Great Visual Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

Great Visual Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

Marketing

At a time when people upload 1.8 billion images a day, visual storytelling is table stakes for most businesses to be relevant to consumers. But sharing one’s brand through images and video content is not always easy. Just as developing Web copy and blog content requires effective writing skills, visual storytelling demands close attention to how images create an emotional connection like no other communication medium.

Fortunately, businesses can learn from each other by example, and not necessarily from inside their own industries. For instance, it does not matter whether you sell bathroom fixtures or books: you can learn a lot from the automotive industry about visual storytelling. Automotive companies, ranging from dealers to aftermarket businesses, need to express themselves visually to succeed. (When was the last time you considered a new car purchase just by reading about the latest models?) Here are some automotive brands that are dialed in and know how to employ visual storytelling:

Humanizing a Brand

Subaru consistently uses video and imagery to inspire consumers to think of the human dimension of owning a car. For instance, to launch the 2017 Impreza model, Subaru rolled out video ads (offline and online) that tell the story of a little boy packing his bags and leaving home. Under the watchful eye of his parents, he packs the back of the family Subaru with his beloved personal possessions, including a sleeping bag and baseball bat. The end of the ad, though, reveals a heart-rending plot twist: the little boy is a young man leaving home in his Subaru. His parents are watching him through the lens of nostalgia. The ad tells a dramatic story of growing up and leaving home, with the Subaru playing a supporting role. As an old guy with a daughter graduating college, I think this ad particularly hits home. Here is a smart way to introduce a product — without saying a word about features and functionality. Subaru does it better than most and kudos to their marketing team and agency for brilliant work.

Connecting a Brand to a Lifestyle

On the other hand, NAPA Auto Parts builds its own brand by connecting its name to the excitement of automobile racing. NAPA does an exceptional job creating brand buzz through its sponsorship of drivers with popular racing bodies such as INDYCAR and NASCAR. And NAPA employs plenty of visual storytelling on its blog and social spaces to keep fans abreast of the performance of its sponsored drivers,  such as Alexander Rossi:

Of course, automobile racing lends itself to the excitement of video, and NAPA is happy to accommodate. For example, on its YouTube channel, NAPA shares video content that celebrates its drivers while building awareness for the brand value of “NAPA Know How.” The following video, for instance, effectively uses visual content plus narration to celebrate the way that Know How, skill, speed, and teamwork come together to create success with its professional drivers:

NAPA knows that sponsoring professional racers associates its brand with the distinct elements of automobile racing and uses visual storytelling to maximize the value of its sponsorships.

Providing Insight

J&P Cycles Parts & Service, the world’s largest aftermarket motorcycle parts and accessories provider, does an exceptional job using visual storytelling to provide practical “how to” knowledge.  For instance, on its YouTube channel, J&P Cycles shows visitors how to install bike accessories such as seats and brake pads. A recently posted video takes you into a cycle shop to show you how to upgrade a cycle for less than $2,000, and if you want to learn how to install mirrors on a Harley-Davidson, J&P Cycles will show you how:

Those are just some of the videos available on the J&P Cycles DIY Motorcycle Upgrades and How-To Videos Channel on YouTube.  You can also find more how-to videos on the J&P Cycles website, including tips on battery installation.

By providing how-to videos, J&P Cycles is really demonstrating customer empathy. J&P Cycles knows that the purchase of an aftermarket product is hardly the end of the experience. The real moment of truth arrives when a customer installs the product.

What You Can Learn

These examples of visual storytelling apply to any brand. For instance, businesses that provide any kind of professional service can emulate the J&P Cycles example by using video to share thought leadership. A good way to get started with visual storytelling is to first map out your paid, earned, and owned media strategy, and figure out where visual storytelling can play a role. Subaru clearly understands how to apply visual storytelling to evoke emotion for paid media. J&P Cycles has done a nice job of integrating video to enhance customer service as part of an owned media approach.

How do you apply visual storytelling? What lessons have you learned?

Tips for Promoting Higher Education on Instagram

Tips for Promoting Higher Education on Instagram

Marketing

Some recently published statistics demonstrate the rising influence of Instagram. For instance:

These statistics are surely music to the ears of higher education institutions looking to reach their target markets.  Most colleges have Instagram accounts, which help them gain an organic following with visual content. In addition, Instagram offers a paid ad format to target people based on a number of factors, such as whether someone has shown previous interest in a school through a website visit. With Instagram advertising, institutes of higher learning can also target an audience based on interests, behaviors, age, gender, and education level as well as a variety of other socio-economic factors.  Let’s take a closer look at Instagram advertising.

Available Formats

There are currently four available ad formats:

  • Photo ads (Single photos available in square or landscape format).
  • Video ads (Up to 60 seconds in length).
  • Carousel ads (users can swipe to view additional photos or videos).
  • Stories ads (complement your feed content with ads on Instagram Stories).

Canvas ads (A full-screen ad experience) are currently available in Facebook and should be offered in Instagram in the future.

Instagram continues to revise its targeting options. We recommend ongoing testing of audience performance as a best practice.

Advertising Tips

While it is important that the ads/videos used on Instagram remain generally consistent with the design and feel of other marketing campaigns to maintain brand identity, keep in mind that Instagram is a social platform. So tailor your ads to align with the more laid back lifestyle feel of Instagram. Be sure to include a logo. And use images that are interesting and visually appealing, as many users view Instagram as an inspirational platform.

Instagram can be an effective outlet for showcasing the best features of your institution to potential students.  Well-conceived imagery can help students easily visualize what it would be like to attend your place of learning. Here are some tips for getting the most out of Instagram ads:

  • Promote your faculty by using images along with a personal quote or an endorsement from a current student. If a quote is pulled from a relevant article, it can be linked through the post itself or via the Instagram bio.
  • Feature campus sponsored-activities throughout the year – for example, images from move-in day, picnics, concerts, prominent speakers.
  • Highlight your campus community by including promotions about clubs, intramural sports, Greek life, and so forth.
  • Reach out to sports enthusiasts with ads promoting your various collegiate teams and information about upcoming games or highlights from key wins.
  • Consider testing a story ad that follows a day in the life of a current student to profile the student experience.
  • Put the beauty of your campus on full display through a video or series of images. Highlight those features that would be most appealing to potential students – high-tech classrooms; well-appointed dorms; favorite gathering areas such as the student union and campus quad; or a sports arena that’s filled with students supporting school teams.

The key to successfully engaging with a target audience is to help them envision themselves being a part of your school, whether it’s sitting in a classroom, walking across the quad, cheering in the stands at a sporting event, or being a part of a fraternity or sorority. And, don’t forget to include a call to action button in your ads such as “Learn More,” or “Contact Us” to ease the communication process.  A picture is worth a thousand words — so incorporate Instagram and create a visual marketing punch. Contact KeywordFirst for more insight into using Instagram to reach your audience.

 

Does Your Brand Have a Newsjacking Strategy?

Does Your Brand Have a Newsjacking Strategy?

Marketing

Newsjacking has become an increasingly popular but risky marketing and PR tactic. The term “newsjacking,” made popular by David Meerman Scott, refers to marketers capitalizing on news and topical issues to build awareness for their brands. Many companies have done so (in real time or near real time) to create an impact for their brand, a notable example being  Nike’s 2017 Equality ad that promotes equality both on and off the field of play.

It’s tempting for businesses to attempt newsjacking when they see the kind of visibility that can come from deploying the tactic. But brands need to proceed with caution. Businesses have incurred backlash when newsjacking sensitive topics such as celebrity deaths, and newsjacking can come across as too opportunistic.

But just because newsjacking is risky, it doesn’t mean you should ignore this tactic. Newsjacking can deliver tremendous value if you do it right. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you consider newsjacking:

Know What Topics Your Brand Is Comfortable Covering

We all have a different understanding of what can be controversial. Brands have suffered when they try to appeal to an audience whose sensibilities and values don’t correlate with a brand’s perception of current events. It is important to discuss with your team exactly what topics should be covered and what areas you would like to shy away from. This necessity became increasingly important with the 2016 Presidential election. Certain brands openly discussed their political stance. Others tapped into the news generated by the election without explicitly taking a side. A great example of the latter: Bisquick with its “Make America Pancakes Again.” The brand capitalized on a campaign slogan without suggesting any specific political ties.

Of course, politics is a divisive topic and can really strike at a consumer’s emotions. It is imperative to measure the risks and rewards of commenting directly on political issues. The safer bet is to appeal towards pop culture and the current zeitgeist, which can be easily cultivated by monitoring Google Trends and trending hashtags on social media. Finding topics that appeal to your brand values and your audience’s values can help you to tailor your messaging and reap the benefits.

Have a Purpose and a Story

If you are going to newsjack, do so with a purpose with a definable goal, such as increasing brand lift. And make sure you develop a compellingly creative story to tell. If you are unable to come up with something creative or you are unable to provide strong content for the news, it is best to sit out the story.

Audi’s May 2015 “Birth” ad is an example of newsjacking with a purpose and a story. The company’s ad played into the birth of the Royal baby, but also promoted its own new baby, the Audi RS3, which was birthed from a larger Audi model. The company advertised the new RS3 with a strong marketing campaign that was relevant to current events.

Plan Content When Possible

It is not uncommon for newsjacking to be created on the spot, but you can also plan ahead with events, such as major award shows and sporting events whose dates are known months in advance. Coca-Cola capitalized on the popularity of the 2016 Summer Olympics with a campaign that celebrated individual athletes with advertising and social media posts such as this one:

When creating your social media calendar, think of what events are coming up and consider the power of visual storytelling to tap into the appeal of those events.

Do Your Research

Although it is good to be the first to jump on a news story, make sure you have your facts straight before posting content related to breaking news, and make sure your ad reflects cultural truth. Especially when newsjacking a story in real time, carefully vet your research on a topic to ensure that you are not providing inaccurate details to your audience. And research the credibility of the story you want to tell. A brand’s credibility can easily be affected by sharing content (whether an ad or a tweet) that is inaccurate, false, or out of step with the cultural zeitgeist.

A recent example of being out of step can be found in the now infamous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner. The ad was an attempt to reach the millennial audience by appealing to the culture of activism and goals of unity, but missed the mark according to many critics by diminishing the importance of all the work that activists are doing. Perhaps had Pepsi done more research ahead of the ad, the company would have uncovered how serious, personal, and passionate protests are as a social statement. The company might have then avoided creating an ad that associated a can of Pepsi with social change agendas and thus came across as trivializing social protest as a form of self-expression.

Avoid Anything Related to Death or Disaster

It is best to steer clear of negative events when newsjacking even if a company is attempting to express sympathy. Companies that use disasters or fatalities to boost their brand appearance create an unfortunate association with their brand. Additionally, commenting on topics like celebrity deaths can be equally as problematic. Just to be clear: if your brand is donating to a cause or shedding light on an issue without attempting to promote sales, you are probably not creating a newsjack (but you should be very careful about the tone of your message anyway). But when newsjacking, be cognizant of what you are implying with your post.

Newsjacking can be a positive tool and promote your brand while allowing you to comment on cultural issues. To begin working newsjacking into your own marketing calendar, start to look ahead at what major events will be occurring. For instance, with the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing and with the Major League Baseball season under way, a sport-related newsjack may be highly relevant to your audience. Or consider an entertainment event such as the Tony Awards in June. A keen eye for events and a willingness to follow the tips outlined in this post will help you get started with newsjacking. Contact KeywordFirst. We can help you.

Lead image source:

Use Social Media to Promote Unusual Higher Education Degrees

Use Social Media to Promote Unusual Higher Education Degrees

Marketing

What do game design, soil conservation, and theme park engineering have in common? They’re all among the top-paying non-traditional degrees available to college students. But my guess is that many potential students are not even aware that those degrees are offered, which means an institution of higher education will have little success promoting those programs through paid search. Creating keywords for more obscure degrees will fail to drive volume because potential students don’t even know to look for those topics. So how does an .EDU let students know about untraditional degrees offered?

You can find the answer the next time you take public transportation or find yourself in a public space among a crowd of young people. Stop and look around. Notice how many students are glued to their electronic devices scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat, or listening to their favorite music on Spotify or Pandora. These social platforms are where you need to introduce your offering to your potential audience.

Now imagine displaying a colorful, eye-catching ad for a degree in game design on a platform such as Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram — or running an audio spot highlighting your school and programs on Spotify or Pandora. You’ve created awareness in a more effective way than paid search could for a lesser-known degree. And with the relatively low cost of many of these social platforms, you can be pretty efficient with your spend.

As advertising on social platforms continues to grow, so do the features offered on those platforms. In many cases you can target age, gender, income, education, and location as well as more advanced options such as behaviors or intents, interests, travel preferences, app usage, and so on. Testing different targeting methods will help you hone in on the right demographic for your marketing goals and should help boost demand in the paid search channel as well. If you are looking to connect with the college-aged demographic, it’s time plug into social.

You also might want to consider social advertising as a way to complement a paid search campaign for better-known degrees, too. Doing so will increase your chances to reaching students who are unsure about their education goals and need a little prompting to consider something you offer that might benefit them. After all, not everyone lives out our simple kindergarten dreams to be a firefighter or an actor. Sometimes, students need a little help. And social platforms are the places for colleges and universities to do just that.

Image source: Vadim Sherbakov (https://stocksnap.io/author/9)

 

Three Women Who Define Success in Digital Marketing

Three Women Who Define Success in Digital Marketing

Marketing

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, KeywordFirst has taken the time to appreciate all the women that have etched their mark in history. We have also looked to the women who are currently making history in our industry, digital marketing. The women detailed below can be looked at as pioneers in the evolving world of digital, and their contributions help us daily to grow our techniques and mold our future strategy.

Leslie Berland

As Twitter’s first CMO Leslie Berland faced the difficult challenge of branding Twitter in a way that would appeal to the masses, but also satisfy their user base that already loved the platform. In 2016, she led a rebrand of Twitter as not only a social media engine but also a news source. She brought a new perspective to Twitter and challenged marketers to create content that differs from our normal social approaches. In turn, her major focus on the “live” nature of Twitter has allowed marketers to create instant posts that can be a quicker gauge on new advertising initiatives. We are excited to see Berland’s efforts taking hold and look forward to all future progress she makes not only with the engine, but with women in leadership roles.

Marina Cockenberg

Marina Cockenberg, the director of Digital for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, was recently named in Forbes list of 30 under 30 in marketing advertising. She has transformed the way a nightly show interacts with their audience by live tweeting the program each evening. Her work has garnered an Emmy for Outstanding Creative in interactive media and has helped grow their digital audience from 5 million to 32 million. Her witty interactions and content have created a new style and form for TV shows to delve into the world of social media, which we find fascinating. With YouTube views of late night material surging, a rebirth of this content has occurred. Cockenberg’s work has helped transform the space she is in, and for doing so we applaud her.

Susan Wojcicki

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has paved the way for future female digital marketers. Wojcicki was one of Google’s first employees and at that time even housed some of the operations in her own garage. In 1999 she became Google’s first marketing manager and continued to make influential strides with the company. From there she was promoted to senior vice president of Advertising & Commerce where she led the product advertisement and analytics for notable advertising products such as AdWords, AdSense, DoubleClick, and Google Analytics. These tools have now become gospel for any digital advertiser. However, Wojcicki didn’t stop there and urged her superiors to consider purchasing YouTube, which led to its ultimate acquisition. Now YouTube is valued at an estimated $70 billion, and Wojcicki oversees the entire development of the platform. She truly sailed in unchartered territory, and her work has inspired all of us in digital marketing.

There are many more women making huge strides in our field including in our own office. We value all of their contributions and celebrate them not only in this month but every month of the year. Our team is energized by such strong female role models for us to look to for inspiration. We foresee many more advancements in the very near future.