14 Social Media Faux Pas To Avoid At All Costs

Social media is an important part of any company’s marketing strategy. While social media savvy helps promote brand recognition and overall success, one misstep can bring a business unwanted attention—even national infamy.

Social Media Faux Pas

As industry experts, the members of Forbes Agency Council have seen their share of social media faux pas. Below, 14 of them share some of the biggest mistakes to avoid on your social channels.

1. Inconsistency In Posting

The biggest faux pas is inconsistency. If your company can’t provide consistent, relevant content, then you’re better served—in terms of brand positioning—by not using social media at all. – Gordon Andrew, Highlander Consulting Inc.

2. Seeming Disconnected From The World

Too often, companies are so focused on their own messaging and goals that they come across as disconnected from what’s happening in the world or industry. Especially at a time like now, it’s so important for companies to start by listening, paying attention to what others are saying and exhibiting the appropriate level of empathy. Doing the right thing is as important as saying the right thing. – Matt Berry, Conversion Agile Marketing

3. Engaging Haters

Sometimes the simplest advice is truly the best: If you’ve made a misstep online, apologize and move on. If you take time to engage the social media haters, the fight will never end. There are professionals whose job it is to do this for a living. Other people have too much time on their hands and simply no empathy or filter. Don’t make their problem your problem. Apologize. Move on. – Megan Cunningham, Magnet Media, Inc.

4. Sharing Polarizing Content

First, steer clear of political or religious opinions in general—this should go without saying. Second, be careful when trying to be humorous or catchy by posting “too soon” when it comes to current events. Third, remember that social posts will live forever in some form, so if you can’t stand by your words forever, then you need to reconsider that post. – Bernard May, National Positions

5. Failure To Understand Your Audience

The vast majority of social media missteps are a result of not understanding or considering your audience, the global landscape or both. Poor attempts at humor, a statement that does not reflect the beliefs of your audience or poor handling of an issue can all lead to public consternation. Avoid “hot takes” and speak authentically and true to your brand voice to avoid those faux pas moments. – David Harrison, EVINS

6. Being Self-Serving

Being conscious and appropriate to what is happening in the public domain is critical when posting socially. For instance, in our current health and economic crisis, posting things that do not acknowledge it or take it into consideration would seem self-serving and inappropriate in a time of need. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

7. Letting Quality Slip

It almost always comes down to common sense. The problem is that these things usually come up when social media managers get relaxed about making sure everything goes out right. As long as you keep your quality standards up for every tweet or post you send from the company’s accounts, these unfortunate mistakes can be avoided. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

8. Acting Opportunistically

One of the biggest missteps in social media is trying to be opportunistic or lacking empathy about the current conversation. Understanding a trending topic and wanting to join the conversation makes sense if you’re staying true to your brand values. But simply pretending to be informed or to care to get your name out there can have disastrous results. – Jessica Reznick, We’re Magnetic

9. Not Monitoring Response

The best thing you can do is monitor the comments. If the comments are positive, then that’s great. If they’re negative and it’s not being monitored, it’s going to look worse. It would seem as though you’re promoting something that people want you to take down. This can be avoided if you monitor it. Do it not just once a day, but multiple times a day. Update the ad and listen to your audience. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

10. Too Much Self-Attention

One of the biggest mistakes on social media is the fact that there is too much self-attention happening out there. What that means is that it is necessary to know the right blend of personal and promotional content. You must give to the community to make sure that you have a responsible balance in the mix. – Jon James, Ignited Results

11. Political Posts

Unless you are a news organization or work in the political world, bringing politics into your posts should be avoided at all costs. Getting political can alienate a lot of your customers and clients. Always steer clear of talking politics. – Zachary Binder, Bell + Ivy

12. Capitalizing On A Serious Matter For Marketing Purposes

The biggest faux pas a company can make on social media is being apathetic to what is happening in the world. Capitalizing on a serious matter for marketing purposes is a great way to bring unwanted and oftentimes detrimental attention to your business. Double-check your content and look at it from all angles to ensure your message can’t be construed in a negative light. Empathy is always key! – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

13. Tone-Deafness

On social media, it’s essential to build relationships with customers. If a company is too self-focused or is tone-deaf to what its market wants, needs and seeks, its presence will not be valuable or brand-building. Social media should be outward-focused interactions (“What can I do for you?”), not self-focused. It’s about relationships above all else! – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC

14. Running Away From Attention

Never run away from attention, whether good or bad. If there is negative attention on you or your business on social media, address it. Whether it’s an irate customer, viral clip or other potential mishap, identify it and address it in a genuine and empathetic way. Be open to bad attention and take it as a lesson to learn from. It’s also something others can learn about how you and your business handle situations. – Tony Pec, Y Not

13 Ways To Update Your Brand Without Changing Everything

Whether a business is updating a marketing strategy or simply trying to keep up with modern sentiment, sometimes a company needs to refresh its brand a little. But while change can be good, a business might not want to do a complete overhaul—especially if the organization lacks the resources to do so, or if its existing brand is well-established and popular.

As experienced agency leaders, the members of Forbes Agency Council know how to successfully brand and rebrand businesses. Below, they share 13 ways a company can refresh its image across platforms without risking its established brand equity.

13 Ways to update your brand

1. Communicate Changes With Your Audience

The fear of rebranding whether large or small comes with the brand equity you’ve built with your audience. If you’re very active in communicating with your audience and customers on your journey, a small or large rebrand will not dissuade them in following your mission—they will stand excited and supportive. Your brand relationship with your audience and customer will allow changes to be made easily. – Tony Pec, Y Not You Media

2. Repackage Your Product, Service Or Knowledge

You can add a little sizzle to the agency in a number of ways. Create an information product that can be sold or given away online. Create a new software tool that supports your company and solves issues for your clients. Create and hold a live event. Write a book teaching things that you specialize in. Interview other specialists that benefit your clients in a podcast. – Breynan Hammons, Innvio

3. Find Ways To Connect To New Markets

As brands age, so does their target market. Brands find themselves stagnant because they have failed to remain relevant and evolve into new generations of consumers. Brands need to remember that equity is based on the perception of their target market. If a brand does a good job and understands and evolves with its consumers, it will remain relevant and “fresh” without the need to rebrand. – Revecka Jallad, DIVISA

4. Launch A New Campaign

Just like a beautifully executed haircut, you can easily give your branding a fresh look without making huge changes. We do this with new campaigns. There are a few ways to approach this, but right now, you should start with an idea that demonstrates your greatest values as an organization. Remember, public relations is about building relationships and creatively giving people things to share. – Jennifer von Stauffenberg, Olive Creative Strategies

5. Audit Your Existing Content To Enhance Your Brand Voice

A complete rebrand can be costly. Uplift your brand without the commitment of a complete overhaul by enhancing your brand’s voice. The key to success is a distinctive voice that is consistent in all aspects of your brand. This change will require an audit of your content and communications channels to ensure your new brand voice is positioned to connect with your external audiences. – Ana Miller, A2 Communications Group

6. Actively Engage In Conversation With Your Customer

If you want to raise brand equity without the risk of a rebrand, talk more. Actively engage in a two-sided public conversation with your customer. Social media has made this near-effortless. Extol your values, priorities, humor and brand by being an active member of the community you are trying to grow. You don’t always need a new logo; your customer needs to know you. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

7. Rethink Your Content Strategy

An effective way to shift how your target audience views your brand is to re-tool your content strategy to focus on the intersection between your brand values and what’s important to the end-user. So consider re-aligning, re-interpreting and re-strategizing how your brand guidelines, personality and tone apply to your communication channels, including emails, blogs, social media, video and visuals. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP

8. Make Small Changes That Don’t Detract From Your Core Message

A little goes a long way. A facelift can be done by updating color scheme, images and messaging while still staying on brand so you don’t lose the core message or competency. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Create Foundational Messaging And A Consistent Story

A brand needs a consistent story to feel cohesive and streamlined. It’s less challenging to introduce clear storytelling as a sort of refresh—identifying the concepts and stories that your brand stands for is a great way to create a sense of freshness while keeping the same style and brand aesthetic. – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC

10. A/B Test Your New Messaging

We don’t know what we don’t know. Create your new message and A/B test. If it works, use it. Always study your data, as the story is in the data. I have seen many big agencies sabotage this by creating a “wow” factor for the client, but it fails miserably. – Qamar Zaman, KISSPR.COM

11. Aim To Better-Align Your Image With Core Brand Facets

Giving a brand a fresh new look doesn’t have to have anything to do with the core of what the brand is. The company’s vision, mission and values don’t change. In fact, any facelift should be done with the goal in mind to better align a brand’s image with these core facets. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

12. Add A New Marketing Element Or Channel

When you feel that your brand could use some refreshing, try adding something new to your marketing. For example, if you only have corporate LinkedIn and Twitter, add Instagram and YouTube. Or slightly change the direction with your video content strategy by filming something you’ve never done before. Customers’ tastes are dynamic and unpredictable; just don’t be afraid to experiment. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

13. Keep It Simple

There are a lot of tactics a brand can implement without a full redesign. If brand equity exists, a brand can refresh by introducing secondary visual elements to their identity—complementary colors, new patterns or illustrations, updated photography styles, and so on. Even very minor adjustments such as correcting technical aspects of a symbol or word mark can give a brand the boost it needs. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ

Could You Benefit From Hiring An Agency? Questions To Ask Yourself

Now, more than ever, many companies can benefit from having expert marketers by their sides. With the current economic crisis stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, marketers’ awareness of the constant shifts within the dynamic media environment can help companies weather the storm. But is your in-house marketing team enough? Could your company benefit from outside help?

Hire an Agency

Here are some questions to ask yourself when considering which route may be best for you.

• What are my goals, and could an agency help me reach these goals? First, determine what exactly you want to accomplish. Then, take a look at your in-house staff, and ask yourself whether they have the experience and expertise you need. Many agencies have employees who are well-established in the field and have a strong overall view of the media environment that can help you reach your business goals. Agencies also can draw on their past experiences and the results of other clients’ campaigns to inform their strategy and decision making.

• What are my workload needs? Do you have a particularly large project that will require extra time, attention and resources? Does your company require additional support to help you survive the current crisis? Agencies and outside resources can lighten your workload and free up staff members to handle other important business operations during this unprecedented time. They can manage your advertising spending and navigate the media environment while you focus on the critical parts of your business.

• Do I need expertise in a particular area? Advertising agencies offer a wide array of expertise, which can be critical in a landscape as complex as the one that brands face today. According to Smart Insights, there are over 120 content delivery and marketing channels that marketers have to manage today. Many agencies have teams dedicated to distinct areas, such as branding, data analytics and social media marketing. Given how fast the media environment changes today, working with specialized teams can help you stay on the cutting edge.

• Do I need flexibility? Do you need to be able to scale up or down based on demand? If you are unable to quickly change your messaging or creative in-house, an outside resource can help you do so. Midsize agencies, in particular, can pivot a campaign quickly — in hours, as opposed to in days, weeks or even months. Many also have the bandwidth for testing to determine what approaches are likely to be the most effective, and they can constantly adjust to optimize your return on investment.

• Do I need help with appropriate messaging? Especially now, being acutely aware of what messaging is appropriate is a primary concern for companies. An agency — particularly one that specializes in crisis communications — can help ensure that your messages take public health and safety concerns into account.

• Do I need a fresh perspective? Could you benefit from getting an outside opinion? While you live and breathe your brand, sometimes you may find it hard to extract yourself from it and view it as an outsider would. In such cases, agencies can provide this valuable outside perspective and suggest new angles and strategies you may not have considered.

Determine The Best Path Forward For Your Company

Especially in today’s economic climate, companies must consider what route is right for them, whether it’s finding an agency partner or hiring additional in-house marketing staff. Stay safe and well, and we will all get through this together.

13 Expert Tips For Closing The Sales Loop

Marketers usually put a lot of thought and effort into crafting the perfect campaign, from choosing the ideal audience to streamlining their marketing techniques and more. Drawing in customers is the primary goal of any marketing strategy, but conversions come from closing the sales loop.

13 Expert Tips for Closing the Sales Loop

Things like crafting the customer journey, establishing relationships with the buyer and defining the ideal purchaser are all remixes to this particular tune. Even the successful sales funnel method uses a similar idea to get consumers to click the “Buy Now” button. Here, 13 professionals from Forbes Agency Council examine the most effective ways that businesses can seek to close their sales loop.

1. Include Sales From The Start

Especially in business-to-business scenarios, ensuring the sales team is brought into the campaign is the single most important success driver. The end customer expects campaigns to be hyper-personalized, which means understanding and catering to their needs, blockers and goals. To drive meaningful results, include sales early, starting from the ideation stage, and maintain their involvement throughout the campaign life cycle. – Andrew Au, Intercept Group

2. Make The First Move

Making the first offer to the customer at a “no risk” or free trial is still a compelling way to draw the customer in for a close. Let them test and live with the brand with the intention that they will become a long-time user. Therefore, “lifetime customer value” metrics are calculated, which is the real value to a brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

3. Define The Path To Purchase

Before inviting prospects to a campaign, it’s a good idea to lay out the path to purchase for your prospect. We use call-to-action campaigns on our website and set them up as goals in analytics tracking. Use contact forms, e-books or site audits. Then define how to close the loop. Our sales team then follows up with timed client touch points until the leads are vetted and closed using our customer relationship management (CRM) tool. – Michael Fox, Corberry Digital

4. Build Sincere Personal Relationships

For customers, what matters most is establishing sincere personal relationships. Beyond closing the sales loop, customers must feel that your organization truly understands them and their business. Establishing this connection from the first touch point to purchase to customer support will not only help close the sale, but create powerful advocates for your brand and potential upsell opportunities. – Michaela Dempsey, Scout RFP

5. Create A Journey For Each Prospect

As marketers, we tend to look at things in the way that they apply to us, so all that matters may be those sales results. But the customer on the other side is a human too, with their own viewpoint, and they don’t want your sale forced on them. Instead, make it their choice by inviting them into a conversation and taking them on a personalized journey through marketing and sales. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO

6. Understand The Customer’s True Need

Depending on your business, you might use different approaches to close the sale but ultimately, what it comes down to is whether you’ve identified the customer’s true need and motivation and whether your product or service offers the right solution. If you can demonstrate to the customer that your solution is the best way to address their need, the customer will be ready to make the decision. – Inna Semenyuk, InnavationLabs

7. Integrate Sales And Marketing

In our own experience, we have seen more often than not that marketing campaigns are run and leads are generated. And then no one knows what happened to the leads or how much got converted. This is typically because of corporate silos that modern-day businesses operate. It is important to integrate the sales process into the marketing process and insist on a regular feedback loop. – Hareesh Tibrewala, Mirum India

8. Use Short-Form Content To Convert

Your content strategy needs to follow customers’ path to purchase and create both long- and short-form content. Think “help” content to drive traffic from search, “how-to” videos to get into the set of consideration of potential customers. Then provide social media users with a short piece of content that will ultimately help them make a decision: a link to a press article, an influencer post, etc. – Aurelie Sauthier, Made in

9. Tell Customers What You Want Them To Do

In short, tell customers what you want them to do and give them a reason to do it. Too often, brands try to simultaneously “build their brand” and get consumers to take immediate action, which can lead to confusion. Say one thing and say it (very) well by giving customers a strong and clear call to action that inspires them to make the purchase. Dial up authentic and confident language. – Edward Hoffman

10. Keep A Record

Use analytical tools to extract your lead source information and export it to a CRM system or lead-capture software. A great record helps keep your leads in the loop, replicates buyer personas and provides insight regarding your customer base. – Ashar Jamil, Digitally Up

11. Think Beyond The Lead Funnel

To close the sales loop you need the customer to see not just why they need to buy what you have to offer, but also why now. To help customers justify a decision and move to a purchase, marketers should align with sales as another channel to the customer and design campaigns, both the content and touch points, to work hard beyond the first response. – Alisha Lyndon, MomentumABM

12. Leverage Emotional Resonance

Your value proposition is the balance of the perceived costs and benefits of buying your products. The most overlooked word there is “perceived,” since the only thing that matters is how your customers “interpret” what you say. People buy based on their emotional reactions, not logic. You need to understand which emotional cues your customers interpret and how to resonate with their expectations. – Chris Goward, Widerfunnel

13. Use An Integrated CRM

It’s critical to have a system in place that delivers leads to sales agents who can follow up on them. As a Hubspot-certified agency, we love the way Hubspot allows us to design inbound campaigns and set up lead flows that integrate right into our clients’ CRM systems. It creates a closed-loop process that shows the effectiveness of the campaign and holds people accountable for closing on leads. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

Measuring Marketing ROI: 13 Simple And Effective Strategies

It’s pretty common to see marketing agencies focus on a singular dollars-and-cents approach to explaining the effectiveness of a marketing strategy to their clients. The vital misstep in this approach comes from assuming that clients are solely interested in the cost-to-return ratio of a policy. In many cases, businesses are less concerned about the spend and more worried about the value it generates, whether that is in returns or less-tangible metrics like customer loyalty.

ROI isn’t the only way to connect with clients. Below, 13 members of Forbes Agency Council discuss the metrics and strategies they use to explain the success of a marketing campaign to their clients in simple, understandable ways.

Marketing ROI - 13 Simple Strategies

1. Create A Measurement Dashboard

We help our clients create a measurement dashboard with marketing metrics that all lead up to achieving their sales goal. These could include number of email newsletter subscribers, number of fans and followers on social media platforms, number of people who attend live in-person events, number of sales calls made by sales staff, and number of inbound phone calls inquiring about a new promotion. – Nancy Marshall, Marshall Communications

2. Show Clients Where The ROI Is Happening

While clients love to see results, they love seeing a breakdown of the results even more. When you show clients the individual channels that are experiencing a steady ROI, you form a bond with them. They’re more appreciative of you showing the exact marketing channels they are excelling in as opposed to “we’ve seen a lot of growth.” It provides a sense of clarity, honesty and trust. – Charles Mazzini, Hyperlinks Media, LLC

3. Specify Measurable KPIs

Definitions of success vary depending on many variables, including the type of the campaign, media selected, or the product/service position in the marketing funnel. It’s important to clarify agreed-upon goals early on, then create key performance indicators (KPI) that will help the agency and the client measure and track the success of the campaign. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

4. Treat The Marketing Spend Like It’s Yours

Traditional marketing agencies use acronyms that most clients can’t bank on, like ROAS, CAC, CTR and CVR. These are all ratios that a client can’t put in their pocket. Think of it as your own money and put it in terms of whether you drove profitable traffic into their pocket. Our agency found that it’s important to measure gross profit, which is sales minus cost of goods sold and marketing expenses. – Michael Fox, Corberry Digital

5. Measure Each Activity Separately

One thing that works for us is segmentation. It helps our clients understand and appreciate our marketing activities much better. If you can segment metrics down to each marketing activity, it becomes easy to track ROI. We normally track sales, the lead volume against website traffic, the sources of traffic and total traffic over different periods of time. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

6. Tie ROI To Client-Specific KPIs

It’s helpful to educate clients so they understand that ROI measurements will vary depending on the marketing tactic being examined. PPC campaigns will be easy to track and measure while content marketing campaigns are more complex. We like to develop specific KPIs connected to the client’s organizational goals and agree on those before campaigns launch. Then we monitor and report on our progress. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

7. Look At Share Of Voice

Organic, earned media and share of voice are ways we measure ROI. We look at PR impressions, social media impressions and engagement to offer insight into the impact of the campaign. Share of voice percentages also resonate well and allow better articulation of ROI in specific markets. – Dustin Callif, Tool of North America

8. Measure Brand Awareness

The first reminder for the clients lies in the fact that the long-term investment in SEO and content marketing doesn’t lead to a sale immediately. So we measure brand awareness (clicks, interactions) constantly and show the dynamics. Another indicator is customer lifetime value or the customers’ loyalty, because about 80% percent of the company’s profit comes from 20% of the returning customers. – Oganes Vagramovich Barsegyan, Digital Beverly Marketing Solutions

9. Assess U&A Metrics Affecting Purchase Intent

Business impact is ultimately what clients seek, but it can be challenging for them to articulate. And it’s not a universal metric. For instance, I work with many commodity boards and trade associations that are charged with increasing demand for a product category (i.e., not directly selling). So we assess key usage and attitude (U&A) metrics that affect purchase intent, such as preference and health attributes. – Edward Hoffman

10. Look At Cost Per Acquisition

Every business/client is looking for ROI. The easiest way to know if your campaigns are working is by tracking the metrics. Google Analytics can work for this. Take a look at your attribution report in analytics to quickly find out the number of leads/purchases per channel (Google ads, organic, social, etc). Use the number of leads/purchases and divide it by the cost associated with each channel. – Sean Allen, Twelve Three Media

11. Keep A Pulse On The Market

Beyond immediate ROI, brands need to look at their overall brand lift and halo effects, which naturally raise other channels as a result of marketing efforts. Brands need to value the agency’s core competency in marketing and have a wider purview on the entire market. If a brand tries to leverage in-house, it’s hard for them to keep up with fast moving media marketplace trends, which is invaluable. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

12. Measure Customer Interactions

One great feature about today’s modern era of social media and digital discussion is that you can actually see what people have to say about your brand. Being able to show an increase in positive sentiment and engagement among customers will go a long way with clients. Happy customers go hand in hand with dollars and cents. – Darian Kovacs, Jelly Digital Marketing & PR

13. Look At The Customer Journey

Clients expect our revenue-driven actions to be profitable and scalable, so it’s important to track your results using the right data. For the most part clients will want to see an immediate return on a month-to-month basis and in order to manage expectations and track your true ROI (not just ROAS) there are some KPIs you should not overlook, such as cost per acquisition and customer lifetime value. – Alex Quin, UADV

12 Top Content Marketing Trends Just Over The Horizon

There’s no question that content marketing is among the most viable methods for businesses to plan and execute their marketing strategies. It is the most cost-effective method for a company to reach out and engage its customers while building its brand presence.

Even small businesses can make an impact on their customers by using content marketing as their chosen strategy. In the coming year, a few content marketing strategies stand above the rest. Twelve associates of Forbes Agency Council explore the best of them and explain why any business should be aware of them in the new year.

Content Marketing Trends

1. Microcontent

Everything is content, from your future blog to the look of the restaurant chairs. Focus on microcontent — a different way of saying “hello” or “thank you.” A different approach to the images you upload, like a branded border or signature element. Embrace the content as a way to make your brand stand out. Give your content a unique approach — only then your content can be considered marketing. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

2. Multimodal, Multichannel, Multivariant Content

Content marketing is amazing. The mistake being made by most isn’t a problem with their content strategy, it is with their channel strategy. Audiences are more diverse and divergent than ever. Releasing an amazing weekly blog/podcast/video on your favorite channel is great, but in just a few seconds of extra work, a single piece of content can become primed for a multichannel approach. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

3. Rise Of Timeless Content

The biggest mistake in the pro services world is trying to be timely. Most of the challenges that clients struggle with do not come from the latest changes in the industry or markets. They come from latency in decision-making and execution on what people already know to do. So make sure your content speaks to the timeless wisdom that is obvious to you but not obvious to your ideal client. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

4. Proprietary Data And A Unique POV

As media outlets continue to accept more and more unpaid contributors seeking to elevate their profiles through thought leadership articles, there is an increasing amount of “educational” content online — and a lot of it sounds the same now. As a result, to really stand out, your content needs to either include proprietary data, a hot take on an old issue or a truly unique point of view. – April White, Trust Relations

5. Short Videos Becoming The Norm

Videos have secured their spot on the mantle as the most engaging form of content over the past couple of years. In 2020, short videos are set to be the next mega-trend. With five- to 15-second short videos, brands will be able to connect with their audience on a very personal level. The idea isn’t about creating scalable content; rather, the goal is to build relationships on a deeper level. – Osama Khabab, MotionCue

6. Increased Live Streams

Live streaming allows a defined audience to feel special. It gives them a front-row seat and allows them a level of interaction and engagement higher than other traditional platforms. This, in turn, creates more brand advocates and loyalists. We will likely see many improvements in live streams over the next year as more and more brands adopt this content marketing strategy. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

7. GIFs, AR Filters And Lenses

It’s no surprise that video continues to be a top content marketing trend. Every year, it becomes an increasingly critical component to running an effective campaign. Visual content is going to be even more critical in 2020. Augmented reality (AR) filters and lenses for social channels like Snapchat and custom GIFs from video clips are creative tactics brands can use to engage with their audiences. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

8. Content Built For Voice Search

According to ComScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches in 2020. Voice search queries are not the same as a search typed into Google. For example, you may type on your smartphone: “digital marketing agency” but a voice search may be, “who is the best digital marketing agency?”. Creating content to target voice search queries should be a top priority for every agency. – Chuck Kim, Executive Digital

9. Renaissance Of User-Generated Content

Consumers want to hear from other consumers. 2020 will be the year that marketers supercharge user-generated content (UGC). According to Adweek, 85% say visual UGC is more influential in decisions than brand-generated photos or videos. Why? It’s authentic, it’s real and it’s wildly cost-effective to boot. You can also repurpose it in many creative ways. – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

10. Growing Importance Of Context

Privacy and limiting personal consumer information will play an even greater role in 2020. Delivering relevant, high-value content can no longer be reliant on personal data and cookies alone; sophisticated tools like contextual targeting will become invaluable. Understanding that we have enough information without user information means we can face the future of the industry with far less fear. – Lon Otremba, Bidtellect

11. Partnership Of Brands And Influencers

A top content marketing trend will be in the partnerships between brands and influencers. However, it will be the influencers with true followings who will rise to the top, and those who were on the fringes or didn’t have a strong voice will fall away. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

12. A Return To People-Focused Content

With the rise of AI in technical SEO, we are on the verge of a new age of content creation. In the past, content creators have sacrificed readability and clear communication for keyword ranking and SEO manipulation. Content is moving away from speaking exclusively to the algorithm, and edging back to the people. 2020 is poised to kick off a renaissance of exceptional, relevant content. – Jerry Kelly, Marketing 360®

13 Unique Ways A Business Can Use Video To Engage Its Audience

Ever since innovations on the web made the embedded video a viable strategy, marketers have realized how vital this visual medium is to get consumers’ attention. As companies started to utilize this new technology, and it became more democratized, the popularity of video as a communication medium exploded.

However, there are several techniques that a business can utilize when their chosen medium is video. To make an impact, a company must stand out with their content. Thirteen professionals from Forbes Agency Council explore how companies can be unique about their use of video in marketing, and how they can stand out from the crowd by leveraging these tactics.

13 Unique ways to engage with video

1. Engage Category Influencers

Consumers love video, as long as it is informative or entertaining or ideally both. Inform — don’t hard-sell. Engage YouTube influencers in your category and hire them to create branded videos with simple production values. And develop your own YouTube influencers through your SMEs or even enthusiastic customers. – Robert Finlayson, Zeno Group

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Personal

Grab the audience’s attention with a highlighted image or offer that catches their eye right off the bat. Once you have their attention, make the following seconds worth their time by letting the consumer or audience know how the brand can positively impact their life in the most concise and emotional way possible. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

3. Jump On A Hot Topic

When Peloton’s latest ad showed a woman getting an exercise bike from her husband for Christmas, social media outrage ensued. Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin, however, identified an opportunity to engage in a trending cultural moment, creating a spot with the same actress and telling the story of what happened next. The lesson for brands is to keep it simple, relevant and most of all, timely. – Ryan Cassin, Asset Agency

4. Target A Search Query

Making videos that answer a specific question — especially a how-to question — can be very effective. People ask Google questions, and if your company has a good answer which can be made into a short, engaging video, you may have found an excellent way to rank first in search for a specific query. It’s important to ensure that the title of your video exactly matches the query you are targeting. – Samuel Michelson, Five Blocks

5. Create Snackable Videos

When people think of video formats, it is natural to associate them with high production costs. There is an incredible amount of tools out there today that allow you to create high-quality, made-for-social videos that are engaging with only a few clicks. Some videos — although short and sweet — can have a big impact when done the right way. Be consistent and results will come. – Alex Sandoval, MOI Global

6. Stand Out With Personalized Videos

Creating personalized videos for your audience is a smart way to stand out in a cluttered marketing landscape. When a customer sees their name or brand in the video thumbnail, they are much more likely to click through to view your content. The great news is that solutions such as Vidyard now make it possible to personalize videos at scale. – Jenni Smith, EGR International

7. Do A Weekly Live-Streamed Podcast

Setting up an in-house podcast and live-video streaming studio is relatively inexpensive and allows brands to amplify the way they engage their audience. Podcasts (and video streaming) can cover a range of topics, from reflecting on industry insights and news to interviews with industry thought leaders (or happy clients). Video is by far the most effective tool to maximize audience engagement. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Animation

It seems counter-intuitive, but using animation as a video can often communicate a message better than a talking head. The reasons are: the ability to create the scene to suit the message, the flexibility to add captions and transition slides, and the creative freedom to make a point directly, rather than subtly. Animation also enables you to feature brand attributes to support your message. – Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.

9. Convert Website Case Studies To Video

Case studies are critically important to building trust and gaining the interest of business-to-business clients. But the traditional written case study, with its “problem, solution, result” format, doesn’t have the impact it used to. It’s been overused. Turning your case studies into video testimonials — with client interviews and compelling storytelling — will get them a broader and more engaged audience. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

10. Make Sure You Offer Value

Video should be just like any other content offer and give the viewer real value. Don’t push videos out about your great products or services. Do create authentic videos where you offer insights, takeaways, and action items that viewers can gain by watching your video. Next, make sure the offer is clear in the first five seconds and your engagement rate will soar. – David Ward, Meticulosity

11. Focus On The Story, Not The Sell

To help your videos stand out and connect with viewers, use them to tell stories, not rehash sales pitches. The power of video is the emotions it engages. Sales pitches aren’t emotionally engaging. Stories are. Make people fall in love with your brand through video. Hook first. Sell later. Practice inbound marketing fundamentals and you’ll see success. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

12. Speak With Your Brand’s Voice

Videos are another element contributing to our brand image and should be treated as such. Understanding the audience and the brand inside and out will help the creatives produce video content that carries the same voice. This is important because we can’t expect a single video to make much of an impact, but a series of consistent videos that follow a strategy will be memorable and impactful. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

13. Stop Trying So Hard

The very word “video” stirs this notion that we need to be creating Oscar-winning footage to win at the game. Some of the most viral, clever videos are shot on an iPhone and feature signature choppy editing with grainy images. Source user-generated content over trying to hire the next Quentin Tarantino to shoot your video. Think raw, think real, think radically simple with your video efforts. – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

15 Mistakes Agencies Make In Their Creative Content Process (And How To Fix Them)

The creative content process can take a long time, and each agency has a different approach to it. There’s no standardized method of producing content, and what one agency provides will be vastly different from another because of how they go about developing it.

The diversity in creation has its benefits and drawbacks, however. In a lot of cases, agencies may develop a creative process that inadvertently creates issues, leading to a sub-par final product. Fifteen associates of Forbes Agency Council take a look at some of the mistakes agencies make with their creative process, and how they can seek to fix those problems.

15 Mistakes Agencies Make with Creative and how to fix them

1. Focusing On Quantity Over Quality

Sometimes quantity can kill quality and creativity. The most common mistake I have seen is when, in the rush of producing more, agencies compromise on quality. We must focus on building content that will be followed, liked, go viral. The consumer will never decide to buy just because the content is abundant, but the consumer will always pay attention if the content is interesting. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

2. Letting Creativity Overshadow Goals

Agencies forget to ask, “what’s the goal?” throughout the creative process. In an effort to produce unique and creative content, it is easy to forget what the goal of the content is. Do you want the reader to contact your company? Watch a video? Sign up for your webinar? Keep the core goal in mind as creativity flows from concept to launch. – Bernard May, National Positions

3. Not Doing Research First

One of the most common errors we help clients correct is the notion that creative concepts are by necessity based on intuition or happenstance. The biggest brands in the world know that effective creative is grounded in customer journey research. Knowing who your customers are and how they interact with your brand is essential to consistently creating campaigns that connect. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

4. Becoming Order-Takers Instead Of Idea-Makers

On one level, clients hire agencies to produce content or to do PR or marketing or web design. But ultimately, they are hiring you for your ideas. The most common mistake agencies make in their creative content process is to let their clients drive strategy. They become order-takers instead of idea-makers. Agencies must make sure their process always centers on strategy first, output second. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Not Having A Clearly Defined Process

Many businesses never clearly define their process or they use an undocumented process. This is a common mistake. Once you document steps and, subsequently, results, you can refine your process, as you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll also ensure that your system is maintained. Your process does not need to be written in stone, but it should be written somewhere! – Fran Biderman-Gross, Advantages

6. Account Teams Trying To Influence The Creative

A common issue we’ve encountered in agencies is the account team injecting themselves into the creative process and direction. Account team lends perspective for the creative team to then consider but they should not be directing the creative. Attempting to implement thoughts the client has without thought to the decisions that have been made and why they were made, can be disastrous. – Paul E. Benninghove, Pavone Marketing Group

7. Creating Content That Doesn’t Fit Your Brand

A common mistake is spitballing content ideas that don’t fit a business model or branding. An easy way to fix this is just imagining how each tactic fits into your company’s mission, vision or overall presence. How does that piece of content reflect on you? Where is it going to be posted? Is it quality content? These are the questions that you should be asking when creating content. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Overstaffing A Campaign

When there’s a favorite campaign that everyone wants to work on, don’t fall into the trap of overstaffing it — everyone will start applying their hours to it, thus escalating time and budgets. Assign a small creative team to the campaign early on and keep the meetings short. Team members must adhere to the account lead and finance but don’t limit creativity — just pick the right team for the project. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Thinking Too Big

As marketers, we’re trained to “think big” but in truth, sometimes our clients want us to solve a singular problem without rewriting the entire constitution. What if instead of thinking big, we started small and clearly defined the desired outcome coming up with uncomplicated, smart solutions? Too often, I see agencies overworking the creative concept and missing the core challenge. Small is big! – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

10. Not Checking The Analytics

One of the worst mistakes that firms make is that they over-advertise and they over-saturate people with information as well as with content. This is not a wise move because it  means that people will not pay attention to messages when they are important. One of the most important lessons is to take the time to know your audience. A part of that means getting to know when to mail them. – Jon James, Ignited Results

11. Not Allowing Enough Time For Collaboration

The most common pitfall for agencies in this modern age is failing to allow enough time and space for real, organic, creative collaboration. This cannot happen in conference calls or over email. At our agency, when we gather in our conference room, close our computers and turn off our phones for an uninterrupted design sprint, we accomplish twice as much. – Jenni Smith, EGR International

12. Not Talking About What Matters To Ideal Clients

It’s amazing to me how many pro service firms do not have a clearly defined ideal client profile. I believe this is foundational to all creative messaging and promotion strategies. The ideation process, where campaigns are won or lost, should keep the goals, opportunities and challenges of ideal clients at the center. This is how “creative” creates distinction and brand differentiation. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

13. Holding Onto Agency Structures Of The Past

Times have changed. Gone are the days when an agency is staffed like an assembly line, with everyone adding their cog to the wheel to make it move. Agencies holding on to the structures, processes and titles of the past are killing their creative process. Today’s modern marketing dynamic demands lean, nimble teams with better creative output, and everyone (from the top down) pitching in. – Jessica Reznick, We’re Magnetic

14. Using Excuses To Replace ‘This Isn’t A Priority’

There are hundreds of easy approach solutions to every limitation. Excuses are a smoke screen covering micromanagement and misaligned priorities. Executives overseeing the process, middle managers overemphasizing limitations and team members feeling unempowered — that is the real problem. Empower the team to find and own solution, and the process will work, every time. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

15. Getting Caught Up In The Flavor Of The Week

One common mistake is to focus on a new flashy technology. It may be getting a lot of press and the clients may be asking for it. Don’t get caught up in the flavor of the week and stay grounded in what the brand is trying to accomplish. Bright and flashy creative ideas come and go but something that is creative and aligns to brand strategy has a much better chance of having a business impact.  – Laura Glotzbach, LGS Marketing Services

15 Tips To Consider When Starting A Podcast

Podcasts are one of the fastest-growing methods for a business to connect with its current and potential clients and expand its influence and reach. Many people listen to podcasts since they are portable, easy to access and fit into a busy schedule.

There are only a handful of ways to get a podcast right, and a myriad of methods to get it wrong. A podcast has to compete against a lot of other, similar recordings, and it needs to prove its worth — or else it won’t get the recognition it deserves.

15 Tips for Podcast

To help, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council offer their best advice for businesses planning to start a podcast and keep it running for as long as possible.

1. Have A Clear Plan

It’s easy for many of us to talk about a topic that we find interesting or know a lot about, but make sure you don’t run off on too many tangents. Stick to the goal, the question or the topic to keep your podcast on track and your listeners engaged. Remember, it’s a podcast, not a broadcast. It doesn’t need to be perfectly polished. Your skills will improve and evolve over time. – Bernard May, National Positions

2. Know Who You Are Talking To

I’ve created many podcasts for my clients, from concept to production. The one thing that I know is that brands need to know who they are talking to. Podcasts are just like ads: Do you know who you want to talk to? Podcasts, similarly to video, don’t need a massive number of listens to have a high ROI. What you need to do is focus on your core audience and make sure they follow and listen. – Azad Abbasi, Genius

3. Think End-User First

When brands create podcasts, content typically tends to be focused on what’s important for the business. This approach results in each episode having a different target market, which prevents it from building community. Treat podcast episodes like serialized storytelling rather than a single public relations opportunity and you’ll find greater success, increased consumption and engaged listeners. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP

4. Provide Value Without Fluff

Standing out is a critical problem to solve with starting a new podcast. What’s the best way to do it? Provide value without the fluff. Shorter length podcasts that are jam-packed with value have an easier time gaining traction and retention than ones where the listeners have to sit through an hour just to hear a few points of interest. – Nishank Khanna, Demand Roll

5. Defining The Cadence And The Structure

One mistake that is constantly made with podcasts is people who are not taking them seriously enough. If you want to have a successful show you need to plan ahead and show when you are going to be creating content. When you put that content out, you always, without question, must be on time. You also must constantly bring an exceptional format to the show. – Jon James, Ignited Results

6. Build Viral Awareness

Every guest you host and every company they represent should be an advocate for promoting the program. Leveraging individual company newsletters, databases and social media channels will help build a following. In addition, make sure the focus of the podcast (its messaging) is clear and concise so people looking can find you based on their interests. – Ilissa Miller, IMiller Public Relations

7. Be Extremely Customer-Centric

Remember that your podcast content is not about you. Make sure that every podcast topic and episode is laser-focused on bringing value and entertainment to your audience. Think about what they want to learn in your industry and don’t be afraid to talk about things that you don’t offer. Focus on their interests and they will stick around to hear the rest. – A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta

8. Capture A Niche

In order to survive in the extremely congested podcast landscape, the podcast must adequately capture a niche and communicate that niche in a way that is extremely clear to the target audience. General topic podcasts are extremely difficult to sell to a saturated market — find a particular thing you can own and run with it. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack PR Marketing Group

9. Become Predictable

Become predictable but not in the repetitive, boring sense — in the way that your fans know when they can expect the next release, the type of content they will hear, and how that content will be delivered. From my experience, maintaining a consistent schedule is just as important as delivering interesting stories to your listeners. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions

10. Don’t Copy Someone

If you find yourself needing to copy someone else for lack of your own originality, then maybe the time to start a podcast just isn’t right. We don’t need more content for the sake of more content. If you’re patient, your original idea will eventually come, and then it’ll be time for you to go all in before someone else beats you to it. – Greg Trimble, Lemonade Stand

11. Remember Your ‘Why’

We’ve just started our own podcast, so we’re experiencing these challenges firsthand. My biggest tip would be to always remember why you created it so that you don’t go off-topic, off-brand and off your strategy. Always think about how you are going to add value to someone else’s day. If you hold that in, you’ll be able to stay on track. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

12. Ask Better Questions

Having started my own podcast recently, my tip would be to make sure you get really good with asking better questions. I saw a lot of videos on how to ask good questions before I sat down to frame my own. Asking questions that don’t lead to a one-word answer would be my one tip. – Namita Ramani, Above Digital

13. Learn Your Distribution Model First

Developing a good podcast is similar to making a website search engine-optimized. Strategy-wise, the search engine component to podcasts is as important as the content itself. Having knowledge of your potential distribution is crucial, so it’s best to start with a distribution model and work your way back through content creation and storytelling. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners

14. Promote On Social And Track Results

It’s critical for the success of your podcast to properly leverage social media to drive listeners from your target audience. Make sure to share a link to each episode on the social platforms relevant to your target audience of listeners: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and/or LinkedIn. Tracking visitors to your podcast will allow you to optimize future distribution efforts. – Jody Resnick, Trighton Interactive

15. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Personal

A good podcast tells a story audibly but makes you visualize the situation, personal story or character of the narrator or interviewee. When starting a podcast, strive for that personal connection by sharing relatable stories with human flaws that people sympathize with. The audience will feel they truly “know” the person and continue following their story in subsequent podcasts. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

13 Tips For Effectively And Efficiently Personalizing A Marketing Campaign

Today’s marketers are learning that personalized campaigns are often the most successful. These powerful marketing tactics are particularly effective in targeting Millennials and Gen-Zers, who crave authentic, personal connections with the brands they patronize. However, taking the time and resources to tailor every individual marketing message can get very expensive, very quickly.

If you want to get more personal without breaking the bank, try following these tips from the experts of Forbes Agency Council. Their tactics will help you efficiently and cost-effectively take a more individualized approach to your marketing.

 

1. Authentically Automate Personalized Campaigns

There is a multitude of ways to automate personalized campaigns. However, it’s essential not to sacrifice authenticity for the efficiency of automation. For example, too many “persona-based” personalized campaigns paint too broadly when bucketing cohorts. Instead, opt for more individually personalized automation. An obvious example is sending automated emails on audience members’ birthdays. – Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync

2. Get More Specific With Your Targeting

Plain and simple, our technology today allows us to get very specific in who we are targeting. The more specific you are about who you want to see your campaign, the more you are able to personalize it and keep within budget. This means you need to really know who your target audience is and what their habits, likes and dislikes, and behaviors are. – Andrea Keirn, Black Rhino Marketing Group

3. Let Them Tell You What They Want

Give your younger customers a chance to self-select by asking them what kind of consumer they are. For instance, ask if they’re a regular purchaser, a sometimes purchaser or a first-time purchaser. It’s simple: Once they’ve identified as a purchaser at all, they’re more likely to make a purchase. Then, adjust your messaging and offers accordingly (but don’t forget to test those messages!). – Kathy Broderick Selker, Northlich

4. Leverage Narrative Psychology

Personalization of campaigns can be efficient and cost effective when considering the power of narrative psychology. Think social quizzes—these self-directed widgets blew up because it’s all about the “story of me,” a.k.a. narrative psychology. Include your targets in creating the campaign, creatively, and let them tell your story in a personalized manner. – Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate

5. Align Campaign Structure And Messaging With The Customer Journey

When you don’t have the time, data or dollars to build truly personalized marketing, structure your campaign to mirror the customer journey and create different messaging for each stage. Most marketers don’t. In the top of the funnel, differentiate your brand and address customer needs. At the bottom of the funnel, use retargeting campaigns personalized to site behavior, and use a strong call to action. – John Keehler, RUNNER Agency

6. Start With A Hashtag

It can all start with just one word. The campaign has to be catchy, and it can be just a simple hashtag where people can get involved with no cost. Having a hashtag go viral would be the most cost-effective campaign. Millennials and Gen-Zers want something straight to the point and real. What better way than to convey your message with a simple hashtag? – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

7. Create A ‘Vault’ Of Collateral To Use Year-Round

Cost-effectiveness and efficiency often get sacrificed in campaigns when everything is created from scratch during the time campaigns are being created. Have your team regularly deliver content and copy that can be utilized when it’s time to create a new campaign. Use Pinterest boards and a shared Google Doc that everyone can contribute their ideas to as they feel inspired to do so. – Danielle Sabrina, Tribe Builder Media

8. Tell Real Stories About Real People

Personalized campaigns require preliminary research to understand your customers and the causes they believe in. To deliver powerful campaigns that truly resonate, tell real stories about real people, and draw the connection between these narratives and your brand’s overarching mission and vision. This will help make advertisements that are unique to your company and your audience. – Theresa Schieber, Givewith

9. Study Popular Search Terms

Personalizing ads can be done cost effectively through dynamic, digital creative that is based on the terms Millennials and Gen-Zers are searching for. Different imagery, highlighted products and offers can all be personalized and changed based on the initial search terms. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

10. Engage With Them Where They Already Are

It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen-Zers dwell in the details and thus consume an overwhelming amount of information to help guide their decision making. When crafting a campaign, it’s important to take note of where they are engaging with content, like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, and create campaigns that are relatable, personable and easy to communicate through these channels. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

11. Get A 360-Degree View Of Your Customer

Invest in a platform that centralizes data about your customers, business, category and competitors to gain a comprehensive view of your business and customers. With machine learning enhanced by artificial intelligence powering your data feed and displaying it in a comprehensive dashboard, you can make informed decisions and instant adjustments to campaigns to connect with customers on an individual level. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

12. Get Personal At The Right Time

Personalizing campaigns used to mean inserting a name into an email or adding some “meat” to your interaction. But there are many stops along the buyer journey to connect when it is the most valuable for the buyer. For example, you get a new iPhone. Now you might need a case and perhaps a backup charger. Just check your email or that text message. This is personalized remarketing at its best. – Bernard May, National Positions

13. Use Dynamic Content

You can create personalized emails without spending hours on crafting emails manually. Use dynamic content. This method enables you to create one email with separate blocks customized to each recipient. It also allows you to localize the images. Dynamic content can be a perfect solution, as it helps brands build a much stronger relationship with the customers by showing that they really care. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS