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Master Your Card – Missouri is a public education campaign from MasterCard, which helps consumers, small businesses, and governments get more from their money by using prepaid, debit and credit cards to their advantage. MasterCard uses its Missouri-based technology to run an electronic payment network that delivers instantaneous, affordable, and safe transactions though cards.
Veterans United Home Loans is the nation’s largest dedicated provider of VA Loans — dedicated to making the American dream of homeownership a reality for those who so bravely served.
Gus: What influenced the decision to re-brand from VA Mortgage Center.com last year?
Rob: We made this change because Veterans United Home Loans really shows what we do and who we help – we care about veterans, active military and their families throughout their lives, not just while they are buying a home.
Gus: How do you establish and maintain an authentic voice when communicating on behalf of a brand via social media?
Rob: This one’s simple. You just have to be authentic. I think sometimes marketers try too hard on this one. When people are leaving comments, questions, and complaints for companies on social media platforms, they are looking for one thing – timely responses and resolution. So that’s what you have to give them.
We have a customer service team that helps monitor Facebook. I think one key that we’ve found is always signing off with your name. This can assure customers that they are talking to a real person. We also keep very detailed records on how long we are taking to answer comments, and the positive or negative sentiment of those comments.
Bottom line here is that you can’t hide a bad experience or a bad product on social media. People will be vocal and it will show. I think one of the best things any company can do is just open this comments up to other teams (product, sales etc) so that they can see how their work can be reflected on social platforms (good or bad). We luckily have great processes in place and a genuinely great product – it can really make my work easy sometimes!
Gus: I’d love to hear your perspective on the rise of content marketing and how social, content, and SEO are all playing together now? How will this evolution change the marketing landscape?
Rob: I feel like we could write a book on this one. The marketing world is really starting to get exciting because all of these channels that were traditionally separate are now starting to converge. Good social media now depends on share-able content. Good content can be leveraged by sharing to social media platforms. And the capper is that now to rank well on SEO, you really have to take these other channels into account. More and more social signals are starting to be used as search engine signals and it’s becoming a lot more difficult to “game” the system.
This is great for the marketing landscape because it’s really putting the consumer in focus. Brands now have to think about what the consumer actually wants, and what content they want to consume.
Gus: You have a popular blog network that publishes more than 15 high quality articles, infographics, and/or videos each week. Can you talk about the importance of keeping your blog full of fresh and insightful content?
Rob: Content is becoming the centerpiece of every successful online marketing strategy today. We alluded to this above – marketers need to start focusing on what their consumer wants to see content-wise. SEO isn’t about keyword stuffing anymore, it’s about getting fresh, engaging content to the consumer and introducing them to your brand through a positive experience.
Gus: Can you share some of the innovative things that you’ve recently been working on with video on Google+ and YouTube ?
Rob: We’ve been doing some really cool things lately with Google+’s “hangout” feature. For those who aren’t familiar, Google+ Hangouts are video chats that can host up to 10 people. We have developed a show called “Veterans United Live” with Sarah Hill where we host influential military figures, real estate agents, company leaders, and other people of interest to our target audience. Sarah is a 12-time Emmy winner and is the No. 38 most followed person in the world on Google+ with 2.3 million followers. She is a worldwide innovator in the area, and it all started when she integrated her TV broadcast with Google+.
Sarah is critical to us producing captivating content for our fans and really to utilize a platform that many have been struggling with. Storytelling through video has been a great avenue because it really shows an identity to our brand and brings out the human element.
Gus: Can expand on some of the exciting new developments you have when it comes to diversifying lead sources and marketing channels?
Rob: I think with the advent of all of these new online channels, it’s becoming more important to focus on where you’re investing and what the purpose of each marketing channel really is. Is it for strengthening your brand and goodwill? Is it for direct response or lead generation?
It certainly is a fun time for marketers with so many options now. The trick is finding which channels work for your industry and for your specific brand. Pinterest might work really well for a clothing retailer but maybe it won’t work for an office furniture manufacturer.
Gus: What tips can you give our readers for creating great website content that captivates and motivates potential customers?
Rob: I think the best thing you can do is always be actively searching online for content that catches your eye and try to adapt this into your own content. The trick is that it has to be relevant, useful, and engaging to your reader so that you keep people coming back.
Think outside the box and spend quality time on content creation. One solid piece of content is much better for you and will be a lot more far-reaching than 5 sub-par pieces.
Gus: What are 3 things companies should and should not expect from social media?
Rob: You should expect social media to take some work. You should expect complaints (people are way more likely to complain than compliment on average even if you have the most popular product in the world). And you should expect a good publishing network for your branded content if you build your following the right way.
You shouldn’t expect to instantly have an ROI from social just because you build a Facebook page. You shouldn’t expect substantial growth in the early going. And you shouldn’t expect engagement unless you’re really putting time and effort into creating great, quality content.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and a good social media strategy isn’t either. Invest a little at a time and focus on attracting the right people. The right foundation means everything with social.
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