The App-li-fied life!

The Mobile App Phenomenon and its Impact

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It will come to you as a shock, but sources suggest that an average American spends almost 4 hours a day interacting with apps on his/ her smart phone. Thus, it’s only fair to say that apps are taking over our lives, in a good way though. Through this piece, I am making an attempt to highlight how our lives have been ‘applified’ by the apps that we have on our smart phones and how terms like ‘Retargetting & Geo-targetting’ are silently changing the way we live.

Let me use myself as an example. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels crippled without her mobile phone. Every free minute or second that I have, I’m on it, sometimes checking my Instagram feed or looking for things to do over the weekend on Group on etc. I can leave my apartment without my keys and be less worried about how I’m going to get back in, but God forbid, I forget my phone at home, it turns my world upside down. My borderline anxiety starts kicking in for the fear of losing out, staying out of touch with my friends and family. So, wherever I may be, I find my way back to fetch my phone. That said, it’s imperative to state that I have 23 apps on my phone which I’ve divided into the following categories. These categories are listed in order of priority and the amount of time I spend on each.

  • Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Snapchat
  • Discounts & Deals : GroupOn
  • Health & Beauty: Sephora
  • Music Apps: Savn, Gaana, Spotify, Pandora
  • Food: Yelp
  • Messaging: Whatsapp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger
  • Transportation & Navigation: Uber, Lyft, Google maps
  • News: Times of India, Apple News
  • Reading: Wattpad
  • Payment: Venmo, Paypal

The apps that I have on my phone provide huge insights about my personality, preferences, likes and dislikes. Independent research agencies like comScore, Nielsen, SmartInsights, eMarketer, MediaKix, Pew Research Center etc aggregate this kind of information about users to help brands refine their target audience online and maximize their reach without significant spill over. Coming back to the apps on my phone, I can’t possibly pay equal attention to each one listed above, it’s too much work, and I’m already spending 4 hours plus on my phone a day, add another few minutes and I may just have to cut down on my sleep to accommodate my phone-o- mania. So, I’m going to filter this list and tell you the 5 apps that I like the best, use the most and how they have made my life easy.

  1. Instagram

It has the most relevant content. I can choose the brands and people I like and will receive content only from them. Ads are few and mostly relevant. So, I usually see ads for brands that I may have researched in the past, or have contemplated buying or competing brands in the same category, which means that they use retargeting to reach out to me Ex: I researched about Michael Kors for my earlier blog and am being followed around by it all across the internet, wherever I go. Facebook which is the parent company of Instagram, calls this type of behavioral retargeting ‘Dynamic ads’

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  1. GroupOn

Considering that I am new to New York, a lot of my friends recommended that I download this app and honestly, I couldn’t be happier as it tells me about all the major events, sales, discounted salon and restaurant experiences around me. Not just that, it also offers really good deals on them. But the question that arises is -how does GroupOn know what I like to do in my free time? To find the answer, I did a little bit of snooping on the internet and discovered that GroupOn makes huge investments in email marketing. They target certain markets and sends personalized emails to potential clients, sometimes amounting to around 5 billion emails every month. In order to personalize these emails, Groupon collects data such as age, gender, zipcode and what you buy or click on. Once all this data is collected they process it and then know what deals should be sent where or to whom they should be sent. So, they use a mix of retargetting, geo-targeting and email marketing to create the perfect balance for consumers that use the app for deals and business owners that promote their brands on the app.

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  1. Uber

 I love Uber, I mean who doesn’t, its fast, convenient and the pool option really makes traveling economical. Uber can manage this only because of effectively using geo- targeting capabilities that use the rider’s location to match them with the closest possible car. It also lets drivers know which route has minimum traffic and alarms them about accidents or road blocks. Not just that, Uber also uses Geo- fencing that prevents drivers from clogging roads and parking structures close to airports, hospitals, schools and other sensitive areas.

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  1. Sephora

 Make up is a girl’s best friend, haven’t heard that one before? Blogger Justina Perro in her blog post titled ‘5 real app examples of killer geo-fencing push notifications’  mentions that she happened to spend almost $300 in response to a push notification she received from the Sephora store on walking past it in Boston. The message to her was an instant reminder of the very many Sephora gift cards she never used, and it was the perfect opportunity to redeem them. Now do you believe me?

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  1. Google Maps:

Google maps has been my savior. It would have been almost impossible for a directionally challenged person like me to navigate the streets of New York City if not for Google Maps. Its precision is par excellence, it gives you the exact route for a particular place by car, train, cab, cycle and foot, or a mix of all of these. It also remembers the places that you went to in the past and suggests locations you are looking for even before you type them out. It tells you the expected time of arrival to your destination and also tells you if you are going to be late. Every evening maps sends me a push notification telling me the best time to head home to beat traffic. It also gives me options of the best bars and eateries around me depending on my location. That’s the magic of geo targeting and geo fencing.

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References:

 

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The ‘Kors’ of Action

A Social Media Audit of the brand Michael Kors

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In today’s post, I will be presenting some of the findings from my primary assessment of Michael Kors’ social media presence and the overall social media strategy deployed by the brand.

Michael Kors as we all know is a premium- bridge to luxury lifestyle brand with a jet-set look and feel that is a mélange of style, elegance and sport. The company was founded in New York City in 1981 by Michael Kors, a fashion designer of global repute who also serves as the Chairman of Michael Kors Holdings Limited to this day, while the organization continues to flourish under his leader. The company primarily has just two collections- Michael Kors Collection & MICHAEL Michael Kors Collection of which the Michael Kors collection is more luxurious and coveted while the MICHAEL Michael collection offers affordable luxury items. The brand’s complete product line includes clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, fragrances and beauty products for women and men, though the offerings are largely skewed towards women, making the men’s range short and limited in terms of line items.

Michael Kors as a brand maintains a customer centric approach in general which is also evident from their impeccable customer experience at any of the brand’s retail stores. However, the real question is ‘Does the brand’s customer centricity transcend into its social media experience’. In order to find the answer, I studied MK’s social media presence and listed my findings pertaining to the brands’ popularity, consumer engagement levels, quality of branded content, frequency of content posted and assessed the category’s competitive landscape.

MK’s Social Media Presence and Account types:

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  • Twitter
    • Global handle @Michaelkors
    • Local handle for japan only @MichaelKorsJP
    • No customer care handle available
    • Didn’t find any complaint tweets directed at the brand
  • Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat and Tumblr-
    • One global page/channel
    • No customer care page separately available
    • Brand doesn’t respond to complaints on social media at all

MK’s Branded Content Strategy and Content Quality Assessment

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Twitter

  • Catchy one line descriptions
  • Relevant #tags
  • Text posts, good quality visuals, Gifs and video posts
  • Retweet celebrities that tag them in their posts ex: Priyanka Chopra –CDFAA awards

 Facebook: Extremely creative and engaging video content

  • Intriguing carousal ads back linked to website
  • Picture collages
  • video content, gifs and boomerangs- funny interviews with Michael Kors, celebrity one on ones, season’s looks, tech speak, gifs, holiday destinations, runway show snippets,
  • All merchandise posts have a link to that particular product on the website
  • All posts are not identical with the ones on Instagram, though the theme is largely fashion oriented.
  • Facebook live feature though used, is largely underutilized

Instagram:

  • High quality images and videos of merchandise along with prices.
  • Inadequate use of #tags
  • No consumer reviews or experiences, just pushing merchandise at prospective buyers.
  • Don’t respond to negative feed back and complaints in time
  • Some posts are the same as Facebook along with the same captions
  • Instagram live and stories feature not used
  • Uses the paid ads feature

Pinterest:

  • 216K followers, 324K active pins.
  • Only Image content
  • Versatile content including- style trends, architecture, holiday destinations, picturesque locations, home décor items, candid captures, abstract shapes and things (bubbles, feathers, flowers etc. ) and designs inspired from each of these.

YouTube:

  • 59K subscribers
  • High quality video content
  • Themes: seasonal style trends , Kors commute (celeb interaction with Kors), product presentation, destination videos, Smartwatch and tech overview, CSR events snippets, runway show clips, Brand alliance videos ( Vogue, Mc Laren- Honda, Important days ( Mother’s day )

Snapchat:

  • Preview of runway looks, CDFAA and other award show looks.
  • New arrival snippets
  • Specialized Snapchat filters(Michael Kors sunglasses that could be superimposed on a user’s face, letting the shopper virtually try the glasses)
  • Tumblr:
  • High quality images, Gifs and boomerangs with relevant #tags and no text descriptions

Blogs: divided into 4 sections

  • Jetset- Subtabs with specialized blogs-Travel Diaries-Celebrities-Around the World
  • Michael’s Edit-Subtabs with specialized blogs- Trend Report- Michael’s must haves- Spotlight On (season’s essentials)
  • Runway- Runway shows- Look book- Ad campaigns (spring, Holiday, Resort & Fall)
  • Kors Cares- Initiatives In Corporate Social Responsibility

MK’s Social Media Engagement level across platforms:Mk9.png

  • Twitter- 3.5 million followers, average per post like- 110 likes a post and 50 retweets
  • Facebook- 16.8 million followers, 17 million page likes and engagement rate per week is 0.1%
  • Instagram- 10.2 million followers, 50,000 like per post on an average, 150 likes per post.
  • Pinterest- 216K followers, 34,431 pins , 100 pins per image on an average irrespective of outliers
  • YouTube-over 5,000 views on most videos
  • Tumblr- 70 notes on each post on an average

Post Frequency:

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  • Twitter- 3 tweets a day on an average
  • Facebook- once in two days. Inconsistent
  • Instagram- 1-2 posts a day on an average except for events, where they add multiple pictures from the event on the same day
  • Pinterest- doesn’t’t give the frequency of the post
  • YouTube- inconsistent- sometimes they post once a week, sometimes twice or more and sometimes they don’t post for weeks together.
  • Snapchat- no stories in the last 24 hours.
  • Tumblr- content last uploaded in August 2016
  • Blog – hard to list frequency for content under each section of the blog

Competitive landscape:

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Comparative study of MK’s top 3 competitors:

Ralph Lauren Donna Karan Calvin Klein
Twitter  2 m followers.Content very similar to Michael Kors with the exception that they portray golfers as part of the polo collection.Most of their content is Images, very few videos. Inconsistent content posting, gaps in months between posts. 565K m followers.Image heavy content. Fewer celebrities quoted.Images visibly different from Michael Kors. Consistent one post a day. 3.3 m followers.Mix of videos and image content. Black and white images for dramatic effect, behind the scenes and workshop posts. Celebrity heavy, equal priority to men and women’s looks. Most photos in indoor setting.
Facebook 8m followers.Mix of video and image content. Content very similar to Michael Kors. 1.7 m followers. Separate page for DKNY fragrances. Pushes the same content on twitter and Instagram. No innovation.Consistent one post a day. 12m followers. Pushes exact same content on twitter and Instagram. Images look great, but they’re all alike, no differentiation. No innovation. Inconsistent posts.
Instagram 3 separate pages – Ralph Lauren 6.2 m followers, Polo Ralph Lauren -1.7 m followers and Ralph Lauren home 113k followers. 2 posts a day on an average across channels.On the global page, content similar to Facebook, but differently timed. Content on the polo page is more holiday centric and sporty. 1.5m followers. Consistent one post a day. 9.4 m followers Content posts are inconsistent. No daily posts, varying gaps between posts from days to months.
Pinterest 12k followers, 4315 pins in all, very different from Michael Kors, they are more lifestyle oriented, carry customer images, store images, outdoor pics. Very diverse and unique. Clearly segregated boards as well. Men women and children’s looks included. Doesn’t have an official Pinterest account. 33K followers, 622 pins. Content similar to Facebook and Instagram. Mostly product display and celebrity endorsements, with occasional home decor items and fragrances.
YouTube 41K subscribers. Content posting is inconsistent though high quality. Content is divided into clear categories- collection, style, conversations, craftsmanship, sportsmanship, entertainment, fragrances and Home & Design. 1453 subscribers. Last posted content a year back. But the videos are amazingly engaging and classy. Mostly fashion shows and a few conversations with celebs. 85K subscribers.Last posted content a month ago.They post multiple videos on one day in a month and post the next set of videos in the next month.

I know, I know, this is too much information. So, I’m going to make it simple and tell you exactly what works for Michael Kors and what doesn’t. To begin with, MK’s social media presence is far more superior to its contemporaries. The brand enjoys higher fan following, popularity and consumer engagement as compared to its competitors. All the social media channels of MK work well together and send across the same vibe. And most of these platforms are adequately updated with great content. I must point out especially to the video content across channels for its diversity and uniqueness. The brand has an excellent capacity for churning out good content. The brand also boasts excellent fashion and technology integration through the smart watch feature.  The blog section on the website offers exceptional insights into the MK world, especially the Jet setter section which recommends holiday destinations matching with looks of the season . The glasses filter on Snap chat was also very innovative.

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Now for some critique, the branded content though high quality, is not very different from competitors. There is no clear point of differentiation. Apart from the logo itself, there aren’t any distinct brand colors or look and feel elements that the brand carries across its merchandize. The brand thus has become limited to the logo/brand mark itself, without which it is difficult to tell it apart from its contemporaries. Most brands in this category at some point or the other seek endorsements from common celebrities, which confuses the audience further ( Nicole Kidman, Priyanka Chopra etc.). Another major concern is the consistency of content posting across platforms which is irregular. Also, as far as customer focus is concerned, consumer reviews and experiences are underutilized across the category- features like Facebook and Instagram live/stories are underutilized. The brand also tries to push down or hide negative reviews from its feed instead of addressing them online.

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An important consumer insight that emerged from my study is that Consumers find MK’s designs repetitive and lacking in innovation, as a result of which instore sales have been plummeting for the last 7 quarters straight. Store visits continue to decline while consumers are switching to competing brands. As a result of which Michael Kors is looking at shutting down over a 100 stores to cut losses. Thus, my recommendation to the brand considering the current state of affairs would be- If the core product itself is unappealing, any amount of marketing done will prove useless. Thus, Michael Kors must take concrete steps in creating designs that are up with the times. It must also consider moving away from traditional black, grey, beige and brown hues and explore seasonal colors. That said, MK should also consider offering customization options to its users to keep them engaged and to establish a point of differentiation from its competitors

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Content Marketing- The Airbnb Way

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For my friends who are not savvy with what Airbnb does, it is a community-based, two-sided online platform that facilitates the process of booking private living spaces for travelers. At one end, it enables owners to list their space and earn rental money, while on the other end it provides travelers easy access to renting private homes. With over 3,000,000 listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries, its wide coverage enables travelers to rent private homes all over the world. Detailed Personal profiles and a credible rating and review system provide information about the host and what is on offer. Vice versa, hosts can choose who to rent out their space to. Airbnb also provides a social-networking feature, which allows customers to see users with whom they are connected via Facebook – either directly or through mutual friends – based on the person’s Facebook privacy settings. Guests can also filter their search results to see places their friends have reviewed; connections to hosts through friendships or school affiliations; and places that Airbnb employees have reviewed.

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Airbnb’s value proposition is a reflection of its vision, which is to create a world where everyone gets to mingle and connect with people of various cultures and backgrounds via travel. Whether you are in Kuala Lumpur or Cuba, you will be able to ‘Belong Anywhere’. It positions itself as a brand that helps travelers around the world find a way to vacation in a city on a budget and truly ‘belong anywhere’. The brand personas that Airbnb primarily caters to are – the hosts, the travelers, deal seekers and the internet savvy passers by. Airbnb differentiates itself from its contemporaries by understanding and capitalizing on the following 3 fundamental consumer needs:

  1. Making an extra buck using a spare room(s) in your house
  2. Saving money on exorbitant hotel rooms
  3. Getting a local and authentic experience while travelling

Airbnb through extensive research identified who exactly their consumers were and what they could do to serve them in the best possible way. Once they had this crucial insight, they aligned their core product and vision to fulfill these consumer needs.

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Airbnb’s Content Marketing Strategy and Digital Presence

According to Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO – Airbnb, Airbnb has pioneered social travel and set the stage for the emergence of the sharing economy.  The main reason for the company’s success is their long-term vision and approach to building a brand – to build a company and community. He goes on to explain that, if building a brand takes a few years, building a community takes decades. The founders since the very beginning knew that the ultimate success of their business would come from building a community, not merely a brand. Thus, they don’t let short term gains distract them and focus on the long-term goal of brand building through community building.

Airbnb depends on two components: hosts and travelers. The aim of its content marketing strategy is to reach and encourage maximum people around the world to become hosts and/or travelers. Considering this Airbnb initially implemented a clever customer acquisition strategy:

Craigslist Integration

Craigslist is used by people to offer and look for short-term housing. Airbnb decided to attract qualified leads and reverse engineer the Craigslist form to make the two platforms compatible. Therefore, whenever someone lists accommodations on Airbnb, they get an option to automatically create a posting on Craigslist as well. This helps create additional inbound links for the user and drives more traffic to Airbnb.

Google Display Network Partnership

To make their offers visually appealing for customers Airbnb collaborated with Google and invested in Google Search Ads. This helped them increase their listings from less than 10,000 to 80,000. They often carry out banner ad campaigns to drive awareness and maximize reach across the globe.

Social Media Marketing: Airbnb is active on all major social media channels.

On Facebook, it has over 5 million likes. Its Marketing team regularly posts photos and videos of their unique listings, attracting travellers to visit the place. They post relevant content like on World Earth day, they shared an inspiring video to encourage people to save natural resources. Their content posts and videos are both engaging and attractive. A while back they listed a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed apartment in Tribeca which received rave reviews. In its most recent endeavor, Airbnb is using Facebook live to simultaneously broadcast real-time trips in multiple locations in the US. The idea is to redefine what the world sees as experiential marketing. They have also come up with the incredible idea of human less hosts that act as travel guides.

Airbnb posts user-generated photos on Instagram that it curates from its hosts and guests. Guests can share their experiences with #airbnb and even book a rental place directly from the feed. Its YouTube channel has videos that show parts of the cities that are not usually covered by tourists. Airbnb promotes Living like a Local’ through its campaign ‘Don’t go there. Live there‘. Videos like ‘How to be an awesome Airbnb host’ have more than 40000 views. Airbnb strongly believes in storytelling. They regularly post interesting stories of travellers and hosts supported by photos and videos.

Airbnb uses Twitter to promote its blog posts and extraordinary listings. Their hashtag #belonganywhere is quite popular. Airbnb has 5mn+ followers on Twitter. They keep their feed updated by posting timely content like “Where to Stay for the TCS New York City Marathon” which is really helpful for travelers.

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‘blog.airbnb.com’ is an informative repository for travelers. The Local Lens section is dedicated to individual narratives just like the Stories section on their website. There are posts on Travel Photographers and their work, about cities and their unique cultures, must-visits and must-dos in each city. There are Blogs on ’30 best things to do in each city’. The Wanderlust section mentions how to feel comfortable and travel like a local in different cities. There is also a section on Airbnb Events.

Airbnb not only gives importance to travelers but ensures to profile its interesting hosts through all its content channels, like about the couple in Stockholm who rent out a modified 1976 school bus for $98 a night.

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Airbnb Neighborhoods 

Airbnb Neighborhoods are the local city guides published by Airbnb that break down the most popular cities by neighborhoods and provide detailed information to travelers about them. These guides provide information like where locals eat, shop and party besides the usual details on major attractions and sights.

Pineapple, a print magazine by Airbnb, is designed for coffee tables in homes. Airbnb calls the glossy magazine “a tangible collection of our community’s stories and inspirations. It is a crossroad of travel and anthropology; a document of community, belonging and shared space.” It reflects the brand’s core values and identity.

Stories is a microsite with video profiles of hosts and travelers, their stories as to why they rent out their place and the motivation of travelers to leave their homes and travel the world with Airbnb.

Power of ImagesAirbnb is careful about the quality of content that is posted on their site. Anybody who wants to list their space can request a free photographer to come in and take pictures of the housing. For this purpose, Airbnb has a network of 3000+ freelance photographers in six continents. Good quality photos increase the attractiveness of the space and the chances of it being rented out become higher. Pictures clicked by Airbnb photographers have a ‘Verified Photo’ icon that reassures travelers that they are getting what they are paying for.

Video Content- Airbnb is big on videos. They use user generated videos for marketing purposes. Every host has a 30-second trailer and a poster. The marketing team stitches together these trailers to create content for TV, video, cinema and digital ads. All video content ends with the same invitational end card which is the kaleidoscope of posters that says ‘Welcome to the World of Trips’. Airbnb also holds contests where hosts create a 15-second video about their favorite local spots and post it on Instagram. This encourages host engagement and they felt like an integral part of the community, Airbnb gets a lot of original user-generated content through these contests.

Referrals- Airbnb encourages users to refer new members to Airbnb via email invites. They reward referrers with a $25 travel credit when new members completed their first trip and a $75 credit when they acted as hosts for the first time.

User Interface & User Experience

Airbnb’s user interface  is very attractive and easy to navigate through. The listings themselves are comprehensive, with elaborate descriptions, reviews and supporting photographs. It is possible to refine search results by making selections for:

  • Room type – entire place, private room or shared room
  • Price – range from minimum to maximum
  • Size – number of bedrooms, bathrooms and/or beds
  • Amenities – wireless Internet, TV, kitchen, pool, pets, etc.
  • Property type – standard properties such as apartments, houses and bed & breakfasts, as well as non-standard accommodations such as castles, caves, igloos and tipis
  • Host language – English, Spanish, French, etc., including sign language
  • Keywords – if the traveler is looking for something specific, such as ‘oceanfront’ or ‘close to Te Papa’

It is mandatory to create an Airbnb profile to make bookings or reservations. It is possible to contact hosts using an online form that appears on each listing page, and one can submit a reservation request by clicking the “Book It” button and entering payment details via a secure payment system. Airbnb supports several payment methods, including major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, Discover, and JCB), PayPalGoogle Wallet (on the Airbnb Android App for the U.S. only) and some debit cards that can be processed as credit. Travelers are not charged until the host confirms the reservation.
Certain other charges like value added tax or exchange rate fee may be charged based on the country and currency in which the transaction is made.

By and large the user experience in the Airbnb website is seamless. However, I do foresee some concerns that may occur. The biggest concern for guests may be that the property does not match the description, or that the host is unresponsive to guest needs. People have also created websites dedicated to bad Airbnb experiences, some stories on which are terrifying. In one case, a man had rented an apartment in a European city through Airbnb, and the apartment’s real owner showed up wondering who was in his apartment.

However, I do believe that both hosts and guests can help limit risks by using Airbnb features including Verified IDs, profiles, reviews, messaging, secure payment platform and the Host Guarantee.

Overall, Airbnb seems like a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world and I would both use and recommend its services .

 

 

 

Visually Speaking!

Being in Marketing I am a bit of an information junkie, always looking for new marketing ideas on the horizon. Last week, on being assigned with the task to find a Marketing blog post that is truly informative and insightful, I started out on my quest to identify the one that perfectly fit the requirement. I scoured through endless blogs written by accomplished authors- experts in their own area of work, soon to realize that all these posts were trying to push information in my direction, information that was either too complex and hence difficult to comprehend, or information that was so vague, that I didn’t know how exactly it could be put in to action. So, I kept looking and after a bit of siphoning search I found a post that was  perfectly edifying and actionable. I chose to decipher Aaron Fried’s  blog on Visual Marketing published on The Daily Lead.

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In his blog Aaron decodes why Content Marketing Campaigns fail and how Visual marketing can solve several problems faced by today’s marketers. But, thats not the real reason I chose this blog post. I chose it because Aaron quotes other Marketing experts to affirm his ideas which makes his observations unbiased and relevant. Aaron points out that Visual content can be the key differentiator for content marketing campaigns as it delivers valuable content for the target audience thereby engaging them and retaining them in the long run.  To exemplify his stand, Aaron quotes Neil Patel of Forbes, who mentions that businesses today don’t stand a chance if their campaigns lack visuals.blog2

Further on Aaron suggests that It’s not good enough for your campaign to be visually appealing, it’s equally important to have a strong visual content strategy. Why have a visual content strategy? This is because it is equally important to test, compare and measure your creatives to understand what works and what doesn’t. A sound, clear and concise strategy with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) linked to each campaign can prove immensely effective and justify ROI. Here, Aaron quotes Evan LePage of Hootsuite, who confirms that building a solid strategy can be time consuming and seemingly complex in the beginning, but makes life simple for content marketers in the long run.

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That said, Aaron asks a very thought provoking question, which is – ‘what happens if your content is inconsistent, here today gone tomorrow? Quality content is a pre-requisite, but how can content that lacks consistency ever be of use to consumers? Thus, he goes on to say that engaging content that is inconsistent can’t help marketers reach their content KPI goals. Consistently creating content not only drives more leads to the website, but also builds brand awareness as it allows consumers to relate with your brand colors, features and brand values. Meghan Sullivan, Creative head at Kuno, adds that if ‘content is King, frequency is Queen and consistency is the Prime Minister’.

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That’s not all, Aaron suggest that what truly makes a content piece engaging is its ability to quickly tell a story. Thus, storytelling becomes an integral part of the content marketing strategy. It helps the brand visuals to break the clutter and stand out. It also connects with consumers on an emotional level by telling them how a product or service could impact their lives. Here, Aaron quotes Garret Moon, CEO at CoSchedule who iterates that storytelling helps consumers remember and recall branded content easily, thereby increasing online traffic to the website and contributing to brand building.

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To put it simply, this blog post not only provides a road map to creating great content, but also tells you how experts do it. Not to forget that the blog is interactive as it invites opinions and comments from readers to add any observations they may have or seek answers to questions that may have been left unanswered. The article also encourages readers to utilize the hacks mentioned in the post and share results obtained. All in all an amazingly well written piece that has made my understanding of marketing more adept.

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Why do People Love?

I’m not certain if the title of this piece is appropriate, but I’m going to stick to it for want of a better one. Yesterday 21st May 2017 was just another Sunday, slow, filled with endless chores and a lot of free time. I hadn’t been feeling all too well, and so I decided to go to Union Square Park, which is like an oasis of peace in the midst of the bustling 14th street area. On days when I have my head full, the park welcomes me with its overarching trees, cobbled stone walk ways, squirrels abound, happily chirping birds and not to mention the abundance of love exuded by plentiful couples that dot the area. It gives me a sense of completion, that there’s still hope left, and that the world is a wonderful place.Picture1

Every time I go to the park I’ve noticed, I return with a revelation, like a light bulb that most unexpectedly goes on in my head. The very first time I went there, I was lonely and home sick, I missed my parents, my big fat Punjabi family and most of all I missed my spiritual guru- my babaji who I lovingly call papa. Sitting in the park, going over my thoughts I recalled that moving away from my family was a conscious decision.  All this while, I had convinced myself to believe that I came to New York for my family, so that they would be proud of me, so that I could in some way repay them for all that they had done for me since childhood. I have been a huge cost center for my parents growing up, draining them both monetarily and emotionally. I’ve not been an easy kid to raise and they gladly accepted the challenge and kept caring for me without expecting anything in return, but for me to remain a good human and be kind. Which despite the odds, and against my occasional instinct to get back at people, I’ve been trying to practice. But you know what? I was wrong, Realization No.1- I am Selfish. I came to New York for myself, I wanted to escape my life in Mumbai, I was tired of living the same things over and over and needed to jolt myself out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be treated like an adult and wanted my parents to stop making decisions for me. I didn’t want the bothering phone calls every time I was working late or when I was out for drinks with my friends. So, in effect, I did all of this for ‘ME’, to improve my quality of life. My parents though like all good parents supported me in this. Now that I knew that I was selfish, I needed to work on myself.bench.png

My boss once told me that the more you give, the more you get, so I started practicing selflessness-sharing my ideas with my friends, keeping no secrets from people I love and being honest and open. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, I’m after all a good person at heart, at least that’s what I believe of myself. And did it help, most definitely it did. My patience levels soared, I’m calmer, don’t snap as much as I did before and am largely at peace with myself. Nothing to hide, no secrets. I thank New York for offering me time to introspect. Its something the pace of my life in Mumbai never allowed. I don’t let emotional baggage build up anymore, I try to rationally address issues that are disturbing me and derive logical conclusions for things that don’t happen my way. The park taught me the importance of talking to myself. It sounds crazy doesn’t it? But yes, we must talk to ourselves. Ask yourself if you’re OK; how your day was; ask if something is bothering you. Seek answers, don’t let yourself go, hold on to yourself, protect and nurture it, heal it, be there and tell yourself that its Ok to let go, and that you don’t have to carry the burden of the world on your shoulders. Most of all Accept Yourself.

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Realization No.2- ACCEPT YOURSELF. As humans, we weren’t designed to be perfect. We were wired to make mistakes and learn from them. So, we must learn to forgive ourselves and others. Every person on the face of earth is unique, not good or bad, but unique, different. What’s wrong for me could just be the way of life for another person. It could be his/ her normal, no matter how badly you want others to see your perspective or believe your beliefs or experience what you experience, it’ll never happen, because feelings, perceptions, opinions and values are subjective. So why try to scratch an itch that you have no control over, rather focus your energies on healing yourself.

Another important thing I learned, is the value of having people in your life, people you can discuss your deepest darkest secrets with. It could be friends, a lover, parents, siblings, your spouse or even a therapist. If you have no one to talk to, which is more common than we may care to think, just speak to yourself. No one listens more patiently to you than you. The fact of the matter is that sometimes, its imperetive to just talk about things you feel, it clears your perspective, helps make decisions and saves you from self-sabotage. Realization No. 3: VALUE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. It is people and not places that make our lives better.  People give us memories, create experiences and add meaning to our lives. People empower, encourage and elevate us. They influence us to dream bigger and struggle harder to achieve them. They sacrifice and provide for us. Now, wouldn’t you want to be grateful for people like that in your life? wouldn’t you give the world for them? I certainly would.

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This brings me back to the title of this piece. Now I know why I decided to call this article ‘why do people love?’ Let me explain. We love because we want to be loved in return, we care because we want to be cared for, we sacrifice because we expect that if need be, someone will sacrifice for us. As you sow, so shall you reap, the undeniable, universal law of nature. Give love, and love is what you shall receive. As they say, all we do, we do for love.

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