Podcast: Meat Hoodies and the End of Targeted Ads

The meat hoodie has arrived. Does this herald the end of targeted advertising for good? Photofy CEO John Andrews and Head of Marketing Casey Petersen discuss what’s next in marketing.

Help us name this new podcast – let us know your thoughts!

Reference: https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-meat-hoodie-20181129-story.html

Content-Based Communities Are The Future of Marketing

This article was originally posted by John Andrews, Photofy CEO, on Linkedin.

Brands are facing an ever increasing challenge of standing out from the noise. As earned media channels like Facebook and Twitter become less welcoming to brands who aren’t paying for reach, marketers are facing an uphill battle for creating truly content-driven campaigns that get noticed by consumers.

In 2015, outdoor retailer REI broke the holiday marketing mold and closed its stores on Black Friday, encouraging its shoppers and employees to #Optoutside, even paying its employees to do so. In an age where everyone is taking incessantly about marketing experiences, most are looking inward vs. thinking about how brand relevant experiences resonate beyond the walls of the store. REI shattered the entire idea of experiences with its brilliant delivery of its core brand promise, get the heck outside. It’s as if Whole Foods encouraged people to pick their own kale from gardens they helped inspire them to plant or if Walmart helped people save money through financial literacy courses at community colleges. Brand positioning for retail is increasingly becoming much more ethereal as people spend less time in physical retail environments. Great brands have always existed in consumer’s minds, the real opportunity for retailers in now to bring experiences to life all along the path to purchase, not just in store.

When REI did the unthinkable and closed its doors on retail’s former pinnacle day, it firmly planted its flag in the fertile ground of brand relevancy. Millions of people joined the #optoutside bandwagon not in support of REI but in support of what it stands for. Content related to the program has exploded and frequently has nothing to do with REI but everything to do with its core values. Content Communities are the essence of great branding and the future of marketing, especially digital media. Thanks to its support and participation, REI is the brand most associated with the conversation which helps it win related searches and the organic path to purchase for outdoor gear.

The beauty of content communities is the connection that they provide to all members. Demographics go out the window when you have a community that loves outdoor gear, cars, sneakers or food. Sure there are some groups that are more prevalent but people of all ages, socio-economic status, religion etc. love these things and naturally connect to others with shared interests. People actively seek out and engage with their passions online, consuming, creating and interacting with content across a variety of channels. Brands spend a ton of resources talking ‘at’ these channels, smart brands are actively participating in them by fostering their growth through original content creation. No brand could possibly create the volume of content needed to be a relevant part of #Optoutside, but by engaging people with a passion for the outdoors, REI is able to to be part of the conversation on a much deeper level than simply advertising to it.

At Photofy, we are believers in and facilitators of content communities. Using our platform, many brands are extending their participation in content categories including fitness, beauty and home through robust content streams created by their employees and customers. For example, franchisees of fitness chain F45 create localized content for their gyms that ladders up to its ‘Life-changing’ personal fitness positioning using a common set of brand elements. This creates scaled content creating with local authenticity and connectivity. Coupled with its corporate marketing, this approach provide a comprehensive digital marketing footprint that closely connects the most relevant content to the shopper’s most likely to become F45 members. Over time, customer content can be combined to create even more relevant connection and reach.

The best part of content communities is the brand controls its content, not a third-party that separates the brand from its customers. Content from #Optoutside exists across platforms, not beholden to any specific site. In the not to distant future, we believe most brands will opt to include content communities as part of an overall strategy and leverage their employees, partners and shoppers to help drive their participation. Early-movers like REI will have a decided advantage over those that show up to the party late.

Dealing with Facebook Marketing Anxiety: You Can Still Earn Reach

“The content problem” in content marketing is becoming more pronounced.  More and more brands are making content that does nothing. Ads are getting more and more expensive, and working less and less.  Many ad clicks are turning out to be fake. Organic reach, especially on Facebook . . . Well, forget about it.  There is so much noise, much of it other brands also trying to get a message out, that many of us have even forgotten there is a signal there to begin with.  SEO is more nebulous than ever.  Social Networks, once our saving grace, are now fine-tuned to limit reach to our own followers and force us to pay increasingly higher prices just to get a message in front of people who have clearly signaled they want messages from us.  Facebook has even taken more drastic measures of intentionally limiting businesses from being seen. Even influencer marketing is becoming more expensive and difficult to execute.  To top it all off – nearly 75% of Facebook users have taken some action from deleting the app to taking a break, or at least clamping down on their privacy settings in the last 12 months.

As much as digital and content marketing is the future, it seems more and more hopeless for many marketers. Yes, we created the problem with our pathological obsession with vanity metrics over meaningful relationships and conversation.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the reality we find ourselves in now, and the biggest question we all have to answer:

How do we earn media now?

This ecosystem isn’t going to turn in our favor any time soon.  So if we’re going to succeed, we have to adjust our approach:

  1. Get back to basics.  Our temptation with every change in Facebook or Google’s algorithms has traditionally been to hack our way around it to get back to the numbers we previously saw. In Marketing, we all know that lower numbers is bad. I get it. No one wants to be the tool that walks into a meeting with their boss and says, “Reach is down 50%. Engagement is down 65%. There is nothing we can do about it. It may get worse.” Let’s take this opportunity to focus on what portion of that engagement was meaningful.  What does meaningful interaction with our customers and users online actually look like? Then let’s do more of that.
  2. More content does not mean better content marketing.  You’re going to have to produce content.  Chances are, you’re going to have to become an expert at it.  But that doesn’t mean $5,000 videos produced weekly and a team of designers making beautiful stuff.  Create simple, replicable, content creation processes that a small team can do to create content that matters.  Photofy is the easiest tool for consistently making on-brand content with consistent assets – even with large distributed global teams.  You can church out a week of high quality graphics that your audience will actually like in minutes.
  3. Scale. Use employees. Use customers. Use online advocates. Use random people who think you’re interesting.  A brand simply can no longer stand out from the noise. Unless you’re Apple or Google with an army of journalists in your pocket, you’re going to have to find a way to drastically increase the amount of conversation happening about you online.  Photofy has been used by many companies to do just that – scale content creation to anyone and everyone with a voice, give employees and business partners tools to participate in content creation.
  4. Be available and responsive with your audience.  If people aren’t talking about you and to you. You’re dead.  But once you’ve scaled content creation – you also have to be available and responsive to people.  No bot takes the place of this. Real humans talking to real humans is how business has been done for thousands of years.  Guess what… it’s how business will continue to be done for the foreseeable future. AI is great. Bots are great. It serves a purpose – but nothing replaces a customer knowing that a human being at a company knows about them and cares about their experience.

The heyday of free Social Media reach may be over – but you can still earn attention, engagement, reach, and conversions with the subset of your audience that really matters.  There is so much noise – truly great and useful content is the only real way to stand out – or you can keep spending more and more money promoting content with less and less effectiveness.  Go get ’em champ.

The reality is this: there has never been a better time to focus on content production and see a measurable result from it.