Don’t Be ‘That’ Brand

Everyone’s annoyed — or at least millennials are, according to eMarketer, and they are taking action. Ad-blocker software use by millennials has grown over 34 percent since last year and will grow another 24 percent by 2017 — all because consumers are looking to control the annoying ads delivered to their devices and now can readily and easily do so.

Millennials are annoyed, according to eMarketer, and they are taking action. Ad-blocking software use by millennials has grown over 34 percent since last year and will grow another 24 percent by 2017 — all because consumers are looking to control the annoying ads delivered to their devices and now can easily do so. But this has implications for more than just those making ad-blocking software and millennials: As marketers, we must tread carefully.

Sprout Social recently unveiled their Q3 Social Index report that polled social users to determine what makes them follow a brand and what annoys them enough to sever their relationships with a brand. The poll identified five primary annoyance factors (numbers 1-5 below) that consumers encounter with brands in social channels. That seems like a good place to start if you’re trying to avoid being “that” brand — the one that constantly has to rebuild their lists and communities, elicits little brand engagement, receives no loyalty and maintains high acquisition costs.

To avoid this, you must know your audience, track your successes and avoid certain bad behaviors.

  1. Don’t over-promote. You do have other content, don’t you? Plan your communications and consider the volume and cadence that best support your audience. And don’t forget all the factors you can’t control, like the other brands bombarding your audience at the same time you want their attention.
  1. Don’t use slang and jargon that doesn’t fit your brand or audience. There is an appropriate place for slang and jargon — you’ll know if it resonates with your intended audience or not.
  1. Don’t be boring, forgettable or undifferentiated. Create and maintain a brand voice and personality. This extends into the content you produce and the relationships you foster with consumers online.
  1. Don’t use humor indiscriminately. Be very careful mixing your brand with satire or news events. Too many brands have been guilty by association and tarnished by misguided efforts.
  1. Don’t ignore consumers who reach out to you. Respond directly and personally as the consumer holds great power and reputations are on the line. A recent Twitter study reported by Techcrunch noted that:

“ … brands see the best results when they respond more quickly, and that businesses shouldn’t be scared off by negative tweets — 69 percent of people who tweeted negatively said they felt more positive after the business responded”

How else can you avoid annoying your customers and prospects?

  1. Don’t use predatory, creepy techniques to get your message in front of desired audiences. No one wants to feel stalked, and no one likes a stalker.
  1. Be polite. Don’t use disruptive ad types that force your audience to jump through hoops to get back to their intended activity. The brand message is not the reason that users are available to you. They came to check some scores or read an article or play a game or get directions.Don’t assume that more is better. Show some restraint in email, ads and other content. All the over-the-line brand attention cumulatively makes the consumer a target, and they feel that bull’s-eye on their backs.
  1. Don’t make new technology a goal. Shiny objects are about what you want and your marketing efforts should revolve around what your customers need.
  1. Don’t overreach in ways that can jeopardize your consumers’ privacy or security. The very least you owe them is a safe interaction with your brand.
  1. Don’t treat everyone and every interaction alike. Depth of relationship, prior responses, intent cues, device choice and other factors should all play into your communication style and content.

Consumer backlash against brand presence and promotion across digital touchpoints reveals our lack of patience with communications. We get annoyed too, and we panic: Is this an outgrowth of climbing consumer expectations?  How will brands keep up? There are real pressures on brand managers and marketers to continually raise the bar and get in front of desired consumers — sometimes at almost any cost. But that is a short-term solution that can cost you in the long-run.

Being a jerk of a brand turns consumers away and raises the price of keeping and acquiring customers. Instead, work on the value proposition you bring to customers and then display some restraint and selectivity in how you message and promote. Choosing not to be “that” brand might just make you the “it” brand in the long run.

3 Reasons GIFs Have a Place in Your Marketing

We’ve all seen the GIFs of yesteryear: Flashing letters. Hokey cartoons. The dancing baby. Today, these are distractions and lack a certain classiness. Kind of like using WordArt. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t use an animated GIF, it just means you need to use them in a more sophisticated way and with an appropriate animation.

Okay, before we start, is it tomato or tomahto? Potato or potahto. Is it GIF or JIF? The creator of the format called Graphics Interchange Format, Steve Wilhite, says “jif” like the peanut butter. I’ve always said GIF with a hard “g.” The battle over how it’s pronounced is documented very well in a NY Times article “Battle Over ‘GIF’ Pronunciation Erupts” … but I’ll still say GIF.

The GIF format created in 1987 was popular due to its wide support across browsers and email clients. And in the early days, the animated GIF was one of the primary ways to add movement to a Web page.

We’ve all seen them. Flashing letters. Hokey cartoons. The dancing baby. Today, these are distractions and lack a certain classiness. Kind of like using WordArt.

7 Up SpotDrudge Siren Dancing Baby gifEmail me mailbox openUnder construction gifMy advice: Don’t do this today. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t use an animated GIF, it just means you need to use them in a more sophisticated way and with an appropriate animation. An animation that will enhance your message, not distract from it. Here are three reasons to consider the use of an animated GIF in your marketing messages:

1. Instructions/Training

Macaw demonstration gifIn this example, software company Macaw uses this GIF to demonstrate one of the features in its software. This is an excellent way to show a feature without forcing someone to watch a video or have to scroll through three to four static pictures. It quickly shows functionality.

You can use this type of animated GIF in an e-newsletter, too. Imagine showing a feature for a new version of software as Sprout Social has done below. It’s a case where the animation enhances the message.

Sprout Social gif2. Subtle Sense of Reality

Headscape homepage gifHeadscape, a digital media company in the UK, has a very subtle animation on its home page featuring an office scene (I highly suggest checking the site out via the link, since the image above is static and not animated … we weren’t able to capture the GIF). Notice the subtle movements of the pen and the person sipping coffee. I find these wonderful surprises.

Taking this one step further, you can create a cinemagraph, an animated GIF usually made from high-end photographs. The next two examples show how you can enhance a photo with either dramatic movement in the case of the Tokyo GIF or the more subtle Taxi Reflection. In both cases the animation enhances the viewing experience in an elegant way.

Tokyo cinemagraph
Cinemagraph courtesy of reddit user eatrob
Taxi cab window cinemagraph
Cinemagraph courtesy of Ann Street Studio. This studio produces wonderfully subtle cinemagraphs.

3. Enhance an Offer

You can use animated GIFs in fun ways to enhance an offer. The GIF can physically highlight the offer or simply bring attention to it.