Author Archives: Diane Harrigan

Content Creation Strategies for eCommerce Success

cmw rei

Paolo Mottola, Jr. at Content Marketing World

Outdoor retailer REI knows how to be creative when it comes to visuals. The retailer’s Zombie Survival Gear Infographic offers up the 13 essentials to prepare you for the next zombie outbreak.

From the Moleskin/First Aid (one blister is more dangerous to you than 10 zombies) to a Signal Mirror (be ready to flash one when the rescue chopper flies overhead), there’s a complete kit. The campaign became such a hit in 2012, REI started offering Zombie Apocalypse classes to teach the basics of surviving in the wild.

It’s okay to be a little disruptive according to Paolo Mottola, Jr. (REI’s Digital Engagement Program Manager), speaking on “Content Creation Strategies for eCommerce Success” at Content Marketing World. Offering up unique and inspiring classes is just one way REI serves the needs of outdoor adventurers.

Search drives commerce for REI in a big way and they are open to spontaneity. In April, REI announced that it would be selling Adventure Kitten Gear including “Rugged Kitten Boots” and a “Wild Cat” backpack to hold 100 cubic inches of kibble and catnip.

“We got 25,000 shares on Facebook with no paid media in 24 hours,” Mottola said. And REI was included in top tech April Fools’ Day roundup stories – an unexpected perk.

REI’s content streams include lots of video and Mottola says they see a significant lift when putting video on product pages.

“Member stories are not just customer stories ,” said Mottola. “We hired a freelancer to go across the country — we wanted our stories to be told in a bigger way.”

Stories like A Cool Mother’s Day Story: Climbin’ Mamas Remind Us Why We Love Our Moms or this Junior Ranger story which will melt your heart.

Content married to category equals success for REI.  The company’s collaboration with Merrill shoes led to videos on how-to outdoor exercises – an idea they actually borrowed from the Marines.

“We invest in these stories to tell,” says Mottola. “We’re authentic to our brand.”  In October, Mottola revealed they plan to feature videos in a major REI-member event.

Some questions from Mottola to ponder though when developing your content creation strategy:

  • Does your content marketing objective align with customer expectations?
  • Do you have resources to develop, moderate the content and scale?
  • What are legal considerations?

Mottola admits they haven’t been afraid to kill campaigns early on when they saw fast results that customers did not like what they were doing.

Vlogger Diane Harrigan (@dianeharrigan) authors the Postcards from SF blog, and is also an account manager with PR Newswire.

The Future of Content in Search & on the Social Web

Content is more than information – it’s storytelling that provides meaningful experiences and inspires action.  Lee Odden (@leeodden) of TopRank Online Marketing drove home the importance of emotion as he delved into the “Future of Content on Search and Social Web” at Content Marketing World (#CMWorld) earlier today.

The future of content is visual, real-time, mobile, human and cross-platform, he says. Simply put, it’s about creating things that make us go “mmmmm” — the art of inspiring feeling.  Find that “moment in the experience” that contributes to a moment of inquiry becoming a lead, he says.

One important piece of research is to find out which channels your customers respond to best and then work to create content that causes reaction. “Communities and customers are dynamic and insatiable – we have to feed them.”

Statistics reveal that viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.  Odden says the cycle is to attract, engage, convert and to continue the flow.

And there’s no question — today’s marketing teams have their work cut out for them when assigning functions. Marketing is a bigger job today than it has ever been. Strategy, creation, production, search, social and analytics are all critical roles today, and all overlap in content.

Vlogger Diane Harrigan (@dianeharrigan) authors the Postcards from SF blog, and is also an account manager with PR Newswire.

New Career Opportunities at the PR Agency of the Future

PR agencies are in a world of transition and leaders are re-defining roles as they move into unchartered territory. At the PRSA International Conference in San Francisco, heads of some of the top agencies in the nation sat down to discuss what the future holds and contribute creative ways the profession will need to adapt to address changing client needs.

One central theme is around becoming a Specialist instead of a Generalist in PR. Unique titles are emerging such as Creative Catalyst or Community and Conversation Analyst.  At the same time, PR firms are hiring candidates with special skills including videography and even comedy writing.

Key takeaways:

Janet Tyler, co-CEO and founder of Airfoil Public Relations
• The employee of the future will never look, act or think like another, they will understand the power of data is a connector and believe in the power of community.

Jack Martin, CEO, Hill+Knowlton Strategies
• Talent function is the most important part of the business

Fred Cook, CEO and President, Golin Harris
• Employees now go through an assessment process to uncover their strengths and passions which are furthered nurtured.

PR Newswire’s VP of Business Development on the agency vertical, Andrew Meranus talked on camera afterwards to Rob Flaherty, CEO and President of Ketchum and Peter Himler, Founding Principal of Flatiron Communications about these career twists and turns already happening in PR:

Hidden Gems for Social Marketing on a Shoestring from Stella & Dot

“Amy Gilmer, Social Media Director, Stella & Dot shows the audience a screen shot of one of their more successful Facebook campaigns.” Photo credit: Diane Harrigan

If you’re going to hold a Facebook sweepstakes, give away the sort ofprize that will generate true fans to your brand.  The common iPad giveaway is not always the best choice says online jewelry innovators Stella & Dot.  Social Media Director Amy Gilmer says they offer up the sort of sparkle their followers savor – a chic necklace or gold cuff.

Donning her own Stella & Dot estate necklace, Gilmer shared best practices to leveraging key channels at the Social Media Strategies Summit in SanFrancisco.

Gilmer says every social channel needs an objective and her company’s goals are clearly defined.  She suggests for Facebook  — to create an interactive experience; encouraging fans to engage with the brand daily and share with their network.

Her tips include:

▪ 1-2 posts a day

▪ Maximum 250 characters

▪ Always include a photo

▪ Ask for engagement

▪ Reward loyalty

Gilmer recommends that brands experiment with the Facebook Offers feature that recently opened up to include e-commerce last week. The feature allows for coupon-style promotions that when claimed, display as an activity on the customer’s timeline.

Stella & Dot’s business is jewelry and accessories sold by over 12,000 women through Trunk Shows – each with their own website.  All that bling is promoted as eye candy over Instagram.  Stella & Dot’s aim is to expose brand culture and develop a human-like personality.  They want to share products in a visually stimulating way.   Over Twitter, the goal is to build relationships and engage with their community in a way that is meaningful.

“Twitter is a place to let your brands personality shine,” she says.  Promptly responding to messages is key, as is re-tweeting positive messages. @stelladot also offers up strong exposure and encouragement for sellers of their products.

Amy Gilmer’s generous amount of social savvy is helping the Stella &Dot brand reach new audiences and target new entrepreneurs to fulfill the company’s core vision outlined on their Facebook page, “[To] give every woman the means to style her own life.”

Related reading:

Developing a Facebook Plan for a Busy Small Business Owner

Is Facebook Right for Your Business?