I recently launched a new social media agency, VIM Social Media, to form the digital marketing base for my design studio and technology lab, VIM.Network. What follows is my vision for the role we play as digital advertisers in 2019, and the commitment we must make to our audience.
As a kid, I was a neodymium magnet for anything science/tech related. I taught myself linear algebra and began programming when I was 8 years old. By age 11, I was beta testing and debugging software for AOL, back when it was among the very first internet providers.
In college, it was a toss-up for me whether to major in mechanical engineering or computer science -- I loved both of these subjects, but at the time, my passion led me toward music composition. From 2000-2008, I earned my living in radio and television production. At the peak of the broadcast media era, Bell Music Productions become one of the most successful jingle production teams in the country. This is where I planted my roots and where I learned to produce and sell.
The economic crash of 2008 pulled the rug out from under our company. Like many others, we fell hard. I pivoted into web design. From 2010 to 2018, I carved out a niche as a creative studio for local artists and musicians in need of web portfolios. I became laser-focused on developing new ways to help brands establish their digital identities.
Along the way, I developed a strong skill set in aesthetic design, functional code, and framing a visual narrative. I learned how to listen, and how to amplify a message. I began this company as part of a life-long dedication to studying the intersection between technology, art, and humanities. The pursuit of finding better ways to provide opportunities for others and to share what is learned along the way has led to the creation of a social media company. My ultimate vision for VIM is to expand into the realm of micro-platform creation, while documenting the ride along the way.
"I know that we can provide tremendous value for our community, but before we can do that, we first must capture their attention and earn their permission to speak freely.”
We’re in the midst of a giant transitional phase in media consumption as the remnants of top-down mass-produced scheduled programming fall by the wayside to bottom-up on-demand content produced by the masses. If you fail to calibrate your mental model for what effective advertising campaign strategies looks like in 2019, and you continue to blast your audience with commercial interruptions and intrusive banners, rather than approaching the situation from a mindset of a media producer with an ear to the ground, you will fail. If your ad looks & feels like a commercial rather than the show, you will waste your money.
This is a time when sleeping giants will fall as tomorrow’s new entrepreneurial empires are built on a foundation of rock-solid content produced at an aggressive pace. We have to measure our steps and react quickly as the ground moves beneath us.
The age of the infomercial & static ad is dead. The new game is played by active, analytics-driven content + engagement.
Sharing content and publicly engaging with digital media, brands, and public figures has become a way of communicating with peers and connecting with friends & family. An individual’s unique identity and interests are conveyed when they click a Like button next to a piece of content or use a Comment button to publicize their thoughts. This visibility of action serves to unite like-minded communities.
In a social environment where people are actively seeking out content to interact with as a form of self-expression, it’s critically important that your marketing campaigns avoid pushing ads, and instead focus on facilitating these meaningful human connections, one brief moment at a time.
The ideal content delivery strategy enables frictionless media consumption to continually produce new opportunities for discovery and engagement by way of a parallel distribution model of modular native content. In other words, by placing a premium on high-quality long-form content that feels natural across a variety of platforms, a brand can draw visibility wherever an audience is placing their attention, no matter the device, medium, or intent.
Authenticity: To prevent your media from blending in, stand out. Earn and keep your audience's attention by displaying your brand’s authenticity & showcasing your unique spirit.
Context: Each network’s toolset captures a different mindset and a combination of personality traits. There are more opportunities for engagement when your media aligns with the audience and the current conversation.
Intent: On the web, givers always stand to gain more than selfish actors. A transparent intent to provide your audience with something of practical value goes a very long way.
Consistency: This not a sprint or a marathon, but rather, a series of ultra-marathons. It is a matter of staying visible because the only other option is to become invisible.
Polymorphism: Social media content that is carefully constructed to take on many shapes and crosslink with other pieces of content drives the cost of discovery to an extremely affordable price.
This game is about quality, persistence, and speed of execution. While the overall strategy will remain a constant, which is to focus on the value of great content and optimized delivery routes, each client is unique and each project is different.
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Podcast & Voice are the platforms where the majority of the public's social media attention is currently being placed. However, it’s important that we stay nimble and follow the market.
"It’s never going to be more cost-effective to run ads on these platforms. But, the clock is ticking.”
Through the use of split testing and ad campaign analytics, we are able to quantify the reach and engagement rates for each version of creative marketing deployed to each targeted demographic. These metrics act as a compass to direct your ad campaign trajectory and to provide detailed audience insights for future marketing material and further business development throughout an iterative cycle. This feedback is extremely valuable because it amplifies the resonance between our brands and their audience. Audience-matched micro-content fuels higher engagement rates while quantified performance reporting allows for recurrent ad campaign optimization.
While we focus our efforts on growing an audience base that finds genuine value in our messaging, we must continually react and adapt to what works.
Feedback received after each and every online action directs your next movement. It tells you when you’re headed in the right direction to hit the gas, and directs you to course correct when you’re drifting off the mark.
"To perform at our best, we have to stay on the pulse of culture and continually train our eyes to spot new openings for creative solutions."
You can never waste your time when you spend it helping communities and the people within them. You’ll find that this strategy is able to open more doors than any sales pitch. This is the first time in human history that we have the ability to form and maintain rich connections with vast numbers of individuals across large physical boundaries. A commitment to sharing things of value will always win out against an egocentric action. You must quickly learn to think and behave like a publisher and not a solicitor.
It's essential for brand visibility and reach expansion to keep your creative messaging flowing onto the major digital media platforms and to continue to seek out the opportunities for starting new dialogues with your audience.
Empathy is the way you build lasting relationships with customers. Remember that you are not in the business of selling, but rather, you are in the business of serving and entertaining. A brand is no longer defined by the image it shows to its customers or the message it tells. Now, it is defined by what the wisdom of the crowd says that it is. Your products are not the amazing things you create, but the amazing experiences they provide. (Something to remember: you and your customers are on the same side.)
No matter what it is that your business sells, it’s critically important that it tells a story that is worth sharing. Your customers demand consistency and quality. That is what we need to deliver.
Micro-content: Flash brief product, event, & service announcements keep your core audience engaged, while the ongoing messaging conveys your originality. Hashtags identify content relevance and increase brand discovery.
Native video: It is critically important that your media format is native to each platform. Target 1080p (HD) & 4k 60fps (UHD) video for YouTube and Facebook Video while deploying 9:16 vertical videos for Snapchat and IGTV.
Image & Short-form video: Positivity and happiness are a mindset, separate from external circumstance. Your imaging serves to convey the mindset around your products. Standalone chunks of juicy bite-sized content drive attention to your macro-content.
Long-form written: When creating long-form content, we often take on the role of educators, documentarians, and data scientists. It’s about recording the actual journey and not stressing over the details. This medium provides a platform to sharpen your aspirational goals and showcase your value and unique perspective to the world.
Podcast audio & voice: Native audio is the only media form that can be consumed passively while performing other daily tasks. While your audience is waking up, driving to work, or at the gym, this is the media form to keep them engaged.
Positive interaction: The interaction with your audience through customer support and commentary over shared interests shapes their image of your products and culture. Positive experiences encourage organic referrals and lead generation.
They will be artists and creators. Aesthetic design principles add considerable value and utility to content. From the choice in typography to the music selection, imagery, copywriting, and videography, it's always in a brand's best interest to strive for cohesion, balance, flow, and direction in order to maximize impact and to make the strongest first and lasting impression. Beauty is power and simplicity is sophistication.
They will be writers and editors. Not everyone sees the dozens of story ideas surrounding their day-to-day experiences or the potential for written words to translate thoughts into action and everyday life into entertainment and learning material. The next wave of digital media marketers will.
They will be coders and engineers. The platforms that the next wave of digital marketers interact with make sense to them, because they will understand the underlying infrastructure on a fundamental level. They will be early adopters to new technologies and more than anything else, see themselves as makers. In the strongest sense of the word, they will be data-oriented. In engineering, no matter the beauty or intelligence of the theory, when the results don’t agree with the experiment, you must respond with a new solution.
They will be active and lifelong learners. The digital media landscape is under constant change with new tools and trends entering onto the scene every six to twelve months. Additionally, the rate at which this is happening is accelerating. The only way to harness the energy necessary to react and respond to this massive flux of new ideas and frameworks is to stay active, stay hungry, and to assume the role a lifelong learner.
In social media marketing, the worst action is no action. If you’re not participating in this global phenomenon, then your brand is irrelevant & invisible to today’s audience.
We can all spot a sales pitch coming from a mile away, and no one likes being sold to. If you truly care about the success of your customers, and we convey that truth to your audience, you’re going to come out on top in this world.
Visit VIM Social Media at https://vimsocialmedia.com