Digital Marketing Archives - Matt Black Ink
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Digital Marketing

When things are going your way in business and life, it's easy to feel like you've got all the answers.

But you don't... nobody does. 

Just when you think it's all systems go and your brand is maximizing its potential, a chink in the armour rears its ugly head.

And while you come to terms with reality, in most cases, the actions you take to address areas of vulnerability will make or break your business in the end.

So how do you account for the unexpected and craft a brand strategy that's as bulletproof as possible?

What are some of the warning signs that your planning may not cover your ass the way you thought it did?

The strongest brand strategies typically account for evolving customer tastes and expectations. After all, it's predominantly your customers who shape your strategy, right? Capturing their hearts and minds is what marketing is all about.

The best way to connect with your customers and build a business they come to know and love is to shape your brand strategy around their identity and tendencies.

You've got to be honest with them though: who are you and why should they care? And of course, what's in it for them?

Being honest is only one aspect of the battle though.

*On Monday January 25th 2016, social media and the world celebrate #CMAD, which is short for Community Manager Appreciation Day. I have so many friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Snapchat who work as Community Managers, and I wanted to write something that speaks to their immeasurable value to the brands that they work for. Keep engaging, never stop building relationships and always be social... Happy #CMAD!* What. A. Day. Some seemingly mindless banter on Twitter has exploded into a broader conversation across your industry and your customers are busy expressing their happiness with your products and the service you provide. People are literally tweeting your competitors and advocating on your behalf, explaining why you're the brand to beat. They're sharing their views in Facebook groups, causing your page views to skyrocket and filling your Inbox with orders. Your mentions on Instagram are blowing up, with many users reposting some of your latest special offers. How did this happen?! Simple. Your Community Manager engaged your followers and connections and BOOM! They took care of the rest.

Apps have become modern day lifelines. Consider this: in 2014, the way we do business changed forever when Internet usage on mobile exceeded desktop usage for the first time ever, with accessing content and information leading the way for reasons why. With mobility empowering the workforce more than ever before, offering your customers (and employees!) a great experience with your brand on their smartphones is non-negotiable. As somebody who spends a good hour or two on LinkedIn each day, my hopes were high when I first heard about ‘Voyager,’ in a presentation from CEO Jeff Weiner during Talent Connect Anaheim 2015. Aptly named after the 1972 NASA mission that sent a man-made spacecraft further than any other in history, the revamped app represents a dramatic overhaul from both functionality and design standpoints. Things just work better and look slicker. This idea of helping LinkedIn “[go] further than [they’ve] ever gone before” definitely intrigued me. Up to this point, I always felt as if I was on a weaker version of the desktop when I browsed LinkedIn on my smartphone. In fact, over time, I would rather wait to hop on my MacBook after-hours instead of using the app during my lunch. That’s the opposite of what you want your customers or members doing in 2015. Nonetheless, after spending a few days using ‘Voyager,’ I am happily immersed and excited to see how this new mobile experience impacts my efforts on LinkedIn. A quick watch of 'The Making of the new LinkedIn app Project Voyager' should give you a sense as to how much energy and how many hours were spent in development. Here’s why I feel this launch is a huge move for LinkedIn as we head towards 2016:

My autumn has been hectic. Insane, really. And boy, do my social media channels reflect it! Although the jam-packed days have provided me with a ton of positivity and inspiration, they haven’t left many moments for timelines, snaps, feeds or apps in general. I’m hesitant to call my recent lull on Twitter an intentional hiatus, but regardless, I’ve used the time to reflect on what I enjoy about the platform… and what I don’t. There’s certainly no prescribed list of “do’s and don’ts” that every Twitter user is expected to follow. But I suspect many would agree with me that certain unwritten rules should (and do) apply. Here are a few Twitter turnoffs that might be costing you connections, hurting your online reputation and weakening your social media strategy.

Every once in a while, a large multi-national brand rolls out a campaign that sets the social and digital worlds on fire. High levels of engagement, coast-to-coast community building, multiple influencers involved, a ton of exposure… Applebee’s #TasteTheChange is all that and more, leading many marketers to fully buy in to what they already know: live-streaming is the future. Thanks to platforms like Meerkat and Periscope – and perhaps most importantly, a willingness to fully embrace and employ technology in their marketing – Applebee’s is leading the way when it comes to drawing in eyeballs, creating conversation and bringing customers to their restaurants. Applebee's Oh, and I hear their new menu is outstanding, which definitely helps. After an extremely successful activation in Times Square, Applebee’s decided to up the ante and focus on the restaurant experience. While taking over the Big Apple was epic in its own right, there’s something to be said about sticking to your bread and butter as well. With 2 million free appetizers to give away, 12 hours of streaming planned and numerous live look-ins at locations across the U.S., #TasteTheChange was real marketing, with real people, in real-time. Historically speaking, many big brands get a bad rap for being impersonal or too robotic in how they market their products and services. And while I’m sure many of them would love to let their hair down a little, it’s much easier to play it safe in an effort to keep their image squeaky clean. There’s something intoxicating (and terrifying!) about putting your brand in the hands of your customers without any major filters or a laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” Think about it: during #TasteTheChange, Applebee’s welcomed live-streaming parties, where realistically anything could have happened. But brands who appreciate the power of now assume that risk because they know the guaranteed positives outweigh the potential negatives. Here’s why I think Applebee’s #TasteTheChange is the way forward: