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COMSTRAT 310 Syllabus - Spring 2020

COMSTRAT 310 - DIGITAL CONTENT PROMOTION (3 CREDITS) Instructor:  Brett Atwood                                Email: batwood@wsu.edu Of...

WEEKS 12 & 13: Social Media Marketing Plans and Building Facebook & Twitter Pages

SUMMARY:

Over the next two weeks, we will:
  • Continue to learn about social media marketing plans and begin work on the creation of one with the goal of driving traffic and awareness to our campaign website.
  • Learn about installing tracking code for Google Analytics and/or other analytics options
  • Learn about best practices in building an official Facebook, Twitter & YouTube presence for our campaign sites.
  • Learn about social media management tools, such as Hootsuite.
HOMEWORK:
  • Continue to work on your Social Media Marketing Plan (final version due May 1)
  • Create two social media pages (such as Facebook and Twitter) for your campaign. These social media sites should then be linked to your main campaign website.
  • Start posting updates frequently (several times a week) and attempt to build a larger follower/fan count by outreach to friends and family, as well as activity on like-minded social media pages. 
    • You should try to have at least 30 followers/subscribers on each by the end of the semester.
    • You should try to have at least 10 social media posts by the end of the semester.
  • Continue to work on and revise your campaign website, including modifications to help optimize your content for search engine indexing and rankings.
  • Create at least one theme-specific landing page for your website.

Managing your Social Media Channels: TweetDeck, Facebook Business Manager and HootSuite

Managing multiple social media channels can be a pain. That's why there are services that you can use to help you monitor and maintain your social media channels in one centralized spot.


HOOTSUITE
HootSuite is a social media management service that helps you stay on top of multiple social networks -- all from one centralized "dashboard." You can use HootSuite to schedule messages and tweets, as well as to track mentions of your brand/organization. You can also gain a richer understanding of social media traffic trends and developments that help you follow newsworthy developments related to your organization.

HootSuite offers a free version that you can use to get started -- but professional organizations will likely want to investigate upgrading to the premium paid versions (to unlock useful extras and features).

Check out HootSuite to get started.

TWEETDECK

Another great social media management tool is TweetDeck, which is an app that allows you to better organize and monitor your Twitter feeds. Use TweetDeck to arrange your feeds with customizable columns with useful filters, including hashtags and relevant keywords. You can also use TweetDeck to advance schedule your Tweets.

Check out TweetDeck to get started and/or read this FAQ to learn more.

FACEBOOK BUSINESS MANAGER

Some businesses go further than simply creating a Facebook page. For example, if your business has multiple stakeholders that use your official Facebook page and/or it uses multiple Facebook services (e.g. Developer apps, advertising, etc.) then you might want to connect your Facebook page to Facebook Business Manager.

Use Facebook Business Manager if:
  • You need to centralize the management of more than one ad account or page for your business.
  • You need to request access to Pages or ad accounts from clients outside your organization and/or you want to grant access to an outside vendor or organization with controlled permissions
  • You have multiple team members and you wish to keep your personal Facebook profile private/separate.


OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES

Creating a Facebook Page

Now that you have your new Web destination site, you'll also want to begin to nurture a strong community of followers and fans via social networking platforms, such as Facebook.

CREATING A FACEBOOK PAGE

1. Your designated social media editor should log in to Facebook and then visit this link to set up your fan page.

2. You'll want to classify your page by Business/Brand or Community/Public Figure.

3. You will also get a chance to "name" your page. Make sure it matches or includes the name of your branded Web property!

4. Now you can customize your page. You might want to populate the page with your custom logo, profile information and even any of the many Facebook Apps.

Key Image Specifications for Facebook Timeline:
  • Profile Photo: Displays at 170 x 170 (computers) and 128 x 128 (mobile) 
  • Cover Photo: 820 x 312 (computers) and 640 x 360 (mobile)
  • Video Cover: Want a video for your cover instead? Learn how
6. Once your page is ready, you can choose to take it public.

7. Ready to add a Like button to your new Facebook fan site on your Wix page? Use these instructions.

8. Use the Facebook Fan site to send alerts and updates about additions to your site. You might also promote it to friends and interested, related communities via Facebook and other social network sites.

9. After you are done inserting the Facebook Like button, you might want to explore some of the other easy-to-use apps on the Wix App Market or Wordpress/Weebly Plugins that you can add to your site, including embedding of a Google Calendar, Crowdsignal surveys, live chat and more.

Learn more about managing your Facebook Page >>



April 9 - Guest Lecture - Darren Helton, Performance Marketing Manager

On April 9, we will hold a live video Q&A with Darren Helton, the lead performance marketing manager for Linden Research, Inc. (maker of social VR and gaming products).

Darren will be available to take your questions about all things related to paid digital campaigns, including trends and best practices using search, display and social media advertising.

The link to access this guest lecture will be sent via email.

Setting Up Analytics for your Campaign Site

Once your site is built and ready, you'll want to ensure that it is connected to one of the many analytics options that allow you to better understand the actions and behaviors of your website visitors.

One of the gold standards of website analytics is Google Analytics. We'll be discussing GA in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, you can get started by installing the tracking code on your campaign site.

Note: Depending on which website CMS you are using, the instructions may vary. In some cases, you may need to use an alternative to GA. For the purposes of this class, any analytics platform that you use should be adequate for the completion of the necessary campaign analysis in your final report.


WIX INSTRUCTIONS

Wix only allows accounts with a connected domain to add Google Analytics. Unfortunately, this means you need a paid premium account in order to install GA tracking code.

If you have a connected domain, then use these instructions to get started.

No custom domain? There are also free alternatives to consider, such as StatCounterHere are instructions for installing the tracking code on Wix. There's also Visitor Analytics - just search for "analytics" in the Wix Marketplace to install the free version.

WEEBLY INSTRUCTIONS

Super easy. Follow these instructions.

WORDPRESS INSTRUCTIONS

Unfortunately, Wordpress.com requires an upgraded plan in order to add Google Analytics tracking. There are several plugins that allow you to add GA, but the ability to install plugins is disabled for non-paid plans. For more information on how to install and use GA with paid Wordpress.com options (such as Business, Pro or E-Commerce), see these instructions.

WordPress.com does have built-in stats tracking with reports that offer quick, at-a-glance views of the traffic on your site. New posts, likes and comments are shown alongside visitor activity. These stats are tracked automatically (no install needed) and can be found on your edit dashboard under Stats (or just click here if logged in).

April 2 - Guest Lecture from a Social Media Manager

On April 2, we will have a live guest lecture from a prominent social media manager. Details will be shared via email including the access link to this private Q&A.

WEEKS 9, 10 & 11: SEO Basics, Mobile Optimization and Social Media Marketing Basics

SUMMARY:

Over the next few weeks, we will:
  • Continue to work on our primary campaign website including optimization for mobile devices
  • Continue to optimize content for search engine rankings on our media campaigns via Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • Learn about social media marketing plans and begin work on the creation of one with the goal of driving traffic and awareness to our campaign website.
  • Learn about the importance of monitoring your business reputation on Wikipedia
  • Learn about landing pages and how to create them
HOMEWORK:
  • Continue to revise your work-in-progress website. Reminder: Please send me your published link, if you have done so already!
  • Begin to work on your Social Media Marketing Plan (final version due May 1)
  • Continue to work on and revise your campaign website, including modifications to help optimize your content for search engine indexing and rankings.
  • Do an SEO audit on your campaign website
  • Create a landing page with content themed around either a key user persona or non-branded campaign keyword/phrase - Please include this link in your final portfolio!

Creating a Landing Page for your Campaign Site


A landing page can be used to target a niche or specific audience or user persona type for your campaign. Here are some examples of landing pages for the same product -- yet each has content themed specifically to a different type of use case or audience:


From an SEO perspective, landing pages are also valuable since they help calibrate your content around a specific phrase or keyword. This can help with achieving higher relevancy on those terms for keyword indexing by the major search engines.

To build a landing page within your existing site, you can simply create a new page for your website using a content strategy that includes editorial and design elements optimized for a specific user persona and/or campaign keyword or phrase.

Special instructions for Wix users: If you are using Wix, see these instructions. As an alternative, you can create a new landing page template as a separate site using one of these templates.

Optimizing your Campaign Site for Mobile Smartphones

How does your campaign site look on a mobile device or smartphone?

One should always think about how their site appears on multiple types of screens. A mobile device has smaller screen real estate than a full-sized computer monitor associated with a desktop computer. Given the rise of smartphones, some people even have a "mobile-first" strategy where mobile is prioritized over desktop access in the design choices. One option is "responsive" design:


Did you know that your existing Wix.com and Weebly website content can be modified slightly so that it displays more correctly on mobile devices?

WIX & MOBILE:

Using Wix? Watch these videos to learn more about mobile-optimization:





WEEBLY & MOBILE:

Using Weebly? To see how your responsive site will look on mobile, you can toggle between mobile and desktop modes using the pull-down option on the PC/mobile icon on the top menu.







RELATED LINKS:

Wikis and PR/Advertising Campaigns

Wikis and PR/Advertising Campaigns


Wikipedia.org has become one of the most popular information Web sites – despite the fact that it is a nonprofit, user-edited resource. Many people use the site for research and many companies are monitoring how they are represented on their respective entries on the site. This week, we will take a closer look at the Wikipedia format -- and the role it might play in PR and/or advertising campaigns.

To become familiar with the wiki format, register with the site so that you will have permission to edit and/or create an entry. There is a “Create Account” link at the upper right-hand side of the homepage or you can simply click here.

Once you are registered, you can use the search box to find an existing entry on your selected topic.

On that page, you will find an “edit” link that allows you to add your text or image to the existing page.

To create a new entry, there is a page that will help you establish a new entry topic here

If you want to add an image, click here for information on uploading.

Does your client already have a wiki page? If so, make a contribution to it. If not, find a related theme or topic and make a valuable contribution to the wiki entry.

Here is a great Wikipedia "cheat sheet" for formatting of your text.

CONTENT GUIDELINES:

If you do edit or create any wikipedia entry, it is important to remember that each article is meant to document existing research -- it is not meant as a place for "original research" and/or opinions. The voice and tone should be neutral and all information presented should be verifiable with attribution.

Click here for a downloadable "best practices" guide for PR professionals using wikipedia (.pdf file)

CONTROVERSIES:

There have been many controversies over use of wikipedia for PR and/or political purposes. Here are a few articles that documents some of these issues:

Additional resources:
  • Looking for even more tips on "best practices" for wiki creation and campaigns? Click here.
  • A complete online tutorial to creating your own wiki page is here.
  • There are also some general tips to help you here.  
Related Links:

Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Here's this week's lecture about Social Media Marketing Campaigns. It is approximately 30 minutes and the related slides are below the video.



Note: If the above video embed does not work, then you can also visit it directly on YouTube at https://youtu.be/tY9wHfteagc

The slides referenced in the lecture above are also embedded below (without lecture narration).

 

Here is a handy "Creating Valuable Content" checklist that you can use in consideration of your content development strategy (courtesy of the Content Marketing Institute):
As a reminder, here are more examples of previous semester Social Media Marketing Plans:

What should be in your social media marketing plan?

Your final social media marketing plan should include the following sections and elements:
  • Executive Summary/Overview
  • Social Media Presence
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Goals
  • Strategies
  • Target Market
  • Tools & Implementation
  • Monitoring & Tuning
  • Budget & ROI
In addition, your Social Media Marketing Plan should include documentation of the research and planning of your campaign, including:
  • Branding research (logo/name survey results)
  • User Personas
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Wireframe(s)

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING PLAN RUBRIC

Using elements of a “Research, Writing, and Creativity” rubric – your work will be evaluated using the following criteria:
  • Research and Preparation: Student demonstrates thoughtful preparation and research
  • Content: Meets all the criteria for the assignment. All content is in the students’ own words (or cited appropriately) and is accurate.
  • Complete and Thorough: All aspects and sections of the assignment are completed in full with no holes. Demonstrated the ability to research to complete all tables, templates or outline requirements
  • Creativity: Students demonstrate creativity and innovation in completing the assignment content and any layout or design elements. The final product is unique, powerful, effective, and compelling.
  • Conventions: Document is easy to read and all elements are very clearly written, labeled. The document has no misspellings or grammatical errors. All template elements or outline sections are complete and thorough.
Examples of Previous Semester Social Media Marketing Plans:

WEEKS 7 & 8: Website Creation & Optimization - Workshops, SEO & More

SUMMARY:

Over the next couple of weeks, we will:
  • Begin to use a website creation tool, such as Wix, Weebly or Wordpress, to build an original campaign website.
  • Learn ways to improve search engine rankings of content for our media campaigns via Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
HOMEWORK:
  • Continue to get familiar with and use your chosen website builder (e.g. Wordpress, Wix, Weebly, etc.) to work on your site.
  • Publish your work-in-progress website and send me your link so I can review it no later than midnight on March 13.
  • Optimize your site for search engine optimization 

Generation Like



"GENERATION LIKE" DOCUMENTARY
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/

Please watch the PBS "Frontline" documentary "Generation Like."

The full hour-long video is also available online for free.


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Best Practices


Today in class we will look at ways to improve the search engine rankings of content in our press releases and original websites.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the practice of refining your Web site content so that it has better visibility in search engines, such as Google.

Search engines are the primary way that people discover Web content. In the U.S., Google accounts for a vast majority of search engine referrals. Thus, it is hugely important that your content be properly indexed so that new users can discover and explore your creations.

This three-minute video gives a great overview of what SEO is all about:



But, what about specifics? Here is a great "cheat sheet" on SEO from my colleague Rebecca Cooney, an associate professor at WSU:
Wix also has some great tips that can be reviewed at:

It's All About Algorithm

A key aspect of search engine optimization is the algorithm that drives the decisions of how search engines "rank" and determine "relevancy" for each website. Here are some resources that help explain more about the ever-changing (and somewhat secretive!) algorithms... 
Ways to Increase Referrals

The following information addresses some of the "best practices" in SEO for websites. It is essentially divided into two areas: On-page elements and Off-page elements. The on-page elements are things that you can control on your site...they are located on the pages of your site. This includes the text/copy, images, URL paths and even the design choices you make for your site. The off-page elements are located elsewhere on the web. This includes third-party websites, such as news sites, blogs and link aggregation services.

On-Page Elements:
The following on-page elements should be reviewed for possible tweaking so that your content is better surfaced in search engines for referral.

Page Title
  • The page title appears in the top bar of your browser
  • For critical areas of your Web site, does the page title in your browser contain the proper wording?
URL
  • Does the Web site URL for key areas include text that would contribute to that page being indexed on critical keywords?
"Invisible" Page Content
  • Description Field text is also important as it is the abstract information that shows up below the linked title in your search listings
  • Keywords description fields are less important, but offer an opportunity to associate some words and phrases with your page
    • Less is more
      • No more than 5-10 keywords in your metatag
Off-Page Elements

Inbound links

  • Increase number of Web pages that link to you
    • Seen as "vote of confidence" for relevance of your site
    • Text in link is also important ("link anchor text")
  • Increase Google's "Page Rank"
    • More links on prominent sites will also increase your page ranking
Best Practices
  • Does your blog post title contain keywords that concisely capture the blog topic and are known to be relevant to your site?
  • The very first words should be the most relevant, if possible
    • Good Example: Second Life Tutorial: Customize your Avatar
    • So-So Example: Want a New Look for your Avatar?
      • In the above example, the words "Second Life Tutorial" will match to keyword searches for people looking for second life tutorials. Further, the inclusion of "customize" and "avatar" will likely help this post show up higher in search results for people looking for help in avatar customization.
       
  • To see an example of this in action, do a Google Search on the words: Second Life
    • Notice how most of the top results have "Second Life" in the first few words of the title
  • Would your blog post title make sense if it were displayed "out of context" via an RSS feed or on a third-party Web site, such as reddit?
    • Each post has the potential to be surfaced on third-party sites. Your headline should be constructed so that it compels someone to click on it.
  • Are there opportunities to mix in blog posts that are not time-sensitive?
    • Many blog posts will clearly be connected to a new and timely announcement or development. However, when appropriate, you might want to strategically develop topics that speak to "evergreen" topics that have a longer shelf life.
  • Consider organizing your narrative with sub-headers and integrating the occasional use of bold text and lists.
    • These are believed to be minor factors in the algorithm that Google uses in determining relevance.
  • If appropriate, include links to previous related blog posts within the text of your new post.
    • Interlinking increases the odds that your posts will be indexed at a higher level, according to many SEO experts.

Share Links and Network Badges

According to many SEO experts, blogs can play a key role in helping one's overall search rankings. In the case of Google's algorithm, the "newness" and frequency of posts contribute to the perceived "relevance" of a site. However, the key is to get other blogs and sites to link directly to your blog. An increase in third party referral links results in an increased "relevance" for your site.

As expected, a new blog post typically gets a burst of traffic immediately after it is published. In most cases, the traffic declines dramatically after a day or two. However, in some cases, a blog post that is not timely might continue to drive traffic to your site long after its initial publication. This is particularly true if the post is not time-sensitive and becomes indexed and related to key terms by search engines.
  • Are you pro-actively encouraging other sites to link to your post? What third-party sites should you strategically target as significant potential recipients of your blog post?
    • Reddit and Facebook are among those social networking/aggregation sites that may help generate links to our site.
    • If you feel that the theme of your post has significance outside of our own site, then submit it! Common sense rules here, but one example is:
      • Reddit.com (Submit URL here - requires registration)
  • Do you have a Facebook Like button on your post?
    • Make it easy for people to link to and share your info.
      • Facebook has code that allows you to add a "Like"button here

Research Links

HubSpot has some great tips on getting the most of paid search listings:
Other useful links:

Action Items for Optimizing your Campaign for Search Engine Discovery

Ready to Optimize?

Is your campaign site optimized for search engine discovery and indexing?

There are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood that your site will show up prominently in organic search engine results. These tips offer directions specific to the Wix platform, but the principles are similar for any CMS.

Add Metadata

In Wix.com, you can easily add meta title, keyword and description info. To do so, go to the Pages icon and select the page you wish to optimize. Then select the ellipsis (...) icon and select SEO (Google) before adding your title, description and keyword data for that page.

On the SEO section of the site manager Dashboard. make sure to activate the "Let search engines find my website" slider, as well!

Double-Check Your Site Address

In the Settings > Site Address section, take a closer look at the URL path you have created for your brand. Is your brand name part of the URL name?

ADDITIONAL OPTIMIZATIONS

Below are some additional steps that website creators can use on Wix, Weebly and Wordpress:

WIX USERS: SEO WIZARD

Wix.com has a great SEO monitoring tool that you can find under the Site Manager (select SEO from the left-hand vertical navigation then refer to the "Get Found on Google" section to begin your audit).



Link to Social Networks

Soon, we will be creating Facebook and Twitter pages. Once those are ready, you should connect your Facebook and Twitter sites to your campaign site. Remember to also include a link back to your campaign site in your "About" fields on those social media sites, too.

Add Text Descriptors to Your Images

Do your images have tool tip text descriptors? Many images get "crawled" by search engines that rely on your text tagging and descriptions for proper indexing. In Wix.com, you can add a text tag to any image. Simply highlight the photo and select Settings and update the Title and alt text fields.

WEEBLY USERS: SEO CHECKLIST

For Weebly users, please consult the SEO Guide for Weebly and this SEO checklist to ensure that you've done the basics for search engine optimization on your website.

WORDPRESS & SEO

If you are using Wordpress, you can/should also optimize your pages/posts for discovery in search engines.

Here are some additional resources specific to Wordpress:



Using SEO Research Tools

As part of your SEO strategy, you'll want to use an online SEO tool that helps you research things like. A great free resource is SmallSEOTools.com, which can help with:

...and much more. Check out the site SmallSEOTools.com to see a full list of tools and research resources. In addition, here is a helpful SEO Worksheet that you can use to keep track of your SEO efforts.

Creating a Website for your Brand Using a Content Management System (CMS)


Typically, you would have a professional web design team or resource to help you design, build and launch your website campaign. However, we lack these resources for our class campaign. Thus, we will use one of the many simplified website creation tools/content management systems (CMS) that bring slick, professional-looking websites to those who are not design experts. Many of these sites include pre-made templates that you can even use to jumpstart your designs.
With the help of these user-friendly website services, creating a new website for your brand is now easier than ever. Examples of free website/blog creation services include:
For the purpose of this class, we will experiment with Weebly.com and Wix.com.

Use one of these sites to create an original website for your campaign. For this week, you will get started with the site – but the actual completion of it won't be due for several weeks. Use this week to get familiar with your chosen CMS and to begin your site. You may use your wireframe as a starting point to create from your site from scratch and/or identify a template that contains similar design choices and elements.

GETTING STARTED WITH WEEBLY:


Learn how to get started with Weebly.com with these video tutorials.

After logging in, you'll be asked to choose a domain name (select a free one unless you want to pay for one of the premium plans). You'll also be asked to select a template that you can edit within your browser.

There are many "how-to" tutorials to help guide you through editing on the official YouTube channel. You can also check out the Help Center for specific FAQs and other useful resources.

GETTING STARTED WITH WIX:



Learn how to get started with Wix.com with these video tutorials.

After logging in, you'll be asked to choose a template to launch the website editor -- it will appear in your browser!

There are tons of Wix.com tutorials on the official YouTube channel and/or check out the official Wix Help Center.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you register for Wix, you will be asked to create a username. Please try to create a username that includes your chosen brand name. If you can’t get an exact match, then please try to get a name that incorporates your brand name in some way. This username will actually be used to help generate the URL path for your published campaign site – so you will want to make sure that it is consistent with the branding of your campaign.

Examples of Previous Semester Campaign Sites:


WEEK 6: Wireframing & Design Explorations

SUMMARY:

This week, we will:
  • Learn the basics of web design and wireframing
  • Finalize a wireframe of a proposed website for our campaign
  • Review our various homepage wireframes to identify and review key features that are necessary for our campaign website.
  • Learn about content management systems and website creation tools, such as Weebly, Wix or Wordpress, that can be used to build an original campaign website.
HOMEWORK:
  • Complete a wireframe for the homepage of your website using Gliffy.
  • Use your selected website creation tool to build an original website for your campaign. For this week, you will get started with the site – but the actual completion of it won’t be due for several weeks.

Wireframing Basics and Learning Gliffy


A wireframe represents a visual sketch that can be used in planning your website design and functionality. It typically happens prior to the actual building of the website - so that you can review and refine key decisions prior to any actual coding or creation.






Gliffy.com enables you to build a "wireframe" and site maps for your website. This easy-to-use service can be used to sketch and create your wireframe on the web -- and then share your creation with other stakeholders.

An example of the Gliffy.com interface and a wireframe.















You can use Gliffy.com for website wireframing, flow charts, org charts, site maps -- and even a SWOT Analysis!

Here are some example wireframes that you can print out and review:

Examples of Good Web Design

As we get closer to building our marketing website for this class, it might be a good idea to look at some examples of strong web design for inspiration. Here are some articles that analyze and showcase strong website design in 2019:

...and, of course:

WEEKS 4 & 5: Focusing our online identity: Logo creations and research

SUMMARY:

For these weeks, we will:
  • Brainstorm and conduct trademark research on our campaign brand names
  • Explore and create various branded logo treatments for our campaign
  • Conduct a survey to identify key messaging and branding attributes for our campaign
  • Learn the basics of web design and wireframing
  • Create a wireframe of a proposed website for our campaign
  • Review our various homepage wireframes to identify and review key features that are necessary for our campaign website.
HOMEWORK:
  • Make sure you have completed the SWOT analysis, competitive analysis and user personas
  • Identify at least three potential brand names for your product or service. It is critical that you conduct a quick background check on your proposed names on Trademarkia.com to ensure that your suggestions do not violate any existing active trademarks.
  • Use an online survey tool to create a seven-question survey that aims to test the value propositions and sentiments associated with each brand name. (Optional):You can also use this tool to "test" what attributes and qualities people associate with multiple logo designs.
    • Once the survey is created, you should share it with your friends via Facebook or email. Each student should attempt to gather at least 20 responses from friends and family to your survey. (NOTE: Due to the limitations of this course, this is NOT meant to be a scientific survey. In the "real world," you would identify and/or even purchase a targeted survey response list to get a larger and more accurate response rate).
  • Once you determine your brand name, use Photoshop or a free web logo creation service to create a logo for your brand.
  • Create a wireframe for the homepage of your website using Gliffy.

Creating A Brand Position Statement

Good brand positioning helps guide marketing strategy by clarifying the essence of your product, what goals it helps the consumer achieve, and how it does so in a unique way.

A key question:
How do you want your brand to be perceived by its various target audiences?

Also:
What overall problem does your product help consumers solve and/or what is the key value that it brings to people's lives? 

For each user persona type, you can try to address these questions by starting to fill out this problem/solution sentence:


Additional questions to ask yourself in developing a brand action plan and timeline:
  • What target audiences are most important for growth and monetization?
  • How can we improve our brand position, value proposition and messaging on the website, performance marketing, organic and social media initiatives?
  • How should we prioritize these changes? 

Creating a Survey using CrowdSignal

LEARNING CrowdSignal

A great survey tool is CrowdSignal.com (formerly known as PollDaddy).  Use CrowdSignal for surveys or one-question polls that include images. For example, you can use it to test logos for your brand.
Learn more about how to use CrowdSignal at the following link:
Note: If you are an existing Wordpress user, you can use your Wordpress username/login info to "link" your account to CrowdSignal. If not, you will be asked to create a new Wordpress login in order to sign up for the free CrowdSignal service (which is owned by the same company).

HOMEWORK
  • Use an online survey tool to create a seven-question survey that aims to test the value propositions and sentiments associated with each brand name. You can also use this tool to "test" what attributes and qualities people associate with each of your proposed logo designs.
  • Once the survey is created, you should share it with your friends via Facebook or email. Each student should attempt to gather at least 20 responses from friends and family to your survey. (NOTE: Due to the limitations of this course, this is NOT meant to be a scientific survey. In the "real world," you would identify and/or even purchase a targeted survey response list to get a larger and more accurate response rate).

Choosing a Brand Name & Creating a Logo

Igor International has created a great Naming Guide with information that can help you demystify the process of creating a great brand name.

Per Igor's Naming Guide, some things to consider as you review possible brand names include:
  • Appearance
  • Distinctive
  • Depth
  • Energy
  • Humanity
  • Positioning (How well does it support your core positioning for the brand?)
  • Sound
  • "33" (As per Igor's guide, "The force of brand magic and the word-of-mouth buzz that a name is likely to generate. Refers to the mysterious "33" printed on the back of Rolling Rock beer bottles...")
To get started, we'll be using a few web-based resources that will help us to:
  • Identify a Brand Name
  • Create a Logo

Brand Name Creation
Trademarkia.com is the largest visual search engine for more than 6 million trademarked logos, names, and slogans on the Internet. Use Trademarkia to identify whether or not your proposed brand name is already registered.

Logo Creation
There are several options to creating your logos. If you are comfortable using Adobe Photoshop, you can use it to craft suggested logos.

However, many people lack the graphic design skills in Photoshop. If this is the case, then you can use one of several web-based "logo generator" services. Wix.com has a great blog post with suggestions on how to cheaply (if not free) create a logo:
There is also Canva, which has several easy-to-use templates for logo creation (and other cool features including social media graphics, flyers, posters and more!).




Creative Commons & Finding Royalty-Free and Low-Lost Images

Creative Commons Overview

One popular option for inexpensive content is Creative Commons, where you can get free or low-cost copyright licenses for music, audio, video, clip art and photos.

Essentially, a Creative Commons license allows the creator to protect his or her creation while simultaneously allowing them to share their work without the usual restrictions of traditional copyright law. Watch the video below to get an overview of how it works.



Video not showing up? You can also access it directly at this link.



Video not showing up? You can also access it directly at this link.

How to Give Attribution/Credit for Creative Commons Content
If you do decide to use any Creative Commons content, then you will need to pay close attention to the licensing guidelines provided for that content. In most cases, there will be a required "credit line" that you will need to provide with each image, audio or video piece of Creative Commons-licensed content that you use. For information on how to properly attribute your content, please see the following:

Royalty-free and Low-cost Image Licensing Services

Looking for royalty-free, low-cost and/or free images? Wix.com has built-in access to hundreds of free stock photos in over 20 categories. Learn more about the Wix.com free image directory:
Here are some other stock photo sites worth checking out: iStockphoto logo

WEEK 3: Content Strategy Basics - Creating User Persona Research to Craft our Online Campaigns

SUMMARY:

This week, we will:
  • Review the fundamentals of content strategy for our campaigns
  • Review examples of user persona research and then apply these techniques to our campaign
  • Learn a bit about project management tools
HOMEWORK:
  • Continue to tweak/revise your competitive analysis and SWOT analysis. This will be used to help shape and inform future branding and messaging elements, including social media outreach strategies. (NOTE: Branding and naming exercises will occur in the next couple of weeks).
  • This week, each campaign should also have at least two user persona research profiles for the audience that you anticipate targeting.
  • Next week we will identify at least three potential brand names for your product or service. It is critical that you conduct a quick background check on your proposed names on Trademarkia.com to ensure that your suggestions do not violate any existing active trademarks.

User Personas

Who is your target audience? Are there multiple target audiences for your brand or product?

Rather than think about these in broad, abstract terms, you can develop "user personas" to better visualize who your potential audience is.
Orangebus, a U.K.-based digital agency, has created a great template that you can use to create your various user personas. Check it out (.pdf format) at:
More examples and templates to explore:
You can also use Xtensio again for this assignment:

WEEKS 1 & 2: Intro to Course & Overview of Semester Project

SUMMARY:

During the first two weeks, we will:
  • Be introduced to the semester-long project and general course structure
  • Explore the basics of web-based public relations and advertising campaigns
  • Review the fundamentals of a SWOT analysis and a competitive analysis. Then prepare these for your product in preparation for your looming campaign
  • Do an in-class collaborative competitive analysis exercise using this shared document
  • Review examples of user persona research and then apply these techniques to our campaign
HOMEWORK:
  • As we begin our semester campaign case study project, please identify the focus and positioning of your product and where it fits into the competitive landscape. Do not worry yet about the brand name or logo. You will conduct a competitive analysis and a SWOT analysis on the product line that they are aiming to develop a campaign for. This will be used to help shape and inform future branding and messaging elements, including social media outreach strategies. Soon you will also create at least two user persona research profiles for the audience that they anticipate targeting.

Project Management Software - Introducing Trello


TRELLO FOR PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Stay organized using Trello, a free web-based service that allows you to organize and prioritize your campaign elements as a team.

Use Trello to create your content development and social media promotion calendar as a team. Assign tasks and track progress on current content productions. You can create neatly organized "cards" for each task. Move your card to a new column to reflect the production status.

Get started at Trello.com.

MOBILE APP VERSION

The following video shows you how Trello works on  your mobile phone, too!


TRAINING VIDEO:

The video below shows you the basics of how to get started with Trello:




Semester Project Overview

For the duration of the semester, we will be creating fictional brands that the class will use to generate original social media, PR and advertising campaign elements. Rather than use “real” brands or services for each campaign, you will orchestrate your campaign around a single fictional brand that you create.

The types of fictional products or services will vary, but some examples of categories include:

  • Non-alcoholic beverage (e.g. soda pop, sports drink, coffee, etc.)
  • Energy Pill
  • Airline
  • Internet-based music company
  • Shampoo or Hair Grooming Product
  • Stylish clothing line
Each student may identify other brand categories to be considered, but the above is only meant as a starter list for consideration. For each of the above soon-to-be-created brands, each student will research varying brand names and logo treatments as they consider the competitive positioning of the brand in the presumed marketplace.

When naming your brand, it is important that students NOT use any existing or "real" brands for these projects. However, you will use a trademark search engine to investigate whether your suggested brand names already exist. You may also use Adobe Photoshop or, alternatively, a free online tool to generate an original logo for your "fictional" brand.

Your campaign prep work also includes user persona research and a SWOT analysis to help determine brands strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Remember: You are inventing the brand and the attributes that define it! This is the perfect chance to examine the competitive landscape of your product to identify "opportunities" or under-served niches that you can aim to reach with your campaign. It's a clean slate!!!

Your initial research helps to define your brand, messaging, audience and its position in the marketplace. This is all essential to the second phase of your campaign: the actual social media marketing, advertising and public relations outreach that will help bring awareness of your campaign to the masses.

Over the duration of the semester, students may create some or all of these elements:
  • A social media marketing plan
  • An SEO-optimized campaign website
  • Social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • A performance marketing campaign
  • A targeted e-mail campaign
  • and more!
Examples of Previous Semester Campaign Sites:
Examples of Previous Semester Social Media Marketing Plans:

    Competitive Analysis & SWOT Analysis

    Many students are already familiar with the concept of a Competitive Analysis and SWOT analysis. As you may already know, you can use both of these to help identify where your product fits within the overall marketplace. By developing both of these documents, you will help focus the approach used in planning your advertising and/or PR campaigns.
    COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
    A competitive analysis involves a simple exploration of your competitors in the product category or niche that you are aiming to develop a product and campaign for.

    Xtensio has a free template that can help you get started:
    Examples of completed Competitive/SWOT Analysis documents:
    The above template also includes a section for a related SWOT analysis. However, you might also want to create a dedicated SWOT Analysis as a separate document.

    (Note: The "free" version of Xtensio has some limitations that you should be aware of if you use it to complete this project. Please see the pricing page for information on what features are supported).

    SWOT ANALYSIS


    In addition to understanding your competition, you should do an analysis of the key attributes and value propositions of your potential brand. A SWOT analysis can help you get a clearer understanding of your product by documenting the:
    • Strengths
    • Weaknesses
    • Opportunities
    • Threats
    To do a proper SWOT analysis, you will need to really consider what the key value propositions are in relation to the overall existing marketplace. This is why both the SWOT analysis and competitive analysis are important as a starting point for your campaign. You need to KNOW your brand and the larger product category before subsequent work can begin.
    Looking for examples? Marketingteacher.com has great examples of several brands, including:
    Some people choose to create a SWOT Analysis that is entirely separate from the Competitive Analysis. If that is of interest, then check out these templates:

    COMPETITOR INTELLIGENCE

    For all of the above, there are useful tools that can help you gather intelligence on your competitors. One web-based tool that can help you better understand the website demographics of your competitors is: