Believe in yourself (not in your selfie)

The best people to work with are the ones who pursue great ideas in an unstoppable quest to be top of their game. They’re not the pied pipers of Instagram or the self-obsessed. Come work for us if you’re all about grit, honesty and next-level thinking. We’re looking for digital copywriters, and client service and PR account executives. Remember: selfies date but greatness lasts forever.

The united greats (and fails) of social media for 2016

G&G Digital rounds up the most important snackable social media tips and trends, for a taste of what to expect in 2017.

How ripe are your leads?

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

Sales and marketing have been playing broken telephone. Traditionally, marketing campaigns ended with delivering leads to client – and that’s where the action stopped. Little was known about the status of the leads – whether they’re hot or cold or their location along the purchasing journey. And worst of all, there was no analytics to understand how effectively sales teams were turning leads into revenue.

In short, marketing agencies – and clients – have struggled to measure ROI on marketing campaigns due to inadequate lead analytics. Until now, software used to track websites and software used to track sales processes have existed in silos. And the technology hasn’t completely closed the loop from ad impression to sale.

The marketing automation revolution
2016 marks the marketing automation revolution. Clients no longer need to receive potentially unripe leads – and have their agencies dust off their hands, believing a job well done.

Marketing intelligence has radically improved and the opportunity now exists to nurture leads and uniquely assess the quality of each lead before it’s pushed into the sales funnel. We can now analyse behavioural data to deliver personalised content to engage with the customer or potential customer along their journey, as well as glean insights about their behaviour to ensure they’re actually viable leads.

This gives digital marketers the ability to deliver more accurate, considered and appropriate leads – with more context and power for the salesperson. It provides real-life answers in an intangible digital world.

Banners be gone
Nay-sayers might (incorrectly) compare marketing automation with digital remarketing. Although banner ads still play a crucial role in the digital marketing ecosystem, users tend to block banner ads out.

Conversely, most South African consumers favour email as a method of marketing and receiving information. When there’s an element of personal value, there’s a greater chance of engagement. Marketing automation nurtures leads with dynamic and personalised email marketing, delivered to the user’s inbox when they need to see it.

What’s more, automated marketing shows almost immediate benefits to the bottom line. With an astute strategy and deep level of integration, G&G has become a symbiotic partner to our clients, as we provide an ongoing stream of leads to their sales team – alerting the team of the lead, the lead status and how best to respond.

Planting the lead
Once leads are delivered, the client can closely track how many of those leads were effectively turned into sales and, in time, more accurately illuminate weaknesses in their sales teams. Or, in the case of cold, sour, unripe leads: the shortcomings of their marketing campaigns.

Digital agencies evangelise about analytics and measurability. Marketing automation takes this to another level, using micro, personalised data to measure and drive macroconversions.

This is the core of marketing automation. It’s not just another sparkling starfish in the sea of digital marketing tactics – it means properly understanding the user and their path to purchase. It means using this understanding to more intelligently, transparently and effectively tap into the moment a user is ready and comfortable to complete a purchase.

So tune in, don’t tune out. The future of marketing is here. And even if you don’t understand it, it already understands you.

Where did all the research go?

In traditional agencies, research is a nucleus – it’s the alpha and omega of brand strategy. It means a deep, reverberating comprehension of products or services, the people who make them and the people buy them. It means crystallising strategy and campaign to align with this understanding.

In this know-everything, do-everything digital age, some agencies scorn the value of brand immersion. They ride out into battle without the right cavalry. And because there are a select number of digital channels, with rules and algorithms governing each, these agencies believe they’re commandeering their troops in the most efficient way.

The truth is, research and brand immersion still matter. Smart advertising doesn’t exist without it – regardless of whether you’re playing in the digital or traditional ad space. No truly innovative campaign can be birthed without it. There remain key areas of research every agency should be driving, and encouraging their people to do so too.

Research lives everywhere
‘But we don’t have a research department – and we can’t afford one.’ This is the first obstacle agency leads will present in trying to fight against the necessities of research. In truth, it doesn’t matter. Research should be endemic in every department of every agency.

Every employee – creative, client service or development – should make it their mandate to understand their clients better than the person sitting next to them. If you’re marketing a sock brand, your people should be wearing them. Marketing a coffee company? You shouldn’t be sipping anything else.

Agency teams should constantly search for real-life insights from the people around them – both on and offline – and use these to inform their work. If they don’t know the brand, they shouldn’t have the audacity to try and send an email to the client or put a word on paper – they don’t have the right.

It’s not only up to the client to conduct research about their own brand. Your research as their agency can add a useful and colourful layer to the clients’ research that they’ll thank you for.

The easiest place to start with research is to get all people involved – including client – in one room, and don’t let them leave until they’ve told you everything they can about their brand. These brand immersions can do so much, but only if the people in the room are tuned in. Don’t let team members sit in on a brand immersion if they’re going to steal oxygen – they should be taking notes and asking questions. Valuable team members will.

Areas of focus
Research does not mean a swift scroll through a client’s Facebook or Twitter page. It should be a controlled and systematised process. Key areas that will inform advertising work for the better naturally include the reputation of the brand amongst both its real target market and aspired target market. In fact, in-depth research might help you identify and redefine the target market – it happens.

It includes current, past and international advertising – both digital and ATL. Discuss digital campaign ideas and novel concepts with the people you’d like to target. Ask them if they’ve seen any that resonate with them – and why. Find out what’s important to them.

Identify the competitor products they’re using, follow on social media or have noticed in the digital space and why. Formulate a knack for spotting whether there’s a disparity between the desired brand promise and what consumers are actually hearing or seeing in the digital space.

Truth hurts
When formulating a research model, make sure to build in research about your agency’s reputation with your clients. They won’t always divulge their grievances when faced with a fresh-faced account executive, but give them a neutral, anonymous platform and they’ll tell you harsh truths. A client satisfaction survey is a quick and easy way of gaining insights into what your clients really think of you.

Just as with brand research and immersion, it’s what you do with the information that’s key. Turn it into a workable and easily implementable action plan.

“Agencies mistakenly use research like a drunkard uses a lamppost – not for illumination but for support.” The words of David Ogilvy still ring true today – more so for digital agencies than ever. Let us not forget them. Let’s illuminate ourselves with research.

The Internet’s got listomania

New ways of communicating – and creating content – come and go with the click of the mouse. Despite their popularity (and proliferation) listicles are sometimes criticised for being lowbrow, badly written and uninformative. Some writers even refer to them as lazy and ‘too convenient’ – yet they’re insanely popular. So what’s the magic of the listicle and why has it become such a deeply ingrained part of the digital experience?

Not everyone regards sites like Buzzfeed, with their distinctive use of listicles and GIFs, as informative or valuable content. Purists detest the idea of having to craft content to fit this style. But the trend can’t be dismissed – content sites like Buzzfeed have become the new breed of content hubs.

Age-old adage
The listicle isn’t a new concept. It goes all the way back to a Buddha, who organised his thoughts and beliefs about human existence into lists. Listicles have been used for centuries as a teaching method and a quick way of remembering information – just not online, until now.

Today, the bulk of the information we encounter online is divvied into Top 5s, 10 steps and 3 must-dos that always promise to be the keys to productivity or finding a soulmate. The whole Internet’s got listomania – Twitter, Facebook and news feeds are all dominated by listicles. Here’s why we’re obsessed with writing lists:

Length matters
Listicles allow us to distill information in a digestible way for both writer and reader. The critics will say we can’t refine aspects of real life into five bullet points. As a writer, a listicle isn’t the holy grail of breakthrough content. But it’s a good place to start – it’s like a table of contents.

In this information age, where we’re bombarded with content at every turn, the popularity of listicles reflects the need to filter and process endless reams of information. Getting to the point and relevance is important – and the listicle is the perfect way to do this.

Pick and choose
With information being thrust at us by the page-full, our brains automatically try and master a sorting mechanism to make sense of it – and to determine if it’s deserving of our attention at all. This is why we gravitate to the listicle. The brain sees organisation and simplicity, and can quickly give the article a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – click link or open tab. The listicle helps us judge what we want to read, more quickly.

Easy game
In addition to being easier to read, listicles are also much easier to write. Want to write about a complex topic? It’s much easier to organise thoughts into a list than it is to craft an essay with a defined beginning, middle and end. Call it laziness, but it makes volumes of content much easier to churn out which is essential for content marketers. It’s also a way to get to the sales pitch quicker than ever before.

Fast facts, savvy stats
Readers likely read listicles for one main purpose – to answer a question in seconds. Listicles are a great way to organise and present hard facts, like statistics and numbers. It presents them in a more digestible form. Audiences are looking for content that eases their curiosity quickly and concisely. Serving them this kind of content makes it more likely they’ll return to a site when they’re looking for answers and solutions in the future.

Call me engaged
Listicles are also a superb way to provoke conversation amongst readers and encourage interaction. If you’re looking to boost engagement – start with a listicle. For some reason, they simply get people talking. They’re the social lubricant of the digital space.

The listicle lives on
The listicle is peaking in popularity – and it seems like it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Listicles will never replace long form content – in fact, long form is on the rise in a big way – but they’re a huge part of the new information diet.

Embrace the power of the listicle, integrate it into communication with customers or target audiences. Just do us all a favour – make sure you share information that’s either revolutionary or laugh-out-loud hilarious. If not, I can think of 25 Reasons You Shouldn’t Publish a Bad Listicle.

We’re hunting giants

Intellectual giants.
Creative giants.
Big people with giant ideas.
Digital writing giants.
PR giants.
Social media giants.

And if you’re not quite a giant (yet) but have your eyes set on the moon and stars anyway, we’d love to help you grow.

Apply Now

Don’t tell me how to boil my egg

It’s hard to scroll through a Facebook newsfeed these days without being affronted by life lessons. These pearls of wisdom aren’t from your best friend in Vietnam, your Matric biology teacher or your mother – they’re lessons from brands.

The information ranges from the mundane, ‘How not to fall asleep at your desk’, ‘How to fold your clothes to better fit your wardrobe’, or ‘How to boil the perfect egg’ (that one’s surprisingly common) to the utterly absurd: ’10 ways to clean your kitchen with Coca-Cola’.

Real talk
As our newsfeeds become so inundated with these unrequested titbits of – often useless – information, you can’t help but ask: why is an insurance company telling me how to keep my yolk runny? Why is an energy drink telling me how to re-arrange my cupboard? Or more importantly, who asked them in the first place?

When it first slipped onto the scene, content marketing on social media was like the unknown, good-looking foreigner at the party: you’re interested; you’re intrigued and spend time engaging because they seem romantic in their exoticism. Fast forward five years, and the novelty has no doubt worn off. Their eccentricities are no longer exciting.

Calling B-S
At one time, brands could subtly inject your newsfeed with posts about home care, health or gardening and you’d hardly notice. In fact, you might even give it a click or a tap. But we’re now acutely aware of the game they’re playing and the content marketing equivalent of unconscious banner blindness has set in.

To put it more simply: I just don’t believe that an insurance company knows or cares whether I boil my egg perfectly. It’s just disingenuous. Generation Z is calling B-S on ‘lifestyle’ social content marketing that has an – at best – tenuous link to the brand using it for marketing.

All this time, the term ‘brand loyalty’ is being bandied about to substantiate content marketing. But in reality, being ‘loyal’ to the identity of a brand on social media because of the content they disseminate, often has little or no relation to whether I’d invest in that product or service IRL (In Real Life).

Real-life returns
To put it simply, if your product or service isn’t working to exceed expectations (or at least meet them) IRL, it doesn’t matter how many egg-boiling advisory boards your brand has on URL (online). Only once the real thing, the tangible, purchasable and usable product has won people over, will ‘brand loyalty’ be worth anything on social media. Brands have to start by establishing real-life brand advocates, before they amass digital ones.

If you’re offering me an incredible product or service, something for me to believe in and buy repeatedly, I can tolerate and even enjoy your content marketing, because the fact that I’ve bought your product means I am, in some small way, already advocating that lifestyle.

Fickle AF
Online, a ‘like’ costs me nothing but a tap. A ‘like’ IRL requires me to spend my hard-earned money on something. They’re two different universes, and my behaviour in one doesn’t determine the other. So if your brand’s call centres are lousy, your stores are disorganised, your clothes fall apart at the seams after one wash, or your waitresses are rude, don’t rely on expert egg-boiling tips online to win me over.

Content marketing can and does work on social media, but it’s about having the foundation from which to work. Instead of peppering newsfeeds with ill-conceived content, why not use the social space to first find out what people think of your brand in the real world?

Use it to gather data to fix real-life problems, then focus on your content marketing strategy. Until I’ve seen you master the perfect soft-white-to-runny-yolk in real life, don’t try and boil my digital egg.

Damn Daniel: A content creator’s guide to making magic

Until a couple of months ago, the words “damnnnn Daniel, back at it again with the white Vans” would have sounded like the musings of a gangster wannabe with a try-hard Snapchat profile. But before two boys got together to show off their Stussy style, with a 30 second video that ended up on Ellen, the true value of oddball content wasn’t fully realised.

For brands vying for space in the digital noise, creating that one-hit wonder can be a bit more difficult, especially if you’re considered a boring or conservative brand, or have traditionally shied away from out-of-the-box thinking. But the principles for fun, fearless content are simpler than content creators realise, so let’s get down low with the four (not-so-secret) secrets of sh*t-hot content:

Tell us a story
There’s nothing worse than content for content’s sake. You want your user to be objectively interested in what you have to say, so remember to include a basic story structure. That is, a clear beginning, middle and end.

groundbreaking

Embrace the awkward
Between above the line outputs, billboards and in-store activations by polished promoters, we’re all a bit sick of rehearsed advertising. Dive into public gaffes, turn sassy user comments into fun conversations or share a blooper reel. Every obstacle has the potential for epic content opportunities.

groundbreaking

Step away from the hard sell
You are not in an early 2000s daytime infomercial. So why does it sound like you’re selling two veggie steamers for the price of one? Audiences are smarter than ever, and it’s hard to compete with a 7 second video of a cat who can say the alphabet.

Remake yourself into a regular, everyday consumer and think about what you’d want to hear. That may be a mix between product and service offerings and something to brighten your day, and then say it as if you’re talking to regular people, with regular lives.

groundbreaking

Press record
Let’s face it – as much as we’re disappointing the Wordsworths of a world past – the future is viewing rather than reading. Modern consumers are expert multitaskers, and tweeting and watching TV happens in almost every home simultaneously.

With this in mind, capture your message in quick, impactful videos and source the best of the web where you can (legally). Gifs, vines and short-form videos are the backbone of digital content, so if you’re serving expert copy without them – prepare for disappointing results.

groundbreaking

Play fast and loose, shoot for the stars, give of your all and avoid clichés (like the beginning of this sentence). Yes you’re a content maker speaking for a brand, but you’re also an individual with a wealth of lived experience that you should always draw on in a sticky situation. And so what if it doesn’t work? You always have an opportunity to start over.

How to create content that connects

This is the golden age of content marketing and nowhere is this more evident than in digital. Content marketing allows brands to go beyond the product push to entertain, enlighten and seduce audiences with useful information aligned with the brand’s strategy and target market. But chances are if everyone in the room is singing, a large number will be off-key. So here are some important points to ensure your content marketing is on-point.

Know them
Understand your audience, beyond demographics. Know their likes and dislikes, their old habits and new favourites. If you don’t have the data, do an audit of the community, with specific focus on pages they follow, who they interact with and how. Then tailor your content to these interests. Content should be informed by the community, not the other way round.

Once you’ve established who your audience is, speak to them like a human being, not a robot. People respond well to conversation, not instruction. Be friendly, authentic and honest. Converse as if you’re having a one-on-one interaction – not as if you’re a brand ‘speaking down’ to your audience.

Forget about shares
Never create content with the main objective of getting organic reach via shares – it will come across as disingenuous and your audience will ultimately see through it. Users are the gatekeepers of their own social feed and you can’t fool them into sharing content – they’re too concerned about their online reputation (most sensible people are). Instead, craft content that resonates with your target audience and if they can relate, they’ll share it.

Take risks
The success of content marketing has lead to the proliferation of content marketing. Everyone wants a piece of the action and wants to be the loudest voice in the crowd. The only way to differentiate is to create content that’s completely unique – and the only way to do that is by taking risks. Don’t play it safe, or you’ll just be creating more noise littering the internet.

Identify the spaces where your brand should participate, and get involved. Determine the value your brand can add for that moment.

Identify influencers
If you’re looking for third-party endorsements for your brand, identify key influencers – but be discerning in your choices. Only team up with influencers who are already natural advocates of your brand, so the partnership is authentic and makes sense. Never work with influencers you have to actively persuade to come on board – they should want to work with your brand, too.

Embrace vulnerability
Experimentation means sometimes getting it right and sometimes getting it wrong. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something – rather adapt and be agile. If something isn’t working, change it up. If it is working, create more content along those lines. It’s essential to be flexible – bend, rather than break. Take your brand out of its glass case. Understand that brands belong to consumers now, not their brand teams.

Agencies and brands can expect big changes in content marketing in the years to come – both in form and function – and that’s what makes it such a thrilling space to navigate. By harnessing the power of content in all its forms, brands can dominate the online and social space.

We’ve got a thing for WordPress

Originally created as a blogging platform eleven years ago, WordPress now hosts around 23% of the top ten million websites in the world, and it’s easy to see why.

The open source software is constantly transforming to allow developers (and average joes) to craft interactive and engaging websites. WordPress represents the evolution of the website as we know it, and allows digital experts (like us) to push boundaries when building websites.

By virtue of the fact that WordPress was created for the everyblogger, there’s a preconception that it’s simply a template-based platform that requires little or no development and creative process. This simply isn’t true. The growth of the programming language behind WordPress has made it infinitely flexible, with no limit on the design, behaviour or functionality.

Here’s why we use WordPress to make your brand’s website breakthrough:

  1. Accessibility and fluidity

The freedom to upload content from anywhere in the world, anytime, is what makes WordPress such an enamouring platform on which to build a website. Using WordPress means we can manage timely uploads of news updates or new, topical information with complete seamlessness, so your website remains relevant.

  1. Integration with social media and SEO

WordPress is constantly being edited and fine-tuned to integrate social media channels. Social icons can be stylishly incorporated into the design the website, and there’s a myriad plugins available to ensure your website’s content is easily shareable. Facebook and Twitter posts can be automatically shared from WordPress itself, cross-linking new and relevant content on your website to connect with your brand’s followers in real time.

WordPress was built with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in mind from the start. We use WordPress as a powerful partner to customise pages and posts for SEO purposes which in turn makes your content more discoverable and keeps your website at the top of a Google search.

  1. Made for audio and video

These days, it’s not enough for some brands to simply populate their website with stunning visuals – they need to keep viewers enticed with video and audio content too. If you want to use branded multimedia as a content marketing tool, WordPress is the best way to ensure it plays easily and is hosted safely. Curated content can also be embedded into your WordPress site, adding depth to any page.

  1. Syndication made simple

As a digital marketing agency, we know email marketing and newsletters are invaluable tools to get return visits to your websites and enamour people to your brand. WordPress makes syndication of this content easier than ever before, and even allows for automated email newsletters to be generated in custom templates when new content is uploaded to the site.

  1. Fresh designs

Although WordPress is template-based, we use premium (paid for) templates that are completely customisable, with no limits on original design or creativity. The templates we use are like blank canvases with endless possibilities. And the efficiency of using WordPress as a starting point leaves time for us to create a website that’s modern and stunningly unique in design, as well as functional and responsive.