6 Unique Ways Instagram Video Can Improve Your Marketing Strategies

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By now, you or someone you know has probably experimented with Instagram, snapping photos with your mobile device and posting them to your account, tagging different people and maybe even sharing them via Facebook and Twitter.

But have you ever tried Instagram Video? If you haven’t, it’s an awesome way to incorporate video into the marketing you’re already doing. Not only that, Instagram’s video capabilities will let you do more than Twitter’s Vine ever could!

For starters, Instagram Video offers up to 15 seconds of video recording time which beats Vine’s 6 seconds. You can also edit the video on Instagram by deleting a specific segment instead of having to delete the whole video at once.

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Instagram also brings their custom filters to their videos the same way you can use them on your photos and just like your photos, any video you create via Instagram can be seen by over 130 million people as opposed to 13 million users on Vine. Instagram Video is also available directly inside the mobile app so you don’t have to download an outside app and you can even scroll through to pick the best cover image for your video, which will help entice first-time viewers to click through to the video. Instagram videos also play in-line on Facebook for desktop users. Like YouTube and Facebook videos, a Facebook user can click and watch the clip right in their Facebook account after logging in.

Now that you’ve seen what makes Instagram Video stand out, here’s 6 different ways it can help improve your marketing strategies:

1) Shoot a Product Demo & Answer FAQs

Sometimes, rather than spending half an hour to an hour answering customer questions and inquiries via email or Twitter, it can be really beneficial to make a list of the most popular customer inquiries and use short Instagram videos to answer them.

If your customers have a lot of questions on how your product works, show them how through step-by-step instructions with narration so they can receive additional helpful info about your product. It’s a great value-add for your customers with the added bonus of being easy to follow and share, rather than paging through paragraphs of text or long pages of images.

2) Create a Visual Portfolio of Your Work

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A post shared by Verve Coffee Roasters (@vervecoffee) on

Remember the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’? Well a 15 second video has the potential communicate much more than a thousand words. Depending on the nature of your industry (this could work better if you’re in food/beverage, beauty, fashion/style, technology, digital media etc.), try shooting videos of recent work you’ve done for clients as a video look book for potential customers to look through.

Whether you’re a makeup artist wanting to share the latest glamorous looks or a café wanting to showcase a cake decorator’s skill, the possibilities for a video visual portfolio are endless!

3) Highlight Special Offers and Events

15 seconds is quite a long time to promote a special offer or event with video. If you’re holding a contest or if you have a special sale for a certain product/service (ie. massage), be sure to show fans and prospective customers what they can win or what they can purchase for the special sale.

Flipping the camera view mode to record a personal message to help promote the event or special sale helps add a personal touch to your marketing for your customer. Use the description field to emphasize the video message advertising the sale, contest or event and add a hashtag to track conversions and extend your reach. A short video might be just what you need to reach a larger audience.

4) Invite Fans & Followers Submissions Via Hashtags

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Invite your fans to submit an Instagram video with a hashtag of your choosing to enter a contest or help promote your live event. If your audience is on Instagram, this could be a great way to engage them and generate great UGC content and brand loyalty. It’s also a more organic way to get genuine content to promote your live event. Potential fans will be more likely to believe content their friends create and share as being genuine than that from a company.

5) Humanize Your Brand

Social media has blurred the lines of communication between companies and their audiences with brands increasingly turning to real-time, real life social engagement with their customers in order to compete in the marketplace. In turn, this creates a need for companies to be more transparent and open with their audiences.

Instagram videos offers brands an opportunity to do this in bite-sized chunks that showcase their style, their workplace culture and gives customers an inside look on how they do things. It helps a brand stand out from its competitors and connect with customers to show them they don’t have secrets to hide and build trust.

6) Increase Engagement on Facebook

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Videos and photos inspire the most engagement (comments, likes and shares) via Facebook. The fact that you’re allowed to view Instagram videos directly inside the Facebook browser can be a huge help to raising community engagement and allowing fans to leave their questions, comments and shares to the brand directly.

Conclusion

Instagram video gives you the flexibility to engage with potential customers and new fans in a variety of ways that not only increases engagement, but brings more user-friendly features to the table than Twitter’s Vine. Try it out and see how it can increase engagement amongst fans and improve your marketing strategies!

Stay tuned on here for more posts on different strategies for content marketing. But in the meantime, check out how mobile marketing can help you generate leads.

How to Turn Brand Advocates into Content Creators

It seems like brands everywhere can’t get enough high-value good quality content to fill their growing marketing needs. Content marketing isn’t exactly a new strategy but it has definitely taken off in the last 2 years. After spending the last few years focusing on building followers and social media ROI, marketers are now seeing the benefits of educating and entertaining their customers, fans and followers using quality content.

However, content marketing poses a few problems for marketers. Not only are fans and followers devouring content quicker than marketers can keep up, good quality content marketing also takes time and money. Many brands have taken to outsourcing content development and creating content, whether internally or externally, is expensive and brands are struggling to have their budgets meet demand.

With expert tips and tricks, you’ll learn how to leverage band advocates to get more content that is affordable, performs better and will solve your content problem.

Differences Between Brand Content & Advocate Created Content

Let’s be honest, not only is branded content expensive, with many companies spending up to 25% of their allotted budgets to create the content; most of that content is also pretty self-promotional. Consumers eventually get turned off by content that is too self-promotional. Advocate created content has an edge because it allows your brand story to be told through the eyes of others. Consumers find this type of content so trustworthy that advocate created content gets 10X more engagement than branded content. 84% of these consumers will trust honest reviews and recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising, according to the 2013 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey.

So how do you find out who your brand advocates are? Your brand advocates can be bloggers who review your products, customers who have had positive experiences and even your own employees. You can find and develop relationships with your brand advocates by searching through fans and followers on social networks and filtering through customer and employee databases.

Once you’ve found them, you can start encouraging them to share the content they’ve created. Here are 5 tips on how to do that:

1) Make It Easy

Your brand advocates will be more willing to share your content if you make it easier for them. Provide advocates with great available content. Even though advocates love your brand, they might not necessarily go out and look for content to share. Providing them with great available content lowers the barriers and increases the likelihood that they will create and share great content for your brand.

Example: Chipotle created an animated short known as the Scarecrow to illustrate how important it is to cultivate healthy, non-processed food is and incorporated a mobile game with the campaign. Not only did the YouTube video get 6 million views and turn viral, the content was shared numerous times by brand advocates and fans all over the world.

2) Help Them Get Started

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One way to encourage advocates to create short-form content (such as an Instagram video) or long-form content (ie. a blog post) is to give them a prompt to get started. Advocates may want to share, but they could be having trouble finding something to say. Giving them a topic or theme can go a long way to getting advocates to share content quickly.

Example: The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has simply asked celebrities and festival goers to share their favorite moments from the festival using the hashtag #TIFF14. Any content with the hashtag gets shared and collated across all social media platforms and helps break the ice for advocates wondering how to get started.

3) Don’t be Too Rigid

Giving advocates prompts or directions to help them get started is great, but be aware of being too restrictive. Advocates know their audiences best, so allow them to the freedom to customize messages that fit their audiences best.

4) Provide variety

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Providing advocates with content in different formats is a great way to ensure that they always have a variety of content to choose from. Videos from events and infographics are great examples of shareable content.

5) Keep it Fresh

Update your content and prompts every couple of weeks to make sure advocates always have opportunities to share new content. Also, inform advocates when new prompts are available so they can contribute

Re-purposing Advocate Content

Re-purposing advocate content on your brand-owned channels is a great way to thank your advocates and also maximize the reach of their content. Here’s another reason to repurpose that content: advocate content performs 7X better on brand owned channels than the brand’s own content.

Where to Re-purpose Advocate Content

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Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube are great platforms to repurpose advocate content because of the high visibility the channels provide brands. All these channels are great places to re-purpose videos, photos and any blog posts or articles.

Website

Showcasing advocate content on your website homepage, blog or dedicated page is a great way to thank you brand advocates for their great content and create a content hub that other uses can go to, to see the best of your advocate created videos, blog posts and photos.

Print

Whether it’s inside a bricks-and-mortar store or in a catalogue, taking digital images offline can help extend the lifetime of the content and help to maximize its ability to reach different audiences.

Conclusion

By engaging with brand advocates to share their content to supplement what brands are already doing on their own online and social channels, brands will see higher social engagement. Powering advocates to share their story helps companies to grow their businesses.

Stay tuned here every week to find more expert tips and tricks to creating better marketing campaigns and become a PR pro!

21 Awesome Online Tools to Make Your Business More Efficient

Technology is moving and changing at lightning speed in today’s day and age. If you don’t integrate at least some of the tools and cutting-edge platforms to help your marketing strategies and assist increasing your company’s productivity, you’re going to be left behind by the competition.

But, it’s not as simple as just pressing a button or learning HOW to use a tool or application. You need to have support for adopting new changes in your company from the senior management down to IT, marketing, sales and business development and an open environment to collaborate and share the knowledge on the new applications.

This blog post will cast the spotlight on the most popular cloud-based applications that your company should be using to improve creativity, productivity and efficiency.

The applications fall under the following categories:

• File sharing and collaboration tools that will help your business get projects done faster
• Social networking tools that make cross collaboration between teams easier
• Administrative tools that make managing manage projects, schedules and billing a breeze
• Tools that make sales, marketing and content management simple
• Misc. tools that will help you save time on managing your email and more time developing strategies

File Sharing and Collaboration Tools

1) Evernote

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Do you have Post-It notes scattered all over your desk and have a hard time keeping track of all the paper you take notes on during meetings? If this sounds like you, Evernote is the program for you.

With Evernote, you can capture, organize and write information that can be accessed using any device, even giving you the ability to read the text off of photos of notes you’ve taken. You can save and share information in your Evernote virtual notebook that can be shared with your team through Evernote Business.

You could create separate virtual notebooks for each client to keep track of business goals, campaign ideas and project notes. You can even create shareable notebooks for clients to look at, filled with informative web articles or ideas you’ve been ruminating on that you think they might like. When you’re researching on the web, Evernote’s Web Clipper can be your best friend because it allows you to capture and store screenshots of the web pages you’ve been looking at.

Cost: Individual Use: Free, Individual Premium Use: $5.00/month or $45.00/year and Evernote Business: $10/user/month

 

2) Dropbox

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By now, you’ve probably heard of Dropbox. It’s a cloud-based shareable hard drive that you can sync files, photos, videos and projects saved on your personal computer to your work computer or vice versa. When you make a change to a file, the updated version is automatically saved to Dropbox, so you’re working on the latest version no matter where you access it from. If you want to revert to working on an earlier version, you have the option to do that also.

Instead of attaching several files in an email, you can just send a link to the Dropbox folder. You can organize all your files into subfolders based on department, subject or client, so that every folder is shared with the right group of people.

Cost: Individual use: Free up to 2 GB of storage, Team use: Starts @ $795/year for 5 users with unlimited storage

 

3) Google Drive

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Google Drive is the new home for Google Docs where you can upload files and create spreadsheets and presentations to share with others. Any editing you do to the documents is automatically saved and you’re always working on the most recent version. Everyone can see the same version of the document without dozens of email threads with new attachments. Editors can highlight text and suggest changes with the comment tool and writers can hit the ‘Resolve’ button on each comment after the feedback has been incorporated.

Google Drive also has the benefit of being able to open 30 different file types right in your browser, even if you don’t have the appropriate program installed. (ie. you can see .psd files even without Photoshop). Just like with Dropbox, you can organize files into different subfolders and access the documents both on and offline. Google Drive can also recognize objects and text within images like Evernote!

Cost: Individual use: Free w/ 5 GB storage, Google Apps for Business: $5/user/month or $50/user/year

 

4) Google +

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There’s a great way you can interact and collaborate with your clients on Google + by using Google Hangouts. You can have live video chats with your clients while editing a Google Doc to write down campaign ideas. You can also share videos and documents over Google Hangouts too!

Cost: Free (Needs Google Email Account)


5) Microsoft Office 365

You can use the cloud version of Microsoft Office, email inboxes, calendars, instant messaging and file sharing. You have access to web versions of Office, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote with some pricing plans giving you access to the online version of Microsoft Sharepoint for document sharing and collaboration.

You can use the online versions in conjunction with the desktop version which will allow you to move documents back and forth without losing formatting.

Cost: Small business with 50 users: $6/user/month, midsize business or enterprise with 50k users (view files online but no editing)$8/user/month, Enterprise with 50k users (view files online & editing) $14/user/month

Internal Social Networks

6) Salesforce Chatter

With an internal social network like Chatter, you can ask questions, send files back and forth and get responses in real-time without overloading the email server. You don’t have to worry about it getting out of the office because Chatter is for your company only. You can create groups for specific clients to ask questions and provide feedback. It’s a great way to keep telecommuting employees and those in out-of-town conferences in the loop.

Cost: Basic Chatter for your company: Free, Chatter Plus: collaboration, customization with Salesforce CRM features $15/user/month

 

7) Yammer

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The enterprise social network provider is now part of Microsoft Office and you can use it to organize meetings and events and create groups for specific clients to house all the campaign ideas and project details.

Used in conjunction with MS Office, you can create an organization chart for your business so that everyone knows who’s who in each department.

Cost: Basic: Free, Yammer Enterprise: $3/user/month, Yammer Enterprise w/ Office 365: $8/user/month

 

8) Basecamp

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Basecamp is a simple project management platform that allows you to centralize all presentations, documents and meeting notes in one place. You can track and assign project milestones and keep track of the progress on your computer and on your mobile devices.

Basecamp doesn’t price by number of users so everyone involved in a particular project can access the platform to work together. You can control who works on which project and organize them based on their departments (ie. event planning, accounting). You can use the Discussion feature to keep track of all the different conversations and use email to reply to them so you don’t even have to log in.

You can coordinate everyone’s schedules and project milestones using the calendar and keep track of clients’ editorial calendars so you know what’s published when

Cost: $20/month for 10 projects with unlimited users & 3 GB of storage, $150/month for unlimited projects and users with 100 GB of storage

 

9) ActiveCollab

ActiveCollab is another easy-to-use project management system that includes the ability to create invoices and manage time. You can access projects by filtering searches by clients, label, assignee and more and you can break better tasks into sub-tasks and drag and drop project milestones into certain due dates.

You can even create quotes for new projects and mark them as ‘won’ or ‘lost’. If won, you can import the client contact information and start a new project based on the quote.

You can filter tracked time by billable and non-billable and populate a new invoice

Cost: Small business w/ unlimited users: $249/month, Corporate use w/ unlimited users (including time tracking & invoicing0: $399/month

 

10) Intervals

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Intervals is a web-based project management software that combines time and task management with reporting that allows you to see where time is being spent and adjust priorities accordingly.

There’s a built-in timer that you can use to calculate time spent on projects. You can put in task instructions and attach any accompanying files to help with a project such as research notes or website copy. You can track the evolving changes in a document and revert back to the previous version(s) if you choose. The reports help you view which clients you’re spending the most time on, which clients you need to bill, whether you need to hire someone to help with the workload and if you should be adjusting the hourly rate.

Cost: 40 projects, unlimited users, 15 GB of storage: $50/month, unlimited projects, unlimited users, 75 GB of storage: $150/month

 

11) Workamajig

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Workamajig is a web based project management system that combines task management, shared calendars, contact management, expense management, project requests, billing and more.

You can created customized templates for creative briefs, tasks, estimates and more-and you have the option to host it internally on your servers or on the Workamajig servers.

Cost: $38/user/month w/ minimum of 10 users

 

12) Trello

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The premise of Trello, another web based project management systems, is that you write tasks on “cards” like digital Post-It Notes and attach them to different boards labeled “Need to Research”, “Delivered to Client” etc. You can create as many cards as you want to keep track of where projects are at, assign people to them and once the projects are done, you can move the cards from “To Do” to “Done”.

Create cards for different content marketing projects and even create cards for employees to store meeting notes and feedback that they can easily access rather than interrupting them via email or in person. You stay updated on all your different boards and how projects are doing using Trello’s mobile app for iPhone and Android.

Cost: Free

Content Sourcing, Creation & Management Tools

13) Kapost

You can create and manage your entire editorial calendar with Kapost Calendar and even export them to your everyday work calendar (iCal, Outlook, or Google). You can assign different user permissions to all involved in the content management process, from all access to view only AND you can add clients so that they can take a look and give feedback and their approval.

When you have a content idea, you can email the Kapost platform for editors to review, approve and then it goes into the editorial calendar. You can categorize all content according to campaigns, content types etc.

Cost: Standard: $1200/year for 8 users, Pro: $3000/year for 20 users, Enterprise: Quote

 

14) Zerys

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Zerys is a content marketing and project management system that connects your company with qualified writers looking for opportunities to create content for your clients.

Post writing jobs, sample writers based on their expertise, review their work, negotiate rates and publish their work.

You can create questionnaires to ask clients what they are looking for in a project and you can then use that to create a job description for writers. It will help generate a lot of content for client blogs in a short amount of time and you can add your own company’s writers to the system.

Cost: Pricing is based on the per word rate you charge between $0.01 to $0.20

 

15) Contently

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Contently offers an editorial project management program along with a marketplace that connects brands, agencies and other companies with the talent that can complete content projects.

Using Contently, brands gain access to qualified writers that have already been vetted and writers gain access to self-promotional tools and visibility into how their content is performing.

You can create and manage your entire editorial calendar, schedule publishing times and due dates, manage approvals, editing workflows and you can automate content to publish on WordPress, Hubspot, Typepad or Tumblr.

Cost: You’ll have to ask Contently for pricing plans

 

Misc. Handy Tools

16) PassPack

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PassPack allows you to store all of your agency’s and clients’ passwords, grant access to team members on a need to know basis and it saves time by allowing you to log-in into the sites with the one-touch button to login that also works on mobile.

Cost: Up to 100 passwords for 1 user: Free, Pro: $1.50/month for up to 1,000 passwords and 3 users, Group: $4/month for up to 1,500 passwords and 15 users, Team: $12/month for up to 2,000 passwords and 80 users, $40/month for up to 10,000 passwords and 1,000 users

17) Rapportive

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Rapportive allows you to find out more about your email contacts by providing info about their social media activity right inside your Gmail inbox. You can see their interests and hobbies and connect with them on a variety of social media platforms.

It helps you put a face to the name of unknown contacts in email, use recent tweets and their LinkedIn profile to find common ground to help you tailor your conversations accordingly and follow them via social media without getting distracted and pulled away from your inbox.

Cost: Free!

 

18) Skitch

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It’s a screen capture, sketching and annotation tool that makes explaining a project to a client much easier. You can overlay text, draw simple arrows, shapes and lines and blur image sections to draw attention to certain areas. As Skitch is also an Evernote product, you can save all your Skitch notes and share them between all your devices.

You can use Skitch screenshots in blog posts, reports and in emails to your clients to help you illustrate your point.

Cost: Free!

 

19) Pixlr

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It’s a web-based, desktop and mobile photo editing tool that allows account managers and social media strategists to create and edit images without having to resort to spending large amounts of money for a Photoshop license. You can add Pixlr to Google Drive, edit your photos and re-save them on the Drive and you can easily edit any online image by clicking and dragging it to Pixlr using the Firefox and Chrome extensions. You get the mobile app to edit photos on the go when you’re away from the computer.

Cost: Pixlr Web-Based Editor: Free, Pixlr Express: Free, Pixlr Express Plus for Android & iPhone: $0.99

 

20) Pocket

Pocket lets you save everything online that you want to read later and tag them with different tags so they’re easy to organize and find when you’re ready. Pocket syncs content automatically across all your devices, so you can read it with or without an internet connection.

You can even sync Pocket bookmarks on your mobile devices to Evernote and manage your articles along with notes and ideas.

Cost: Free!

 

21) DocuSign

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With DocuSign, you can upload a document you need signed, indicate where a client needs to sign and the date and send it off with a customized note. Once they’ve signed off, you’ll get an email notification and you can start the project.

You can upload all kinds of contracts, NDAs and employee handbooks into DocuSign and save time and money on the printing process and turnaround time.

Cost: Free for 1 user w/ 5 signature/month, Professional: $15/user/month for 50 signatures/month, Workgroup: $20/user/month for 2-200 users and unlimited signatures, Enterprise: Get a quote

 

Check back here every week for more posts on how to become an expert on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, content development and management AND learn about new tools you can use to make marketing and running a business easier!

Attracting More Customers With Twitter and Vine

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So you’ve created an amazing Twitter profile for your company, complete with an eye-catching branded cover photo and profile image. You’ve started following key companies as well as industry influencers and bloggers in order to stay ahead of the competition and keep on top of what’s new and exciting.

You’ve started sharing cool tweets and updates of new products and tools you have, cool infographics and fun events and people are responding to them and sharing them with their networks. So, everything’s great on Twitter, right?

Well, you’re gaining followers and fans but you still feel like there’s more that you could be doing to help gain more of an audience and stay ahead of the competition via Twitter and other social media channels.

That’s where I come in. With this post, I’m going to give you a few secrets on to optimize your branded Twitter page for search and then bust a few myths about marketing on Twitter along the way.

Later, I’ll also give you some tips and tricks on how to attract customers by incorporating Vine into your marketing strategy.

6 Steps to Optimize Twitter for Search

1) Keep Your Handles Spam Free

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You can change your Twitter handle at any time, but make sure to keep it professional and unique. Don’t put too many numbers behind it because Google could mistake it for spam because there’s no way to differentiate between which ones are real and which ones aren’t.

2) Include Keywords in Your Bios

To improve SEO, include at least one keyword about your industry in your bio, but don’t overstuff it with keywords because it’ll look forced. A few keywords in an attention-catching bio deployed in the right way to help you increase your visibility on search results.

3) Build Your Reach

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Gaining an audience of high-quality followers in important for SEO purposes. Google checks the authority of every user who’s tweeting content, so make sure you share great quality content with legitimate Twitter accounts in order to raise your search ranking.

4) Create a Subset of Keywords

Your business should have a set of keywords it tries to rank for, but not all of them translate over to Twitter. Analyze the keywords through various tools and pick a smaller subset that are easier to tweet on a semi-regular basis to raise your ranking.

5) Keep Tweets in the Safe Zone

To make sure your SEO-optimized tweets aren’t deleted when someone re-tweets them, try to aim for status update lengths of between 120-130 characters. That way, re-tweets have some leg room and you’ll also improve click-through rates (CTRs) on your tweets.

6) Fuel Your Inbound Links

Posting updates that people love retweeting will boost your optimization efforts and Google analyzes the number of followers who retweet your content and ranking your retweeted link-the Twitter equivalent of an inbound link. So make sure whatever you share catches enough attention that people want to retweet it.

Busting Twitter Marketing Myths

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Myth #1: Having a Twitter Account for Longer Time Period is Better than a Shorter One

Your presence on Twitter isn’t measured by how long you’ve been a member, but the value that you provide which translates into followers and engagement. To increase your value, make sure you provide high-quality content and don’t spend all your time simply trying to sell your products and services.

Myth #2:Tweeting every second of the day is better than tweeting fewer times

Everyone knows that tweets have a short shelf life but that doesn’t mean you should be tweeting every single second. When you tweet every second, your older updates will move down your followers’ news feeds and having constant updates can irk your followers pretty quickly. So remember that tweeting too many times can irk your current fans and decrease the likelihood of getting more followers.

Myth #3: Following industry influencers is better than following customers

Many businesses will follow industry leaders to gain insights into what they think and follow competitors to keep on top of what they’re doing, but they ignore customers. Don’t ignore your customers, if they care enough to like and share your content, you should give them some of that love and respect back and reciprocate by following them to see what’s been going on.

Now that you have a better grasp of how to master Twitter, here are some tips on how to incorporate Vine into your marketing strategy

How to Incorporate Vine

By now, you’ve probably heard about Vine. It’s an app that allows you to capture and share short videos that are 6 seconds or shorter. It compliments the 140 character limit on Twitter nicely and gives you more of a chance to be creative in a shorter timeframe.

You can use Vine to expand your video library and incorporate more videos into your marketing strategy. You can also share them via your Twitter updates quickly and easily. Unlike longer videos, Vine’s ability for quick uploads and easy-to-use interface gives you the freedom to experiment with different topics and images without having to worry about video production quality.

6 Ideas to Inspire Vine Videos
1) Sneak peeks to promote an upcoming event or webinar. (ie. speaker clips)
2) Product demos featuring a particular feature or tool
3) Clips showing new gear and products in action
4) Behind the scenes look at the office culture
5) Short case studies of customers using your products
6) Clips highlighting your company participating in community events

A great way to encourage engagement with your followers with Vine is to pose a question to all of them and post the answers in the form of short and snappy Vine videos, as a video Q&A or shortened version of a Google Hangout.

Once the questions come in, a moderator will tell your followers which questions are being answered and when to expect the video. Once a video is produced, you can automatically share it via Twitter. In an hour-long Twitter chat, you can produce anywhere from 15-20 short video responses.

If you’re going to do a Vine Twitter chat, make sure you have one person monitoring responses via Twitter, one person in charge of the filming and one expert on camera answering the questions. Make sure you always have a backlog of good questions collected from Twitter on hand so you can produce the videos faster AND when you post the video make sure you use the chat’s hashtag AND include the expert’s Twitter handle.

How to Measure Twitter and Vine ROI

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Twitter has two purposes that you need to be measuring: Business Generated through Leads and Twitter Database/Follower Growth.

To measure business growth from Twitter, you need to look at two elements: how many visits you’ve had to your website through links you’ve placed on Twitter and how many new contacts (ie. sign up for an e-book, enter their email addresses, contacted you) those visits have generated.

You can measure your Twitter database growth using 3 different metrics: Measure how many followers you gain from month and month (which allows you to see which campaign tactics have been working and which ones haven’t), daily follower growth and how many link clicks you’re getting from these followers. You can use a tool like TwitterCounter to help measure your follower growth over time.

Tracking Vine is a little trickier, but there are a couple of ways. You can add hashtags to status updates with links to Vine videos and hashtags are trackable using tools like TweetReach. You can then search for the custom hashtag you used for the Vine video and see how many tweets the hashtag received, how many impressions and how many people it reached. You can also see the month-to-month growth of followers on your Vine account.

Stay tuned for more posts on how to better utilize Vine and Twitter in your marketing strategies!

15 Cool Tips to Help Your Business Master Pinterest

By now, you’ve probably seen numerous Pinterest boards floating around online. Whether it’s a friend of yours sharing her board full of wedding inspiration and desires or sharing recipes, it’s a fair bet you’ve been shown several Pinterest boards full of fun and interesting hobbies.

But is it just a fun way to create galleries of all the things you love and share them with friends or is there more to it? Can you actually capitalize on Pinterest’s popularity for your business? The short answer is yes.

With this post, I’m not only going to show you some compelling reasons on why you should be using Pinterest for your business, but I’m also going to give you some cool tips on how to master the platform.

Why You Should Be Using Pinterest for Your Business

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Pinterest is a network that gives consumers the ultimate freedom: they can create boards and search for others based on their own interests and hobbies. By having a presence on the platform, you’re increasing the chance of your business being top-of-mind for consumers looking for certain interests, products or services AND the opportunity for them to pin images of your products and services to their boards.

According to comScore, Pinterest users spend more money on more products, more often than any other user on the other top 5 social media sites. Not only that, but Pinterest also receives an estimated 85,500,00 unique visitors in one month alone, according to eBiz.

Pinterest can drive web traffic back to your company website too. Placing the ‘Pin It’ button on any image on your company page will help drive traffic back to your website because every single one of your pins will include a link to the original source.

Convinced yet? Ready to create a Pinterest business account? Here’s how you do it:

How to Create a Business Pinterest Account

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Go to http://business.pinterest.com to set up your business account and click the red button that says “Join As a Business”. Select a business type, add all the contact details, including a password. Then fill out your profile including a company logo, a description of the company, your username and your website URL.

Here’s a tip for the business type you choose: The business type you choose with help your account rank on more relevant searches and provide relevant fields on your page

Three easy steps to create a business Pinterest account. So now that you have a business Pinterest account, how do you go about using it to elevate your business?

Here’s the list of 15 cool tips to help your business master Pinterest:

top15 pinterest tips

1) Promote Your Pinterest Account Across Other Platforms-Add the Pinterest button to your website and promote your account through your other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Consider launching a Pinterest contest and writing a fun blog post about it on your website

2) Create a Board on a Specific Topic (Ie. Weddings, Brunch Recipes, Classic Cars)-Taking this approach allows you to attract users passionate about a specific topic. Create resourceful boards using a few core keywords that you already use in your SEO strategy. Having such a board means being ready to add other users’ pins to enhance your collection.

3) Engage W/ Others’ Pins-Follow users that you want to follow you back. Like and comment on their pins; when they see you interacting with their pins, they might be more likely to follow you

4) Avoid Human Faces in Photos-Data shows that photos without human faces are shared 23% more than images with faces in them

5) Be Selective W/ Your Color Choices-Data shows that images with dominant colors of red, dark green and pink are shared 3X as much as images that don’t have them. Red or orange images are also re-pinned twice as often

6) Try creating a User Generated Board-Similar to the ideas I floated in my post about getting more sales through UGC campaigns; by allowing prolific users to contribute their own pins, you open up your marketing to an entirely new world of valuable content by involving fans.

7) Highlight Happy Customers-Encourage customers to send you photos or take photos of them at your next event-using your product or service!

8) Promote Your Blog Content-Use photos that could be successful on Pinterest for your blog posts. By pinning those images on Pinterest, you will drive traffic directly back to your posts!

9) Host a Contest-Another idea plucked from my previous post, asking dedicated users to take the time to create their own boards demonstrating what they love about your brand, products & services gives your fans agency and tells them you valued their input in your marketing. They’ll love you even more when you tell them that the best pinboard will win a prize!

10) Add the Pin It button to your website-Make it easy for people to share images from your website

11) Add Links to the Pin Descriptions-Adding links to the descriptions of your images on Pinterest will drive traffic back to your main website, which allows you to measure how useful the platform is compared to your other social media presences

12) Build a Video Gallery-YouTube and Vine aren’t the only places where you can share videos! Build a library of videos about your products and services along with relevant images to catch fans’ attentions

13) Use Hashtags-Hashtags make content more search-friendly and it can help you leverage a marketing campaign on multi-channels such as Facebook and Twitter

14) Feature Offline Events-Create a pinboard with the best photos and videos from your events to help promote buzz for the next one.

15) Embed Posts on Your Website-You can easily embed a Pinterest post on your website and increase the visibility of your Pinterest account on other websites

Hope these tips will help your business jumpstart new marketing campaigns on Pinterest and stay tuned for Part 2 of How to Master Pinterest for Your Business.

Turn Dedicated Fan Content Into Sales for Your Company in 4 Easy Steps

With the rise of cool techniques on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Vine, consumers are consistently finding new ways to create, share and consume more content on a daily basis.

Consumer-created content isn’t just popular, it also has the power to influence other consumers.
How many times have you watched a how-to video posted to YouTube by a fellow user to learn how to create a certain design in Photoshop? Or read a restaurant review on Urban Spoon from another patron that ultimately led you to decide to NOT eat there? Or, even just seen a friend’s beautiful travel photos on Facebook and wanted to travel to the destination yourself?

We’ve all made decisions about products we want to purchase, restaurants we want to experience and destinations we want to travel to, based on user-generated content (UGC).

But how influential is it really? Millennials report that user-generated content (UGC) is 20% more influential on their purchases than any other type of media.

And yet, many retailers still aren’t capitalizing on the popularity and influence of social content.

In 4 steps, I’m going to show you how to convert influential and authentic consumer content into sales for your company.

Step #1: How to Build a Library of User-Generated Content

#GEInspiredMe Pinterest UGC campaign

#GEInspiredMe Pinterest UGC campaign

You can capitalize on getting value from consumer content by using one of the most powerful tactics: building your own UGC marketing campaign.

Building your own UGC marketing campaign allows you to use this word-of-mouth strategy to automate the content collection process. You don’t have to reach out to individual consumers to request permission to reuse their content and it collates all of the valuable consumer feedback in one place.

So what are some easy ways to create a UGC campaign?

Start with a hashtag campaign. Make it easy for consumers to enter the campaign with a designated hashtag. The beauty of hashtags is that they’re a common feature across many platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine, which allows your fans to choose how and where they want to participate; allowing you to pull off a cross-platform campaign easily.

Branded hashtag campaigns can be powerful calls-to-action across all platforms, including TV, social and print.

Take, for example, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s marketing campaign for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They wanted to ‘own’ winter and establish it as Canada’s identity and they did this by creating the #WeAreWinter campaign, the largest ad campaign ever for the COC.

With social media as the prominent platform, #WeAreWinter featured well-known Canadian Olympians (and their social profiles) talking about how winter is at the core of who Canadians are. Documentary-style videos on the re-designed Olympic.ca helped tell the stories of the lesser-known athletes and showcased the drive and determination of the medal hopefuls.

The end result? The hashtag #WeAreWinter was used over 500,000 times on Twitter in Canada, over a million times worldwide, and was trending worldwide on the final days of the Olympics.

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Country Living Magazine’s Pinterest Page

If Pinterest is one of your major platforms, consider running a contest on it. Take the Pinterest contest run by Country Living Magazine. They asked pinners to follow the Country Living Pinterest page, launch a new Pinterest board entitled “My Country Living Dream Bedroom,” and pin at least 10 items that represent their dream bedroom (5 of which needed to be pinned from CountryLiving.com), all tagged with #countryliving and #dreambedroom. To submit their entry, pinners were required to comment on the contest’s pin with a link to their pinboard.

Whether you’re holding a Pinterest contest or having fans enter into a cross-platform hashtag campaign, here are some tips to get a UGC marketing campaign on the go:

• Offer an incentive for fans to share & tag their content, whether it’s a prize or a chance to be featured on your home page.
• Promote the contest/campaign inside stores if you have a bricks & mortar presence.
• Put a CTA for the campaign on or inside product packaging
• Include a CTA in your e-newsletters
• Promote the campaign through all of your social channels & share the best fan entries

Step #2: Capturing Data from Campaign Participants

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Suave #RadiantWishes Sweepstakes

When you’re running a UGC campaign, it’s important that you remember to comply with legal guidelines by having your consumers agree to the terms and conditions.

After having fans send out a hashtag tweet to enter a contest, you can send them a custom response form thanking them for their entry and asking them to accept terms and conditions in order to claim the prize.

Sign up forms are also a great way to have fans grant permission to allow your company to use their content across multiple platforms. You can also use them to capture any consumer info you choose, from demographics to contact info and hobbies. Leverage the data you receive from sign up forms to better understand your consumer base, learn their preferences and to tailor future marketing campaigns accordingly.

Also, by enabling opt-ins for your email campaigns and allowing your consumers to receive updates about future promotions, you can now build an owned audience and create deeper connections with fans on your social platforms and through your website.

Step #3: Turn Your Website into a Social Hub

Burberry's UGC campaign for their famous trench coats

Burberry’s UGC campaign for their famous trench coats

When you create a cross-platform UGC marketing campaign, don’t forget to include your website. Save the best entries, photos & hashtagged images from your UGC campaigns and display them on a dedicated landing page on your site.

Displaying rich, engaging user-generated content on your website not only drives up web traffic but increases opportunities for users to share their own content, as well as content from other users that they enjoy.

Here are some tips on how to showcase UGC across multiple platforms:

• Create online displays via your website and social media platforms that promote holidays and seasonal offerings such as winter recipes or a summer product line
• If you have a bricks & mortar store, put up a prominent display in store with the site URL
• Ensure that you place reviews and comments on specific products on those product pages
• Pull quotes from your website and use them across the social platforms
• Run a Pinterest board with your favorite user submitted how-tos/styles/photos
• Run an email campaign with users wearing/using your products & drive traffic from the campaign to a branded landed page on your website full of UGC.

Step #4: Drive Sales & Measure the Results

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Don’t just display user-generated content, employ tactics to actively drive sales. Associate UGC with product-related content as much as possible across your website, email campaigns and social media platforms, providing a clear path to conversion.

Easy ways to do this include placing a link to the product page behind each photo, making it easier for users to click through and buy or link to pages that display products in seasonal collections or for certain occasions.
By including trackable links with each piece of content, you easily track visits, shares, views and ultimately sales. By measuring the results of each piece of content, you can make informed decisions about what content works and how you can include it in your overall strategy.

Stay tuned for more on content marketing, including a post on how to turn brand advocates into content creators for your company!

Common Mistakes Made in Inbound Marketing

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After doing some research, I came across a great e-book on the ins and outs of inbound and outbound marketing. As a marketing student, years ago, we’d been taught that any internal communications meant creating newsletters and memos within the company and external was any type of communication/marketing that we would send out via direct mail, email, magazine ads, radio ads, etc. to the consumer.

But, the terminology and the strategies have changed. So what exactly is inbound marketing? Here’s the definition I found:

Inbound Marketing:

The process of helping potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turning that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.”

So what fits into the definition of inbound marketing? Content is the crucial key inside inbound marketing. Utilizing everything from blog posts and videos to white papers, case studies and free trials, you can create content that educates, inspires and compels your audience to share it with their networks. This content can take the form of articles, webinars, white papers, eBooks, slide presentations, videos and more, and can be shared via blogs, third-party sites, and social media where your prospects “find” you.

By placing SEO-optimized keywords in your content as well as using social media such as Facebook, Twitter & Google+, blog syndication sites like Business 2 Community and even social media clout sites such as Empire Avenue to promote your content; prospects will be able to find you online. Doing this can help you maximize your reach and increase traffic to your blog.

But, mistakes in inbound marketing can happen.

How Inbound Marketing Goes Wrong

  • Your aim is too wide: You spend too much time running “carpet-bombing” style campaigns, under the belief that they will reach the most people and then wonder why you don’t produce better results. To connect with prospective buyers –you need to switch to delivering high-quality content to the right people in an engaging way – and doing so across multiple channels.
  • Some prospects find you, others don’t know you exist:  There are two things happening here. First, some people don’t realize they should or could seek you out. Think about it: If you don’t know about something, you can’t search for it. You may not be sharing the right type of content or sharing it in the right place for your prospect to find it. For example, you might create white papers about your product, but if prospects are searching on terms related to their problems and you only talk about your solution, potential buyers probably won’t find your content.
  • Others may know you exist, but don’t understand what you do: Think about all the companies whose blog posts you read or Twitter accounts you follow. Do you really know what each of them does? You must share your content where your prospects spend time, taking into consideration industry- and location-focused sites and other venues, and even less popular social media sites. The key is to understand where your prospects spend time and then to establish a presence there
  • You aren’t reaching the decision makers: Why? It’s unlikely that CXOs are going to spend time trolling the web for blogs or other content. It’s far more likely that they assign this exercise to someone working for them.
  • Sometimes you can’t break through the noise: Many times companies pour lots of effort into their inbound marketing around big events such as trade shows. Unfortunately, that is the hardest time to get noticed.

In a future blog post, I’ll be focusing more on how to balance out some of these mistakes in inbound marketing with a hybrid strategy that includes outbound marketing.  For more content strategies & tips, check out my post on 22 Ideas to Beat Writers’ Block.

-Lilian

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Top 5 Marketing Resolutions Every Business Should Make for 2013

New Year's Resolution 2013

Now that it’s officially 2013, have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?  Are you planning to travel more, lose weight or try a new hobby?

I’d be the first person to admit that personal New Year’s resolutions are tough to keep; but I’m a huge believer in making professional resolutions for continual growth, new business opportunities and networks.

If you work for a business, own a business or are interested in starting your own business, now is the time to create new goals in marketing to help your business succeed and thrive.  If you’re stuck on what to focus on first when it comes to your marketing plan, here are top 5 resolutions in marketing that can help you get started:

  • Think More Strategically: In marketing, it’s vital that everything you do, all of your tactics and campaigns are tied together by a strategic thread. If you’re working on a print ad, does it advertise your website and your social media presence? If you’re running a promotion or contest, is it linked to your website, your print collateral and your social media platforms? Any and all decisions that you make in marketing should have a rationale behind them and be connected to one another to create one cohesive marketing strategy.
  • Write More!- The key to getting any audience engaged into a conversation is content. Not just fluffy content for the sake of having content on your blog, but well-written, fresh and relevant content.  This is exactly what your audience is looking for when they want to get to know a company. Content is what will increase traffic and provide more leads as more and more people are drawn to your website and social media platforms.
  • Give For the Sake of Giving:  A lot of marketing plans operate on the premise of giving to get something out of it, such as asking prospective customers to fill out a form in order to download a new e-book. But, try giving your prospective customers something and asking for nothing in return-even using the same piece of content. There’s a lot you could do with the same content-leverage it on your blog, tweet tips on Twitter or create infographics and reference them in customer conversations. When you focus you marketing efforts on social education as well as lead generation, the brand loyalty, audience engagement and ultimately business it generates is usually higher than anything else you could ever ‘not’ ask for.
  • Build Rapport & Be An Engager: Too often in the fast-paced business world, people’s interactions with each other end with the exchange of business cards or a “Thanks for the follow” on Twitter without any real relationship or rapport being built. Spend some time building and maintain your social relationships, through leaving notes to your community, a well-thought out blog response or a private message to say thanks. It’s so easy to read or listen without saying anything. You wouldn’t leave a party without saying goodbye to your host and thanking them for having you, would you? Try leaving a personalized message to build rapport, it’ll go miles.
  • Effective Promotion-Commit yourself to regularly promoting and sharing your website and/or blog across multiple platforms. Syndicate your content on sites like Business 2 Community and Social Media Today and share your content on all the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Leverage your content with your own professional network of contacts and start communicating with the top influencers and thought leaders in your industry, making sure that all your content is interlinked to encourage your audience to explore your presence across all platforms.

Environmental Communication & Sustainability: Ineffective?

Although the concept of sustainability and environmentalism has existed for decades, I became more involved with learning about sustainability through interacting with activists, consultants and businesses alike in the sustainable sector two years ago. Enrolling in a special topics course on Environmental Communications & Climate Change opened my eyes to the issues facing climate change and environment and more specifically, the challenges of communicating with the general public about the environment.

Environmental communication interests me because of two central issues: does terminology play a part in the effectiveness of environmental communication and what medium is most effective at influencing people on issues on the environment? A former classmate of mine mentioned during a recent conversation that he wanted to de-emphasize the fact that his janitorial company used ‘green’ cleaning products because he believed that the word ‘green’ is overused and therefore passé.

Is being sustainable really passé or is it just the language? How could educating the public about the environment and creating awareness around an alternative lifestyle-a sustainable one-be outdated? I believe that when it comes to sustainability and the environment, it comes down to the language and the terminology we use to talk about the subject.  If ‘green’ is considered passé and ‘eco’ is considered to be overused and perhaps outdated, perhaps what we need to do is to start referring to ‘green’ products, issues and concepts as ‘environmentally sustainable’. Certainly, it’s not as catchy, but it has the benefit of being true and it describes the heart of environmental communication in two words that you could never do with ‘eco’ or ‘green’.

Terminology and language aside, the other issue with environmental communication that fascinates me is the question of how you discover which medium is more effective at raising awareness on environmental and sustainability issues and how to influence audiences’ behaviors accordingly. Activist Tzeporah Berman once told me in a phone interview from her home on Cortes Island that it doesn’t matter if twenty, thirty years from now, everyone on earth is driving an electric car,  because it would do very little to reduce our carbon footprint. Why is that? Mainly because while a new behavior is introduced, we have yet to let go of all the other habits that lead to environmental harm.

On a local level, I sat down with Andy Orr, who is responsible for corporate communications for the CRD for the Greater Victoria region late last year. We both agreed that much of the behavior of the general public had yet to change in relation to sustainability because suitable and-permanent-alternatives were not available. Take the example of using reusable cloth bags. Certainly, I can use cloth bags for any of my shopping and storage needs, but what about garbage? As I pointed out to Mr. Orr, no one is about to spend money on cloth bags only to throw them out with the garbage. If the general public does not use plastic bags for their garbage, what suitable, biodegradable environmental alternative is available, that is also strong enough to handle heavy and really soiled items? We both agreed that while introducing reusable bags to the general public was a good idea, however, it only introduced a new behavior; it didn’t eliminate other behaviors, because permanent alternatives had yet to be introduced. On the issue of environmental communication, he expressed concern that transitioning over to social media to spread the message of composting would not only alienate the CRD’s existing audience but reduce creditability of the organization.

And would it? Certainly, there seem to be two camps within the sustainable sector that are involved with social media: the activists and the eco-consumerists. I’ve personally seen Twitter and Facebook accounts from activists such as Tzeporah on her initiatives such as Power UP Canada, active blogs such as the DeSmog Blog from Kevin Grandia, among others as well as larger environmental activist organizations like Greenpeace. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have businesses who have built their companies on selling eco-friendly, sustainable products from household items to gifts for pets such as local business The Good Planet Company.  For businesses and individuals such as these, utilizing social media to raise awareness and attract customers and activists does work. Why? Because their audiences utilize social media on a daily, sometimes even hourly basis.

But where does a government organization fit in with the medium of social media? Individual political campaigns nonwithstanding, how does a government organization devote time and resources to utilize social media to raise awareness of their initiatives with a NEW target audience and not neglect nor alienate their current audience? In our conversation, I didn’t have a ready answer for Mr. Orr. But after giving it some thought, I believe that it comes down to two things: individual target markets and the skills of the people who belong to that organization. If the organization contains individuals who are comfortable and knowledge about social media, give them the opportunity to reach out to new target markets on the issue of composting and devote the rest of your resources to the existing audiences.