On the Brand Storytelling podcast, we talk with the PR Warrior, Trevor Young about the role influencer marketing is now playing in content strategies. As brands seek to distribute their content organically, the market for influencers has ballooned and has shown no signs of slowing down in 2017.
Consumers are saturated daily by advertisements and endless commercials, with many pundits believing an oversaturation of adverts is to blame for the declining ratings in the NFL this season. So why are brands pivoting to influencers to distribute their content?
– How influencer marketing can boost your content strategy.
– Tips on how to maximise the right influencer to boost your brand awareness.
About the guest:
Trevor Young is better known as the PR Warrior and is a regular guest and favourite on the Brand Storytelling podcast. He is also a regular keynote speaker on social media and content marketing trends.
Growth in the digital music industry is abundant, yet profits are absent from virtually every company. SoundCloud, the cash-strapped music streaming business, reported last year’s losses increased at a faster rate than revenue growth.
Let’s look at the various factors that could speed up or help prevent SoundCloud’s demise.
Signs of trouble?
Founded in 2007, SoundCloud entered an increasingly crowded market with companies going out of business, becoming acquisition targets, or struggling financially (e.g. Deezer, Pandora, Rdio).
SoundCloud has always been on the lookout for more capital investment. In 2015, after years of fighting licensing issues, the Berlin-based music service raised $77m in investment from Universal Music Group in exchange for an equity stake.
In 2016, SoundCloud was optimistic that the financial figures “reflect those of a company in a strong growth stage,” with over 18 million artists using the platform, “sharing well over 110 million tracks, and reaching 175 million monthly active listeners.”
However, SoundCloud has been more cautious, warning it could run out of money before the end of 2017, if its newly launched subscription service fails to take off.
Who owns the content?
Any user-generated content hosting platform must adhere to copyright rules, such as YouTube and SoundCloud. In enforcing those, SoundCloud ran into bad publicity due to their high-profile account takedowns and suspensions.
SoundCloud seems to have been too harsh, even suspending users over the music that they own, inconsistently handing out judgements and so on.
Then it becomes the question of who SoundCloud is trying to protect, the artists, the record labels (e.g. Universal, Sony) or SoundCloud itself. In this case, the content owners – record labels – win.
SoundCloud’s competitor – Spotify – pays out about 85% of its revenues in royalties to record labels and other rights-holders.
The three major record labels, Universal, Sony and Warner have all signed licensing deals and owned a stake in SoundCloud, although a relatively small one. At least, that means they have the incentive to help SoundCloud avoid bankruptcy.
Recent hires have proved SoundCloud’s determination to diversify its offerings and open more routes to monetisation.
Their dual model of free and paid subscription finally put SoundCloud on par with rivals like Spotify and Apple Music. Now they can make money off the user base and share the revenue with artists, in addition to charging artists with different levels shown below.
Along with the launch of SoundCloud Go last year, the company has been ramping up its programmatic advertising efforts to attract marketers. This is on top of the ad platform launched in 2014, with brands such as Red Bull and Netflix already working with the music service.
In the Australia and New Zealand market, SoundCloud has started offering bespoke ad solutions, including sponsored content such as in-stream message, promoted track/playlist.
Competitors’ continuous improvements
Critics have pointed to SoundCloud’s rivals. Competing with those who have more a lot more cash such as Google and Apple is a tough call.
Moreover, both Spotify and Apple Music have hand-curated playlists along with music recommendation algorithms, which SoundCloud is still lacking.
On the Brand Storytelling podcast, we talk with Chris Wolski, Product Marketing Manager at Klipfolio, about how 2017 could be the year of video marketing. Chris talks with Rakhal about his experiences creating video ads for Facebook, creating content that is extremely targeted and short yet entertaining and informative.
Klipfolio is a cloud app that allows companies to share real-time business dashboards across a variety of devices. This allows you to take control of your most important data, no matter where in the world you are.
It has been an emotional journey as Apple’s iPhone turns 10 this year. Hailed as a device that sparked the smartphone evolution, the iPhone has had far-reaching effects on business and marketing.
Some of the implications for marketers are not so obvious and may have been taken for granted. Thus, to mark the occasion, let’s review the opportunities marketers have enjoyed as well as lessons we can all learn from the iPhone.
We can say the iPhone’s launch put the “mobile” into “mobile phone” and “smart” into “smartphone.” Not that we weren’t able to carry mobile phones with us before then, but Apple truly redefined “mobility” and what we can do while on the go.
This graph shows what users back in 2007 thought they would use the iPhone for. Fast forward to 2017, we could almost do everything with it.
Real-time, instantaneous and convenient access to information has prompted consumers to consume content and interact with brands on mobile a lot more.
Without realising this silent evolution, marketers have since then tried to optimise the reading experience on mobile devices, whether on a browser or an email client. Examples include things like responsive, lightweight mobile sites (Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages), email templates and so on.
Also related to content on mobile is how marketers have optimised for information research SEO and SEM-wise.
New marketing channels
Apple’s ecosystem of operating systems and apps have presented new ways to reach consumers. Currently, there’re approximately 2.2 million apps in the App Store.
The standards of iPhone apps have appealed to numerous entrepreneurs who created highly addictive apps. From social media (e.g. Facebook), games (e.g. Pokemon Go), messaging to business apps, marketers can work with all kinds of mobile ads, sponsored content, and more recently, branded chatbots.
The app store optimisation practice itself is a useful reminder of how important it is to optimise for content discovery. People discover new apps when they can find answers to their queries. Just like you would on desktop search engines, relevant keywords, images and descriptions should be optimised.
Why do we say Apple’s iPhone has a cult following? Marketers can perhaps learn from the tech giant’s tactics to spur excitement and engagement.
The iPhone launch event has somehow become Apple’s signature event: a pragmatic-looking, non-dressed-up executive talking about how the device is going to be the next best thing. Take a look at how Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone ever.
Then there is also Apple’s integrated and sophisticated marketing efforts, utilising effective channels such as influencers, PR and even rumours of the next iPhone.
This is the kind of earned media that any marketer would dream to have for their brand, the kind of fans willing to pay a premium that any business would die to have.
Form goes with function
But why do people keep coming back to the iPhone? For a simple reason, Apple is big on great design and user experience. As Steve Jobs famously said: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
What does this mean for marketing? If your content is outstanding, but the presentation is poor, you may lose to those who know how to capture people’s eyeballs.
On the Brand Storytelling podcast, we talk with Marc Stoiber, CEO and Founder of Your Ultimate Speech and author of The DIY Brand Build Guide. We chat about exploring new and creative paths to audiences in 2017 and how brands will be switching up their strategies to incorporate the latest trends.
Your Ultimate Speech empowers busy CEOs and thought leaders to deliver insightful and engaging keynote presentations, no matter the audience.
Did you know that Barack Obama has published on Medium since 2014? More recently, big media and global organisations have also jumped on board, such as the World Economic Forum, United Nations, ABC (Australia).
The platform’s appeal is undeniable but it takes time and effort to make it big on Medium. Here’s an overview of how it works.
How Medium fits your content marketing strategy
Great for increasing exposure and reach, especially when your brand is already well-known. Example: HubSpot with ThinkGrowth
Also good for targeting a niche audience. Example: Hacker Noon targeting techies.
You can submit articles to publications that accept them, just like any other media outlet
You can invite others to contribute to your own publication to increase credibility.
You can insert call to action items to subscribe to an external email list
Within Medium, you can email your followers to inform them of new articles.
Linking with other social media accounts: Adding your Twitter and Facebook to your Medium profile/publication to gain followers.
Since publishers don’t own Medium, there’s a concern that your brand may get diluted in a sea of content. Nonetheless, the platform does offer branding opportunities:
You can get your custom branded domain
Visual elements such as cover photo, profile picture, call-to-action banners
Publication: create and publish your own to humanise your content.
Medium was designed to deliver a beautiful and distraction-free reading experience. With its clean interface, a lot of white space and no intrusive ads (pop-up or on the side), readers can focus on the content.
Moreover, Medium allows readers to highlight bits and pieces they like and make comments on those, which can spark lively discussions between brands/authors and the audience.
From a publisher’s point of view, the uploading and formatting content is relatively simple compared to other platforms such as WordPress, where some knowledge of HTML may be required.
Nonetheless, for those who are heavy on customisation and special formatting, Medium can be more restrictive. That said, content marketers often don’t need to go too far beyond the basic supported media (text, image, video, gif, embed).
No control for publishers?
Medium is like a newsstand containing different publications. Considered as “rented media,” the platform doesn’t give publishers full control, such as Google Analytics’ level of data.
This complaint is similar to that about Facebook’s Instant Articles. However, Medium doesn’t offer full-fledged advertising and monetisation opportunities for publishers yet.
Others argue that publishing on Medium doesn’t help your SEO, as Google may rank the same story on Medium higher than that on your own blog.
If you build up your credibility enough, eventually people would visit your own site to learn more about you. However, that means deploying specific tactics for Medium:
Tell personal stories
Examine case studies
Don’t try to sell anything.
As an extreme example, a publication called Free Code Camp “abandoned” their blog to move to Medium and saw great results. This may work better for brands who have a more niche audience, in this case, programmers.
On the Brand Storytelling podcast, we talk with Dan Foley, co-founder and CEO of Tailored Ink about how to find the right fit for your content marketing. The rise of SEO, Google analytical tools and other technology and placed a prominence on brands using their content to maximum effectiveness.
Tailored Ink is a boutique writing agency based in New York that is made up of elite storytellers with a desire for quality content.