The Digital Download: A new blog series by our Digital Content Producer

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

The Digital Download: A new blog series by our Digital Content Producer

Over the past eight years working in social media marketing, I’ve learned that it’s impossible to find success without staying relevant and up-to-date on trends in the social atmosphere. As Geile/Leon’s digital content producer, I know our client’s success depends on my dedication to staying on top of what’s happening in the digital space. That is why I jetted out to sunny San Diego in mid-March to attend Social Media Marketing World 2022.

Hosted by Michael Stelzner and the Social Media Examiner team, this annual conference never fails to bring together an expert-studded host of speakers (and attendees) from around the world, all of whom want to up their social media game by diving into the nitty-gritty details and holistic strategies that include paid and organic social media marketing, content creation, ads, video development…and too many more to list.

The conference was a wealth of knowledge and perspectives, which not only provided a valuable tool that I can use for our clients’ success, but also inspired me to create a blog series titled The Digital Download. As the series unfolds, we’ll cover wide-ranging topics from future trends and the changing tides on various platforms to the Metaverse, NFTs, influencer marketing, and more!

However, today, I wanted to focus on the overarching theme behind every session that I attended: authenticity.

Although there was a huge range of topics covered throughout SMMW22, a large amount of our conversation focused on techniques for brands to communicate authentically with their audience in order to maximize key performances. That’s also why the auditoriums were packed to capacity for the sessions that dove into influencer marketing strategy and taking advantage of platforms that reward content that feels organically created, like TikTok, Stories, etc.

Word-of-mouth recommendations from influential members of social communities are tremendously powerful for brands, and as such, brands should concentrate on the value they provide to their followers, whether it’s educational, inspirational, or entertaining. If it doesn’t provide value, don’t post it.

The discussion revolving around the power of authenticity felt very familiar. There is a ton of overlap with Geile/Leon’s Return on Empathy™ concept, illustrating the tangible and intangible benefits of well-executed empathy marketing. It has to be genuine in order to resonate emotionally with consumers. To learn more about how this works, download our free Return on Empathy™ whitepaper here.

I am looking forward to where this blog series takes us, as I believe this will be a very valuable resource for brands to understand how to successfully utilize social media in an effective and enduring way. So make sure to follow us on our social media accounts so you don’t miss any new content from me, Melissa!

 

Read Part 2: Futuristic Trends from SMMW22

Read Part 3: Reframing the Way You View Influencers

Read Part 4: Is TikTok More Than Just Dancing Videos?

Digital Strategies for Any Higher Education Institution During a Pandemic

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Digital Strategies for Any Higher Education Institution During a Pandemic

While there are countless industries that have struggled since the beginning of the pandemic, one industry that’s facing major challenges and seismic changes is higher education. These institutions have been forced to completely rethink how they’re marketing to potential and current students. Whether it’s navigating new COVID restrictions, rolling out virtual learning, dealing with students opting out of college all together and decreased marketing budgets, they are struggling to connect with their end users. 

Here at G/L, we work with higher education clients who are faced with all of these challenges.  Based on our experience, we’ve gathered some strategies that we believe should be incorporated into any higher education marketing strategy. And guess what? They’re all techniques within the digital space…and they don’t cost a fortune.

First and foremost, any marketing strategy, especially that within a higher education space, needs to be reaching the right audiences (Gen Z and millennials mostly) where they’re already at — on their phones and online. And the best part is that digital marketing, especially social media marketing, is one of the most budget-friendly options out there. But before you start worrying about your advertising budget, this first recommendation will only cost your higher education institution time and effort. 

Audit your digital experience 

Take time out to evaluate every aspect of your digital presence. Start with auditing your online programs, your class registration process and your payment tools. Make sure that these processes and experiences are simple and easy to use for all involved. Next, make sure that your website is easy to navigate via mobile devices. According to Statcounter Global Stats,  54.25 percent of people worldwide are using their mobile devices to access the internet. Without a mobile optimization, your website is only accessible to less than half of the population. 

Lastly, incorporate customized experiences into your strategy. Not only is this a trend in the digital space, but it’s expected from higher education institutions by prospective students. Whether that’s creating custom landing pages for your different student personas (ie. international, first-years, etc.), utilizing a personalized student portal or employing personalized digital ad and/or email campaigns, these digital tools will build trust between your brand and your audience.

Don’t skimp on your social media

Since the onset of COVID-19, social media usage worldwide is up by 44 percent, and 40 percent of consumers are spending longer on social media sites due to a lack of in-person connection. Not only are your prospective students on social media, but it’s also one of the most budget-friendly marketing tools to use. However, with varying platforms and strategies, it’s hard to know what tactics a higher education institution should take. Here’s what we would suggest:

Utilize chat bots

This is another great way to bring that personalized touch to your brand without a lot of labor. The pandemic has restricted in-person appointments, however you can still have those personalized conversations answer questions and concerns by using chatbots. Using this streamlined method can also help your prospective students through the enrollment and application process. Try chatbots with LinkedIn Conversation ads and FB Messaging ads. Check out how we did this for our client, Lindenwood University here.

Utilize TikTok + Instagram Reels

Since its launch in 2016, TikTok has rapidly grown to be the seventh-largest social media platform. As of 2020, 62 percent of users are between the ages of 10-29 and nine out of ten of these users open the app multiple times a day. On Instagram, there’s a reported 1 billion monthly active users as of 2020, 70 percent of whom are under the age of 35. Overall, 29 percent of teens say TikTok is their preferred social platform, and for Instagram it’s 25 percent. All of these statistics say that it’s a no brainer for a higher education institution to have some sort of organic strategy for short-term video across both platforms. At the very least, it would help increase brand awareness, brand recall and new student acquisition. 

Utilize Influencers

Morning Consult reports that “72 percent of Gen Z and Millennials follow influencers, and teenagers are more likely to follow many.” Taking advantage of the reach that well-known alumni, professors, and distinguished students is a great way to reach your audience the way they want to be reached – via those who they seek out daily for information and opinions. 

Increase your video content output

Video is a crucial part in any higher education marketing strategy for the simple fact that your students and prospects can’t visit and experience your campus for themselves. So it’s up to the school to create an immersive experience representing the atmosphere of their campus and curriculum to those students at home in front of their computers/mobile devices. It’s imperative for marketers to make those experiences come to life through video in order to drive prospective students to enroll. Some video content ideas could be:

  1. Campus tour videos (check out our work for Ursuline Academy)
  2. Speakers
  3. Day-in-the-life videos
  4. Meet the professors
  5. Department spotlights

Obviously, every school needs their own strategic, brand-driven marketing solutions that are tailored to their specific goals and brand, which is something we can help with. Let’s chat and see how Geile/Leon Marketing Communications can help your higher education institution build a marketing plan that will get you the most return on investment. 

A Video Strategy for Every Phase of the Funnel

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

A Video Strategy for Every Phase of the Funnel

Why video?

It’s a known fact. The play button has become the most compelling digital call-to-action. In the past, video was used as a supporting element in digital marketing campaigns, but within the past five years, that notion began changing, and now video lead generation campaigns can be more powerful and effective than other marketing methods that don’t involve an interactive element.

Studies show that video messages are processed by the human brain 60,000 times faster than just text, the reason being that videos incorporate verbal AND non-verbal communication channels. That means that the viewer is able to pick up on tone of voice, body language, and other visual clues to be able to interpret the information being presented.

In return, videos have a higher level of engagement, thus providing better returns. According to Disruptive Advertising, videos are believed to have 120% more shares than text and images. Therefore (and not surprising), nearly 25% of all the ads you see online have a video component.

Which videos boost lead generation campaigns the most?

When companies are faced with the fact that videos are 12 times more likely to be watched than text is to be read, the question changes from being “Should we use video?” to “What kind of video should we use?” And we’re here to tell you that that question depends on your goals.

At Geile/Leon, we begin every project by working backwards from the client’s goals, and then collaborate on what kind of marketing efforts will support and attain those goals. When we’re looking at video marketing, the same is true. First, you must establish where in the sales funnel you want to reach your consumers.

Geile/Leon’s Video Funnel

If your goal is gaining website traffic, you’ll be speaking to users that most likely have just started their search for your product or services. Just like with blog content, keyword and topic research is important in identifying trends that captivate the right audience and choosing your video subject. Types of videos that speak to the top of the funnel are more than about spreading brand awareness – they must engage your buyer persona and answer any questions they may have. A great place to start could be:

  • An explainer video
  • A whiteboard series

A top-of-the-funnel video must be short and aid in the viewer’s research, which will ultimately position you as a relevant source of information when it comes to interacting with your brand further. Less than a minute is the average video length for spreading brand awareness.

If your goal is to convert leads, then we know you’re speaking to users in the mid-funnel range. Using the following types of videos will help build your brand trust up between your company and the customer:

  • Webinars
  • How-To’s
  • Content Promo
  • Product Demo

Webinars and how-to’s are a great way to convert leads because they can cover a broad range of topics in great depth and provide clear instructions on overcoming a specific challenge, offering the viewer a reason to return to your site for your valuable insight. With promo videos, establishing the viewer’s pain points and how your product or services can resolve them can create a sense of urgency and need for what you’re promoting. 1-3 minutes is a typical video length when users are in the consideration phase, as your videos will need to contain a little more information and provide value.

When you’re searching to close those engaged leads, then we know you’re speaking to those at the very bottom of the funnel. Viewers want to be reassured that you are the best choice. But why would they take your word for it – you have skin in the game. Let your past and current loyal customers talk for you by using testimonial and case study videos. Not only do these types of videos showcase your company’s value through genuine examples, but it attaches a positive personal story to your product or services, which is arguably the best form of advertising. Videos in this stage should be less than two minutes, since the information contained within them are directly telling the viewer what you want them to do and why.

Importance of having a strong CTA

In today’s muddied digital space, it’s not enough to just create engaging video content – the viewer needs to think about the video even after it’s over. That’s why at a strategic point in the video or even afterward, you need to create a clear call-to-action. Whether it’s asking users to check out your related content or driving them to buy a product will depend on what stage in the funnel you are speaking to.

No matter if you’re marketing to consumers or even to other businesses, video marketing’s effectiveness in lead generation is prevalent. Agencies like us understand the importance of video marketing to influence buying decisions and have made it an essential part of our digital service offerings. Recently, we’ve taken our 30 years of commercial and digital video experience completely in-house, cutting the project timeline, communication gaps, and keeping the cost down for our clients. Introducing, G/L Video Content Studios!

If you’re looking to attract high quality leads to improve your conversion rates and provide great returns on your online investments, let’s talk.

Trending from G/L: Instagram’s Hidden Like Count Test

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Trending from G/L: Instagram’s Hidden Like Count Test

Instagram is positive. It’s happy. It’s bright. It makes the users ‘feel good’. But, is the pressure to align with Instagram’s “happy” culture causing users to actually be less happy “IRL?” While no one’s questioning Instagram’s impact on users’ purchasing decisions, a recent test by Instagram could change the way advertisers and influencers use the platform altogether.

Let me explain.

Twitter is known in the social media community as probably the best way to directly, in real time, engage with your audience. But, it can also be a catalyst for bullies. Twitter is a notorious hotbed of abuse, so much so that the social platform has recently abandoned its previously “reactive” approach towards abusive content, and begun to take action on how to be proactive and preventative when it comes to abusive content. On the other end of the spectrum, Instagram looks to be the friendliest of the social media platforms. The visually-led community cultivates positive and motivational messaging, where posts that go viral tend to have a positive message, and where many of the most famous accounts are of dogs and cats.

But some mental health experts say that this positivity presents a unique problem. It encourages its users to post upbeat and staged photos that others could be misleading to others and potentially harmful. Scarlett Dixon is a primary example.

The fashion blogger posted a promoted photo of herself having breakfast, with the intention of promoting Listerine mouthwash. The photo was quickly screenshotted and posted on Twitter, where users called out the inauthenticity of the image. The user stated, “Instagram is a ridiculous lie factory made to make us all feel inadequate.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnIlqUShl31/?utm_source=ig_embed

The tweet took off, with more than 111,000 likes and almost 25,000 retweets. Dixion even responded to comments calling her fake, saying, “My feed isn’t a place of reality. I mean, who spends their time in such a beautiful city, perched on a ledge, ice-cream in hand and smile permanently affixed to her face? It’s staged, guys.”

It’s for this reason alone that experts are looking at how harmful Instagram is to its users mental health. In a 2017 survey by the Royal Society for Public Health, 14- to 24-year-olds scored Instagram as the top social platform that most negatively impacts their quality of sleep, their fear of missing out, and their body image.

“It’s a reward cycle, you get a squirt of dopamine every time you get a like or a positive response on social media,” explains psychologist Emma Kenny when speaking to Cosmopolitan about the effect of social media likes on one’s mental health.“It’s like a hit, similar to the way you feel when you have a drink. The social media like triggers that reward cycle and the more you get it, the more you want it.”

Now, Instagram is testing out a way to possibly combat these negative effects on its users, but it might be at the expense of its advertisers, and more specifically, its influencers.

Imagine an Instagram where no one but you can see how many likes or followers you have. That’s exactly what Instagram is currently testing internally. Researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered the change in a beta view on her Instagram, and Instagram confirmed the testing with TechCrunch.

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who share a post will see the total number of likes it gets,” says Instagram in a pop-up message about the feature test.

An Instagram spokesperson said that the testing is a result of the company trying to find ways “to reduce pressure on Instagram,” which is likely their way of addressing how this validation culture has been shown to hurt mental health and self esteem.

With influencers’ income solely dependent on their engagement rates and likelihood of a post “going viral,” this change can directly hurt their business. By hiding their engagement on posts, influencers could find it harder to get deals with businesses for sponsored content. Brands need to see engagement on content before tapping an influencer to rep their product so that they can gauge their ROI. It would also make it near impossible for users to figure out which posts are popular on the platform, and therefore, influential. For a social media specialist like me, it will be harder to learn what kind of content is resonating with the Instagram community.

As this testing concludes and impacts possible changes on the platform, it will be interesting to see how Instagram social media strategies change across the board for influencers, businesses and advertisers alike.

If you’re in the market for the creation of a social media strategy to fully optimize your business’s digital footprint that will directly improve sales, brand awareness, and engagement, let’s chat.

Trending from G/L: Engagement is key to Instagram’s new algorithm

The Blog

Melissa Ross
Digital Content Producer

Trending from G/L: Engagement is key to Instagram’s new algorithm

Back in March of 2016, the world flipped upside down when Instagram put an algorithm in place to change how our content was delivered to us. Previously, posts were shown in chronological order, but with the new algorithm, content became prioritized based on the likelihood that you would engage with it.

Since then, Instagram has been continuously tweaking the algorithm, especially after they found that about 70% of posts were being missed due to an increasingly massive amount of content. Their goal was and still is to bring increased likes and comments to posts, but a lot of brands started seeing a decrease in activity – which bring us to today.

Though Instagram doesn’t publicly release exactly how the algorithm works, they have released key influencing factors on how content is delivered to the end user.  These factors include: how much engagement you’re getting on posts, how long your content is viewed, the time when you post, the type of content, who searches for you and how often, and if your posts are shared via direct messages.

Putting it in layman’s terms

All of these factors revolve around engagement. Engagement = more engagement – it’s a continuous cycle. Once a user engages with a brand, it is more likely that that user will be fed the brand’s other content too.

If you’re not at the point of getting engagement on your brand, then you’re negatively impacted by this algorithm. But we’re here to help with that. Of course, better content will help immensely (don’t know how to take your content to the next level? Let’s talk.), but so will a couple of additional key focuses. AdWeek lists 5 ways of ensuring that your posts are hitting these engagement marks.

  1. Schedule posts for optimal times: When your engagement happens is important. According to studies, photos that receive immediate likes shortly after posting perform better in the long-run.
  2. Call-to-action before the line break: Later, an Instagram marketing platform, suggests that the caption to the photo is almost as important as the photo itself. Be sure you’re prompting both your followers and new visitors to take further action from the get-go.
  3. Hashtags are important: According to Adweek, posts with at least a single hashtag average 12.6% increase in engagement. But don’t go overboard!
  4. Use the newest features: Take advantage of Stories, videos, carousels, Boomerangs, etc. Distribute your content creatively to gain more interest.
  5. Utilize paid advertising: With a successful paid ad strategy, you will be able to build a targeted audience that will ultimately build better engagement.

Don’t go at Instagram marketing alone. Our team can help build your brand a strategy for optimal results. Give us a call.

5 Social Media Trends to Consider For Your 2018 Strategy

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

5 Social Media Trends to Consider For Your 2018 Strategy

Last year, there was no shortage of surprises, new features and time in the national spotlight when it came to social media’s influence in politics. Cough, Russia. In 2018, we can expect to see the social media relationship between brands and consumers continue to evolve and affect the way we connect and engage with one another. Here are 5 social media trends to consider for your strategy in 2018:

Shifting Demographics

Brands need to be mindful of shifting demographics and behaviors among Millennials and Gen Z. At least 40% of Millennials already have children, and that rate will continue to climb throughout 2018. These monumental milestones mean major lifestyle changes for Millennials and major sales category shifts and opportunities for brands. We break down how to communicate with Millennial parents here.

As for Gen Z, according to a recent Goldman Sachs study, the young, influential generation is predicted to be a driving force both organizationally and economically. In fact, the oldest Gen Zers are now 22 years old and are beginning to enter the workforce, which in turn will increase their purchase power. As true digital natives, Gen Zers heavily rely on connectedness and communication through platforms including SnapChat, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp. While 47% of Gen Zers say they love SnapChat, don’t throw all your resources into one platform. Gen Zers, much like Millennials respectively, gravitate towards authenticity and relevancy and prefer communicating on other platforms such as Instagram or email. More on communicating with Gen Z here.

AR/VR Advances

As AR and VR technology continues to advance and become more accessible, brands may consider adopting the technology into their social media strategy and overall marketing plans. While only a mere 8-11% of marketing professionals are utilizing the technology, up to 26% of marketers say they would like to incorporate the technology into their marketing strategy over the next few years, according to Business Insider.

Regulations and Governance

After a series of controversial discoveries of Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election, both Facebook and Twitter have adopted new policies governing conduct on their platforms.

Just last month, Facebook announced that it intends to change the filter of the News Feed to emphasize more meaningful social interactions between friends and family—not publishers. As a result, users will see less public content, including news, video and posts from brands.

Additionally, Facebook will take a series of steps to bring Facebook ads to a higher level of transparency by allowing users to view ads a Page is running on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger — whether or not the person viewing is in the intended target audience for the ad, as well as increased requirements for authenticity from advertisers, particularly political advertisers.

Twitter announced it intends to launch an advertising transparency center that discloses information about all ads running on its platform. Additionally, it would ban Kremlin-funded, English-language media outlets RT and Sputnik from advertising on Twitter.

Chatbots

This year we can expect more brands to invest in chatbots, as well as AI and voice assistants. Chatbots will continue to enable brands to offer real-time assistance via messenger apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and Kik, in addition to providing a more personalized shopping experience on site. Gartner predicts that chatbots may handle 85% of all customer interactions by the year 2020.

Live Streaming

Considering Facebook’s recent News Feed announcement, brands will have to look to creative alternatives for organic page content such as live streaming. Good news for brands, according to Live Stream, 82% of audiences prefer live video to traditional, written posts. Additionally, users are likely to spend three times longer watching live video as opposed to pre-recorded. 

Good Mews for Geile/Leon MC

The Blog

Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Good Mews for Geile/Leon MC

Geile/Leon Marketing Communication‘s newest team member, Robert Mews, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist, was recently featured in the St. Louis Business Journal’s “New in Town” section. Robert hails to us from the great state of Minnesota, where he was an eMarketing Manager for Minneapolis-based Grocery Shopping Network and previously worked  at the agency MRM Worldwide.

Robert is revolutionizing the G/L approach to Digital Marketing by integrating our branding expertise with new digital technology and data-driven insight that offers clients more ways to expand their brand. Robert tailored our Digital Approach to be more effective and measurable by including ongoing features like:

  • Competitive Intelligence
  • Deep Audience Research
  • Benchmarking and Best Practices
  • ROI Forecasting

So while Mews still may need some convincing when it comes to wearing a Cardinals jersey, Robert is fitting in swimmingly at G/L. He has opened all of our eyes to the possibilities Digital Marketing has to offer. We are excited to put Robert’s expert skills to work helping our clients reach new markets and expand their campaigns more effectively.

The new Digital Suite will offer:

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