Posts by: total-admin

Smart Digital Marketing In The Midst of Coronavirus

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As government and public health officials take aggressive action to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly every individual and organization are grappling with the impact. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the potential economic effects of COVID-19, and that is certainly scary. But what is certain? We will recover.

Although it may be tempting to tighten the reins on your marketing budget, halting spending now could have an even more detrimental impact on your future opportunities. Instead, businesses should determine how to pivot their marketing strategy to ensure that they remain at the forefront for consumers, whether they plan on speeding up their timetable or pushing it back. Luckily, the advantage of digital marketing besides the fact that it does not require face-to-face interaction, is that it’s measurable.

At Total Advertising, we’ve been working closely with our clients to respond appropriately to coronavirus concerns and make strategic adjustments in their marketing messages and tactics. Here are a few things your organization should consider doing.

Adjusting Your Business Delivery Model

With CDC’s recommendations to postpone or cancel mass gatherings of more than 10 people for at least the next eight weeks, individuals are heavily encouraged to practice social distancing. Minimizing all face-to-face meetings, many companies have been forced to rethink the way they do business. More people are on social media, now than ever, refreshing their feeds while stuck at home. Smart retailers and businesses can take proactive steps to boost their online presence and drive more people to their website, including:

•Ensuring their website content is well-optimized for search
•Editing their Google My Business page with the most accurate, up-to-date information
•Improving their website user experience to increase online conversions and sales
•Exploring new paid advertising opportunities
•Developing more engaging email marketing campaigns and workflows
•Adding video and audio chat to their website to stand out from the competition

Total Advertising has expertise in all these strategies and can help give your clients a compelling and consistent experience, no matter where they interact with your brand.

Creative Alternatives to Live Events

While trade shows and conferences around the globe have been postponed or canceled altogether, there are still plenty of opportunities to connect with prospects if you’re willing to think outside the booth.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

•Host a virtual trade show or landing page featuring resources such as product demos
•Present an online webinar offering tips and advice on helpful, relevant, and engaging topics
•Record your keynote speech as a video and share it with the attendee list
•Invite conference speakers to repurpose their presentation as a video or guest blog post
•Reach out to your media contacts with exclusive announcements
•Share educational content with social media influencers that resonate to their audiences

While many brands are already seeing success with these digital marketing strategies, the planning phases on how and where you will promote, whom you will target, and how you will measure success can make or break its value and return on investment.

Remember, even if your clients aren’t buying right now, you can remain at the top of their minds, by understanding their current and future needs, and delivering value through challenging times. Inspiring videos, creative designs, and innovative ideas should be at the foreground of your business’s online presence through all your channels, including your website, email, blog, and social media. And we’re here to help. The branding experts at Total are here and ready to plan your next move or revisit your existing marketing strategy.

Here’s Why Viral Content Goes Viral

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Viral content is a magical thing. Often filled with humor, stupidity, amusement, or a combination of the sorts, we’ve all shared an article, meme, photo, or gif online with our friends, family, and coworkers. When breaking down the special “formula” of what makes content go viral, stop and think about why you want your audience members to see it.

In truth, viral posts are not the norm but rather an online sensation. There’s no universal recipe. It’s nearly impossible to predict what’s going to go viral as every piece of content that goes viral does so because of a different combination of factors. Viral content is about the impact and getting people to connect to have a conversation. And, when viral posts fall flat, it can backfire catastrophically.

Just ask Pepsi who faced a huge backlash to an advert featuring celebrity, Kendall Jenner, where she was seen giving police a can of Pepsi on the front line of a protest. While the messaging was meant to portray peace, unity, and understanding, it was instead criticized for trivializing social justice demonstrations. Pepsi eventually withdrew the advert, despite their efforts of defending their intent, and issued a public apology.

That said, there are “ingredients” that will help increase the shareability of your content, the right way. Ask yourself the following questions when developing content:

• Are you making people laugh? (Funny content)
• Helping them do a job? (Useful content)
• Inspiring them? (Stories)
• Trying to educate them? (Educational content)
• Helping them discover, reinforce or share their identity? (Emotional content)
• Restoring their faith in humanity? (“Feel good” content)

Although you can’t predict what content will go viral, you can make your content as viral-ready as possible. Focus your content creation efforts on high-stimulus topics that make people want to have a conversation. People share content because they expect others to react and to interact with it on social networks (and let’s be honest — they want the social credits that come with being the source).

People share to:

• Give – offers, or discounts
• Advise – tips, helpful hints
• Warn – potential dangers
• Amuse – entertaining content
• Inspire – images and quotes
• Amaze – pictures and facts
• Unite – be part of the group

Bottom line, the more great content you produce, the more chances you give yourself the likelihood of going viral. Even if your content doesn’t go viral, the creative experts at Total will help produce content that is as viral-ready as possible, and more importantly, resonates with your target audience, so that you don’t have a public relations disaster as Pepsi did. Remember, great content will only reflect positively on your brand.

Contact us today and let’s get to work on the next chapter of your organization’s story.

Why Keyword Stuffing Can Kill Your SEO

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It can be tempting to take shortcuts when trying to optimize your website for search engines. You may want to try black hat tactics to speed up the process and help you start ranking higher faster. But using short cut methods like ‘keyword stuffing’ won’t help you and will likely hurt you.

What Is Keyword Stuffing?

Keyword stuffing is when a brand “stuffs” or fills a webpage with the same target term in hopes of ranking higher for that term in search engines. Although keyword stuffing is not as popular as it was a few years ago, it’s still used by some brands to try to boost their search visibility.

Types of visible keyword stuffing include:

• Unnatural repeating of words or phrases
• Adding words that are out of context
• Duplicating blocks of the same keyword
• Unnecessarily using keywords that are not relevant to the topic of the page

Let’s talk about a keyword stuffing example. A page that is trying to rank for the term “best water bottle” and using the following copy:

“If you’re looking for the best water bottle, look no further. Our brand offers the best water bottle that you could want for running errands or working out. With unique double-wall vacuum insulation, this is the best water bottle for everyday use.”

In this example, the copy is excessively using the same keyword phrase more than the suggested amount of times to match SEO best practices for keyword density.

What is Keyword Density?

Keyword density in SEO is the percentage of times a keyword is used in the copy — and while there is no exact number for proper keyword density, it is a best practice to stay within a 2% keyword density.

While there are blatant keyword stuffing tactics, there is also a type of keyword stuffing that isn’t visible to audiences. This tactic stuffs terms and phrases that are hidden from readers by using methods such as:

• Using text that is the same color as the background, hidden from readers but displayed to search engine crawlers
• Repeating text in the page’s meta tags, comment tags, and alt attributes

Why is Keyword Stuffing Bad For Your Website?

Simply put,  it creates an awful experience for users. Website content should be aimed to educate, inform, or engage your readers. When you start to stuff your pages with keywords, you stop writing for readers and start writing for search engines. This will ultimately create a poor user experience for your audience, thus, sending users away from your page, increasing bounce rates, and driving potential customers from your business.

Keyword stuffing is widely condemned by search engines and the activity could even lead to a search penalty. You could even get hit with a Google penalty that removes your page from search engine results pages altogether!

So, How Do You Use Keywords The Right Way?

If you’re guilty of keyword stuffing or need new strategies to optimize your content and give your pages what they need to rank above your competitors — contact the SEO experts at Total Advertising and we’ll help you improve your SEO strategy in the right ways. We have the keyword research tools and knowledge that will help you get the data and insights you need to top your competitors on SERPs.

Do Online Reviews Affect SEO?

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Have you ever been so sure and set on a purchase until you scrolled down and read the customer reviews?

They might read a little something like this:

 

As hilarious as some reviews may be, studies have shown that 93% of consumers base their purchase decisions on the opinion of others. We know why online reviews are important. They help companies build credibility and enable consumers to make informed decisions. A study showed that 91% of 18- to 34-year-olds trust online reviews just as much as they’d trust a personal recommendation. 

How much can a bad review cost you?

Aside from influencing consumer decision-making, online reviews play a big role in SEO. Like any good SEO strategy, reputation management is more important now than ever in a constantly evolving online-based world. Bad reviews can cost your business real money. In an instant, a single person can cause a review to trend or go viral on platforms like Facebook and Twitter where posts can be shared in a second. Just ask United Airlines that had a public relations disaster when the airlines damaged singer/songwriter Dave Carroll’s guitar and refused to pay for it. Carroll decided to take action and wrote a song titled “United Breaks Guitars,” which became a runaway hit with more than 19 million views. The video cost United $180 million in shareholder value and United’s stock fell by 10 percent.

The Impact of Online Reviews on SEO

Positive or negative reviews can affect where a business falls within search rankings. Search engines like Google have a fluctuating formula that determines organic ranking. While it’s hard to crack Google’s algorithm, what we do know is that Google places trust in consumers and not businesses. Google uses online reviews to gauge your brands’ popularity, authority, and trustworthiness. A site that has lots of good reviews sends Google a signal that your business is not only legitimate but also that consumers are having positive interactions with your brand. Adversely, a site that has lots of bad reviews will tell Google that your brand isn’t imparting the best solutions for your consumers. This will cause your search ranking to drop.

To determine where your website will show up in search results, quality backlinks are a strong factor. When websites get links from other relevant sites with high domain authorities — Google sees it as a vote of trust.

More Traffic, More Conversions

If you’re preparing for a date night and deciding on which local restaurant you want to eat at — are you more likely to go to a restaurant that has 2-star reviews or 5-star ones? More than likely, you’ll choose the best-rated restaurants. That’s because positive reviews allure more consumers to check out your brand and thus results in higher traffic. When Google sees the flow of positive engagement, the increase in traffic will boost your conversion rates.

Brand Yourself

Search engines crawl your website with “spiders,” that read and interpret data to help connect consumers to businesses. The more quality, keyword-rich content you have, the more information search engines like Google have to work with. Thus, when consumers write online reviews about your business, Google is learning more about your products and services and can tailor your brand to consumers that are searching for a solution.

Take Advantage of Review Sites

Although it may be uncomfortable to directly ask consumers to write a review, generally speaking, people love to share their opinions! Within the e-commerce world, 63% of consumers are more likely to pull the trigger and make a purchase if a website has reviews. This is why review sites are your friends. Review sites like Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Google My Business are some of the best customer review platforms to pay attention to. When googling “best Greek restaurants near me,” Google will display top review sites like Yelp to help consumers make a decision. Taking advantage of review sites can be a powerful tool to increase the volume of consumers clicking on your website.

Deleting On-site Reviews

With the ability to delete reviews nowadays on on-site platforms, it may be tempting to get rid of negative reviews. However, we recommend against doing this. Reviews help consumers weigh the pros and cons of a product and service. Consumers are more likely to still purchase a product that they fully and accurately understand than one that is fabricated. Plus, it’s fishy to display nothing but glowing reviews and consumers often will see through it. Brands like global, fast-fashion clothing empire Fashion Nova, have been accused of deleting and filtering their negative reviews from their website. With an automated system that only accepts four and five-star reviews, consumers have started to leave 5-star ratings on their products, but with negative written reviews.

In essence, happy consumers do your best marketing. The more keyword-rich content, quality backlinks, and “data points” you have, the more you’ll convince Google that your company is popular and more importantly, trusted by consumers.

Contact Total today to learn more about the benefits of online reviews and how it can improve your business!

Why Go Custom?

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Website design is a crucial element in the world of marketing today. This complex aspect of digital marketing can often confuse and bewilder business owners. What most end up doing? Using a template to create a “new” website. After all, it saves money and saves time.

But hold on, does it actually?

With companies like Wix, GoDaddy, Web.com and WordPress promising SEO/SEM friendly sites that will look great at a low rate, it’s hard to resist. But these templated sites are lacking in multiple areas of web design and development—from coding to written content.

Building your site from a template creates a multitude of issues in the long run but also commits immediate offenses in the world of digital marketing. Let’s start with the worst:

Offense 1: Poor SEO

With website builders like Wix, SEO is a problem. Templated sites are not SEO friendly and can actually deter traffic from your site. These types of sites also have an excess amount of code and HTML that will hurt your site’s page ranking. So, if you want to be on page one, hiring a pro is your best option.

Offense 2: Growth Restriction

Your website should be able to grow with your company. Working with a template limits your business to what it can do online. Limited page numbers, lack of plug-ins, and restricted content can hurt your company in the long run. Going custom allows your site to grow with your business.

Offense 3: Lack of Security

Perhaps the most important part of your website that can easily get overlooked, security is limited on a template site. The only person routinely monitoring your template site is… you. If your site gets hacked, there’s little you can do. It may take days—or even weeks—before a security breach is noticed. 

Offense 4: Lack of Site Control

When using a template site, there are a number of things you can’t fully control. From simple design elements to more complex coding, when you use a template site from Wix, GoDaddy, or any other template providers, you have little to no control on how your site operates. Once you decide on a template, there is no differing from the layout—no improvements allowed. 

Offense 5: Poor Design and User Experience

Though there are many designs for template websites, let’s face it: most of them are terrible. The few that are well-designed become so over-used that your website gets creatively lost among all the other templated sites. Along with poor design, a template site can disengage users and make navigation difficult.

Building a website is a detailed process—like building a home. From the foundation to the finishing touches, it takes multiple people with specialty skills to achieve something that will withstand the test of time. Your business’ website is exactly the same. Web developers, designers, SEO/SEM experts, and content developers are just some of the people who go into building a website.

So, how can all those positions be filled for your unique business with one template that thousands of people have used? The short answer: it can’t.

Your website represents who you are, and in today’s digital space, your online presence is the most important factor in marketing. Using a template for your website may be cheaper in the short-term, but with it comes a hoard of issues.

How to combat this? Go custom!

A custom-built website with WordPress is able to adapt, accommodate, and grow with your business. With a simple CMS (Content Management System), creative design, and a wide variety of plug-ins, a custom site from Total will increase business and get your company to the next level.

Let’s Talk About Chatbots

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“How can I help you?”

Customer Service representatives say this phrase dozens—if not hundreds—of times a day. A chatbot will type it thousands. When you visit a website with a “chat” function, chances are artificial intelligence in the form of a chatbot is the voice behind the text.

Talking to a robot may seem like a dreaded task, but it does help aid in human-to-human interaction. Though its capabilities are limited, a chatbot can help users narrow their search. This leads them to the most adept human customer service representative. Talking to a chatbot may be frustrating, but it does cut time. It diminishes the “run-around” that can happen when trying to get a hold of the appropriate customer service representative.

The ability for organizations to use chatbots in supplement to traditional customer service provides a more comprehensive experience for users. It’s a far more dynamic approach to problem-solving than an FAQ webpage. Users are allowed to interact and get immediate feedback from a knowledgeable source.

But what is a chatbot?

“Press 1 for Accounting.”

“Dial 2 for Human Resources.”

“Touch 3 for Customer Service.”

“Press 4 for more options.”

Dialing a support line, ordering takeout, paying credit card bills, and even generating memes— these are all areas of life that have been infiltrated by chatbots.

A bot is really just software that performs an automated task. A chatbot is a more specific manifestation of this. Chatbots are made to interact and converse with humans. Bots receive a command or get asked a question. Then, based on the programming of the bot, the task is accomplished or question answered. Chatbots communicate in a variety of ways, the most popular being text/voice and graphical interfaces.

There are three types of chatbots:

Scripted: Their behavior is determined by rules. Conversations with this type of chatbot can only follow a certain path. The human interaction is limited in the sense that each user must pick from explicit options to determine the next step in the conversation. These options are presented via text, voice, or touch response—it just depends upon your medium of communication: phone call, text, desktop, etc… 

Intelligent: These bots are built with artificial intelligence techniques. They are more flexible in how they accept user input. Conversational input can be analyzed by the bot and a more detailed answer is provided. AI also allows them to learn more as they are used. Each interaction is stored, analyzed, and applied to the next human interaction. Though more flexible than a scripted bot, context and ambiguity are weaknesses.

Application: These bots are interacted with using a graphical interface. This provides a visual option for users and is a representation of programs, files, and actions.

What these chatbots do is help form a decision tree.

Their main purpose is to narrow your search field and find the proper customer service representative for helping you with your requests.

Each chatbot has its own benefits and limitations, and depending upon your company’s services, a scripted chatbot, intelligent chatbot, or application will work best.

How do we differentiate between a chatbot and an app?

Well, a bot is something that operates within an app. An app, like Facebook’s Messenger or WhatsApp, merely provides a platform for two people to communicate within. A chatbot has an “identity” that is separate from its interaction with the user. A chatbot is just another way for humans to interact with software. Although there is admitted overlap between interacting with websites and apps compared to chatbots.

So, what’s driving the popularity of chatbots? It’s a cultural shift, People call less and text more. We use SMS (short message service) and other messengers daily speaking to friends and family, so interacting with a robot becomes more habitual. The unnatural becomes…natural.

But have no fear! Bots won’t soon take over the world. They’re designed to make life easier—not entirely replace people. They’re supplemental in the world of flesh and blood, and at the end of the day, we’d all rather interact with a human when we need to be understood.

Contact Total today to learn more about the benefits of chatbots and how they can help your business!

Explaining the Explainer Video

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The explainer video—it can be fun to make, drastically increase conversion rates, and even help boost your company’s branding. But before we talk about the “how” and “why” when it comes to explainer videos, we should give a little insight into what and explainer video actually is.

So, What is an Explainer Video?

The most basic definition goes a little something like this: short, online marketing/branding videos that describe the product or service your company offers. Sounds simple, right? At first, it’s seemingly so. But there are multiple facets of explainer videos and figuring out which type works best for your business or product can be a daunting task. There’s no doubt about the benefits of having an explainer video on your site. Featuring these snippets on landing pages, a home page, and even product pages has become quite the fad. In fact, some companies can report a 144% increase in conversion rates—just by adding an explainer video!

But how do you make sure your explainer video elevates your brand and clearly explains your products or services? Navigating the complexities and nuances of a successful explainer video can be challenging. Luckily, Total knows just what it takes to get your message across.

Let’s begin:

Total’s Seven Simple Steps for Making Explainer Videos

1. Keep it clear and concise.

When you decide to make an explainer video, the purpose is to eliminate confusion and get your message—or instructions— across in a clear way. The last thing your explainer video should do is cause viewers to scratch their heads and look for more information. Keeping your video concise will also help viewers to stay engaged. Instead of having one eight-minute video, have four two-minute videos. People are smart, but our attention spans are short.

2. Get a professional.

Unless you have an in-house production team, the do-it-yourself method won’t end well. Low production value can take away from your video’s message. A professional team will get the job done right and help you craft an explainer video that is visually appealing, but more importantly, effective in communicating your products’ or company’s benefits.

3. Get the word out!

Distributing your new explainer video is a must. Whether it be via social media, email, or even on your website’s home page, people need to see just what your company or products can do. Combining all platforms—like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram—will create a focused message that will draw in customers and reinforce your company or product as a trusted provider.

4. Keep things current.

Nothing is worse than having outdated content on your website. Staying up to date on current pricing, specials, and practices is a crucial step in keeping your brand relevant. If your content isn’t up to date, can customers expect your company and products to be up to date? Keeping your explainer videos current will help you remain relevant.

5. Be responsible.

Paying an agency to make your explainer video can add up quickly. So, finding the right people to make your video is important. Don’t break the bank and blow the budget! Work with the best agency your budget will allow. If you have a smaller budget, don’t expect something cinematic—be practical about your budget and understand that there are many different pricing options available.

6. Follow up!

After you post your explainer video on social media, don’t just wait around. Use the proper Analytics’ tools to track how successful your campaign has been. Dig deeper than likes and shares—see how many people your post reached, who your post reached, and more. Track who viewed the video on your site, and if you emailed the video out, check the bounce rate and clicks. Track the people who do take an interest in your video and follow up with more information about your company or product.

7. How did they find you?

Knowing how people found you is just as important as getting people to find you. Was it by referral? An ad? Social media? Just poking around on the Internet? Knowing what channels of media you are most effective on will help you understand where you should and should not be promoting your explainer video. Put your marketing efforts into the most effective channels to get the best results. 

Teaming up with a creative agency, like Total Advertising, can help your company cultivate its image and hone your brand. Using an explainer video across your website and social media will get your company and product recognition and generate new business. Let the creative experts and branding specialists tell your story and create an explainer video that clearly illustrates your product or company.

Contact us today to get started!

Mobile-First: What it Changes

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It’s a term you hear often now concerning websites: mobile-first indexing. Beginning July 1st, 2019, you’ll be hearing it even more. Google will be crawling websites and indexing them based on their mobile versions.

Now, there’s a lot of confusion pertaining to the effects this could have on business owners. Questions like: What do I need to change? Is being mobile-friendly good enough? How will my ranking change? These are questions business owners have coursing through their minds, and if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, you should be concerned too.

There’s a laundry list of things that go into creating a mobile-first site—everything from initial design to your site’s content length—and those things will now all be primary factors in determining your site’s page ranking.

Confused? To put it simply, your website’s mobile version will be what Google uses to rank in search queries–not your desktop. 

Before we delve into the effects of Google’s new indexing method, we have to answer a couple of questions.

What is mobile-first indexing?

Well, it’s relatively self-explanatory. Think about the word indexing. It’s the term Google uses to define their process of ranking websites online. Desktop has been the primary version graded on in this process, but starting July 1st, Mobile website versions will become the main index. Hence mobile-FIRST indexing. It’s not eliminating desktop indexing—just prioritizing mobile.

Google is shifting its algorithm to crawl the mobile version of websites. So, if your mobile site doesn’t quite measure up to the competition, your business could suffer.

So, why is Google doing this?

The rise in mobile use is no surprise. Smartphones, tablets, and iPads have become more economical and practical for everyday life. Their ease of use and accessibility afford users with immediate information. In fact, over 60% of searches are done on a mobile device. So, it makes sense that Google is making the switch to mobile-first indexing. Therefore, sites that have adapted to the increase in mobile use will be rewarded with better page rankings and increased traffics.

What should I change?

Even if your site is responsive and nearly identical in its desktop and mobile versions, there are factors that should be optimized. Page load speed, content, structured data, and metadata are just a few of the elements that go into building a fully mobile-first site. Mobile-first sites combine search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts to create a simplified user experience that is easily utilized on mobile devices.

Overwhelmed? Understandable! It’s a lot of information to process and the prospect of redesigning a site to be fully mobile-first is daunting. The web has greatly evolved over the years, and mobile-first indexing has evolved with it. Google’s new method of indexing is meant to improve user experience

The world of page rankings and indexing is a complex one that few have mastered, but your creative experts and branding specialists at Total are among that few! We have embraced the lifestyle change mobile has caused, and Total designs every site for mobile. Our years of experience and passion for innovation have enabled us to give our clients real results and continually improve business.

Check out some of the Total Team’s work to see how we can transform your website:

Blue Ocean Strategic Capital, LLC

HARBEC

MCK Building Associates, Inc. 

Contact us today to schedule a free, comprehensive analysis of your website! 

What do You Meme?

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“To meme, or not to meme: that is the question.”

Perhaps not the direct quote from Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet soliloquy. But we have to wonder: if the self-obsessed Hamlet was a modern-day advertiser, would he pose this existential question? Speculation aside, memes have swept the internet by storm with their relatability and simplistic model of humor. Advertisers have recognized the potential these viral images pose to attract Millennials and Gen Z’ers, and a few have even capitalized on this facet of the Internet. While some succeed, most fall short because creating a relevant and successful meme is no small task.

The history of memes is a complex one that begins in 1976. Coined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, a meme is representative of one way cultural information can spread. The Internet meme as we know it wasn’t conceptualized until 1993 in the June issue of Wired. In its simplest format, a meme is an image with text over it. Something like this:

Oh yes, we’re throwing it back to the days of lolcats.

Memes have become part of pop culture and influenced other memes. They were originally shared by email, chat groups, or message boards, but now there are whole platforms—like Reddit and Tumblr— devoted to meme posting.

The benefits of using a meme on your social media are many. Memes produce an immediate reaction, are easily shareable and can be relatable if done right. An exemplary company would be Wendy’s. Their Twitter is full of pop culture references that play well to their audience, creating a unique voice that encourages customer interaction and feedback.

So, if memes can be such a good thing, why isn’t EVERY company doing it?

Well, comedy is at the heart of every meme. And let’s face it: not everyone is funny. Memes guarantee an immediate reaction—whether its laughter or disdain—and for memes to be effective, a brand must be incredibly in-tune with its audience. Memes are shareable, trendy, recognizable content that aims for the quick laugh and can either attract or repel consumers.

But come on—how hard can it be!?

Well, the answer is surprisingly. Using a meme to push product and build brand recognition can easily be construed as disingenuous, and companies who get it wrong often end up looking like this:

Even if you’re not a fan of 30 Rock, you get the point. Steve Buscemi dressed as a “youth” lugging around a skateboard doesn’t play. This is how some companies look when they post an irrelevant or misused meme. The word we’re looking for? Cringeworthy.

Who knew typing a few words over an image would be such a daunting task?

Trying too hard to be “hip and cool” results in cringeworthy posts that are unrelatable and turn-off the target audience. Millennials are far more than the avocado-loving, kombucha-drinking, napkin-killing stereotypes they’re often presumed to be. This generation, and the following Gen Z’ers, have created an entire culture around memes with genres, sub-genres, and niches that offer a form of catharsis. Memes have evolved from simplistic images with no relevance to becoming part of the culture. Self-expression, satire, and introspection are just some affordances of memes and understanding how—or even if—they resonate with your target audience is a crucial step in formulating your social media brand.

Internet humor is a fickle beast and its subjectivity makes creating the proper meme a tough task. Even the above Steve Buscemi may make you cringe or exhale sharply through your nose. It all depends upon the audience. So, how do you know what to post? Well, the experts at Total can tell you! Though we don’t post memes, our team of creative experts and branding specialists can take your social media to the next level, building brand presence and increasing business.

Contact us today for real results and a better brand strategy!

The Rise of the Influencer

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In the world of beauty bloggers, lifestyle accounts, and viral videos, a new celebrity has been born in the 21st century: The Influencer.

Kim Kardashian West, Huda Kattan, PewDiePie, Christiano Rinaldo, and thousands of other Social Media Influencers have shaped the future of marketing. What was once “the next big thing” is here to stay, proving its relevance and effectiveness in engaging a loyal audience.

But what is Influencer Marketing?

Simply put, it’s a hybrid between old and new marketing styles. Taking the age-old idea of a celebrity endorsement and combining it with the power of Social Media. But instead of using a famous actress or singer, online influencers are used.

Influencer Marketing is a common practice for internationally known brands. In fact, the rise of Influencer Marketing has enabled influencers to become celebrities in the traditional sense, gaining endorsement deals. Pepsi, partnering with Kendall Jenner, Sprint collaborating with influencers—like Lele Pons and Gerard Adams—and Stride Gum teaming up with The King of Snapchat, DJ Khaled, for a takeover campaign on the platform. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and almost every other social media platform are being utilized by brands to engage audiences and gain loyal customers.

So, how do we define who an Influencer is?

Well, there’s no clear-cut definition. The Urban Outfitters Halloween Costume, though a parody of the trend, was a clever and insightful play on what it takes to be an Influencer. Influencers encompass all facets of the social spectrum. Whether it’s beauty guru Huda Kattan or YouTube sensation PewDiePie, influencers can be anyone, anywhere, at any time. There is one common denominator these people all share: followers. The rise of Social Media has enabled anyone with a smartphone to become an Influencer capable of reaching millions.

And the followers are exactly who advertisers want.

The adage of “famous for being famous” is something reality celebs have taken to the bank… a few MILLION times. Influencers are the reality TV stars of the Internet Age. This attitude may seemingly fit, but these “celebs” have accrued a faithful following. Not only gaining popularity but more importantly, trust. Influencers put time, energy, and thought into every post, tweet, and snapchat. So, when they decide to endorse a product, it must be one they would actually use and feel would resonate with their following.

Influencer marketing is far more complex than a celebrity endorsement deal.

It’s not just attaching a famous name to a well-known brand. It’s cultivating a relationship and analyzing a very niche audience. This affords more quality leads and can even get the brand a more faithful following.

Perhaps the best—and most infamous—example of Influencer Marketing is the tragic Fyre Festival. What was marketed as a Luxury Music Festival quickly unraveled into one of the biggest event coordination blunders. Soaked tents, dirty mattresses, no water, and bread with salad dressing is the legacy of this once highly anticipated festival. But how did it get here? Well, through the help of Influencers like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Hailey Baldwin, Fyre Festival quickly became the most anticipated event of 2017. All it took was one photo posted to each model’s account. The post linked to a promotional video promising “…an immersive music festival…two transformative weekends…on the boundaries of the impossible.” The weekend was anything but. A genius Influencer Marketing campaign, but arguably one of the most poorly executed events in recent history.

Social Media Influencers have millions of people at their fingertips, and this new power has people asking the question: when a picture is worth a thousand words, why write more than a caption?