Visual Marketing – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:12:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 How to Get Started with Video Content Marketing (Without a Blockbuster Budget) http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/get-started-video-content/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/get-started-video-content/#comments Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:30:26 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22751 Back in my day, all online content was text-based. If you had two animated .GIFs on a website, you had to wait 30 seconds for the site to load. Four .jpgs on a site would crash your browser. We were grateful when posts were just words! We didn’t whine about “visual stimulation” or “content variety” [...]

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Back in my day, all online content was text-based. If you had two animated .GIFs on a website, you had to wait 30 seconds for the site to load. Four .jpgs on a site would crash your browser. We were grateful when posts were just words! We didn’t whine about “visual stimulation” or “content variety” back then, let me tell you.

Of course, we also dressed like this:

So maybe we didn’t get everything right. For better or for worse, the early days of the Internet are long gone, and modern consumers want video content. Over half of all people online watch videos daily. And they’re not just watching cat videos and Jimmy Fallon clips: 59% of executives say if text and video are available on the same topic, they prefer the video. And 54% of senior executives share work-related videos with colleagues weekly.

It’s extremely likely that your target audience wants video content. Brands that create useful, engaging video will quickly surpass their competitors who don’t. So whether your brand sells baby strollers or enterprise-level cloud-based SaaS solutions, it makes sense to get into video.

Granted, video can be complicated and expensive. You could spend thousands of dollars on equipment, hire someone to shoot and edit the final product, or turn your conference room into a fully-functioning television studio. But there’s no need to go that far to see if video fits your content strategy.

Here are four cheap ways to get started with video content marketing. But first:

Make Video Part of Your Content Marketing Strategy

Don’t practice random acts of video. As with all your content, your video should fit within your content marketing strategy. That means each video should have a clear objective in mind, a plan for amplification, and a way to measure success. Keep the basic questions of any content creation in mind:

  • Who is this for?
  • Why should they watch it (what’s in it for them)?
  • How will they find it?
  • What do I want them to do after they watch it?

Make sure you answer all four questions before you start planning your video content. Once you have your strategy nailed down, you can use these techniques to start creating video without busting your budget.

Slideshow Videos

The easiest way to create video content requires no camera setup, no acting talent, and minimal upfront investment. Slideshow videos combine still images with transition effects and overlaid text. They’re simple to make, but surprisingly versatile and compelling. The simplest way to start is with Facebook’s slideshow creator – it’s a good way to experiment with the form and also create some compelling Facebook ads.

Once you know the basics, there are plenty of inexpensive tools that can create some surprisingly versatile videos. Options like Moovly and Animoto offer everything from stock images to licensed background music for a nominal monthly fee. Here’s a sample of how an infographic can become a compelling animated slideshow with Animoto:

Live Streaming Video

Once you’re ready to get more dynamic with your video content, you can dip a toe into streaming video live. The barriers to entry are lower for live video versus pre-recorded video; people expect streams to be informal, low-fi, and off-the-cuff.

All you need for live streaming is a smartphone and a good internet connection. And, of course, a compelling idea for what you’re going to stream. Here are a few types of content that are well-suited for the platform:

  • Behind-the-scenes tours of your facility
  • Product demonstrations
  • Live interviews at events
  • Q&A sessions where you take questions from the audience

Just remember to announce your live streams in advance, so you have time to build an audience. And it’s a good idea to have a partner working behind the scenes to stay on top of comments and monitor audience response.

If you use Facebook to stream, you will get a saved version of the video that you can further promote to those who missed it live.

Vlog

The next level of video creation is to create polished, edited video, which may or may not be scripted. A “vlog” is the most informal example of this type of content. Vlogs usually consist of one or two people addressing a single camera, with some editing and effects added in after the fact. Think of a vlog as a video blog post, content that might cover the same topics as your written content, but in a more visually compelling way.

You can create a vlog with nothing but a smartphone camera or laptop webcam. But it’s worth investing a little in lighting, camera, and microphone setup for a more professional-looking end product. For example, here is one of the first vlogs that we did for TopRank Marketing, using a webcam and natural lighting:

And here’s a more recent one, using a tripod-mounted camera, a few lights, and lapel microphones:

There’s a marked difference in the quality of the video, with a minimal investment in equipment.

 Demo/Explainer Videos

This type of video can be made with the same setup you might use for a vlog – a decent quality camera and a few lights are all you need. But instead of focusing on people reading content, a demo or explainer video focuses on demonstrating a process or giving a how-to. If your product offering lends itself to demonstration, it’s easy to create compelling video that gets watched.

For example, here’s a video made with practically no budget and a smidge of post-production that currently has nearly 40 million views on YouTube:

Tasty’s YouTube channel has great examples of this type of video, too. They use time-lapse and clever editing for lightning-fast recipe videos, and have earned over 3 million subscribers:

Less demonstration-friendly solutions (like, say, cloud-based SaaS) can still use a similar format, with an explanation instead of a demo.  Just make sure your video has these basic fundamentals:

  • Make it brief (less than five minutes)
  • Keep it practical and useful
  • Make sure it’s comprehensible without sound (85% of Facebook video is watched on mute)

Lights (optional), Camera (optional), Action (required)!

Video is rapidly eating the internet. As mobile connections get faster and data caps phase out, it will only get more popular. Your target audience is likely already looking for video content about your industry.

You don’t need a substantial investment to try video. Start slow, with slideshows that don’t require any special skills or equipment. Test out live video for a low-stakes next step. Once you have honed your skills and are ready to make minor investments, you can move on to scripted, edited content like vlogs and demo videos.

Learn more about creating compelling video content in our interview with Cisco Creative Director of Marketing Tim Washer.


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10 Infographics to Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/infographics-content-marketing-strategy/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/infographics-content-marketing-strategy/#respond Wed, 31 May 2017 10:30:12 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22361 Your brain can identify and retain details of an image in 13 milliseconds. That’s less than a 20th of the time it takes to blink your eyes. So it’s no surprise that visual content is on the rise as attention spans shrink. If you could choose between a consumer spending 20 seconds with a wall [...]

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Your brain can identify and retain details of an image in 13 milliseconds. That’s less than a 20th of the time it takes to blink your eyes. So it’s no surprise that visual content is on the rise as attention spans shrink. If you could choose between a consumer spending 20 seconds with a wall of text or 20 seconds with an image, it makes sense to go with the latter.

In other words, people like looking at stuff. As such, infographics are rapidly becoming an essential component of a solid content marketing strategy. Free tools like Canva and Pixlr make it easier than ever to turn your data into compelling visual content.

The best infographics give equal weight to both parts of the word – they combine essential info with stellar graphic design. I could write a whole blog post about how great infographics can be. But, of course, that would defeat the purpose.

Instead, let’s look at ten great infographics with a meta twist: They’re content marketing assets about content marketing! These examples can inspire your own infographic creation while they inform your strategy.

#1: How to Socialize a Blog Post

Creating great content is less than half the battle for marketers. You should spend roughly 20% of your effort creating, and 80% in promotion. What good is awesome content if no one sees it? This colorful gem from DigitalMarketer efficiently illustrates how to make sure your content reaches your target audience. You’ll learn how to create assets that help promote the piece, make your shares trackable, and analyze your results to do it even better next time.

#2: The Top 8 B2B Customer Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

This piece from Digital Marketing Philippines (via the good folks at HubSpot) really puts the “info” in “infographic.” It’s a good example of just how much data you can pack into a visual asset while still keeping it easily-digestible. The bright colors, solid organization, and statistic call-outs grab attention, while the text provides plenty of value to keep people reading.

#3: What Does It Take to Make a Piece of Content?

Dive into this cool blue infographic for an insider look at how content powerhouse Contently goes from strategy to creation to distribution. This piece is a great counter-example to the design-heavy look of the previous entry on the list. It relies on simple line art to create a cooking metaphor that provides visual interest without overpowering the text. A soupcon of highlighted statistics help make the case for the solid advice they’re presenting.

#4:  The Ultimate Content Marketing Strategy

There are plenty of resources out there that explain the “Big Rock” content marketing strategy, but this Curata infographic gets points for thoroughness and nifty graphical interest. Learn how to create a gated asset, slice it into top-of-funnel ungated content that feeds back to the gated asset, then dice it into even smaller gems to share on social media. One nifty trick to steal for your next long infographic: The progress bar at the top that shows exactly how far you’ve read and how far you have left to go.

#5: A Brief History of Content Marketing

Who better to give a primer on the 200+ year history of content marketing than the Godfather himself, Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute? This timeline serves as a reminder that quality content can help build a business, from John Deere’s The Furrow to the Michelin Guide to the Will It Blend? Videos. Wrapped in Joe’s signature orange, this bite-sized history lesson is well worth a read.

#6: 10 Visual Marketing Statistics for 2017

This infographic collects results from a Venngage survey of over 300 digital marketers. It’s a great resource for seeing how the industry is moving toward visual content, and what types of visual content are leading the pack. Compare your progress to the results here, or use it to inspire your strategy, or just enjoy the pink-and-purple visuals.

#7: The Ins & Outs of Awesome Infographics

Fans of marketing, infographics, and pentagons will enjoy this groovy piece from IBM. The simple, clean design work complements the solid advice on offer about how to create memorable visual content. Learn how to choose the right visuals for your data, pick the right layout, and avoid common mistakes.

#8: What Buyers Really Want from Content Marketers

The team at Uberflip demonstrates a lesson well worth learning in this piece: Not every infographic has to be six screens tall. They manage to pack a wealth of data into a fairly small space, distilling the message into something that gets the value across without spraining your scrolling finger. Find out what buyers want marketers to do, and not do, to create content that really resonates.

#9: The Importance of Visual Content

You don’t have to have a team of researchers and designers to create a solid infographic. This piece from kwikturn media is a good example of doing more with less. It’s essentially a stats blog post, compiled from sources around the internet. Add some thoughtful but simple clip art, a slate background, and it’s far more interesting than a text list would be.

#10: The Secret to Creating Scalable, Quality Content and Better CX

Static infographics have more visual interest than text does. But you can take it a step further with an animated, interactive infographic. Some people call these “gifographics.” Those people are wrong. But whatever you call them, they’re undeniably cool. We created this interactive piece on the Ceros platform.

Infographics are an indispensable part of a modern content marketing strategy. Use them to highlight data points from your gated content, replace a list-based blog post, or just to brighten up a how-to post. Just keep the design simple and clean, and the text informative and valuable.

Seen any cool infographics lately? Let me know in the comments.

And if you need help creating your own infographics, check out our content marketing services.


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7 Interactive Content Tools to Delight Your Audience http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/7-interactive-content-tools/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/03/7-interactive-content-tools/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2017 11:26:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21960 Your audience is reading your content on a device that is capable of wonders. Whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, it can do much more than display text. What’s more, they’re connected to the internet, with limitless potential for communication and conversation. In this context, interactive content makes a whole lot of sense. [...]

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Your audience is reading your content on a device that is capable of wonders. Whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, it can do much more than display text. What’s more, they’re connected to the internet, with limitless potential for communication and conversation.

In this context, interactive content makes a whole lot of sense. Why serve up nothing but plain text if, with just a little more effort, you can offer engaging experiences?

Interactive content might seem gimmicky, especially to B2B marketers. And I’ll be the first to admit: It is gimmicky. It’s absolutely designed to grab attention. But if your content provides value—if it’s worth paying attention to—interactive elements can help you bring in an audience. Interactivity isn’t a substitute for quality, just a supplement.

Here are a few of my favorite tools for creating interactive content. Some are dead simple web-based tools you can use to whip up a poll or quiz in seconds, while some are companies that will work with you to create stunning original content.

7 Interactive Content Tools to Delight Your Audience

#1: Easypolls
Interactive Content

Adding an interactive element doesn’t get simpler than this stripped-down poll creator. Create a login, enter your question, add some options, choose a color and you’re good to go. The poll you create can be embedded in one of your pages, or you can link to the poll’s own custom home page.

Easypolls is free to use, but your poll’s home page will display a banner ad at the bottom. For .99 cents a poll, you can ditch the ad and add some tracking functionality, too.

#2: Qzzr

Interactive Content

I can’t stop recommending Qzzr. This is at least the third time I’ve recommended them on the blog. It’s just so easy to make quizzes, and make them look great, on Qzzr. You can add your own background images and images for each option. You can make three different types of quizzes: The “Which Spice Girl Are You” type, the “How Minnesotan Are You” type, and the “How Much Do You Know about Tacos” type.

With a free account you’ll be able to create and embed quizzes and see how many people started and completed the quiz, how long they spent on the quiz, and more. There are premium options available, too. It’s nifty.

#3: Brackify

Interactive Content

March Madness is just around the corner, and you know what that means: March Madness themed content. It seems like everyone starts drawing up brackets this time of year. I’m not knocking the trend, either. There’s something inherently satisfying about reducing 32 or 64 contestants down to one ultimate winner, whether you’re ranking vacuum cleaners or paint colors or My Little Ponies.

Brackify makes it easy to create and administer your own tournaments. Create your brackets, set time limits on voting for each stage, and the software will handle the input and determine the winners. With the ability to set themes and add images, you can make something truly unique for March Madness or any time.

#4: Calculoid

Interactive Content

You know what’s very important to making a purchase decision, that most customers hate doing? Math. With Calculoid, you can create a custom calculator page that can process multiple points of input to generate a result. You could, say, show your customer how much money they would save switching to LED lighting based on number of fixtures, monthly power bill, and hours they keep the lights on. In other words, you can create a custom page that demonstrates your value proposition with real numbers straight from your potential customer.

Calculoid is more robust than the first three tools in this list, but it’s also pricier—expect to drop $99 a year or more on your calculator page. If the calculator helps make it clear why people should use your solution, though, that’s a small price to pay.

#5: Infogr.am

Interactive Content

Data visualization can be a useful way to get across a lot of information at a glance. And it can be beautiful, too. With Infogr.am, you can use your own data sources to create interactive charts, graphs, and maps. With a huge library of designs to choose from, and the ability to add animation and tweak colors, there are endless ways for you to bring your data to life.

Infogr.am has a free membership level with a generous helping of features to play around with. Their premium memberships offer more functionality starting at $19 a month.

#6: Ceros

Interactive Content

If you’re ready to invest some time and resources into creating truly original interactive content, Ceros is a great way to get started. It’s a software platform that simplifies the process of creating HTML5 content. You can drag and drop your own visual assets into the platform, add interactions and animations, and review it with your whole team before you publish.

Ceros has a steeper learning curve than the earlier entries on this list, but it offers a lot more opportunity to create something extraordinary.

#7: SnapApp

Interactive Content

SnapApp is another Swiss Army knife of a platform. You can use it to create everything from quizzes to interactive video to lead forms that really pop. As with Ceros, SnapApp is a platform and a service—in addition to the DIY software, their team can help you with design, integration, and analytics.

Interactive Content Tools (Doo Dah, Doo Dah)

The internet is an inherently interactive place. Why make your content a one-way conversation? Interactive content can bring more value to your audience and to your content strategy. You can use it to start a dialog, gaining audience insight while entertaining and informing.

Have you experimented with interactive content? Let me know in the comments.


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Life After Vine: 5 Tips to Help Brands Move on With Video http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/11/life-after-vine/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/11/life-after-vine/#comments Wed, 02 Nov 2016 10:30:35 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21318 Vine, the social media app known for 6-second video loops, is shutting down. Twitter announced its decision to discontinue the video service in a press release last week. According to Marketing Land, Vine debuted in 2013 when mobile video wasn’t really a thing. But the rise of Snapchat, and the addition of live video capabilities [...]

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life-after-vine

Vine, the social media app known for 6-second video loops, is shutting down. Twitter announced its decision to discontinue the video service in a press release last week.

According to Marketing Land, Vine debuted in 2013 when mobile video wasn’t really a thing. But the rise of Snapchat, and the addition of live video capabilities on Facebook and Instagram, has drawn Vine’s top stars, audiences and advertising dollars away from Vine. In addition, rolled out its own native video platform in January 2015, serving as yet another Vine rival, the publication noted.

For some, the loss of Vine seems to be part of the natural evolutionary cycle of the digital world. But others are saddened and even angry at the loss of the platform. Shortly after the announcement, in a The Verge article by Casey Newton, one of Vine’s co-founder Dom Hofmann reportedly said:

“The most important of part of Vine has always been the people that are on it. … It’s also the only part that can’t be replicated. So I’m going to miss them. Even though I can and do follow some people from Vine on Instagram or Snapchat or Twitter or wherever they’ve decided to go, it just doesn’t feel the same. It’s like the band is breaking up and everyone’s going solo.”

For now, Vine is still up and running, allowing people to access and download their videos. But brands that have invested time, effort and marketing dollars into the platform are left wondering: “Now what?”

There’s no question that video—especially video on social media—is a powerful marketing tool. Video can help brands capture audience attention, show value and encourage engagement. But how do you make sure your Vine content isn’t lost? Which alternative video platform should your brand turn to?

Below we dive into a few tips for moving on with your video endeavors after Vine.

#1 – Don’t panic.

If your brand has invested heavily into Vine as a marketing tool, not all is lost. While the platform offered something very unique, you have other options and you can still access your content for now. 

Oh No Cat

#2 – Download (and repurpose) your Vine content.

While Vine videos are just six seconds long, that doesn’t mean you didn’t put serious creative effort into making them awesome. Also, these videos are pieces of content. Don’t let them go.

While the Vine platform is still alive, it won’t be forever. If you don’t want to lose the content you’ve created, download it to your computer or a storage device. Mic offers a simple how-to guide for doing just that.

You can also turn Vine videos into GIFs. GIPHY has created a tool that allows users to convert Vines into GIFs and save them to their GIPHY account.

GIPHY's Vine Converter

This option not only gives you an easy place to store your content, but also enables you to share that content across any network that allows GIFs—–which is content repurposing in its simplest form.

#3 – Consider alternative video options.

As mentioned above, there’s no doubt that video is an important tool in your marketing arsenal. Humans are visual creatures by nature, and visual content is a way to catch their eye, further brand awareness and get audience engagement and shares.

If you’ve invested in Vine, you’re likely familiar with the other social media video options that are out there. But below is a quick rundown of what some your options are:

Facebook

The more recent addition of Facebook Live allows you to give your audience a window into your company or products in real-time, while also saving it for later viewing. Of course, you can also upload produced videos natively.

Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram allows you to natively record video or upload video right from your mobile device. But your video has to be between three and 60 seconds. Click here to learn more about video on Instagram.

In addition, if what you loved about Vine was the video looping, Instagram’s Boomerang app could be a potential alternative. The app takes 10 photos and stitches them together, speeds up the video and then loops it back and forth.

Boomerang for Instagram

Snapchat

While Snapchat could’ve easily become a passing trend, it’s proving to be an increasingly embraced space for sharing fun, raw and engaging visual content—presenting both B2C and B2B brands with an awesome opportunity to grow brand affinity and audience engagement. And with the platform’s more recent addition of Snapchat Stories, this gives your snaps a little more accessibility and staying power.

For more on Snapchat, read:

YouTube

Despite the video options on other social networks, YouTube is still a leader in the video world. YouTube videos are easily shared on social media and can be embedded into website or blog pages, too. In addition, you can optimize your channel page with brand information, website links and links to other social media profiles. Here’s an example from HubSpot.

HubSpot on YouTube

Twitter

Like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter also allows you to shoot video or upload video from your mobile device. You can also edit that video before posting. Learn more about video on Twitter here.

As far as choosing a platform, don’t force it. Ultimately, your choice should depend on who your audience is and what resonates with them, as well as what your overall marketing and business objectives are.

#4 – Continue to focus on building your brand.

If you’re shifting your video efforts to a new platform, don’t forget why you’re doing video in the first place: to build brand awareness and engagement with your audience.

A recent opinion article from Jeri Smith on Observer.com highlighted some fantastic questions that all brands should ask themselves before investing in a new platform:

  • How will this platform help improve perceptions of our brand and purchase funnel?
  • How will this platform amplify the impact of the dollars we’re investing in other media?
  • Which platform/channel will we take time and money away from in order to develop custom content for this one?
  • How much of the urge to explore this channel is simple fear of being left behind?

For more of her insights, you can read the full article.

#5 – Stay flexible.

If there’s anything that brands and marketers can agree with these days it’s that media channels can come and go quickly. So, your efforts should be spread across established, young and emerging media channels. This will allow you to experiment with new things and refine your marketing efforts regularly.

How do you feel about Vine’s shut down? Mad? Sad? Happy? Indifferent? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Social Media Images Part 1: Sizes, Best Practices and Tools http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/01/images-social-media/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/01/images-social-media/#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:30:49 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=19836 When battling other businesses for your customers attention on social media, you have to stand out in order to get noticed. That can mean being disruptive, going against standard marketing practices, or doing something unique that draws the attention of your customers away from the “noise” of social media. One way to accomplish that goal [...]

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images-social-media

When battling other businesses for your customers attention on social media, you have to stand out in order to get noticed. That can mean being disruptive, going against standard marketing practices, or doing something unique that draws the attention of your customers away from the “noise” of social media. One way to accomplish that goal is to harness the power and creativity of images.

Images can make a big impact on getting noticed in a customer’s social media feed. Research has found that 90% of the information that the brain processes is visual, and the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than anything that’s read. What that means to marketers using social media is when someone is looking at their feed and scrolling through all of the posts, they are processing the images faster than the text.

This post is Part 1 of a two part guide that will help you take the guesswork out of which sizes are appropriate for different platforms, as well as which tools you can use to get started quickly and with impact.

What Are the Standard Image Sizes for Social Networks and Social Media Platforms?

Using correct image sizes with the corresponding social media platform can make a large impact difference in how it’s viewed by your audience. Below are the current image size requirements for some of the top social media platforms:

Facebook

  • Upload images that are at least 1200 x 630 pixels for display on high-resolution devices.
  • A minimum of 600 x 315 pixels is recommended to display link page posts that contain larger images.

Twitter

  • Shared photos should be 1024 x 512 pixels
  • In-stream photo previews should be 220 x 400 pixels.
  • Image sizes can be up to 5MB and animated GIF’s can be up to 3MB.

Instagram

  • Photos can now be shared as a portrait or landscape image instead of a square.
  • Photos and videos should have an aspect ratio of 1.91:1 and 4:5.

LinkedIn

  • The ideal image size for the status update OR blog post image: 698 x 4001 pixels.

Google+

  • Shared images on the home stream should be 497 x 373 pixels.
  • Images shared in the feed should be 150 x 150 pixels.

Now after figuring out the proper sizes for your images, it’s time to ensure that your content is optimized for the best design possible. There are actually some tools that can assist you with doing that. Here are a few of them:

Social Media Image Tools

Adobe Post

Adobe Post 

Adobe has 30 years of experience in creating tools that allow people to design images that both look sharp and create an impact. So they took all of that knowledge and created a new App that was just launched at the end of 2015. It gives people the ability to create attention-grabbing graphics in just seconds. (Note: The App does place an #AdobePost watermark on the created images, but you can remove it by just tapping on it. Adobe just asks that you share your love of the App with your friends as compensation.)

This App turns just about any photo along with text into a well-designed graphic that’s shareable on social media, as well as in text messages and emails. A great tool that can assist those who man not have a lot of time or skill in making high-quality images. It features an inspiration wall, filters, text resizing and typography, and an auto recolor function.

Canva

Canva

Canva is a very user friendly online tool that can take an image, and then allows you to add text to them in a variety of ways in order to customize the look and feel that you’re going for.

There are millions of stock photograph images available for you to choose from, as well vectors and illustrations. To give your image a more customized and personal look, you can also upload your photos to use.

Filters are also available so that you can adjust the look and feel of your image, along with some editing tools so that you always feel that you have flexibility.

There are hundreds of fonts to choose from, as well as a selection of icons and shapes that you can incorporate within your image. This tool can be used for creating image-quotes, banners and social media post images.

Pablo

Pablo

The social media scheduling tool Buffer created this image design tool. It was developed to help people create eye-catching images that fit all social media networks. It also has a browser extension to make things even simpler.

There’s a limited number of images that they have available for use, but you can upload your own images and use the tool to format your visuals.

It’s a very simplified tool, but it has features like contrast, blurring and converting color images into black-and-white images.

RELAY

Relay

This tool has a wide variety of features, but your ability to use all of them will cost you. There are 2 different versions of this tool, a Free version and a Pro version.

A list of the features that this tool offers includes, instant color choices, auto resize text and images, easy drag & drop images, optimize for all platforms, SEO image automation, and an ever growing layout library.

Social Media Image Maker

Social media Image maker

Need help in resizing your images so that they can work on different platforms? Check out this tool that helps speed up adjusting the image sizes.

The Value of Using Images

Social media marketing can be a very effective way in connecting your service or product with your audience and getting them interested to not just enjoy your product, but to better understand your business and what you and your business stands for. Using images and creating them with the right techniques and using the right tools can make your businesses brand even more appealing to current and potential customers.

Be sure to check out part two of this series for additional insights on how to appropriately use filters and examples of top companies using images on social media that you can draw inspiration from. Or, connect with us and we can help you create a social media strategy to help you engage current and potential customers.

Header image via Shutterstock


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Best Practices for Video Marketing on Social Networks from Cisco, SAP & Bally Switzerland http://www.toprankblog.com/2015/04/video-marketing-social-networks/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2015/04/video-marketing-social-networks/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 15:52:54 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=18296 video marketing social networks

video marketing social networks

Driven by consumers' insatiable appetite for video content, video marketing has become an important part of social media marketing. With platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram launching their own video applications, videos can be optimized for success beyond web pages and YouTube to where customers are actively seeking, consuming and sharing video content: social networks.

Whether you’re a video marketing pro, or unsure of where to begin, here are several useful tips for launching video marketing campaigns on multiple social networks.

But first...

Is Video Marketing Really Worth It?

Internet users have been watching videos to entertain or inform themselves for decades, but most marketers are only now beginning to take advantage of the power of video marketing. Video is becoming increasingly democratic, with self-service video editing programs making it so that you don’t have to have deep pockets or a degree in cinematography to create an effective marketing video.

Digital Sherpa reports that one third of all online activity is spent watching video, and that videos increase peoples’ understanding of your product of service by 74%. Add a compelling element to your brand’s online presence and help people realize the value and utility of your product with video marketing and social media.

Create a Video Marketing Strategy

Jumping on the video marketing bandwagon isn’t a good enough reason to create video for your Facebook or Twitter followers. A strategic approach to video marketing starts by identifying an objective and creating a plan for how video will attract, engage and persuade your customers. Determine what action you’d like the viewer to take after watching your video, and make it easy for the viewer to take that action.

Targeting your video to a specific persona or customer segment will provide a more meaningful and relevant experience, resulting in a much greater chance of video marketing success.

When it comes to content topics, be sure to use video to answer a common question about your brand, or to highlight a problem that your brand helps solve. Establishing an objective and actions to measure early on will make it easier to quantify the success of your video marketing campaign.

Time Check: Keep Your Videos Brief

AdWeek found that the average length of the top 50 YouTube videos was 2 minutes and 54 seconds. Tailor your video for short attention spans by keeping it under three minutes. The risk of creating longer videos is that they may not be watched in their entirety, meaning that viewers might miss important takeaways and calls to action in the final moments of the video.

The length of your video will also depend on the platforms that you intend to distribute it on. For instance, Instagram videos are just 15 seconds long, and Vine videos just 6 seconds. Before you script and create your video, determine which social platforms you’d like to play it on, and the time limits associated with videos on those channels.

Let your creativity shine in short videos, like this six second Vine created by Cisco. Cisco uses this short amount of time to share a tweetable fact, and create interest in a hashtag campaign. Since six seconds is not enough time to talk about the Cisco brand, the Cisco logo is simply visible in the upper left hand of the video.

Include Text in your Videos

Social networks like Facebook and Instagram auto-play videos in the news feed without sound. That means many social media users watch videos on mute. With this in mind, your task as a marketer is to make sure that the message of your video comes across without sound.

To capture the audience’s interest without sound, use a compelling title frame. Then use text to tell a story by projecting keywords or phrases over images. You can also edit in frames of text that explain what’s going to happen in the next scene. If dialogue is the most important element of your video, consider adding subtitles.

SAP is a B2B brand that excels at video storytelling. SAP adds drama to their videos with text overlays that emphasize keywords in the storyteller’s narration. Text overlays make the narration more memorable, and help viewers understand the narrative arc of the video, even if they are watching without sound.

Use Annotations to Embed Links into your Videos

Once you've attracted viewers and engaged them with useful video content, guide them through the marketing funnel by encouraging them to take action. You can accomplish viewers taking action by adding interactive annotations to your videos. There are a variety of annotation tools that allow you to add notes, text bubbles, and calls to action. Annotations can drive viewers to key pages of your website, or to other videos. However, be prudent in your use of annotations to ensure that they support, instead of distract from, the objective of the video.

Bally Switzerland used annotations to make an interactive look book in this creative video marketing campaign. Annotations on the right side of the screen link to landing pages for handbags, shoes and more. The names of key items are also called out in the video, in case users want to know more about an item that they saw a model wearing.

Upload your Video Directly To Each Social Network

Because each social network optimizes, archives, and plays videos slightly differently, best practices indicate that marketers should upload their video individually to each social network, instead of simply sharing a YouTube link. This will ensure that the video plays correctly on that social network, and will reduce the amount of steps between your audience and the video.

For instance, uploading a video to Facebook will ensure that the auto play functionality works, allowing users to watch your video as soon as they see it in their newsfeed. This is easier that having viewers click a link to watch the video on a different social network like YouTube.

Optimize Your Videos for Search

To make videos easily discoverable, utilize SEO best practices with your video. Choose a keyword that encapsulates the theme of your video, and use it in the video’s title, description, and tag. Providing a relevant keyword in the video text content will make it easier for search engines to understand and can result in a much better ranking when customer search. Adding a clear call to action in the video’s description will provide another opportunity for viewers to take the desired action - even if they don't watch the full video.

Report, Analyze, and Improve

To understand how effective your videos are, use native social media analytics to analyze how your video performed across social channels. This means that you will have to collect data from multiple sources (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) in order to have a complete view of your video’s performance in attracting viewers, engaging them in a meaningful way and inspiring them to take action.

Using social media video analytics, you can dive in to discover which channel your video performed best on, and why. Then you can use those insights to summarize what went well in the campaign and what you might do to make future video marketing efforts more successful.

As you can see from the Bally, SAP and Cisco examples above, video marketing is now an essential part of social media marketing. Social networks are meeting marketers' demand for video marketing by rolling out new video tools and video ad options at a dizzying pace. Be sure to take advantage of all of the video creation, hosting, editing and distribution tools on social media platforms with a clever video marketing campaign that will attract, engage and inspire your customers.

How does your brand use video marketing to connect with customers?

Photo: Shutterstock

The post Best Practices for Video Marketing on Social Networks from Cisco, SAP & Bally Switzerland appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
video marketing social networks

video marketing social networks Driven by consumers' insatiable appetite for video content, video marketing has become an important part of social media marketing. With platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram launching their own video applications, videos can be optimized for success beyond web pages and YouTube to where customers are actively seeking, consuming and sharing video content: social networks. Whether you’re a video marketing pro, or unsure of where to begin, here are several useful tips for launching video marketing campaigns on multiple social networks. But first... Is Video Marketing Really Worth It? Internet users have been watching videos to entertain or inform themselves for decades, but most marketers are only now beginning to take advantage of the power of video marketing. Video is becoming increasingly democratic, with self-service video editing programs making it so that you don’t have to have deep pockets or a degree in cinematography to create an effective marketing video. Digital Sherpa reports that one third of all online activity is spent watching video, and that videos increase peoples’ understanding of your product of service by 74%. Add a compelling element to your brand’s online presence and help people realize the value and utility of your product with video marketing and social media. Create a Video Marketing Strategy Jumping on the video marketing bandwagon isn’t a good enough reason to create video for your Facebook or Twitter followers. A strategic approach to video marketing starts by identifying an objective and creating a plan for how video will attract, engage and persuade your customers. Determine what action you’d like the viewer to take after watching your video, and make it easy for the viewer to take that action. Targeting your video to a specific persona or customer segment will provide a more meaningful and relevant experience, resulting in a much greater chance of video marketing success. When it comes to content topics, be sure to use video to answer a common question about your brand, or to highlight a problem that your brand helps solve. Establishing an objective and actions to measure early on will make it easier to quantify the success of your video marketing campaign. Time Check: Keep Your Videos Brief AdWeek found that the average length of the top 50 YouTube videos was 2 minutes and 54 seconds. Tailor your video for short attention spans by keeping it under three minutes. The risk of creating longer videos is that they may not be watched in their entirety, meaning that viewers might miss important takeaways and calls to action in the final moments of the video. The length of your video will also depend on the platforms that you intend to distribute it on. For instance, Instagram videos are just 15 seconds long, and Vine videos just 6 seconds. Before you script and create your video, determine which social platforms you’d like to play it on, and the time limits associated with videos on those channels. Let your creativity shine in short videos, like this six second Vine created by Cisco. Cisco uses this short amount of time to share a tweetable fact, and create interest in a hashtag campaign. Since six seconds is not enough time to talk about the Cisco brand, the Cisco logo is simply visible in the upper left hand of the video. Include Text in your Videos Social networks like Facebook and Instagram auto-play videos in the news feed without sound. That means many social media users watch videos on mute. With this in mind, your task as a marketer is to make sure that the message of your video comes across without sound. To capture the audience’s interest without sound, use a compelling title frame. Then use text to tell a story by projecting keywords or phrases over images. You can also edit in frames of text that explain what’s going to happen in the next scene. If dialogue is the most important element of your video, consider adding subtitles. SAP is a B2B brand that excels at video storytelling. SAP adds drama to their videos with text overlays that emphasize keywords in the storyteller’s narration. Text overlays make the narration more memorable, and help viewers understand the narrative arc of the video, even if they are watching without sound. Use Annotations to Embed Links into your Videos Once you've attracted viewers and engaged them with useful video content, guide them through the marketing funnel by encouraging them to take action. You can accomplish viewers taking action by adding interactive annotations to your videos. There are a variety of annotation tools that allow you to add notes, text bubbles, and calls to action. Annotations can drive viewers to key pages of your website, or to other videos. However, be prudent in your use of annotations to ensure that they support, instead of distract from, the objective of the video. Bally Switzerland used annotations to make an interactive look book in this creative video marketing campaign. Annotations on the right side of the screen link to landing pages for handbags, shoes and more. The names of key items are also called out in the video, in case users want to know more about an item that they saw a model wearing. Upload your Video Directly To Each Social Network Because each social network optimizes, archives, and plays videos slightly differently, best practices indicate that marketers should upload their video individually to each social network, instead of simply sharing a YouTube link. This will ensure that the video plays correctly on that social network, and will reduce the amount of steps between your audience and the video. For instance, uploading a video to Facebook will ensure that the auto play functionality works, allowing users to watch your video as soon as they see it in their newsfeed. This is easier that having viewers click a link to watch the video on a different social network like YouTube. Optimize Your Videos for Search To make videos easily discoverable, utilize SEO best practices with your video. Choose a keyword that encapsulates the theme of your video, and use it in the video’s title, description, and tag. Providing a relevant keyword in the video text content will make it easier for search engines to understand and can result in a much better ranking when customer search. Adding a clear call to action in the video’s description will provide another opportunity for viewers to take the desired action - even if they don't watch the full video. Report, Analyze, and Improve To understand how effective your videos are, use native social media analytics to analyze how your video performed across social channels. This means that you will have to collect data from multiple sources (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) in order to have a complete view of your video’s performance in attracting viewers, engaging them in a meaningful way and inspiring them to take action. Using social media video analytics, you can dive in to discover which channel your video performed best on, and why. Then you can use those insights to summarize what went well in the campaign and what you might do to make future video marketing efforts more successful. As you can see from the Bally, SAP and Cisco examples above, video marketing is now an essential part of social media marketing. Social networks are meeting marketers' demand for video marketing by rolling out new video tools and video ad options at a dizzying pace. Be sure to take advantage of all of the video creation, hosting, editing and distribution tools on social media platforms with a clever video marketing campaign that will attract, engage and inspire your customers. How does your brand use video marketing to connect with customers? Photo: Shutterstock

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How to Make Free Stock Images Work for Content Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2015/03/free-stock-images/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2015/03/free-stock-images/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:04:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=18160 Visual content is king, but what happens if you don’t have a massive library of brand images to use for your online content? Do you try a simple Google image search and grab something that might be approved for commercial use? Or, do you simply go image-less and rely on your copy to carry the [...]

The post How to Make Free Stock Images Work for Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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stock images, success, content marketing

Visual content is king, but what happens if you don’t have a massive library of brand images to use for your online content? Do you try a simple Google image search and grab something that might be approved for commercial use? Or, do you simply go image-less and rely on your copy to carry the weight?

If you’re pillaging images from Google’s regular search, stop right now. Google might tell you that it’s approved for commercial use, but there are other resources that provide greater assurances (and more relief for your legal team).

In this post I’ll show you where to find (truly) free stock images, and how to use those images for the best visual impact on your content marketing.

Strong Stock Image Sources

What comes to mind when you think of stock images? Does your brain turn to generic illustrations with the words “content” and “ROI” in them? Those are some forms of stock images, but they usually don’t inspire readers to peruse the content.

This Buffer post outlines over 50 different sites that provide free stock images, and I’ve frequently used the following in my work:

  • stock images, content marketingPixabay: A database of over 320,000 free stock images, many are photos submitted by users without attribution requirements or copyrights. No registration is required, though you’ll need to fill out a Captcha to download images.
  • New Old Stock: If you’re looking for something more vintage, this database offers archival photos are no longer under copyright protections.
  • Public Domain Pictures: The title says it all – these are photos uploaded by amateur photographers within the public domain. These are free to use for personal and commercial options, without attribution.

Know the License

While public domain photos are free to use, you may come across some images that have a Creative Commons (CC) license. This service is provided for non-copyrighted users to place certain restrictions on repurposing of their content, and each license requires specific levels of attribution. Make sure you know if there is a CC license with an image, and attribute any reposts appropriately.

If you ever have doubt about the original source of an image, use the free TinEye reverse image search tool to check if it’s been used on other websites (with or without attribution).

Stock Images Can Be Powerful

You don’t need to sacrifice authenticity and emotion with stock images. Many of the resources above specialize in captivating photography that expresses specific feelings. These emotions can help give context to your content.

When looking for an image to use with your content, keep these thoughts in mind:

  • Will it supplement and enhance the message? If the image doesn’t mesh with the overall content message, it creates a disconnect for the reader. For example, a lively piece of generic clip art looks disjointed when placed with a blog post about serious data security issues.
  • Can it be repurposed in social? Your content message extends beyond the web site, and so should your imagery. But if your chosen image is inconveniently cropped in social, that message is lost.
  • Is it already being widely used? This is where our TinEye tool comes back into play. If your stock image has already been widely embedded in other posts, it becomes less unique for your content.

When in Doubt, Create it Yourself

If the wide selection of stock images fails to produce good options, you can always try creating something yourself. Thankfully, you don’t need a degree in computer science and a Photoshop license to create compelling visual content.

Here are some free tools that allow marketers to create unique, shareable images from stock materials:

  • Canva: An online designing application that uses a simple drag-and-drop interface to build custom designs.
  • Pixlr: An online image editor that contains several Photoshop-like functions, including layers, filters and masks.
  • GIMP: A desktop graphic design program that functions as a free Photoshop alternative. There is a learning curve with GIMP (especially for those who are already trained in Photoshop), but you aren’t limited to specific templates.

How often do you use stock images in your content? Where do you usually go for your image ideas? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo credits: Pixabay, New Old Stock


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2015. | How to Make Free Stock Images Work for Content Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Social Media Video – Essential Tips and Takeaways from #SMBMSP74 http://www.toprankblog.com/2015/01/smbmsp-video-social-media/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2015/01/smbmsp-video-social-media/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:33:25 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=17925 SMBMSP-Video-Social-Media

[caption id="attachment_17926" align="alignnone" width="450"]SMBMSP-Video-Social-Media Panelists including, from left, Jeff Achen, David Krejci, Farrington Starnes and Chuck Olsen address the audience at the January 23 SMBMSP event.[/caption]

Digital marketers have known for some time that video is an essential part of the marketing mix: 76% of B2B companies use video as a content marketing tactic. Video is also an important part of a social media content strategy. After all, YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google and Facebook has more than 1 billion daily video views.

Great examples of companies using video to enhance both B2C and B2B marketing are in high demand whether from major brands, agencies and small DIY businesses. At TopRank Online Marketing we're always on the lookout for social media video trends and new examples to share with our community and clients. That's why seven members of our team attended a recent Social Media Breakfast at 514 studios in Minneapolis - to learn how other companies are implementing video as part of a social media strategy.

The SMBMSP74 panel of social media video experts and pioneers included:
Jeff Achen, Executive Director of The Uptake
David Erickson, VP of Online Marketing for Karwoski & Courage
Erica Hanna, Owner, Puke Rainbows Creative
Chuck Olsen Owner, VidTiger
• David Krejci  Executive Vice President, Social Media and Digital Communications at Weber Shandwick
Farrington Starnes Digital Media Coordinator, Bedlam Theatre

[caption id="attachment_17927" align="alignnone" width="300"]TopRank-at-SMBMSP TopRank team members take in the presentation at SMBMSP.[/caption]

What did the team from TopRank Marketing learn about video and social media? Here are a few takeaways, tips and insights that we each brought back to the office.

Brooke-Furry
Brooke Furry - Associate Account Manager

Get past the idea that video marketing is all fuzzy animals and funny things kids say. Brands have a huge opportunity in 2015 to deliver helpful content visually to their audiences - how to's, stories, product tours demos. 90% of online shoppers find video on a major retailer's site helpful to their purchasing decision.

People have less tolerance for wordiness than ever before as our attention spans decrease and usage of Instagram, etc. increase. Video makes sense to us more quickly than words do. That's not to say you should ditch your well-written articles and blog posts... Not at all. But do consider the changing nature of culture and content consumption when you're trying to connect with your target audience. Give them something they will actually like, watch and find helpful.

Emily-Bacheller
Emily Bacheller - Social Media Lead

Interesting and engaging headlines prompt more video views. However, make sure that your headline accurately reflects what the video is about. If the video doesn’t meet the viewers expectations, they will stop watching after just a few seconds.

Don’t have any video equipment? Experiment with video by using Google Hangouts on Air for interviews, podcasts, demos, and testimonials.

Evan-Prokop
Evan Prokop - Digital Marketing Manager

Experiment with different video lengths to see what resonates with your audience and results in desired business outcomes. Similar to written content, the longer the video, the smaller the niche it will speak to, but that’s ok!

The most important thing isn’t just reaching more people, it’s reaching more of the right people.

Many marketers and businesses drag their feet on testing out video marketing because they are intimidated by the work that goes into creating a video with high production values. Yes, all else being equal, a well produced video will likely out-perform a cheaper one, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for businesses that don’t have a production studio at their disposal. That phone in your pocket can do some pretty incredible things with a little creativity.

The most important factors that determine the success of a brand video are that it is sincere, concise and relevant to your target audience, not how much it cost.

Debbie-Friez
Debbie Friez - Social Media Lead

Jeff Achen emphasized letting your business objectives drive your video production. Don’t let the video draw strategy. The panelists emphasized understanding your audience (as part of your strategy) and what they want or and what length of video they will engage.

Consider using closed captioning on all your videos to gain the deaf community audience, and it will help increase your SEO.

James-Anderson
James Anderson - Director of Content Marketing

Long-form video with heartfelt storytelling creates long-term gratification and touches niche audiences. In an example in which a nonprofit uses video for revenue development, longer video is absolutely necessary to tell the story that will bring in long-term donor investments.

With smartphones and HD video, we are going to see more individuals adding their expertise to news stories. One way to reach journalists looking for background information and experts to contribute to their reporting is to post original opinion video. When a reporter searches for the topic, your video should be ready for them to find. Remember that YouTube is second only to Google as the largest search engine. You can improve your potential for being found in search by including video transcripts.

Joel-Carlson
Joel Carlson - Social Media Lead

The human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than it processes text, so video has the power to change a person's impression and make an impact.

 The length of a video isn’t a problem, if it shares a compelling message. So make sure that the lighting and the audio for the video are of good quality, so that the viewers aren’t distracted and miss the message.

Kate-Heithoff
Kate Heithoff - SEO Copywriter

Video advertisements provide more control over the overall message. In order to create effective video content, use appropriate music and imagery. Music adds an extra dimension to the storytelling that can make the audience feel a wide range of emotions (i.e. sadness to empowerment). With the ability to evoke greater emotion, using music in videos can ultimately  help compel viewers to carry through with the advertisement's CTA.

Because of Facebook's video auto play, it is imperative to make the video’s first three seconds as aesthetically pleasing and compelling as possible. Using auto play can actually be an advantage, as it attracts more eyes and allows people to see the content who normally would not have.

Thank you again to Mykl Roventine from the Minneapolis / Saint Paul Social Media Breakfast for all that they do for the Twin Cities social media scene. TopRank Online Marketing is proud to be a long time sponsor of SMBMSP.

For video of the event or to see upcoming events, visit SMBMSP.org.

What tips can you share about video content for social media marketing and community building?

 

The post Social Media Video – Essential Tips and Takeaways from #SMBMSP74 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
SMBMSP-Video-Social-Media

[caption id="attachment_17926" align="alignnone" width="450"]SMBMSP-Video-Social-Media Panelists including, from left, Jeff Achen, David Krejci, Farrington Starnes and Chuck Olsen address the audience at the January 23 SMBMSP event.[/caption] Digital marketers have known for some time that video is an essential part of the marketing mix: 76% of B2B companies use video as a content marketing tactic. Video is also an important part of a social media content strategy. After all, YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google and Facebook has more than 1 billion daily video views. Great examples of companies using video to enhance both B2C and B2B marketing are in high demand whether from major brands, agencies and small DIY businesses. At TopRank Online Marketing we're always on the lookout for social media video trends and new examples to share with our community and clients. That's why seven members of our team attended a recent Social Media Breakfast at 514 studios in Minneapolis - to learn how other companies are implementing video as part of a social media strategy. The SMBMSP74 panel of social media video experts and pioneers included: • Jeff Achen, Executive Director of The Uptake • David Erickson, VP of Online Marketing for Karwoski & Courage • Erica Hanna, Owner, Puke Rainbows Creative • Chuck Olsen Owner, VidTiger • David Krejci  Executive Vice President, Social Media and Digital Communications at Weber Shandwick • Farrington Starnes Digital Media Coordinator, Bedlam Theatre [caption id="attachment_17927" align="alignnone" width="300"]TopRank-at-SMBMSP TopRank team members take in the presentation at SMBMSP.[/caption] What did the team from TopRank Marketing learn about video and social media? Here are a few takeaways, tips and insights that we each brought back to the office. Brooke-Furry Brooke Furry - Associate Account Manager Get past the idea that video marketing is all fuzzy animals and funny things kids say. Brands have a huge opportunity in 2015 to deliver helpful content visually to their audiences - how to's, stories, product tours demos. 90% of online shoppers find video on a major retailer's site helpful to their purchasing decision. People have less tolerance for wordiness than ever before as our attention spans decrease and usage of Instagram, etc. increase. Video makes sense to us more quickly than words do. That's not to say you should ditch your well-written articles and blog posts... Not at all. But do consider the changing nature of culture and content consumption when you're trying to connect with your target audience. Give them something they will actually like, watch and find helpful. Emily-Bacheller Emily Bacheller - Social Media Lead Interesting and engaging headlines prompt more video views. However, make sure that your headline accurately reflects what the video is about. If the video doesn’t meet the viewers expectations, they will stop watching after just a few seconds. Don’t have any video equipment? Experiment with video by using Google Hangouts on Air for interviews, podcasts, demos, and testimonials. Evan-Prokop Evan Prokop - Digital Marketing Manager Experiment with different video lengths to see what resonates with your audience and results in desired business outcomes. Similar to written content, the longer the video, the smaller the niche it will speak to, but that’s ok! The most important thing isn’t just reaching more people, it’s reaching more of the right people. Many marketers and businesses drag their feet on testing out video marketing because they are intimidated by the work that goes into creating a video with high production values. Yes, all else being equal, a well produced video will likely out-perform a cheaper one, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for businesses that don’t have a production studio at their disposal. That phone in your pocket can do some pretty incredible things with a little creativity. The most important factors that determine the success of a brand video are that it is sincere, concise and relevant to your target audience, not how much it cost. Debbie-Friez Debbie Friez - Social Media Lead Jeff Achen emphasized letting your business objectives drive your video production. Don’t let the video draw strategy. The panelists emphasized understanding your audience (as part of your strategy) and what they want or and what length of video they will engage. Consider using closed captioning on all your videos to gain the deaf community audience, and it will help increase your SEO. James-Anderson James Anderson - Director of Content Marketing Long-form video with heartfelt storytelling creates long-term gratification and touches niche audiences. In an example in which a nonprofit uses video for revenue development, longer video is absolutely necessary to tell the story that will bring in long-term donor investments. With smartphones and HD video, we are going to see more individuals adding their expertise to news stories. One way to reach journalists looking for background information and experts to contribute to their reporting is to post original opinion video. When a reporter searches for the topic, your video should be ready for them to find. Remember that YouTube is second only to Google as the largest search engine. You can improve your potential for being found in search by including video transcripts. Joel-Carlson Joel Carlson - Social Media Lead The human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than it processes text, so video has the power to change a person's impression and make an impact.  The length of a video isn’t a problem, if it shares a compelling message. So make sure that the lighting and the audio for the video are of good quality, so that the viewers aren’t distracted and miss the message. Kate-Heithoff Kate Heithoff - SEO Copywriter Video advertisements provide more control over the overall message. In order to create effective video content, use appropriate music and imagery. Music adds an extra dimension to the storytelling that can make the audience feel a wide range of emotions (i.e. sadness to empowerment). With the ability to evoke greater emotion, using music in videos can ultimately  help compel viewers to carry through with the advertisement's CTA. Because of Facebook's video auto play, it is imperative to make the video’s first three seconds as aesthetically pleasing and compelling as possible. Using auto play can actually be an advantage, as it attracts more eyes and allows people to see the content who normally would not have. Thank you again to Mykl Roventine from the Minneapolis / Saint Paul Social Media Breakfast for all that they do for the Twin Cities social media scene. TopRank Online Marketing is proud to be a long time sponsor of SMBMSP. For video of the event or to see upcoming events, visit SMBMSP.org. What tips can you share about video content for social media marketing and community building?  

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Online Magazines & Apps for Content Marketing: Brand Examples and Best Practices http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/01/online-magazines/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/01/online-magazines/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 13:20:54 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16345 “Think like a publisher” has become the mantra for many marketers over the past 2 years. While experienced marketers already recognize the value of great content, the lines are blurring between traditional publishers and brand publishers as more companies adopt more sophisticated content marketing practices. Just as publishers are creating digital magazines and apps to [...]

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Online Magazines and Apps

“Think like a publisher” has become the mantra for many marketers over the past 2 years.

While experienced marketers already recognize the value of great content, the lines are blurring between traditional publishers and brand publishers as more companies adopt more sophisticated content marketing practices.

Just as publishers are creating digital magazines and apps to better engage audiences, so too are brands who want to engage directly with target audiences as part of their owned media demand generation programs.

But what kind of content makes sense in a digital magazine? What effect does interactive digital content have on creating compelling customer experiences? And how do online magazines fit with other digital marketing efforts like social media and online advertising?

Ready to Receive. A significant trend fueling the growth of online magazines is the launch of budget tablets. If you attended CES 2014, the boom was pretty clear from the bounty of budget tablets on display. With prices expected to run between $129 and $179, 2014 may be the year of affordable high-resolution tablets which are perfect for consuming online magazine content.

Research shows that more than 59% of people read more magazines after purchasing a tablet and 63% want to have more choices of digital magazines. That means there’s definitely a gap for your company’s content marketing to fill.

Everybody Wins. One way to meet the demand for content on the rising number of mobile and tablet devices is with a digital publishing solution like an online magazine or app. The benefits of a digital magazine is that it integrates interactivity and analytics into a mobile adapted interface that satisfies the needs of consumers and provides performance information for brands.

The Data Agrees. Adobe, whose Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) powers the majority of all digital issues consumed on mobile devices (nearly 80%), reports they have seen a 115% increase in the number of downloads of DPS-built publications in a year-over-year comparison from November 2012 to 2013. DPS-created apps also have three times as many unique monthly readers as they did one year ago, they state. This bodes well for both traditional publishers as well as brands developing their own online magazine audience.

Some brands, like Pandora, are publishing digital magazines outright and companies, like Xerox, are partnering with traditional print publications like Forbes to set an example for what killer B2B content marketing can look like.

MMagazine Example - Pandora

Magazines for the Masses. Magazine-style aggregators, like Flipboard, are creating another content creation ecosystem by providing a way for anyone anywhere to create visually stunning digital magazines. Flipboard, which works with Android and IOS devices, does this by aggregating information from your social feeds, RSS feeds, and other partner websites and then presents it to you on your mobile device. In just three short years, they’ve attracted 85+ million users.

Notable brands, like Banana Republic and Levi’s, are creating remarkable compelling visual content using Flipboard and more are coming online every month.

As Jeff Bullas writes, “Flipboard is the new way to flip that marketing switch for visual impact. It adds another dimension to your content on a web that craves stunning images and photos.”

Online Magazine Pros: 

  • Potential to diversify and expand its audience demographics. Apps are a good way to reach a younger demographic, for example.
  • Use of rich media, such as video, enhances the “infotainment” value of the content and gives the user a superior experience over print. It’s the “showing” versus the “telling” that makes multimedia presentations such a powerful tool for engaging customers.
  • Ability to segment consumers and use the data to create a different experience for the user based on who they are and what device they are coming from.

Online Magazine Cons:

  • A digital magazine may be isolated from the powerful sharing mechanisms of the web and is undiscoverable to new readers.
  • Tablet and smartphone users only have the time or interest to regularly engage with a handful of apps.
  • All content is not necessarily good content regardless of taking advantage of a shiny new toy.

What Marketers Are Saying:

“I’m always trying to think more like a publisher than a marketer. … Our strategy is not to create a destination, but to feed the social graph.” Bryan Rhoads, editor in chief, IQMatters, Intel

Digital news magazines provide a “perfect blend of technology and journalism.” Nick D’Aloisio, founder of Summly, which Yahoo acquired last year.

“If you’re aiming towards the future it seems like the right idea. While I love printed publications, the product I wanted to create was going to focus on video.” David Ellner, founder and CEO of Panna.

Examples of Effective Digital Magazine Content

University of Connecticut

From 360-degree panoramic views and interactive photo galleries to videos and bonus stories, UConn Magazine – the University’s twice-yearly alumni publication – is now delivering a new kind of experience to readers, with audiovisual storytelling made possible through the magazine’s free app for tablet devices. The UConn Magazine app launched in the fall of 2013, offering all of the content found in the print edition with the following features now made possible in digital form.

UConn Digital Magazine Example

Intel

Intel’s new digital magazine, IQ Matters, offers a peek at the outer edge of design, technology, social and big data. They developed an algorithm to curate social content in a way that leverages their own employees. They publish what employees are sharing and what’s grabbing their attention. It’s a combination of a social algorithm, plus an employee filter that crowdsources what they are saying and sharing and uses that as a discovery tool.

To read the full story of the why this new “social property” works, read this interview with the editor in chief.

Digital Magazine Example

Virgin Media

Who other than Sir Richard Branson would advance the case for digital magazine content one step beyond what other publishers are doing? In January 2012, Virgin Media launched a bi-monthly magazine, using Blippar, an augmented reality app, which gives customers a fully interactive experience. From Richard Branson’s video welcome message to a personalized game where a user can blow up the Eiffel Tower, the magazine lets readers experience Virgin Media’s multi-channel offering.

You have to step into this totally immersive experience to grasp fully the features of this technology.

Online Magazines & Apps Best Practices:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all for creating captivating digital content. As with all content, online and offline, it’s imperative you know your audience and the technology requirements of each platform.
  • While the tablet screen dimensions are growing (new tablet sizes range from 7? to 10?), smaller screens require even more compelling content.
  • Content must align with what a consumer wants and how he or she wants it.

Companies have learned consumers want digital content, and brands have shown how they can engage directly with consumers and buyers through digital magazines and apps.

While some believe digital publications have a prominent role in the future of content marketing, magazine apps have drawn conflicting opinions from those in the marketing, publishing and tech industries. Some believe magazine apps live in a space overcrowded by other apps and, cut off from the open social stream of the web, suffer from poor discoverability and share-ability.

The goal of all content marketing is to increase engagement, drive cost efficiencies and improve conversions. Online magazines and apps represent a natural development to provide a complete and immersive customer-facing experience.

Have you tried creating an online magazine with Flipboard or a custom publishing solution? What’s your mix of curating vs. creating of content?

For more posts on content marketing tactics, be sure to see the full list here.

Photo credit: Creative Commons


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6 Cleverly Creative Marketing Campaigns of 2013 http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/creative-marketing-campaigns-2013/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/creative-marketing-campaigns-2013/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16064 We all have friends. One thing that makes us friends is that we have things in common, and what we have in common are our personalities and our interests. We interact with others based on those things—and with the social atmosphere so crucial to a brand’s persona, they want to be our “friends” too. 2013 [...]

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Online MarketingWe all have friends. One thing that makes us friends is that we have things in common, and what we have in common are our personalities and our interests. We interact with others based on those things—and with the social atmosphere so crucial to a brand’s persona, they want to be our “friends” too.

2013 has been a great year for content marketing. Savvy marketers have come up with new, unique ways to create bonds with their audiences, encouraging interaction and ultimately intent to purchase. Viral has become a buzzword that many strive for, yet few achieve. But regardless of how frequently online marketing changes, one thing will remain the same: brands will continue to use stories, interaction, and creativity to attract customers.

We polled our team to see what creative, clever online marketing tactics they’ve seen this year. Here are the campaigns that made the list:

Steven Zahurones
Video game developer Naughty Dog wanted to develop a viral interest for their newest video game title that will launch on the Playstation 4, Uncharted. They created a teaser video campaign to build anticipation for the game while taking advantage of the interest in the PS4 console launch.

Rather than take the traditional video game promotion approach where you view live clips of the game, this teaser plays like a story from a first person point of view – a man is telling a story that will bring users into the game, leaving much to the imagination, but building incredible suspense.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SnJPTkrD7o[/youtube]

Going live on the eve of the PS4 launch, the video gained over one million views in four days on the official Playstation YouTube channel. It also generated significant coverage from industry publications that were already tuned into covering the PS4.

Ben Brausen
Coke Zero embraced the coming holiday season and created the Ugly Christmas Sweater Generator. People can go to their website and create their own ugly sweater with everything only an elementary school teacher would love like bows, cats, and other holiday items. Then, users can vote for their favorites. The 100 sweaters that are voted the best as of December 1st will be made and sent to their creators for the holiday.

Creative Marketing Campaign 2013

This is a great campaign as it is something fun, creative, and interactive for the customer. It is something people will share with others as they want to get the word out and get those votes so they can win. The response has been so great that the website is currently down due to the traffic load.

Katie Bresnahan
In light of the holiday season and their recent push for borderline-racy advertising that gets people talking and goes socially-viral-crazy, (See “Ship My Pants” which has almost 20 million views on YouTube, and “Big Gas Savings” with just over 6 million.) Kmart’s latest campaign is called, “Show Your Joe.” It features men in tuxedo jackets wearing holiday themed boxer shorts, dancing to “ring” like bells. Kmart as a retailer has struggled in recent years, rapidly closing stores in an effort to stay afloat. 2013 has been their year for advertising in that it has definitely gotten people talking and given them some great brand exposure.

As its predecessors did, the ad is causing lots of controversy, and yet younger people are heavily embracing the ad via their social channels. “Show Your Joe” is well on its way to becoming yet another viral success for this struggling retailer making a name for itself in the marketing space.

Brooke McDonald
Dutch brewing company Heineken held an Instagram contest to engage their fans.

The prize: 18 tickets to the U.S. Open Men’s Final to 9 winners.

How it worked: Fans had to follow the @crack_the_us_open Instagram page, search the posted photos of fans for clues, and comment on the correct photo with a code word given each day. Fans who commented first and followed clues that led to the last photo had a chance at winning tickets!
Creative Marketing Campaign 2013

Heineken got a boatload of brand visibility and 1,400 Instagram followers on its special Instagram page without redirecting visitors elsewhere – it all happened within the confines of their Instagram. Cool!

Emily Bacheller
In case you haven’t heard, Bob Dylan just released a complete album box set that includes 41 official albums.

In order to create buzz around this new release and drive traffic to the Bob Dylan official website, Interlude created an interactive music video for the 1965 song “Like a Rolling Stone.” The music video is formatted into a TV screen, and viewers can flip between 16 different channels and view different shows including, “The Price is Right” and “Pawn Stars.” The actors in the shows lip sync to the song as it plays.

Creative Marketing Campaign 2013

Viewers are encouraged to share the video on their social channels, and with so many Bob Dylan fans out there, and the visuals being pretty incredible, social viral success was all but ensured.We’re eager to stay tuned to learn how it impacted record sales and hear a view count!

Jesse Pickrain
Have you ever been offered free underwear? If you’re like most people, the answer is no. But Fruit of the Loom set out to change that in 2013. The company sent a message to LinkedIn members who either changed jobs or got a new job for a 30-day period, allowing them to claim some undies on the house.

Creative Marketing Campaign 2013

Why?

Because, “Great fitting underwear can help you start your workday in a great mood.”

So true.

Word is, new customer purchases are up, and I’m also told my colleague’s uncle’s friend’s nephew changed jobs for the sole reason of claiming a pair.

There are countless ways to weave stories into your content to connect emotionally with your audience. As we transition to the New Year, think of ways events, holidays, pop culture and trends can factor into your marketing mix to help take it to the level of our examples!

What creative campaigns did we miss? Feel free to share your favorite 2013 online marketing campaign in the comments!


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Content Marketing with Interactive Tools: Pros, Cons, Examples & Best Practices http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/interactive-tools-examples/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/interactive-tools-examples/#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:19:33 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16018 At first glance, interactive online tools may not seem like a content marketing tactic. But, when you consider their educational and entertainment value, interactive tools offer exactly the kind of ‘stickiness’ marketers and brands are looking for. From the early days of collaborative online learning to sophisticated interactive tools that allow consumers to keep track [...]

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Interactive Tool as Content Marketing TacticAt first glance, interactive online tools may not seem like a content marketing tactic. But, when you consider their educational and entertainment value, interactive tools offer exactly the kind of ‘stickiness’ marketers and brands are looking for.

From the early days of collaborative online learning to sophisticated interactive tools that allow consumers to keep track of their calorie count and fitness level, today, numerous institutions, governments, news organizations and brands have incorporated interactive tools on their websites to further educate and engage their customers and constituents.

Why incorporate interactive tools as part of your content marketing mix? Because education is such a powerful and important fundamental to improving the customer experience. The ability to invest in effort and receive output contributes to a customer experience that can differentiate your brand. At the same time, useful interactive tools satisfy a need for your target audience. Ultimately, tools that enable user interaction and feedback can drive sales, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

According to a new User Experience Survey Report, almost three-quarters (74%) of businesses believe that the user experience is important for improving sales and conversions, increased customer satisfaction (72%) and customer loyalty (44%).

Big brands have been using education as a way to connect with their consumers for a long time. Tying added-value content using interactive media to education goes hand-in-hand. With a clear competitive advantage hinging on exceptional user experience, employing interactive tools as part of your content marketing strategy, will go far toward solidifying your organization as one that meets a core customer need.

In the ‘splinternet’ economy, being able to capture your visitors’ attention is becoming more and more difficult. But, when measuring which content marketing tactic earned the best ROI, interactive media ranked higher (36%) than sales copy (27.9%) and infographics (27.9%). eMarketer

Bottom line: “users want to learn and be entertained, quickly.” Interactive tools can help accomplish that.

H/T on the RF Intent Index from SmartInsights, which has other interactive tool examples.

RF Intent Index

The Goal of Interactive Content

Whether you call it a ‘widget’ or a ‘tool’, the goal of interactive content is to provide a unique personal experience that your customers and prospects might not expect from more traditional forms of content. Tools that allow user input and that publish customized output as content can be very effective, but interactive tools can also simply answer questions or facilitate a process, from quizzes to diagnostics. The focus should be on creating a meaningful touch-point with your brand and maintaining a connection among users.

Pros

  • Outstanding way to educate your visitors, especially if you employ subject matter experts
  • Chance to ‘show’ not ‘tell’ enhancing the user experience and your brand message
  • Receiving instant feedback is a compelling motivation for visitors to engage and return
  • Interactivity is a natural for offering high entertainment value, hence increased visitor engagement
  • A true value exchange creates a meaningful way to gather more in-depth customer data

Cons

  • Relatively expensive and time-consuming
  • Content focused on one idea will fail to encourage visitors to self-segment, limiting engagement
  • Confusing static product demos that do not allow for increasing levels of interaction with interactive demos that do can result in a barrier to entry

What Thought Leaders Are Saying

“Rich digital media is not just a trend; it’s the future of advertising. Agencies leveraging innovative design tools and technology have proven their effectiveness in driving higher engagement online in a cluttered Web environment.” Forrester Research

“We live in an age where we are all being bombarded with more content than we can possibly consume. As a result, if you want your content to stand out and have an impact, you have got to find ways to make it as engaging and interactive as possible. Content that you simply read is forgotten or, worse, completely overlooked.” Kevin Cain, Director of Content Strategy, OpenView

Websites Using Interactive Tools With Panache

SherwinWilliams

With content exclusive to the tablet format, Sherwin-Williams STIR® magazine tablet continues to provide inspiring ideas and technical insights into the use and application of color in residential and commercial interiors. Free to use on your tablet device.

Interactive Tools from Sherwin Williams

Getting it Right

  • Inspiring: Stunning, interactive photo slideshows
  • Engaging: Interviews with colorful design personalities and detailed project features
  • Educating: Tap to explore color by family, access RGB values and LRV numbers, and get product specs
  • Convincing: Exclusive videos, including behind-the-scenes project videos and interviews with our popular Color Spy personalities

This follows the customer journey TopRank maps for its clients: attract, engage, convert.

Vizrt

Vizrt provides real-time 3D graphics and asset management tools for the broadcast industry – from award-winning animations and maps to online publishing tools. Vizrt’s products are used by the worlds’ leading broadcasters and publishing houses, including CNN, CBS, Fox, the BBC, and others. The presenter guides viewers through pre-game statistics and lineups, in-game analysis and post-game discussions. Below, is the advanced analysis interactive tool for the 2014 World Cup.

Getting it Right

  • High entertainment value through advanced interactive elements via Multitouch screen, including 3D stadium models and maps of Brazil
  • Educating visitors using data integration from third party providers giving them a ‘team’ experience by displaying team members and player statistics
  • Ensures its viewers stay engaged by providing only highly relevant content, such as team formations and game highlights
  • Incorporates social media integration for this highly sharable content (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)

ChooseMyPlate

Brought to us from the USDA, this highly interactive web application allows you to track your diet with daily food plans, BMI calculator, virtual coaching and more. I realize there are a number of similar web and mobile apps that compete, but I wanted to acknowledge the U.S. government and the people behind this interactive online tool. Despite the recent government shut down, it’s nice to see when they get something right!

Interactive Tool as Content Marketing Tactic

Getting it Right

  • Provides high educational value
  • Visitors can receive some form of feedback through virtual coaching if desired
  • Easy profile setup, giving visitors access to a host of interactive tools and resources

When incorporating interactive tools to your content marketing plan, the benefits are numerous. In today’s fast paced and information rich world, providing answers isn’t enough. Brands need to focus on creating experiences with their content marketing and interactive tools are one way to do that. On top of that, interactive content is highly shareable, increases qualitative time spent on your web site and can support the overall customer journey from awareness to consideration to purchase. This is the same approach we evangelize at TopRank Online Marketing for our B2B marketing clients.

By bringing content to life with interactive tools, you can gain insights into the customer and design for the ultimate experience and a mutually beneficial outcome.

What do you see as the next generation of interactive tools and design? What are some great examples? Any fails?

If you’re interested in other articles about content marketing tactics, be sure to visit our content marketing tactics index.

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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The Truth About Visual Content Marketing Tactics: Infographics http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/content-marketing-tactic-infographics/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/content-marketing-tactic-infographics/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 11:01:19 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15953 It’s safe to say that Big Data is revolutionizing 21st century business. The big question for marketers, however, is how do you take the wealth of information at your disposal and effectively simplify and present it in an engaging and informative way? One answer is infographics. Defining what entails a good infographic is complex. For [...]

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Infographics as Content Marketing TacticIt’s safe to say that Big Data is revolutionizing 21st century business. The big question for marketers, however, is how do you take the wealth of information at your disposal and effectively simplify and present it in an engaging and informative way? One answer is infographics.

Defining what entails a good infographic is complex. For one, not all data lends itself to creative and unique visual communication. Someone who’s expert in design may not understand your audience or how to map relevant data in a compelling way. Don’t forget: great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared.

A couple of years ago, big splashy infographics with little substance were able to attract a lot of traffic because they represented a new content marketing format. While the novelty of the format has waned, they are still a fantastic way to present ideas and data in an easily digestible way as long as you think about the story behind the numbers and readers glean actual insight.

Remember, data is the foundation of every infographic, so when you have a dataset on hand, take the time to learn what it’s about, where it’s from, the methodology behind the estimates and what makes it interesting and unique.

According to statistics gathered by Hubspot, consider that

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text

So, the proliferation of infographics should come as no surprise.

When it comes to business, big data offers unprecedented insight, improved decision-making and untapped sources of revenue. In the era of big data, where information moves faster than ever, infographics can reveal patterns in our lives and our world in fresh and surprising ways.

Simply put, infographics as a content marketing tactic provide a tool to educate and inform your primary target audience using data-rich visualization through storytelling, which TopRank has advocated for years.

Pros

  • Helps with search engine optimization (SEO) – As the infographic gains traction, it earns incoming links.
  • Builds brand awareness – By adding an unobtrusive logo in a prime position on the graphic, you can boost your online branding. One way to measure this is by viewing image file loads in your server logs.
  • Creates social buzz – It’s easy to measure new followers, fans and sharing on various social networks.
  • Establish company as an industry thought leader – By utilizing your own company data, internal subject matter experts, and industry related research, you offer a rich trove of information, demonstrating your expertise.

Cons

  • Infographics created solely for their ‘linkbait’ potential has resulted in a glut of poorly executed infographics, giving a bad name to worthy and creditable data visualization.
  • The cost to create a striking infographic may place this content marketing tactic out of reach for small businesses.
  • Outsourcing information mining for statistics or hard data may result in a disconnect with your audience’s true pain points to be effective.
  • Unrealistic expectations of what it takes to make an infographic ‘go viral’ could perpetuate infographic fatigue, doing more harm than good for your brand.

What the Experts Are Saying

“As a Google search term, ‘infographic’ has increased nearly twenty-fold in the last five years. Yet infographics have been popular, in one form or another, for centuries. The source of their power isn’t computers or the Internet, but the brain’s natural visual intelligence. Gareth Cook, The New Yorker

“The very best [infographics] engender and facilitate an insight by visual means — allow us to grasp some relationship quickly and easily that otherwise would take many pages and illustrations and tables to convey. Insight seems to happen most often when data sets are crossed in the design of the piece — when we can quickly see the effects on something over time, for example, or view how factors like income, race, geography, or diet might affect other data. When that happens, there’s an instant ‘Aha!’…”David Byren, quoted in BrainPickings.

Infographics That Engage

National Pen Company

Infographics as a Content Marketing TacticRanked #2 for views and shares on Visual.ly, the National Pen Company created a compelling information-packed infographic geared to their target audience. Who knew so many people still wrote with pens?! They identified over 5,000 personality traits that are reveled when a person writes. With their in-depth data analysis, they tapped into the zeitgeist of handwriting analysis. They intrigued the reader with tidbits of how graphology is even used for detecting lies. In addition to being visually appealing, they cited numerous credible sources in the footer of the graphic. You can view the entire graphic here.

Dell – (TopRank Client)

Infographics as Content Marketing Tactic - Dell

Dell, clever as ever, utilized the old-school binary ‘yes-no’ format known to programmers the world over to engage their primary audience. They created a cohesive piece of ‘eye candy’ incorporating humor which, again, works with tech types. While there’s no real data employed, by visualizing a ‘Day in the Life’ of a person sitting in front of a computer all day, Dell made it clear they empathize, making it easy for the reader to connect with the brand.

ADT Home Security Services

Infographics as Content Marketing Tactic Example

The creative department at ADT Home Security Services produced this infographic, depicting some of the largest diamond, cash and art-related crimes around the world in recent times.Making use of thorough research, the infographic’s author establishes what are generally believed to be the top heists in all three categories, and writes up notes showcasing just why each is classified as ‘extreme.’

The infographic does a good job of incorporating a clean central theme, blending in the different heist scenarios into a single canvas. The recurring stylistic elements of the map background and the ‘outcome’ section tie together the separate topics into the intended focus of the need for security without hitting the reader over the head.

Infographic Best Practices

  • Write a catchy title. (Easier said than done.)
  • Choose an interesting vs. ‘hot’ topic that resonates with your customers’ needs.
  • Be topical. Check Google trends for trending topics relevant to your industry and/or target audience.
  • Involve credible sources in the data collection, such as prominent companies, people or research organizations, and then encourage those sources to help you promote the resulting graphic.
  • Promote vial social channels and make it easy to share or embed by including HTML code.
  • On the resized image page, try and insert text to help with search engine crawlers and include social sharing buttons above and below the infographic.
  • Avoid a white background or too much text. Infographics are often shared on multiple websites and blogs, most of which have white backgrounds. If your infographic’s background is also white, then deciphering where it begins and ends will be difficult.
  • Link to a larger image of the graphic to a page with no formatting for a better user experience.
  • List references of research sources you’ve cited, which will increase the perceived value of your efforts.

For more on the optimization and marketing of infographics, see Chapter 10, pp. 142 – 144, Optimize, by Lee Odden.

Remember, you’re telling a story. Too much emphasis on data points (less is better) and not enough on high resolution visuals will result in a ho-hum infographic that receives a tepid response. Design isn’t just about making things pretty. It’s about making things work and, in the case of infographics, that means representing data accurately and clearly. It means letting the data speak.

What do you envision the next generation of infographics will be?

Photo credit: Shutterstock


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How Retailers Are Boosting Sales With B2C Video Content http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/b2c-video-content-that-sells/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/b2c-video-content-that-sells/#comments Wed, 13 Mar 2013 11:35:33 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14965 Video has exploded as an online marketing tool over the past few years for B2C marketers. As the interent’s second most popular search engine, YouTube has reduced the barriers to entry to almost nil. As a result, marketers quickly jumped on board with vloggers and other personalities to capitalize on video’s ability to capture and hold [...]

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Bloomingdales uses video content to give viewers a sneak peek at insider info.Video has exploded as an online marketing tool over the past few years for B2C marketers. As the interent’s second most popular search engine, YouTube has reduced the barriers to entry to almost nil. As a result, marketers quickly jumped on board with vloggers and other personalities to capitalize on video’s ability to capture and hold the interests of an increasingly attention-deficit consumer.

In fact, video is second only to feature articles as the content marketing tactic with the greatest ROI, according to eMarketer. Video allows marketers to connect with web and mobile customers, across websites, social media and apps, in order to offer targeted information in a visual and auditory format appealing to a wide audience.

Online retailers are especially fond of video as a content marketing tool; 48% of the top 50 online retail companies used video on their websites in 2012, a 200% increase from the previous year.

Bloomingdale’s, for example, revamped their video strategy to move from simply providing information to building stronger relationships with customers by making videos an interactive tool. Click-to-buy components in video and discounts or exclusive offers are an incentive for customers to engage brand content, while exclusive information makes them feel “in-the-know” and more apt to share their knowledge (via brand content) with friends.

Bloomingdale’s leveraged these strategies to completely overhaul their video collection in 2012, according to online video distributor Touchstorm. “Nothing can hook you and pull you in like video,” said Sean Womack, senior vice president of marketing and production at Touchstorm. “With branded editorial videos, retailers get the opportunity to be what they really are — experts in their fields — and they get to share it with an audience who is actively searching for that expertise, or an audience that is Googling it right at this moment,” he said. “Video is social currency.”

Cycling retailer Performance Bike created a series of how to videos on topics important to bike enthusiasts, such as changing a tire or adjusting a derailleur. Their video content marketing strategy serves to frame their brand as the authority and keep them top of mind to customers whose needs will inevitably shift from information-seeking to solution-seeking, at some point. When that happens, they’re ready with their products as the ideal solution and are a trusted resource for buyers.

Performance Bikes uses video content marketing to establish their expertise and build brand trust.

Performance Bike’s YouTube channel is now a hub of activity, with over 6,000 subscribers and 3.5 million video views.

Scott Money global head of social media at FordAuto manufacturing giant Ford are also experiencing success in video content marketing. Their YouTube channel has over 4 million views and 136,000 subscribers. Their global head of social media has always been a bit ahead of the curve, though; five years ago he was already into video and warning advertisers to get ready.

In a blog post, Monty described an app he had his eye on: “It leverages web video and consumer-generated content, but in a new and different way that doesn’t require much in the way of new content development. They call it Overlay.tv. I call it fully interactive and annotated video that has the power to change the way advertisers think about online video.”

Indeed, we have changed the way we think of video as a content marketing tool. Eighty percent of all marketers now use video as part of their strategy and people are watching; 60% of the consumers who encounter online videos will watch them.

How do you use video marketing to build brand authority, engage consumers and ultimately drive sales?


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