How Instagram Polls can give you the edge

Facebook has done it. Twitter has done it. Now Instagram is bringing polls to users.

Instagram Polls is a feature users can access through Instagram Stories. When you tap on “Poll” on the stickers menu, a Yes/No button will appear on your image, below an “Ask a question” prompt.

Tapping on the Yes and No buttons allows you to customise the answers within a 27-character limit. Once you’re done editing, you can drag the sticker into place. If you choose to leave the question field empty, you can add different text in the style you prefer, and drag that to where you want.

Facebook Messenger allows for several choices, Twitter gives you up to four options, and with Instagram you have two answers to select from. It’s unlikely that Instagram will increase the number of options, since it’s emphasis is on clean, uncluttered visuals.

Polls are a great tool for brands to get insights into their consumers’ decision making. Encourage engaged participation from your audience by posing original questions around topics they can relate to. Then show that you are listening to your market by repurposing your research results into new content, and act on the feedback.

Gain insights into:

  • Preferred products – think about pitting your two best-selling dishes against each other if you’re a restaurant. Then maybe have a promotion with the winner
  • Packaging – if you’re about to launch a new product, ask consumers which colour they like better, what package size they prefer, etc.
  • Prize preference – when you’re planning to launch a competition, regardless of which platform, asking what prize people will prefer will also create some hype and anticipation for a competition.
  • Content and content formats – do your followers prefer Boomerangs or Live broadcasts? Do they prefer motoring content, or tech?
  • What they need – ask if they need help with Managed Document Solutions or VOIP

Polls also provide users the opportunity to take advantage of trending topics. If there’s an authentic way for your brand to participate in conversation around a book launch, for example, then you’d better be sure your phone is charged and the lighting’s good.

The most valuable feature about Instagram Polls is that it can help you profile your audience. Like Instagram Stories, poll results are available for 24 hours, and you can see who voted and what they voted for. The people who engage with your polls are the ones you should actively target through the rest of your content, and to whom you should tailor your brand messages and products.

Be cautious about overdoing it on polls. If all your content is developed around polls, your audience might become disinterested and less responsive.

So, only one question remains. Will your brand be using Instagram Polls?

How brands should speak to GenZs

For teens, life is no longer punctuated by first dances, first exams or first sleepovers – it’s marked by first mobile phones.

The latest Think with Google report reveals that getting a new phone is defined as a life-changing event for teens. Which means the daily lives of teens are defined by their smartphone. Whether they think your brand is cool will make or break their endorsement, in real time, on their phone.

The report, released mid-2016, aimed to scrutinise and unpack the digital behaviours of Generation Z (GenZs) and how they compare to their older counterparts. Data and insights were paired to provide a deep understanding of this mythical group of phone-first youngsters. Here key insights and what they mean for marketers.

The young and restless
The age at which GenZs are getting their first phone is around twelve years young. This doesn’t mean marketers should cannibalise the young and innocent, but it should be rethinking and disrupting communications in light of what’s happening within this generation. And the only way to understand the reality of GenZs is to talk to them. Explore their fears, expectations and hopes; and tailor communications to resonate.

Viva video
Seven in ten teens say they spend more than three hours a day watching mobile video. Smartphones have grown beyond interpersonal communications to multimedia devices. If content doesn’t delight and entertain – in seconds – they won’t watch it. And if it doesn’t look good on their smartphone, they’ll be underwhelmed. The lesson: think mobile video first when designing your brand’s content strategy.

By the buy
Mobile e-commerce is gaining momentum. GenZs are the biggest takers. Two in three teens make purchases online and of those, more than half are completing the purchase on their phones. But in-store, experiential purchasing and browsing still accounts for one brand’s popularity over another. Smart brands are adopting a ‘clicks and mortar’ approach – providing an offline space for teens to feel, hold and fall in love with products and then building an online store they can purchase it from later. And ensuring communications in both places are smart and seamless.

Craft connections
Just because they’re saying it with emojis and Snaps, doesn’t mean GenZs don’t want to be heard. They still value connections with real human beings. It’s just the medium that’s changed. Even when tackling mobile first, it’s essential to craft communications that resonate. Tell human-stories and create experiences that translate to digital and mobile.

Like it or not, GenZs are your future customers. You might not be them, but you can understand them. The most important lesson marketers can learn is that GenZs need to be engaged, connected and entertained with content that fits in the palm of their hand.

Is your site designed to convert?

By Desiree Gullan, Executive Creative Director, G&G Digital

The only thing better than thousands of visitors to your website is an astounding number of conversions. Bumper-to-bumper website traffic isn’t good enough anymore if your visitors are just window-shopping, they don’t add value to your bottom line. In fact, they end up costing you, via paid search and other digital marketing spend. So how can brands make their websites work harder, and turn high-volume traffic into real leads? It starts with Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO).

What is a conversion?
A website conversion is unique to each website and is determined by the desired action and purpose of that website. It might be a transaction, a download, or a form submission. Before understanding how to optimise conversions, it’s essential to understand exactly what you expect your users to do.

A conversion rate is the ratio of conversions to website visitors. If your website has had 100 visitors and one conversion, you have a conversion rate of 1%. Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) leverages more conversions from existing traffic rather than seeking out new traffic that might not result in quality leads. A website designed with conversions in mind will see higher returns on investment and a busier, more rewarding sales funnel. By critically analysing the user experience (UX) of a website, brands can make the most out of the website traffic they already have.

Think like your users
The first step in boosting CRO is to think like the user. Users don’t want to make decisions, so it’s vital you design the journey for them and nurture them along the way. Keep it simple and keep it smart.

Key to this is living up to the promise made via traffic generation (how you got them to your website in the first place). What are they looking for, what are they expecting to find and what have you promised them? Landing page user experience should be designed with this in mind. Be clear about what you want users to do and don’t confuse it with other – secondary – calls to action.

Your landing page should offer what was promised, without requiring extra, unexpected action from the user. And if the end goal is a lead, don’t ask for all the information you need to complete a sale. You’ll only scare them away – it’s the digital equivalent of an ‘I love you’ on the first date, when all you really need is to secure the second one.

A fundamental pillar to CRO is testing and analysis: what you predicted versus what’s actually happening. You can’t predict exactly how users are going to behave. And the best way to reach a conclusion about your customer’s online behaviour is to let the data tell you. Those insights do optimise your CRO.

What’s in it for you?
CRO has endless benefits for your website. You can save on ad spend and increase the number of engaged visitors, while consistently improving the overall usability of your website. Improving your conversion rate is cheaper and easier than increasing traffic to your website (which is, however, a wise place to start). It means making traffic to your website more efficient, so you don’t waste time on unqualified visitors.

The process of CRO starts and ends with thinking like the user. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires research, time and informed decisions based on data. And a whole lot of trial and error. Which is why it’s key to partner with marketing technologists who are willing to put in the time required to really understand your customers, your data and your site’s performance. And then enjoy watching your bottom line benefit.

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The state of social: 2017

Here’s what social media consumption looks like in South Africa, right now.

What’s big in digital this year?

By Desiree Gullan, Executive Creative Director, G&G Digital

The prevailing sentiment as we forge ahead into 2017 is the relief at seeing the back of 2016. Nowhere else were the history-making (and, at times, absurd) moments of 2016 more amplified than in the digital space. News platforms were cluttered with stories, Twitter ablaze with debate, Facebook continued to break news. And Instagram was the emotional reflection of it all.

As cut-backs continue to dominate, how should digital marketers assign precious marketing budgets this year? Here’s what should be on your radar.

Get rich
Information delivered in rich media formats increased in popularity in 2016. This trend will boom in 2017 and the digital space will be inundated with video content, infographics and interactive storytelling. The caveat is that users are no longer charmed or shocked by a change in medium – the subject matter has to be more provocative, insightful, humorous and thrilling than ever before.

Numbers game
It’s no secret budgets are being cut across the globe – from cosmetics to cars – which makes it crucial to be able to prove ROI. Marketing automation is a smart solution. Astute marketers and brands want to know who they’re speaking to and how to strike while the keyboard is hot – marketing automation gives them this power. Still new to the marketing automation revolution? Read more here.

Big talk
Consumers are demanding one-on-one, conversational experiences online which has led to the birth of chatbots. Conversations are taking over because users want – and expect – to have someone to talk to any time of day to solve their unique problem. It speaks to instant gratification and the never-ending knowledge abyss.

The rise of real
Content marketing continues to dominate digital marketing techniques, however, it’s not without its evolutions. Users want authentic digital content. That doesn’t mean it has to be heart-wrenching, it just means it has to be real. It has to reflect the target audience, speak their language and share real narratives.

The year past was wild and weird. With any luck, 2017 will be the same. Buckle up and get ready for the ride.

Desiree Gullan on the marketing automation revolution

G&G’s Executive Creative Director, Desiree Gullan, sat down with SA’s leading digital business publication, BusinessBrief Online to share insights on the power of marketing automation – the future of digital marketing and lead generation. Listen to the full interview to find out how marketing automation is changing the game.

Sound bite courtesy of BusinessBrief Online.

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If you’re an eloquent nonconformist with a fondness for pastries, coffee and breakthrough work, your spot at G&G is waiting. We’re on the lookout for exceptional talent to join the G&G all-star team.

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How to build communities of interest that are actually interesting

Once upon a time there were a few ads on Facebook. Then there were many. And then there were too many. As respite from their branded newsfeeds, people started looking for places where like-minded people discussed similar ideas in a safe space, away from shouting brands. On Facebook, these spaces are known as Communities of Interest – and they’re growing quickly. Here’s why.

Who’s in the house?
Communities of Interest are generally non-branded pages or groups founded on a subject of interest. They’re often centred around topics like health, wellness, support, community or the environment. If you can imagine the Facebook version of 90s chat rooms, this is it. People gather, talk, share and probe to find answers to pressing questions and share information about their passions or concerns. They’re authentic, which means they create a greater sense of community for users.

Knock, knock
Communities of Interest present opportunities for certain brands. Although by definition, Communities of Interest shouldn’t be branded, brands can use them for two purposes. To create a space for discussion based on the lifestyle around their product, then introduce relevant product mentions when appropriate, if at all. Secondly, they can gain valuable insights at a fraction of the cost of traditional market research.

Before you open any new tabs, know this: not anyone can run a brand-backed Community of Interest. At their core, Communities of Interest should provide a public service. Whether to provide comfort and support, share new information or just provide a space for users to feel heard.

It’s not all about you
Communities of Interest can become living, breathing entities under the watchful eye of the right community manager – it starts and ends with being alert and tuning in. Build content around feedback from users. Encourage engagement by posing thought-provoking questions, then watch and wait. Comments become a stream, then a conversation, which is the ultimate prize for the brand. Not only does it signal users are interested in the subject, it offers critical information to inform future content.

It may be about your competitor
Be prepared for competitor brand mentions. Remember, it’s a Community of Interest, so users don’t associate the page with one brand and that’s a good thing. It’s not something you want to change or control. To successfully manage an interest-based page is to be authentic and open – or your savvy community will find out and call you out.

It’s about listening
To ignite conversation and make users feel welcome and valued, there has to be authentic interaction. Forget robotic brand responses – you have to talk to the community like they’re your friends.

When you’ve gained trust, it creates fertile soil for planting the seed of brand mentions or suggestion. They’re already on your side, so suggesting a product won’t be met with resistance or outrage. In fact, they’ll probably listen to more intently because people trust the advice of their friends, family and community (social included) much more than they do brands.

It may unchartered social territory and feel counter-intuitive to traditional marketing efforts, which is makes use of overt branding and calls to action. But when set up and managed correctly, Facebook Communities of Interest can be hugely beneficial for brands.

It takes two to (really) tango

The coming together of SEO and PR is essential for digital marketers. As digital PR becomes increasingly important for brands, it’s vital to understand the entwined relationship of SEO and PR. Both serve the same purpose­­ – getting eyeballs on great content to build brand affinity. Here are some key considerations when adopting an integrated SEO-PR approach to your digital marketing.

Take two steps back
To implement SEO-PR collaboration, agency teams need to understand the purpose of each service. It’s no use forcing integration without context. Get both teams in one room and have them explain what they do, how they do it and why. The similarities and intersections will become evident.

Now take two forward
SEO aims not only to enhance visibility of websites, but to also make those websites relevant and valuable. Google decides whether a website is delivering interesting, accurate and valuable content based on a whole lot of criteria. One of which is inbound links.

This is where PR steps in. By syndicating interesting, well-crafted and value-added content that credible publishers, affiliates and bloggers publish on their sites (with links back to yours) you’ve created advantageous back-links that immediately enhance your site’s organic rankings with Google. And improve your reputation with potential and existing customers via the perceived endorsements of those sites.

Make sure it’s in sync
Timing is critical to success. To get the best results, your owned content should be consistent in theme and – importantly – informed by keywords based on user research. Following the same themes on your paid search, digital and social media marketing will be even more powerful (but that’s another story for another day).

Rehearse and relearn
Keep a close eye on analytics. They will inform you how best to optimise your content. For example, if your data is showing that users are spending time on one page, it’s beneficial to create content that advances and builds on that content and guides your users further towards conversion.

In addition, the collaboration of PR and SEO allows you to report on a more granular level. SEO experts can append a tracking tag to web PR pieces and report on click-throughs, as well as that user’s website behaviour. It means SEO specialists can account for spikes in traffic and gain useful insights into users’ engagement with the content. It’s mutually beneficial – both parties can report more accurately and prove the value of what they’re doing.

Get up close and personal
In my opinion, it’s key that PR and SEO teams sit close together, attend the same meetings and prepare integrated reports. The multiple-specialist-agency model, with different agencies performing different aspects of digital marketing on one brand no longer cuts it. If these powerful digital marketing initiatives are not integrated, they’ll be out of step – and lacklustre.

The finale
The powerful combination of SEO and PR will improve the performance of your website, enhance your brand or business reputation, convert traffic into leads and, ultimately, into customers. In today’s highly competitive and cluttered world wide web, it’s the very least you should be doing for your brand.