Prepare a Visual Social Feast and Consumers Will Bite

Prepare a Visual Social Feast and Consumers Will Bite

Prepare a Visual Social Feast and Consumers Will Bite

(Originally posted in Spin Sucks)

For this year’s back-to-school season, TOMS launched a contest aimed at increasing visual engagement on Pinterest.

#TOMS Give Back-to-School encouraged people to create a pinboard and pin their favorite outfits using only items found on the TOMS website.

While primarily known for shoes, TOMS wanted people to see they could wear the brand from head to toe.

To compete for the $500 TOMS gift certificate, pinners created a special board for the contest and tagged every pin with “#TOMS Give Back-to-School.”

TOMS scored huge brand awareness and sales during the contest as pinners posted beautiful pictures that spread across their personal networks.

The TOMS campaign shows the expanding influence of visual social media sites, and in the coming years, more brands will take part in this growing trend.

Why Visual Social Media Takes the Cake

Pinterest has more than 70 million users, which may not seem like a lot compared to the billions at Facebook, but, unlike users of other social media sites, Pinterest users become more active over time, not less.

This makes sense when you think about the draw of pictures.

The Internet is overloaded with text, with every company in the world creating text-heavy blog posts.

With so much to read, people are looking for simpler media to consume.

Pictures are processed more quickly and remembered longer. They can also tell your brand’s story more effectively than 1,000-word blog posts.

(Hence: A picture is worth more than 1,000 words.)

When it comes to social media, posts with images get 39 percent more engagement than other posts.

And, in some inexplicable way, it’s been proven that users will not only remember your picture, but they’ll also associate your brand with similar pictures in a different context.

That’s reach you could never get with words alone.

Customers also love images because they’re editable. Everyone wants to express himself, and when users can share a brand’s content but also make it their own, it’s a win-win.

The beauty of visual strategy is that consumers can’t help but be drawn to the visual feast.

How Brands Can Get Visual

So, how do you make like TOMS and take advantage of the benefits of visual?

Like all other content, visual sites such as Instagram and Pinterest require some strategic thinking and a well-executed plan.

One of the worst things brands can do is throw up mediocre images, hoping to draw attention.

Here are some important steps for brands to take when crafting a visual social media strategy.

Define your brand visually. Don’t just think about your products. What colors, patterns, and images represent who you are as a brand? Make sure the images you use tell a story of either the brand or the user.

Think broadly about your visuals. Not every pin or Instagram photo has to be (or should be) focused on your brand. Capital One and American Express both maintain pinboards for brides, world travelers, and bucket-list creators. These images are inherently shareable, regardless of a user’s affiliation with the companies, which makes it easier for the brands to spread organically.

Use segmentation to your advantage. Segment your audience by demographics, interests, and values. Each of these categories can provide insight into the types of visuals your audience prefers and where it likes to see them. For example, users who are into “beauty” might also follow certain celebrities that you can incorporate into your campaign. Users who are “green” might appreciate holistic health advice or eco-friendly gift ideas. Use segmentation to branch out and go broad, as mentioned above.

Pay attention to top content for your audience. Through content tracking, you can also discover what kind of content your audience is sharing and publishing most, then create visuals around that content. Infographics are a great option here, putting information into an easy-to-understand yet still visually appealing format.

Know your grassroots influencers. Also called brand ambassadors, these are the people who are naturally spreading the word about your brand. Target these influencers by creating more of the content and visuals they love, but also by engaging with them personally. These people are the ones who will convince less enthusiastic users to love your brand, so make sure you love them.

The rise of Pinterest and Instagram is undeniable, and more brands are beginning to realize the power of images in marketing.

Winning brands will be the ones that create the best and most compelling visual social media strategies that engage all kinds of users.

Social Data Earns an A+ for Back-to-School Marketing

Social Data Earns an A+ for Back-to-School Marketing

(Originally posted in LonelyBrand)

4 Ways Social Media Data Can Boost Your Back-to-School Marketing Campaigns

In 2013, analysts projected consumers would spend $72.5 billion on back-to-school gear. But before the number of chino sales gets you too excited, there’s another important trend you need to take into account: Consumers are spending less and shopping smarter.

In that same year, consumers planned to spend 8 percent less on school supplies, and 32 percent of parents said they would comparison shop online before making purchase decisions.

So companies looking to get a piece of this year’s back-to-school pie have to deploy every resource they have.

Fortunately, marketing teams have access to unprecedented amounts of data that can inform their back-to-school marketing campaigns. It’s simply a matter of using that data creatively.

Use Social Media to Boost Back-to-School Marketing

One of the biggest challenges for marketers during the back-to-school season is connecting with youth through authentic, meaningful interactions. That’s where mobile and social marketing have become integral to narrowly focused campaigns.

Engaging with brands that use hashtags and other social conversation tactics is a form of expression for teens. And when they latch on to a brand as a form of individualism, high levels of engagement can follow.

Here are four ways you can use social media data to fuel your back-to-school marketing campaigns:

1. Use Online and Offline Location-Based Marketing Tactics

The most effective social media marketing managers understand the digital and physical locations of their target market.

While the digital platform with the highest concentration of your audience will give you amazing detail about demographics, usage, and shopping habits, the majority of customers will enter a physical location to complete their purchase.

To provide a seamless online-to-offline experience, utilize data about your audience’s behaviors to advise campaign-related decisions. Employ geotargeting data to identify shopping and movement habits, and develop location-based coupons to entice customers to enter your brick-and-mortar store.

2. Channel Analytics to Determine the ‘What’ and ‘Where’

Once you’re monitoring the right audience, you need to make sure you’re using the right words in the right places. Identify trending hashtags and topics on all social sites, then plan your content from there.

Take H&M. There’s an overlap between the audience that interacts with it on Twitter and the hashtags used. H&M’s audience is drawn to giveaways and contests. By incorporating these in its back-to-school campaigns, H&M can further engage with consumers.

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Use this insight to determine where your target market spends the majority of its time and shares the most content, and move your campaign to that platform.

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It might mean you need to move your promotions from Facebook to Instagram. Wherever the majority of outbound links are headed, you should follow.

3. Excite Audiences With Visuals

While text-based social sites are still popular, visuals are a critical part of solid content strategies. Images and videos get more click-throughs and shares from younger audiences, which almost automatically expands your reach. Share experiences, humor, culture, or news — anything that helps your brand naturally fit into real conversations.

4. Shift the Focus Away From You

Teens are influential in the buying process, and because they’re accustomed to products, services, and media that cater to them, they’ve lost the ability to care about you, your products, or your services. To get youths’ attention, keep them at the center of your efforts.

Simple tweaks can make a big difference in shifting the focus of your promotions to the audience. Offer contests positioning them as the stars of an ad or YouTube video. Ask for input regarding something influential in their lives. Attach your brand to a celebrity or event that’s meaningful to them. Use what you know to provide relevant and interesting promotions, and you’ll take their attention — and their dollars — away from other brands.

Too often, marketers run back-to-school campaigns that don’t speak to the right audience, or they try to engage with them in the wrong places. But with all the data available from social media analytics, you have no excuse. Offer something valuable, and keep it simple. If people see a clear benefit, they’ll share it. If it’s a simple message, it’ll be more engaging. Use real-time, honest insights to craft the perfect message every time.