Brands As Publishers - Digital Brand Strategy at iCrossing, a Hearst Company

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This is a document and concept written and developed by myself and other strategists at iCrossing. It focuses on the big shift in digital publishing, and the marketing imperative of brands becoming …

This is a document and concept written and developed by myself and other strategists at iCrossing. It focuses on the big shift in digital publishing, and the marketing imperative of brands becoming publishers to better connect in a highly interactive society.

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  • 1. FEBRUARY 2011icrossing + HEarstbuilding aconnEctEd brandHow brands bEcomE publisHErsin a rEal-timE markEting worldRELEASE 1.0by Adam Lavelle - Chief Strategy Officer, iCrossingwith Brian Haven, Alisa Leonard and Rob Garner 1
  • 2. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand1 The Big Shift: Brands Must Evolve Into Media Machines. Brands, media and audiences used to have distinct roles in the marketing relationship. Today those roles overlap, creating new opportunities and expectations. The traditional messaging model still plays a vital role for marketers. Placing brand advertising with media content consumed by audiences is an effective method to reach customers. But alone, the tactic is insufficient. Traditionally, media (and media companies) served as the meeting place for brands and audiences. But, media companies are no longer the sole connective tissue for brands to communicate with their customers. Today, all three are equal participants in an ecosystem where each party is both a content creator and distributor. This fundamental shift, while disruptive to the status quo, creates both opportunities and liabilities marketers cannot ignore. Figure 1: Brand, media, audience – BeFore & now BRAND BRAND MEDIA AUDIENCE MEDIA AUDIENCE BEFORE NOW People are now their own publishers of opinions, experiences and preferences. They share those sentiments with each other in social spaces. By working together, audiences have commandeered many of the functions of marketers, driving product awareness and influencing purchase decisions. They are telling both brands and each other just what they think – and they are doing it publicly, for others to find and see. Media properties are also learning to evolve as technology continues to give rise to the voice of the customer. Magazine articles and news stories no longer end when the writer or journalist finishes the piece. Media companies are now playing host to serious conversations, with readers functioning as active contributors to the story. Media innovators are learning to harness that user-generated content, responding to it, building on it, and using it to inform further editorial direction. They are listening to their audiences, and actively engaging with them. They are evolving into real-time curators of unique audiences, each with their own robust communities. © ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 2
  • 3. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand FEBRUARY 2011 Brands are expected to share back. As audiences increasingly talk directly to brands, brands are realizing that audiences are demanding more of them than simply shouting about their products and services. Audiences want to hear what brands have to say. Every day, millions of them are actively reaching out to connect with brands through digital channels. Nearly 15 million people “like” the Skittles Facebook page —opting in to daily messages from the candy brand. Zappos and Whole Foods each have nearly 2 million people following them on Twitter. Shoppers even pay for the content brands provide: witness the $.99 that iPhone users pay to download Kraft’s iFood Assistant app. Content moves through networks at lightning speeds at a pace marketers struggle to match. To complicate matters, one form of content can create another form of content, and another, and another — moving through a constant cycle of replication. Comments, re-mixes, mash-ups, parodies, derivatives — it seemingly never stops. And as the content replicates, it spreads through networks exposing hundreds or thousands of unique connections to audiences, creating public, visible histories of interaction. Conquering this rapid cycle, a significant aspect of the content ecosystem, can prove difficult. The Takeaways: As these three forces — brand, media and audience — blur together, the roles and expectations of each continue to change. Most importantly, for brands there are two key takeaways: 1) Brands are becoming their own media platforms Brand equity is no longer being created by media spend alone. Instead ‘earned’ media (visibility in search and social spaces, word-of-mouth, PR) and ‘owned’ media (a brand’s website, official Facebook and Twitter pages, branded apps, etc.) are becoming fundamental components of the story. 2) Always-on marketing is the new norm Audiences are increasingly expecting constant, consistent engagement from brands. Online stores are never closed, so marketing programs and customer service can’t be either. When consumers want to know more about a product, need answers to questions or are ready to take action, the brands are expected to be ready and responsive. Hearst and iCrossing are committed to working with brands that recognize this fundamental shift in marketing. Central to our approach is a marketing framework we call connectedness, an approach that focuses on how marketing gets done in a networked world. As our clients embrace this approach, brands become a new kind of publisher, interacting with their audiences wherever they are, whenever they want, armed with unique content that serves as the relationship-building currency they need. This results in higher degrees of loyalty and brand preference — not to mention the ability to more precisely influence purchase behaviors. 3
  • 4. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand2 Connected marketing presents new opportunities for brands. Brands have no choice but to rethink their current approaches to communication, customer engagement, and the metrics they use to determine success. The rules have changed. Connectedness is an approach to executing marketing in a networked world. It is a framework for, and a measure of how intimate a brand is with its audiences. It’s a characteristic of a brand, a ‘state of being.’ After all, a brand needs to be a living organism in today’s marketing world, not an object, not a loudspeaker yelling at people. Connectedness is a way of thinking about how successful brands do marketing: focusing on audiences, not targets; engaging in dialogue, not shouting; and developing trust that is meaningful and lasting. We see connectedness and measure it by looking at a brand’s visibility to its audiences, its usefulness to those audiences, its usability (the ease of doing business with the brand), the brand’s ability to create desire, and finally, its level of engagement with its customers. A new approach is required for brands that wish to leverage the strengths of earned and owned media, and adopt meaningful customer engagement as keys to marketing success. To reinvigorate a brand and strive for category leadership, brands need to become: Aware. Gone are the days of immense “consumer” A new approach is required studies conducted every several years — audiences’ for brands that wish to needs and behaviors are now changing dramatically leverage the strengths of within much shorter timeframes. Brands need to stay on earned and owned media, top of what’s truly important to audiences at any given and adopt meaningful time — sometimes even minute-to-minute. It is less about isolated market research data and more about customer engagement as understanding your customers, in the moment. keys to marketing success. Agile. Brands need to adapt quickly and precisely to shifting audience attitudes, interests and behaviors. What’s required? New processes for creating and distributing content on a frequent and reactive basis. Active. Brands need to play an active role in the digital ecosystem by reaching out to audiences for interactive, two-way conversations. Those that don’t will either cease to be relevant with online audiences or relinquish control of their brand image to the whims of the masses. Brands that mobilize around these themes, focusing on content and community, moving at the speed of the net, and integrating their programs not just across traditional and digital channels, but across the entire bought, earned and owned media landscapes, will define themselves as connected brands, and will win in the marketplace. © ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 4
  • 5. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand FEBRUARY 20113 Content And Community Are Essential Ingredients. audiences expect brands to support them throughout their decisioning journey, providing information and assistance in real- time. marketers that fail to deliver erode brand equity. At the core of a connected experience is Figure 2A: avery, home depot, and rei content. Procter and Gamble provides recipes and craft ideas on its Home Made Simple site, while North Face and REI have developed iPhone apps that report snow conditions on popular ski trails. Pampers.com has a complete tool set for moms including helpful information for every stage of the child- raising journey, and Avery helps moms stay organized through its Organization Of Moms Facebook community. The Home Depot has produced hundreds of do-it-yourself videos for its YouTube channel. The implication for marketers who want to create connected experiences: beyond campaigns and campaign assets, brands need to create and distribute meaningful content at significant scale, and at increasing velocities. Figure 2B: ally Bank and Best Buy But content alone does not create a connected brand. Content may be the currency, but active engagement is how a brand comes to life: content is shared, discussed, re-formed and amplified. This is a new breed of communications strategy, where connected brands participate in live, active dialogue with their audiences. Comcast, Jetblue and Best Buy provide customer service experiences through Twitter. Skechers and bebe partner with Kim Kardashian (armed with her 5M Twitter followers and 4M Facebook fans) to cultivate conversations with their audiences. Ally Bank doesn’t just listen to what its customers are saying in social spaces and on their blog, they use those conversations to inform new products and services. In all of these examples, it’s the synergy between content creation, sharing and community engagement that yields success. 5
  • 6. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand4 The Connected Marketing Playbook. Brands need a framework to thrive in an always-on world. Our approach provides the foundation necessary for brands to succeed. Marketers are struggling with changes in the media landscape, and are determined to figure out how to take advantage of them. Do we just create a Facebook page and call it a day? Do I use Twitter for customer service? What content should I be producing? What makes good content, and what do with it? Can I control the conversation? How do I pull off the ‘live’ experi- ences my audiences expect? We are helping marketers answer these and other questions, by identifying and developing programs across four must-have areas: • Listening: ongoing analysis of customer sentiment, expectations and intent • Creation: content publishing, from high-quality branded content to real-time responsiveness • Engagement: continuous dialogue with audiences, backed by defined governance models • Measurement: benchmarking a brand’s performance within the networks and ways to optimize Figure 3: the connected Brand system LISTEN MEASURE CREATE ENGAGE The Connected Brand System Listening uses both comprehensive research studies coupled with real-time monitoring to en- sure that a brand’s insights about their audiences are not only deep, but current as well. Those findings drive the creation and distribution of the appropriate forms of content. A varied mix of content ranging from high-production branded content to the harnessing of audience-gener- ated content then flows across an ecosystem of publishing systems. As that content flows, au- dience managers guide it to the right venues, motivate audiences to engage and participate in continuing dialogue. As this engagement happens, metrics determine what content, and which actions are successful. Ongoing optimization ensures that the appropriate mix and speed is used to keep the audience engaged. Finally, all of this information feeds back into the listening process to enhance overall insights and inform the content that will be created going forward. © ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 6
  • 7. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand FEBRUARY 2011To guide our clients through the essential activities for building successful and sustainablereal-time marketing programs, we’ve developed The Connected Marketing Playbook.These activities center around the four key areas described on the previous page: listening,creating content, engaging audiences and measurement. A Create a customer listening program.A gap exists between the tactics in the typical marketingtoolkit and the behavior of audiences in today’s digital land-scape. Marketers typically turn to focus groups, surveys andcustomer satisfaction analysis to understand an audience —but they stop there. As a result, brands are out of touch withaudiences’ digital behaviors — and most of their advertisingand marketing efforts prove it. While all of these techniquesare still useful, they don’t tell the full story. There are nu-merous techniques to understand how audiences behave,including conversation monitoring and analysis, search data,persona development, web analytics, campaign performancedata, social media activity data and more. These newertechniques improve a brand’s understanding of who theiraudiences are, where they are in the network, and how theybehave— a substantial enhancement of insight over mean Together, iCrossingincome and gender. and Hearst can help marketers form aAdditionally, much of this information can be collected now, detailed and accuratein real-time — and should be, because it’s continually chang-ing and providing insights. This means marketers need to picture of a brand’sshift their thinking — audience insights don’t happen in quar- target audiences — andterly or annual research sessions, they demand listening right ensure that it’s alwaysnow. Knowing and understanding this information in real time up-to-date.is essential for a connected brand to develop and maintainan effective strategy. Audience needs and desires shift in themoment, and marketers and audience managers need toadapt the content accordingly to remain relevant.Leveraging both its own resources and those of its par-ent company, the Hearst Corporation, iCrossing helpsmarketers form a detailed and accurate picture of abrand’s audiences— and ensures that the insights arealways up-to-date.Our listening methods are targeted specifically at digitalaudiences. We leverage numerous data sources to give us abaseline understanding of audiences’ media consumption,technology adoption and online behavior. We layer on ourown research into how audiences make decisions online, theroles that various media channels play in the process, andwhat (or who) the influencers are at each step along the way.We leverage best-in-class monitoring tools — like Radian6,Buzzmetrics, Cymfony and others — to listen to onlineconversations and understand what specific communities 7
  • 8. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand are saying about our clients and their competitors. And with our proprietary linguistic profiling methods, we mine search data to identify what people need and want. We find exact language so our clients can connect with audiences using the audience’s own vernacular. Leveraging insights from Hearst’s media properties (magazines, websites, newspapers and more) we are also able to keep attuned to changes in the aspirations, attitudes and emotional needs of the audience groups that brands want. With a rich subscriber database, ongoing custom research programs, and active reader panels, Hearst pro- vides insights and informed opinions into what inspires and intrigues audiences right now. Hearst’s expertise ranges from broad categories like teens, women, and men, to specific interest areas like beauty, green living and retail shopping trends. Figure 4: customer listening program S NEL R PA EADE DEMOGRAP HICS TRADITIONAL IVE R CU ST O MARKET RESEARCH ACT ME RS ATI CH SFA AR CTIO SEDIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHY RE N EXP O M ST FOC ER IEN CU US TIA ASE GR LM UP TAB O AP S PIN G SU RVE DA R CON YS IBE VERSATI ON & MONI CR TORIN G UBS LING UIS RICH S TIC P HEARST RO RESEARCH FIL ES & INSIGHTS SEA RCH iCROSSING ACTIVI “LIVE” AUDIENCE TIES TRACKING AUDIENCE INSIGHTS & PERSONAS (Needs, Desires, Aspirations) This combination of traditional research efforts, Hearst media insights and iCrossing digital audience knowledge provides brands with the needed intelligence to develop powerful and effective programs. Programs that are authentic, intimate and connected to desired audiences. © ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 8
  • 9. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand FEBRUARY 2011 B Develop a process for content creation and distribution.There is a tendency to think that an effective tactic to marketing in an always-onenvironment, rife with chatter, spam and other noise that may keep a brand from achievingits rightful share of voice, is to simply push out massive amounts of content. After all,consumers are likely to produce more content about your brand, more quickly than yourmarketing department ever could. There is a bit of a content war going on online, and brandsare on the front lines, like it or not.We believe success lies in distributing the right content to the right audience in the rightplaces at the right time. And that’s a tricky thing to figure out. What topics will engageaudiences the most? Where will content have the most impact — in a blog, on Twitter, or ona branded website? How often does new content need to be distributed and how quicklydo audience comments need to be addressed? Even if marketers find the answers to thesequestions, they still need to develop the content. Articles, stories, video, photos, blog posts,and responses to audience-generated content — new ideas for specific pieces of content— all need to be produced. For many marketers, the resources and expertise required for areal-time marketing program can be daunting or just simply undoable.With expert content strategists, content creators and premium material at our fingertips,the unique combination of iCrossing and Hearst can help brands create and distributecontent efficiently and effectively.iCrossing’s dedicated content team is coupled with Hearst experts and resources, giving usaccess to an extensive editorial network for the development of premium content. We canalso tap Hearst’s deep archives of existing editorial content assets for brand use. And ofcourse, because we adjust our plans on an ongoing basis, much of the content we produceis developed dynamically, on-the-fly. Throughout the content development process, we alsoinvolve iCrossing’s creative and user experience experts, who ensure a smooth and consistentbrand experience as audiences follow the content trail from search to Facebook to a brandwebsite and beyond.Connected Brands Create & Inspire Content From Many ParticipantsWhile content, sharing and community are at the foundation of a successful connected brand,not all content is created equal. The digital network through which content is published,consumed and re-purposed is increasingly multifaceted. The complexity of creating anddistributing content aligned with audiences’ needs and desires requires a robust approach.Therefore, a content platform for a connected brand is: Relevant to the audiences’ needs first. Many marketers put their own needs ahead of their customers. Pressure to meet financial objectives, achieve disjointed marketing metrics, or simply believing that buyers of the brand are still “consumers,” drive marketers to miss the mark. Connected brands know that business objectives begin with an audience need, and that’s no different with content creation. Content must be useful to the audience, otherwise there’s no reason for them to engage. 9
  • 10. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand Cohesive across touch points. Content creation must be diverse to meet audience needs, but it also must tell a larger brand story. Content generated by a brand should align thematically across all touch points, ensuring that the subject matter aligns with audience expectations and allows them to accept, or give permission, for the brand to engage on the topic. Designed to foster engagement. While not all content created will generate massive amounts of interaction, brands should strive to achieve that interactivity as often as possible. One significant tactic to creating engaging content is listening. The brand audience provides ample information about what is interesting, exciting, and useful for them; all the brand has to do is observe their behaviors and listen to the words they say. Built into a robust content plan, this feedback can be invaluable to keeping people engaged. Sourced from the appropriate creator. Most marketers cringe at the thought of generating the volumes of content required to maintain an engaged audience. But marketers need to remember that they don’t have to generate the content alone. Brand content can come from within the company, from agency and media partners, aggregated from third parties, and developed in conjunction with the brands audiences (see Figure 5: Content Continuum) Adaptive to modification by all parties. Brands no longer have full control of the content created about them. Content can be owned by the brand, influenced by the brand, or merely observed (see Figure 6: Degrees of Content Control). Any content, regardless of source, ‘belongs’ to all other participants in the dialogue. This means it can be repurposed or recreated in newer and more meaningful ways. The connected brand’s role is to design for, allow, encourage and facilitate these modifications. Once the content created by a brand becomes the ownership of the audience, it’s more valuable and it brings that audience closer to the brand because it’s a co-creation. Figure 5: content continuum AUDIENCE BRAND COMMISSIONED PARTNERED AGGREGATED CONVERSATIONAL GENERATED Pre-existing or New, custom Pre-existing Pre-existing Short, rapid Personal content newly created content requested content created content created interactions frequently content by the by the brand by partners by third-parties between among created by the brand’s staff audiences and audience, about between the the brand or audience and tangentially brand related to the brand© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 10
  • 11. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand FEBRUARY 2011These content sources can be classified into three primary categories: 1) Owned—fullyin the control by the brand, 2) Influenced—requested by the brand but not necessarilycontrolled, and 3) Observed—outside the control of the brand, but still usable (and critical) toa connected brand’s content strategy.Figure 6: degrees oF content control AUDIENCE BRAND COMMISSIONED PARTNERED AGGREGATED CONVERSATIONAL GENERATEDCONTENTSOURCES OWNED INFLUENCED OBSERVEDConnected Brands Share Content at the Appropriate VelocityContent that is created for the appropriate situation and activated by audience managementmust be distributed at the necessary speed to remain relevant since content exists in manyforms and it takes varying amounts of time to prepare. Sometimes weeks or months ofresearch are required to answer a complex question, other times it’s a rapid and instantaneousdialogue — and any type of content can inspire or instigate the creation of a different type. It’sthis robust cycle of content creation that demonstrates the need for content that can be sharedin a manner that: Allows for the proper preparation time. Some content may require extensive research or preparation, from investigative editorial article to a long-form video, these types of content don’t happen overnight. Additionally, some content is instantaneous, from comments on a blog to @replies on Twitter, a brand need to be prepared and have a plan to respond. Content plans and the appropriate staff are critical components to bringing these disparate forms of content to life in the same ecosystem. Transforms when appropriate, spanning long-term to real-time. Any piece of content can instigate a flurry of responses by an audience, derivative content that can spread like wildfire. Additionally, some content should be designed for change, allowing the audience to transform it into something completely different. Perhaps a long- form, in-depth article motivates a days-long discussion about the implications. Or perhaps the advice of an expert inspires the audience to test the advice and capture it on video. Any piece of content must be designed to consider multiple forms of derivative output. Achieves the necessary velocity of distribution. Each form of content within the Content Continuum has a different pace for development. As content moves from Owned to Influenced to Observed, the pace becomes evermore explosive. As a result, different content development strategies are employed given the preparation times involved. In fact, there are different types of people employed along the way, but they all must work in a tight knit, integrated fashion to ensure a fluid process. 11
  • 12. iCROSSING: Building a Connected BrandFigure 7: the content continuum + velocity VELOCITY COMMISSIONED AUDIENCECONTENT BRAND PARTNERED AGGREGATED CONVERSATIONAL GENERATEDSOURCES OWNED INFLUENCED OBSERVED Presents an appropriate amount of information to the audience. Distributing these types of content in the right channels and at the right pace will play a significant role in the level of audience engagement. Too fast, and they get overwhelmed. Too slow… boring. A highly-astute staff must monitor the pace of content generation and distribution (both internally and externally) to ensure the proper flow. Promotes dialogue, not just consumption. Content must be shared in a way that it facilitates a conversation. Long gone are the days of “consumption,” media control, and push-only messages. As the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto observed, “markets are conversations”. Connected brands contribute content and perspective to these conversations, but the dialogue belongs to the audience as well. This means that content must be shared in a venue that is optimized for the desired method of response — perhaps YouTube for video responses, or Facebook for polling.© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 12
  • 13. FEBRUARY 2011C Actively Manage Content and CommunitiesContent alone does not produce a successful connected marketing program. Nor does astand-alone Facebook page or Twitter account. No matter how strong their initial foray intobranded content or social media, many marketers lack a plan for sustaining their efforts on along-term basis. Today’s real-time, networked environment requires that brands produce rich,engaging content on an ongoing basis and continually cultivate relationships with audiences.Brands that can’t keep up with these constant demands will see their online presence startto languish, along with their opportunity to reach audiences and convert them to brandadvocates.Hearst and iCrossing believe that there’s a synergy between a strong content strategy and anactive audience management plan. Through this approach, we compound the value of ourclients’ real-time marketing efforts. We develop and execute a Communications Architecture,that requires specific strategy and planning skills to leverage the expertise of individuals whounderstand the reciprocal relationship between content, community and crafting ongoingbrand narratives across multiple touch points through content and conversation.Whether it’s reaching out to audiences in existing communities or fostering dialog andrelationships in communities that we build, iCrossing’s teams work on behalf of the brandto engender deeper engagement with audiences. Depending on the client and the contentstrategy, our daily efforts might include posting updates to a brand’s Facebook page,responding to questions or comments on Twitter, or directly emailing influential bloggerswithin a community. But beyond simply publishing content, our community managersplay an active role in iterative content development. We turn audiences’ comments intoconversations by creating polls, open questions, and other dialogue-based content intendedto amplify conversation and interaction within a community. We leverage the ContentContinuum to create assets, publish them to appropriate media formats, and propagate themacross the brand’s digital ecoystem (see Figure 8: Connected Marketing Ecosystem). Alldelivered within the wrapper of a defined governance model, and brought to life through anengagement strategy.Figure 8: connected marketing ecosystem MEDIA Partner .com Brand 3rd Party Facebook YouTube PLATFORMS Site Flickr Blog Site Twitter • Article • Editorial Article • Blog Post • Status Update • Tweet CONTENT • Story • Brand Mention • Blog Comments • Facebook “Like” • Retweet • Photo • Comments • Blog Link • Facebook Comment • Twitter Follow TYPES • Video • Link to Brand • Video Embed • Facebook Poll Response • Twitter @Reply AUDIENCE MANAGEMENT AUDIENCE BRAND COMMISSIONED PARTNERED AGGREGATED CONVERSATIONAL GENERATED OWNED INFLUENCED OBSERVED CONTENT DEVELOPMENT GOVERNANCE 13
  • 14. iCROSSING: Building a Connected BrandBy continually keeping the community engaged, we encourage audiences to create anenormous amount of additional branded content in the form of tweets, comments, statusupdates, and likes. This audience-generated content magnifies both the volume and speedof branded messages throughout the network — and it does so in an extremely cost-effectivemanner. Because we’re always in the loop on what audiences are talking about, we’re able toconstantly feed new ideas into the content strategy and master content plan.Connected Brands Embrace The Art & Science of Audience EngagementWhile content is the critical ingredient, and sharing the essential frequency, community is theprocess that activates that content and defines the pace. The ‘network effect’ of a publishedpiece of content can result in hundreds or thousands of unique connections to audiences,creating public, visible histories of interaction. For brands to be relevant today, they need toentrench themselves where people already spend time, across the fluid ecosystem of digitalchannels. Managing this ecosystem is a full-time job. It must leverage the expertise andskills of talented individuals who understand the engagement landscape, the power of smartcontent, and who think and function as strategists, communications designers, and userexperience experts. Architecting and managing activities embedded within this ecosystemrequires an audience manager who can: Be the steward and voice. A connected brand exists and participates in many places. Some are owned, like the website or microsites. Some are semi-owned, such as social spaces like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Others are not owned, like forums and blogs. Regardless of the venue, the brand needs audience manager(s) who can speak on behalf of the brand in a unified and consistent voice. Many of these individuals become quasi- celebrities as stewards of the brand, so marketers need to find a person (or people) with not only the right skill, but also with the personality that aligns with the brand and is inviting to audiences. Encourage an active dialogue. The audience manager has to be both a good listener and a social butterfly. Much like a conductor, they must orchestrate many different topics and ensure that the audience stays engaged. Their tactics span from issuing requests for content, to soliciting stories to sharing new content. It’s a never-ending process of monitoring, encouraging, activating and conversing. Enhance the visibility of content. But audience managers don’t just engage in conversations with the audience, they also promote and distribute content. Some of that content is contributed by the brand (Owned or Influenced content) and made available through various digital channels. Additionally, sometimes that content is created by the audience themselves. Either way, the audience manager acts as the hub making sure anyone who might be interested knows the content exists. Lastly, iCrossing’s audience managers access search and social data, to ensure the visibility of content in search engines and relevant social spaces. Drive buzz and word-of-mouth. Getting the word out is not only the job of the audience manager. The audience itself plays a crucial role in exposing the brand and the conversation to new people. The audience manager must ensure that the community has all of the tools, motivation, and interest they need to spread the work. Audience managers use techniques like contests, promotions, and audience generated content initiatives.© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 14
  • 15. FEBRUARY 2011 Create and inspire derivative content. Just like spreading the word is a role for the audience, so is the creation of content. An effective audience manager actively encourages the audience to create new content or enhance and modify content contributed by the brand. It’s a process of co-creating that furthers engagement and brings people closer to the brand. Build relationships with influencers. Some audience members are of significant importance because they are key influencers — they also inspire the audience. The audience manager constantly seeks out and identifies these influencers and engages in relationships with them to help promote both the brand, and the influencer themselves. This mutual benefit helps motivate these influencers to amplify brand messages. Contribute to an enhanced audience experience. In many ways, the audience manager becomes an extension of the brand’s products or services. The engaging interactions they inspire contribute directly to the overall brand and audience experience. Connected brands differentiate themselves from the competition by using audience management and robust content strategies to enhance the experience.D Measure and optimize.The point of connected marketing is to help brands maximize their marketing spend bycreating deeper engagement with audiences. While many marketers have jumped on thesocial media bandwagon to create a branded presence on Facebook or Twitter, they’re just notseeing results. Or worse: they don’t even know how to measure their performance. In order totake full advantage of their investments in real-time marketing, marketers need to understandwhat content is getting the most traction in the community — and how it’s performing acrosspaid, owned and earned media.Our dedicated measurement teams and proprietary technology enable us to quantify theresults of our marketing programs and make strategic adjustments to our approach over time— ensuring a positive ROI.We start by creating an initial baseline for audiences’ conversations around a brand. Webenchmark KPIs such as blog mentions, social signals and referral traffic and then monitorthese metrics over time to understand what’s working — and what’s not. We measureconversions from Facebook fan pages and referral traffic from Twitter followers, which allowus to determine the actual value of a brand’s participation on these sites. Our real strength liesin our proprietary platform that tracks audience behavior across SEO, SEM, display, brandwebsites, and social spaces in order to create a robust understanding of who’s engagingwith what content and where. In addition, our custom Web-based marketing intelligencedashboards enable our clients and our internal teams to view all content performance dataat a glance.Once we understand how certain pieces of content are performing in different contexts, we’reable to adjust the content strategy and master content plan accordingly — creating additionalcontent around a hot topic or scaling down our efforts on a particular site. Often, we’re able toadjust our programs that same day. Our ability to continually fine-tune our approach ensuresthat brands are always getting the most of their marketing budget. 15
  • 16. iCROSSING: Building a Connected Brand5 iCrossing + Hearst: Your Connected Marketing Partners Creating and managing a connected marketing program takes preparation and strategic vision. It also requires an ability to see and react to changes in audience behavior and conversations as they happen. This is clearly one of the biggest challenges that marketers will face in the years ahead — and many are unprepared. Marketing programs at most companies simply aren’t designed to keep up with audience expectations for real-time content and interactions. Marketers spend months designing and developing microsites — and years on their primary .com properties. They treat social media efforts as on-again, off-again campaigns with stringent review processes that cripple new content development. And while analytics platforms can provide immediate visibility into data trends, most marketers don’t look at their website or search analytics data until they’re months out of date. In short, many brands are stuck in old-fashioned marketing practices that aren’t conducive to — and actually hinder — active participation with audiences in a connected manner. To succeed with connected marketing, brands need to align with partners who can inspire people around the world through rich content – and distribute that content to audiences precisely when and where they need it. iCrossing and Hearst have joined forces to do just that. iCrossing is a full-service digital marketing agency. Our heritage in search engine marketing and optimization affords us unmatched skills in understanding what online audiences need and defining how to distribute content so that it’s highly visible to the right audiences. Our social media strategists and community managers keep an active pulse on audience attitudes and conversations for brands as diverse as bebe, The LEGO Group and Mazda. We’ve got data in our DNA and a relentless focus on measurement, so our clients always know how effective their marketing efforts are. Our clients also have access to our proprietary tools for audience research, analytics and content optimization. Hearst’s creative legacy provides a complement to iCrossing’s deep technical expertise. With 14 U.S. magazine brands – six of which are over 100 years old — Hearst has mastered the art of understanding audiences’ ever-changing needs and creating branded content that’s fresh and relevant. To support its publishing engine, Hearst has world class resources including a global network or editors and writers, digital photography and video studios, and a deep archive of historical content. Marketers can leverage all of these resources for their own branded content programs. And marketers can tap into Hearst’s extensive distribution network, which reaches a truly global audience through 14 magazines, 24 websites, 10 mobile websites, and nearly 200 international editions. Each month, Hearst’s U.S. magazines alone reach 72.6 million readers, and its websites draw 21 million unique visitors. © ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 16
  • 17. FEBRUARY 2011Brands can leverage the authenticity and authority associated with brands like Good House-keeping, Esquire, Popular Mechanics and Seventeen by tapping Hearst’s vast editorial net-work and its archive of evergreen articles and images. Hearst offers premium content in thefollowing areas such as Luxury, Beauty, Family, Men, Moms, Food & Home, Technology andYoung Women.Figure 9: hearst content category Breakdown LUXURY MEN MOMS FOOD & HOME YOUNG WOMEN 17
  • 18. iCROSSING: Building a Connected BrandBy combining our respective talents, iCrossing and Hearst help marketers connect withaudiences through real-time marketing programs. Here are a few examples of how we makethis work: Hearst insights are used to advise brands on topics that might be of particular interest to certain communities. iCrossing taps into Hearst archives and commissions new content from Hearst’s network to create branded content for sites, Facebook pages, microsites, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, and many others. iCrossing curates relevant text, images, video, etc. from Hearst archives to create branded service or entertainment-focused display ads that can be displayed on Hearst and/or third-party properties. iCrossing leverages its robust technology platform to monitor, track and distribute content throughout the ecosystem, providing a technological platform to support a connected brand.© ICROSSING. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 18
  • 19. FEBRUARY 20116 How can we help you? iCrossing and Hearst have joined forces to help marketers create communities around rich, engaging content. We’re developing powerful connected marketing programs for some of the world’s top brands — and our combined expertise in social media, search technology, content creation, distribution and community cultivation means that we can help marketers sustain these programs for years to come. You might want to talk to us if you: Struggle to keep up with the rapid changes in your audience’s needs, wants, interests and conversations online. Want to figure out the right level of active participation for your brand. Aren’t sure what kind of content will best engage consumers. Aren’t ready to build an internal editorial department. Lack the resources to continually engage with your consumers. Seek skills and approaches to measure the ROI of your social media efforts. We want to help you succeed in today’s real-time marketing environment. Please connect with us: Join the dialogue: http://thecontentlab.icrossing.com Email us: thecontentlab@icrossing.com Call us: 866.620.3780 Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/icrossing Become a fan on Facebook: facebook.com/icrossing Read our minds a Great Finds, the iCrossing blog: greatfinds.icrossing.com 19