Technology to the Plus?

Most of us would say we appreciate a visit to a website or social networking site that offers up content relevant to our interests. It’s often why we bookmark these sites and revisit them. Do we stop to consider what’s going on behind the scenes to enable this smart and savvy push of catered content? Or have we considered the impact of how our online viewing and click-throughs on websites and social networks streamline yet silo our exposure to the world?

Testing out Google Glass at TrendDigital Summit

Testing out Google Glass at TrendDigital Summit

I recently attended Trendigital’s second annual conference in Sioux Falls, SD. Several of the seven speakers throughout the afternoon touched on the content topic and related questions came up for the full group panel at the end of day. People were concerned about how the increasing use of technology in every aspect of our lives is impacting our world view and in-person interactions. How much submersion in technology can we all handle?

Co-presenters Chris Prendergast and Sarah Rhea Werner with ClickRain titled their presentation Skynet SEO: How Google is Becoming More Human. They walked us through the evolution of search on the web from eighties searches and SEO cheater tactics; to the new millennium SEO keyword-driven content creation; to today’s more sophisticated approach of Google Plus – an outright ask to allow collection of our online habits in order to push more relevant content. Werner planted this idea on the evolution of search: We’re going from card catalogue to concierge.

After walking us through some painful search examples from the past with content we were looking for buried eight pages deep, they demo’ed Hummingbird, the new Google mobile search based on semantics (Oct 2013) and Google’s biggest algorithm update in four years. A search that uses your location, time of day and other clues to offer up its best guess of relevant content. Plus you can ask it via voice in question form, rather than keyword. So personable and they quickly pointed out, better than Siri. This is all great, right? We love that someone gets us and we get needed information quickly.

Also notable in searches was Knowledge Graph on Google (May 2012) which offers a page with your standard suggested links, but culls the top information on the same page in the right-hand column so you may not even need to click a link because the info you seek lies in the graph. Lastly, we touched on Google Plus and it’s goal to create an online identity for you to streamline and target information to individuals based on their preferences. Again, all good, right?

At what cost? Technology advances and people respond, ever narrowing the gap for marketers to reach us in any way shape or form. Crossing social boundaries like never before at increasing rates before we understand the effect on society. As a parent, I’m concerned about giving my children correct ideas about social norms and online behavior. As a marketer, I’m all for a more targeted reach to a qualified audience. As an individual, I like to think that it’s okay for Google and social sites to know a bit about me, but they’ll never completely understand all the nuances of my personality, likes and dislikes.

We talked about Facebook’s constantly changing and non-publicized algorithms, filter bubbles and Google Plus’ creating an online identity for us. As a consumer, websites feed more relevant, specific content based on our past interests, and social networks favor pushing content of those who post, share and get the most likes. As a result, our world may become more silo’ed in terms of awareness and our online relationships may become more valuable than in-person relationships.

I believe in finding a balance in all of this and looking to technology to advance positive goals and human connections. Studies and statistics about our society also play into this, including the increasing number of people specifically in America, who live alone and sometimes go for days with no in-person interaction. This video on the Innovation of Loneliness sums it up well in my opinion.

Paul Ten Haken, ClickRain founder and presenter on the topic: Digital Trends for 2014, sited projections like 7.6 Billion people will own 50 Billion devices by 2020, retail store experiences becoming more tailored through beacon technology and positive uses for technology like Libelium Smartworld. It’s clear, especially looking through Google Glasses, that technology continues to touch all aspects of our lives. It’s for us humans to continually consider its impact and uses to channel it toward the positive or plus, if you will.

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Video Enters Into the Picture

Are you leaving it up to your product imagery and copy to tell your story online? If so, you’re missing out on the engagement, interaction, viral aspect and measurement that video affords.

Just Add Video

Just Add Video

Just when you thought your web site was updated and mobile responsive and your social channels were set, video enters into the picture. While a larger screen like a laptop or iPad is undoubtedly more ideal for viewing video, it’s hard to ignore YouTube’s 200M+video views via mobile per day, mobile viewers have a longer attention span than laptop viewers and mobile use is on track to surpass laptop use in 2014. This convergence of increased mobile usage and video viewing on mobile devices is encouraging more businesses to create and rely on video for their branding and promotions.

From a consumer perspective, would you rather… read and click through a lot of content from a site’s home page to get to the information you seek, or press play, sit back and watch a story unfold? Maybe it’s a bit of both, depending on the reason you’re on any given site. If you’re looking for a company’s address or list of products or services, it’s pretty straightforward – just give me the information in imagery or written word. If you’re on a site to evaluate or purchase a product or a service, chances are you’d be willing to watch a video. As a business, are you missing an opportunity to connect with your audience if you’re not offering video content?

A few stats for you:
1. Video is the top function merchants plan to add to their e-commerce sites over the next 12 months, with nearly 40% planning to include videos in their online merchandising efforts (source: invodo; stat: MultiChannel Merchant).
2. Internet video traffic will be 69% of all global consumer Internet traffic in 2017  (source: invodo; stat: Cisco).
3.  The value of just one minute of video equals that of 1.8 million written words (source: Forrester Research).

So the answer for business owner is yes, you are missing an opportunity to engage with your audience if you’re not offering video. For more on how to start thinking about video, see below.

1: Consider your audience’s level of engagement.

What is their purpose for seeking you out? What is their method of engagement (laptop or mobile; day or night; weekdays or weekends)? What are they going to do with the content you give them (i.e. make an immediate purchase or file away research or brand experience they have via your site and/or video for a future purchase)?

If you’re a retailer, for example, you may have an e-commerce site and bricks and mortar store locations. For these types of businesses where viewers are heavily accessing your site via mobile with high potential for immediate purchase, luring them into watch a video increases the likelihood of a purchase dramatically. If you offer a higher-priced service that doesn’t translate into an immediate purchase, video is equally as important because these consumers are doing their research for a potential future purchase. See Video Marketing, Why it’s Good for Your Business.

2: Consider purpose, content, tone and production quality.

Stating the obvious here…  figure out your video’s main purpose or call to action – is it educational, informative or entertaining? What are the main points to convey? Overlay those items with your brand tone and voice to form a working model for your video. Then consider production quality. With an increasing amount of online content at our finger tips, it follows that online audiences will demand better, higher quality video, but not necessarily polished production quality over raw, edgy, reality-based video with personality. In general, they will have less tolerance for content that isn’t engaging.

3: Consider your priorities, longevity of video and budget.

Businesses can venture into this new arena by creating one video that conveys your overall brand, has staying power and can be repurposed for other uses, like client presentations, content during speaker presentations, etc. Oh, and set aside marketing dollars. Video can be pricey, but the impact can be more significant and direct than other marketing strategies. Maybe you do less print, for example, and allocate that to video. Working with a professional that understands this medium will creatively fine tune your messaging and align it with the right tone, visuals and audio. And when placing video in various lengths across multiple channels, they will ensure correct file sizes and optimal viewing. A few experienced professionals I’ve worked with in the Twin Cities market include: Agent41, Ryan Siemers and Vox Creative.

If you’re not yet on the video marketing train, as Video Brewery terms it, here are 18 Big Video Marketing Statistics and What They Mean for Your Business. If you’re interested in creating a video for your business, do your research and immerse yourself in Vimeo, Vine, Instagram video and sites that mainly post video content. Check within and outside your industry for inspiration. It’s a visual world after all.