April 26, 2016

The audiences that so many of our clients seek have evolved. Today, more than ever, they’re on more platforms and choosing how they consume and share content in more sophisticated ways.

As they continue to become more and more sophisticated in how they consume digital media, we as marketers are faced with a singular challenge: To truly thrive in an established and developed digital landscape, we must embrace both richer interactive formats and simple, smarter ways of thinking about how we can reach and learn from these audiences.

We know that mobile users now outnumber desktop users in most meaningful measures, but are we adapting our tactics to reflect this reality?

I wonder if we’re ready for the next wave of digital audiences. Sure, sponsored content and ads have worked well on social thus far, but what do we do when consumers become as blind to paid content in the news feed as they are to the sponsored search results they see on Google? Are we ready for the day where the placement of sponsored posts feels as predictable? How do we solve for those who immediately scroll by the place they’re pretty sure an ad will appear?

A strong answer to those questions may be to offer richer interaction. Capturing attention, rather than paid posts whizzing right by in feeds.

While dynamic new formats like Facebook’s Canvas Ads will help, I’d argue that the time has come for brands to double-down on a more holistic and more creative approach to their digital audiences. Here are four ways brands can get started:

  1. Rich, interactive eBooks. Download an eBook from a vendor or brand today and you’ll end up downloading a PDF. When it comes to eBooks, real eBooks, PDFs need not apply.Modern eBooks are often capable of what interactive PDFs can only dream of, like great support for embedded video, audio and even quizzes and custom interactive elements in some formats. Check out some examples of how they’ve come to life as textbooks, cookbooks and even welcome materials for new employees. Whatever the content, eBooks are proving to be more engaging than a microsite. They’re also often cheaper, more mobile friendly and, because they live on a user’s device, they’re often easier for your audience to recall when needed.
  1. Branded Apps. We’ve established that mobile has eclipsed desktop usage, but did you know app use has also surpassed the mobile browser in terms of a user’s time and attention?While apps might have previously been expensive and gimmicky, that’s no longer the case.

    Today, 89 percent of top brands have already launched one app, with 50 percent planning to deploy ten or more by 2018. And their rationale is clear. Not only is it cheaper than the web for rich, deep experiences, but it’s where their audience is—and will likely stay. Today’s smart marketer should be eager to explore how their brand can add value to a user’s daily life, whether they’re on their smartphone, tablet, wearable device or even TV.

  2. Connected Services. Thanks to digital assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa, we’re able to do all sorts of things just by asking one of our devices. Get an Uber? No problem. Order a pizza? You got it. But did you know these platforms are opening up to brands? Amazon allows developers to build skills and apps for the Echo, giving consumers new tricks and features for Alexa. And that’s likely just the beginning.But maybe that’s not quite reasonable for your brand. If tapping a digital assistant isn’t quite right, consider starting with Facebook Messenger. Still think it’s just a messaging app? Think again!

    Messenger is also a service to integrate into and a platform to build upon. Brands can build apps that hook into Messenger to add new features for everything from creating GIFs and photo filters to even summoning a ride from Uber or Lyft. And that’s only the beginning, Facebook has also added support for boarding passes and other on-the-go essentials as it further expands what it allows business and brand pages to do on the platform. It might be a messenger at heart, but there’s so much more to consider.

  3. API Integrations. When you’re truly doing brave, creative digital work, you’re going to eclipse what your tools are capable of. When that happens, you often need to work code directly.An application programming interface (API) is what makes it possible for you to follow someone on Twitter, send a Tweet or even view your timeline. By tapping into the API of social platforms like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, brands are able to use the commands and endpoints that the platform uses for its basic functions. For social platforms, APIs generally have several API endpoints or commands for creating, editing or deleting a post, getting information about a user, or even following and unfollowing an account.

    What can APIs do for brands that social management tools like Sprinklr, Sysomos and others can’t? Generally, they’re handy for custom builds. For example, during planning for a recent campaign, Golin was interested in applying some social listening keywords to every verified user on Twitter—more than 160,000 influencers and accelerators.

    Believe it or not, there’s no such list available from any of our tools or from Twitter itself.

    So, what did we do? We built a list by developing a custom tool and the Twitter API. In a matter of hours, we were able to create a database of every verified user, their footprint and were even able to start to map how their follower base intertwined.

    Where else can an API take you? The platform and your imagination is the limit. After all, it’s not rocket science, it’s computer science!