Long Live the King: What We Learned About Digital Marketing and Content at SXSW

It’s been a hell of a ride here at SXSW 2017!

From seeing the always impressive Gary Vaynerchuk discussing entrepreneurship and social media changes, to Mark Cuban and tech execs discussing the government’s role in “disrupting disruption” (plus the occasional movie premier…here’s looking at you, As I Walk Through the Valley), it’s safe to say Cobalt’s very own Moe has soaked in more than enough to last until next year’s event.

But we know why you came here, so on to the good stuff…

There’s been a lot of talk here at SXSW ‘17 about the ever changing digital world and its effects on marketing. First and foremost, as per Moe’s “good friend” Gary V., it’s important to recognize that “the creative is still the variable of success.”

While there may be certain industry standards and tried-and-true methods to help you develop your marketing strategies, the truth is that every business still has the opportunity to tell their own unique story and develop their brand in a manner that separates them from the pack. Basically, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all system, and because of this, creativity is still key.

So where else should your focus be while digital marketing? Chew on this…

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Start with the fundamentals.

If you want to get from point A to point Success, you are going to have to understand your target audience. This means you have to know your business and be able to answer some very existential questions:

  • Why does it exist?
  • Why should anyone be interested in your product or service?
  • What are your business goals and how do you plan to actually get there? (Hopefully it’s not through a lot of luck.)
  • What are some things you’re not willing to compromise about your business and yourself as owner?

You’ll also want to keep a diligent eye on your data. This means tracking both qualitative and quantitative information for user engagement. Analytics will continue to play a vital role in digital marketing as it allows you to see what platforms your target market is using most and what is and isn’t working for you.

If you’re really on top of your game and effectively using that data, you’ll be able to see trends and better understand what type of engagement most resonates with your audience. Again, you have to be tracking this data effectively, but if you’re doing it right, it’ll pay off with a better idea of how to strategically have core-users interact with your brand.

Content—let it reign.

One of the main components of a solid marketing strategy is going to be site content. But it’s not enough to merely just type away and simply say a lot of amazing nothing, it’s important to have real conversations and interactions with your audience and consumers.

Don’t just talk to them, actually talk with them.

Quite a few industry leaders and forward thinkers kept bringing up the value of authenticity in content and marketing. If you really want to be the digital elephant in the room, make sure to have a real story to tell.

And let’s see who agrees…

“Mike McKenna and Jon Keegan discussed Keegan’s Blue Feed Red Feed project in the Wall Street Journal that revealed that your Facebook feed tends to reflect your political and social views, which can create “echo chambers” and confusion around real versus fake news. The key takeaway was that authentic information grounded in facts will always prevail and resonate with readers.”

– Alison Kwong, North America Public Relations Manager at “Which Truth Do You Like Best?”—The Dangers of Curated Content

“The panel focused on how brands can flourish in the sacred spaces of social feeds without annoying users or appearing inauthentic. Steve Patrizi of imgur said that for brands to succeed, they must understand the culture of each space and give more than they take in terms of value.”

– Kerry Brunelle, Social Media Strategist, at Shopping & Sacred Social Space

Wrapping it up.

 

Ultimately, social media is meant to work as an added value for your customers. Through social, you are able to provide meaningful information, knowledge, and expertise for your customers (plus the occasional funny and refreshing content).

Developing social media strategies can be a major process and take some time to “master,” but there are some essentials you should be aware of:

  • Just like content, your social media posts need to be authentic and engaging. They don’t always have to be product information or sales posts; sometimes your audience just wants a quick laugh or interesting blurb to engage with.
  • Posting frequently is going to be essential to stay relevant in the minds of your followers. By keeping your content fresh, followers are more likely to engage and connect with you. Today’s tech-driven world moves at an incredible pace, so today’s post needs to be relevant to today’s news.
  • Make things easier for yourself by using content scheduling software. MeetEdgar and Hootsuite are great platforms that can help you to manage your social media marketing in one place.

If you really want to get the inside scoop on everything Moe has been learning at SXSW ‘17, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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SXSW

“SXSW is considered to be the biggest and most diverse event focusing on the intersection of people and technology.” -Forbes

This quote captures the exact essence of why Mauricio Pina from the Cobalt Digital Marketing team has happily taken the journey up to Austin since 2007 to immerse himself in a world of digital creativity, technological evolution, and unforgettable industry experience

Where the Future is Being Discovered

Innovation isn’t just a new product. It’s a way of thinking and living. It’s an experience and it goes by the name of South By Southwest (SXSW). This is the place where discovery and inspiration create world-breaking digital trendsetters—this is why Cobalt attends the one-of-a-kind conference. We absorb each new technique and idea so that we can bring the innovation back to you. SXSW is where the future is being discovered and Cobalt makes sure they’re in the front seat for the ride.

Can’t Make It? We Got You!

We get it. You’re not able to make it because your business comes first. But that’s fine because Cobalt’s very own co-owner Mauricio will be making the 300-mile trek up to Austin for SXSW 2017—and he’ll be keeping you up-to-date every single day with the latest industry trends, SXSW news, ingenious digital marketing tips, and also posting the occasional selfie with a celebrity. Make sure to follow his every step via Cobalt’s Facebook, Twitter (@cobalt_digital), LinkedIn, and Instagram (cobaltdigitalmarketing) pages.

It’s All For You

There’s a simple reason why Cobalt Digital Marketing participates at SXSW—for you. By staying on the cutting edge of digital marketing and technology, we’re better able to support your vision and improve your chances for success. Attending SXSW helps to set us apart from all the other digital marketers, so you can set yourself apart from all your business competition. Quite simply—when we learn and grow, so do you!

Vote Cobalt Digital Marketing for Precedent

This election is finally coming to an end. But it seems like marketing on social media and presidential elections have only just begun.

“The First Digital Election” of 2012 definitely offered Americans a glimpse as to how influential real-time digital media could be, but very few of us were prepared for the dramatic 2016 presidential race that played out online, 24/7 365, over the past two years.

And while this rollercoaster winds down and America begins to find its equilibrium once again, it’s pretty safe to say that digital marketing will never be the same.

So what did we learn from 2016’s presidential election?

The social media marketing precedent.

An article by Entrepreneur found that Trump has more than 10 million Twitter followers, nearly 5 million Facebook friends, and over 2 million Instagram followers. In fact, the #trump tag has been used hundreds of thousands of times over the past 24 hours.

What social media marketing has offered to candidates is the ability to reach out to potential voters with a tailored message, rather than having to deliver a single pitch to a massive population of diverse individuals.

Facebook’s News Feed, for instance, is more likely to offer content to a user based on his or her previous likes, interests, and shares. Because preferences are highly affected by one’s political leanings, by extension, so is their news feed. This means users are more likely to find news about their presidential choice and thus be subtly influenced by constant reminders to vote for that individual.

Another interesting data point is Snapchat’s proliferation. Data from Public Opinion Strategies found that of U.S. smartphone owners between the ages of 18 to 34, more than 60% of them are using Snapchat. There’s also information that points to Snapchat reaching 41% of this same demographic on any given day.

An engaging Facebook post, or one enticing tweet with an attention grabbing hashtag, can now reach more people than a newspaper, radio, and television ad that could all potentially cost thousands of dollars. This is why it is exceedingly important to run an effective social media marketing campaign, as older methods just aren’t cutting it anymore. Not sure where to begin? Let the experts at Cobalt Digital Marketing get your business the publicity it needs to thrive.

If you’re not doing #socialmedia, you’re not doing #marketing right. Click To Tweet

SEO is the winning candidate.

This election, Google was one of the hidden battlegrounds for candidates. Voters flocked in droves to find information about their candidates, and SEO became an important, albeit hushed, element in the race.

Effective campaigns utilized SEO in a number of ways that included developing their online reputation and creating meaningful content needed to inform potential voters about the candidate’s position on vital topics.

Successful SEO techniques included:

  • Determining keywords related to issues that concerned the voting population.
  • Creating content that addressed search topics.
  • Developing an attractive website that was mobile friendly.
  • Link building between positive articles and the candidates.

SEO search data was significant factor for candidates, as it allowed them the ability to measure interest, on a state-to-state basis, and helped them to draw useful conclusions regarding topics and opportunities they could explore in order to boost their favorability.   

A state-by-state comparison of this data also provided campaigns an understanding of the vary sentiments amongst voters and thus whether or not to focus their attention on a given demographic or region (or what is known in business as Return on Investment).

At its basis, SEO helped the nominees to analyze and understand the voting population to a higher degree than seen before.  

Also, by including an attractive website in their political campaigns, both candidates were able to include additional information such as endorsements, that could help to persuade voters that their “product” was better. It also provided a platform for the nominees to share their ideas and thoughts about particular news in real time, thus improving their online presence.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Trump trumped Hilary in SEO.

According to SEO analysis done by SEMRush and Moze, Trump was searched over 7 million times each month over the last 12 months, with his organic search traffic reaching 1.5 million searches.

Had an ineffective SEO strategy been in place, many uninformed voters may not have found the information needed to sway them towards voting.  

Let’s talk about emails. (And no, not Hillary’s.)

Email marketing was critical in the 2016 presidential elections and all candidates implemented some sort of email strategy because of it’s cost-effectiveness, non-invasiveness, and ability to quickly reach the masses. Whereas television and radio ads are directed to a general population, emails offer a target audience the ability to opt in or out, meaning a potential “customer” only gets what they ask for.

Hillary Clinton averaged about 6 emails weekly, while Trump sent out approximately 3 per week. Importantly, email campaigns included very clear calls to action, whether to donate, attend a rally, register to vote, or a reminder to vote.

Clinton sent avg 6 emails/wk and Trump sent avg 3/wk. #emailmarketing #election2016 Click To Tweet

Additionally, images are often utilized in email marketing campaigns as they add aesthetic value to the message and help to create brand recognition.

Running a well oiled marketing machine.

An intelligent marketing scheme starts with research. By mapping out demographics and supporters by state, as well as the percentage of active voters, your marketing ploy can create an awareness in a market that has yet to be touched.

By understanding which states support a prospective candidate, which states have the most potential support, which states show the least support, and which states have swing voters, a campaign can then begin targeting their message for the varying populations.

Aside from merely grabbing the attention of potential voters, it is the candidate’s (i.e. company’s) responsibility to turn that into action (i.e. sale). This is when the real fun starts – on the campaign trail.

Let Cobalt Digital Marketing be your campaign manager on the road to success.

The truth of the matter is that tech-savvy generations are coming of age and are the new consumers. Consider, for instance, that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg claimed that Facebook helped more than 2 million people register to vote, last month alone.

#Facebook helped over 2mil people register to #vote. #election2016 Click To Tweet

This number is testimony to the power of social media marketing and digital marketing. Now, because of the internet and mobile devices, people are connected online in basically every corner of the world. Failing to reach out to these voters means your competition is doing so.

Don’t get left behind. Let Cobalt Digital Marketing help to maximize your online brand by building your website, developing content, driving traffic and optimizing your social media presence, all to ultimately generate sales.

With this year’s voter turnout set to break records, we think it’s safe to say digital marketing is worth your time.

Big Brother Is Watching…Oh…Never mind…It’s Just Twitter

Twitter “officially” opens its data platform, Gnip, so brands can get analytics on demographics and interest data about those who visit their sites or view their tweets. 

No…it’s not “Big Brother” that’s keeping a tab on all of your Twitter activities.  The social media platform just recognized how valuable their data can be for businesses (shocker).

So of course Twitter does have quite a bit of information about us stockpiled in their databases, but we’re talking some basic stuff here.  Gender, language, the type of music you like, what major city you’re in, cell service provider, you first crush, first kiss, when the last time you went to the bathroom was (guess which of those aren’t really being tracked).  Now, through Twitter’s Audience API system, brands can have easier access to that wealth of information.

As for now, Twitter isn’t expanding to any new interest data types that weren’t already a part of the API beta period.  The data points brands will be able to analyze will likely be:

Location: This analytic will allow brands an opportunity to figure out where their audiences are on the globe.  From what country that person resides, all the way down to what specific market area they live.  This information is garnered from Twitter’s ability to locate an individual through a web IP address, GPS signal, Wi-Fi signal, and location (if attached) to a person’s tweets.  By knowing their geographic market area, companies can invest resources strategically and offer specialty items dependent on the area’s needs.

Language:  Filtered from someone’s Twitter language setting and the actual language they write in when tweeting, this data point breaks down what percentages of their audience speaks a certain language.  Look for brands to utilize this to promote their products appropriately, rather than a hit-or-miss system.

Gender:  Gnip will provide interested brands with information about a market’s female and male percentages.  Though definitely not a bullet-proof scheme, Twitter currently assumes gender based on profile names, the accounts they follow, and then do some cross-referencing analysis.  Again, not anything groundbreaking, but such data can be optimized for sales and marketing.

Interests: Whenever you decide to follow a specific company or your favorite band, or ‘like’ every @cobal_digital tweet, then Twitter will begin to group you into defined bands dependent on those likes.  So you might fall under an audience of sports, music, and My Little Pony, and then under a sub-category of basketball and Bronies (yes we know you’re out there).  Naturally, if a company – let’s say like Nike – has you in their scopes because of this data, then they can target ads and offerings more effectively.

TV:  Again, not a completely accurate representation of the various genre-specific demographics, but Twitter is offering brands an estimate based on tweets, who people are following, and what tweets are receiving attention.  No news is…well…bad news.  Brands will definitely seek to enhance their TV presence with this info.

Now to answer the question that’s probably on your mind.

No, Twitter is not giving out specific information about individuals, such as Edward Sanchez and the fact he still sleeps with a night light (not true).  Anonymity is the key word, and data will be aggregated into groups of at least 500 accounts.  And the reality is that this information is only useful when it takes into account a large population.

But when it does make sense to interpret this information, brands will be able to get a better understanding of their market and make adjustments to their approach.

Though the API system as been available since October 2015, it’s current incarnation is easier to use.  Information can be pulled about anyone, so long as they follow a specific Twitter account, signed up for newsletters, or visited a site.

Data can also be drawn from those who already on a given brand’s customer database.  This provides for some very in-depth analysis.  Brands will be able to create various bands of audience segments without having IDs, as well as draw data from anyone who was shown an unpaid tweet within the past 90 days, or whoever engaged with a brand’s tweet by clicking on it, liking it, or retweeting it.

It’s definitely going to take some meaningful analysis for brands to fully benefit from Twitter’s Audience API system, but in today’s fast paced world, that egg will be cracked relatively soon.

And if you want to be one of these organizations on the cutting-edge of social media, tech, and marketing, then look no further than Cobalt Digital.  We stay on top of the ever changing landscape and thrive on facing new environments.

Follow us on Twitter @cobalt_digital to stay up on the latest news.

Marketing & Snapchat: 5 Ways Your Business Can Use the App to Your Benefit

Whether you consider yourself a frequent user or not, there’s no denying that Snapchat has become extremely popular.

What started with simple time-limited photos, and silly ways to make your work day go by quicker has now transformed into so much more. From the puppy dog filter we’re all so fond of, to their endless partnerships with brands worldwide, it’s time we shift our attention towards the impact this app could have on your business.

If you’re currently in the startup phase or you’ve been around for a few years, you know that right now social media is your best friend when it comes to spreading the word about your business. At Cobalt Digital Marketing, we’re all about keeping our clients one step ahead of the curve. Whether you use Snapchat for personal reasons or you have yet to become a convert, we’d like to point out a few reasons why incorporating the app into your social media strategy could benefit your business.

  1. Go live!

In addition to being one of the most entertaining ways to pass time, Snapchat is also one of your most powerful assets as a business owner.

Whether you’re gearing up for a major product launch or hosting an awesome event, you want your business to be noticed.

Through the use of Snapchat, you can go live and share the happenings of your business with all of your followers.

With a few simple videos, your followers will become engaged and want to know more about exactly what you’ve got hidden up your sleeve. More than anything, sharing insights about your business this way will show your followers that you’re authentic—and trust us, that’ll make all the difference in your success.

  1. Be exclusive

Let’s say you’re already using Facebook and Twitter. There’s a high possibility you use these platforms to engage with your audience and keep them updated about what’s going on in your world. But, what if you could take things one step further?

Think exclusivity. In order to build your following further, why not share Snapchat specific action? Surprise your followers and expand your reach by using the app to provide them with behind-the-scenes action they can’t get from any other platform. Don’t be surprised if you notice a spike in your following.

  1. Offer perks and promotions

In the world of social media, there’s nothing people love more than contests and giveaways. From Instagram to Facebook, this marketing strategy has spread like wildfire.

Take your business to the next level and start applying this little strategy to your Snapchat account as well. Through fun, spirited videos, you have the option of offering exclusive promo codes and discounts to your followers. If you’re feeling creative, you can encourage your followers to upload a video to their Snapchat ‘story’ that references your product/business in exchange for a cool perk. You’ll be increasing your following and engaging with them simultaneously.

  1. Get personal

The marketing strategies that resonate most with today’s world need a personal edge. Luckily, Snapchat is the perfect tool that has the potential to give you just that. Rather than simply focusing on business related matters, use the app to show your audience you have personality. .

Cover office birthday parties, regular days at the office or any company outings! In doing so, you’ll show your followers the heart and spirit behind your business that will captivate them in more ways than one.

  1. Partner with influencers

Although social media stars may seem a little out of reach, Snapchat can help bridge the gap between you and them. Whether you want to target influencers in your niche or local social media stars, these individuals have immense potential to be game changers in your business.

Partner with them for certain promotions by doing a Snapchat “takeover” where they would be in charge of generating content for your handle for a designated period of time. Be prepared to see your following soar!

Now is the time to stop using Snapchat to send humiliating photos of yourself to your friends and start using it for the benefit of your business. At Cobalt Digital Marketing, we are firm believers in the power of social media. Chat with one of our social media catalysts today at 866-224-5705 to see how you can up your Snapchat game and start building an audience who’s excited about your business.