Category Archives: Marketing

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Why Is Social Media Marketing So Important For Online Businesses?

By Richard J O 

There are 2.3 billion active social media accounts this year. Needless to say, social media plays a predominant role in our everyday lives - on average, internet users spend 0.7 hours to 3.7 hours in any one of their 5.4 social media accounts.

 

Given the popularity of social media networks, online businesses have a great opportunity to interact with their audience and raise brand awareness. Not to mention the rack of benefits:

 

  • Improve your brand reputation
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Free to use
  • Increase sales
  • Get closer to your customers
  • Reach a wider audience

 

Not only do brands have the chance to position products in front of customers, social media networks are an invaluable resource to learn about your audience; what they like, what they share, what they need and how your products can make their life easier. This type of consumer data is marketing gold.

 

What are the benefits of social media channels?

 

Consumers follow brands they resonate with and social media networks are powerful platforms to promote your brand identity and improve customer loyalty.

 

More brands are embracing the power of social to interact with their customers and even use it to conduct customer service. Social platforms help to humanize your brand and connect with your customers on a personal level.

 

By publishing engaging content, you can drive traffic to your website. Your followers may even share your content amongst their network of followers and introduce you to potential customers you may otherwise not have reached. And that’s without having to pay marketing costs.

 

Social influences buying decisions

 

Interacting on social media networks also influences buying decisions. It is estimated that 74% of consumers make a purchasing choice based on peer-reviews left in the comments fields of social media accounts.

 

Furthermore, four in ten social users buy goods from brands they follow either online or in-store. And now social networks make it possible for brands to install one-click buy buttons, the number of shoppers coming through social channels is likely to increase.

 

However, creating a successful social strategy requires knowledge of social media marketing. Not only do you need to be familiar with the capabilities of the various networks, you also need to know how to find, communicate and interact with your audience.

 

To improve interactions with your customers, learn how to master social media with a professional diploma in social media marketing.

 

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Tips When Creating A Video Marketing Campaign

By Richard J 

Video is the most compelling of online marketing mediums and video marketing is growing at an exponential rate. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot, 90% of end-users say that videos influence their purchasing decisions.

 

It goes without saying that video marketing campaigns are a powerful tool to include in your marketing kit box. And if you are contemplating on producing a promotional video for your next marketing campaign, make sure the end result includes:

 

  • Quality content and video production
  • High resolution images
  • Goal setting
  • Keep to brand image
  • Provide value to customers

 

 

Video quality

 

Paying video marketers to produce promotional videos on your behalf is expensive. They may deliver quality content, but the charges are likely to blow your marketing budget for at least several months.

 

A less expensive option is to create your own promotional videos. The content has to be appealing, so create a story your audience can connect with.

 

High resolution

 

If you do decide to create your own video ads, invest in a HD camera that produces high resolution images. Good quality cameras that shoot in 1080p are surprisingly affordable. You should also consider sound quality and may want to invest in an attachable microphone that is more powerful than the built-in mics on video cameras.

 

Set goals for video marketing campaigns

 

Before you take steps to make a promotional video, you need to determine what you want the campaign to achieve. Is the video intended to drive traffic from social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube, raise awareness about your brand and products, or entice customers to your website with a short 6-second video on Vimeo?

 

Promote brand image

 

Video marketing campaigns are a great opportunity to reach a wider audience so it is vitally important that you communicate your brand image.

 

Consumers relate to brands they connect with on an emotional level, so focus the contents of your video around them. Place you target audience at the center of the video.

 

Provide value to customers

 

For many years now, Google has encouraged online businesses to provide something of value to customers. Although “value” can be interpreted in many ways, the focus of your promotional video should primarily look to entertain viewers.

 

Although ‘entertainment’ in the traditional sense is not ideal for every brand, the content of your video should be informative, intriguing or other emotional value. But whatever message you intend to deliver, it should be presented in a way viewers will relate to in a positive way.

 

Although video marketing campaigns are the most powerful form of online advertising, they are also the most difficult to produce. With this in mind, it is highly recommended you learn how to make high-quality videos like a professional by taking a course on digital marketing and digital selling.

Social media

The Dangers of Outsourcing your Social Media Marketing

By Luci M Iley

With the average digital marketing expenditure increasing by 37% every year across the Middle East – a total of 8-10% of global digital marketing spending – it is not surprising that many businesses have either considered hiring, or have already hired an outsourced digital marketing team or agency to optimise their campaigns and take on the responsibility of marketing effectively.

Outsourcing a digital marketing campaign can be advantageous. Digital marketing agencies are professionals in the field and have more experience than the average business owner, giving them a competitive edge against competing businesses. These companies also have more time to dedicate to ensuring the success of a digital marketing campaign than small business owners. Outsourcing a digital marketing campaign frees a business owner’s time, skills and resources to focus on their own responsibilities and areas of expertise.

However outsourcing digital marketing campaigns does not come without disadvantages and potential dangers, such as;

  • Distance and misunderstanding; Outsourced marketing agencies may have the skills to create a successful campaign, but as they are not as heavily involved in the everyday operations and branding of the business, they may not fully understand the company’s aims and objectives and this may misdirect the campaign.
  • Failing to choose the right agency; Taking the time to extensively interview and critique every digital marketing agency in the area is not a realistic solution for many businesses. However, by making a rushed decision and contracting with an agency who are not suitable for the campaign will waste money, time and resources – as well as potentially damaging the brand and reputation.
  • Mismatched Priorities; Whilst the majority of client-agency digital marketing contracts will have agreed deadlines, clear aims and a set plan for the campaign, it is possible that an agency may have to take the lead on some decisions. This can be an issue for business owners who struggle to stand back and let others take control, as well as carrying the risk of having the agency make the wrong decision for the company and causing damage to the business.

Many of these dangers can be avoided with substantial research and by asking the right questions, however, it may be easier to carry out internal digital marketing campaigns for complete control and responsibility. A short diploma in digital marketing can give you the skills to cut the agency out altogether.

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Online Display Advertising: The Pros and Cons

 By Luci M Iley

Online display advertising, more commonly known as banner advertising, is the use of visually appealing and attention-grabbing banners placed on websites, blogs and forums relative to the business’ sector.  This method of marketing has been in action since the dawn of internet marketing and has proven to be lucrative for online businesses.

Like many marketing platforms and methods, display advertising has a range of advantages and disadvantages, which should be taken into account before launching head-first into a display advertising campaign.

Advantages

  • Many agencies offer very low CPM (cost-per-impression) rates, meaning that a successful display advertising campaign will be very cost-effective in the long run.
  • By selecting relevant host sites and keywords, marketers know that the people seeing their advertisements will be within the target demographic. This allows more control and better targeting than most other marketing methods.
  • Display advertising is so well-established that agencies have streamlined the process – ad space is available in set sizes and this helps to reduce the possible complications when designing a marketing campaign.

Disadvantages

  • The use of online ad blockers is growing rapidly across the Middle East, with over 144 million internet users having an active advertisement blocking software in effect. Ad blockers result in a loss of banner impressions, conversions and sales and can have a drastically negative effect on marketing campaigns.
  • Premium ad spaces are offered within select groups and can be difficult to infiltrate and claim for campaigns.
  • Advertising spaces are offered through an auction-style system, this means that the potential for bidding wars is rife and sought-after placements can see very high costs.

Whilst the arguments both for and against display marketing are compelling and deserve serious thought before decisions are made, display advertising can be hugely beneficial in terms of brand visibility and customer awareness, although this does not always translate into conversions or click-throughs.

To make the most informed decision about display advertising, why not undertake a short diploma in search marketing, to equip you with all of the tools, information and know-how to get started?

Native advertising

Native Advertising Explained

By Luci M Iley

What is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is paid marketing content which is often described as being ‘disguised’ into the hosting platform – this can be used in both online and offline media, including magazines, websites, blogs and social media. This content is usually read or viewed in the same way as the medium it is disguised in and is often distinguished only by a small label reading ‘sponsored content’ or similar.

Where Can Native Advertising Be Seen?

In magazines, native advertisements are often in the form of visually appealing articles or content, designed to promote a specific product or brand, but appearing at first glance, to be no different to the publication’s existing content and written media.

Online, native marketing appears in the form of sponsored articles, video content or images, produced in line with the publisher’s branding and regular content, but with a strong message of promotion or a call to action included.

What is Good About Native Advertising?

Native advertisements are often read as if they were a part of their host’s content. Regular readers and viewers will have a personal connection to the content creator and will associate those positive feelings with the message being delivered through the advertisement, leading to a higher chance of conversion and sales as a result.

In the Middle East, native advertising techniques are still relatively new, giving them a higher chance of impacting upon viewers as they discover sponsored content and a new way to digest marketing messages without having their content disrupted.

What is Bad About Native Advertising?

The camouflaged message may not be strong enough to motivate the consumer to take action; by disguising the message as regular content, readers and viewers may treat it as such by consuming the message and simply moving onto the next piece of content, rather than learning more about the brand or engaging with the business.

How can I Learn More About Native Advertising?

Consider pursuing a short diploma in digital marketing, covering online advertising techniques, strategies and tools.

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Influencer Marketing in the Middle East

 

 

By John Alexander Adam

 

Blogging is a passion: as bloggers, we want to share our thoughts, feelings, insights and knowledge with the world. Whether a blog is purely a hobby or has a commercial element, in the majority of cases the blogger wants to reach out, connect with and influence as wide an audience as possible. In the modern era the top bloggers have huge influence and following and this is particularly true in the Middle East.

Influential bloggers from the Middle East are in the enviable position that their followers are more active and engaged than those from almost anywhere else in the world. This is probably due, at least in part, to the fact that as a traditional, conservative society, the independent voice of bloggers, imbued with their own personality, is particularly valued as juxtaposed to mainstream media.

That engagement is a dream for marketers trying to connect with a Middle East audience and it should come as no surprise that brands are particularly keen to be associated with influential bloggers from the region. So, as a marketer in the Middle East, how can you best leverage the unique opportunities that influencer marketing presents in the region?

 

Think Indie Movie, not Blockbuster

The first step is to grasp the nature of influencer marketing and how it differs from more traditional channels. The Middle East as a region has a tendency towards the big budget and the extravagant and that culture is often reflected in the character of marketing campaigns targeting the region. Influencer marketing goes against that grain and marketers must first get their heads around that if they are to be able to properly exploit the strategy.

Social media influencers are generally successful not because of the slickness of their production but their raw, stripped-back entertainment value. The most successful may start to add some slickness and production to their video clips and other forms of content but there is only so much ‘production’ that can go into a 15-second Instagram video. Their followers like and relate to them for what they see as their personality and how that comes through in the content they create. Trying to change that would almost certainly have a negative impact. It is up to the marketers to find creative, unobtrusive ways to inject brands into influencers’ content if they want to connect with their audiences.

Sarah Barry, general manager at advertising agency Momentum, has discussed how many brands and marketers take the wrong approach when it comes to working with influencers.

“Most brands just want to be seen with the influencers and not make any real effort to connect with their audience. A simple cameo of your brand in an influencer video does not mean their fans will like you too. A real collaboration with the influencer is needed to build real relationships, and there are so many ways to do that.”

Effective influencer marketing is all about co-creation of content that is true to the influencer’s own style and not putting the influencer into a traditional marketing campaign.

 

Invest in Influencers

While it is a growing market, the number of genuinely good influencers producing quality content is still limited and this is particularly true in the Middle East. Every influencer is also not suitable for every brand, further reducing the suitable options for marketers engaging in influencer marketing. As such, it makes sense for brands to invest in and nurture suitable influencers as a longer term strategy.

Khaled Akbik, director of social media at OMD UAE confirms this, saying “engaging with influencers should be part of a long-term strategy to build an ongoing working relationship with them and move them from simply being influencers into being actual brand ambassadors.” 

“This may require the brand to empower them with tools that help them get the job done (i.e. cameras, vehicles, gear, studios, etc). Yes, this means it will be costly, but remember that these ambassadors are producing quality content that is loved and trusted by hundreds of thousands, if not, millions of people. Don’t think of it as a cost coming out of your media budgets only, rather from both your media and content budgets. When you combine the two and perform a cost benefit analysis over a long term, you’ll find that it’s well worth the cost.”

Used correctly, influencers can be just as effective, if not more so, than mainstream media celebrities when it comes to brands connecting to particular audiences. Their followers feel more personally connected to influencers. Compared to the cost of marketing that features top celebrities, investing in good influencers long term will actually be far more cost effective.

 

Managing Influencers without Compromising their Appeal

One phrase which sums up the challenge of influencer marketing perfectly is “to the marketer, the brand is the hero, but to the audience, the influencer is.” One of the major challenges in influencer marketing is to ensure that the content produced is not compromised. The appeal of the influencer is in their perceived personality and their followers buying into its authenticity. Marketers have to learn to find the sweet spot between the two when it comes to influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is still very much a new, developing marketing channel and everyone in the industry is still learning. We have only touched on some of the key considerations marketers must bear in mind. However, the points outlined here are certainly key to a successful approach.

If you want to take your marketing skills to the next level, Morgan International offers a number of different digital marketing diplomas at locations across the Middle East.

 

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Google Adwords Cheat Sheet: Tips and Tricks to Boost Your ROI

 

By John Alexander Adam

 

Google adwords are the cornerstone of most direct marketing campaigns in modern online marketing. As an online marketing professional, being able to optimize ROI on your company’s adword spend more effectively than competitors is often considered a key indicator of your performance. While having the basic skills to set up and monitor campaigns on the Google Adwords platform is basically a must-have for anyone in online marketing, knowing how to go about maximizing ROI is what will get you noticed.

It’s all about optimization and knowing how to make the most of the full suite of features on the adwords tool, as well as being able to use other third party tools and utilizing the little tricks your competitors hopefully don’t. PPC stats site Sitewit says that on average businesses make $2 for every $1 they spend on adwords. As an online marketing professional, you of course want your performance to exceed the average. So here’s a few tips top Google Adwords gurus use to keep them one step ahead of the curve!

  • Patience – Build Your Funnel

One mistake that many Google adwords campaigns make is having the primary goal of a direct sale. The ‘conversion’ is considered to be a direct sale or enquiry. It depends on the product or service you are selling but users clicking on your ad can potentially be at several different points along the sales cycle. They could still be trying to figure out exactly what they need, or already know but are exploring what the different options are. They may already be familiar with the different options and are in the process of comparing them or they could be ready to make a purchase.

If all of your efforts are focused on only the last category of ‘Clicker’, then you are essentially wasting the spend generated by those at earlier stages of their buy cycle. However, if your main conversion goal is getting their email address you can then communicate with them and educate them along their path to a final decision, greatly increasing the percentage of ‘Clickers’ that eventually buy from you. It’s a longer process but building up a sales funnel in this way can over the longer term hugely increase your final ROI.

  • Understand Your Visitors

The Google Analytics tool can give you great insights into who your visitors are if you know what to look for. Understanding prominent behavioral patterns will allow you to better understand the best conversion approach once they are on your website. For example, if the number of new visitors to your site is significantly greater than the number of returning visitors this suggests that most visitors to your site are not familiar with your brand. In this scenario you will most likely be far more successful if your approach is to educate them rather than go directly for the sale. This is just one example but educating yourself on how to interpret that kind of statistic correctly will go a long way to improving your eventual ROI.

  • Leverage Remarketing

Many adwords marketers admit defeat at the point a ‘Clicker’ leaves the site without having responded to any potential conversion point, such as leaving an email address, making a purchase, or something in between. This fatally ignores the fact that using remarketing can significantly boost conversion rates of visitors that have initially been directed to the site via adwords campaigns.

Statistics show that 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the purchase is completed. But by having already come to your site via adwords you know that there is a high chance the ‘Clicker’ is genuinely interested in your product or service. Direct, targeted messages delivered via remarketing campaigns are statistically the most effective ad display strategy and using them to follow up on visitors initially arriving via adwords campaigns increases subsequent conversion rates significantly.

  • Keep A/B Testing Your Landing Pages

The actual adword is only the first part of an adwords marketing campaign. Integral to the conversion rates of any adwords campaign is the landing page ‘Clickers’ arrive at once they have clicked on your add. There is a lot of extremely interesting statistical analysis that has been published in recent years on how subtle changes to the wording of messages and design of landing pages can make a significant difference to conversion ratios.

Despite that, statistics from SEO consultants SEOGadget show that only 44% of companies use A/B testing to compare potential differences in conversion rates between variations of the landing pages they use. And far less employ a strategy of ongoing A/B testing to continually optimize results. The likely lack of effort by your competitors in this regard can give you a great advantage if you do things correctly and keep optimizing the conversion ratios of the landing pages you use with your adwords campaigns.

  • Analytics, Analytics, Analytics

Whatever you do and try with your adwords campaigns, the key to success and improving conversion ratios is to constantly analyze the data. Google Analytics is a good enough tool for most businesses and there are also other 3rd party analysis tools you can try. Adwords marketing is essentially a statistical science. If you constantly analyze the statistics available you will receive insights that will enable you to continually improve the performance of your campaigns, improving ROI.

 

If you want to take your adwords marketing skills to the next level, Morgan International offers a number of different digital marketing diplomas at locations across the Middle East. Learn more about our Professional Diploma in Search Marketing class launching in Beirut this Fall, in partnership with the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI). 

 

 

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5 Marketing Skills Every Blogger Needs to Master

 

By John Alexander Adam

The stratospheric rise in profile and influence of top bloggers in the Middle East means that there has never been a better time to be a blogger in the region. Brands are clamoring to team up with well know bloggers across a wide variety of different styles and interest areas. Their support and desire to gain exposure to the followings of established bloggers has meant that many of them can now afford to employ specialist online marketing experts to help them popularize their blogs even more effectively. The flipside to the increased status and influence of bloggers in the Middle East is that it is also harder than ever for new bloggers to break into the exclusive club that brands want to be associated with.

But don’t despair! Almost every industry has its established titans and agile, fresh newcomers still succeed in breaking through and establishing their own position. This can be done by either usurping the position of a bigger, more established player who has become complacent or because the market is growing and there is room for more participants. Aspiring bloggers can hold onto the hope that they can build their own following big enough to have brands chasing them for either reason, or a combination of them both. Blogs as an alternative media format are growing in popularity generally, particularly in the Middle East, meaning there is room for newcomers to take a share of the audience for their particular niche if they can produce the right quality of content. Ambitious new bloggers can also arm themselves with the marketing know-how and skills to give them an edge in what has become a competitive industry.

It’s no use having great content if potential followers don’t get to see it in the first place. By putting in some time and effort to master these 5 key marketing skills you can give yourself what could be a crucial edge on your competition when it comes to growing your blog!

Social media marketing

The explosion of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn has not taken place over a parallel period of time to the growth in blogger influence by coincidence. In many ways they have gone hand-in-hand, with social media one of the most powerful platforms for popularizing your blog’s content and reaching new audiences.

Posting all of your blog posts across relevant social media channels both keeps your current followers involved and interactive, as well as helping reach new people. However, if you really want to make the most of the leverage the social media platforms can provide, take things to the next level by harnessing the power of some of the great analytics tools out there. Products such as Sumall, Falcon and Meltwater can give you the comparative data insights on how your social media activities are performing which will allow you to optimize your efforts and get ahead of competitor blogs.

Tailor Different Social Media Profiles

Each social media platform is different and requires a different approach to maximize the benefits they can bring to your blog’s growth. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, or shouldn’t be. Facebook is a great place to show some of your personality, with Twitter the focus should be interaction and LinkedIn requires a more serious ‘business’ face to your profile. You need to learn what works best on which platform and have different profiles on each social media platform that reflect that to make the most of them.

Learning how to use different analytics tools and exploring the science behind tailoring your approach and image to different platforms can give you a great competitive advantage.

Search Marketing

Most bloggers don’t start out thinking that SEO and other search marketing techniques will be crucial to how successful their blog becomes. It’s all about the quality of your content, right? Well, right, and not so right at the same time is the answer. Of course you need great content but the key to success is exposing as many people to that great content as possible and that’s where search marketing skills play a key role.

Understanding SEO techniques such as analyzing potential traffic for particular keywords relevant to the audience you want to attract, how to rank for them and understanding how realistic that might be can give your blog a massive boost. If you write book or film reviews, you probably can’t practically hope to come up in the first organic positions for ‘book reviews’. But you might be able to rank for long tail keywords such as ‘independent book reviews’. There may be less overall traffic for such long tail terms but it’s traffic you can potentially get and if you learn what to do to find good, relevant long tail keywords and how to rank for them you could give your traffic a massive boost!

Optimise Your Blog

A follow-on from the previous point is to understand how to put your blog together from a technical point of view so it is optimized both for your readers as well as Google bots. We’re not talking about becoming a programmer here but you do need to learn how to customize the blog platform you use to adapt layouts to reflect best user experience practices.

And you need to learn about the science behind user experience. It’s not airy fairy but based on real statistical analysis on how users respond to different layouts, advertisement placement and a hundred other little things that can make a real difference to both how many followers you retain and how effectively you can monetize. And you need to make sure your blog is friendly to Google bots so they can easily move around it, see what content you have and rank it for Google searches.

Simplify subscriptions

Again a natural progression of the previous skill set, there is marketing science behind turning traffic into registered followers of your blog in the most efficient way possible. The success of a blog can live or die on your conversion ratios from visitor to follower and it is followers that makes the brands sit up, take notice and start to want to be associated with your blog.

Do you know what statistical difference it might make where exactly you place your subscription buttons, the calls to action you use and how simple the procedure is? It can be massive and it’s something you should be motivated to learn about!

Putting in the effort to acquire and develop online marketing skills is crucial to anyone who wants to become a successful blogger, regardless of their niche or area of interest. Almost without exception the top bloggers are both great content creators with their own bold and articulate voice and personality and fantastic marketers. It’s the combination that separates them from the crowd.

 

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Snapchat in the Middle East: Marketers HAVE to Get It

 

By John Alexander Adam

 

Snapchat is taking the Middle East by storm, and to some extent at the expense of other social media such as Facebook and Twitter. While marketers may not see the photo sharing social media as an immediately natural business opportunity, most initially thought the same thing about first Facebook and then Twitter. However, with so many people now using Snapchat in the Middle East, it would be foolish to ignore it as a new marketing channel. So who exactly is using Snapchat, what are they doing with it and what are the business opportunities?

Snapchat allows users to send photo and video content that has a limited lifespan before it disappears. Users can view a ‘Snap’ for 10 seconds before it self-destructs. The general idea is that it shares ‘moments’. Snapchat first came to public attention as a platform predominantly used for the exchange of ‘selfies’, mainly by teenagers and often of a questionable nature. However, with over 100 million active daily users worldwide, it is now a mainstream social media and has, unexpectedly for many, grown far beyond those inauspicious beginnings.

In the Gulf region and the wider Middle East, Snapchat is growing more quickly than any social media platform before it. Statistics from market research company Ipsos Mena put the percentage of active smartphone users in the UAE who had used Snapchat over the course of December 2014 at 12%. That’s even higher in Qatar, where 14% of active smartphone users use Snapchat regularly. While official 2015 figures are still unavailable, they are certain to be much higher with 2015 widely considered as having been the ‘tipping point’ year for the social media platform. While it is still most popular amongst the Under 25s, Snapchat is quickly gaining market penetration with the 25-40 age bracket also. As a marketer, both demographics are likely to be crucial targets and Snapchat is now a very effective way to reach them in the Middle East market. So what are the opportunities Snapchat affords to marketers and how can you make the most of this new social media platform?

 

Storytelling

Snapchat allows companies to tell the story of their brand, product or service in a creative, visual way. Snapchat Stories is a function that companies can use to create re-playable narratives built from photographs or snippets of video, accessible by ‘Snappers’ for 24 hours. It forces creativity and can be very effective. And audiences seem to like the end result with Snapchat Stories created by brands being viewed 500 million times a day even back when the service was launched 2 years ago.

Another new feature ‘Discover’, packages news and other media stories for ‘bite sized’ consumption, appealing to those who consume content at regular intervals throughout the day but do not want to spend time reading long articles or watching in depth video footage. From the end of 2014 to early 2016 data consumption via ‘Discover’ quadrupled.

 

Reach a Generation in their Own Environment

All over the world young people under the age of 30 are using Snapchat to find their voice and express their identity in communication with their peers. It is the ‘cool’ and ‘current’ social media destination. Especially in a region such as the Middle East, with its conservative values, Generation A are finding in Snapchat an environment where they can grow as individuals without fear of repercussion and an online history coming back to haunt them. As such, brands seeking to be relevant to the younger generation, though increasingly not only, will fail to engage actively with Snapchat at their peril.

 

Fantastic Levels of Engagement

Statistics show that ‘Snappers’ consistently view and interact with brand-created content to a higher degree than comparable users do on either Facebook or Twitter. Exclusive time-limited promotions, photo and video collections of products and brand narratives all prove popular for Snapchat users. The fact that they only stay visible for 24 hours means that users are incentivized to check regularly for updates and new material from content providers they like.

This is just a quick ‘Snap’ of the business opportunities Snapchat is opening up. As penetration grows amongst users from older generations also marketers should understand that this is a social media platform they have to get their heads around and begin making the most of. That is relevant in the Middle East perhaps more than in any other geography.

If you want to take your content marketing skills to the next level, Morgan International offers a number of different digital marketing diplomas at locations across the Middle East.

 

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Top Tips on How to Brainstorm Your Way to Winning Content

 

By John Alexander Adam

 

‘Content is King’, right? The coronation of content as the monarch of online marketing has been, while not without a faction of rebels, widely accepted for some time now. Top quality on-trend, educational and well written content is a cornerstone of most companies’ online marketing strategy. But with everyone doing it, how do content marketers keep coming up with innovative, winning content that stands out from the crowd?

Companies put particular effort into marketing targeted at the Middle East, viewed as a lucrative geography where both individuals and companies have stronger buying power than elsewhere in the world. As such, content marketers in the Middle East have as stiff a challenge as any when it comes to coming up with content themes and structures that will not only compete with the competition but stand out.

Brainstorming is one great way of combining creative talent in the pursuit of quality content. After all, if two heads are better than one, three, four or more should have even more potential. However, too fling another old saying into the mix, it is also crucial to avoid a scenario of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. So here are some top tips on effective brainstorming for content marketers in their pursuit of harnessing greater combined potential while carefully avoiding the wrong mix of ingredients leading to a time-wasting disaster:

 

  • First Among Equals

 

While the whole point of a brainstorming session is a free flow of ideas, it is also important to maintain the direction of that flow or it can quickly lose focus and go off track. Another danger is not everyone in the group buying into the concept of ‘brainstorming’ and criticizing ideas, leading to a hostile or unproductive atmosphere.

It is always a good idea to appoint a moderator to any brainstorming session who can ensure focus is maintained and the atmosphere supportive, explorative and productive. This should be someone familiar enough with the project who is also able to maintain discipline in a social, non-authoritative manner.

 

  • Set Clear Goals

 

At the outset it is a must to define the desired outcome of the brainstorming session. Even if everyone in the group is familiar with the project, a brief summary helps to focus thought. A few specific and realistic goals can then be set. ‘The best content idea we’ve ever had’, is not an example of a specific, realistic goal. ‘Identify 3 ways we can improve our content’, would be.

 

  • Have A Time Limit

 

The human mind tends to work better under at least a little bit of pressure. Setting a specific time period for the duration of the brainstorming session will help prevent meandering and keep everyone with their eyes on the goal. Exactly how long the time limit should be will vary and very much depends on the particular goal, or scope of the project. However, as a general rule of thumb half an hour is probably a good timeframe for brainstorming and you should try to avoid sessions of over an hour. If the subject matter is bigger and you feel more time is required, you can always split the brainstorming over more than one session or break the group down into separate teams, each addressing different questions.

 

  • Write Everything Down

 

Whether it is writing on a whiteboard, putting post-its on a wall, or any other technique, getting all the brainstorming ideas in front of the group is a must. It makes sure nothing is forgotten and shows all input is valued. Visual representation of ideas also helps consideration and looking at ideas up there on the wall can help make some stand out as the most impressive or bring their potential weaknesses to mind.

 

  • A Cuckoo in the Nest

 

It can often be very useful to include an outsider in any brainstorming session. What constitutes an ‘outsider’, can differ. It could be one person not directly involved in the project. Or, if you are a group of marketing experts, include a programmer, an accountant or a designer. The ‘outsider’ lends a different perspective, can highlight that something may not be as obvious as those ‘inside’ the project think it is, like an end user will experience things, and can help avoid ‘group think’.

There are of course many other tips and guidelines that can help ensure content marketing brainstorming sessions are as effective as possible. If you want to take your content marketing skills to the next level, Morgan International offers a number of different digital marketing diplomas at locations across the Middle East.