sharing. The explosive growth of Instagram is also an early sign of this experience-sharing trend, and we will witness a whole lot more in the coming year.

6. Print

This just in: print is not dead. Print has reinvented itself more times than Cher and Madonna combined and, like their careers, it thrives by changing its look to stay relevant. In an “all-about-me” marketplace, printers have learned that in order to stay in touch with consumers, they have to get personal. Literally. Data-driven print (also known as 1:1 printing, variable data or personalized printing) is continuously growing in popularity and often involves strategically placing a customer’s name onto an already printed piece.

For example, vacation timeshares may put a customer’s name on the back of a white robe hanging in the closet of a bedroom. A sports clothing brand might put a customer’s name on the back of a football jersey. The options are endless, and it’s a great way to get creative and grab your audience members’ attention by reaching out to them by name.

7. SEO

Ah, the ever-elusive concept of Search Engine Optimization. In recent years, the most common question we get from clients is hands down, “What can we do to become No. 1 in Google’s search results?” This isn’t surprising to us since your customers, like you, are probably using search engines as their primary means to find the information they are looking for. But the answer is much more complex than the reason behind the question. Although there are definitely ways that marketing professionals can help improve your SEO through keywords, tags and content, there is no silver bullet for getting the No. 1 spot. With the introduction of new search engines such as Bing in the U.S., Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia, Google’s not the only player in the search engine game anymore. In addition, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are also becoming popular resources for searching, making it even more difficult to solve the equation to get to the No. 1 spot. In 2011, look for things to get even more complex as search engines advance, mobile phone searches get thrown into the mix and geo-location searches also become a factor in where you fall in search result listings.

Even if there isn’t a foolproof formula to guarantee your ranking, there are certainly ways to improve your SEO. Marketing experts have conducted plenty of research in this realm and can advise you of small things you can do to make a big impact in the long run.

In conclusion, the key to a successful year in marketing will be to engage your audience, be strategic in your initiatives, customize your offerings and keep your overall goal in mind. But if all else fails, post a really funny video of your cat sneezing on YouTube and watch the TV interviews, book deals, magazine covers, and sports drink sponsorships just roll in.

In need of a little guidance in order to continue on the right foot? Contact our team of marketing experts today to develop the perfect approach for your brand in 2011 – and beyond!

How to use viral marketing tactics to promote your brand

Viral marketing (also sometimes described as marketing buzz, viral advertising, or buzzwords) can be defined as marketing techniques that use existing networks to spread awareness of a particular brand or service and thus creating a process whereby the existing network is responsible for propagating the marketing message and this can take the form of video clips, interactive games, adverts, eBooks, images or text messages.
[quote]The overall goal in creating a viral marketing strategy is to reach a wide audience in the shortest time possible and with as little expenditure as can be managed. [/quote]The message receivers are responsible for carrying the message across to other receivers and so the marketers try as much as possible to create a message that will appeal to their target group which should be people that have preferably a high social networking potential , making it more likely for the message to go across through the targeted medium to the target audience.

In order to use viral marketing successfully, you should be able to meet these three conditions:

– Identify the right messengers to propagate the message

– Create the right message

– Choose the medium to diffuse the message

Identify the Messenger

The messengers ideally are the people that are always looking for new things in an area. They actually specialize in this area or take it as a hobby. They could be bloggers or reviewers and will usually have a lot of following for their opinions.

Once they get the message and are happy with it, it gets transmitted to their immediate social network and thus gets propagated to friends of friends and when rightly done it might make the whole world within 24 hours. Imagine the impact it might have on the potential of a company to sell.

Creating the Message

Getting the right message, the right pitch is the key to viral marketing. The message should essentially be simple, easily memorable and should sell itself. This is the greatest part of the venture, and the right message will always find a way out. Sometimes it may take several attempts and slight changes to make it more effective and viral.

The Environment

The environment, the timing and the expectations of the public all play a vital role in the propagation of a message. It should resonate with the economic and political climate at the time. However unlikely messages have been known to take hold and spread, so you just have to pull your resources together and give it a go.

There are many strategies that you can adopt for effective viral marketing and learning how to use viral marketing for your business from time to time can establish you, give you a wider customer base and generate profits for your business.

Some of the elements you can include in your viral marketing strategy include:

Offering free products and services

Free services and products are usually very attractive and call for a lot of attention. Viral marketing usually uses the idea of offering services to individuals that propagate the message, usually if they are able to let the message reach a certain number of individuals, they are more likely to get a free product or service. Generally the free offer calls for attention to your free product, but it might also be a direct way of getting the person to explore other products and services on offer which might eventually convert to a sale.

Using Existing Social Networks

Without an existing network of peers to take up the message, a good message may remain in marketing dump and never see the light. Even if you don’t have a social network, it will be essential to create one, link with people, leave messages on their message boards and participate in forums. Once you get this organized, it will be easier to get your message across to the first group of social network active people that are important for spreading the message across once they get fired up!

Prepare for the Expected Increase in Traffic

In order to successfully use viral marketing, you should be prepared for the increase in traffic, or in sales. Not being able to satisfy the curiosity of the people that have come into contact with your messages will spell failure on your part, and may even incur a backlash from the very socially active population that are first on the line. Therefore make sure that your equipment and staff are well able to handle the possible surge in business that may arise from the marketing effort.

Create Compelling Messages

Use great design and clever marketing to create a compelling message. Viral marketing is as much a psychological process as a marketing activity. Strive to understand what moves your niche population and you will be more likely successful at creating something that they can identify with, love and spread around.

In need of a viral marketing message that will resonate with your target audience? Contact us today for proven ways to boost traffic for your brand!