Month: March 2014

New Generation of Online Ads

Earlier this month, Yahoo made a big (and in my opinion, very exciting announcement)! From the Yahoo Advertising Blog:

Today, we are excited to introduce Yahoo Motion Ads, a new ad format that brings images to life, helping brands tell more engaging stories and drive greater awareness with their target audiences.

The new ads use high-quality brand images with subtle animation to create high-impact experiences for advertisers that are equally entertaining for readers. Yahoo Motion Ads are initially available within the creative canvas of our Billboard Ad on the Yahoo homepage, our vertical category homepages, and the Yahoo login page.

Kraft was chosen to the the launch advertiser of this new ad format.  Below is their ad on the Yahoo login page:

Specs for the ad: here

This is the next generation of online rich media advertising!  The motion is the GIF ad definitely sets its apart from standard online PPC ads or banner ads. This brings to mind the Cinemagraphs that were popular a few years back with advertisers.  I cannot wait to see what the big brands do and how they will utilize this new format for advertising!  Imagine the possibilities – the stories you can tell, the images you can bring to life…

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Going Viral – #NoMakeupSelfie

Lately, my Facebook feedback has been filled with female friends taking part in the #NoMakeUpSelfie trend.  This hashtag seem to have appeared overnight and out of nowhere. Women were taking pictures of themselves bare faced, with no make up and sharing the picture online.  Naturally, it made me very curious and I did a little investigating.

Turns out, the #NoMakeUpSelfie is associated with Cancer Research UK and to date, has raised over $13.1 million for cancer research.  What’s more – the hashtag didn’t originally start out as a fundraising campaign for cancer research!  The first instance of the hashtag being used can be traced back to British novelist Laura Lipmann in support of actress Kim Novak’s appearance at the Oscars (see the tweet here). Surprisingly, the tweet had nothing to do with cancer. Once the hashtag gained momentum though, Cancer Research UK joined in and attached the “no make up” idea to fighting cancer.

 

So what made the ‘campaign’ so successful? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

  • Campaigns can be spontaneous – the key is in the timing and knowing when to participate and gain from the momentum (in the least commercial, opportunistic way, of course)
  • There is power is ‘grassroots’ origins – the best ‘campaign’ ideas can come from anyone, anywhere
  • Make it easy for people to participate – the ask in this campaign was very simple; take a photo of yourself with no make up on. There was no dressing up, props or special venue/setting required
  • Make it easy for people to act – Cancer Research UK used a text component that allowed people to donate quickly and conveniently via text from their phones
  • Trigger an emotional response -the campaign empowered participants and made them feel good about themselves. This emotional response is what triggered the viral social sharing

From what I’ve seen in my own Facebook feed, most people were curious and generally, there was a positive response to the ‘campaign’ (which did not look or feel like a campaign at all!) And not only are people participating by taking pictures, they are donating money too!  How amazing that one simple hashtag can make such a big difference – I guess, that is the power of social media.

 

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5 Ways to Make Your Content Marketing More Interesting

content marketing tips

I admit, some days it is a struggle to develop interesting content for the websites I manage. There is a lot of ‘wordsmithing’ to make boring tedious information seem interesting and engaging for visitors.  After all, did you know that the average attention span of web users is now only 8 seconds? 8…seconds?

These days, I rarely ‘dump’ copy on a webpage as is.  I break up the text with banner images that span the width of the page or Call to Action boxes within the text or at the bottom of the page.  While bulleted lists are a common way to lay out information in an organized way, on the web I find them boring and outdated.  I often apply the ‘zig zag’ approach where I alternate between text and images instead to illustrate the points.

Here are a few creative (and interesting) ways to make your content more interesting:

Infographics

I love Infographics for conveying complex information or stats-heavy information.  An infographic is a visual graphic presentation of information or data.  The infographics that you see now are so visually compelling, it makes learning look fun and easy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Think about the questions that you have received from your customers in the past. If one customer had that question, chances other customers present and future will encounter the same issue.  Keep track of the customer inquiries you have and save the responses you send to your customers as valuable content for your website.

How to Guides

When it is appropriate, How to Guides can be very helpful to your customers.  If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, How to Guides can also help demonstrate that expertise.  Remembering that people only share what they find entertaining or valuable, offering this content freely to your customers can help increase engagement and shareability of your site.

Product Demonstration Videos  

Instead of writing out product descriptions or step by step tutorials, sometimes it is more effective to let your customers see the product in action.  With Vine or Instagram video, these demonstration videos can even be as short as 8 or 15 seconds!

Expert Interviews

Expert interviews can make great blog entries.  It gives your audience the chance to hear from a voice other than yours and it can increase your expertise level by associating with other experts in the field.

Hope these ideas help when you are experiencing marketer’s block!

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Forging Ahead: 20 Companies That Dare to Do Things Differently

I have always been impressed by SlideShare and the abundance of valuable information I find that every time I visit.  Such was the case when I stumbled upon this slide deck from Paul Taylor titled “20 Businesses That are Changing the Way We Work and Play”.  These 20 companies are all leaders in their respective industries.  For me, it is both refreshing and inspiring to see that even companies as big as these can find new and innovative ways to operate.  In business, there is no ‘one size fits all’ and I admire these companies for investing in their people and building workplace culture that is unique to their business and their needs.

Enjoy!

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Writing for the Web in an Age of Short Attention Spans

Write Effectively for the Web

As marketers, we all know the mantra “Content is King”.   Everywhere we look, we are told that original content is the key to marketing success in 2014.  9 out of 10 organizations  already market with content and believe that content creation is the single most effective SEO tactic.

So with all the time we spend on creating original content, we have to make sure what we are putting out on the web is valuable, interesting and most importantly, engaging and share-worthy.  Part of keeping the readers’ attention is to write and structure your piece in a way that can be read and understood quickly.  To that end, we can apply the techniques of Macrowriting to our writing for the web.

Macrowriting is a writing style that focuses on the “big picture” and the message as a whole.  This style of writing is ideal for when you want to get your point across quickly and effectively – which is precisely what you want to do when you write for the web.  Here are a few techniques for Macrowriting:

High Skim Value

Structure your piece so that readers can easily skim through or refer to certain sections easily. Make sure of headings and subheadings to group ideas together or to emphasize certain words or phrases.

Clear and Logical Progression of Ideas 

As your readers are scanning through the copy, use the headings and different sections of the piece to help them move from one idea to the next.  Provide linkage between sections so they can understand the ties between them and understand reasoning.   Use white space and paragraphs to break up your content visually.  Divide text into shorter blocks of 150 – 200 words if possible.  Keep paragraphs short with 5 sentences or less.

Basic Grammar & Writing Style

Write is writing – no matter the medium.  Good writing still requires organized thoughts, grammatically sound and well structured sentences.  Avoid run on sentences and edit for brevity.  On the web, writing is expected to be less formal and more personable so speak in a voice that will appeal to your audience.

Make it Easy to Share

If you want your readers to share your content – well, make it easy for them to share! Install the “sharing” feature on your blogs or the Pinterest plug-ins if your content is predominantly image-driven.  Keep in mind that your readers may choose to share your content across social media, so include an image with your content if it is possible to encourage click throughs and social shares.

At the end of the day, content creation is not an easy task and requires a frequent investment of time and effort.  If you are creating content for your website, keep your audience in mind and write in a way that will appeal to them!

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A Quick Post on Oscar Night

It’s the Oscars tonight!  I will be tuning in periodically in between study sessions to catch just the highlights.  I’m not a big follower of celebrity blogs or entertainment news so I haven’t been seeing all the pre-Oscar coverage at all.  Of all places today, it was my Instagram feed that was full of Oscar talk!

From Jean at extrapetite:

www.extrapetite.com

 

From Mary at The Classy Cubicle:

http://www.theclassycubicle.com/

 

I kept seeing these red packages from the different fashion bloggers I follow and it got me very curious about Banana Republic’s sudden aggressive outreach into the blogosphere.

Turns out, Banana Republic is hosting live Red Carpet coverage on their YouTube channel and these packages were sent out to drum up interest and send fashion lovers to their channel.   It’s definitely something very out of the ordinary for the brand.  I don’t remember the last time they inserted themselves so aggressively into popular culture.  It certainly is a very different approach to asserting their brand and their relevance into today’s fashion scene.

This all has me thinking… there are so many more communication mediums that are available to us today.  Marketing is about identifying your target and going where they are.  If they are on Twitter, you get on Twitter.  If they are on Facebook, you make sure you are active on Facebook.  And if they are going to be watching the Oscars on March 2nd…you make sure you are there with live Red Carpet coverage!

This certainly is another form of real time marketing! I’m excited to see Banana Republic try something different and I hope it pays off for them! I wouldn’t mind seeing what they do next!

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