Content Marketing

Thanks to SCORE for this excellent content on the importance of video for small business marketing. SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, has published an infographic outlining the powerful impact of video marketing on small business sales. Businesses are creating cost-effective promotional...

Influencer marketing works well in terms of celebrity social media partnerships. In fact the Federal Trade Commission is wary of these posts fitting in a little too seamlessly. There are enormous benefits to influencer marketing as we all know.  But like blogs there is some  regulatory framework to wade through. Several companies and dozens of influencers have come under fire in the past few months for deceptive influencer advertising. Learn what you should and shouldn't do to keep your own brand out of hot water.

A Guide to FTC influencer marketing rules and regulations

Read these 6 points to make sure  your next influencer marketing campaign doesn't catch the attention of the wrong people.
  1. Not all product reviews require disclosure. And that’s because not all product reviews are endorsements. If your campaign doesn’t involve a transfer of funds or something of value from the company to the influencer or their audience it is not a paid advertisement. From the company’s side this is the ideal scenario. But accomplishing it in reality is tough especially with anyone above the level of micro-influencer.  One case where a disclosure is often unnecessary is if it is broadly understood that someone is a spokesperson for a brand.  Stephen Curry has a shoe deal with Under Armour. If he posts about the company his followers can be reasonably expected to know about his relationship to UA. It's likely no disclosure is necessary. Now, here's a random Stephen Curry video to make this post more interesting.  Okay, now back to important but boring stuff. Keep in mind however there's no objective threshold for the definition of broad awareness so it’s smart to err on the safe side.
  2. Anything you get or give away for free qualifies as a sponsored partnership. Free has a different definition here. Anything influencers are paid to use, items that they are given for free or giveaways that influencers are paid to distribute need disclosure. It doesn’t have to be the influencer who ultimately benefits either. If anyone ends up taking home some free merchandise via sweepstakes or giveaway the influencer has to disclose the sponsor of the contest.
  3. Sponsored posts have to be easily recognizable: A large part of the FTC’s crackdown on Instagram influencer marketing boiled down to something they called deceptive marketing. All that was required of an influencer before this change to demonstrate sponsored content was to post a #ad, #sp, or a similar hashtag anywhere within the post. The meaning of a vague two-letter hashtag buried in a post - possibly among a string of other hashtags - is not entire obvious. The FTC decided to crack down on ads that deliberately muddy the paid nature of the post by trying to hide the sponsorship.  To avoid fines or worse, bad PR,  try the following:
    • Acknowledge the sponsor at the beginning of a video
    • Include a #Ad at the beginning of the post
    • Use Instagram’s custom sponsor subheading to acknowledge the sponsorship in an understated way.
    • Just note that “Brand X gave me product Y to try" as part of the text.
  4. You’re responsible for what your influencers post. Pleading ignorance won’t get you anywhere with the FTC. It’s your burden as a business to make sure that your influencers comply with FTC influencer marketing rules and regulations, because a failure to do so will land you in as much trouble as the influencer. Your influencers may not be particularly experienced with the practice of posting sponsored content. You should present them with a clear guide of what they’re supposed to convey in a post. Educate your influencers on what they have to do so that they aren’t dragged into legal trouble which could mean a crisis for your brand. And check in periodically to make sure every post is following FTC influencer marketing rules. Keep in mind that microinfluencers in particular may be new to the game and need a some education.
  5. Influencers have to actually try a product before endorsing it. [pullquote]Don't pay someone to spout a canned - or even false - statement about the usefulness of a product. [/pullquote]If an influencer hasn’t actually experienced a product, they are not allowed to make any public statement regarding it. Likewise, if an influencer ends up disliking your product you cannot continue with the partnership as if they enjoyed the product. This kind of deceitful behavior intentionally misleads consumers and is decisively illegal.
  6. There's still a long way to go until everyone follows the rules. The FTC has a lot on its plate. Noncompliance is still rampant. A recent Consumer Media study reported over 90% of sponsored posts of celebrities are not disclosed. That means there is some big money to be made on fines. The FTC will get involved when they notice a pattern of misleading content or a particularly egregious case of a concealed sponsorship.
But it doesn't matter how hard or easy it is to get caught. An FTC infraction is bad for your brand. Put in your best effort to stay within FTC influencer marketing rules and regulations. It could keep you out of big trouble.

[caption id="attachment_13126" align="alignright" width="300"] Video marketing needs to be part of your integrated mix[/caption] Video marketing is becoming an increasingly important component of the integrated marketing experience. Visual assets are an indispensable tool towards creating a coherent and well-aligned integrated marketing campaign. There is a lot to keep track...

The secret weapon in any major brand’s arsenal tends to be their influencers and that makes an influencer marketing campaign critical.  These key members of their community are the catalyst for marketing efforts and act as liaisons between a brand and the vast majority of their audience. Establishing a strong connection with your influencers is tricky, but ultimately worth the effort.  Influencer marketing is the secret sauce that can turn a campaign around. The first step in this process, is making connections with the right people and doing it the right way. To help you can leverage this connection to maximize your campaign’s ROI, here are six tips you can apply to your influencer marketing campaign.

1. Define clear goals for your influencer marketing campaign

Before you start reaching out and connecting with influencers, establish measurable goals of your campaign.  Your influencer outreach campaign can contribute to several goals including:
  • Increasing brand awareness on social media
  • Generating leads and raise conversion rates
  • Targeting a new audience and engage them
  • Renewed interest with your current audience
  • Forging long-term relationships with your influencers
Starting with these in mind, you can properly curate and approach influencers that would be ideal for meeting these goals.

2. Choose the right influencers for your campaign needs

Choosing the correct influencer is far easier said than done. It involves a deep understanding of your audience, clear goals and a keen eye for people who hold sway in your niche or industry. Monitoring the activity on your social media profiles is a great way to see which people your audience engages with regularly. Tools like Buzzsumo can also help identify influencers in your industry and narrow down the candidate pool. Once you’ve found some options, take a careful look at their profiles. Make sure you review the ways in which they engage with their audience. Evaluate whether they truly do influence others' behavior.

3. Treat influencers like a brand

It’s important to treat influencers like a fellow brand, because that’s exactly what they are. They set about creating a blog and forging a memorable brand the same way your business did. It's important that you keep this in mind when you engage them. Like any strong brand, top-level influencers have a voice that carries across their audience. They work to create high-quality content in the same way that you do, and their influence is exactly why you’re reaching out. When you approach them, keep this in mind and talk candidly about your campaign’s objectives, your ideal voice and messaging, and everything else a partnership with another brand should know

4. Build the relationship first, before you go for the "ask."

[caption id="attachment_12927" align="alignright" width="211"]best b2b marketing campaigns - b2b marketing campaign - best b2b campaigns - best b2b marketing SnapApp's new Campaign Confidence Gap Report shows a lack of confidence prevalent among B2B marketing professionals.[/caption] SnapApp's new Campaign Confidence Gap Report reports challenges with traditional B2B marketing campaigns, particularly with how bullish marketers feel about using non-integrated techniques. In fact the study found that 82% of B2B marketers report feeling "not very" or only "somewhat" confident in their traditional marketing strategies. With only 18% of B2B marketers “extremely confident” about their work, the Campaign Confidence Gap Report identifies four major challenges for B2B marketing:
  • Identifying new leads
  • Creating and sourcing content offers to support campaigns
  • Scaling leads to make sales targets
  • Developing compelling calls to action
The study defines a content-enabled campaign as essentially a campaign including conversational or interactive marketing, rather than one that simply offers PDF files in exchange for lead generation input. A content-enabled campaign is designed to inform and also to capture individual responses. Content-enabled marketing uses  empathy, an approach where marketers talk with customers instead of just advertising, and where companies try to match the passions and concerns of a customer base. "B2B Marketers have fallen into a 'lead-gated PDF rut,'focusing too much on creating static eBooks, case studies and white papers to drive leads into the funnel," says Aaron Dun, Senior Vice President of Marketing for SnapApp. To break through, I see marketers getting outside of their comfort zones in 2017 and focusing on developing content experiences that facilitate more meaningful and engaging conversations with prospects.” The study also spends time looking at results, showing how content-enabled campaigns can provide benchmarking data and address pain points. The company provides analysis of how content-enabled campaigns can improve metrics like open rates and click-through rates. SnapApp researchers defined common customer goals for new campaigns including: 

mobile friendly contentMobile friendly content will soon be a requirement for websites. Mark January 10, 2017 down in your calendar because that’s when Google starts cracking down on websites whose content is not “easily accessible” to mobile users. With mobile overtaking fixed Internet access, and Google’s deadline fast approaching, marketers would be wise to ensure their content is mobile friendly. Here are seven issues and some tools you can use to ensure your content works well in this environment.

Verify Your Site Has Mobile Friendly Content

( is a fast and simple way to check how your content appears on six popular mobile devices. Simply select a device and enter the URL. If you’re already using a mobile responsive theme, all should be well on this front. Yet, there are still some points that still need to be addressed.

Avoid Interstitial Popups

The Google crackdown aims to improve the experience of mobile users when accessing content on the web. Sites that do not comply may experience a negative impact on their placement in the search engine results page (SERP). Google has specifically singled out interstitial popups as an important factor. These popups, often requesting a viewer to subscribe to an email list, block the original content from view. No surprise that the general public finds them extremely annoying. Unless there’s a legal need (e.g. age verification), it’s best to avoid using them.

Use Coschedule for Great Headlines

Ask any copywriter and they’ll tell you there’s an art to creating great titles. In the era of content shock, the title has assumed even greater importance as readers use it as a quick means to filter content. Coschedule has a neat headline analyzer that scores “your overall headline quality and rate its ability to result in social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value.”Using this tool also ensures your headlines have the right length for both character and word count. That’s important because long titles can get truncated on mobile screens.

Write A Kick Ass Intro