Multimedia, such as mobile marketing, livecasting and podcasting, photo, video and file sharing, can spread the word about your company and help build brand awareness in a very unique and powerful way. This particular type of social media also has the ability to go viral quickly. Hottrix, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based iPhone app creator, became one example of a breakthrough success story when their iBeer app, which simulates chugging a mug of beer on the iPhone, became one of the most-downloaded apps in 2008, and again in 2009.
However, your company's chances of going viral are left more to fate than skill, but that's no reason to discount the importance of multimedia for your business. The ability of these technologies to facilitate communication between your small business and employees, your customers and potential customers, is tremendous, says Keith Nissen, principle analyst at the Scottsdale, Arizona-based market intelligence firm, In-Stat.
"When you think about [multimedia platforms] and what that's all about, it's about being able to communicate mass marketing messages to the device of choice on demand," says Nissen. "I think what's more interesting is how these tools can be used in conjunction with other multimedia tools to support the business--the marketing, the sales and promotion of their products and services. To me, that, for a small business, is probably more important than internal communication."
Here's a look at some of the most effective ways to leverage media, such as photos, podcasts, videos, and other types of mobile marketing.
How to Use Multimedia For Business Marketing: Sharing Photos With Your Online Community.
Several online communities exist for the purpose of uploading and sharing photos over the Web, and many small businesses have learned to take advantage of these services to market their products. Here are the most common photo sharing marketing strategies.
1. Offer real-time incentives. Twitter's TweetPhoto will automatically enable you to publish photos to your Twitter and Facebook accounts for free via mobile and Web platforms. Who needs 140 characters to describe your business when a picture is worth 1,000 words? Tweet pictures of discounted and new items or offer exclusive incentives.
2. Join like-minded communities. At no cost, Yahoo!-operated Flickr provides a useful platform for photo management and sharing. "The first thing that I tell people is that Flickr is not just a photo storage place," says Matt McGee, independent online marketing consultant of the Tri-Cities, Washington-based, Small Business Search Marketing. "It's a very active community centered around Flickr groups." For example, a pet-lovers group may get a kick out of the clothing and toys created by a boutique pet store.
3. Drive traffic to your website. Pink Cake Box, a gourmet cake shop located in Denville, New Jersey, began using Flickr in 2006 to build brand identity. Co-owner Jesse Heap says that Pink Cake Box's website receives about 300,000 unique users each month, and roughly 10 percent of those visitors are from Flickr, where the company posts photos of interesting or extreme cakes.
How to Use Multimedia For Business Marketing: Hosting Videos and Webcasting.
Sharing videos over the Web is another great resource for small businesses in establishing a social media presence, particularly because of how many people are tuning in. According to a November 2009 survey released by comScore, a digital marketing research firm headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Google's many video sites accounted for 12.2 billion videos viewed that month, including YouTube, which accounted for nearly 99 percent of the total.
Webcasting is essentially broadcasting a video or media file over the Internet using streaming media technology, which can be distributed to many simultaneous viewers at once. Done the right way, webcasts, also called video podcasts, vblogs, videocasting or Web shows, can be effective promotional tools. "It's a cool opportunity to take people behind the scenes of a business," says Dina Kaplan, co-founder and COO of blip.tv, a four-year-old Internet TV network. Her network airs video podcasts from hundreds of companies as diverse as the New York City Ballet to the crafter website Etsy, which broadcasts online classes. "It's been interesting to watch, especially in the last year, how many businesses have created Web shows to promote their product or gain exposure for principals," Kaplan says.
Shooting a video for YouTube or starting a more elaborate webcast essentially takes four basic ingredients: equipment, a theme, an online home and marketing.
1. The equipment. Very small businesses can buy a webcam or camcorder, wireless microphone and simple video editing equipment such as Sony's Vegas Movie Studio or Final Cut Pro 7. However, a webcam limits you to filming yourself sitting in front of a computer, and that's not very exciting, says Peter Brusso, an Anaheim, California, podcasting producer and technology marketing consultant. Instead, invest in a camcorder, preferably a "three-chip" camera that uses three computer chips to separate colors, which results in a higher quality picture, Brusso says.
2. Hire someone. If you have a bigger budget, hire a professional. Prices run from $1,000 to $15,000, according to podcast industry sources. Employment attorney Helene Wasserman created a video podcast called Employer Helpcast two years ago to market her work as a partner with Ford & Harrison LLP, a Los Angeles law firm. Wasserman uses Brusso's company to produce video podcasts and pays $2,500 for segments that run anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. It's worth the money, she says. "If you're trying to market yourself as having a very professional business, you want to put your best foot forward," she says.
3. The show. You could have the best-looking video around, but it wouldn't matter if you didn't do something that was interesting and consistent, says blip.tv's Kaplan. For webcasts, stick to a regular broadcast schedule, whether that's once a day, week or month. And keep shows short. "Your aptitude for sitting in your uncomfortable office chair atrophies after about six minutes," she says. Be personable, says Kaplan, who advises podcasters to stick to the old news adage to show, not tell. If you run a retail business, walk around the store, and talk about new merchandise. "Talk to a customer. If you have a hardware store, show them the new hammer on sale," she says.
4. Hosting and marketing. Once you've got a video in the can, upload it for free on YouTube where it can be viewed by anyone. Webcasts can also be uploaded to free or paid hosting sites such as blip.tv, iTunes or Libsyn. Where a podcast is hosted isn't as important as spreading the word that it's there. Wasserman's podcasts appear on blip.tv and iTunes and cover workplace issues such as job sharing, corporate culture and managing a multi-generational workforce. Wasserman points prospective viewers to the podcast from her website and blog and by including a tagline promoting the show in her email signature. Wasserman also uses a free service that puts word-for-word transcripts of her video podcasts on the Web, where they can be searched by Google and other search engines. More people find her podcast through search engines than by visiting blip.tv or her website, and the traffic had led to speaking engagements and new work, she says. "It's the wave of the future. For anyone who wants to use 21st century technologies, this is the way to go."
How to Use Multimedia For Business Marketing: 4 Good Reasons to Go Through the Trouble of Creating a Video.
1. Show how to use your product. With a slogan as simple as "Broadcast Yourself," many YouTube users are doing just that, especially when it comes to showing how their products or services can be used. "There are countless small business owners posting how-to videos on YouTube," says McGee. "[For instance,] here's how to use the product; here's how to interact with people in our service industry."
2. Extend your client base. In December 2007, John Tuggle, a slide and blues guitar instructor based in Decatur, Georgia, began posting videos on YouTube teaching people how to play guitar because he wasn't generating enough interest in his hometown. By February 2008, interest in his lessens grew so much that he created LearningGuitarNow.com where visitors contacted him regularly for private lessons via Skype at the rate of $25 for 30 minutes. "I just kept [talking to people] and kept putting more out, and figuring out what people wanted. Last year I pulled in almost $100,000 from the website," said Tuggle.
3. Entertain your customers. It is quite easy to post a video simply for visitors' enjoyment. For instance, Vimeo, a video hosting site that aims to be a "community of creative people who are passionate about sharing the videos they make," features a 'Videos we like' tab. For a small business owner, posting a video for entertainment purposes stands to generate many views, which in turn may spark interest in the company and possibly lead to the purchase of products or services.
4. Provide a unique service. LiveCast, with headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, enables live video streaming directly from a cell phone, mobile Internet device, or Mac or PC, to anyone connected to the Web. For Gordon Cooper, photographer and founder of Perfect Wedding magazine, live broadcasting gives his business a unique capability. "I can have all the guests at the wedding even if they're not at the wedding," says Cooper. "Guest can still experience the live ceremony [from wherever they are]." Cooper is able to charge an additional $250 for this service.
How to Use Multimedia For Business Marketing: Podcasting
Podcasts have become such a popular marketing tool for sole proprietors and small businesses that a small army of professional producers is out there waiting to help. Here are 9 essential steps a company needs to get started:
1. Do some homework. The best way to learn about podcasting is to listen to podcasts, says Peter Brusso, an Anaheim, California, podcasting producer and technology marketing consultant. Visit directories such as RSS Player or Libsyn and look for podcasts with a similar style or subject to you want to create, Brusso says.
2. Decide on a topic. Podcasts could focus on a company's products or services, an industry or on management or professional issues. Whatever the topic, make sure it's related to a company's business in some way, says Sallie Goetsch, proprietor of The Podcast Asylum, a northern California podcast producer and consultant.
3. Gather your tools. Producing a podcast requires:
• A microphone, digital audio recorder or USB headset to record podcast episodes
• Computer with sound card and high-speed Internet connection
• Audio recording and editing software, either licensed software or free open-source programs such as Audacity.
4. Be natural. When it's time to record a podcast, organize talking points, but don't use a script. "People don't like being sold. The more from the heart the better," Brusso says.
5. Build a backlog. Before going live, build up a catalog of a dozen or more episodes. Coming up with ideas is easy, Brusso says. They can spring from talking to customers, going to conventions, reading trade magazines, or following current events.
6. Be consistent. Length, professional quality, and subject matter of a company's podcast are important but not as much as on-air consistency. Whether it's once a day, once a week or once a month, pick a schedule and stick to it. Podcasts are like radio or TV shows: audiences expect a schedule. Disappoint them and they might not come around again, Brusso says.
7. Not a D-I-Y type? Hire a pro. Professional producers can handle the technical aspects of starting or creating a podcast. Goetsch and partners Priscilla Rice and Michele Molitor, for example, offer a small-business podcast starter package for $1,100 that covers scripting and recording three to four podcasts plus lots of extras, including finding a hosting service, setting up a podcast blog and submitting broadcasts to podcast directories. Brusso, who works with lawyers and other sole proprietors, charges $1,000 for an hour-long podcast with similar extras. But it doesn't have to be expensive. According to Goetsch, a small businessperson could do everything themselves with an existing computer, $20 headset, free software for audio editing and creating a podcast, and host it on their existing website.
8. Find your podcast a home. Companies can physically host a podcast anywhere, including with the service they use for their website. What really matters is getting the word out that it's there. For maximum exposure, list podcasts on directories such as PodcastAlley.com, Podcast411, Podanza or TalkShoe.
9. Forget about making money, at least not directly. Some podcasts collect revenue from advertising that podcast directories put on their sites. But that shouldn't be why a company does it. Podcasts should be part of a company's overall marketing strategy, Brusso says. "To get yourself known, you have to blog, optimize your Website for search engines and podcast," he says. "If you do all three the results are phenomenal."
How to Use Multimedia For Business Marketing: Mobile Marketing
There are 4.1 billion cellular connections worldwide, and with the prevalence of smart phones, the concept of browsing the Web from a mobile phone has gone mainstream. Consider this: Mobile phone carriers are sitting atop a trove of data – not just your name, address, and, of course, phone number but also credit card information, who your friends are, and where you're located at this very moment. Even with privacy regulations, more of this information will become available to marketers as phones are used more like little PCs, creating opportunities for highly targeted ads and other marketing breakthroughs.
Here's what you need to know to get started.
• How exactly do I advertise on a mobile phone? The most common type of mobile ad is a display ad served on a Web page called up on a cell phone's screen. The ads are created for the site's mobile format and may not be the same as the ads you would see if you were browsing the site on a PC. Ads are priced on a Cost Per Mille, or CPM, basis – the price you pay for the ad to be seen 1,000 times.
• How do I buy mobile ads? Most advertisers work with mobile-ad networks, which bring together advertisers and websites that are frequently viewed by phone. Some of the larger players, which are owned by the likes of Google (AdMob), AOL (Third Screen Media) and Apple (Quattro Wireless), will act as full-service marketing shops. They handle the entire process, including technology, the creative content of mobile ads, and the ads' placement.
• What do mobile ads cost? The cost of mobile ads varies due to the different types of ads, and different cell phone platforms. For instance, AdMob, one of the main mobile-ad networks, currently charges CPMs of $12 to $14 for iPhone banner ads.
• What about text messaging? One option is to buy or rent a short code, a five- or six-digit phone number from which you can send and receive text messages. One common way to use a short code is to publish it on a billboard or in a print ad ("Text 51234 for more information") that encourages customers to enter a contest or participate in a poll.
• What does a short code cost? Cellit Mobile Marketing, in Chicago, and Movo, in Florida, sell short codes for $500 to $1,000 per month, plus a one-time setup fee of a few thousand dollars and a charge of 4 cents to 7 cents for each text message. You can also rent a code for as little as $225 per month. Keep in mind that technological standards vary. Nearly every phone on the market is equipped to send and receive texts, but some systems won't let you embed complex graphics or photographs.
• How do I go after my best customers on a mobile phone? Google has expanded into the mobile world in several ways. Now, it allows companies to buy display ads – ads related to content – on the mobile Web. AdMob claims click-through rates on this type of ad of up to 3 percent, which is quite high. The company charges a cost-per-click (CPC) fee of 25 cents to 30 cents.
How to Use Multimedia For Business Marketing: 3 Tips for Making Your Mobile Campaign Successful
1. Determine your goals. Who is your target audience? How will they benefit from your message? Do you hope to generate revenue, generate interest, generate traffic to your website, or all three? Define your goals and set benchmarks for what a successful campaign would look like.
2. Choose your message. Your message should have a clear call to action. According to mobile marketing firm Punchkick Interactive, "over 90 percent of texts from SMS messaging campaigns are read by recipients, generating average response rates of 15 to 30 percent or more." With the potential for that kind of penetration, it would help to make sure your campaign is simple, memorable, and factual. One thing every local business should be doing, says James Citron, CEO of mobile video marketing firm Mogreet, is attach keywords to their mobile campaigns that will resonate with customers in order to create brand awareness.
3. Pair your mobile marketing campaign with other social media. When Casa Del Mar, a luxury beach hotel located in Santa Monica, California, wanted to get the word out about drink specials, they doubled up on social media marketing. The hotel posted messages on Twitter and Facebook saying, "Text CASA to 21534 and enjoy unlimited champagne or Bloodys. FREE." Customers who texted received videos of the weekend brunch spread on their phone and received the beverage of their choice at the hotel. The end result was highly viral, with 250 redemptions.
• Twitter's TweetPhoto will automatically enable you to publish photos to your Twitter and Facebook accounts for free via mobile and Web platforms.
• Yahoo!-operated Flickr provides a useful platform for photo management and sharing.
• Photobucket is a free image hosting site that enables visitors to share photos, videos and slideshows. Plus, you can search through their archives for inspirational or fun photos for your own viewing pleasure.
• TinyPic is another image hosting site that allows you to share photos and videos for no cost at all. You can easily upload, link, and share your images and videos on MySpace, eBay, blogs, message boards, and a number of other Web-based platforms.
• Snapfish provides unlimited free photo storage and photo sharing, as well. They also offer a feature called 'Snapshow,' which works as a free multimedia slideshow that brings your photos to life, with customized themes, songs and titles.
• Shutterfly is an online photo sharing platform that also allows you to share sites, albums and projects for free.
Hosting Videos and Webcasting
• With the tagline "Broadcast Yourself," YouTube allows users to post video, both ametuer and professional, for anyone to view.
• Blip.tv's Learning Center links to information about podcasting, equipment, production tips and more.
• Yahoo's video blogging list is a message board where people interested in video podcasting post questions and trade information.
• Leesa Barnes, a noted author and expert, provides an informational website with the tagline "Make Selling Fun and Profitable Using a Podcast."
• RSS Player Podcast Client for the iPhone and iPod Touch is a unique iPhone app that lets you subscribe to to your favorite podcasts, manage them, and listen to them in a unique and well designed format for the iPhone with tons of cool features.
• Libsyn is a full-featured service tailored specifically for media self-publishing and podcasting. Price is based on usage, changing monthly if needed.
• PodcastAlley.com is the best site to find all your Podcasts, podcast feeds, podcast definitions, podcast software and best podcast directory.
• Podcast411 offers the 411 on podcasts, podcasters and podcasting. It's the place to learn to podcast. They offer how to's on podcasting, a directory of podcasts, and a directory of podcasts.
• On Podanza you'll find all the best audio podcasts and video podcasts. You can browse the podcast directory or search for your favorite podcast.
• TalkShoe is a service that enables anyone to easily create, join, or listen to live interactive discussions, conversations, podcasts and audioblogs.
• PodcastFAQ is a website committed to providing everything you need to know about podcasting, from podcast creators and consumers to businesses.
• Everything With Podcasting is a website companion to the book How to do Everything with Podcasting by Shel Holtz with Neville Hobson.
• Podcasting consultant Sallie Goetsch's humorous take on how not to podcast, from her Podcast Asylum site.
• Google (AdMob), AOL (Third Screen Media) and Apple (Quattro Wireless) will act as full-service marketing shops by handling the entire process, including technology, the creative content of mobile ads, and the ads' placement.