10 reasons why live broadcasting is one of the biggest trends

To understand why live broadcasting is one of the hottest trends for digital marketing, we first need to understand what all the fuss is about. When Meerkat, the first live broadcasting app, debuted at the famed South By Southwest (SXSW) conference, the social media universe literally went insane. Since then, digital marketers have rallied around the variety of broadcasting software available to engage and attract customers to their brand in a new way. Here’s why.

1. FOMO is real:

FOMO – or the “fear of missing out” – is a disease that has run rampant among millennials and the Generation Y. As users’ lives become more visible and connected via social media, the peer pressure to participate in experiences and events (and tell the world they’re doing so) has increased exponentially. This phenomena primed the stage for broadcasting software such as Meerkat and Periscope so users can take part in their friends’ experiences in more profound ways, even when they’re not there.

2. Globalization and events:

Broadcasting apps close gaps in distance and time. Brands that once relied on physical proximity to attract new customers to events needed to spend huge amounts of time and money to execute these inbound marketing techniques. Today, your advertising agency can host a smaller event (in more remote or exclusive location) and broadcast the experience into the social media universe. Businesses will still enjoy the benefits of inbound marketing leads at a fraction of the cost, without compromising their brand experience in the slightest.

3. Fishing where the fish are:

According to YouTube, 1 in 3 Internet users view some form of video content every single day. At 33%, that’s one of the most engaged forms of content on the market. A good content marketing agency knows that engaged users lead to better leads (pun intended) and a stronger digital marketing strategy. Broadcasting even the most mundane experiences inside a company can make that organization seem more authentic and human, igniting prospective customer curiosity and boosting brand engagement.

4. Exclusivity for everyone:

The top digital marketing agency isn’t the only one to benefit from broadcasting technology either. Apps like Periscope give consumers access to lifestyle brands and experiences they crave. Broadcasting is like an exclusive invitation to an event or experience that many users would never have otherwise. The appeal lies in consumers’ natural desire to align with aspirational brands and individuals, giving lifestyle brands a particular leg up when using broadcasting for inbound marketing initiatives.

5. People love videos:

Cell phones have made video sharing easy, SnapChat has made video sharing fun, GoPro has made video sharing amazing. And now, broadcasting has made video sharing the newest trend for every digital marketing agency surfing the Internet. People love videos, so it’s no surprise that the types of tools marketers are using are adapting to fit this need. Broadcasting makes inbound discovery and marketing much easier than other form of video interaction.

6. Plenty to choose from:

Depending on your content marketing agency, your preference, and needs, your business has a variety of broadcasting apps to choose from. The top three in the market are Periscope, Meerkat, Stre.Am. All of these new entrants boast robust video sharing and streaming functionality, a solid user base, and nothing but untapped potential. Work with your digital marketing agency to understand the differences between each and choose the platform that’s best for your audience before committing to your first broadcasting endeavor.

7. Live broadcasting is not a fad:

When Instagram and SnapChat first entered the market, marketers were skeptical to get in on the action because they thought the popularity may be a fad. It’s no surprise that live broadcasting is receiving similar doubts from more traditional advertising agency representatives. We are here to debunk that myth. Periscope, Meerkat, and Stre.Am have more than 5 billion impressions collectively, which is a huge market of untapped marketing potential. And most certainly not a fad.

8. Live broadcasting drives new levels of brand engagement:

Aside from the obvious benefits of inbound prospects and heightened awareness, we believe that live broadcasting has the potential to connect customers with brands they love more organically. Wouldn’t it be amazing to spend a day in the life of your favorite brand’s executive? What if you could attend Apple’s product launch event … in the front row … Sitting next to the company’s lead engineer? Court side seats to your favorite basketball game? Yes please. The brand engagement (and monetization) potential are nearly endless.

9. An inbound marketer’s dream:

Talk to your content marketing agency about how to get involved in the trend. Live broadcasting is here to stay, and your company is poised to benefit from this unique and exciting trend. It’s always great to have a pro in your corner, so leverage your agency’s expertise to determine what broadcasting is right for your brand, who to target, and what types of inbound marketing KPI’s you can expect to see as the trend grows.

10. How your business can win with live broadcasting:

Right now, the biggest benefit for businesses is the potential for inbound marketing leads. As the trend evolves, we expect new advertising potential will emerge, as will restrictions on what can be broadcasted and when (we know there are some early privacy concerns as well). Together, we will set the tone for how live broadcasting impacts the market and what business owners can expect from this emerging technology.

We know you’re a trend setter (that’s why you’re reading this blog, right?), so download Meerkat or one of the other live broadcasting apps we mentioned above and experience the excitement and magic of being front and center all the time. We have a feeling you’ll be as enthusiastic as we were and might even feel a rush of your own FOMO soon.

5 content ideas for insurance marketing that actually work

We know, it’s counter intuitive, but don’t be fooled by actuarial tables, lists of legalese and piles of ridiculous paperwork – because insurance marketing isn’t nearly as boring as you may think. Like a 2011 Forbes column by Ronald Shelp pointed out, despite the stereotypical image of the industry as incredibly boring there are some pretty freakin’ creative content marketing ideas out there you can use.
Since most insurance agencies offer extremely similar, basic products – a solid content marketing plan can present an awesome opportunity to show consumers and potential customers what makes one individual agency worth considering.  And that, our friends, is where the creativity comes in.

Here are five content marketing ideas to help set your insurance company apart from the rest:

Experience

If you’re looking for a unique angle to demonstrate why customers should purchase a policy from you instead of your competitors, search for some positive time-related metrics that the competition may not have, like: maybe years of training? Certifications? Availability? Customers who have policies for an unusually long time? A greater number of local and national awards from different industry groups or local organizations? Thank-you letters from satisfied clients? Health and life insurance policies are currently the leading drivers for consumers, especially in the US market since the launch of the Affordable Care Act. So perhaps using your content marketing to emphasize your successful experience within these markets can set you apart from your competitors.

Here’s an awesome example, Independence Blue Cross pretty much owned this concept for their Live Fearless Mantra TV commercial.

YouTube

Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.

Unusual policies

Every agency offers the bare bones – the basics: home, auto and life. But who’s offering extra coverage for high-dollar/high-maintenance wine collections? Or rare baseball cards? Or an antique car that spends more time in the garage being pampered rather than actually firing that baby up. Certainly any agent can learn the basics of how to put a policy together, but someone who markets themselves as being “the knowledgeable choice” in certain subject areas or advertises in places where this audience frequents (collector/enthusiasts sites or specialty blogs) could get some serious attention from potential customers.

Better costs

Most insurance agents will pitch you this little gem, “you’ll be happy that you paid more for extra coverage when disaster strikes.” However, we all want to be wise stewards of their money and will instinctively look for any easy opportunities to save. Some of the national insurance companies even make a point of emphasizing their affordability for basic coverage. While emphasizing the quality coverage and not offering something too drastic and bare-bones, agencies can promote their ability to offer different discounts like reductions for certain conditions – good student/good driver/safe driver/multiple policies. Also, try crafting this dry message in a way that everyone can contextualize. Just because your policy is a snooze-fest, doesn’t mean your marketing message needs to equally as lame. Maybe position your message in a way that reads – “that’s the cost of a two Starbucks lattes a week.”

Mention the scary stuff

We know it’s risky to ‘sell fear,’ and normally, that’s certainly not our holistic approach. However, insurance agencies probably know more than anyone else how quickly a bad turn of events can happen, that’s part of their reality. However, they also know that they can serve as an aid to their policy-holders who wisely made choices to invest with them. So rather than your commercials being filled with frightening natural disasters, multi-car fender-benders, or burning buildings, the agent’s message could also focus more on their role – which should ultimately be to provide comfort in a disastrous time for their customers. In an industry that’s overflowing with complaints and dissatisfied customers, sometimes a heartwarming, even light-hearted, loyalty-building approach might just be the way to go.

Side note: either Minnesotans are the coolest people in the country or they have the weirdest sense of humor, ever. MNsure does a great job of “showing the scary stuff” without providing a literal translation to that statement. In this video, they are essentially making their customers aware of the scary things that could happen while living in Minnesota. We think it’s pretty genius.

YouTube

Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.

Emphasize the good stuff

At the end of the day, the essential reason for an insurance policy is peace of mind and general security. With proper planning, you and your family will ultimately be protected. Even if you avoid filing major claims, you’ll still be protected – and that’s worth celebrating. Testimonials from clients being thankful for their foresight in purchasing policies can be really powerfully promoted. Visual assets of clients enjoying their time doing pretty much anything else besides thinking at about fire, hurricanes, flooding (insert your long list of natural disasters here), health, life – could be a smart strategy.

New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange’s TV ad for their “accidental spokesman” sums this up in a pretty clever way.

New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange – “The Accidental Spokesman” Spot

You can’t predict an accident or illness, but at least you can be prepared! You have until March 31st, 2014 to get affordable health insurance in 2014. After March 31st, most will have to wait until 2015 for health coverage. Visit www.BeWellNM.com for more info and to enroll for healthcare, today!

 

Why you need a content marketing agency (for real)

You’re busy, you know it, your employees know it, your investors know it – errybody knows it. This is why you need a content marketing agency (for real).

Rules change

When it comes to online content, everything is really defined as ‘best practices’ as opposed to hard-and-fast rules. And knowing the ins and outs of these practices, particularly which ones to follow or ignore, is pretty much a full-time job, especially since Google and Facebook keep changing their measurement methods for how businesses are being ranked and noticed. So even if you think you had these processes nailed a few years ago, you better bet those methods have already changed. And, if you’re following all of the old “rules,” you could actually be penalizing your business in Google’s eyes. This is probably the biggest reason why you need a content marketing agency. It’s ultimately our job to make sure we’re up to date on all of this madness, and it’s ultimately your job to keep your customers happy and your business running.

Avoiding future costs

Along with knowing how to “do” SEO properly, a content marketing agency also knows how to navigate other digital minefields – like losing followers on your social media channels because you’ve over-posted ads to the wrong audiences. Content marketing agencies can also advise on what mistakes are actually making your lose money, a serious risk if you use automated email or text messaging to connect with existing or potential customers but don’t have full authorization to contact them. Let’s not even mention the additional costs that as a consumer you’ll pay top dollar for, whereas a content marketing agency will most likely be given insider pricing.

Reports out the wazoo

Let’s just pretend that you love making sense of trackable data (which we damn well know, you do not), what are you supposed to do with all that data once you have it? CPC’s, bounce rates, referral traffic, what does it all MEAN!? A content marketing agency can load you up with all kinds of analytic information that’s been analyzed and strategized. They can analyze your performance down to a finite detail, where visitors are coming from, where they’re dropping off, how often they’re staying, where they’re clicking, etc. Also, if you’re considering a large media spend on various digital channels, you’re probably going to want to see which ad is performing better, and why – soon. So that you can pivot as quickly as possible to ensure all of your allocated budget is being invested successfully. Seriously, what’s the point of investing high dollars if you don’t care to know, don’t know how to interpret, or don’t want to know about – the ridiculous amount of reporting. Let a content agency do that for you.

Multi-channel knowledge

You may know Facebook well, your spouse might know Twitter well, and your kids, they probably know Snapchat or Instagram a little too well. A business trying to be successful in today’s digital world needs the ability to connect with many channels at once, while also offering a unique presence and message for each one. It’s a constant balancing act because not everyone on a channel is an active user. You want to go where the audiences are, like Facebook, but also don’t want to ignore those who aren’t active on that channel. A content marketing agency is not only familiar with all current social media content channels (as well as have their pulse on what’s happening for the future), but know which ones are most important for driving YOUR customers to YOUR your business. Having a vast understanding of multi-channel knowledge is key to achieving an effective content marketing strategy, and seriously, you know you don’t have time for that.

To check out how we help elevate brands like yours through content marketing, visit our Content Marketing services page.

Why marketing to tourists is now like online dating

No, you didn’t read that wrong. We did indeed just say that marketing to tourists is a lot like online dating. Stick with us on this metaphor and we’ll show you how to turn transactional tourism marketing into a full blown love affair with your restaurant, hotel, resort or travel destination. And, since the tourism industry accounts for over a trillion dollars in the U.S. economy alone (according to the Travel Industry Association) we’re willing to bet that’s one relationship worth investing in.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A GOOD “PROFILE PICTURE:” 

If you, or your friends, have ever prepared for a date with someone you met online, you probably know the legitimate fear that your date won’t look anything like his or her photos. Unsurprisingly, that same fear exists when tourists are vetting travel destinations. Travel savvy globe trotters have wised up. They are painfully aware that a good tourism digital marketing agency knows how to take photos that make rooms look larger, food look fresher, and spas feel more luxurious. To ensure your marketing to tourists doesn’t ring flat, make sure your pictures are up to date and capture different angles of your business while integrating user-generated photos that “verify” the pictures your brand has taken. A good way to do this may be to include an Instagram feed using a simple API call, or curating a “photo of the day” on your website pulled from your social media feeds. Research (from Search Engine Watch to Forbes) has proven again and again that photos are the single most important element tourists rely on when making travel decisions. Therefore, your content marketing strategy should be extremely photo-heavy (who has time to read these days anyway?) and showcase your business’s best elements. But, authenticity is incredibly valued, so don’t be afraid to show a hint of the “not so good” so your customers’ expectations match their experience.

THE POWER OF A FRIEND’S APPROVAL:

The internet gives us the incredible (and creepy) ability to learn a whole hell-of-a lot about our dates before we actually meet them. We can search for their jobs, social connections, driving record (if that means anything to you), accolades, where our worlds intersect – nothing is so thrilling as discovering that your soon-to-be online date shares mutual friends. Because that means you’ll probably be able to get some insider information on their “real” dating style. Love it or hate it, the same holds true in the tourism marketing world. Tourists can unearth a ridiculous amount of information about your service, cleanliness, value, and hospitality through online reviews and social media. Don’t fight it. Embrace your reviewers and try to encourage positive reviews while honestly and openly responding to negative feedback. Hiring a tourism digital marketing agency to monitor the tone and trends surrounding your brand’s online conversation can also help you determine where there are genuine areas for improvement to refine your brand experience. Consider partnering with bloggers and social media influencers to highlight their experience with your brand. By giving these trendsetters a voice and featuring them on your website, you’ll be able to  generate a positive social effect and build trust in your brand. As an added bonus, it’s a unique and fun way to keep your digital presence energized with up-to-date content.

These two simple spins on the traditional marketing to tourists can help make this travel season your best yet while keeping those dates (guests) rolling in.

To learn more secrets of the trade, visit our Digital Marketing services page.

3 ways you need to boost your Twitter engagement now

“Help me increase my Twitter engagement” is a cry for help that can excite many amateur social media consultants. In the wrong hands, this intention can lead to sketchy and expensive solutions, including creating bogus accounts and paying a ton of money to artificially and inconsistently boost your presence.

The truth is, the power to increase your Twitter engagement rate has been in your hands all along. There are several simple yet effective methods to organically gain more followers, more Retweets and more click-throughs to your site, and they don’t have to cost you any more than some extra time or some of your staff’s time.

You might not hit the million follower mark in a month, or be in Lady Gaga/Pope Francis superstar range right away, but you can still see steady and honest growth from lolyal fans who like what you have to say.

Try these modern methods to learn how to increase Twitter engagement:

Content

When you post or how you post are important. But what’s most vital is what you post. The best way to get followers and increase your twitter engagement is to offer frequent and interesting Tweets that people can comment on, Retweet, or ‘favorite.’

Twitter itself encourages this focus in its Business/Solutions section with step-by-step suggestions to leverage your Tweets. The seven-stage method includes picking your tools, designing your content, defining your audience and budget, and keeping track of what works and what doesn’t.

A related Twitter blog post shared that, after studying common factors of 2 million Tweets created over a month, common elements in successful Twitter engagement campaigns include tweets that contain photos, hashtags, links, and videos. Tweets that contain at least one digit also seem to perform better than ones without a number.

Make it a conversation

Social media has enough people expressing opinions regularly, and with Twitter, it’s especially easy to simply churn out random thoughts, or worse, information about your business. The random thoughts aren’t a bad idea, as long as they’re interesting. If an employee is especially witty in under 140 characters, give them this task. Frequent business plugs are also discouraged –Twitter has been compared to a cocktail party, where it’s OK to occasionally mention who you are and what you do, but not talk about yourself all the time.

Instead, you need to engage others so they’ll return the favor. Answer people’s questions in public. Join a discussion under a certain hashtag. Go to a Tweetup in your community (or start one). Once people start knowing that you have interesting things to say – and interesting Tweets they can Retweet, (especially if they don’t have to come up with them themselves), the loyalty will grow. Klout, a social media influence site, suggests “paying it forward” by giving public credit to sources if you discuss a topic.

Make it easy

By creating interesting content and sharing it, you’re doing a favor to people who can’t think of anything to say – they can simply retweet yours and hopefully give you credit. But Entrepreneur says you can do a lot more to encourage your audience, and thereby increase your twitter engagement. This can include making shorter Tweets — if you use all 140 characters, it’s hard for someone to add their own thoughts when they ReTweet yours. It can also include using services like bit.ly or tinyurl to shorten links – there’s no need to take up character space with a lengthy url. You also can simply occasionally ask for a Retweet once in awhile and hope people oblige. Another way to make sure your content catches people’s eyes, besides making a lot of it, is to repost the same post a couple of times a day. Someone may miss your morning Tweet but appreciate that it comes back around in the afternoon. Or, repeat a late-night post occasionally for night owls/early birds/international followers.

The social media landscape is continuously evolving, and a Twitter engagement method that may have worked three years ago may not be as effective. Likewise, there are some great tools available to assist you. Ready to learn more? Contact our team of digital marketing aficionados today to start tweeting in the most effective manner!

The history of the hashtag, pound sign, and octothorpe

#hashtaghistory #itisntwhatyouthink #italmostwasntatall #itcouldhavebeenoctothorpeorworse.
If you can make sense of those words and can sling tags #likeaboss, give yourself a #goldstar.

But if all you see is a jumble of letters and words, here’s a quick overview.

Putting the ‘pound’ sign – or by its more recognizable term ‘hashtag’ — in front of a word or a group of words creates a discussion topic in social media, which is why you see them in Tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest pins, texts, online news stories, and even creeping into personal correspondence.

Putting a “49erfan” hashtag on a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post about a favorite football team, for instance, can invite fellow fans to take part in a conversation, or add their own input by including the tag in their posts. Tags can also be now used in web searches, or as a PS/final thought to summarize and personalize a post. You may not necessarily want to continue a conversation like #thatsallfolks but it is a fun way to sign off, along the lines of #micdrop or #peaceouthomies.

But as interesting as it can be to use them, the history of the hashtag is even more so.

The history of the hashtag

Common knowledge tells us that Twitter was responsible for unleashing hashtags on the world. The social media channel certainly helped their popularity and use, but the history of the hashtag goes back to the early 1960s when engineers at Bell Labs were trying to replace the rotary phone.

In 1963, a Bell Telephone touch-tone research team came up with the idea of a grid of 12 buttons, with 0 and two other spaces at the bottom. One spot was designated an asterisk/star and the other a cross-hatch/diamond, both symbols already on keyboards and ASCII text. Programmers also used the hashtag symbol to break up strings of numbers.

According to a recent Wired piece about the “secret origins” of the hashtag, the slash and the interrobang, a Bell Labs employee called the “pound” sign an octothorpe – it had eight legs and it so happened he was a fan of baseball player Jim Thorpe.

A Gizmodo article on the early history of the hashtag said it was an improvement from a nonsense name generated by Bell marketing employee Lauren Asplund – “octoherp,” since he didn’t think Americans would want to say or remember “pound sign.”

The concept of using a character to designate separate discussion channels was used by IRC in the late 1980s, an early form of chat/instant messaging. But in 2007, the idea was suggested to Twitter, which seemed to make sense for a text-based service where the goal is to be brief.

Online designer Chris Messina is credited with suggesting that the company’s leadership invite and encourage users to use the # sign as an easy way to create or participate in “group” areas or topics (his first use of hashtag was “#barcamp”). He believed they could bring like-minded people together, show what topics are currently being talked about, can be searched, and measured/analyzed to see how well a digital campaign is performing.

Messina said that his idea was rejected as being too technical. He also was given a prediction that the idea would never catch on.

However, he encouraged the Twitter community to try them, including developer Nate Ritter, who used “#sandiegofire” to let California residents on Twitter follow coverage/related Tweets about the 2007 fires in San Diego.

Facebook began incorporating them in 2013, and today, hashtags remain a popular tool for consumers and marketers.

Need a little more advise on how to properly integrate hashtags into your digital marketing efforts? Contact us today to start talking! #hashtaghelp