Digital Strategy – Have You Got One?

Two words – digital strategy. What exactly is it, why do you need one and how do you get one? Want this explained for you without all the marketing gibberish? Read on.

Authors Karel Dörner and David Edelman broadly describe digital strategy as ‘ranging from being a general vision for change to the adoption of digital tools for improving interaction and marketing communications, to achieve overall organisation goals’.


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Is your organisation strategic in the way you use digital or do you just react?

A definite no-no for digital strategy is to use an ad-hoc approach to simply react with no defined purpose or strategy. If your company is doing this – then STOP or else be prepared for your competitors to eat your digital dinner.

Why should you digitally transform your organisation? Digital business is vital in our digitally savvy era for a company’s growth, customer relationships and overall success nowadays, no matter how big or small. Ultimately, companies without a digital strategy are directionless – they have no strategic goals for what they want to achieve online or who they are targeting with their content.

A good digital strategy will successfully use various online engagement methods such as social media management, blogs/bloggers, promotional emails and search engine optimisation (SEO). When these methods are combined with analytics, which measure their success, it can be extremely potent in increasing market share and delivering a strong ROI.

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What does analytics even mean? Basically, analytics measure engagement.

Using analytics to set specific goals and track your progress as you seek to reach your audience, alongside a cohesive strategy, allows you to effectively reach your target audience using the platforms they prefer.

Building the right brand image on the internet is the hardest thing for your company so it’s important you do it prudently. To keep your brand ahead of the curve you need to constantly update your content and strategy to reflect ever-changing consumer desires. Any digital strategy requires constant and consistent attention as change is the only constant.

So, you’ve read this far and are now wondering how to develop a digital strategy for your company? You’ll be glad to hear that it’s much simpler than it seems.

Money, money, money.At this point it is important to highlight how allocating not only a substantial initial investment but also a sufficient long-term budget to your strategy is crucial – namely for promoting social pages/tools, implementing marketing campaigns and investing in analytical tools.

The SOSTAC model is perhaps the most recognised and useful tool when it comes to planning marketing strategies.

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To be strategic your company must have specific objectives, based on completion of a situational analysis, which are aligned to your overall goals.When developing a digital strategy, it is essential to know your customers – what information can you identify on your current customers? What value proposition do you currently offer and what can be offered? Following this, a strategy can be further developed for how digital will be used to achieve these goals. All of this is done with an indication of how exactly success will be measured and voilà – you have yourself a digital marketing strategy.

Objectives for your strategy can include one or more of the following examples: do you want to increase awareness of your brand? Engage with the target audience? Build trust? Create ‘buzz’? Expand reach? Generate traffic? Increase market share? Increase sales? Achieve customer relationships management goals? You get the idea.

 Strategy answers the ‘how do we get there?’question and typically follows with customer segmentation and targeting alongside positioning and sequencing. Tacticsconsist of a clear channel plan detailing how exactly your company will reach set objectives. Actions detail the tactics and describes who does what and when. Then, control– performance must be monitored and analyzed, as highlighted in the above image of the model, to evaluate success and pinpoint how to improve your strategy.                                                                                                                                                                      

Some companies continue to shy away from adopting a digital marketing strategy, but I encourage you to invest in the channels of the future today to ensure you don’t fall behind.

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Amy Greer is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr

Putting the PR in Pregnancy

What do you do to boost your image and get people to talk about you? Create news. And this is exactly what the Kardashian/Jenner PR machine is talented at.

You don’t have to like them, but on some level, you have to admire what this PR savvy family has done with our obsession with fame – accurately assessing it, exploiting it and profited significantly by it.

Nothing is unplanned when it comes to their publicity – the strategically leaked stories and careful management of the not-so-staged Snapchat or Insta story. When your product is the life you lead, then you have to keep it interesting, even if that means celebrity feuds, divorce and unclarified rumours – which leads us to the spectacular PR strategy behind Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy reveal.

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In late September initial word of the pregnancy broke and sent the world into a wild frenzy. We waited with baited breath for Jenner to give us some sort of sign or drop a hint to validate the news – but nothing. Months went by with Momager Kris Jenner neither confirming or denying the news and the other sisters remained surprisingly tight lipped, with Kylie remaining remarkably coy – or is it koy? Finally, on 4th February, just hours before the Super Bowl and after months of speculation regarding her pregnancy, Kylie finally broke the silence and confirmed the existence of her pregnancy and the birth of her baby girl.

The family are the epitome of an efficient PR machine, with Kylie’s pregnancy demonstrating how less is more to keep the public guessing and follower numbers growing and how a firm grip on the latest and best ways to exploit social media platforms is vital.

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Jenner released a statement on her Instagram, justifying the months of silence which had led to fostered intrigue and sustained attention on the Kardashian/Jenner clan for almost a year. By neither confirming or denying the pregnancy, Kylie smartly let people to build conversations and propose ideas of their own and so we became so invested in the details that we waited for news, which was in this case – a baby.

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A true testament to the power of good PR.

Mallory Blair, the cofounder and CEO of Small Talk PR, stated “announcing hours before Super Bowl stokes vitality,” she writes, pointing to the crowd mentality of such an event and the likeliness that those gathered together will discuss current events. “It also creates brand alignment with a major, national cultural moment.”

Speaking as a PR professional, Mallory expects that Kylie’s next steps will reflect the same careful strategy. “I’d guess that she’ll parse out the remaining assets as exclusives which will continue to get her leverage in how her story is shared and which of those stories receive the most attention,” she said. “For example, offering the first official baby photo or her first Q&A verses a first broadcast interview are all things that can be used to set the terms of what is and is not shared as a condition of the exclusive”.

Time alone will tell.

Amy Greer is a second year BSc CAM student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr

 

PR Under The Influence

How many posts have you read in the past week featuring the latest product which your favourite blogger just ‘cannot live without’? Or the number Instagram posts with someone promoting their newfound favourite brand of sunglasses that are a ‘must’ yet which you hadn’t even heard of until now?

The advertising industry is in the middle of a major shift.

Social media is radically reinventing the aging business of PR and nowadays, we only have to scroll before coming across an advertisement on social media and whether you realize it or not, you are being influenced.

With a focus on putting the public back in Public Relations, the advertising industry is championing the new, growing business of ‘influencer marketing’. Capitalizing on social media’s reach, influencer marketing focuses on the strategy of paying an ‘internet celebrity’ to promote products in their accounts to their followers.

So, you’re maybe asking what exactly is an influencer? To put it simply: an influencer is someone who has accumulated a substantial number of followers on social media. Therefore, an influencer’s established and reputable personal brand is the perfect platform for brands to promote their message in exchange for financial reward or exposure.

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Think of it like this, how often have you ever visited a restaurant, booked a holiday or bought that latest lippy because somewhere on your feed someone has filtered a picture nicely and added a discount link beneath? Well, if that’s the case then you have indeed been influenced.

With 49% of consumers seeking purchase guidance from social media influencers and a further 40% media users making a purchase as a direct result of a promotional post, digital PR presents a conspicuous opportunity for brands to utilise the power of word-of-mouth at scale through personalities that consumers already follow and admire. Why is this? Because as followers we trust recommendations from and identify with who we choose to follow.

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Adrien Koskas, general manager for the U.K. for L’Oréal Paris, stated influencers are a hugely important part of their creative process. Using a team to track them and annual contracts, L’Oréal Paris has 23 influencers for its’ True Match product.

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There are four key reasons this shift in PR is shaking up the industry – it is cost effective with marketers who implemented an influencer marketing campaign earning an average of six times what they spent on paid media; high ROI – 81% of marketers’ state that influencer marketing is extremely effective; gaining customers trust – 92% of consumers trust recommendations from personal connections; has mass popularity – 74% of all marketers’ plan to use digital PR this year.

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising”.

– Mark Zuckerberg –

 

Amy Greer is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr

5 Places You Need To Know About

DISCLAIMER: if you don’t like coffee or people who take pictures of their food then you’re probably going to want to click off this.


In this new ‘café culture’ there are a select class of caffeinators and connoisseurs who have the beans to categorize themselves as a coffee/food snob, and let me tell you that there is no snob more outrageously self-righteous than these.

Personally, I am convinced that coffee doesn’t taste any better if you brew it in a ‘GCSE science-looking’ contraption. This is something coffee-snobs may want to disagree with but for me, it’s not autumn until you’ve walked through the vividly coloured, leaf-scattered Botanic Avenue on an October afternoon with a pumpkin spice latte in your hand. #basicwhitegirl

If you follow me on social media, you will know how much of a pain I am when it comes to food and coffee pictures. In my opinion Mondays are for coffee and two coffees a day does indeed keep the grumpy away – but within reason, because if it’s after 4pm I won’t sleep.

Let me ask you a question – are you even really a student if the majority of your loan isn’t spent on needless brunch stops (or McDonalds) as well as those three coffees you really didn’t need between getting to and during that 9am lecture? If your answer to that is no then you’ve probably ignored my disclaimer and kept reading, which was at your own discretion.

So, whether you are a student looking for somewhere to kill a few hours between classes, a full-time bruncher or coffee enthusiast here’s my top 5 places all you caffeinators and foodies need to know about if you’re wanting inspiration for somewhere new to try:

(NOTE: most of the pictures featured are of coffee, mainly because I’m too impatient to take pictures of food before I start eating it, sorry not sorry).

 

5A Lockview Road

@5Acafe

Situated on the doorstep of Stranmillis University, 5A takes a wholehearted approach to brunching despite their tiny yet charming premises. With exceptional attention to detail, particularly allergies, and quality food for a reasonable price – 5A is a must if you haven’t yet been. Not only is their coffee consistently delicious but paired with a warm ‘Californian’ sandwich, peanut butter ball to follow, or 2, (seriously, if you haven’t tried one of these yet you haven’t lived) and cozy atmosphere: your Sunday afternoons are well and truly sorted.

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Established Coffee

@establishedcoffee

Situated in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, and therefore being just around the corner from the UUB Campus (my poor little bank card is thankful I’m not here for classes yet), Established Coffee is a bright and spacious coffee shop, with productive space for work or relaxing and an incredibly chilled atmosphere. This ‘city centre trendsetter’ offers an exceptional variety of coffee brews, including Farami from Costa Rica and Bulega from Ethiopia. Check this out -they also serve iced lattes and Americanos without looking at you like you’ve totally lost it! With poached eggs, avo toast (again, #basicwhitegirl) and a weekly Sunday pie to die for, this is the perfect spot for catch-ups, people-watching (we all do it) and coffee’s to-go if you’re out and about in the centre of Belfast.

 

General Merchants 361

@generalmerchants361

 Co-owned with 5A, the Australia-inspired General Merchants 361 boasts similar qualities only on a larger scale and with a secondary reputation as a luncher, General Merchants really know how to do it. One Monday morning over summer, as a devoted ‘I’ll start eating clean next week’ kind-of-girl, I opted to switch my typical ‘Melbourne Breakfast’ for a ‘Bircher muesli bowl’ and I haven’t gone back since – hands down the tastiest muesli bowl I have ever had. Their food menu, coffee and vibrant ambience all go hand-in-hand to create an authentic experience with a unique vibe and though I’ve never been to Australia, it makes you feel as though Belfast is right on the edge of the Tasman Sea.

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Kaffe O

@kaffeo

Inspired by Nordic coffee, Kaffe O was a new find for me and has quickly become a favourite. Their unique beans, from Ethiopia, Guatemala and Costa Rica, are roasted and shipped from the Danish capital to our very own little Belfast – delicately combined to create the perfect flat white. If you’re looking for a minimalistic place to get work done or simply to just hide from the rain, here is perfect.

NOTE: their brownies are fab-u-lous, but if you live nearby this may prove dangerous.

 

Guilt Trip Coffee and Donuts

@guilttripcoffee

After seeing the most aesthetically-pleasing pictures of Guilt Trip Coffee and Donuts on a daily basis all over my Instagram feed, I decided to give it a try because despite not being a huge fan of donuts, at least it would make a good picture. After hemming and hawing over what flavour to try, I eventually decided to have a blueberry and peanut butter donut (because that counts as one of your five a day, right?) and boy was I thankful I had ordered a whole one for myself. With their aim being to ‘sell the best donuts in town’ they certainly have my vote. These were the first donuts I’ve ever eaten that weren’t sickeningly sweet and actually tasted how they claimed – peanut butter heaven, perfectly combined with a flat white. If you are planning on visiting I highly recommend going early to get the best selection of donuts!

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NOTE: After seeing these pictures you’re maybe thinking “I bet she doesn’t drink cortados” but as an avid flat white sipper I thought a cortado was a type of instrument until a few months ago (although, if you are a cortados drinker then check out 5A – apparently the best in town).

 

Amy Greer is a second year BSc CAM student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: @amyagreer & LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/amygreerrr