4 questions to evaluate your brand’s online presence

Nowadays, every brand – big or small – needs a consistent online presence. An articulated, strategically planned, cost-effective presence is the ideal scenario, but not always the case. Reasons why a carefully developed online presence is necessary are multiple and fairly obvious:

  • Increasing the brand’s value
  • Boost revenue
  • Improve brand-audiences communication
  • Get valuable data from interactions

On the bright side, it’s good to notice that most brands make – or have made – significant efforts to build their online presences, though the results tend to be more diverse than successful. While there’s no common ground for evaluating pure success, we’ve made a small questionnaire to help shine a light on a brand’s online presence status – assuming they have one, of course. Here it goes:

4-questions

  1. What do you know about your audiences? How did they start following you? Did you get them through paid campaigns or because of your awesomeness? Can you define your audiences using real data? Knowing who you’re dealing with makes things a lot easier for everyone, trust us.
  1. What are the interactions like? How do your audiences react to what you post? What percentage of your follower base interacts with your posts? Do they communicate with you? What are they saying? What are you saying? Reaping the benefits of great interactions requires both a strategy and an eye for detail to cover spontaneous situations. While the first can be defined beforehand, the second must be trained.
  1. Is there a strategy? Are you following a plan or just going where the wind blows? How is it working? What would you change?
  1. Is data driving your decisions? Information – in the form of hard data – should drive at least a portion of the things you do. A/B testing is a relatively inexpensive way to gather useful data about your online actions – from eyeballs to conversions, it shows what works and what doesn’t. Also, following up on the brand’s multiple actions – i.e. emailing campaigns, content uploads, responses – is a valid way to improve the quality of its online presence.

The questions above are useful to get an initial picture of the brand’s online presence. In addition, keeping track of related variables is a good habit and it will save both time and money in the future. Remember: asking the right questions is the first step towards the the right path.

Better safe than sorry: research is your campaign’s parachute

 

Before the explosion of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s, people were über-optimistic about the internet. The sky was the limit, and everyone involved felt invincible. Plainly speaking, during the second half of the ‘90s, websites became hot. Eventually, this statement proved itself right: websites were actually hot, but the hype surrounding them proved to be much hotter. As a result of distorted expectations, distorted investments were made and when collection day finally arrived, reality landed a hard punch on the digital business’ face. While some digital brands survived (and eventually thrived), thousands went straight down the drain.

Things are different now. Unlike 1997, people nowadays know a lot more about the internet. Developers, investors and users have come to terms with the ever-growing, fast-changing digital realm, and arguably understand that while things evolve fast, ‘maturity’ is a slippery, unpractical concept to rely on. Of course, blind bets over so-called ‘unicorn companies’ do happen here and there, but knowledge and data carry more weight now than they did 20 years ago. In this era of constant novelty, hype must be backed by real data. That’s why research is a must when it comes to plan a digital campaign, product launch or strategy.

When it comes to developing new digital strategies, the dot-com bubble should always act as a guiding light. It still works as a perfect example of how the ‘hype driver’ can hurt a company and the relationship with consumers. While the scale is different, we often come across examples of hype-driven ideas – for example, brands telling us that they want to develop a strategy that involves Snapchat, because ‘millions (internet) users are into it’. Thing is, Snapchat – or Facebook, Instagram and whatever you can think of – doesn’t work in a vacuum. Moreover, platforms like this live for an opposite concept: they are networks, all functioning under different sets of rules and offering different possibilities in multiple scenarios at the same time. What’s good for a brand might be terrible for another, and what proved right yesterday might be over now. Deciding to get into something for the sake of hype and popularity is nothing but repeating late ‘90s mistakes. And this is when research comes up as a valuable player.

We’re not stating that research would’ve prevented the bubble, nor that it will inoculate brands against future mistakes. But it will definitely reduce the risks associated to the (many) novelty items and moves that are now available (and growing). That’s the main reason why brands should at least give it a go before making up their minds over something. For us, it’s an obligation to be skeptic, to analyze the options that will lead to a great solution. We can’t afford to bandwagon whatever’s hot this week. As history shows, it’s not good for business.

Towards a peak content scenario? Opportunities beyond the noise

 

More than 5 billion pieces of content are being produced every day, including +100,000  articles and +2 million blog posts. Along with technology and connectivity, content is one of the Internet’s backbones, an essential part that makes the digital revolution not only possible, but also very real.

In a broad sense, content is everything that can be labeled as ‘digital data’. However, we often use the word ‘content’ when referring to the text, video, audio and images that make most of our online experiences as users. Nowadays, we’re experiencing an explosion of content, a truly unique series of events that are new to the history of mankind. Think about this: an average connected citizen consumes more content in a couple of days than the average citizen did over a lifetime a hundred years ago. Established publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post or BuzzFeed create, edit and upload 200+ content pieces each and every day, 24/7 – and we’re not counting their Facebook status’ updates, tweets and other social media uses.

In addition, the towering numbers of content production, distribution and consumption do not live in a vacuum. An increasing number of people is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of content they consume. Tweets, emails, status updates, news, events, viral videos, episodes, articles! The content wheel spins faster and faster, and at the same time the connectivity and technology supporting it only gets better and better. It’s actually hard not to feel overwhelmed by this scenario. Given the facts and feelings that surround the content proliferation, question arises: are we heading towards a peak-content scenario?

You can tell a question is good when the answer is not clear. And no, we can’t tell if a peak content scenario is near, or even possible. On the other hand, we can tell that an increasing number of people may not be enjoying the current situation, and thus we try to improve it within our field of expertise. It’s not an easy task, but a necessary one, especially for the brands that can’t afford to get themselves lost in the noise.

So, what to do? Since every brand is a universe, instant solutions are a no-go. A series of steps, on the other hand, can be taken in order to take action:

  1. Know where your brand stands. Content per se isn’t a marketing messiah. There are brands who need it, others that need to improve it and, most likely, a bunch who are doing just fine with their current strategies. In-depth evaluation always comes first.
  1. Plan the next moves. Time to create, improve (and update) the strategy. Once you know where your brand stands, you can set goals and get things going.
  1. Take action. When it comes to content, taking action doesn’t necessarily mean creating more of it. Maybe it’s time to focus on quality over quantity, or perhaps to reach different audiences with new messages. The key is to improve the brand-user relationship, and each relationship has different issues that can be attacked from different angles.

To conclude, we believe that a peak content scenario will be tackled not only by digital marketing specialists like ourselves, but also by technology (something that is already happening). Segmentation tech is constantly improving, and that’s good news for everyone out there. However, until we get there, we’ll have to deal with the current state of things, the good ol’ reality. To do that, we must understand it and act in consequence to achieve what we want.