Author Archives: eileenb

About eileenb

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

digital marketer book front cover bcs eileen brown besty aoki

Authors across the Atlantic – How to co-write a book using Microsoft OneNote

I was approached by the British Computer Society (BCS) to write the Digital Marketer book. The BCS produces several guides to IT roles with best practice guidance for the role. These include objectives, required skills, career progression, frameworks and case studies. Each IT role book follows a formulaic style to ensure consistency across the range.

I wanted the Digital Marketer book to have diversity of thought, and a different working style – to bring a wide range of ideas to budding digital marketers.  I approached my Seattle-based friend and long-time colleague Betsy Aoki to co-write the book with me.

Betsy and I first met in 2004 when we both worked at Microsoft. My team at the time were using blogging to reach the widest number of IT professionals and Betsy had built the blogging platform we used. Her technical approach was the polar opposite of mine, and I felt that our skills dovetailed nicely to give great breadth to our content.  Thankfully, she agreed.

With an eight hour time difference between Essex and Seattle,  I could write my content during the day, pass it over to Betsy, for her to return overnight.  However, we both have day jobs that take much of our time, sometimes we write in the evenings, sometimes at weekends.  Emailing a cumbersome word document back and forwards everyday would have been a pain.  Having the Word document in the cloud meant managing a document of over 150 pages with tracking enabled – a cumbersome nightmare.

Using Microsoft OneNote to collaborate

I decided that we would use Microsoft’s OneNote to collaborate on the book. I’m familiar with OneNote. I had used it extensively at Microsoft, and had written my first book: Working the Crowd. Social Media Marketing for Business using OneNote in 2010. But I had never considered OneNote as a pan-Atlantic collaboration tool.

digital marketer book Eileen Brown BCS onenote

Digital Marketer – Setting out the Chapter headings and sub-headings

As you can see by the screen grab, we structured the tabs for the main chapters of the book, with proposed sub headings as pages within the tab. We used sub pages, and shuffled the pages around until we got a good flow for the book. All of our research, links and other reference snippets were stored in the ‘spare stuff’ tab.  We would need them as the book as about 140 end notes with valid (at the time of going to print) links to the relevant web pages.

We both started to write sections we felt most comfortable covering – leaving the thorny, difficult topics to the end. It was easy to see who had written which part of the book. OneNote made this easy. It showed clearly which paragraphs had been penned by which author. My edits, were visible to Betsy and vice-versa.  Therefore, it was easy to write 500 words or so per page and watch the content grow.

digital marketer book authors Eileen Brown Betsy Aoki BCSonenote

Digital Marketer: Showing parts of the text Written by Betsy – and me

As this OneNote book was saved in the cloud on my OneDrive account – and backed up the the OneDrive cloud, we were confident about not losing any content. I downloaded OneNote for my Android mobile, so I could do edits on-the-fly and add content when inspiration struck me.

Finalising the Digital Marketer book

We moved pages and tabs around, merged pages together, and collaborated over a distance of 4,800 miles until we were happy with the flow and the way that the content looked. Only then did we copy it to a word document and send it off the the BCS for initial editing.  And now Digital Marketer is finished – and ready to roll off the presses.  We are both pleased with how everything turned out, and delighted with how easy it was to collaborate.  We ‘hardly’ had any problems at all

I did have one issue with using OneNote to write this book.  There is no word count for a page, or a tab – which is a pain when you are trying to gauge how far along you are- content-wise. Until we copied all of the tabs over to word, we had no idea how many words we had written – and whether we were on target.  The history tab has icons to select recent edits edits by author, and has different page versions – but there is no way to count words.  (Can I add a feature request please OneNote team? ).

If I was asked to co-write another book would I do so again?   I certainly would – providing I could collaborate in the cloud, have automatic backups, and have tracking information about which member of the team wrote which part of the document. Oh, and using OneNote would be a must for me. All I need to think about is the title. Cheesemaking perhaps?…

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Inbound and outbound marketing

This post has been taken from an excerpt from our book: Digital Marketer, published by the BCS.

Marketing can be outbound or inbound depending on your goals and your desire to connect with your customer – or have then connect with your brand.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing reaches you, the consumer in many ways. Brands reach out to you to get you to buy their goods or service. They do this by advertising, phone calls, door-to-door leaflets, or by direct mail shots. You might think that this kind of marketing is a distraction, but a  necessary evil for our consumer society with seemingly endless leisure time.

Brands or advertisements appear wherever consumers are. relevant to the customer, event when the customers are not expecting to see their message. There might be a surprise takeover of an online ad, or a pop up shop in London to sell goods or promote services. It could even be an unexpected advertising billboard placed incongruously on a road in Montana, US.
Outbound marketers would need to:

  1. Create a campaign that appeals to as broad an audience as you can which will improve the chances of it reaching  your customer.
  2. Time the campaign delivery to capture attention in a certain venue, or place. This could be ads on the subway, or a leaflet flyer in your letterbox at home.
  3. Determine from the volume of sales or service bookings during and after the campaign whether it worked
  4. Start up a new campaign again as you decide you need more customers.

Inbound marketing

On the other hand, Inbound marketing is a term coined by HubSpot. In the digital arena, a digital marketer creates and provides content for an online property such as a company blog, podcast, ebook or email list that the interested customer can sign up for. With such an approach, the business is making it worthwhile for the customer to find and engage them.

To attract customers, you offer something of value – usually content – for free, making sure that the content closely aligned with your brand. You need to make sure that you are wooing your customers and building up a relationship rather than trying to do a hard sell at once.

Once you have attracted the right kind of customer, you must convert them to align with your brand. Perhaps you could send them a free ebook on a topic of interest, or gather their email address for your marketing list.  Your customers might listen to your podcast to understand how to do something that is in their own interest and see how your product helps them achieve their goals.

You then have an opportunity to close the deal. The ‘close’ is the opportunity to market to the customer again, and repeat the sale to make them even more delighted with your company or brand.

Marketing to customers who have bought something becomes easier because now you have a relationship and they will want to hear from you next time it goes on sale, or gets an upgrade.

The main thing to remember is that inbound marketing must be on-going. Instead of a campaign having a definable beginning and end, marketing becomes part of the company’s lifestyle and infrastructure.  You will oversee all stages of this inbound marketing process, making sure if, and how much, the strategies are working.

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Seismic marketing

This post has been taken from an excerpt from our book: Digital Marketer, published by the BCS.

There has been a huge shift in approaches to the way that we market to our customers. The introduction of digital marketing has been seismic across the marketing industry.

In the past, traditional marketing skills covered such areas as creating a marketing plan. These plans incorporated messaging, defining customer value propositions and key goals that could be broken down into separate strategic initiatives and action plans. Digital marketing still needs a lot of the same thinking as traditional marketing. Advances in technology such as data mining, analytics, and digital tools make a lot of things easier to research and deliver. Digital marketing also builds more upon relationships. As interactions between you and your customer can be easier to track in the digital world, it becomes easier to understand what themes your customers are most likely to respond to.

Digital Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

The main differences between traditional and digital marketing approaches over the past few years tend to fall into these categories.

Dramatic increase in speed from the initial idea of a concept through to execution of the campaign. What used to take months  in the past now can take hours or days. Think of a glossy magazine or journal going to press on a regular basis. Formats such as settings, layout, ad inserts and interview take up the bulk of the design team’s time. Event meetings to discuss the front cover can take days. Now in the digital world, online formats can be tweaked and publications can be adjusted digitally to highlighting the latest marketing message.

Democratisation of taste. Once we slavishly followed the designers, style makers, and fashion critics telling us what they had decided were the next big trends coming out of New York, London or Paris. What theese pundits said, became the trends we followed. Now ordinary people garner huge followings as they document their styles on Instagram. We follow lifestyle Pinterest boards and consume fashion blogs written by people that match our own perceptions of good taste.

Enhanced analytics. Technology platforms are able to give deeper analysis automatically of what users are doing online and will give you a really accurate picture of your customer. You can track their journey through your online store, discover hotspots on the page, and use this to market far more effectively than was possible in an analogue world.

Relationship and community building. In the past it might have taken years for word-of-mouth and geographic barriers to be overcome for a business whilst it built up its reputation. Now the internet allows businesses to have paying customers at a far distance.  Therefore, brands needs to watch how the social conversations online are managed. Active management of brand or product perception now needs to be looked after 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rapid change in customers perception. What really matters to customers one day could become irrelevant noise tomorrow. You need to continually keep up to date with technology advances and changes in public sentiment to have on-going good quality online conversations and relationships with your online group.

Because our digital attention span does have its limits, you will be able to make use of digital marketing analytics tools to understand the effectiveness of a campaign, often in real time – and respond accordingly.

digital marketer book eileen brown betsy aoki bcs

Public relations skills for digital marketers

Whether you are new to marketing or a traditional marketer making the transition, you will still needs to rely on strengths seen in those coming from a traditional public relations and marketing background.

Public relations skills, such as writing an announcement in such a way that the press or news outlets are interested matters.

In an era where journalists are finding and developing sources and stories from posts on social media, a good understanding of the news cycle in your community is important.

Feel good stories written for the weekends, hard-hitting business news appearing first thing Monday morning – all will help you time your posts, tweets, or photojournalism where it can catch the eye of a reporter.

Public relations professionals also seem to have an uncanny understanding of when NOT to call attention to their company or product. Perhaps there is a national controversy, and they do not want the brand associated with either side. Perhaps a competitor is experiencing a PR disaster – do they jump in and skewer their opponent, or do they take the high road?

Knowing when to avoid “breaking in to jail” by being part of the conversation becomes really important as you notice the opportunities for conversation and spotting which conversations to join.

“Bridging” in public relations

An important public relations skill that works well in the digital marketing world is that of “bridging.” In media interviews. This skill gets the conversation shifted from what the reporter has asked, back to the message you really want to talk about.

If this is done well, it does not seem like you are deflecting the original question, because the promotional topic is neatly tied to the initial question.

In social media, where conversations with the public and customers may be on-going, it is important to bridge the conversation. Acknowledge what the original question and intent was, whilst making sure you get your own company’s message out there.

In the war of perception, storytelling and careful language can make all the difference to your brand.

Traditional public relations involves public speaking, and you can take advantage of these opportunities. You could be giving a speech that will be live-cast to conference attendees, or creating a podcast in the home office. If you can communicate clearly and in a lively manner, you will do well.

If you want to market yourself well, the ability to convey in person why a customer should buy your product or service is priceless.

Some digital media experts market themselves so well they are paid to give talks. If you have speaking experience, and an engaging manner, you will find that your social following will increase after your successful talk.

Good public relations skills are essential if you want to extend your brand..

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Engaging influencers for marketing campaigns eileen brown amastra

Engaging influencers for marketing campaigns

The strongest boost a brand or company can receive is the word of mouth recommendation from influencers who love your brand. Influencer marketing is the art of using celebrity or expert advocates to create trust around your brand and inspire new customers to follow. Traditional marketing and advertising has long made use of celebrities to endorse products who were approached and paid for their work.

Digital marketers have the difficult job of identifying who the Internet celebrities are, particularly if the audience segment being targeted is not part of the company’s current customer base. They can look for follower counts and shares, and watch how much of the influencer’s base responds to the new content being published by the influencer.

They can research if the influencer has been used by a competitor to endorse a similar product. And they can see if the influencer already is an advcate, so it is not a far step for the influencer’s fan base to see them working with that particular busness.

Creating communities

Many people may follow celebrities to see when the next concert is, or because they want to hear what the celebrity is doing, but would not change their brand of toothpaste just because the celebrity said so.

By filtering and sifting through online personalities and their followers, you can see see if they could be a good set of potential customers for you. The online personality may draw similarly-minded people, but if they do not interact with each other as well as the influencer, there may not be an actual community there. Here are my tips for finding and building communities:

  • You can find communities of like-minded potential customers online. Once they adopt your product or brand as part of their identity, they will sell your product for you.
  • You might have spend time becoming active in your communities, building trust, gaining expertise, and authentically promote the product for the business.
  • You must reach out day after day, offering tips and help week after week, to lay the foundation for a strong community around the product or the brand.

The influencers you would like to engage are interested in fostering relationships with their audience, and promoting themselves as authentic advocates. You must look at followers and brand fit, and also the personality of the influencer you want to use.

  • Their online persona may include swearing  – but your brand is measured in its tone and voice. Even though they may have dedicated followers who love plain talk – having them represent your product or brand may not work well.
  • The influencer seems to endorse 20 products each week.  If there is minimal attention to a joined up approach, or showing how those products fit their online identity, their personality may be too diluted or broad to promote your product.

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To get away from broad appeal influencers who cannot mobilize their audience, digital marketers may need to use micro-influencers. These are online personalities, with perhaps several thousand followers, who have tuned their content stream to particular communities and themes.

It takes more work to find these themed experts, but they are working harder to appeal to their particular constituency, and as such probably have a higher level of activation percentage-wise. Coordinating multiple micro-influencers to endorse your product may actually be more cost effective than paying for one heavy hitter celebrity who has no native interest in your products.

eileen brown digital marketer amastra

Visual marketing basics–static images and infographics

It is hard to miss the profusion of multimedia formats used to express ideas: emojis, interactive visualizations, games, animated gifs, video and sound clips, and full-length how-to videos. Content, it needs to be brought to life to hook our attention.

Basic static images and infographics can give you a good foundation for your content.

Static images are often compressed to be as small as possible when downloaded in a browser or a phone or chat client. Common Web formats are PNG, GIF, JPG but future technologies may find us viewing files that are even more compressed and efficient.

Sometimes an image with a concise caption convey huge meaning. Visual platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest use static images to capture the attention of the audience. Adding images for visual interest keeps readers returning to the site – and are essential staple for how-to articles taking the reader through recipes or home repair. Cat pictures on the Internet have gone through cliché and come back again. If you use cute imagery, try to ensure that the overwhelming tone of cuteness works with the marketing message and does not distract from it.

The rise of Infographics

Infographics have come to mean both more and less than just a chart to accompany a business article. Content creators now need to produce pictorial and visual representations of facts or data in a way that visually engage, inform, and delight the audience. Infographics can make data sticky in your readers’ minds far more readily than a table of dry statistics. More ambitious infographics are interactive, forcing your users to take actions that reveal the information or take them along a journey in order to understand the point the content provider was trying to make.

Infographics have pitfalls however – they can oversimplify a complex issue, making the resulting impression untruthful, or misleading. They can also be so complicated that the user doesn’t attempt to engage with them. Data in an infographic must have a cited source to be credible, and often an infographic is only as accurate as that source.

The evolution of emoticons

Emojis were first used for email and then text messaging to express emotional content. Emojis are the evolution of a pictorial language that gets across complex ideas in a small picture. They now are not limited to expressing smiley faces; they can be objects, actions, or even animated to make their point. You can create entire tweets or blog posts out of emojis, to comic effect, but take great pains in the crafting.

Without words, there are ways that the message can be ambiguous in ways the digital marketer may not expect. Emojis are useful for online channels where space is at a premium such as SMS messaging, or Twitter. Their brevity implies the humour or cool factor the poster originally wanted to invoke.

Visual marketing techniques are best employed when text or other non-visual techniques would be too cumbersome, and the visual element shortens the time to audience perception of the message. For example, if you want to present a new design for a dress, you could display a person wearing the dress so that the reader understands at a glance how the dress fits and what kind of body the dress was designed for.

Likewise, if a car company wants to show the smooth handling of a luxury car on the road, you could show the car navigating steep mountain turns against a brilliant cobalt sky, rather than recite a table of statistics about brake speeds.

Visual marketing should be a key part of your content strategy and multimedia should be used as much as possible to keep your readers engaged.

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Why you need an analytics platform

Why you need an analytics platform

It is useful to know what your audience thinks about you but without an analytics platform, keeping track of what is going on can be overwhelming.  Basic metrics tracking is provided in several social platforms that care useful for marketers.  Seeing how others are responding to a post that has been shared across the network can be an incentive for users to keep sharing the post.

Rewards are created by platforms to keep users engaged on the platform. These rewards can take the form of reputation enhancements such as  badges, tallies of user approval  such as “likes”, or other emotions (found on Facebook’s reactions emoji bar), and “retweets”). There are also and indicators of user recommendation on promoted posts which can be upvoted or downvoted on  social platforms such as Reddit, Metafilter, and Slashdot.

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All of these rewards systems have been created by social media platform designed to keep people active on their services. These public displays of activity are  very valuable to the marketing team, who can understand how well their message is getting across to the user base. It  can also, show how their online customers feel about them and whether they are satisfied, or dissatisfied with the marketing activity as a whole.

The problem for the marketing teams is that the amounts of comments and social shares can sometimes overwhelm. With platforms that have a large user base and a continually updating front end It can become impossible for anyone to keep up with the stream of tweets.  As Twitter has permitted only certain companies a license to access its data, trying to find out what the  user sentiment happens to be, or extracting meaningful analysis can be difficult. The marketing team will need to consider using a platform that is licenced to access the stream and has a useable dashboard to  view metrics from a range of different social platforms.

Analytics platforms

Analytics platforms should be able to aggregate the data from your marketing efforts and deliver it in real-time and an easy-to-read format. It should be able to display visualizations  and summaries for executives and should be configurable should you want to dig deeper into the data.

Make sure you choose an analytics platform that is able to measure the aspects that matter to you, and does not merely duplicate information that you can get from the social media platforms themselves.  Being able to tailor the analytics platforms to do deeper research studies around the business customers’ behaviour can be an invaluable feature that will reward the amount of effort made .

There are hundreds of free and paid for social analytics platforms and tools across the web. Many of them do a single task such as measuring conversions, or traffic to a website. Others perform a variety of tasks.

If you want to calculate video views, or measure your social media traffic, or how your social sharing is driving conversions, then you need to do your homework to get the most suitable tool. There are commonalities and techniques that cross most platforms Tools and measurement technologies will come and go, and you will need to keep abreast of the latest developments in monitoring tools. What is important however, is understanding the frequency, quality, and effectiveness of your connection with the customer.

Analytics platform – choosing the right one for you

Here is a list of some of the many thousands of analytics platforms that might be useful in your campaigns.

Adpow http://adpow.com Social platform for influencer engagement and reach

Birdsong Analytics http://www.birdsonganalytics.com/ Pay-as-you-go social media reports for Twitter, Instagram YouTube and Facebook.

Brand 24 https://brand24.com/ Brand mention analytics with influence score and sentiment analysis.

Brandwatch https://www.brandwatch.com Social listening and reputation management platform across blogs, forums, videos, reviews, images, Twitter and Facebook

Crowdbabble https://www.crowdbabble.com/ Analytics platform for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. Also analyses hashtags and competitors.

GetSocial https://getsocial.io/ GetSocial tracks sharing not easily recognised by social sharing including private shares across Facebook, Twitter WhatsApp and email.

Google Analytics https://www.google.com/analytics/ Digital data and marketing analytics to give a complete picture of the online customer.

Hubspot https://www.hubspot.com/ Inbound marketing traffic analysis and lead conversion toolset

Instabrand https://instabrand.com/ Marketing platform to create branded content for identified influencers

Justmetrics https://justmetrics.net/ Audience and follower analysis with post analysis and engagement metrics.

Kuku https://kuku.io/ Social media management syndication platform and analytics to manage multiple social accounts.

Lithium https://www.lithium.com Social media analytics platform that uses six ‘health factors’ to create an index-like credit score to analyse the health of your online community.

Quintly https://www.quintly.com/ online analytics tool to benchmark and track social media performance against competitors

Sotrender https://www.sotrender.com/ social analytics for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube analysing top posts, competitor comparison and audience analytics

Sprout social https://sproutsocial.com/ Social media management, advocacy and analytics software

SumAll https://sumall.com/ Social media and metrics tracker and analytics platform

Synthesio http://www.synthesio.com/ social media intelligence platform that measures and delivers KPIs ad ROI metrics

Visibrain http://www.visibrain.com/en/ A media monitoring platform for marketers, monitoring brands, influencers and trends.

Wishpond https://www.wishpond.com/ Wishpond enables marketers to create landing pages and manage customer leads