Meet Anna Haraldsson, our happy intern!

Anna Haraldsson, intern at Ode Agency.

Hi Anna! What will you be doing at Ode?

– I’m proud to say that I’m Ode’s first intern – ever. So: I’ll be doing anything they’ll let me! Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute to the creation of lots of great content, developing strategies and plans for different projects as we go along.

What’s your background?

– I’m an amateur photographer who became a bouncer (yes!) but dreamt of studying. Luckily I ended up at Lund University studying Strategic Communications, now at my senior year.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today?

– Cutting through the loud noise of our time. I think that really reaching the right people, connecting with them and creating trust can be problematic if you don’t have the right tools or true understanding of your audience. Also, keeping up with and staying ahead of your competitors can be tough.

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– When you’re deeply involved and invested in a project it’s easy to become attached to it and lose objectivity. This means you have to critically analyse everything you communicate to your audience. If you overcomplicate things you won’t be able to reach people the way you want to.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– Dance to loud music, of course. Who doesn’t?

Where do you find inspiration?

– In other people. People with good energy and a great mindset, that want to do good things and to do things differently.

 

Are you thinking about taking your brand into new territories? Looking to expand the venture and increase the revenue? Content marketing is a great tool in conquering new markets – here’s why.

If you decide that sales to current customers and markets have been maximized, market expansion is an attractive strategy. But this comes with major challenges, when the objective is quick uptake and your brand doesn’t have a lot of exposure or familiarity with the target audience.

You need to find a way to sell your products to your best advantage, taking in the differences of culture, business practices and language. How to do that?

When it has been set what territories you want to expand into, consider what role content marketing can play in this strategic move. Content marketing is an essential part of growth and market expansion, because you get to know your new potential customers.

It can make you ’own’ the new field, make your brand an authority on the new market where nobody knew your name before. Here’s why – and how it works.

How content marketing will speed up your expansion

Digital communication allows for feedback. It means you can identify and understand your customers’ attitude and get to know their needs and demographic better.

With digital marketing there is enormous opportunity for companies to reach consumers that were once unreachable because of differences in geography and language.

By sharing unique content you can build a new community of customers who are loyal to your brand which they now have chosen to follow. You give them a reason to invest time in the newcomer brand.

By implementing the following tactics, you can use content marketing as a tool in growth strategies and market expansion.

When in Rome, understand the local context

Local knowledge is needed to adapt your strategy to the local market. Local expertise also makes it possible to create engaging stories to captivate the target audience and build confidence in the brand.

When in Rome …?

Understand the cultural differences of other countries and regions. It is key to value the local point of view. Take into consideration cultural differences. Seemingly minor mistakes might alienate your audience.

Pay attention and take ear to details such as colors, holidays, religious references, fiscal years, and even superstitions — missteps will signal you are an outsider.

Do your market research

Successful content marketing begins with knowing how to find your target audience. Don’t start creating content before knowing who your audience is.

First do some market research to assess the following:

  • Local gaps in the market
  • The interest in your product/service
  • Current population trends of the targeted customers
  • What have local competitors done in the target area?
  • Has potential competitors tried to enter this market before? What obstacles did they face? How did they approach the new market? What can you do differently?

Create buyer personas based on the new area/market. Buyer personas are extremely effective tools to help a business define a new target audience.

They are a representation of your ideal customer and growth segment. So identify the type of person you can help most with your content and the types of information you will provide through that content.

Make your brand speak the same language

72.1% of consumers spend most or all of their time on websites in their own language
. 72.4% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Also, less than six percent of the world’s population speaks English well enough to manage and conduct business.

Translating content is expensive, so you want to ensure that the content you choose for the process provides the optimal return on investment. Make sure you
 have native speakers in your team or network.

Does your team have the needed lingual capabilities to enter a new market? Working with content marketing in different countries requires cultural as well as linguistic competence.

A Common Sense Advisory study shows that languages affect consumers’ buying behaviors to a large extent. Therefore:

  • Measure and monitor your content to see what works best with the local readership
  • Have separate websites and landing pages for the different markets
  • Engage local experts to review everything before publishing

6 steps to get going with your content marketing

Beginning content creation before your expansion is crucial, because when an unfamiliar but interested customer hears about your brand, they will head online to seek further information.

So when you absolutely, positively understand the new market your expanding into:

  1. Find out what the objective of your marketing initiatives is
  2. Determine the best form of content
  3. Create a pattern of frequency
  4. Tailor the style to your audience on the new market
  5. Focus on keywords your audience searches for online
  6. Make sure your audience knows what to do once they have consumed your content

Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to find your stories for you? We offer content marketing as your blog, newsletter or social media editors – read more about these services here.

First of all, before getting to the trend forecasting, I want to say:

Don’t buy into marketing trends.

Just stay updated to understand what people expect from you. Watch how the way people express their needs change over time, and tweak your communication to resonate with that. Be inspired, steal some ideas to integrate in your own marketing – but don’t buy into marketing trends 100 percent. You’ll lose your brand identity.

If you create communication and content on your website, blog and in your digital channels that is truly well-executed linguistically, gives your audience the knowledge and answers they are looking for, and do that by sharing stories told with the voice of your brand – then your marketing will be timeless. Years may go by and you’ll still be the top of mind go to-business.

So stay timeless. Watch the trends change like a meandering river of new ideas, but be quality, be style.

Successful creators have always known this, especially in the fashion industry:

‘Fashion changes, but style endures.’
– Coco Chanel

‘Fashions fade, style is eternal.’
– Yves Saint Laurent

‘The difference between style and fashion – is quality.’
– Giorgio Armani

‘Don’t be into trends.’
– Gianni Versace

That said, let’s have a look at what seems to be coming the marketer’s way during 2017 and 2018 – to know how to steer the wheel, and tweak your brand communication.

 

Digital marketing trends - ode agency

Digital marketing trends 2017-2018

It seems like everybody’s talking about VR (Virtual Reality), or even AR (Augumented Reality), but I’d say we’re still quite far from seeing this being part of people’s everyday lives – even though it’s becoming a part of marketing campaigns. It’s trendy, yet it’s already ‘last year’. VR is only the medium, not the marketing message itself (to argue against the theory of famous intellectual Marshall McLuhan, who said it was). And how interactive will it be?

Let’s focus on what major ideas – not tools – in society might influence the narrative of brands.

Breaking the taboos – and the norms

We’ll see slogans and campaigns challenging old rules, breaking taboos and using cross-gender concepts. This will mostly apply to the marketing of products and services for women, as these campaigns have not yet dared to explore the fields of humour, irony and satire. We’ll see marketing targeted at cross-gender segments, letting go of the idea of the male/female.

We’ll see marketing messages ”crossing the line”, and brands challenging their audience using unexpected or even vulgar language, or addressing controversial issues like the current political debates.

Would you dare to be more provoking, and break the taboos of your field? 

 

unreality as a destination

Unreality as a destination

We’re in between analog and digital, real and virtual. This will affect the way we do storytelling – we need to take into account the fact that people are gazing at the horizon, romantizising the unknown, the fantasy and the unreal. They will use social media and the digital world as escapism on a brand new level, a level that I call the unreality.

Dare to allude to the temptation of unreality in your storytelling.

Encourage imagination, turn concepts upside down, try looking at things from the opposite perspective. Forget A/B testing and leap into testing the unknown. What if you played around with your email subject lines or blog post headlines? Do what you’re least expected to do. That’s how you make unreality happen.

 

From the attention economy to the engagement economy

Reach and visitor numbers mean nothing without engagement and conversion. Websites and Facebook pages with many visitors or followers but almost no engagement will be punished by algorithms, that will automatically cut the reach and define them as informative, passive and irrelevant.

Remember that in the digital world, interaction is gold. It’s too expensive to focus on getting attention without getting engagement – it will cost you your reach and therefore your marketing budget.

Evaluate engagement, not reach. Because that’s what search engines and social media will make you pay for, if you don’t manage to achieve it organically. That’s the real value.

 

the authentic - ode agency

Authenticity – Back to the the unfiltered, the genuine, and the raw

With all polished designs and perfectly filtered pictures, we’re starting to crave the authentic alternative. We won’t leave our screens to go hiking in the wilderness, but we’d love to dream (read stories) about making it happen.

Forget the stock photos. Cracks and imperfections tell of something real – use them for storytelling your brand. Think #nofilter.

 

Newsletters becoming the new customer magazines

Have you heard of inbox zero?

The strive for companies to manage their email inboxes to always end the day with an empty inbox. Yes, inbox zero is a thing. Businesses are striving to become ”zero-email companies”. They communicate by phone, social media, or by connecting their staff on Slack or Skype.

As a marketer, you need to fight for your share of people’s attention span – especially in B2B marketing where keeping your inbox clean is sort of a work-feng-shui. Instead of distributing campaigns and special offers, do what companies have always done with success: Build your brand’s credibility, expertise and loyalty with customer magazines. But don’t print a 40-pages publication.

Collect your best stories in a newsletter that interested people voluntarily will sign up for, and distribute it regularly, once a month or so.

The newsletters will go from being a channel for internal updates to being a digital version of the popular content marketing product that is the customer magazine. Launch your own and watch your digital traffic increase.

From individualism to co-creation, sharing communities and teal

This paradigm shift in culture has only just started, and will continue over decades – in politics, business and art. In marketing, I’d say it’s about abandoning the strive for individual confirmation through social media, and rediscovering the power of the network, the virtual tribe and the next step in the sharing economy, that is enabled through social media.

In the digital world, this will lead to marketers targeting communities rather than individuals. What is another common interest among our audience? Shoes and football? Then, be where the shoes and football games are, and storytell the connection between that world and your brand with cross-sectional marketing.

Contribute to creating communities and groups within your field (and the neighbouring fields). Provide content and stories that show that your business understands this change: that you contribute to the group, the greater good, and the common strive.

In 2016 you understood the everyday struggles of the individual, in 2018 you understand the struggles of the collective.

When businesses start implementing more self-management and self-reliance, and decentralize the decision-making processes, they will experience issues and challenges in the group. It’s a tough identity shift for any business, so use your insights about this when shaping your B2B-communication.

dream-shadows-silhouettes - ode agency

From media producers to curators – AI choosing your stories

What comes next, after the filter bubble? Probably an automated service that will choose the right stories for you. Just like Spotify serves you suggestions with ”Discover Weekly”, based on your search history and the history of those who seem to behave like you, an algorithm will give you regular updates on what reads on the Internet would interest you.

It’s already there, but most likely it will boom.

As a marketer, be aware not only of how you articulate your content, but how you categorize it, how you make it search engine optimized (SEO), and how it connects and relates to existing content. Be clear on the context, on the user navigation, on the conversion optimization. On the purpose. Zoom out and try to see the whole picture.

How would a robot know why you’re worth someone’s five minutes of attention?

Artificial intelligence will not only choose journalistic content, but content from a variety of sources. Therefore, marketers that not only do their own marketing, but curate other stories and cover its field of interest, will rule. They will be the content sources.

As a brand, you need to become the content provider, as AI will be the media curator.

tech spirituality ode agency

Tech + spirituality – combining the two

The tech startup scene has managed to combine the creative exotic with the rational and nerdy. When anyone can code, we need the technology development to embrace new areas to avoid becoming just a means of building things.

That is, technology not as a tool, but as a means of realizing digital culture experiments.

We will see technology become a facilitator of spiritual search. Apps will help people disconnect from apps, virtual tools will help people become more grounded from virtual tools.

Isn’t that ironic?

As a marketer, look into how this idea can influence the stories you’re writing: the search for more time, for inner development, for self-fulfillment – not instead of being connected, but by being connected.

 

I name this trend forecast: Do you dare?

Because I think we’ll see people looking for alternative ways to value true and qualitative information, time and unfiltered reality – or unreality.

Those things are tomorrow’s currency. Be the content bank offering this currency.

My questions to you as a marketing person are:

Do you dare to break norms and take a stand with your marketing? To explore new topics and ways to articulate your message? To not only engage with your followers, but make them co-create? 

Are you ready to integrate even the unpolished side of your business in your communication? To shape your content to encourage engagement rather than reach?

To accept that an artificial intelligence will be the middleman between you and your audience? To not be the brand that people use to strengthen their identity, but the brand that groups and communities seek as a facilitator, knowledge, service and information provider for their purpose?

Then, aim to answer those needs and questions when choosing topics, angles, perspectives and stories for your content, that should constitute your most important digital marketing during these next two years.

Do you dare?

 


Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Communicating sustainability in social media

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to find your stories for you? We offer content marketing as your blog, newsletter or social media editors – read more about these services here.

It’s Monday morning. Imagine you’re in the office, discussing with your colleagues how you could improve the company’s marketing. How does one reach people nowadays? How does one catch the attention of potential new clients? Why is nobody reading your posts?

storytelling content marketing with a twist
Your message needs a twist.

Last week you launched a Facebook campaign, but it didn’t really take off. Your competitors also seem to be spending more on AdWords to climb the Google ranking ladder, leaving you further down the list of search results. How to compete?

The answer is: The communication with your potential clients needs to be more frequent and more spot on. You need to increase your touchpoints – the number of situations where you reach and interfere with potential clients. And you need to make sure that every time you reach them, you stand out. That you’re different from the rest.

So what can you communicate? What could you possibly be talking about in all these posts, articles and e-mails? You have the message, the products and the services, but you can’t go on nagging about that several times a week. That’s considered too commercial, or even spam, which your audience will reject.

What’s happening in your business?

What you need is to figure out what to tell your customers when you’re not allowed to talk about your business itself, or even your offer. You need to find stories that share your expertise as a brand – enough stories to produce new posts, emails or newsletters frequently.

Is there really that much happening in my business? you might ask.

Yes, there is!

People tend not to see it because they’re right in the middle of it. Or they see things that they think are stories, but that their customers won’t find interesting or accessible – stories that, in the end, don’t manage to cut through the noise.

Time for a private detective?

Imagine instead that your company hired a private detective, or a journalist, to investigate your company in search of storytelling material. Someone who could look at your business from an outside perspective and say:

– Hey, what you’re doing right here is fascinating and unique.

Or:

– That thing isn’t worth communicating at all. It’s irrelevant.

Or:

– That’s way too complicated to understand for someone who’s not one of you.

Imagine that this private detective got back to you with a list for 2-3 fascinating short stories that could be told and posted every week. Stories that are unique and interesting for someone who has never heard of your business or doesn’t have any previous knowledge about your field. Stories told in a way that they make your business appear as the go-to brand/website/page for more stories like these.

A credible source of information, inspiration and – eventually – products and services.

This private detective would be an expert in finding good ideas and patterns in things, in creating stories and dramaturgy, but also understanding your message and business goals, to find this for you.

Continuously creating and posting stories not only strengthens your brand and draws people’s attention when executed professionally. It also repeatedly encourages digital word-of-mouth – dedicated people sharing your stories – and most of all it’s creating constant touchpoints and opportunities for potential new clients.

Are you constantly creating new stories and touchpoints?

The reason you clicked this headline is because

  1. You were intrigued and curious to find the answer
  2. You normally like our posts and thought this one might be good as well
  3. You were annoyed but couldn’t help clicking it, because – why not?

No matter why, it shows that this post appeared in your news feed. The reason it did is because someone shared it. This person might be one of us, one of our followers, or a freind of a friend of a follower …

Or, you found it through googling the topic, and Google thought it was one of the best suggested answers to your question, since other visitors and readers thought so.

Imagine this would be the case for all of your stories, every week, every month. There is so much value in these touchpoints, because over time the content created through published stories also ranks your page better every day.

It all starts with an intriguing headline…


Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to find your stories for you? We offer content marketing as your blog, newsletter or social media editors – read more about these services here.

Effective sustainability communication can deliver great business value. Get it wrong and the results might be minimal – and at worst the reputational damage might be costly. Here are the key strategies for success.

Sustainability communication in social media - ode agency

There was a time when nobody wanted to bring up the subject sustainability. When listed holding groups with legal requirements on sustainability reports were so reluctant that they let the enforced work of a few minor companies represent the whole group just to get away.

The advantages of sustainable development seemed few and risks were high. It was either ’too expensive’ or ’threatened to damage the brand’. Companies felt like they had to choose between being sustainable or ’sexy’, which left them afraid to communicate sustainability on a brand level.

That is no longer the case.

Are you sustainable or sexy?

Today sustainability is no longer only of interest to niche stakeholders, but has taken a hold in corporations around the world. Nine out of ten consumers expect companies to do more than profit – to also operate responsibly in environmental and social areas.

A sustainable business and a successful business are one and the same. It’s simply crucial for any brand to instill trust in its customers, and get significant value beyond financial return. Companies should integrate sustainability into all business areas and let it guide the decision-making as part of the business planning process.

And they do.

A majority of executives consider sustainability important, and the majority of companies are integrating sustainability principles into their businesses. They are also increasingly communicating their initiatives. Today it is sexy to be sustainable. Brands make efforts for better products, better conditions and better communities – and they want to show it to the world.

How to get the attention you deserve

But doing something doesn’t mean it’s done well. Companies increasingly highlight their sustainability activity, but do the messages and results reach the audience and get the attention they deserve? Are the initiatives given a real chance to create the biggest possible value for the community and company?

Instead of (only) publishing reports and white papers, or sending out press releases, on impacts and values, companies should use digital platforms and editorial approaches in social media. Digital content creates great opportunities to reach a wide and engaged audience in a compelling manner.

When used in the right way, social media can be an amplifier for the transparent, competitive advantage that business sustainability delivers.

Social media has been a change driver in how sustainability is communicated. But how to do it? How to harness the power of social media to create business sustainability value? Below we discuss what is and isn’t working for brand-level social media communication and explore key components for success.

Be a publisher

First of all, companies should view all social platforms as what they really are – publishing channels. Consider:

  • What your audience cares about
  • What you’ve got to say that’s in their interest
  • Where they want to get their information
  • What you do well and how to be useful with it
  • How to be transparent

Choose your digital channels wisely

Social media platforms have made companies ’publishers’. Great news for organizations that wish to share their sustainability efforts with consumers and other stakeholders. But your choice of channels must align with your communication strategy.

To develop a strong editorial voice in social media, and to be able to spark a sustainability dialogue among your employees, media, investors, NGOs, and consumers, you need to really handle the channel. Sustainability messages also seek to reach specific audiences. Needless to say then that those messages should be communicated through the audiences’ preferred channels.

Start a two-way conversation

’No man is an island’, wrote John Donne. You’re not the only one here.

Don’t just show off initiatives and results on a brick wall. Online there’s a huge potential audience to influence change. Engage people, make them a part of your journey. People obviously care about the topic, so create a two-way conversation.

Be your audience’s guide and collocutor.

By empowering people with the feeling that their voice matters and makes a difference, you get new input, increase reach and make people engage with your brand.

Focus on the big picture

We live in an over-communicated society where we’ve got seconds before the next wave of messages hits the audience. Be concise and send out clear, simple messages. Don’t be technical or get too much into detail. Instead of facts and figures – show a map of your journey.

To make your communication work and resonate outside the offices, it has to resonate with an audience that’s not used to hearing the technicalities. Show real results, in a simple way.

Down to earth – get off your high horses

Sustainability processes are complex, and it’s your task to demystify this subject and to speak a language that people understand.

Be personal and discuss issues that are closer to home – friends, family, nature, food, health and fitness – issues that affect people’s everyday lives. Social media is ideal for that purpose.

Sustainability work purifies and simplifies the world, which is something we all desire. Show that your initiatives, your improved business and products contribute to that.

Use imaginary motors

How much does the audience really care? Companies should make their sustainability journey something people care about and engage in. We need to be motivated. Use imaginary motors to get people going, to encourage action and participation.

  • Engage in your community. People love that.
  • Be adventurous and exciting. Focus on the adventure. Talk about traveling, new horizons. What’s cool.
  • Happiness is always a driving force.
  • Eternity. Sustainability work purifies and simplifies the world, which is something we all desire. Show that your initiatives, your improved business and products contribute to that.

Be genuine 

Don’t greenwash. It can and will seriously damage your brand. Don’t do and communicate sustainability work because there is a USP in it for you. Don’t do it because it sounds good, because everybody else is doing it or because it improves your reputation.

Do it because it’s in the interest of your business to have a positive impact and influence on your community. Because you genuinely care about that community, and that wanting to improve your world is integrated into your business strategy. Because it’s easier to operate in prosperous surroundings.

You’re not sexy because you do sustainability work. You’re sexy because you’re sustainable.

Be the story

It’s all about the story. By telling the story of corporate sustainability goals, actions, and performance in a compelling way, companies have the opportunity to engage with stakeholders and audience in more meaningful ways.

But how to be a good storyteller, you ask?

If you are doing a good work, you have a good story to tell.

 


Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to help you in your strategic planning? We offer this as part of our communication strategy services – read more about them here.

Meet Björn Ekdahl, CEO, who talks about what separates me-too brands from unique, winning brands. 

Björn Ekdahl, Ode Agency

Hi Björn! What do you do at Ode?

– I’m the CEO. That’s short for a combination of chief everything officer and a learn-it-all. I try to be involved in as many parts of the business and with as many people as possible, with the goal to learn and understand as much as possible. Together with my team I’m building the go-to agency for high-quality content marketing in Europe.

– I also make coffee.

What’s your background?

– I’m originally a publisher. I worked for a production, PR and sales company within the publishing industry before founding a publishing house myself. My company got many requests for communication, agency services and international representation, so I started another business focusing on marketing and communication (believe it or not, but the book market doesn’t know anything about storytelling). Words have always been the most important to me, so that was a natural next step.

– The agency had an outspoken sustainability approach, helping big brands in the fashion and lifestyle industries with their sustainability work and to communicate that process. High-end brands used to be either conscious or sexy. What the companies appreciated now was the possibility to combine this. Sustainability is definitely not only something you do to build your image – or to be conscious and environmentally friendly – it’s an integrated part of the business model in long-lasting businesses.

– Given this background, with me living in Paris and with experience of executive roles I was asked to be CSO of sustainable luxury agency 1.618 Paris. Last autumn I joined Ode Agency.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– I see many. One is the fact that marketers still seem to be talking about ’digital marketing’, like it was something new and separated from ’marketing’ per se, like if you could go by with analog marketing. Today that’s a tautology. 

– Another one is to be able to measure and prove the ROI of your marketing activities – to get real value for your investments. PR and advertising might give your brand a boost, your 15 minutes of fame, which is great when running a campaign or launching a product. But to build your brand every day, even while you’re asleep, it takes more, unless you have an unlimited budget. 

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– This goes all the way back to the (lack of) business strategy. Brands communicate and market themselves without knowing who they are, without knowing their raison d’être. They often haven’t even asked themselves ’If we stopped existing today, what would our clients miss tomorrow?’ They are me-too brands, or also-rans, without a unique purpose and position. Before marketing and communicating you have to have a bulletproof reason why people should turn to you instead of your competitors.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– I walk around in circles with a pen in my hand, it preferably resting on my lips. I’ve convinced myself that I think better when I do that, but maybe it’s just a wish to look like the tortured artist. 

Where do you find inspiration?

– In classical music. But most of all in the moment. By chance or a sudden impulse, by something someone says or does. Something I see or happen to hear (read: eavesdrop). Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it’s the task of the sculptor to discover it, if I may quote Michelangelo.

Meet copywriter and content manager Anna Sandahl, who explains why most companies still fail in social media.

anna sandahl

Hi Anna! What do you do at Ode?

– I’m the COO and manage the creative work. I founded the agency last year and spend about 50% of my time writing content for websites, newsletters, press releases and social media, and 50% managing projects and sales. A couple of times a month I give seminars, courses and workshops on writing for the web, both for businesses and as external lecturer in digital media at universities.

What’s your background?

– I like exploring new fields, so I got a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Linnaeus University, a good way to learn how to do quick research and turn complex things into something more sexy and interesting. I worked as a news reporter and freelance magazine editor for more or less 10 years, delivering content to publishers like Aller Media and Egmont Publishing. I am TV-trained by SVT (Swedish national television) and radio-trained by SR (Swedish national radio).

I also studied sustainable tourism at Linköping University, language philosophy and Spanish at Lund University and media activism at Södertörn University. I co-produced a documentary about Kilimanjaro in Kenya with Engineers Without Borders and co-founded the publishing house Grönegatan Förlag, websites/magazines Spring and Matkärlek (now part of TheDietDoctor.com). The last five years I’ve been working as a copywriter and content manager.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– To cut through the noise and to actually convert new customers. Companies tend to be present on Facebook, Instagram or communicating through websites and newsletters, but they don’t see any actual results. It’s because it’s not enough to just publish stuff, you need to produce something of high quality that’s useful and therefore will go viral and drive sales.

– I understand that it’s hard to stay up-to-date with social media algorithms and updates, they’re constantly changing – but good content is pretty much timeless and will live on.

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– They may have switched from print to digital channels, but I still see a lot of companies doing traditional advertising and PR, which simply doesn’t work. It’s also quite expensive. New channels require new ways of communicating. You don’t reach your customers anymore – you need to focus on making them find you. This is what needs to be the focus of every post, text, image or video.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– I take pathetic selfies where I try to look professional with my laptop. I always fail.

Where do you find inspiration?

– I’m inspired by businesses that have the courage to make fun of themselves. Parody and satire will be great for marketing campaigns and messages in 2017. Situation-based storytelling like the posts of Humans Of New York, or long blog posts that go viral because they use great formatting and narratives, headlines and tonalities like Wait But Why, inspire me.

Paid advertising, sponsored posts, Google AdWords – or content marketing? This is a decision every marketer needs to make, every year. The best way to know how to spend your budget is simply to look at the return on investment over time. This is what it looks like.

When you Google ”Which online marketing strategy has the best ROI?”, you find a wide range of articles that say the return on investment of online marketing is too difficult to measure.

A lot of them also tell you that it’s almost impossible to compare the results of these methods.

But you can measure it. In digital communication, you can track every lead, every click, every subscription. Unlike traditional print ads, you can measure not only how many people have seen your banner, but how many have clicked it and bought something.

To see which marketing method is more effective, we only have to look at the statistics. 

Of course, it depends on what you’re selling and to whom. Maybe your customers are not on Facebook. Maybe they’re all about newsletters or Snapchat, and the time and budget needed for those channels may differ.

But we do know that only the messages that they find useful, viral, engaging or truly interesting will bring results. By posting useful content in your digital channels regularly – website articles, videos, photos, infographics, newsletters, blogs and social media posts – you will increase your sales. Statistics show that half of B2B buyers first consume 3 to 5 pieces of content before engaging with a salesperson. That is content marketing.

Here’s what the marketing statistics say

… and the sources, if you want further reading (inspired by this post by Curata and this post from CMI):

  • Website conversion rate is nearly six times higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters

What costs more, then? Paid search or content marketing?

Just like INC puts it in this article, time and money are both investments:

”If ROI were a simple matter of money in, money out, it’d be much easier to estimate and compare. However, some strategies require more of a time investment than a money investment, which adds another difficult-to-measure variable to the process.”

Long-term results are also different from short-term results. We know that over the course of five years, a long-term investment will pay off far better than a short-term one.

However, you want immediate results. Depending on the size of your company, statistics show that

Content doesn’t come with a deadline, which paid search does. Paid advertising might work during that limited time, and it may be a good complement to boost a post, but it doesn’t build your brand continuously without good content.

As an example, I wrote a blog post for one of our clients in 2014. That blog post is still (today, January 2017) the one piece of content that drives the most traffic on their website!

Compared to paid ads, good content reaches your customers because:

  • You deserved their attention by being interesting, relevant and attractive
  • They chose you because you seemed different than the rest
  • Someone recommended you
  • They Googled a question, and you provided the most relevant information and answer to that question

It’s all about long-term branding!

You can pay for better ranking on Google, but the day you stop paying, the effect will stop. If you build your ranking with organic search instead, it will last. And once you’ve created a post that drives traffic, people will keep finding it, every day. Traffic drives traffic.

Building a ”content bank” is building your brand. The more high-quality content you have that is search engine optimized, the more traffic you will get, and the better you will rank. Which increases your traffic, which in its turn increases your ranking …

Therefore,

So why aren’t more companies doing this?

They are. But:

Being a content manager is almost like being a journalist or editor: you must know what’s interesting to your customers. Don’t tell them about your company or products all the time, give them something useful and interesting.

Like what? Well, you’ll find all those stories inside your business, it’s all there. It requires skills and experience to make them useful, but it’s worth it.

Business happy woman jumping yellow marketing
Ready to make your content fly?

I want to start by saying that the headline is slightly misleading. What we are now facing in digital marketing is not a trend, but a paradigm shift – a substantial change.

It’s not only in the digital development, but in the very needs and behaviours of people, and in who owns the information and marketing online. And in not falling victim to the trend. Crazy exciting.

But I’ll try to be as brief as possible.

This is for those who want to create online reach, long-term value and credibility. For those of you, who want to own your field.

Something has happened with our confidence in sources on the Internet. Today a source is not only a book, a newspaper or a website. It might be an organization, a company and, above all, a brand.

The reason for this is that we are beginning to understand that the entire Internet is all about information. To own an audience online you must act as an information business. You have to create information, distribute it and establish a reputation of being the best information provider. At least within a specific niche, where you can be the king – of content marketing.

Then, why is this? And why is it relevant?

It’s up to the customer – or is it?

Information has become a currency worth its weight in gold. This is because it’s no longer journalists, newspapers or media companies who provide the stories in people’s news feed, but the people themselves. They think.

People choose what companies they follow on Facebook and what brands they want to see in their news feed. They can mix articles from New York Times with ads from McDonald’s and blog posts from H&M – all in the same feed. They design their own subscriptions to information in social media, or in apps like Omni.

You would think that this leads to chaos. But it doesn’t, because Facebook, Instagram and Google have already found the solution to that: new algorithms.

September 6th 2016: TechCrunch, with 7.5 million followers on Twitter, describes Facebook's algorithm for designing your news feed.
September 6th 2016: TechCrunch, with 7.5 million followers on Twitter, describes Facebook’s algorithm for designing your news feed. Read the full article here.

For people to get their tailor-made feed, Google and Facebook have changed their algorithms from showing information published in chronological order to showing the posts according to what you seem the most interested in. Therefore you mainly see what they think you like the most – based on your, and sometimes your friends’, online behaviour.

Your brand can be up there. At the top. Frequently. Ranked as the best. 

How to own your target audience’s feed

It all comes down to one thing: what you do to deserve that position and attention. If you know the way to get to the top of your target audience’s feeds, to get shared and renowned, it’s unbeatably more effective than paid advertising space like AdWords or Facebook Ads. Then you are aiming at the very heart of your target group – and they not only find you, but they choose you.

How to do it then?

Until now companies basically have been able to piggyback on this phenomenon, that is to say social media’s ways to present content to their users. But from now on Google and Facebook want to charge you even more for exposure.

Unless your content is so great that Google and Facebook WANT to promote it, because its quality says something about them and their ranking system.

Now, this is the key.

It’s not enough to just create content based on SEO keywords or the insights about your target audience. That’s yesterday’s marketing.

Here’s where we get to the heart of the matter.

The new brand tactics of Google and Facebook

Today the two giants Google and Facebook mainly want to do three things:

  1. they want to overtake the journalists’ role as gatekeepers to the news bills, i.e. deciding what content and ranking will be seen in our feeds, 
  2. they say they want to downplay the ‘filter bubble’ phenomenon, i.e. wanting to balance our social media feeds so we don’t live in different realities, and 
  3. they want to eliminate clickbait, i.e. ’11 signs that you…’ and ‘You won’t believe what happens next…’ articles. 

These three things all aim to rank, promote and reward high-quality content instead of mediocre content. Partly because it has become their responsibility and partly because it makes them look good.

The trend is not to follow the trend, but to create something sustainable and lasting: quality.

It’s a reaction to spam, and ‘spam’ today is not only junk mail, but everything that is not highly relevant for the user (the target audience). Simply because it’s damaging Google’s and Facebook’s brands and credibility. They themselves however, say that it’s because they have a social responsibility.

 

New York Times, August 4th 2016: Facebook say that they are going to promote quality content and avoid clickbait. The headline "Shocker!" makes fun of the typical clickbait headline.
New York Times, August 4th 2016: Facebook say that they are going to promote quality content and avoid clickbait. The headline ”Shocker!” makes fun of the typical clickbait headline. Read the full article here.

‘High quality’ doesn’t mean high quality

Therefore a high-quality text doesn’t necessarily have to be a well-written text like those by Dostoyevsky or Jean-Paul Sartre. Here, high quality means as correct and relevant as possible for the target audience. If that means using slang or a specific jargon, then that is high quality – if it’s found, consumed and appreciated by your target audience.

And all of this is measurable. You can even measure how far down the reader has scrolled.  

Only those of you who create and share OUTSTANDING content will have a great reach. That is to say: the leading brands will be the brands that create content

 

    1. that has understood the algorithms of the big Internet oligarchs,
    2. that offers something highly relevant for the target audience,
    3. that’s appreciated and glorified by the target audience, and
    4. that’s not only published occasionally, but continuously, and on a long-term basis

This is my trend forecast, based on my work with digital communication for both big and small brands in several countries.

High-quality content is the next big thing in marketing.

Not only does it increase the reach of strong brands. It builds them, and creates even more satisfied customers. It gives you the possibility to own your field.

Even Google highlights this, and emphasizes that it’s not about ‘good content’ but ‘original, high-quality content’:

Image from Google's own online course in creating a successful website. "Make a great site – Create high-quality content".
Image from Google’s own online course in creating a successful website. ”Make a great site – Create high-quality content”. You can take the course here.

Google recognizes syntax quality

Every day, Google and Facebook become better at detecting and recognizing quality. Not only if a text online is interesting, but also if it’s well written. Their algorithms understand sarcasm, irony and syntax (sentence structure) and know when something is badly executed.

The development towards increased sensitivity to quality is moving fast.

This means you need to be BRILLIANT.

Then, why does Google care about quality?

It’s a direct result of the fact that Google and Facebook have taken over the journalists’ job to curate, evaluate and present something customized, nuanced and qualitative – a form of truth. Because we go to their feeds and search engines for information, and expect to find answers that are relevant and true.

As shown below Google writes that the search results nowadays prioritize ranking and showing ‘high-quality, in-depth content’.

Google informs us that their algorithm promotes "high-quality, in-depth content" and long reads – the end of short clickbait and SEO spam.
Google informs us that their algorithm promotes ”high-quality, in-depth content” and long reads – the end of short clickbait and SEO spam. Read the full article at Official Google Webmaster Central.

 

The recipe for successful communication

Do you want your deserved attention?

Here’s the recipe:

Create high-quality content for the right audience. Invest in it: engagement, research and competence. Don’t mass produce. Don’t put any writer on the job – get a good one. Then share and publish it according to a strategy. Remember: your brand is at stake every time you publish something.

SEO is no longer just about keywords. Search Engine Optimization is about providing the high quality content that the search giants are looking for. Not only the words, but the whole picture.

Yesterday:
SEO = keyword optimized for Google

Tomorrow:
SEO = targeted and quality labelled
(the SEO is just one piece of the puzzle)

If you play by the rules, you will create content and marketing that is irresistible. You will own your market segment and your target audience. Not only does your communication distribute your brand, but it constantly builds it and adds value to it.

Reach them. And make them come back for more. 

Meet Petter Andersson, content writer, who claims that the filter bubble is real and dangerous.

 

Hi Petter! What do you do at Ode?

– I produce quality content, scout trends and fiddle around with WordPress.

What’s your background?

– I studied sociology and cultural studies for some years, before I decided to become an Information architect. When I graduated, I had already started my career as a copywriter and Mixed Martial Arts journalist. Along with my writing I also built websites and worked as editor in chief for MMAnytt and Söderåsens miljöförbund.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– To deal with the fact that people really don’t like ads or commercials. It’s regarded as visual or audio noise, and that’s why they install pop up-blockers, turn off the volume on the TV and spend a good amount of time mocking the ads on Facebook, caused by different not so sharp algorithms.

Another tough nut to crack is the problem with two major companies pretty much controlling the traffic on Internet. The filter bubble is real, and it’s dangerous. The short-term advantages with customized information are small compared to risks: the credibility of companies, newspapers, science and politics.

petter-andersson

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– To assume that companies should cure bored or indifferent consumers by being funny or somewhat ‘crazy’, when they really should be focusing on providing real value for their customers. The old saying: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half”, is still oh so true.

That’s why any modern company should:

  1. Produce relevant, useful and truthful information, i.e. content.
  2. Measure: collect and evaluate data, to make sure their money is not going down the drain.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– Squats. Sitting is the new smoking.

Where do you find inspiration?

– In good journalism, books and George St. Pierre’s meticulous work ethic.