• The bigger picture: Why one piece of content is just one piece of the puzzle

    The bigger picture: Why one piece of content is just one piece of the puzzle

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, marketers and content creators. One piece of content is just one piece of content.

    Have you ever agonised over the final edit of a short video? Or drafted and redrafted to craft the best words for the text of a post? Or pulled your hair out over which hashtags you use for your motivational image?

    If you work in marketing or content creation at all, you have. We’ve all thought we could have executed something better and we imagine that if only a few small things got tweaked, the outcome would have been greater.

    But it’s (mostly) nonsense.

    Why?

    In many ways, social media is a numbers game. No, not data, though that can be useful too. The number I’m thinking of is about posts, of individual videos, photos, website links and articles. The number of discrete pieces of content that make up your brand’s strategy.

    Think about it: There is so much content going out every day across all the platforms, filling our screens. And there will be more coming tomorrow. Getting too wound up about any one individual piece is misguided. You’re missing the bigger picture if you’re only focused on one brushstroke.

    Social media content is about getting the attention of your followers, fans and potential customers. (As Gary Vee says, attention is the asset.)

    What will hold their attention and keep them coming back for more is consistent content. Not one great video every second month — unless that’s your model (see below) — but daily pieces of content that will engage and entertain your audience.

    Remember, the algorithms these days mean that many of your followers won’t even see some of the stuff you post. Which is why it’s important to keep posting. You never know which post will hit big, after all.

    And as long as you’re not annoying them, your audience will be thankful for the diversity of content — and of the consistency of your output.

    But, but, but…

    I should add this caveat: sometimes it is the right strategy to focus on only a few high-quality pieces of content.

    Large companies used to a more traditional marketing roll-out strategy will usually cycle their social media posts around a current campaign. And that’s fine — if that’s their strategy.

    But for a smaller business that’s more agile and able to take advantage of social media, it’s less about any one piece of content and more about the overall branding impression.

    Quality control

    None of this is to say you should abandon quality. Not at all. You should strive for a high level of quality not matter what you do.

    Nor am I suggesting you don’t need to put money behind your content so it can reach more people.

    On the contrary, you should be boosting posts and creating ad campaigns both to gain followers and to sell your products and services.

    What I am suggesting is that when you try to craft one piece of content to be the solution to your marketing problem, you’re not thinking about it the right way.

    Individual pieces of social media content are like buses. There’s always another one coming down the line.

    So don’t be so hard on yourself. Be consistent, do great work — but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

    If you want help with social media content creation, get in touch with us today.

    Photo: Pexels
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  • The low cost of social advertising will be short lived

    The low cost of social advertising will be short lived

    There’s this pervasive belief that social media has been and should remain a free platform for people to promote their businesses, as well as a space to share with friends, family and followers. For many, paying for this service is simply out of the question.

    I get where people are coming from. As a content creator, I took pride in achieving great organic reach for my clients, by producing good quality content in the form of blogs, video and strategy. It was a cornerstone of my business.

    With Facebook’s recent changes, which made organic reach even harder — near impossible — to achieve on the same level, marketers and business people, myself included, felt betrayed by the Zuck, many deciding to move away from the platform, exclaiming that Instagram and LinkedIn would be their focus. I have no issue with either of those platforms. In fact, businesses should definitely be playing there. We are.

    But Facebook’s move was not about shutting out marketers specifically. It was about ensuring that they keep people on the platform, and keep winning new users. It was critical for their business that they did not see people leaving their platform in droves, as a result of newsfeeds being filled with people posting advertorial type material constantly. Instead, they want companies to pay for it. They want people to see what their friends are doing first, and what Nike is doing second (unless Nike pay a lot of money to be there constantly).

    Something that really struck me recently, having worked in the print industry earlier in my career was how much investment companies would make on print advertising for access to a potential audience, and they’d do it without a second thought. Not only would they drop tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands on this medium annually, they’d also spend huge amounts on creative, strategy, execution, without really knowing what impact it was having other than the bottom line down the road, than the numbers they were being fed by the publishing companies themselves.

    Fast-forward ten years, and these same companies refuse to spend a fraction of that money on social media advertising, even though they are getting more of a guarantee on who is seeing it, where they live, what their interests are, how old they are, what gender they are and for how long they are engaging with it. And further to that, they are getting information about what actions these people are taking after seeing your ad. They are refusing to do so, I believe, because of this idea that social media should be free for all, but also, this belief that social media probably doesn’t work for them.

    Something I’ve had to adjust to is the idea that the same content, or even better content that we are creating now, needs dollars behind it to reach people on Facebook. Yes, there’s still organic value on Instagram, but in addition to the other main inhibitors of the Instagram platform, namely that you can only post a video that runs for 60 seconds, it’s less copy based so you have to nail your messaging in different ways and that it’s a mobile platform rather than a desktop one, Instagram is also owned by Facebook. As marketers and businesses flood Instagram with content, changes to that platform akin to the recent Facebook changes, are merely a matter of time. Both LinkedIn and Instagram are going to have to go through a similar process as Facebook if they intend to keep eyeballs on their feeds into the future.

    The point is, the situation isn’t going to get better for you to promote your business on social media, and it certainly isn’t going to get cheaper. Quite simply, now is the time to be on these platforms and paying money for the reach, while it’s still dirt cheap — and it is dirt cheap.

    Ultimately, advertisers go where the people are, and more importantly, where people’s attention is. The big companies of the world will work out eventually that people’s eyeballs are on their phones and on social, and your newsfeeds will be chock full of ads by the usual culprits that own the TV and billboard space currently. Because the competition for this space will heat up, so will the cost of entry, pushing the little guys out and back to square one.

    That hasn’t happened yet. Don’t let this opportunity pass your business by.

    If you’re looking for a business that knows how to manage your next paid campaign, contact Hook Media at info@hookmedia.com.au.

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  • Heavy metal, Ghost and the power of branding

    Heavy metal, Ghost and the power of branding

    What can we learn from the smart branding and marketing of the band Ghost?

    You know who’s really good at branding? Metal bands.

    Maybe you didn’t see that coming. Hear me out.

    From the iconic logos of Metallica and Slayer to the corpsepaint of Norwegian black metal— not to mention Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie — heavy heavy metal has always had identifiable branding.

    And these days, it’s the Swedish band Ghost that has taken heavy metal branding to the next level.

    So, who?

    Ghost is a band from Linköping, Sweden, formed in 2006. Ghost is also is a miracle of branding and marketing. This is not to say that the music’s not good — it is, I like it a lot and you should listen to it. (Their new album, Prequelle, comes out June 1.)

    But it’s hard to deny Ghost has built itself up on the back of very clever marketing, which they have used to generate engagement and wonder.

    First, the aesthetic. Ghost is fronted by a singer who has, album by album, been known by different monikers: Papa Emeritus, Papa Emeritus II, Papa Emeritus III and, most recently, Cardinal Copia. In the mythology of the band, each of these is actually a different person, complete with elaborate coronation ceremonies. (More on this later.)

    Each name change comes with a different costume — the Papa-era costume was essentially a papal outfit — as if the singer was the Pope of the Church of Satan. Indeed, the concept of Ghost is that the band exists in an occult horror movie.

    The backing band is made up of ‘Nameless Ghouls’, who, as the name suggests, wear matching masks to hide their faces and identities. The overall aesthetic is somewhere between 1930s horror and 1970s experimental film.

    That’s just the visuals. The lyrics of the songs mostly reference Satan as a living figure, pledging allegiance and fealty to him as a Catholic Cardinal prays to Holy Trinity.

    But here’s where it gets brilliant: although the lyrics seem straight out of a death or black metal band, the music is more in the vein of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult or, dare I say it, Kiss. That is to say, traditional heavy metal or hard rock. And it’s VERY catchy.

    It’s a triumph of aesthetic over musical genre; that is, branding over content.

    Organic growth

    If the aesthetic is quite 1970s, the way Ghost uses branding and marketing is thoroughly 21st century.

    This combination of factors — the Satanic aesthetic, the catchy songs, the ‘transgressive’ lyrics and the sheer theatre of it all — has garnered Ghost a highly engaged, dedicated set of fans.

    People were ‘in the know’ if the a) knew who the band was and b) knew it was an act. It was like a secret club to understand this band on these different levels.

    (If there’s any question the whole thing is a loving gimmick, the band has covered an ABBA song.)

    The way that the band creates mystique and builds anticipation around the unveiling of the ‘new’ frontman is a stellar marketing move.

    The heavy metal media will cover the changing of the character — even though everyone knows that it’s the same person, Tobias Forge — as if it were a true band member being replaced.

    The fact that Ghost can pretend to get a new singer for each album — and generate social media frenzy about ‘who’ the new singer will be — builds excitement around almost nothing but a puff of smoke.

    Accompanying these unveilings are a series of videos, the most recent involving the storyline of the then-current singer Papa Emeritus III being whisked offstage and replaced by an elderly Italian man dressed again in Papal robes. We later learn this is Papa Emeritus Nil.

    After this live stunt, the official Ghost channels released a series of short films where we learn Papa Zero is too old and unwell to perform and must instead be replaced by Cardinal Copia.

    Basically, this is all content marketing for Ghost’s new album.

    Expanding the audience

    If Ghost’s aesthetic was always tongue in cheek, for this latest album cycle it’s downright campy. Yet the band have negotiated this tricky path with aplomb, managing to bring their original fans along with them.

    On a sonic level, with their latest shedding of their lead singer from the handsome Papa Emeritus III to the more Mafioso Cardinal Copia, the band is expanding its sound into even more hooky pop rock. This is placing them very well to leverage the dedicated fanbase and expand their audience.

    If this all sounds convoluted and complicated, that’s fine. Many things that engage people on an intense level — comic books, Star Wars, football — usually have some element of ‘gatekeeping’, of being difficult to get into at first, of keeping it a ‘cool club’. All you need to know if that this is how one band is engaging and growing its fanbase — and a lot of it is outside the music.

    In a genre known to place importance on branding (while of course insisting it doesn’t care about branding), Ghost have used it to great advantage to promote their music. The fact that their music is barely ‘heavy metal’ in the 21st century definition is almost beside the point. Ghost used heavy metal aesthetic, lyrics and mysticism — and the media — to organically create hype and a loyal, ‘with it’ following.

    And it doesn’t hurt that they make really good music too.

    Takeaways

    I said earlier that Ghost was a triumph of branding over content. It’s more accurate to say it’s branding BEFORE content. The content is a MUST. The branding and marketing bring that content to the audience.

    So, to reiterate:

    1. Ghost marketed itself as extreme metal band but the music is more in the vein of Kiss, Blue Oyster Cult or Black Sabbath. Scary image and lyrics only reinforced this.
    2. This built up a ‘cool’ elite group of fans. People were ‘in the know’ if they liked Ghost.
    3. This feeling was reinforced by the fans knowing the whole thing was a shtick.
    4. Each album cycle comes with a ‘new’ lead singer, builds excitement out of almost nothing
    5. Now band are expanding their sound and their audience but have held onto the diehards
    6. They have the content (great songs) but it wouldn’t have been as impressive or as successful without the branding and marketing.

    The lesson here for brands should be obvious: your main content does have to be good but it can be promoted and distributed with clever and engaging marketing.

    If you need help with your content, branding or marketing, why not get in touch with us today?

    Pic credit: Enric Martinez
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  • Does your brand need social media anyway?

    Does your brand need social media anyway?

    What would your business be like if you didn’t use social media?

    Big brands such as Tesla, Playboy, Mozilla and Sonos recently left Facebook amid the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Theoretically, these companies made a moral choice about Facebook’s misuse of data and the potential exploitation of the platform.

    But maybe they just realised they don’t actually need social media all that much.

    This is something to consider: maybe social media isn’t for you. Or your business. It’s right for a lot of businesses, but not all. Some businesses don’t require it, so be honest with yourself: What would your business be like if you didn’t use social media?

    Social media can be a great tool for small businesses and single traders who are in a position to really connect with their fans in a content-directed way. However, larger companies that have no desire or use for creative content might not need it at all.

    After all, a lot of big brands’ social media accounts only exist to have some online presence and to field a deluge of complaints every day. It must be a relief for these #deletefacebook companies to not have to deal with that anymore.

    And since Facebook decided in December 2017 that it was reverting to a more friend-focused model, maybe the Cambridge Analytica scandal could not have come at a better time for brands finding their reach and engagement levels way down.

    Harkening back

    So, some brands can get away with removing Facebook altogether — and maybe their other social accounts too. That’s still a little drastic for most companies though. But it does provide a good launching pad for thinking about other avenues that brands can be too blinded by social to consider.

    With Facebook’s recent changes to how business accounts to operate, we’re seeing a move to an older form of internet marketing, more linking back to owned assets like websites and direct marketing in the form of email newsletters, still one of the more reliable formats in terms of conversions.

    At one point, Facebook was great for levelling the playing field between the big guys and the little guys. For better or worse, it flattened everything out, gave every company a clean design. It made it hard to tell who was a big player and who was just a pretender. It gave even the smallest of businesses a modicum of professionalism.

    However, now that the only way to get much benefit out of your business page is to pay for reach, all that hard work building an organic community or people for naught, some brands are deciding that it’s time to pack up and move things back to where you own everything and have control: your website, your email newsletter, events, your other social networks. Social as publishing

    Marketing beyond social

    Back in the days before social media, brands would actually have a marketing strategy other than Facebook. They had magazine ads — to its dying day, still a better branding tool than it was given credit for. They had outdoor advertising. They had event signage and point-of-sale. They had TVCs that were actually on TV. Then came social media, which people saw as a way to save lots of money and abandon all other marketing.

    At Hook Media, we’ve always thought about social media as just one channel to spread your business message and treated the actual content as the key what defines how your brand represents and defines itself. With a background in publishing, we like to think of it as another kind of publication, albeit one with content all broken up rather than combined in one package, like a magazine.

    So if one platform isn’t working anymore, that’s not the end of the world. That’s just a new opportunity to change tactics and come at it from a different angle. It’s the brands who are still trying to play the same old numbers game that will suffer.

    The recent upheavals with Mark Zuckerberg’s platform just serve to illustrate once again that it’s still a good idea to have a media strategy aside from social.

    Social media isn’t dead — there are other options besides Facebook, after all. But you might not need to place as much importance on it. It’s just one weapon in your arsenal.

    It’s just too bad everyone already abandoned the magazines.

    If you need communications advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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  • One simple social media concept many people get wrong

    One simple social media concept many people get wrong — and how to get it right

    These days, many people have a social media business page that is a separate entity from their regular, personal profile. Unfortunately, all too many of them don’t understand the distinction between the two — and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the fitness industry.

    In the current social media landscape, most athletes have to operate as their own brands, even those with sponsorships. Maintaining a professional and effective brand should be job number one for fitness industry personalities.

    However, what you’ll often see is so-and-so professional or semi-professional athlete sharing what might seem like benign memes and pictures (though also potentially inflammatory political rants or just plain bizarre non-sequiturs) that make that athlete’s fans wonder why they follow your page in the first place. Even if they’re entertained briefly, they’re losing the sense of what the athlete represents.

    Think about it this way: imagine a car company doing that. Imagine Honda, in between sharing its new model roll-out, posting that viral video of the sloth trying to cross a busy road. Funny, right? Professional? Not so much. Even if you wouldn’t be offended or upset, you’d probably just be put off by the plain weirdness of it. You might even stop taking the company less seriously. One thing’s for sure: you might think twice before purchasing something from them.

    There have been cases of high profile athletes losing sponsorships because of inappropriate content posted online on their business pages.

    You might think you would know better than to do something stupid like that and risk your employment but you never know a) what will offend your audience and b) what unintended effects your posts might have.

    So, what is the one simple social media concept many people get wrong? Your business page is, now get ready for this…for business.

    As an athlete with a business page, you have to work out how you’re going to present yourself online as a business. Decide early and have rules about what is appropriate content — this isn’t about scolding you for what you shouldn’t do, it’s thinking about what your followers will not only expect but WANT from someone like you.

    If you’re a bodybuilder selling personal training spots or training programs, your social media content should be in the realm of instructional videos and exercise tips. That’s why people follow you, right? That’s where your money will come from. So, why sabotage that with material that is (get ready, I’m about to use a buzzword) off-brand?

    Similarly, if you’re a company that sponsors athletes, give them clear guidelines on what they can and cannot be posting on their business page. If they’re a bit of a hothead or a big mouth, maybe suggest they keep their personal page set to private so it doesn’t impact on your business. In fact, everyone should do this anyway.

    Remember: the internet is written in permanent ink.

    After all, if you really want to post memes and dumb joke, that’s fine. That’s what your personal page is for. Seriously, it’s not that hard to set your privacy settings so only your Friends can see what you post.

    TL; DR? Don’t post dumb stuff to your Facebook business page. Save that for your personal page.

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