Wednesday, April 30, 2014

3 Reasons Brands Should Leverage Native Advertising In The Music Industry

We've heard a lot of talk in the last year or so about the trend of native advertising, and the important role it will play in digital content going forward. Now that savvy web users are no longer paying attention to irrelevant ads (or, are outright blocking them with web extensions), marketers must find ways to insert themselves into the actual content being consumed online in order to interact with potential customers. This is not always easy. While consumers demand relevance and personalization from advertisers, they are also wary of brands that try to force an association that just isn't there. It's a tightrope that brands must walk in order to belong. Success here comes from providing real value and allowing consumers to make the brand connection themselves.

The definition for native advertising can get rather broad. So, for simplicity, I'm going to refer to it as a marketing message woven into the context of a user's experience. This could be a sponsored piece of content the brand can align with, or even media actually provided by the advertisers themselves that goes easy on the sell and heavy on the larger idea to which they support. But, where should brands focus their native ads? And, what kind of content would they be wise to offer?

To me, it's clear that there is big opportunity for brand marketers in the music industry. Music is not only universal, as they say. Music can express many different ideas, is easily integrated into mobile strategies, and can add support to many other legs of a marketing plan. Think about how often you hear music in advertising. Now think about why that is.

Listeners identify with their music, and the sounds they purchase and interact with play a big role in their lifestyle overall. Music helps people define themselves. Wouldn't it be great for a brand to be able to associate themselves with that defining sound and style? Well, yeah. It would. That's why we see advertisers pour sponsorship money into world tours of big name artists. But, the opportunity for native ad strategies goes well beyond the mega-tour.

Here are three reasons why opportunity is rich for native advertisers in music using small-scale sponsoring:

  1. It aligns with what fans want. As evidenced by pretty much all types of online content consumed these days, consumer attention span is limited. They want quick, shorter content that gets the message across, and allows them to share that message with friends. Focusing on mobile first makes it easily accessible at any time, and new technology such as location-based targeting can be used as a relevant distribution method. The world is going mobile, and marketers can't afford to be left behind.  
  2. It echoes the way some musicians are starting to create. Fans aren't the only ones interested in smaller bits of content. I recently did a Google+ Hangout for a radio show with a musician by the name of Pharoahe Monch who said his April, 2014 release may end up being his last "traditional" album. When pressed for details he said he wants to create more music, but in smaller formats than a full-length album that allow him to get an idea or theme across in a single, or just a few songs. So, while the attention span of the listener has shortened over the years, maybe that of the artist has as well, and it's time to move onto a format that's easier to digest (and share) quickly. Short musical projects, especially those that incorporate video (+YouTube being the new +MTV) should be appealing to marketers because they provide a chance to get in front of an audience with a distinct message. Additionally, the move toward crowdfunding as a means for artists to support their work in a kind-of pre-order format points to the fact that sponsorship at this level is needed.    
  3. Brands can sponsor smaller bits of content, and get a big return. +Rodney Williams, the CEO of mobile music app +LISNR, recently delved into the mobile opportunity for advertisers when it comes to music for +ClickZ, and he was right on. The time for only sponsoring tours has passed. The opportunity now lies in sponsoring smaller bits of content - songs and albums instead of entire tours. Give fans something small, but make it exclusive. Reward fans for performing actions that help the brand - app downloads, shares, brand interaction, etc. Then integrate the sponsored content with the rest of the marketing campaign for consistency. A great example is last year's marketing of Jay-Z's album with Samsung as a partner. The album was full-length. But, commercials and behind-the-scenes footage, lyrics, individual songs, and more were delivered individually through a mobile app available to only the first 1 million to download it in the +Google Play store. This led to data gathering, exclusivity for fans, and a desire to share and get the word out all while leveraging the Samsung Galaxy smartphone as the one to facilitate all of this activity. We should see a lot more of this going forward.
What do you think of native advertising, and the role it can play in music? Let me know in the comments. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How To Get Your Content Seen Online (Infographic)

The Internet can be a really difficult place to get noticed. It's a crowded medium full of great (and not so great) content to sift through. If you don't know how to stand out, your hard work will end up getting lost. And, if people can't find your content, they can't react to it.

To increase the chances that your material is found, it's important to combine a content marketing strategy with SEO. This means making sure that content gets posted in all the right places, often in multiple formats to attract the largest audience no matter what their preferences for interacting with it.

This infographic clearly lays out the various ways you can repurpose your content, and where to post each version online to get indexed by search engines and consumed by your audience.

Smart Ways to Combine Content Marketing With SEO

Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

8 Steps To Break Free of the Facebook Charge Machine

…And Take Your Fan Base With You.

Now that Facebook has gone to a full Goodfellas-style business model with regard to brand pages, it seems all but impossible to reach your own audience now without shelling out more money to the network for unproven results.

Add this to the other uncertainties around promoting your page to targeted audiences, and I’d say it’s time for brands to cut their losses and move on to the ever-widening world of social media today. Chances are these other social platforms have probably already taken the attention of some of your old Facebook followers anyway.

If you’re like most brands using social media, you already have a presence on other networks. But, if Facebook is your go-to – where you spend most of your time and energy and grew your largest fan base – it could be tough to make the big switch. How do you get the fan base you built up over time on Facebook to engage with your brand in a new location? It’s not easy. But, thinking about how consumers behave online, and putting together a plan that involves them can give your social outreach the kind of kick start you’re looking for when leveraging new networks.

Here are some steps to being brave and getting a buzz elsewhere.

  1. Find your audience – Where are your customers currently spending their online time? How do they engage with brands there? Don’t just jump in. Sit back and observe while you and your team learn the network and how best to communicate. Make it about the customer and not about your brand.
  2. Engage more – Once you have decided where you want to spend your time, put in the work to be worthy of customer interaction. I’m not talking auto-posting the same content on 5 different networks and waiting for the shares to roll in and lines to form at your door. Actually interact with people. Respond to customer comments and questions, source opinions on what your brand is doing, reveal a personality. You know, be social.
  3. Look like a pro – Learn the tools and techniques of the specific network you have decided to use. The little things are important. For example, as a heavy user of Google+, I can tell when a brand is phoning it in over there – mentions of others using “@” are the first major giveaway. Try to look like you’ve been there before.
  4. Make a clean break – Don’t just start whittling down your usage of Facebook. Stop using it. Less frequent posting can give the wrong impression. Instead, let your fans know exactly what’s going on like these guys did, and let them know what your plans are.
  5. Offer an incentive – Incentive inspires action. It’s what we humans respond to. Do something fun like hold a contest exclusively on another network. Let your fan base know how to participate, and make it easy to do so. If they connect with you on Google+ or Pinterest, for example, they’re automatically entered to win. Easy.
  6. Find your audience again – This time, do it on Facebook. I know it’s not easy anymore (or cheap). But one last paid Facebook promo to reach your fans can be used to announce your new social digs.
  7. Leverage your other customer touch points – Hopefully this is discussed with every marketing initiative. But, multiple touch points allow more opportunity to deliver a message. Where else can customers be informed of this change to your social media strategy? How about your packaging, your storefront, your eNewsletter, your “hold message” for customers calling in on the phone. There are many possibilities here. Leverage every touch point.
  8. Tell Facebook users where to find you – You may not want to shut down your Facebook page altogether. At least, not just yet. Try leaving the page up with an announcement of where you can now be found. Be creative with your cover photo to include this, pin your “departure post” to the top of the page, and disable the option that allows fans to post on your wall.

Remember that it still may be a good strategy to advertise via social networks from time to time. But, genuinely relevant communication from an opt-in audience is what helps make social networks a medium unlike the rest. This is where a deeper understanding of the customer can be gained, and affinity for a brand can take hold leading to a loyal and socially vocal fan base that brings in business.

This post first appeared on +B2C ( Read the original here.