The 5 Pillars of a Successful Digital Ecosystem

The 5 Pillars of a Successful Digital Ecosystem

The breakneck growth of digital technology over the past two decades has forever changed the marketing and advertising world. And while many traditional tactics like out-of-home advertising and print publications still have a viable place for many clients, there’s no denying that very few brands can get away without having a stable digital presence.

So let’s take a look at the 4 key pillars of what we’re calling your “digital ecosystem.” These individual elements are often treated as related yet separate tactics, occasionally overlapping but often being thought of as distinct from one another. We believe that they must be taken holistically to be truly successful, and we’ll tell you why.

1. Your Website

This is ground zero for all your digital activity. Without a robust website, there is almost no justification for investment in other digital tactics (email, social media, etc.). That’s because you need to have an owned-and-operated platform from which to do things like sell products, convey key brand messages and collect information from interested customers. You can do many of those things on social media platforms or third party e-Commerce websites, but you will always be “renting” those distribution channels from other companies.

2. Content

Outside of the baseline information that makes up your website, you’ll want to invest in an ongoing content strategy as part of any digital efforts. This is particularly important for any B2B efforts, as without a physical consumer product to sell, content will be one of the ways you “sell” your brand and position yourself as a trustworthy, instructive partner for your customer. Content can run the gamut from as simple as a weekly blog post on industry news to in-depth instructional videos and tutorials. Some pieces of content will be easier and more affordable to produce regularly, while others you’ll want to plan for as part of a bigger strategy. Content will also help improve your SEO rankings, by populating your website with content that features your target keywords.

3. Email Campaigns

One of the oldest forms of digital communication has had a love-hate relationship with marketers over the years. With the rise of spam and less sophisticated marketing campaigns, it fell out of favor, but as social media is now being scrutinized more closely than ever, marketers are falling in love with email again. For starters, email campaigns still allow for direct, personalized communication with your audience. And unlike social media — which can also allow for those kinds of relationships — you will always “own” your email list.

4. Social Media

To use the parlance of the largest social media platform on the planet, our relationship status with this marketing tactic is “Complicated.” What was once dismissed as a passing fad has grown into a cultural phenomenon. It went from widely derided to widely adopted — and we’re starting to come full circle again. But that doesn’t mean social media shouldn’t still be a part of your digital ecosystem. In fact, the platforms themselves remain as powerful as ever, you just have to reorient how you’re thinking about them.

5. PPC: Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The final puzzle piece in your digital ecosystem is PPC advertising. As the paid complement to SEO, this tactic primarily revolves around Google Ads. Here’s how you’ll work to be the first result when someone searches for keywords or phrases related to your brand. Depending on how specific or broad your services or products are, this will be a very obtainable goal or one you’ll have to work very hard at.

So How Does This All Work?

Think of these five pillars as a kind of virtuous cycle. Each tactic feeds the other, working in harmony to help you meet your goals. For example, you can have a Facebook campaign that drives new visitors to your website, where you then offer them a free eBook download, who you later target on Google Ads with a more hands-on piece of content. Or, you can use an email campaign to drive webinar signups, and then send reminder Facebook ads to everyone who converted on your website. Whatever you do, make sure you take your campaign into consideration holistically, not just tactically.

In the process of writing this blog post, we realized we had a lot more to say about building a successful “digital ecosystem.” Stay tuned for a forthcoming Quick Look white paper that features more details, tips and insights. If you want to learn more in the meantime, simply give us a shout below.

When Social Media & Public Relations Collide: Reputation Management

When Social Media & Public Relations Collide: Reputation Management

There’s no denying social media’s vital role in most brands’ marketing strategies. When used effectively, it can be a valuable tactic to develop a company’s voice, grow awareness for their products and interact with customers. If you’ve already laid the groundwork for a “reputation management” PR program, then social media could provide a huge boost to those efforts. But how?

Keeping Your Finger on the Pulse

As we discussed in this post, a solid public relations strategy is vital to any brand’s well-being. How else are you going to shine a light on your company’s latest achievement or put out the fire that might threaten to harm the positive sentiment that took you years to build?

Having a course of action in place to capitalize on good news or stop the bleeding during a crisis can only benefit you in the long-run. But that’s not all that goes into forging your overall brand reputation. Those bigger moments might feel like the only defining characteristics, but the daily opinions and perceptions surrounding your company help form a more complete picture of your brand reputation.

So how can you be sure that you’re actively keeping your finger on the pulse of your community and remaining aware of both the good and the bad things being said about your brand?

Two words: Social media.

Including social media in your PR strategy is crucial to keeping your tactics up-to-date. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram provide real-time insights into how people actually feel about your brand.

Because of the widespread adoption of social media, every aspect of your brand has the opportunity to be talked about by a wide audience and can easily become part of your story or reputation. Whether it’s used as a way to offer kudos for the charitable event your company orchestrated, or as a way to make some noise about a negative customer service experience, social media doesn’t discriminate. That’s why it’s vital to take advantage of the positives and quickly squash the negatives.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Today’s social media landscape is one of endless opinions. Consumers are no longer hesitant to voice their grievances (or show their support) on their platform of choice. For example, when a family in Ohio found out that their dog, Cody, had cancer and only a few months to live, they immediately decided to treat him to a cheeseburger from Burger King for each of his remaining days. When the employees at their Burger King found out, they received approval from their manager to gift those cheeseburgers to Cody while he was still alive. The family’s decision to broadcast their generosity over Twitter lead to 976 retweets and 3,988 likes.

Similarly, brand problems can rise from a simple tweet—even for the most social savvy. In 2017, Wendy’s was riding high on a wave of social media glory, roasting naysayers and hecklers left and right, much to the delight of the general public. But what happened next shows just how quickly that positive brand sentiment can evaporate.

In response to a tweet asking if they had any memes to share, they tweeted a meme of “Pepe the Frog” dressed up as Wendy herself. While Pepe initially began life as an innocuous comic strip character, his association with the so-called “Alt Right” movement led to his being classified as an anti-Semitic hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.

How the shrewd social media managers at Wendy’s managed to misread Pepe’s current associations is puzzling, but regardless of the original post’s intention, Twitter seized on this gaffe quickly and loudly. In order to try and manage their reputation, Wendy’s immediately did some damage control (though not without some more missteps…”meems”?):

Wendy's Pepe the Frog

Listen & React

The first step in trying to prevent or solve these problems is by listening to your social media channels to see what the general conversation is. Keeping an ear to the ground gives you a chance to keep an eye out for mentions of your brand, but it can also tell you what your competitors are doing right (or wrong) and can help you be one step ahead of the game.

So once you’re listening, what comes next? It’s great to monitor channels so that you know what’s going on, but the only way to build real relationships is to actually respond and join those conversations.

A successful brand knows that it’s vital to be involved with any conversation surrounding your brand. Monitoring social media means that you’re checking your mentions and DMs or keeping track of a specific hashtag or phrase related to your company. If the moment feels right to offer your insights or commentary, it’s important to strike while the iron is hot. But also make sure you read the room: jumping in to a conversation uninvited—especially if you’re taking a sales-heavy angle—could backfire magnificently.

By monitoring your company’s social media platforms, you’ll be able to quickly see and respond to any questions, compliments or complaints that may arise. Using a service like Sprout Social or Hootsuite can help keep all those mentions, comments and more in one place, meaning you don’t have to jump around from platform-to-platform.

A service like Sprout Social can help you keep track of your mentions and conversations across platforms.

As much as your social media channels can act as a way for customers to voice compliments and concerns, they also function as a modern-day customer service avenue. Brands can no longer afford to ignore attempts by customers to track down the answers to questions or service requests over social media. While we sympathize with the extra effort required to keep up with those demands, it may do your brand more harm than you’re aware of to ignore them.

Social media can provide your brand endless opportunities to grow your relationship with your audience and tell your own story. It’s time to stop shying away from the massive influence that social media holds over a brand’s reputation and start using it to your advantage.

Case Study: Greensboro Science Center

Case Study: Greensboro Science Center

Founded in 1957, the Greensboro Science Center (GSC) has created and maintained their reputation as an innovator. They use technology to bring a new joy and interest to museums by bringing together a science museum, zoological park and an aquarium—all at one central location. In addition to their not-so-traditional take on science-based exhibits, they’ve added other attractions like SKYWILD and the OmniSphere Theater.  Learn more about the challenges they presented to Bouvier Kelly and how we helped solve them.

The Challenge

Throughout their 60+ years of existence, GSC has continued to grow their attendance to impressive levels. But as with any successful enterprise, it’s imperative to never rest on your laurels: there is always room to grow and share the wonders that GSC offers. Their team came to us to help devise a way to continue building their visitor numbers with both new visitors and previous guests. There is always more to see and experience at GSC, and our task was to demonstrate those offerings all while making the most of their budget. Maximizing their reach within their media budget was, and continues to be, a top priority.  

The Strategy

First and foremost, we dove into GSC’s existing strategy and found that they were already on the right track. Our job would be to add bandwidth, strategic thinking and refine their existing strategies to make them even more successful. To do this, we analyzed their visitor data from the previous three years, examining geography and other patterns. We reallocated budget by geography to maximize reach in areas with the largest opportunity for quick growth at first, slowly building growth from other target areas afterwards.

Then we focused on rebalancing their media mix to ensure they had a wide range of placement types. Any existing advertising outlets that remained were evaluated to ensure the placement was as high impact and visual as possible.

Greensboro Science Center

A sample of ads from this campaign

Next, we wanted to learn more about the cycle of visits the center experienced in the course of the year. In order to best allocate their budget, we needed to know which months typically yielded higher volumes of traffic. This was to strategically use those funds to create an even larger push during these high traffic months, as well as prioritize times when they had a big announcement, exhibit opening or event.

Finally, we implemented greater usage of Facebook advertising. We began delivering a series of targeted campaigns to different audiences with specific CTAs throughout the year. These campaigns were aimed at increasing traffic to specific events and exhibits, while also raising awareness and driving more visits to their website.

The Results

Overall, refining GSC’s strategy and reallocating their budget was successful, and the use of Facebook advertising helped the GSC reach a 7% increase in visitors for the year. Listed below are the total number of ad impressions each tactic produced:










Out of Home



3 Things You Should Know About Micro Influencers

3 Things You Should Know About Micro Influencers

Over the last decade, social media has evolved from platforms meant to share family photos and funny memes to an ideal stomping ground for marketers and advertisers across the world. Because of this ever-changing landscape, there is an increasing amount of opportunities for brands to engage with their audiences on different social platforms. But as consumers have grown savvier at knowing  when a brand is trying to sell to them, a new form of social advertising has taken off: the use of so-called “micro influencers.” So who are these powerful ambassadors being used by brands all over social media? We’ve got the 411 on how these social media savvies may be the answer to your marketing prayers.  

1. They’re the newest players in the social media advertising game

If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram and seen “#ad” in a photo description (or just an odd amount of explanation for a product), you’ve been witness to an influencer. Whether it’s your best friend from high school who is sharing her latest beauty buys with a few hundred followers, or a lifestyle blogger with a few thousand followers promoting that a small, local brand they love, both parties have the same goal: to influence their audience enough to purchase the item they’re promoting.

But why would brands pay seemingly average Internet users to promote their products?

For one thing, social media is one of the most common ways people are learning about and buying new things. For example, 47% of millennials are turning to social media for recommendations about a product before they buy it. To take advantage of so many people utilizing the same place to make purchasing decisions, brands are increasing their presence across social channels in the form of sponsorships and partnerships.

Secondly, as the marketplace of things grows more and more crowded every day, brands understand that it’s often not enough to evangelize their own products. Of course a brand is going to tell their target audience that its solution is the best buy for their money. But what if a trusted, influential person recommended the product instead? You’re already following @XYZInfluencer because of how great she is at styling curly hair: Wouldn’t you also consider purchasing a product she recommended?

2. Follower counts may not actually matter

Getting a well-known celebrity with a high amount of followers may sound like an ideal way to get your product out there. But in reality, an influencer with an extremely high following can have low engagement rates and their audiences are often too widespread to promote a product effectively, especially if the product is targeted towards a niche market. It’s also more common for celebrities to be viewed in a less authentic light if they have large amounts of known brand partnerships. On the other hand, micro influencers have already developed relationships with condensed, niche audiences that will flock to your brand quickly if it’s the right fit. Not only does that benefit the influencer you choose to work with, but it makes life so much easier for you.

Source: Markerly

Every marketing team has a budget to consider, so keep in mind that micro influencers are typically more affordable than celebrities or macro influencers. Macro influencers—someone that typically has more than 100,000 followers and is well-known to many people—may charge thousands and thousands of dollars for that one Instagram post about your product. And if they aren’t sharing your brand often, the promotions can appear disjointed and fake, which usually reflects poorly on the brand. Using micro influencers can allow brands to get a better bang for their buck not only because of their smaller price tag, but because of the positive impact their posts can have on their smaller, more targeted audiences. 

3. It won’t work for everyone 

Despite the numerous benefits micro-influencers can bring to your marketing campaign, this tactic may not be the best fit for your brand if your audiences don’t align. For example, if you’re a B2B-focused software company, using an influencer to showcase your product on their iPad while enjoying a perfectly poured cappuccino is likely not going to affect your target audience. Most brands that use micro influencers have a physical product that already looks, or can be made to look, aesthetically pleasing.


Any brand can find a way to market their product online in a creative and fun way, but not all micro influencers can make the creative vision come to life, nor will they want you to control exactly what they do. If you’re going to give micro influencers a shot, make sure you have a solid plan in place that won’t put you out—otherwise you may want to use a more traditional social media plan.

Case Study: High Point Police Department Recruiting Campaign

Case Study: High Point Police Department Recruiting Campaign

While the city of High Point is investing in long-term growth opportunities, it has not been immune to the struggles that many urban communities are facing: low economic growth, high crime rates and an uncertain future as the city’s key revenue generator—the High Point Furniture Market—is fighting to remain vital in an increasingly globalized economy. Coupled with an often-tense national conversation around policing, the High Point Police Department (which serves more than 100,000 residents) found itself in dire need of a revamped recruiting strategy that went beyond their traditional tactics. Let’s explore how we’re helping them tackle that problem.


The Challenge

It’s no secret that the past five years have seen the relationship between many police departments and the communities they serve become increasingly strained. And while it may not be true for every community, the perception of tense relationships lingers. Not only are many departments working overtime to maintain positive relationships within their community, many are also experiencing a steep drop in recruitment. Simply put, a younger, more socially-conscious generation of millennials are becoming less interested in the profession. This is often due either to negative perceptions of policing in general, access to higher paying, technology-focused opportunities or a combination of both. The High Point Police Department was concerned that these factors would make it impossible to meet their necessary hiring quotas. However, they were also adamant about not lowering their standards simply to meet those numbers. Thus, their traditional recruitment tactics would need to be bolstered by a more digitally-oriented campaign, particularly if they were looking to reach a younger generation.

The Campaign

After surveying the landscape of recruiting tactics from departments across the country, we found that many relied on a harder-edged, action-heavy approach. From a visual perspective, these videos often featured tactical elements like SWAT teams, firing ranges and door-taking. However, if our goal was to appeal to a younger generation who might find those talking points abrasive and reinforcing of any negative police stereotypes, we knew a lighter, more community-oriented focus was needed. Working to recruit internet-savvy millennial candidates would require a reorientation of the conversation around policing, so placing the focus on the department’s role in the community as place-builders and benefactors would help achieve that goal.

Our theme—A Higher Standard for High Point—would have a twofold effect: it would reinforce the department’s high recruiting standards, which they refused to abandon in favor of simply bolstering their ranks, and it would demonstrate how the department works in conjunction with their community members to raise the standard of living for everyone. This theme would be translated into several emotionally-impactful, testimonial-driven videos, recruiting posters and other assorted marketing materials that drove the department’s core beliefs home. Because the department was most concerned with tapping into the upcoming generation of recruits, we decided that social media (Facebook and Instagram, primarily) would be our key distribution point. That decision was based on three key factors:

  • Ages 18-34 make up 42% of Facebook’s user base and 61% of Instagram’s
  • The platforms offer robust targeting and highly trackable advertising opportunities
  • Social media advertising is more cost-effective than traditional media placements like TV or radio

The Execution

While we are still in the first phase of our campaign, the early results are promising. This is a long-term strategy to be sure, but we are confident that the strategy is affecting its intended audience with our high-impact storytelling. Listed below are a few highlights from the first month of our social media campaign:

Find Your (Social) Voice with Conversation Mapping

Find Your (Social) Voice with Conversation Mapping

Back when social media was first taking the business world by storm, many clients came to us with understandable questions: Do we need to be on Facebook? What about Twitter? It was reasonable to approach these new platforms with apprehension or reticence—they were yet another place to spend valuable marketing time and dollars!

That led us to develop a tool we call Conversation Mapping to help brands understand the lay of the land when it came to their industry’s presence on social media. We use it to look at who is talking about what, through which channels, how often, for what reasons and with what impact.

And while most brands have embraced social media to varying degrees, it has not necessarily found widespread adoption across some industries. Additionally, there are a lot more avenues for digital marketing in 2018 than there were back in 2008—which makes the idea of Conversation Mapping as relevant as ever. Let’s look a little more closely at how it can help even brands with an established digital footprint.

At its core, Conversation Mapping provides insights as to how engaged users discuss topics, find each other and share information. In the marketing world, utilizing this technique can help a brand better understand who is talking about them, where this audience is having these conversations and what exactly they are saying. This information is crucial to the creation of ideas about how to join the dialogue and guide it in a direction that will benefit the brand.

The first step in breaking down the conversation is identifying whose exchanges you want to hear. Are you interested in what your current audience is saying, or would you rather “listen” to potential customers? Or even your competitor’s customers? Once you decide that, the demographics of these audiences have to be determined: are they 30-year-old stay-at-home moms? 65-year-old retirees? 21-year-old college students? The key to any effective marketing campaign is having a targeted focus, and you can’t have that without understanding the demographics and interests of your desired audience first.

US adults social media

According to the Pew Research center, Facebook is still the clear winner for social media usage.

Once you’ve got that piece of the puzzle, it’s time to figure out where these people are having their conversations. You would probably not be surprised to know that one of the most common places people are conversing about brands is on social media. A 2018 study by Pew Research revealed that 69% of the public uses some form of social media. But like many other things in life, one social platform does not fit all. A person’s likelihood to be active on a specific site depends heavily on various factors, including age and gender.

Here are some of our favorite nuggets from that study:

  • Four of the most popular social media platforms used by adults (18+) in the United States are Facebook (68%), Instagram (35%), LinkedIn (25%) and Twitter (24%)
  • Even though Instagram is 10% more popular overall, more consumers in the 50-64 age range are present on LinkedIn
  • 11% more people in the 18-29 age range are on Twitter than LinkedIn, despite LinkedIn having more users overall

See the importance of breaking it down? Think, for example, if your brand was an early adopter of Facebook but you haven’t yet looked into Instagram. Familiarizing yourself with these kinds of data points can help you determine whether or not the investment in a new platform is worth the effort or budget. Otherwise, simply showing up to the party with nothing concrete to offer and no audience to talk to is a surefire way to harm your existing social media efforts (and perhaps cast doubt on the tactic in general to your company’s leadership).

Just because Instagram has a high number of users in your target demographic doesn’t mean it’s a good platform to start a conversation if you’re not a visually-inclined brand.

Another key aspect to note when locating your audience is the fact that audiences change over time. For example, at its inception, Facebook’s user base was almost exclusively under the age of 30. Now, it’s fairly spread out and can even skew older. That’s why it’s important to conduct yearly audits to ensure your brand is present on the platform that will most effectively reach your target audience.

Knowing where your audience is and how they are communicating does not just allow you to lend your brand’s perspective and offer “valuable” (which often translates as a combination of educational and entertaining) content—it also provides actionable insights into the types of conversations you should be a part of.

In other words, just because Instagram has a high number of users in your target demographic doesn’t mean it’s a good platform to start a conversation if you’re not a visually-inclined brand. Using this information properly can give your brand the opportunity to build transparent relationships with your audience, chatting in real-time about their concerns and questions. No other marketing tactic allows for such a direct exchange.

Without this baseline information, it’s tempting to make quick judgments, such as dismissing Facebook as a viable space for your brand when you’re not happy with the results. But have you set clear goals for your use of the platform? Have you done the work to make sure your audience is using the platform? Are you speaking to them in an approachable, engaging way?

Conversation mapping creates an opportunity to figure all those details out, as well as dive deeper into the common habits or sentiments of consumers, unlock insights about your industry, confirm the alignment (or lack thereof) between a business and brand strategy and even discover real-time marketing opportunities.

If you’re ready to start auditing into your existing social efforts (or finally embrace the tactic altogether), we’d be more than happy to show you the way.

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