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Letting Your Weird, Creative Side Shine

Many young people have deserted Facebook for photo-sharing on Instagram. For brands trying to appeal to a younger demographic, Instagram is the place to be.

In the land of selfies, it takes clever marketing to score on this photo-centered social media platform. Instagram also involves more than simple sharing or "likes." It appeals to people who like to engage and be part of something.

For example, a music group called The Vaccines asked its Instagram users to take photos at shows and festivals to crowd source a music video. Others have employed Instagram for online fundraising, using fetching photos to tell the story about the fundraising recipient.

Instagram isn't for everybody. If you and your customers like to produce and read lengthy white papers, choose another channel. But it you can let creative side loose, Instagram can be a fun and informative avenue to activate your audience.

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Content Marketing + Savvy Promotion

Effective content marketing requires producing the content, then promoting it through a variety of channels. The art is knowing what to write and the science is knowing how and where to promote it, says Intel content strategist Luke Kintigh.

Like it or not, 90 percent of viewership comes from 10 percent of the content. Some pieces are winners and some just trot along for the ride. Kintigh argues for a promotional strategy of placing your bets on the winners who show the best promise of attracting clicks.

According to a story by Russell Working, writing for Kintigh's strategy has tripled page views of Intel's iQ online magazine over the last year.

Like many other smart brands, Intel has turned to content marketing, using the online magazine as its thought leadership platform. iQ contains a wide array of stories about how technology is transforming everything from health care to craft beer. Intel pays to promote its content.

Many companies and nonprofits lack the financial resources of an Intel or a Microsoft to produce and promote compelling content. But the lessons from the big guys still apply. Good content and savvy promotion can pay dividends.

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Compelling Corporate Storytelling

Microsoft Stories, "An inside look at the people, places and ideas that move us," is an excellent example of corporate storytelling.

The website looks and feels like an online magazine. It is actually a collection of corporate stories made to look like an online magazine. It is content marketing designed to give Microsoft staffers a face and Microsoft customers an entertaining experience.

The key "message" is subordinated to storytelling. Readers are engaged, not just message targets.

One of the featured stories is a profile about Kiki Wolfkill (her real name), who is in charge of the "Halo" video game, which has gone from a first-person perspective to an immersive world where players consume and create the game as they play. 

We learn through the profile, written and laid out in magazine style, that Wolfkill combines her talent as an artist with her thirst for speed as a racecar driver to stimulate her design adrenalin. By the end of the piece, you would like to talk to Wolfkill over one of her Asian fusion home-cooked meals.

A video game has gone from a game to a face. 

Other stories describe how five young technologists, who were finalists in Microsoft's Challenge for Change program, visited the Amazon, a former NFL player uses technology to battle ALS and a computer scientist splits​ his time between developing software and making wine. You even learn the Seattle Seahawks mascot doubles as a Microsoft demo whiz.

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Going Mobile to Engage Employees

Employees, like everyone else, are constantly on their smartphones, so capitalize on their addiction to communicate important internal information.We complain people are constantly on their smartphones, even at work. Hint: This could be a channel worth considering to communicate to your own employees.

The rise of mobile communications is acknowledged in the marketing department, but too often overlooked in the internal communications department. If you can reach customers instantly, why not your own workers?

Mobile communications don't have to replace an effective intranet, but they could add vigor — and clicks — to your internal website. The email blast to employees could be as simple as a heads up to new content on the intranet.

However, there is no need to limit yourself to a mobile paging service. Your emails can be self-contained messages that include visual assets and links that attract employee interest.

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Five Reasons to Consider a Communications Audit

Have your communications efforts stalled? Not seeing the results you expected? It may be time to consider a communications audit.

A communications audit is a systematic evaluation of your organization’s communications from both a strategic and practical standpoint. Here are five reasons a communications audit can help take your communications to the next level.

1. You haven’t done any research

Research results provide a framework for all communications, setting a baseline on where you are now and a road map for where you should be going. After the audit is completed and changes implemented, future research will shed light on what is working and where further changes are needed in communication efforts.

2. Making a difference

A communications audit provides clarity on which communications efforts make an impact. Where and how people get information is changing rapidly and varies by demographic group. Identifying the tools to use to reach target groups is an ongoing process.

3. You need an unbiased opinion

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