Zoom in on the syrup: Memes as online marketing strategies

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he average person spends over 100 minutes on social media every day—which means a lot of articles, posts, and pictures are flashing in front of millions of eyes each day as well. BYU PR students are expected to know how to tap into that traffic when they graduate, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Memes could be the back door that allows companies to jump right into the popularity frenzy. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins originally coined the term “meme” to describe a cultural idea or trend that circulates and grows in popularity much like a successful genetic trait.

What’s So Great About Memes?

According to Scott Church, a BYU communications professor, the term “meme” refers to anything that is meant to go viral, whether it’s a phrase, a video, or a picture. Some examples of such include the Grumpy Cat macro (image with bolded text) and the Keyboard Cat video.

According to a study done by Piia Varis and Jan Blommaert from Tilburg University, people find it important to be part of a group that ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ items posted by others. Memes perfectly fit the bill because they are easy to consume, have mass appeal, are relatable to the audience, shareable, familiar, and funny.

What Elements Do Viral Memes Have?

  1. Designed for the masses.

Memes should relate to large groups of people that include the target audience. The more people a meme relates to, the more readily it will be shared. This is a balancing act between getting the meme seen by the target audience, but having enough people in the audience for it to go viral.

An example of this element was posted on a funny dog Facebook page. It appeals to dog lovers, but also appeals to anyone who dreads getting up for work on Monday mornings.

 

This meme appeals to dog lovers, but also appeals to anyone who dreads getting up for work on Monday mornings.

 

  1. Easy to consume.

Memes should have clear pictures (or video) and simple text. They should be easy to read, easy to understand, and to the point. Any meme with difficult font or confusing content will be passed over and left unshared.

 

Since the point of memes is to be shared, memes should be created in the proper format and the proper size for the platforms it will be posted to. The more places it gets posted, the more likely it is to get shared. However, keep in mind that memes may not be appropriate on every platform. If a company has a large, older audience on Facebook, memes might not be the best way to engage with them, and might actually have the opposite effect.

  1. Familiar or current.

Viral memes are often based off of recent happenings. Using current events as a base will make the meme familiar (and relatable) to those viewing it. An example of this was when the power went out during the super bowl in 2013 and Oreo posted this photo:

 

Using current events as a base will make the meme familiar (and relatable) to those viewing it.

 

  1. Funny, witty, clever, and smart.

Memes need to be funny, witty, clever and smart so they can catch enough attention to be shared. Businesses are always posting social content, and audiences are constantly being bombarded with it, so creating attention-grabbing content can help a specific brand or company get noticed, even if it’s just for a moment.

 

Another reason why memes need to be light-hearted is because overly stiff and formal online messaging can alienate the very fans marketers wish to court. It may be necessary to toss the corporate handbook to be able to create an offbeat meme that’s hard to fit into a business plan. That said, don’t get so crazy that the content isn’t somewhat in line with your brand’s identity.

Things To Watch Out For

Everything a brand says or does, even if a little silly, needs to fit with the brand’s identity. If a company has a solemn reputation, memes may not be the most effective marketing tactic.

Even if a brand can afford to be offbeat or a little silly at times, it’s wise to avoid posting viral content continuously just to be funny. Remember—it’s all in the delivery. Fail at this, and audiences will assume the company is trying too hard. Never sacrifice quality or originality for quantity.

How to Create a Viral Meme

According to businessnewsdaily.com, a basic rule of thumb is that companies who want to go viral should probably memejack to get and some immediate attention. Companies that already have lots of loyal followers are better off trying to outshine the competition with their own creative juices (as long as self-created memes have great concepts behind them).

Memejacking

Once a meme has been decided on, there are two options for actually creating it. The first is called memejacking, which is the method that a lot of companies use. It’s taking a viral meme that has already been created and tweaking it to fit the brand. If this method is decided on, there are a couple things to look out for:

  1. Understand the meme, first. If a meme’s origin and meaning isn’t clear, don’t just try it anyway! Use com to read up on it before deciding it’s the right meme to use. Using a meme incorrectly can backfire.
  2. Don’t waste time. Memes have an incredibly short lifespan, so don’t dawdle in putting a good idea into practice. Waiting too long could allow the meme’s popularity to fizzle out before it can be used.
  3. Make sure it’s appropriate. Using memes inappropriately will put a company’s reputation on the line, referring to the content and context of the meme itself, or the situation in which it’s shared. A serious audience would probably not appreciate a humorous meme.

Even if a meme doesn’t go viral, using a well-known macro will greatly increase the chances of it grabbing the attention of the target audience, followers, and customers. A successful example of this is below, posted by the company Barkbox.

 

Memejacking is taking a viral meme that has already been created and tweaking it to fit the brand.

 

Creating Memes From Scratch

Remember that memes should be designed for the masses, easy to consume, shareable, familiar (or current), and funny, witty, clever, or smart. Websites like MemeGenerator.net are a great place to start. Sites like this will often put their watermark on a finished meme. Brandwatch.com gives some examples of popular things to use:

  • Animals saying human things.
  • Babies saying or doing adult things.
  • Sayings from popular television shows or movies.
  • Popular images of characters from television shows or movies.
  • Popular or classic quotes.
  • Puns or joke punch lines.
  • That moment when. . .
  • Grumpy Cat.
  • Most Interesting Man in the World.

    Companies that already have lots of loyal followers are better off trying to outshine the competition with their own creative juices.

An image posted by Denny’s is a great example of a larger company creating its own meme based off of current trends.

Written by Kyra Sutherland

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What is PR, actually?

Public relations, advertising and marketingwhats the difference?  Here are a few pointers to help you differentiate.

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he public relations profession is one big mystery to most of the world.  Easily confused with marketing or advertising, it’s a field that can be difficult to explain.  If you practice public relations, most of your friends and family have probably been confused when you have tried to explain what you do.  Here are a few resources to help you answer another round of awkward questions at family gatherings this Christmas season.

Q: What do PR practitioners do, in a nutshell?

A:  According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), public relations is “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  Plainly put, public relations is about using tools like writing, social media and strategy to build trust and reputation for an organization.

 

Q: Are PR professionals just professional partiers?

A:  Many people believe that practicing PR equates to being a publicist, representing a celebrity, or meeting people at swanky parties for a living—far be it from the truth.  Public relations work can often include special events productions, but every event is created with a strategy in mind.  Public relations work is not all glamorous, and though most professionals do enjoy their work, long hours spent strategizing and planning go unseen.

 

BYU public relations students met with local PR professionals at a recruiting event to learn from and network industry leaders. Though networking isn’t all that PR professionals do, it, it does play a large role in any PR job.

 

Q: Is public relations like advertising?

A:  PR is not advertising.  While the two professions have things in common, like elements of design and strategy, the main difference between public relations and advertising is that advertising is paid media, while PR is earned media.  This means that advertisers will pay to push their content forward, while PR professionals will earn their coverage in ways like writing news story pitches to journalists, creating social media posts or putting together brand videos for a client.  In fact, when you read a piece of public relations content, you may not even realize it’s been carefully crafted to persuade you to think about an idea or a brand in a certain way.  PR is discreet, while advertising is more obvious to the viewer.

 

BYU advertising students prepare a set for a Comic Con video shoot. While advertisers promote clients via paid media, PR practitioners promote clients through earned media.

 

Q:  What’s the difference between PR and marketing?

A:  While marketers aim to sell products, PR professionals sell ideas.  At the core, PR professionals are storytellers.  Public relations professionals are primarily responsible for managing brand reputation and press relations, while marketers might focus more on market research and sales goals.

 

Q:  What can you do with a career in PR?

A:  One of the best things about the field of PR is that you can do so many things with the degree.  Some graduates choose to work at PR agencies, which is probably what you think of as a traditional PR job.  However, the options are limitless.  Today, many PR graduates choose to specialize in digital marketing and social analytics and work in PR tech jobs.  Additionally, many PR graduates cross over to marketing or business, or go to law school.  A PR practitioner could be a press secretary, an event planner, or even an entrepreneur and start his or her own firm.

 

Q:  Should I major in PR?

A: If you’re passionate about writing, creativity and strategy—and you have a healthy tolerance for stress—this may be the perfect field for you.

Written by Lindsey Trendler

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Using social media to build your personal brand

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mployers are stalking you, and you may not like what they see. Many hiring managers will take a look at your social media profiles after they interview you to get a snapshot of who you are. “I always look at a few social channels when hiring,” said Brandon Jeppson, Vice President of marketing at EKR. “It helps me get a better sense of who that person really is.”

If the person represented on your social media channels does not reflect the person you want employers to see, you need to step up your game on social media. Get noticed and hired by the right people by taking control of your personal brand online.

1. Stand for something

A good personal brand starts with a solid foundation. Pick a cause, any cause. It doesn’t have to be organized one, or even well-known. You can stand up for happiness, class, art, religion, or science. Choose something you want to embody, and let the rest of your content follow suit. Your foundational principles will shine through to people looking at your social profiles and will be influential in shaping their perceptions of you.

2. Embrace the real you

A common misconception is that to be successful on social media, you should appear to be perfect. People want to see the real you. A hiring manager isn’t going to your Facebook feed to be wowed by your flawless selfies, they’re there to get a glimpse of your reality. Be authentic and relatable, and people will want you on their team.

“Credentials and skills are important, but in the end, you’re working with people,” said Jeppson. “Social media, including LinkedIn, can help me figure out if they’re going to be a good fit for my team”.

 3. Find your audience

Once you find the content that resonates with you, find out who cares to listen. Use platforms like Buzzsumo to monitor what’s trending with your audience, then use that content to fuel your posts. Remember, you’re not building a personal brand for yourself, but for others to be influenced and inspired by you.

 4. Stay consistent

Having a consistent look and feel to your personal brand will create a sense of trust and validity. “You can damage an otherwise impeccable reputation if one of your profiles shows up with content or images that don’t represent you well,” said Sujan Patel, Co-founder of Web Profits and a contributing author to Forbes. This advice is especially helpful on an Instagram account, where a consistent look and feel (including a color scheme) is pleasing to the eye.

 5. Mix up your content

Don’t settle for only one type of engagement with your audience, even if you know it works. Mixing up what you post keeps things interesting for your followers and helps employers see the many facets of your personality. “When hiring, I try to gather as much data as I can about a person,” said BYU student and E-WeddingBands operations manager David Baird. “I want to know what their personality is like and how they handle themselves in all types of situations.”

6. Embrace your work

Your social media pages shouldn’t be a place to consistently gloat about your achievements. They can, however, be a place to occasionally post content you create, like blog posts or videos. Sprinkling your personal brand with original work helps employers quickly assess your skill sets.

 7. Google yourself

Try putting your name into a search engine. How do you feel about the results? Are you ashamed and embarrassed, or happy and proud?  Monitoring your online presence is essential to maintaining a personal brand. If there’s something you don’t like on your social pages, it’s easy to delete. If you’re worried about how you’re portrayed on other pages, try reaching out to the person posting and explain you don’t want to be portrayed in that way.

Just like a business would, you should be aware of where you show up online, who is talking about you and what is being said.

Social media matters when interviewing for jobs. Skills and credentials aside, employers want to make sure you’re a good fit for their team.

“Elevating your personal brand might seem like it involves a huge time investment. But, small steps in the right direction can go a long way” said Kat Boogaard, writer for The Muse and contributing author for Inc.

Rest assured that employers are looking at your social media because you’re already interesting. Make sure you paint the right picture of who you are and who you want the world to see.

Written by Shannon Baird

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How to capture the perfect Christmas season

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rom sparkling lights to hot cocoa by the fire, the picture-perfect Christmas is what many people are longing for. Having a picture-perfect Christmas season is one thing, capturing it is a whole other ball game. You want to preserve those memories but the twinkling lights turn into blurry blobs and your cozy cocoa by the fire picture turns into a washed-out mess. Sound familiar?

Well, this is your year. Not only to have picture-perfect plans, but to be able to share perfect pictures with those you love. Here are the top four picture taking tips that will make all the herald angels sing about your Christmas photos.

1. Lose the Flash
This may be the number one way to ruin your cozy pictures this season. Using a flash, inside or outside adds a cold, washed out look to pictures. You may be thinking, “yeah but what if it’s dark and we can’t see anyone’s faces in the picture?” Well there’s a couple of solutions to that. First, find someone else that has a smart phone, have them stand behind you and shine their flashlight on whatever subject you’re shooting. This may take some trial and error but adding a cell phone back light is a great way to add a softer glow to a photo.

2. Capture Candids
Now this may seem like a contradiction. Don’t perfect pictures need to have perfect smiles and perfect placement? The answer is NO. Candid photos of kids with messy hair opening presents or sneaking a picture of Grandma and Grandpa holding hands while enjoying the grandkids will mean much more than any perfectly symmetrical, posed photo. Be ready to take a lot of pictures to capture the perfect candids, you never know when your Instagram moments will pop up. Look for the magic opportunities to capture the pure, spontaneous joy of the holidays.

 

3. Try HDR Mode
Some of the most beautiful holiday pictures you can take are of bright Christmas lights twinkling in the night. Using a flash makes the lights disappear and sometimes using a back light ruins the feel. Your phone has a secret weapon you probably don’t even know about. Turning on your HDR (High Dynamic Range) setting allows your phone to take multiple photos at different exposures and then puts them all together to get the most balanced light/shadows. Check out these two photos- the one on the right is with HDR, the one on the left is without. What a difference! These places were equally lit- so it’s time to bust out the HDR and capture all the twinkle lights.

non HDR mode
HRD mode

 

4. Get on the Grid
The rule of thirds is a simple rule that makes a huge difference in photos. The goal is to get the center of your subject on one of the intersections of a 3X3 grid. (see photo below) Centering the focus on one of the grid intersections gives your photos great balance and makes them more esthetically pleasing. For those of you with the iPhone 7 or above- using the rule of thirds with your portrait effect will send your photos right over the top! To turn the grid on your camera, check out your phone’s camera settings and get on the grid!

These simple tips/tricks will bring your holiday photos to the top of everyone’s favorite list this year. Creating your picture-perfect Christmas can now be accompanied by perfect pictures to preserve those memories for generations to come.

Written by Sarah Matheson

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What the end of net neutrality means for communicators

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But with a new proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to rollback net neutrality regulations, those personal blogs and small businesses might have a harder time getting their voices heard on the internet. The new FCC proposal cuts out Obama-era net neutrality rules that made internet service providers give equal access of all internet content to consumers.

A lack of net neutrality regulations would allow internet service providers—like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T—to block or slow-down web content. For example, for streaming services that use heavy bandwidth like Netflix and YouTube, ISPs could charge a premium to those companies and to consumers in order to access those sites.

Some communications professionals fear that this change could negatively impact internet advertisers and marketers. For instance, if advertisers don’t pay ISPs, web ads could be slowed down to the point where a consumer won’t even see the ad by the time they leave the page.

“It’s going to fundamentally change the way (marketers) can approach digital media,” said Josh Lowcock, EVP Chief Digital Officer at UMWorldwide. “It could affect everything from advertising prices and viewability standards to innovation and competition.”

Others are less concerned about the immediate impact of the net neutrality changes. The FCC proposal won’t be voted on until Dec. 14 and, though likely to pass, the changes won’t go into effect for a few months and potential lawsuits against the FCC might slow the effects even more.

“This won’t kill journalism, advertising or public relations,” said professor Ed Carter, director of Brigham Young University’s School of Communications. “Content will continue to flow for the most part and we won’t see wholesale changes immediately.”

Still, while large content providers like Amazon or Hulu will be able to pay the increased costs, the same might not be the case for small businesses. Though the internet previously provided free access to content, marketers might have to accept the reality this free access might now come with a price tag from ISPs.

An AT&T store at sunrise located in Orem, Utah. Like Verizon, the internet service provider AT&T is a key player in the FCC’s latest proposal against net neutrality.

However, because consumers already have to wade through so much online content, some argue that cutting through the clutter is a bigger problem for small business than net neutrality. Carter suggests that the saturation of voices will likely be the biggest problem small business marketers face, with or without net neutrality.

“So many people are wading through content with varying levels of quality, trying to find the truth,” said Carter. “If content creators can make things that are truthful and useful for consumers, then their messages will make it to consumers.”

Whatever the consequences of the FCC’s proposal, consumers and content creators are making their voices heard before the final vote. Protests have been set up on Dec. 7 in Salt Lake City at various Verizon stores. The website Battle for the Net also gives users access to emails of U.S. Congress members, who could stop the FCC vote.

So, while the internet’s future might be less certain with the potential end of net neutrality, what is certain is that people probably won’t be seeing Charlies bitten finger or the President’s tweets go away anytime soon.

Written by Trevor Hawkins

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The secret to finding a job in marketing (it’s more obvious than you think)

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inding a job in marketing can be a tiring and perplexing pursuit. A job candidate may spend years racking up an impressive resume and ultimately slip through the cracks. While there is no sure-fire cure for this dilemma, job-hunting marketers may want to rethink their reliance on traditional approaches and consider viewing the chase from a marketing standpoint. Specifically, they should focus on marketing themselves to employers as proven professionals who are prepared to bring real value to a department or team. Consider the experiences of several individuals who witnessed the power of this approach firsthand.

Nina’s Story

In 2010, Nina Mufleh wrapped up a successful 10-year marketing communications career in the Middle East to seek her fortune in the mecca of tech: San Francisco. After working with Fortune 500 companies and even the Queen of Jordan herself, Mufleh was ready for a change in scenery. She chronicled this transition in an editorial for the Harvard Business Review.

“I knew it would be a challenge to restart my career in a new market … [but] as a few months turned into a year and I saw no signs of progress, I reached a point of panic.”

Mufleh had spent countless hours researching potential employers, drafting tailor-made resumes and building her network on and offline. After all of that, she hadn’t had a single interview. “How could a career that ranged from working with royalty to Fortune 500 brands and startups not pique the curiosity of any hiring managers?” Mufleh wrote.

After a year of toiling in the hiring machine, Mufleh finally adjusted her strategy. “Instead of thinking as a job applicant, I had to think of myself as a product and identify ways to create demand around hiring me.” Mufleh decided to refocus her efforts to demonstrate that she could provide real value to an organization. She set her sights on Airbnb, conducted extensive market research and compiled a report on the potential for the company’s expansion into the Middle East.

Marketing professional Nina Mufleh seized the attention of Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and demonstrated the value of her marketing prowess all with one tweet. The stunt led to numerous interviews and offers as Mufleh wrapped up a fruitless year of job-hunting.

Mufleh published her report in a tweet and tagged Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and other executives. According to her, “Within hours of releasing the report, a recruiter from Airbnb reached out to me to schedule an interview. Within a few days, I had interviews with many of the area’s top tech companies.”

 Oscar and Kristina’s Story

Months away from graduating Miami Ad School, aspiring art directors Oscar Gierup and Kristina Samsonova were looking to line up jobs with big-name advertising agencies. Since neither were interested in becoming part of a giant stack of identical-looking applications, they decided to use what they had learned about advertising to take matters into their own hands.

“Reaching the right people using the agency emails feels nearly impossible,” said Gierup. “But with the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity coming up, we saw our chance to get seen.”

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is the largest advertising conference in the world, with tens of thousands of registrants—most of them advertising professionals and many of them from prestigious agencies. The conference takes place every June in Cannes, France.

Since the two couldn’t afford the trip to France, they found another way to get the attention of top-tier advertisers, while also demonstrating the value they could bring to an agency. “… We created a series of sponsored Facebook ads to get our portfolios in front of some of the industry’s biggest names. The ads were geo-targeted to run in Cannes, so only people in the area were able to see them. We also filtered it to specifically target people working in advertising or related fields,” Gierup said in a joint report about the campaign.

Advertising students Oscar Gierup and Kristina Samsonova sidestepped the narrow road to a top-agency job through a series of Facebook ads geo-targeted to advertising professionals attending a major conference in France. The campaign led to 2,000 unique portfolio views and cost a total of $120.

As a result, Gierup and Samsonova only spent $120 and received more than 2,000 unique portfolio views—all of them presumably by potential employers. Additionally, their advertising escapade received coverage in major industry publications, including Adweek, complete with links to their portfolios. Shortly after the campaign, each student accepted an offer with an agency in Europe.

Stop applying. Start thinking.

It’s easy for a hiring manager to overlook a resume, cover letter or application that may blend in with numerous similar-looking submissions. It’s far more difficult to ignore an applicant who sidesteps protocol and provides bona fide proof of his or her value. It’s time marketers embraced this approach and started applying their industry skills to the job hunt.

Written by Cody Humphreys.

Turning Profits with Social Content: The Recipe for Success

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f you want to make money as a digital marketer, expert Joe Pulizzi says selling a product should be at the bottom of your to do list. Content is king, and quality social content for companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo has become a steady revenue stream.

During a discussion on a September 2017 edition of The Social Examiner podcast, “How to Generate Revenue with Your Content,” Pulizzi dove into the value of social content for businesses.

“More important than products are content and communication,” said Pulizzi. “I believe that the time is coming where content will no longer be a cost-center but a profit center, and we as strategic communicators can monetize it without being limited to just products.”

The Recipe for Successfully Monetizing Content

As competition grows across industries, Pulizzi reiterates the importance of targeting the right audience. Emphasizing that products can be copied, but an audience of loyal fans cannot. Building up an audience takes patience, hard work and consistent effort and will be impossible without quality content. That, Pulizzi says, is the key: nurturing your audience with a steady flow of quality content and you have the recipe for success.

As your social following grows naturally, digital marketers will start to gather more feedback. With this information, digital marketers will have a better pulse or understanding of the content the audience is looking for. Then, with a better perspective on your audience, you will have the resources to give them the content they want– the only difference is you’ll charge a premium for it.

“Once you have your audience, you can sell them anything!” says Pulizzi.

Now that you’ve become focused on selling to people and not selling a product, there will be several other opportunities for monetizing in addition to premium content. Pulizzi recommends starting out with one or two of the following methods:

  • Selling ad space on your blog site
  • Adding subscription-based services to your content
  • Manufacturing merchandise
  • Leveraging additional paid services
  • Asking for donations
  • Publishing an eBook

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Evidence of the successful implementation of these monetization strategies is food blogger Chelsea Lords who made 40k in her first year of blogging. For Lords, building her following started with producing quality content.

“The internet does not need more content, it is extremely oversaturated. What it does need is better content,” said Lords. “I believe having a lot of content is meaningless and that superior, high-quality images are the first key to monetizing your content.”

Chelsea Lords stages a photo for her blog. Photo from Lords.

Lords knew quality started with her photography. Completely self-taught, Lords has blogged about her experiences outlining essentials for beginners when attempting to take their own high-quality photos. Her first tip is to start by studying and discovering different types of photography. Once you’ve gathered perspective, Lords says practice makes perfect as you genuinely strive to create your own style without mimicking the work of others.

Following these steps, Lords blog, “Chelsea’s Messy Apron,” generates millions of site visitors each month. With her increasing following comes an increasing amount of opportunities to monetize content. Like Pulizzi, Lords has leveraged opportunities to charge a premium for specialized content. In addition, as she continues to deliver high-quality content her inbox is overflowing with work requests.

On her site there are not any products for sale, Lords does not drive sales for her sponsors. To Pulizzi’s original point, her content has become a profit center. By doing something as simple as selling ad space, charging for premium content and selling sponsorships, Lords successfully turns profits each month.

For a food blogger like Lords it doesn’t matter the recipe, whether she’s making Cincinnati Chili, Sweet Potato Corn Bowls, or Lemon Parmesan Chicken the key is always the right ingredients. For digital marketers the recipe for successfully monetizing social content is a simple combination: build the right audience and produce high-quality content.

Written by Cory Gill

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Google AdWords for Dummies

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oogle AdWords is an online platform where companies can utilize paid-search advertising to maximize profits. It is essential for all companies and brands to develop a digital strategic plan that optimizes both paid advertising and organic searches. Although there are many different routes and strategic methods related to Google AdWords, it’s important to first understand the basics so you don’t get lost in the complexity of Google’s real estate platform.

But first let’s talk about how Google AdWords works: Google AdWords lets you place search results for your website on a search engine results page (SERP) by paying for them. Essentially you pick keywords that you think will be searched on Google, and then create an advert for your website that will appear as a sponsored link in the search engine results page. Since multiple companies usually want the same keywords, rival companies can bid for certain keywords.

A sample search for housing in Provo, Utah shows the “sponsored ads” for the top 3 searches. The top companies were the highest bid for these specific keywords.

Online Strategy

A digital strategy is necessary for all businesses, and using Google AdWords can add a lot to your online presence. According to the blog Wishpond, for every dollar spent on Google AdWords, the average business generates one dollar in revenue. Additionally, 95% of Google’s total revenue comes from Advertising.

Jenna Lestarge, a beginner AdWords Specialist, has already seen enormous results in a short time.

“Google AdWords is essential for any type of business. It can be risky, but usually it is worth the risk” she said.

Google AdWords can give you a leg-up in your specific industry due to the online advertising benefit of reaching a larger audience.

Understanding the Lingo

Jumping into Google AdWords without preparation and research can be like jumping head-first into an ice-cold lake. It is scary, dark and you will probably struggle staying afloat.

Understanding the lingo and what all the terms mean can greatly help you and your business as you are starting out with Google AdWords. According to Google resources, understanding the lingo and terms can help improve and specialize your bidding strategy.

Some terms that are important to know are:

  • Impression: A measurement of how many times the ad has been shown.
  • CPC (cost-per-click): The most common type of bid on Google. You pay every time a person actually clicks on your ad.
  • CTA (call to action): The action you want the consumer to take away from the ad.
  • Quality Score: Google’s measurement based on the relevancy of the ad’s headline, description, keywords and URL.
  • Ad Rank: The value that is used to determine where your ad shows up on a page, based on the bid amount.

Focus on the Basics

Although Google AdWords tends to be complex due to the multiple various and strategies, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start with the basics, and then gradually broaden your horizon.

“When I first started learning about Google AdWords it was easy to get confused with all of the topics. Once I decided to only focus on the basics, it became much easier to understand,” says Jenna Lestarge, who works with Google AdWords daily.

According to the blog Wishpond, over 1.2 million companies advertise with Google AdWords. Understanding the fundamentals and basics will greatly help in utilizing this dominating online platform.

Use the Online Resources

You need to pass two of the six exams with at least an 80 percent or better to become AdWords certified. You will need to take the Google AdWords fundamental exam and then you can choose between search advertising, display advertising, mobile advertising, video advertising and shopping advertising as your second exam.

Preparing for the Google AdWords exams can be stressful and time-consuming Make use of all the online resources to help you study.

There are countless resources available online that can help you understand the basics of Google AdWords and help you prepare for the exams. Even Google offers study guides and video tutorials that walk you through AdWords.

The online resources are quite helpful with introducing you to the different aspects of the platform including pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and strategic bidding.

Utilizing Google AdWords can be very beneficial to any online strategy. Not only does it help with online advertising and promotion, it helps reach your desired audience. Understanding the lingo and focusing on the basics is the best way to ease your way into Google’s real-estate platform. Although the online resources are extremely helpful, the best way to learn how to use the platform is to do just that — use it!

Written by McKell Staheli

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Build your Social Channels from Scratch in 5 Steps.

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ou may feel like a deer in the headlights when given the task to create social media channels for your organization, but here are five steps to help you out:

1. Discover your vision

What is the purpose behind your social media accounts? BYU Sports Information director Lauren Holbrook describes why seeing the big picture matters, “If you don’t have a vision for your social media campaigns, it just becomes some fun posts that don’t contribute. You may earn lots of engagements and traction from a post or campaign, but if it doesn’t contribute to your brand then it’s done nothing for you.”

Once you’ve created your vision, be prepared to give your audience a taste of what they should expect to get out of following you.

2. Prepare your platform

Don’t invite the neighborhood over for a barbecue before you buy the supplies. At least be prepared to feed your audience some “content bites” before they enter your channels. Have a bank of posts that highlight your vision about your brand and what the followers can expect to get out of it. Below are some examples of such posts:

– Create an introductory blog and link posts to where it’s posted

– Create giveaway contests for your followers

– Create videos that quickly explain the purpose of your brand

– Showcase some highlights that your brand has had in the past and what is expected in the future

3. Build your audience.

Now that you’ve created something worth sharing, the invitations can be sent! This is where your audience research comes in handy. The welcome wagon to your pages can be sent in many forms, but they must connect with the audience that you’re trying to reach. Here are some helpful tips:

– Start posting and commenting on other bigger brands and influencers’ social media accounts

– Create Geofencing around areas that contain your audience

– Generate contests that relate to your audience and require them to like your pages

– Look at who follows similar pages and invite them to your channels

As you utilize these tips, interrogate yourself with questions about the demographics and psychographics of your audience. All questions can come from the big two:

  1. Who cares?
  2. Why do they care?

Once your channels are ready to go, start seeking out the followers and prepare relevant content.

4. Generate your Content

Content is the glue that keeps your followers attached to your channels. Remember this rule: Be human. Produce something that others feel comfortable contacting, engaging and following. Keep your branding professional and loyal to your vision, but be humanistic as you follow these content creation principles:

Branding: Be consistent with your messaging. Use similar themes and images according to each platform. Take pride in your content and strive for high-quality media to help build your reputation.

Content Calendars: Find four to five hours each month and brainstorm a month of content. Iron it out on a simple Google Sheet and have a second pair of eyes look it over for errors or offbeat content ideas. Commit to the calendar and be consistent!

User-Generated Content: Give your followers a voice! These “Brand Champions” or better known as brand lovers will bring more credibility to your brand than anything you could find. Share their content and create spotlights, features and anything else to showcase your gratitude for their loyalty.

Spontaneous content and current events: Keep watch for any kind of new content that could build your brand. Never be afraid to edit the content calendar with new and improved content, but maintain a fluid level of consistency.

These are a few of many principles to keep your content sharp and relevant. I recommend looking at relevant blogs and other brands for more specifics on content curating.

5. Analyze your progress

So did it work? Did the audience actually care about what you were saying? Analytics have all the answers. Each platform has a form of analytics that can help you understand how every post you made performed. It also shows demographics for all of your follower categories. Here’s what to look for:

  • Find out what you care about measuring (look back at your vision)
  • What type of content needs to improve and what type’s doing well
  • What direction your new strategy needs to take based on your results

Rinse and Repeat

Repeat this process as many times as you need to in order to shake up your routines. Instead of starting new pages, use new campaigns and new hashtag trends. Use this process to measure your progress and always strive to improve it.

Written by Jeffrey Dodenbier

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Reach the 100K-Instagram-Follower Milestone

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o you ever feel like your Instagram account is stagnant -every few followers you gain you lose another? There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you are never going to keep growing. We have all been there, we can all relate. Growing a social media following can be an exhausting process. And with so many “quick and easy” methods out there that never seem to work, how can you possibly find real advice.

Theming your Instagram feed will be a valuable asset in growing your followers. Be consistent and follow your theme with every post.
Photo of @Cremedelacrumb1 feed.

Here are some sure ways to get your Instagram growing like wildfire.

  • Post on your Instagram every single day. While this may sound time consuming and exhausting, it is vital for success. Your followers want to see new content and if you are consistent in providing it, you will continue to grow in followers.
  • Like at least 100 photos a day. Even better, it really only takes about 5 minutes to do that. But by interacting with other accounts, you will become a more prominent account and get your name out there. Be sure to do this in your niche first and then begin expanding to new areas once you see consistent growth. Forbes interviewed Instagrammer Elliot Tebele and he said he would like thousands of photos a day when starting out.
  • Follow people! When beginning (an Instagram account), supporting other accounts will help your cause. Most people will follow you back once you give them a follow. Once you feel secure in your growth, you can slow this process down. But never stop following people, it humanizes your account.
  • Interact with other accounts. Whether it is a comment, a like or a share onto your Instagram story, do it. It helps people get to know you and your brand.
  • Brand your account. Find your niche and stick to it. If you have a consistent look and feel to your account, it makes it more appealing to the eye and you will see people gravitate towards your content. For more tips on branding, check out this article.
  • Pick a feed theme. Once you decide, stick with it unless you are going to completely change it.
  • Set yourself apart from others in your niche. Maybe you only use circle photos, maybe you have a color theme; try and find something to make your Instagram unique.

Tips can only go so far, but learning from someone who has experience can help you further. Raven, @TheDisneyDorm, has worked hard to gain a large following within the Disney Community. With currently 21K followers and 511 posts, she has some great advice to provide. She had her own personal reasons to begin down this path; her inspiration came from a 17-year-old girl who came into the bank she was working at to purchase her very own house. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing! The girl had a successful makeup channel on YouTube and was making a living already. That is when Raven decided she wanted to take a leap of faith and try doing this for herself.

Raven (@thedisneydorm) has grown an impressive 21K followers since beginning her Disney themed Instagram.

“I had zero clue what I was doing, I just knew I loved positivity and Disney and believed really hard in myself,” she said. “The biggest advice I can give is to not look at other accounts and think, oh I wish my account looked like theirs, I want my photos like that, or I want followers like that. I learned really quickly that it’s not about being as successful or savvy as others, it’s about finding your own niche and what makes you YOU! People will love you no matter what.”

Now with thousands and thousands of followers, Raven is very aware of the influence she has. She tries to be a positive influence within the community because that is what is important to her.

So whether you are brand new to Instagram or have been trying to grow a following for several years, have patience. You can easily get a large following with a little bit of work. Be consistent, be authentic, and show people who you are. Take these tools and start your journey to 100K followers today!

Written by Jaycee Brown

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