DigitalNews Today: March 2016

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Building Massive Awareness through Content Distribution: Rethinking Public Relations

Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 No comments

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I started my journey as a digital entrepreneur focusing on partnering with leading digital platforms such as Sendible and Votigo and though challenging, it truly has been a journey worth the while. My business is Digital PR and with a steady stream of new contents, digital disruption and advances in technology, my digital pr consulting firm is continuously devising strategic ways to improve visibility, engagement and consumption for our client’s contents. 

Since our evolution, Cihan Group has been able to offer a Digital PR service that takes advantage of new platforms and strategic tactics to get our client’s compelling stories into the digital communication space, right in front of their audience while producing results that far exceed expectations. 

Our goal is to help communicators of all stripes achieve their communications goals—from building awareness with existing and new audiences and gaining media pickup through content distribution and amplification, to monitoring mentions, managing online reputation and giving detailed analytical reporting on the reach and impact of each content.

The public relations professional that must remain relevant in today’s digital age must begin to learn how to leverage the juxtaposition of traditional channels with digital media and must consider whether their strategies can help clients reach this larger, more diverse audience surgically, spreading the story beyond existing footprints.

In this post, I share insights into the adaptations we made in executing our clients’ communications strategies.

The best way to garner exposure is to juxtapose the traditional media with the new media taking into consideration impactful digital pr tactics, digital tools and compelling content that will resonate with your target client’s target audience and that will help to build awareness, attract and monetize target audience.

One of such impactful campaign was the product launch of the First LTE Voice Service on Smartphone in Nigeria by Smile Communications, a leading pioneer of 4G LTE Broadband technology provider in partnership with Samsung. 

In an effort to drive massive awareness about the new product, to increase revenue through engagement, and to promote their new offerings to key influencers in relevant media outlets, we design a content distribution program and came up with a content strategy plotted against the buyer’s journey of their target audience and laid out a tactical roadmap to engage the audience with a regular cadence of communications. 

To achieve the set objectives and to accommodate the different channels and the different stages of the customer experience we deployed a combination of frequent Content Distribution, Amplification and Influence Marketing systems, tactically designed to Drive Awareness and Spark Engagement. 

Below is a snapshot of data collected for the online coverage on the Smile/Samsung Story from Smile's perspective.

- Smile Partners Samsung to Launch First LTE Voice Service on Smartphone in Nigeria

Story Distribution and Syndication Online
- The online content distribution was found on 224 online news sites and blogs, also had views from key prospect and target companies including Yahoo news, Google news and Trade Journals with a potential total audience of 169,051,908 unique visitors per day.

Visibility Metrics

Influence Marketing
- The launch recorded a total of 1,864 tweets in a single day from our network of influencers and generated 23,846,627 Impressions and 17,209 Web crawlers hits

Increase Awareness and Engagement
- Significant Increase in Engagement & Web Traffic, recording more than 373 engagements with the releases (shares, re-tweets, etc.).

Promoting Your Business Online Using Email Marketing and Social Media Integration: An Online Marketing Evolution

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 1 comment

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Marketing has shifted from a traditionally used above the line approach, e.g. bill-boards and television commercials, to a more below the line approach that speaks to segmented groups through mass media. There is far more emphasis on interaction and engagement with the consumers, in real time and on demand, through conversations and participation via email, blogs, Facebook pages etc. Marketing has now become commonplace in social networking sites, and through mobile phones.

Marketers and business owners are no longer fully in control of their brands. Thanks to social sites; the reader or consumer now has much more control. Brand definitions are no longer assumed or made up by marketing professionals. Due to the increasing interaction between clients and marketing personnel through social networking sites, brands can no longer be controlled; rather, they need to be defined and shaped in relation to what is being said by clients.

Ultimately, the public sphere shapes brand identities and with the public sphere being much larger and more visible, so are brands and their publicity-be it negative or positive. It’s necessary to jump onto this bandwagon to be able to monitor what is being said, to constantly improve and to provide feedback in real time to keep a positive public brand image. 

According to Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics*, 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices. Since people tweet anywhere and anytime, imagine what that means for bad customer experiences? Furthermore, 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands, and there are over 200, 000, 000 blogs with 54% of bloggers posting content or tweeting daily!

40% of marketing email recipients use social sites to search for product information and recommendations. Despite the social evolution email is still very active with 92% of adult Internet users sending or reading email. That’s far more than those who visit social networks regularly. While email delivers the highest return on investment (ROI), it is best to utilize it in conjunction with social media sites.

Email as a traditional online marketing channel continues to show immeasurable success for businesses as a direct marketing tool. Social sites have now gained momentous popularity as well and have shifted the way people communicate. However, these two platforms are not so much in competition as they pose very different advantages.

Email newsletters have the ability to reach highly targeted groups of people on a one-on-one basis, while social networking sites give companies wider exposure and a more casual and authentic approach. 2011 has been termed ‘The Integration Economy’ as social media is integrated and used for business. Like two ballroom dancers, both online marketing mediums are very strong on their own, but together they can deliver a shows topping performance. Who likes a solo tango?

Email marketing and social sites partner up

Combining the strengths of email marketing and social media marketing can fine tune just about any marketing strategy. These two mediums tend to attract different age groups and demographics and the integration allows companies to reach a wider audience. It also allows for increased exposure and increased brand awareness through brand ambassadors. 

After all, social networking sites have been named the online word of mouth. Additionally, Google searches now pick up social media content.

Email can now be integrated with social and professional networking sites. All it takes is some interaction, and prompts from one medium to the next. With social widgets, Facebook newsletter subscription-forms, and social sharing options, integration and sharing on the internet is easy. Social optimization has been made very simple, for example: You can share an email newsletter via a Facebook LIKE button, or post the URL of the email to your LinkedIn profile.

By publishing your email newsletters to your social sites you automatically channel your marketing efforts into new networks and reach more people. In a report that has been backed up by other studies, SocialTwist* stated that email was the most common channel used to share content via the company’s Tell-a-Friend widget, accounting for more than half of all referrals while social networks made up fewer than a quarter of shares.

The benefits of email marketing and social media integration

Integrating different mediums leads to increased brand exposure, a viral buzz, and greater word-of-mouth advertising via social networking mediums and the internet in general. If you have interesting content and social sharing is easy, then your business is one step closer to gaining more exposure and a larger client-base. 

Additionally, if sharing is rewarded or incentivized, it will increase ten-fold. Incentivized social sharing can be seen as a form of affiliate marketing. People tend to find new innovations, events, breaking news, competitions, and outreach efforts as particularly share-worthy.

Knowing what interests your audience and making sharing easy and incentivized is a sure way to get your web footprint noticed. This does not only lead to a larger customer-base, but also to better relationships with customers.

1. Assess your image, choose the right social media channel

The social networking bandwagon is definitely one to jump on. However, assess your image, audience, and brand before jumping on just any wagon. Choose social sharing sites that suit your company. LinkedIn can work for just about any business, whereas with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, SlideShare, YouTube, the tone is more colloquial and informal. Generally, it is best to have a big presence in social media. However, it needs to be relevant, and employed correctly to be successful. Interaction with clients is essential in maintaining healthy relationships and increasing brand loyalty.

2. Real time communication

Social networks have transformed the way that businesses and customers interact with one another; it has led to faster communication, more personal communication, and communication that is much more publicised. Product information and recommendations are increasingly being found on social networking sites and public perception is more important than ever.

3. Tagging along of “blind” followers

Often social media sites have ‘blind’ followers or fans due to competitions, invites from friends, etc. An advantage to integrating your email marketing with social marketing is that when integrating your email subscribers you ensure that true customers become fans or followers and their participation on social networking sites will educate ‘blind’ fans or followers who will see these third party endorsements. This will not only educate other fans, but will also increase brand loyalty and will transform followers and fans into actual consumers and possibly email newsletter recipients. 

Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, states that “78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 14% trust advertisements”*.

4. The effect of friends following friends

Another advantage to social media sites is that often like-minded people follow or befriend one another, and since existing fans/followers are clearly interested in your product, you stand a higher chance of gaining more potential customers through existing customers. The buzz around social networks might make you wonder if that spells the death of email. Hardly. In fact Forrester Research projects that email marketing will grow more than $4 billion by 2012*. Additionally, email is a part of social networking: Nearly all social networking sites require an active email address in order to sign-up.

5. Segmented marketing

Combining email (with its strong ability to segment and report,) with social networks and their strong ability to penetrate a larger audience enables companies to transform customer relationships dramatically. With your email reporting function, figure out which email recipients can be social brand ambassadors and incentivise them for their efforts on social sites and email. (Share to Social, 2008*).

6. All the way to blogs

Lastly, if you can get brand enthusiasts to publish your newsletters or promotional emails to their blogs then their support is made public. Remember, nothing does it quite like genuine third party endorsements. Word of mouth advertising has consistently shown its success in increasing sales for any business because people trust friends, colleagues and family more than they trust direct marketing messages.

Social networking sites are an obvious environment for viral activity. Getting the correct person to be a brand ambassador for you on a social networking site can increase your publicity ten-fold. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,YouTube, and blogs are the most important social sites to ensure you belong to. So, here’s how to get started up and to successfully integrate it with your email marketing campaigns.

- Getting started on Twitter:

Get an account with your own business name. Then, wherever you post your web address, post your Twitter widget on your site, in email marketing newsletters, on business cards, and in personal emails. Thereafter, tweet your subject line and employ keywords that define you, as there is a search option on Twitter. Get Twitter followers by following industry-related Twitter accounts. Tweet to your followers to sign up to receive ‘email only’ offers – then link this tweet to an opti-in form.

- Getting started on Facebook:

Get a Facebook account and set up a Facebook Page for your business. Invite your email subscribers, and suggest to friends to become followers. However, before suggesting to anyone get to know the site; play around a little. It’s surprising how many people mess things up on social networking sites when they are new to it. Once you have the hang of it you can easily target the right groups (segmenting your status updates), at the right day and time (market research) and to the right people (fans).

Once your account and fan page is up and running, update your status regularly, link blog posts, upload photos and videos, start discussions, create events, and publish latest industry findings and company news. Also provide links to your website that sends users straight to your subscription form. Post a ‘like’ button everywhere where you have your Twitter widget.

Integrate your Facebook account and email marketing by adding a subscription to your Facebook Page.

- Getting started on LinkedIn:

Create a LinkedIn account and get connections by searching which of your email contacts are on LinkedIn. Search for classmates, colleagues, your employer, ex-colleagues and ex-employers. Join industry-relevant groups that you’re interested in, and then have your blog directly linked to your LinkedIn profile. Thereafter, as an industry participant, give advice and participate in dialogue in various groups. This will increase your exposure and establish you as a trusted industry professional.

Include your LinkedIn icon along with your Twitter and Facebook icon to your emails.

Also include your popular answers in your email sends. 

- Getting started on YouTube:

Before getting an account, take videos. Get started with videos on what it is that you do “how to videos”, upcoming sales, customer reviews etc. Keep your videos short, simple and relevant. Include a clear call-to-action, and repeat this at the end of your video. Add relevant tags to increase your chances in being picked up in a search. Upload your videos to YouTube, link your video or embed them on your website, blogs, and even in email newsletters. If you’re not comfortable sending videos via email you can always send the link via email newsletters. To ensure that people know your link is a video, employ JPEG images. This usually results in higher clicks.

Integrating your social media with your email marketing is a sure way to drive traffic to social networking sites, and to keep email newsletters fun and social at the same time. Social media can lead to more email subscriptions to newsletters as well. People often follow who their friends are following and after following you they may gain a genuine interest in your product-offering. Therefore, social and email integration is necessary and beneficial to businesses. Remember to stay authentic and natural in your social media presence, it is SOCIAL networking after all.

Smile Nigeria Leads 4G LTE Innovation in Africa with World First

Posted on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 No comments

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Alero Ladipo,Chief Marketing Officer, Michiel Buitelaar,Managing Director, Ogor Chukudebelu,Head of Program Management and Tobe Okigbo,Chief Corporate Services Officer,all of Smile Communications Nigeria Limited at a Media Roundtable in Lagos to announce the introduction of two 4G LTE innovations; SmileVoice and SmileUnlimited.

Smile Communications Nigeria (“Smile Nigeria”) has announced the introduction of two 4G LTE innovations to its customers in Nigeria, namely SmileVoice and SmileUnlimited. Smile is the first operator in West Africa to offer its customers Voice over LTE services, giving them access to the fast growing Global standard for voice and video calling.

SmileVoice comes in two options; using a world-first downloadable free mobile App that affords customers with a Smartphone Android and Apple iPhone device the ability to make SuperClear voice calls over Smile’s 4G LTE network, or through the use of VoLTE-enabled handsets plus a Smile SIM card, such as the latest Samsung devices.

SmileUnlimited offers customers 30 days of unlimited access to Smile’s SuperFast 4G LTE mobile broadband service.

Dr Ernest Nnaemeka Azudialu-Obiejesi, Chairman Smile Communications Nigeria said, “Smile is the first mobile operator in West Africa to develop and introduce Voice over LTE, plus a world first to in a free Voice over LTE application that enables all our customers in Nigeria with Android and iPhone devices to experience high-quality voice calls over Smile’s network. We are committed to improving the quality of voice and data services in Nigeria. With SmileVoice our customers can call anyone locally and in the world just like on any other mobile.”

“With our recently announced funding Smile has doubled the size of its 4G LTE network in Nigeria to 7 states and the capital and now provides 30-days of unlimited access to SuperFast mobile broadband – there is no other provider that is offering its customers such value and convenience,” says Dr Azudialu-Obiejesi.

Elaborating on the SmileUnlimited offering, Mr Michiel Buitelaar, Managing Director Smile Nigeria explained that any unlimited offering is subject to a fair usage policy (FUP). Smile’s FUP is very generous when compared with other local offers and ensures that connectivity is maintained throughout the 30-day period.

Not only is Smile’s pricing more affordable than that of competitor narrowband offerings, but Smile’s superior experience of true broadband makes SmileUnlimited a fitting application of Smile’s value proposition of speed, quality, reliability and simplicity.

The free SmileVoice App is a world-first, enabling customers that don’t have VoLTE-capable handsets to make reliable Voice over LTE calls when connected to Smile’s mobile broadband network. “In the Nigerian market Android is the leading handset and together with the free SmileVoice App, we are ensuring that all our registered customers have a way to experience high-quality voice calls from their mobiles,” says Mr Buitelaar.

“We made our first Voice over LTE calls in Nigeria during beta-testing in October 2015 and the feedback from our existing customers since our soft-launch early February has been extremely positive. Thousands of our customers now make national and international voice calls using their data bundles,” says Mr Buitelaar about the Nigerian market.

To use SmileVoice, customers will be required to have a registered SIM card and active SmileData service. When out of range of the Smile network, the SmileVoice App will enable calls from any device that is connected to the Internet via 3G or Wi-Fi at home or abroad. Customers who make calls when travelling abroad will be charged their local call rates, as if they were calling from home.

Smile Expands Broadband Connectivity to Kaduna, Onitsha, Asaba

Posted on Monday, March 7, 2016 No comments

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lagos — Smile Nigeria says it has extended its services to Kaduna, Onitsha and Asaba to help drive the national broadband penetration in the country

With the point of presence in these three cities, individual and corporate organisations will now experience Smile "Super-Fast and Super Reliable" network which runs on 4th Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) technology, a statement from Smile said.

Alero Ladipo, the chief marketing officer of Smile, said the firm's network coverage has remained a great delight to its customers.

She said: "The network expansion that saw us in three major Nigerian cities almost at a go reaffirms our belief in Nigeria and our determination to serve Nigerians. Our goal is to provide Nigerian broadband internet users with speed, quality, reliability and simplicity. Our vision of becoming the broadband internet provider of choice in Nigeria has guided us in everything from selecting our people and partners to choosing the best technologies and creating innovative and relevant products and services."

Ladipo assured Smile customers in Kaduna, Onitsha and Asaba of unmatched services. "We will continue to share the promise of digital citizenship with millions of Nigerians."
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