Thursday 08 December 2016

Friday Five: Keys to Inspiring Engagement

Why it matters by Amanda Nguyen.

Last week, Seattle’s annual IN-NW Conference featured speaker and panel sessions on inspiring social engagement between brands and consumers. Aimed at sharing the most relevant trends and digital marketing strategies, the conference’s topics echoed many of Edelman’s core principles. Topics included brand transparency, as well as integrated and visual storytelling. Below are five key takeaways from the conference on how to effectively engage and strengthen a brand’s online community:

1. Evaluate the Landscape

Listen to current conversations about your brand and analyze the sentiment of your communities. Aside from quantitative metrics, note the quality of conversation, and evaluate whether your brand is engaging in a meaningful, authentic way. Understand your community’s perceptions of the brand to help shape your approach and content strategy.

2. Identify Your Targeted Audience

Before creating content, define the audience and targeted demographic. Then, discover the interests and types of content that resonates best with this audience. Use those insights to craft your content. Furthermore, as Brent Friedman of Electric Farm Marketing noted, “which platform you choose to push out content is just as important as the content itself.”

3. Find Your Voice

Identify a voice that resonates with your community, and create content that fits that tone while remaining authentic and consistent across all channels. An engaging brand voice is transparent and creates an emotional connection. Also, a community is more likely to engage and share content that they relate to on a personal level.

4. Develop and Build Relationships

Based on trust, relationships can be measured by the quality of engagement, as well as the community’s response to call-to-actions. When sharing insights from their surprise and delight strategy, Coca-Cola’s digital and social media manager, Ashley Callahan, explained that brands need to give communities a fun reason to engage and to speak their language. Vice President of Brand Marketing at EA Sports, Chris Erb, challenged attendees to leverage fanaticism to build a brand lifestyle. Through crowdsourcing, brands can also empower their communities, resulting in stronger trust and engagement.

5. Tell Your Story

As our final speaker, Edelman’s Director of Ideation, Steve Mallory, used a screenwriting approach to explain digital storytelling: “Storytelling isn’t reliant on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Tumblr or YouTube – it’s the other way around.” He noted that evolution has “wired our brains to love stories.” More effective than simply marketing, brand storytelling resonates and engages.

As storytellers and content creators, it’s important to discover your brand’s story, and more importantly, find a personal and authentic way to connect to your audience. This framework can determine how to best position your brand (TOMS Shoes) and even which customer or ambassador stories to highlight (Subway’s Jared Fogle).

Which examples of brand stories do you find most compelling and engaging?

Photo credit: Bohman

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