Martin: Hello. This is Martin Shervington. And as you can see, I am outdoors. I’m in San Diego on Pacific Beach. And today we’re going to be talking about visual and visual storytelling. And I have a very special guest who I met in real life about 1 month and a half, two months ago. I said, I’d love to interview you. So she’s agreed. And even though she’s incredibly busy and doing a lot of work for businesses on this particular subject, she’s said yes. So this is very cool.
And Ekaterina, I’m going to bring you up in the screen. I’m squinty. I’m going to have to keep my glasses on half the time. It’s so sunny here. How are you?
Ekaterina: I’m great. It’s actually sunny here as well in Portland. It’s been raining all last week. So looking forward to 80 and warm. I’m looking forward for summer to be here already.
Martin: Very cool. Now, what do you do? Let’s do that first. And then we’ll come on to the book.
Ekaterina: Not much. Just kind of pretending that I work here and there. [laughs]
Martin: I heard that.
Ekaterina: I am a marketer. That’s my passion. I’m really passionate about helping build brands, helping turn those brands into social businesses. I’ve actually helped lead marketing and business innovation for brands like Intel and Accenture and Wells Fargo. And really had a lot of fun with that. Obviously my time at Intel for 8 years, and 4.5-5 of those I helped build social business. And I found that was the most fun.
This is actually a ton of interesting ways that you could take a brand and help make it social. And we’ve had a lot of good times, a lot of tough times. So that was something that I found, especially in the marketing field, my passion – helping businesses realize how to talk to customers in a different way. How to stay on the cutting edge.
So whether it is social coming on or whether right now it is standing out from that noise that now even social channels are so busy and so noisy and so obviously helping businesses shift their content strategy to more visual strategy, and hands to my second book of visual storytelling. So it’s never a dull moment for us marketers, is it?
Martin: It’s all happening. Now I’m going to make it really – we’re going to go for the absolute basics to start with, if that’s okay. Because I know some people –
Ekaterina: It’s fine.
Martin: No-no-no. Because you’re very high level and very experienced. I’m going to make just so everybody can relate to it. When we’re talking about social channels, let’s talk about the top social channels and how maybe they’re different and how you see them as different.
Ekaterina: Each social channel has a slightly different audience and slightly different focus. It should be respected. And just taken for what it is. And I think what marketers tend to do is just blast the content that they’ve created, just because they’re short on resources, across all of the channels, and that’s where sometimes that sort of strategy doesn’t work as well.
So let me give you an example. Tumblr – very young audience. A lot of college students. A ton of millenials. But there’s also unique aspects about a network like Tumblr. One of them is GIFs – animated quick short animations that became really, really popular.
So when brands go on Tumblr and they try to put long-form blog posts or cram it with anything else, people just don’t respond. It doesn’t get re-blogged. There’s no engagement. You can’t build communities. So Tumblr is very image-focused as well as animation-focused.
Other networks like Google+ is very tech-focused. So there’s a lot of thought leaders in tech. There’s a lot of self-starters and people who are at the forefront and using the latest and greatest. So that’s your audience in Google+.
Pinterest is 80% female audience. And a lot of brands like luxury, beauty, retail, etc. do very well on Pinterest.
So definitely each network calls for each its on content strategy and has its own audience. And I think as marketers, we definitely need to respect that fact and adjust not just our social strategy but content strategy as well.
Martin: Okay great. I love that because you brought in – I mean we’ve got the difference between the channels, different audiences. And also you mentioned about building community within each channel as well.
I speak about community on Google+ a lot and the role of that and bringing people together. When you’re approaching a brand, do you start with their content, their story? How do you begin? And I’m really thinking for the people who are going to be watching this in the future. Where do they start? Because I know they’re going to be feeling that it’s all too much.
Do they choose one channel or not? Which way would you go?
Ekaterina: There’s tactical things that you can do right now. What’s timely? First there’s spring, happy holidays. But it only can go so far, because if it’s not tied back to the brand it isn’t that effective. So you do start with your why.
Who you are. What your brand is. Most of the larger brands have already style guide or brand guides, which tells you think like what is the brand about. What’s the voice? What are the attributes of that brand? And how do they want to engage with their communities? So hopefully your brand has something like that in place to refer back to.
Brand also has a high level of strategic guidance. So that comes down straight from the top that talks about the things that, this year, building X community is very important to us. We’re getting a new product out on this line. Internet of things. Big data. What are the critical things that are really important to a brand?
And so what you want to do is you start with your story. And you say, who am I? What’s my brand look like? What are the things that I really want to communicate to people? And those aren’t, here’s our product. These are the things –
We are Intel. We are geeky. We’re nerdy. And that’s okay. And that’s who we are. That’s our voice. We love technology.
So what we’re going to do, everything we do, we’re going to bring you valuable content about not just our products, and hopefully less of that, but actually about the news, the advances in technology, all of the things that we’re really truly passionate about. And hopefully the content strategy really resonates and really resonates has that story all the way across for consistency’s sake.
And then you go, okay, I’ve got my brand down. I’ve got my story down. I understand what I want to do with that. Now let’s take it one level further and ask ourselves a question. What are our business goals? And one step further is what are our marketing goals?
You look at those, and then you say, now my social business strategy as well as content strategy is going to reflect all of those. So then you start building from there per community you have. I don’t even want to say network; I want to say community. Because you can build communities on forums. You can build it on LinkedIn groups, even if it’s not visual. You can build it on your blog, right?
So your customers and your communities are your number one priority. Your number one priority as a marketer is to spark movement around your brand.
Let me repeat that. Not build marketing campaigns. Nobody cares about that. Campaign runs for a month or so. It’s dead. Nobody cares. It is to spark true movement around your brand. It’s to build trust around your brand.
Martin: Great. So have a look at a difference between the communities and the network. I know this is something that comes up now and again. And it came up at the Social Media Marketing World. What is the difference to you between community and network?
Ekaterina: You know what? Some people might disagree with me. But I have to tell you. I personally think there shouldn’t be any difference. And again, it goes back to the reason of as a marketer, my whole purpose is to build advocacy around my brand.
To build advocacy around my brand, the only way I do that is not even by putting out the products that nobody else has and they’re amazing and they’re the best in the market. No! You do that by building communities, and you’re taking care of your current communities so those communities can grow so those current customers that know you, that dig you, that understand you very well can bring new customers in.
And I think Apple vs. PC. Have you ever walked into a Best Buy and tried to buy a PC and some guy who was shopping for something else turns around and literally attacks you. How can you even think about buying PC? Let me tell you why Apple’s the best choice for you. That guy doesn’t even work in the store. And he’s such a huge advocate.
So because of that goal, to me when I look at network, every single network, even networks that tend to be a little less comments, like Tumblr tends to have less engagement. It doesn’t matter.
You want a sole purpose of being in that network, of being in those communities, of putting that content out there, is to drive the engagement, is to build those communities, because community ultimately drives – advocacy drives word of mouth, it shapes what your brand is. And so to me when you say network, I immediately think community. I think commenting, engagement, I think conversation.
Martin: Okay. Super. I like that. In terms of the relationship that you see between engagement and with end point sales. I mean, you’ve got the advocacy that’s moving around. What is the relationship?
Because engagement for engagement’s sake is like, you can put out a cat GIF and lots of people plus it and great. What is the relationship from a corporate point of view and a business point of view?
Ekaterina: So I guess your question is what is the relationship between engagement and business impact – is that what you’re asking?
Martin: Essentially yeah. I know this one comes up. So I thought I’d ask it.
Ekaterina: You know I immediately think about one of my favorite phrases by Gary V, and he says, what’s the ROI of your mother? So I guess everything can be measured. And especially now with the tools and the infrastructure becoming more and more sophisticated. So you definitely can draw business impact from the engagements of communities you’re getting.
At the end of the day, there’s soft ROI and there’s hard ROI. So soft ROI is hard to measure. So for example, Martin, you and I have a relationship. Why am I on the show? Why am I talking to you right now? We can dice our ROI back and forth, and we can slice and try and figure it out. But the reality is I have a relationship with you, just like with any brand. If I believe in brand, and I have a relationship with the brand, I’ll probably be more likely to buy.
Now let’s talk hard ROI. Very simple. (And I know it’s not that simple, but the correlation is pretty simple.) You have a community of people that engage with you every single day. That means you stay on top of mind. That means when a person comes to your community member and says, look, I’m looking to buy this product and I’m thinking about this brand and you happen to be part of the community and you happen to be passionate about the community, that particular brand community and it’s on top of mind, you immediately go, you’ve got to check this one out.
And as a matter of fact, I’m a part of this little group, and etc., etc. And you actually have a personal story to tell. The noise on the web is increasing. And to stand out you need two things. One is content comes to attention. That’s visual comes into play. That’s why it’s critical.
Second one is your biggest filter is advocacy. So when people look for something, yeah, they’re going to Google it. But most of all, they’re going to come to their community and say, what do you guys think? And you want to have your advocates of your brand in those communities.
So what you do is then you take the conversations that are happening in the communities and let’s say you have a special offer for your communities. You can track that offer all the way from the marketing offer and we can call it campaign, because that offer would be short term. And then you could track it back to purchase. You could track how that offer travels.
So let’s say you gave that to influences in just your community to give it to friends, you can track every single one of them. You can actually see how influential your community is in driving purchases and then eventually purchasing. So all of those things and all of those steps are measured. You can measure them. And you can figure out what is the passion of your community towards your brand, which is metrics like brand affinity, etc.
You can figure out how much is sales. That community actually drives back to your brand. And you can just generically from those relationships, grow a relationship with anybody else, with vendors, with influencers, with I don’t know, industry analysts, etc. So to me there is a lot of benefits that stem from that.
But is it measurable? Yes. In a lot of cases, it is.
Martin: Okay. This is great context because this is a very corporate view, actually, on the process of engagement.
Martin: So next question for you. Let’s return back to the power of visual storytelling. Let’s take it now to a personal level. What advice would you have to people as an individual who are looking to get started on telling their story and how do they use visuals to do that?
Ekaterina: Get started. The biggest thing when people think when they say visual storytelling or just visual content, they say, oh my God, that means I have to produce all these images and I have to produce all these infographics. I’ve got to produce, things like memes or cartoons. There’s a lot of ways you can engage with visuals. And it scares people, especially if you’re a small business. It scares you because you go, oh my God, what do I do?
But I’ll give you an example. I met up with a friend of mine, and she’s a communication consultant. So we had lunch last week. And I met with her and I said, if I was your client, I love the content you’re putting out. I love how you’re helping people. You’ve helped me realize different communication partners, etc.
You have a newsletter. I see some other marketing you do. Why don’t you have more visuals? And she said, how? I said, okay great. So let’s take an example. You are putting out a report, or an ebook, that talks about how the specific communication patterns help, let’s say, lawyers in the courtroom. And that’s another niche that she’s going into. She works a lot with lawyers to help them work with juries, build a rapport, understand their non-verbal reactions, things like that.
I said, you put out this ebook. Are there statistics in the ebook?
-Are there quotes in the book?
-Are there images that you’re thinking of putting together for them?
-Yes. I’m working with this art student that helps me with putting together with design on the side.
-Great! Why not take a bigger, even if it’s a white paper. You know, nobody reads white papers but IT people. But even if it’s a white paper. Why not take the longer from content, even your blog posts, dissect it, and take out the bits and pieces that you think your audience will be interested in. And then work with a designer on the fly real time on putting together an image with a stat. People love to share that. Image with a quote. They loves quotes. Quick infographic that would summarize some of the key message and some of the key data in that report.
So she started writing it all down. A lot of things we think we have one piece of content and that’s it. But what you need to think about, people think in real time. They consume information in real time. And they think in snackable content. So you need to start figuring out how to take what you already have, whatever that is, whatever little piece of content that is. Maybe one of your quotes during the webinar was retweeted the most and you know that resonated with the audience. Turn it into an image. Make something out of it.
And then the other thing people don’t think about is even if you’re not on Pinterest, a lot of people are. So when you put out a blog post, and it’s not accompanied by an image, there’s nothing to pin. You have to pin an image or you have to pin a video. So think about how you want to current content to travel, even if you’re not on the visual networks, to help your audience take it so much further.
Martin: That’s the point, isn’t it? Even if you’re not doing it, this is allowing your content to get legs. And you’ve got to let other people do the work. So you’ve got to have the pinnable posts, the reshare buttons and so on.
But also, you mentioned about Pinterest. The Pinterest button onto the image itself. It’s a straightforward thing if you’re using WordPress.
Ekaterina: Oh, absolutely. I’ll give you stats Martin on this one final thought. You know my book has a lot of statistics from different studies, what marketers say, just to help you think through the scale of this, and the importance of this. Some of the statistics say, for example, people are 180-200% more likely to stay on your product page longer if there’s a video or image.
They are 64%-80% (according to some studies) more likely to buy your product if there’s an image accompanying it. Or if there’s a video. People love videos, especially if your product is slightly complex, you would like to put the video next to it, just so the people understand. Oh I get it. I get how I can use it. They watch 1-2 minute video there. They’re great. Buy.
And there is more data to support that. But purchase intent definitely goes up if you have visual rich media accompanying it. And the same thing with what about website visits. If you just have a website and you’re not even on all social networks as a small business.
Well your traffic goes up 12% if you’re driving the content back to your blog or website with an infographic. 12% increase.
If you have a newsletter and you’re using a cartoon, especially your own current basis, a cartoon that’s relevant to your audience, your open rate will go from average of 5-8% to 45-50%. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?
Martin: That’s amazing!
Ekaterina: And the stats go on and on and on. It’s all tied. So even if you’re not on Pinterest and you say, that stat is not relevant to me, you want website traffic. You want blog traffic, etc., etc.
Martin: So got a couple of questions here. Davey Bates, you mentioned about Pinterest. He’s asking what’s the difference between Reddit and Facebook, which are the two that are, I don’t know that much about when marketing.
Ekaterina: What is the difference between Reddit and Facebook?
Martin: Yeah, in relation to how one would approach the visual elements, I think.
Ekaterina: They’re different because Reddit isn’t really, I may be wrong, not concerned with the social site. It’s more of a bookmarking, social sharing type of site. And I’m not on it often, so I may not be the best expert on it, so I’ll admit up front.
I will say that Facebook is more for community building. Reddit is, there is a slight element of community. It depends on who you are. But Reddit is more how can I take my best content and make sure it’s visible. Because sites like Reddit will pick it up and drive a big amount of traffic if you’re doing it well and approaching it well.
So I think that’s slightly different, right? It depends on what you want to do. You want to house content somewhere. Blog. Even on your Facebook page. Pinterest. And then use Reddit as a sort of distribution tool to drive that content. And as you say Martin you give it legs. So that’s how I see it.
Martin: Okay. Great. And let’s go back to the engagement process. Do you believe, I mean Chris Brogan for instance talks a lot about the conversation, and really he uses newsletters as a way of getting that conversation going.
When you’re talking about that, do you think of a brand, as an individual. Is that what this should be focused on and nurturing that?
Ekaterina: Right. I think the reality is we live in an environment where it is all about current conversation. Once you drop out of that current conversation you as a brand or even a personality, your personal brand, it doesn’t matter, you’re pretty much gone.
So there’s need to be a lot of effort put behind building passionate conversations. So I have two of my favorite books of all time. Brains on Fire by the whole team. Their first book was called Brains on Fire. And the second one was Passion Conversation. And they talk a lot about advocacy and building your communities and how to do it, why this is a long-term thing.
So if you want to detail those books, fantastic, highly recommend it. One of my favorite marketing books.
Now again going back to sort of the purpose, right? Your purpose is to spark advocacy. Your purpose is to build not just brand awareness but brand affinity. And the only way to do that is people engaging in conversations around it. It doesn’t matter which network just as long as people are talking about.
And people go, what if it’s a negative conversation? I don’t care. You can turn naysayers. And you can turn negativity into positivity by being there, by being present, by being engaged and providing information in real time so those people go okay, they care about me, they heard me, they actually are out there listening. And that’s the brand that really gives a damn, to be honest.
So when Chris talks about your whole purpose is to engage communities, whether it’s a newsletter or it’s a blog post or it’s anything else, really, he’s absolutely right. If you’re just shouting your message out there like most brands do, I mean, most brands, that’s all they do. Put it out there, my God. That’s marketing. They don’t care about how that got picked up conversation-wise. What other sort of discussions or consequences they sparked, whatever they are. Are they negative? Are they positive? etc.
That’s the thread you want to be included in. But a lot of brands, let’s us put it out there. It’s still a one-way conversation. And so it’s definitely true that nowadays instead of just pushing out a TV campaign or pushing out a marketing message in whatever form you want to do it, you have to work so much harder to be present at the current conversation and reply in real time.
That’s why one chapter in my book is Real Time Marketing, because if brands don’t learn to be agile, if they’re not prepared to participate in those conversations in real time, they’re gone.
Martin: Okay. That’s great. So let’s just take on example. There’s two ways I could go. Let’s do that one first. When a brand posts then, do you think they should be there and have the social media manager there waiting to have that conversation?
So on Google+, we have +1, comment, share. For me, there’s an opportunity for brands to go around and say, thanks for the share. Thanks for the +1. And to lift up the level. But it’s a really detailed job. Do you think that they should be doing that?
Ekaterina: Absolutely. You need to understand, and that’s where listening tools become really critical. You need to understand what’s going on, period. It’s not just, oh I have a Pinterest page, an Instagram page. And I want to know what #s are being used in regard to my brand. And I set up Google alerts, etc.
We’re way past that. What you need to know is a holistic conversation that’s happening online. So a couple years ago I saw a stat that only 6% of conversations online are driven by your marketing team. Which means 94% of things that are being said about you, whether they’re positive or horribly negative are basically created by your customers, by folks that know your brand or use your brand, use your products.
Imagine that. You have no control over those conversations. The only way you could have a say. So think about it like a legal battle. Everybody wants their side to be heard. Unless you are present in the conversation, especially if there’s a lot of negativity around a particular topic or you said something wrong, etc., the only way to state your voice or to have a say is to be present.
And so you have to have a full grasp of what’s going on across the whole web, all the social networks, different blogs where you might actually be mentioned, etc. And you want to have your voice in there. So at Intel what we would do is if somebody would blog about something, we would jump in and say, this is social media team at Intel. Thank you so much for mentioning. And we would have one person so it’s more personal. Not just big cold blue Intel logo.
If it’s something that was misrepresented, we would jump in and say, hi there. Thank you for the coverage and opinion and feedback. It’s very valuable to us. But the reality is that the facts are a little bit distorted. Here is the link that would offer a more detailed explanation. If you would like to get on the call and discuss your concerns, and if we could clear something up, we would be happy to do that.
Martin: Oh, you mean you’ve actually got to be nice. You’ve got to go and not hammer them.
Ekaterina: Right. So we had people come to a Facebook page and start with this.
I fully expect that my post is going to be deleted, but here’s the BS. This new product, and Intel’s doing this, this, this. And this feature, this is how it works. It’s total BS.
And instead of deleting, we actually contacted that person. We offered to get on the phone. And that’s just one example of several. And after getting off the call with us and our team where we explained you actually misunderstood how the feature works. It’s not going to tap into your privacy information, etc. It’s actually good for you and here’s how.
That person came back, replied to this current message and said, okay, guys. I will be deleting this message because it was my bad. I misunderstood. The Intel team handled it real well. Deleted that message after a while. And posted a new message to say, kudos to the team. Getting back to me in real time. Somebody who – I’m a nobody, but they got me on the phone and said, we wanted to address your concern.
That’s really giving a damn. You’ve got to care about your current customers, no matter how small they are. A lot of brands are going after influences. Oh my God. Hold on a second. This person has 200K people following them on Twitter. We’ve got to address this. This person has 5 followers. It’s not a big deal. We’re going to let it go.
If you really, truly care about your customers, you will be there, present at conversations, replying to them, thanking them in real time.
Now is it scaleable if you’re a large brand and you’re in over 50 countries like Intel is? No. But you can try. You at least try. And people will see that, even if they didn’t reply to you just to say simple thank you, they reply to others. The brand is trying to do their best. So that’s all you can do. Just do your best.
Martin: Okay. I’ve got two more things for you, and I’m going to let you get on with your day. So the first thing. Where can people find you? Where’s the best place to get you?
Ekaterina: So my business card reads http://Google.com. You can find me anywhere really.
I’m really active on Twitter. My blog, http://KatrinaWalter.com. They can connect with me there. There’s a lot of content there. They can find my bio, my books, etc.
But like I said, I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. I publish there as well. There is Twitter. There’s Facebook. I’m not as active on Google+, just because there’s only so much a person can do.
Martin: I know, it drags you in. You know my plan is to drag you in, because we want you here as well.
Ekaterina: I know. So Martin, I knew as soon as I said that you were going to totally kill me. But I do have personal Pinterest accounts, etc. But there’s just so many hours in the day. And I don’t have a team of assistants to help me maintain it all.
So yes, you can find me in a lot of places. And I try to be pretty responsive. So if somebody has a question or wants to connect, I try to make sure I don’t miss a request. Happens every now and then just because of sheer volume. But I try to be responsive.
Martin: Very good. I’ve gone a couple of shout outs. Davey Bates, Tim Longwell, Wade Harman. Just to mention a few people. Thanks for watching folks. Thanks for your questions.
And Ekaterina. Last comment. So the power of visual storytelling. If there’s one tip that you would give people that are going to leave them with, what would it be.
Ekaterina: Don’t be afraid to take risks. So I know it’s a more generic one. It’s not a specific tip. Here’s how you do it. Now my book has a ton of by the way free tools, especially if you’re a small business. And I have a lot of tips. Actually one chapter breaks them down by every single visual network.
I also have a lot of free tools that we talk about. Some pages are for bigger brands. But there’s a ton you can use to create your own infographic, to create your own visuals, things like that.
But I think one tip is to not be afraid to take risks, especially if you work for a large brand. It’s very logical that the management puts you in a box and says you can only do so much. But I’ve seen big brands like Dunkin’ Donuts go and take advantage of free tools. Instagram and filters and other things and just post things in real time to show their internal pride.
When you say, I don’t have enough content either, think about what’s happening behind the scenes that people want to know about. Take risks, open up your kimono. And show them your human side. Talk about employee stories. And you can easily do that with free tools. Dunkin’ Donuts does a great job by using Instagram and different filters to put out internal things. Like they have a chef that puts together different recipes. So they would take pictures on the fly and post it on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram. People love that and they engage with that.
Pick up the book. If not mine, maybe someone else’s. Draw inspiration. There’s a ton of different ideas. And just make yourself a list and start going down the list and say, I’m going to start today. This is my resolution. And I’m also going to take risks. I’m going to try out this, this and this. And the most amazing thing that will happen is that some of the things you think work the best won’t work very well for engagement. And some of the things you think ah, this is lame! You try it out and the community will jump all over it. And you go, oh my God! Now I’m one step closer to truly understanding my community.
It happened to us at Intel when we started doing more low-fi stuff. So we’d take a camera and go around and take pictures of our Intel engineers messy desks. So there’s like ports and hardware. And our management was horrified. But we took risks and found out that people loved that stuff. So we started to do more of it.
We put it out there and our management said, what the heck did you do? It’s the desk of an engineer that’s at Intel that’s messy. But our audience digs it. They’re nerds. They’re geeks. And by the way, don’t laugh. Geek is the new sexy. I was wearing a shirt yesterday that says, I love geeks. And it was all bedazzled. My inner geek was coming out.
But that’s an example of taking a risk and saying, can I just do something on the fly like I would do with my friends. So why don’t I treat my friends like my community?
So here’s just an example of the big brands are taking those risks. Small business understands their community even better as well. So you know what might or might not resonate. Just try it on. And if it doesn’t work, just say, fine. I’m sorry. There’s some negativity around it, which I doubt. But you can say, oh my God. We’re all human. We find that’s something people might not like to see. And you move on. And you’re going to be respected more for it by bringing your human voice into it.
Martin: On that note, that was super. We got Peter saying he’s going to have to watch the hangout again because there’s so much great information. Well done Ekaterina.
Ekaterina: Thank you Martin for having me. And thank you for inviting me.
Martin: We’ll get you onto Google+. You see what we’re doing Ekaterina.
Ekaterina: I am, yes, this is a walk of shame right here. And I’ll engage more on my Google+ community.
Martin: There you go. You heard it here. Soak her up, people. Soak her up.
Take care. Thanks everyone for watching. Thanks to Ekaterina. And we’ll see you soon.
Ekaterina: Thank you.
[end of transcript]