The New Normal

Here we are, nearing five months into self-quarantine, and my apartment has never felt so small!

Living and working in the one-bedroom apartment that I share with my partner, Brian, and our two cats, Rosie and Milo, has definitely meant making some adjustments. Now more than ever, defining a work/life balance is key. Keeping focused work hours, minimizing distractions, and constant communication with the Lages team are all factors that have kept me on track and sane during this time.

The Adventure Begins

At the beginning of this work from home adventure, I was worried I would fall behind on some of my routines. Thankfully, I have two furry alarm clocks who help me keep on schedule! Rosie and Milo make sure that, even though my commute has gone from a one-hour drive to a mere 15 steps, I’m still maintaining their 6:00 a.m. feeding schedule as if it were business as usual.

The thing my cats love to do best is trying to keep me from working. They will climb on my desk and sit on my arms as I type. Rosie and Milo are almost honorary Lages team members, with how often they sneak into my video calls!

It’s The Little Things

Despite some uncertainty, most things remain the same. I still change out the color of the sticky notes I use every month, I still get to chat with my coworkers while sipping my coffee (thanks Microsoft Teams!), and my office plants are now bringing me joy at home. Lunch breaks have become simpler with easy access to my kitchen, and I’ve found myself cooking more meals and experimenting with ingredients I’ve never used before. Did anyone else try to keep a sourdough starter at the beginning of quarantine? Mine is now sadly sitting in the back of my fridge … baking bread in an apartment with no A/C in the kitchen is a no go in the summer. My new normal also includes Brian becoming my “new co-worker”, so to speak. In a small space like ours, we’re both sharing what we like to call our office… even though it’s just a small corner in our living room. Trying to coordinate staff meetings, various work calls, and different starting schedules has been a unique challenge. Thankfully, we can now call ourselves #WFH Pros. Brian has even made some cameo’s in the background of our Monday afternoon Lages staff meetings (as I have in his!).

The New Normal

Having been well over 4 months into self-quarantine, I’ve gone through the more difficult parts of transitioning to #WFH. I remind myself of these silver linings – I’m so grateful to have the privilege to work from home, that my Lages family is supportive and caring, and that my family and friends are safe and healthy. Most of all, I’m thankful for and so proud of my dad, who works in healthcare, and is on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, let’s take a moment to relax, to thank our essential workers, to wash our hands and wear our masks, and to count our blessings. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that we will come out of this pandemic stronger and more resilient from working together.

How a New Media Model Puts You in the Driver’s Seat

We all love getting positive media coverage. It gives us a credible ‘thumbs-up’ and gets the word out about what we have to offer and how we make life better for our target audience.

But today, the breadth of publications has lessened as the publishing world continues to be transformed by the digital revolution. So – how do you get your message out when you can’t get as much traction in earned media as you would like?

Simple: Pay to play.

Sponsored editorial content looks like earned media from a journalist, but has the distinct advantage of being controllable. Yep, you control the story and your message comes out exactly the way you want it.

Sponsored Media – the Backstory

Sponsored media is a growing and thriving category that merits a role in PR and marketing programs. Of course, earned media is the gold standard for any PR program, but sponsored media can round out the program and fill gaps with controlled messaging and timing.

A spinoff of advertorials, which are special paid articles inserted with care into traditional media publications, including everything from Bloomberg Businessweek to trades such as Electronic Design. These publications label the articles as advertorials or brand content and typically present them in a different layout so they are not mistaken as earned media. The goal is to protect the integrity of the publication and provide transparency while allowing the sponsor to get their message out to readers.

Fast forward to today, and we see a new breed of communication: sponsored media properties. In stark contrast to advertorials, sponsored media makes no apologies for the pay-to-play business model and operates as a vehicle to level the playing field – giving companies of all sizes and stature a platform to tell their story.

Fuel for your Content Marketing Engine

As with all media, some are better than others, but there is no denying the value that sponsored media properties offer. The top echelon has reach strategies built into to their offerings to ensure your article gets exposed to key audiences. Others simply provide a platform that appears to be editorial, but the heavy lifting of pushing out your article to target audiences is on your plate. That’s not all bad when you consider most companies have a content marketing machine that’s focused on nurturing prospects and leads with valuable content.

But how do you find these new mavericks of the media trade? Well, that is a bit tricky. Today most of these media properties reach out directly to companies that come into their view through news releases and other means. Here at Lages, we’ve taken on the task to capture these media properties and have compiled a list.

So why not take a test drive?  Remember, you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to sponsored media!

Dancing in the Rain

No doubt these are unusual times. My natural life rhythm has been hijacked by a pandemic.

While I cannot ignore the enormity of this crisis and can’t help but be saddened by the toll it is taking, I have come to appreciate some of the good things that come from everyone being in the same boat.

Getting to Know You

I love getting to know our team and clients on a deeper level, and nothing helps that along better than everyone working from home. Somehow, all of the formalities of the business world seem to melt away. There was the day I was having a one-to-one Zoom video meeting with the president of one of our clients. While discussing some of the pressing items at hand, I had to pause and giggle as a cat tail appeared before his face. Ha! Yes, he has cats and the cats love him. Then there are the shared stories about family, pets and their habits, the apologies for children – singing, barging in, photo bombing Zoom, and always asking about food. There is the chiming of a grandfather clock, the consistent …hello, are you there as we sync up our voice connection, barking dogs, beeping devices, and all those things that shout ‘we are in a new normal!’

I do love our Monday team meetings. We all Zoom together and I get a kick out of seeing all of us stacked up on the monitor just like opening scene from the Brady Bunch! We are family…that is for sure!

Pivot – Time to go WFH

While working at home remotely is nothing new for me, I have relied upon my brick and mortar team to be my rock. Now, we are all in the same boat and learning to swim with the challenges of a totally online world. I am completely in awe of our team… they have made the remote adjustment with little trepidation. Our awesome IT consultant made sure we didn’t skip a beat. You just never completely know how good everyone is until the unknown happens.

Let’s Dance

Well – we are 30 plus days into our new virtual reality and all is well. I am grateful for my team, our clients, our supporters, our families and our good fortune to be well. Let’s see… I think I’ve got this. I can dance in the rain!

Is CES Haunting You?

On the list of things that have the potential to frighten, CES – the biggest consumer tech tradeshow of the year – can rank right up there with the latest episode of American Horror Story for those of us in tech circles.

If the mere thought of Las Vegas in January makes your heart race and palms sweat, we’re here to put your fears to rest. You need an exceptional PR and marketing partner to guide you through CES, and we’re it. #TeamLages has been there and done that – over and over again. We have a full spectrum of tech experience working alongside everyone from startups to billion dollar enterprises. Our years of experience will get you the media attention and analyst connections you are looking for.

You have 82 days (and counting) to prepare – let’s get started, shall we?

Here is the recipe for CES success:

First things first. What do you need help with at CES – how are you going to start building a buzz? Here’s a list to help you start brainstorming.

  • Product Launches
  • News Announcements
  • Messaging
  • Social Content
  • Pre-show Promotion
  • Awards
  • Media/Analyst Appointments
  • Show Coverage
  • Insider Suite Demos
  • Influencer relations
  • Campaign themes

No matter what program components you select above – they need to be compelling and resonate with your intended audience. We want CES buzz to grow into coverage and meaningful relationships with media and analysts. Think CNET, Gartner, The Wall Street Journal, Frost & Sullivan, Anandtech, TWICE, Tom’s Hardware, Forrester, Digital Trends, and more – it’s critical to get in touch with media and analysts well before the show and also beat holiday vacations/shut downs.

Get a Move on in November:

  • Time is of the essence: Ideally, messaging and assets (photos, videos, collateral, etc) should be completed before the Thanksgiving holiday. This will allow you to finalize your show strategy, begin outreach to media, draft your news release and package materials that tell your story.
  • Media outreach should start this month – the earlier the better. It’s best to pulse media and analysts from your customized database and find out who is attending and get on their radar. Keep an eye out for the CES pre-registered press list as well – to identify contacts that are relevant to your market, product, etc.
  • Do you have a show floor presence? Not every company does – and not every company needs one. Consider affordable media events (approximately $6-12K) such as Digital Experience and ShowStoppers instead. These events are media receptions that enable exhibiting companies to directly meet with more than hundreds of pre-qualified journalists, analysts and key industry influencers.
  • Are you interested in awards? Many have deadlines from now until early December – i.e. CES Last Gadget Standing, CE Pro’s CTA Mark of Excellence Awards, Women in Consumer Technology Legacy Awards, etc.
  • On-stage or live interview opportunities are also booking this month. If you’re interested in presenting your product, it’s time to pitch these and try to secure an interview spot – i.e. CESTV, TWiT.TV, Tech Talk with Craig Peterson, etc.
  • Have you decided on your premium items or giveaways? (i.e. bouncy balls, notepads, bags) – You’ll need these in hand before the show, so make sure you have enough time to order them.

December is crunch time:

  • By now, your news release should be finalized – and you’re deciding on a date during the week of CES to issue it over the wire. This is also an ideal time to offer up advance copies of your news release, so that media can plan their stories. It’s also key to offer an online press kit – we recommend a Dropbox – with the news release, photos, videos, fact sheets, FAQs, etc.
  • It’s time to get on media and analyst’s calendars. Outreach began in November, but now it’s critical to get on their schedules and book appointments. Make it easy for them to know where you are – give the building/hotel you’re in, the hall location and booth number. If you’re at a media event, expect media and analysts to stop-by your table (after all, your outreach let them know where to find you). You’re on their radar, and both ShowStoppers and Digital Experience provide ample time for them to swing by to learn more.
  • Finalize your schedule! It’s time to gather all the media and analysts that expressed interest in one place. A meeting schedule compiling day-by-day booth appointments, stop-bys, interview locations, etc. is helpful to keep your spokesperson(s) on schedule and in the loop. For appointments, creating background documents that include relevant details, recent articles, analyst reports, etc. can make all the difference in building a good relationship face-to-face at the show. It’s best to review this for each media or analyst prior to your meetings.

January – here we go!

It’s time to make a splash! You’re welcoming the New Year and CES: The show is January 7 – 10, 2020.

  • Your news release is crossing the week of CES – and it’s critical to follow-up with all of the media and analysts who expressed an interest in your news. It’s best to send over a brief note with the link to the news release – and if they’ve booked an appointment, reiterate the meeting details (date, location, time), give your cell phone number just in case they need to connect, are running late, etc.
  • Messaging is key: For those staffing your media event table, hotel suite or show floor booth – run through key messages, master your elevator pitch, review materials, and don’t forget to snag contact information for those you interact with (especially media and analysts).
  • Post-event outreach is a must. CES is massive, so if someone misses an appointment – that’s okay. You got them on the hook and sent them your online press kit, so after the show is over – it’s prime time for post-event follow-up. That also goes for those you met with during CES. Following up with a thank you, items they asked for during an interview, and/or checking in to connect later that month are tactful ways to close the loop on these interactions.

Take a deep breath. Relax. You’ve got this – and help is just an email away. Send us a message to learn more about how we can assist: beverly@lages.com.

Video Marketing – Tips for a Solid Video Plan

My son is an aspiring baseball player. If you’re familiar with the game of baseball you know it’s a very cerebral game. In the batter’s box every movement must come together perfectly – from the way the bat is held, to the twist of the wrist as the swing is moving through, to the precise movement of the hips and legs to get power in the swing. The baseball swing is a symphony of movement that crescendos precisely as the ball meets the bat. But this is just one aspect of a very difficult game.

How do these young players gain an edge? Of course, lots of practice and money tossed at batting, fielding, pitching, and even running coaches. We’ve been to several coaches that have helped my son over the years. And, each one has their own set of tools they use to help young players. But over the years I’ve found the coaches that use this one tool to be the most effective.

Can you guess what it is? If you said video, then you’re right!

According to Curata, two of the three most effective types of video are tutorial videos (50%) and demonstration videos (49%).

If you consider this along with the overwhelming number of stats that show the value of video marketing, then you may be able to convince your company to embrace video as a means for communicating with your target audiences.

In my last blog on this subject, we explored how important video marketing is. And I’d be willing to bet that video marketing is one the of first forms of communication that most companies ignore due to fears over costs, content and bandwidth.

Fear no more! You CAN take advantage of the many benefits of video marketing and here’s how to get started:

  • Your partner makes the difference – Find a partner that understands your video marketing goals and shares the same views for how to get there. Part of this discussion early on is budget. Look at their sample videos and understand the costs of the videos they’ve produced that you like.
  • Less is more – Keep your videos under two minutes as visitors lose interest beyond the two-minute mark.
  • Visuals help tell the story – Work with a production company that is skilled in motion graphics. Videos give you the opportunity to take your message to the next level. Imagine a simple infographic brought to life in an educational video.
  • Keep it authentic – An over-produced video may send the wrong the message. Authentic videos featuring employees vs. paid actors, shot in your office vs. a studio may help the viewer to ‘connect’ on a personal level with your company. And it cuts costs dramatically.
  • Demo, Training, How-to videos are very powerful – We’ve already explored the importance of tutorial and demo videos. Keep this in mind when you want to show the ease with which your product can be installed or used.
  • Keep it simple – Enlist your marketing team to create a script that is easy to bring to life in video. Whether it’s a talking head video or a video completely done in motion graphics – having a clear plan in place before starting the process ensures success.
  • Give it some marketing muscle – Be sure to put a solid marketing plan in place to drive viewers to the video. Ensure that you’re pushing the video to target audiences via your website, social media, email marketing, and advertising.

Give it a try. Have some fun with video and weave it into your marketing program.

Let us know if you’ve had success with video marketing. We’d love to hear the challenges you overcame and how your videos were received by your customers and partners.

How Does Your PR Program Measure Up?

It’s a question we get asked pretty much every time we develop a PR program: “…but how will we know it’s working?” And, fair enough – the resources put into PR and marketing efforts can be considerable, both from time spent and a financial standpoint. Data collection and interpretation are playing a huge role in every aspect of business, and the PR profession is not immune. After all, what gets measured gets improved.

But can goodwill towards your brand be quantified?

I hate to answer a question with a question, but in this case it must done: what, exactly, are you hoping to achieve? A startup looking to enter a crowded field will measure success differently than an established player that aims to enhance its reputation and good standing within its market. Where are you now – and where do you want to go?

One note here: Sales and conversions are easy to measure – but sales are the domain of your sales team. Think of a well-balanced PR and marcom program as being the ideal complement to your sales process – an enhancement of your efforts that can (and should!) be leveraged to boost the bottom line.

Now, let’s get to the answers:

There are a number of measurement techniques that can be used to assess the success of your PR program. It’s our job to develop a measurement process that specifically collects and reports on the metrics that are most important to each individual client. Below are a few of the metrics that can be considered:

  • Deliverables: These are tangible items and services provided, including news releases, message counsel, media intelligence, and content development
  • Media Placements: Coverage and posts
  • Influencer Relationships: New relationships cultivated
  • Impressions: Impressions as measured by the reach of news releases issued over a wire service
  • Website Traffic: Referral traffic in Google Analytics
  • Digital Reach: The digital reach of secured online article placements (aggregated unique visitors per month)
  • Share of Voice: Benchmark coverage by topic, competitor or other category
  • Sentiment: Treatment of a story (positive, negative, neutral)
  • Social Reach/Shares: Likes, followers, shares, mentions, re-tweets
  • Video Reach: Views or shares on video content

The data generated via your chosen metrics needs to be gathered – there are several tools and dashboards out there that can help you do exactly this, Google Analytics being a popular one. How you use this data is extremely important, as within the data lies the map that will help you (and your PR firm) make the necessary tweaks that will guide your program forward for optimal impact.

By no means is this meant to be an exhaustive list. Rather, the metrics above are a starting point for building a process to assess the progress of your program. Moreover, you’ll now be able to make adjustments and refine your course for greater results.

To Shoot or Not to Shoot? Why Video Belongs in your Marketing Mix

It’s a standard question we ask every new client: “Do you have any videos we can use?”

Surprisingly, the majority of our clients answer no. Why when video is so pervasive? Whether it’s a quick, 30-second video of a pair of shoes we’re tempted to buy or a video of our favorite professional athlete hitting a walk-off home run – it’s a fact that video touches us all on a daily basis.

What keeps you from adding video to your marketing mix? Likely the answer is time and budget. In fact, according to Buffer 73% of marketers said they’d create more video content if there were no obstacles like time, resources and budget. And, if it’s not time and budget then the other answer may be, “We’re too technical for video.”

Well, time and budget may continue to be an issue…but let’s explore “too technical” and why this should come off of your list of reasons NOT to shoot videos.

First, let’s start with a few stats that might help push the needle in favor of video marketing: 80% of users can recall a video ad they viewed in the last 30 days. And, before reading any text, 60% of site visitors will watch a video if one is available.

Buffer shares other video marketing stats here:

strat-lages-&-associatiates-inc

With these stats in mind, it makes sense to rethink video.

But, you may be feeling like your company isn’t right for video. Think again. Every company has a target audience with individual decision makers that digest content in different ways. Some rely on news feeds, some on white papers and others on various forms of online content. This fact is why marketers communicate in a variety of ways.

Video is a very compelling marketing tool as it is easily consumed in bite-sized chunks. And, even the most technical of stories can be told via video. The key is to understand your audience and what they need to make a buy decision. Ask yourself, “What are my sales prospects searching for online?” Almost any way you answer this question can be wrapped up with a bow and delivered via video.

It may be that your prospects are looking for:

  • Benefits videos on your new product
  • Motion graphics videos that highlight key applications
  • CEO providing the company vision
  • Training or demo videos
  • Tutorials in an explainer format
  • Lifestyle videos showing your product in action

You name it – there are endless opportunities for video content in your marketing mix. So, set aside the skepticism about your company message, and whether it’s good for video, and pencil some ideas for your video marketing strategy.

Don’t Get Spooked by CES

On the list of things that have the potential to frighten, CES – the biggest consumer tech tradeshow of the year – can rank right up there with the latest episode of American Horror Story for those of us in tech circles.

If the mere thought of Las Vegas in January makes your heart race and palms sweat, we’re here to put your fears to rest. You need an exceptional PR and marketing partner to guide you through CES, and we’re it. #TeamLages has been there and done that – over and over again. We have a full spectrum of tech experience working alongside everyone from startups to billion dollar enterprises. Our years of experience will get you the media attention and analyst connections you are looking for.

You have 74 days (and counting) to prepare – let’s get started, shall we?

Here is the recipe for CES success:

First things first. What do you need help with at CES – how are you going to start building a buzz? Here’s a list to help you start brainstorming.

  • Product Launches
  • News Announcements
  • Messaging
  • Social Content
  • Pre-show Promotion
  • Awards
  • Media/Analyst Appointments
  • Show Coverage
  • Insider Suite Demos
  • Influencer relations
  • Campaign themes

No matter what program components you select above – they need to be compelling and resonate with your intended audience. We want CES buzz to grow into coverage and meaningful relationships with media and analysts. Think CNET, Gartner, The Wall Street Journal, Frost & Sullivan, Anandtech, TWICE, Tom’s Hardware, Forrester, Digital Trends, and more – it’s critical to get in touch with media and analysts well before the show and also beat holiday vacations/shut downs.

Get a Move on in November:

  • Time is of the essence: Ideally, messaging and assets (photos, videos, collateral, etc) should be completed before the Thanksgiving holiday. This will allow you to finalize your show strategy, begin outreach to media, draft your news release and package materials that tell your story.
  • Media outreach should start this month – the earlier the better. It’s best to pulse media and analysts from your customized database and find out who is attending and get on their radar. Keep an eye out for the CES pre-registered press list as well – to identify contacts that are relevant to your market, product, etc.
  • Do you have a show floor presence? Not every company does – and not every company needs one. Consider affordable media events (approximately $6-12K) such as Digital Experience and ShowStoppers instead. These events are media receptions that enable exhibiting companies to directly meet with more than hundreds of pre-qualified journalists, analysts and key industry influencers.
  • Are you interested in awards? Many have deadlines this month and early in December – i.e. CES Last Gadget Standing, Engadget’s Best of CES Awards, Videomaker’s Best of CES, TWICE Picks Awards, CE Pro’s CTA Mark of Excellence Awards, etc.
  • On-stage or live interview opportunities are also booking this month. If you’re interested in presenting your product, it’s time to pitch these and try to secure an interview spot – i.e. BeTerrific!, CESTV, TWiT.TV, Tech Talk with Craig Peterson, etc.
  • Have you decided on your premium items or giveaways? (i.e. bouncy balls, notepads, bags) – You’ll need these in hand before the show, so make sure you have enough time to order them.

December is crunch time:

  • By now, your news release should be finalized – and you’re deciding on a date during the week of CES to issue it over the wire. This is also an ideal time to offer up advance copies of your news release, so that media can plan their stories. It’s also key to offer an online press kit – we recommend a Dropbox – with the news release, photos, videos, fact sheets, FAQs, etc.
  • It’s time to get on media and analyst’s calendars. Outreach began in November, but now it’s critical to get on their schedules and book appointments. Make it easy for them to know where you are – give the building/hotel you’re in, the hall location and booth number. If you’re at a media event, expect media and analysts to stop-by your table (after all, your outreach let them know where to find you). You’re on their radar, and both ShowStoppers and Digital Experience provide ample time for them to swing by to learn more.
  • Finalize your schedule! It’s time to gather all the media and analysts that expressed interest in one place. A meeting schedule compiling day-by-day booth appointments, stop-bys, interview locations, etc. is helpful to keep your spokesperson(s) on schedule and in the loop. For appointments, creating background documents that include relevant details, recent articles, analyst reports, etc. can make all the difference in building a good relationship face-to-face at the show. It’s best to review this for each media or analyst prior to your meetings.

January – here we go!

It’s time to make a splash! You’re welcoming the New Year and CES: The show is January 8 – 11, 2019.

  • Your news release is crossing the week of CES – and it’s critical to follow-up with all of the media and analysts who expressed an interest in your news. It’s best to send over a brief note with the link to the news release – and if they’ve booked an appointment, reiterate the meeting details (date, location, time), give your cell phone number just in case they need to connect, are running late, etc.
  • Messaging is key: For those staffing your media event table, hotel suite or show floor booth – run through key messages, master your elevator pitch, review materials, and don’t forget to snag contact information for those you interact with (especially media and analysts).
  • Post-event outreach is a must. CES is massive, so if someone misses an appointment – that’s okay. You got them on the hook and sent them your online press kit, so after the show is over – it’s prime time for post-event follow-up. That also goes for those you met with during CES. Following up with a thank you, items they asked for during an interview, and/or checking in to connect later that month are tactful ways to close the loop on these interactions.

Take a deep breath. Relax. You’ve got this – and help is just an email away. Send us a message to learn more about how we can help: beverly@lages.com.

Presentations that Knock it Out of the Park Have This One Thing in Common

It’s a simple truth: presentations are always about sales. Whether selling the potential of your company to get funding, selling a product, or selling a new approach and educating to enlist supporters – the list goes on. If you’re giving a presentation, you’re selling something. In fact, I’m confident that you’d be hard pressed to think of a situation where you’d give a presentation and not be selling something.

When it comes to sales, you have to put things in context. Just providing the facts and allowing your audience to interpret them as they will is equivalent to giving someone a dictionary citation and expecting them to immediately see how it would translate into a top-selling novel. The narrative is the context – this is where you connect the dots and show them the path to success. Naturally, all dots lead to your company, your product, your value proposition, your vision – you get my point. Context counts.

Building a Presentation

No doubt if you’re in marketing, sales or the executive suite – you’ve certainly created and delivered your fair share of presentations. While they are an essential element of sharing your story and inciting action, all too often presentations are crafted as a matter of routine, where facts, stats, charts and diagrams are rounded up.

Presentations provide us with amazing opportunities to build a dialogue and gain brand traction. Delivering a presentation gives us a live audience and the perfect opportunity to ‘wow’ in person and make eye contact. This is the ideal stage to set your message and your value apart from everything else and leave a lasting impression.

So where to begin? The first step is to create a narrative. Yep – a story. One that needs to be told and captures the attention of your audience. Every story starts out with a title that teases the reader, piques their attention and gives them pause. They have to want to turn the page. In presentation terms, we call this a theme. Themes center on tipping points, change, opportunities, shifts – basically, a market driver. They are not built around your product, your team, your size, or your investors, but rather something bigger. Your theme is the binding fabric of your narrative. With this in place, weave in your proof points and you’ve got a presentation with staying power.

How to Build a Narrative

  1. Look outside. We all have a natural propensity to look inside our own walls when it comes to building a story.  But what grabs attention is what’s outside your walls. Think about trends, what problems you solve, why your company exists, who you serve and why.
  2. Be relatable. Pieces of your narrative should sound familiar and have your audience nodding in agreement. They are there in the moment with you. Tackling issues, seeking solutions – you are building kinship. It’s what we call a human connection.
  3. Epiphany. Weave in the ‘aha’ factor. That turning point when the clouds break, the sun shines through and the answer is clear. That answer, of course, is what you are selling.

Sounds simple, right?  It really is when you change up your approach to be guided by a narrative.  Stories give context, personality and a shared purpose that can move the needle.

5 Tips for a Better Social Strategy – #HashtagsForTheWin!

An often overlooked but important element of social media marketing is the use of hashtags. However, randomly inserting them without a purpose won’t help your business – at best it is distracting and at worst it may cause confusion. In order to really benefit your brand, hashtags need to be used with a solid strategy in mind.What are hashtags and what can they do for you?

What are hashtags and what can they do for you?

As Hootsuite puts it, “the hashtag is likely the most popular means of categorizing content on social media.” They can:

  • Allow your content to be discoverable
  • Help you identify, and be part of, relevant content and conversations
  • Enable you to engage with others based on a certain theme or common interest
  • Be a tool for you to monitor your brand or competitors
  • Ensure that your content reaches a much wider audience

Below are five tips on optimizing your posts by using hashtags. Read on!

  1. Pick your hashtags wisely: Do your homework, be familiar with what is out there in terms of popular and trending hashtags, and explore what hashtags your competitors use. Keep them short, memorable and avoid overcomplicating them. If it makes your audience work harder than needed, chances are you will not help your cause.
  2. Choose quality over quantity: Hashtags provide an added angle to a larger conversation; if your post does not add substance to a wider conversation, consider skipping them. Even if you can use many hashtags, it does not necessarily mean that you should.
  3. Use a mixture of hashtags: Brand hashtags are created by businesses. They should be specific enough to your own brand and not easily confused with others. In the case of Nike, for example, the hashtag they use (#JustDoIt) is also their tagline. General hashtags, on the other hand, can be about your industry (#technology), a trade show (#CES), a trend (#GDPR), or the like. Focus on choosing relevant ones that position you as a thought leader or as a valuable participant in the right conversations. To make the most of your efforts, use a mixture of both kinds.
  4. Tailor your hashtags to the appropriate platform: While LinkedIn’s recent introduction of hashtags offers an added value to posts, the platform is not the place to overindulge in hashtag usage. Instagram, on the other hand, is a hashtagger’s paradise. Know how to use hashtags appropriately on the different platforms.
  5. Don’t bank on the negative or scandalous: Very few businesses can deal with negative news such as natural disasters, scandals or tragic events respectfully and appropriately. Steer clear of any negative current event as it can cause damage to your brand if you are seen as trying to bank on a sensitive issue in an insensitive way.

#FoodForThought

Using #hashtags is a great way to expand your brand’s reach and engagement. We hope you found these tips useful. Remember, #TheWorldIsYourOyster, so get out there and start experimenting with #NewBeginnings!