Brandtainment

Brands that invest in creating content that entertains and delights are poised to stand out, through genuine fan engagement and sharing of the content. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Create a video, or a picture, or a blog post that in some way makes people glad they spent the time watching the video, viewing the picture, or reading the blog post, and they’re more apt to like what you created, comment on it, and perhaps even share it with their friends.

My question is very straightforward. Why are so many brands still creating boring content?

Here are a couple of examples of the kinds of videos brands should be producing more of. NBC Sports will be airing English Premier League games this year, and they created a very funny promotional video – “An American Football Coach in London”. The video could easel be a Saturday Night Live sketch, and in fact it stars SNL alumni Jason Sudeikis. One week after launching, the video has generated over 3.5 million views. Golden!

At Intuit, we were brainstorming triggers that would entice people to file their taxes using TurboTax in advance of the April 30th tax deadline. With a week left to go, I saw an ad on CBC mentioning that the NHL playoffs were starting on April 30th. Bingo! With the Maple Leafs returning to the play-offs for the first time in nine years, and the Canucks and Habs also participating, we found our trigger. Within 72 hours we assembled a team, authored a script and produced a video using iPhones – “The Great Canadian Face-off: Taxes vs. Playoffs”. No, we didn’t have SNL talent, but we did poke fun at the situation and managed to garner over 12,000 views.

(Guess who’s wearing the Canucks jersey!)

Brands don’t need to invest a lot of money to create an awesome video. However innovative thinking and creativity are definite musts. I foresee a lot more brands going this route in the future.

Turning Search Insights into Content Gold

Photo: Giorgio Monteforti <http://www.flickr.com/photos/11139043@N00/>Content marketing has become an increasingly important focal point for many brands. However, even if a brand produces interesting, engaging and relevant for it’s core audience – efforts will be wasted if the content can’t easily be found or isn’t timely.

With that in mind, it’s important to consider the interplay between search marketing and content marketing, particularly with respect to social platforms. A key lever for “winning” the content game is providing content in timely manner – when people are looking for it. Having the right infrastructure and processes in place can help a brand do just that.

Here are several recommendations companies should consider:

  • Ensure that the search, social and web content functions are tightly intertwined. Team members should work closely together – or, if based in separate geographical locations, have regular calls. Establishment of strong relationships is key. In my current role at Intuit, I sit right across from our search manager and I speak with him daily.
  • Develop a mechanism through which search insights are regularly provided to those responsible for creating content. Through Google Trends, the search manager can create and share search insights that reveal what people are (and are not) looking for. Insights can, for example, include: most popular search queries, search queries that are rising in popularity, search queries that are declining in popularity
  • Be poised to act quickly based on insights provided. If search trends reveal gaps in your blog content calendar, have a writer available to create the content – perhaps an internal writer or a freelancer. If people are looking for content now that you intend to publish later, make the necessary adjustments to your content calendar.

Finally, and importantly, make sure that you are set up to measure the impact of your efforts!  Having the right content is one thing, to truly provide value it needs to be available when people are actively searching for it.

Cultivating Brand Advocates – Four Remarkable Communities

Perhaps the pinnacle achievement in marketing today is to build such a strong relationship with your brand’s biggest fans, that they become true advocates – speaking so enthusiastically and positively about your brand, that others might think they actually work for you.

It is, indeed, a rare accomplishment to develop such a relationship. In part I believe that many companies do not recognize the opportunities and benefits associated with nurturing and enabling fans to become true advocates. Nor do they fully realize the path they must embark on.

Serving as a guiding light, here are five brands that have done it right:

Fiskars

Hands up anyone who would’ve thought that Fiskars, a scissors brand, would be able to develop a successful online community? They make scissors! Scissors! But guess what? They recognized a core and common passion that many of their fans have – scrapbooking – and they built a community around it. In fact, the thriving community has evolved to include a variety of different artistic categories. See www.fiskateers.com.

The lesson: A successful community doesn’t need to be centred around your brand. Find a common passion your fans have, related to your brand, and build a community that truly unites your fans provides them with value.

Intuit

Intuit is an award-winning developer of business and financial management software, having developed a variety of leading products including TurboTax, online income tax software, as well as QuickBooks, accounting software for small business. The company truly has excelled in developing a customer-centric approach to their business. For example, when using TurboTax, people have access to an entire community of other TurboTax users – to ask questions and gain insights as they fill out their tax returns. Moreover, people can also enter into a private chat with income tax professionals, before they have even paid for TurboTax!

The lesson: Brands should do what they can to pay it forward. Provide value to people before they have even paid for your product or service, and imagine the loyalty, enthusiasm and sense of community that can be be generated.

Genius Crowds

Here is a company and a community with a big twist. The community creates the company’s products, and in essence, the community is the brand. Genius Crowds is a community through which people can submit their ideas for products they’d actually like to see manufactured and sold on store shelves. The community collaborates on product ideas submitted, in an effort to help improve them, and then they vote on their favourites. Genius Crowds then reviews top voted ideas, and selects a few that have the potential – based on a manufacturing and marketability assessment – to be sold in stores.

This is a great example of crowdsourcing. In fact the first product, the Speed Bather (a dog squeegee) is now ready to hit store shelves!

The lesson:  Companies can benefit from letting their customers collaborate and participate in the development, and evolution, of their products and services. By tapping into the collective intelligence of their customers, they create opportunities for innovation.

Disclosure: I was a Community Manager for Genius Crowds when I worked at Chaordix.

Vancouver Canucks

Sports franchise brands and social media go hand-in-hand, as social media provides an amazing opportunity for fans to bond with their favorite team – regardless of where they are in the world. Canucks fans have turned to social media to share their experiences and emotions, expressing themselves through compelling content ranging from short tweets to engaging videos. At the same time, the organization itself has really excelled at leveraging social media to encourage fan participation and build loyalty – and there is little doubt that the strength of the Vancouver Canucks brand has been significantly augmented as a result.

The lesson: Be open to having your fans generate content, and help them share it on social platforms. Doing so will result in increased loyalty, and will aid in building your fan base.

Are you aware of any remarkable online communities that have helped a company cultivate true brand advocates?  Does your company have one, or have you considered developing one?