CAROUSELS CAN BE A GREAT WAY TO IMPROVE BUSINESS
Carousels can be used a number of different ways. One way I’ve used carousels is to show different pieces of content to tell a complete story. I worked on marketing for a major beer brand in the past, and we used the carousel to tell a sequential story inside the creative campaign.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Logan Bennett, who is the Chief Experience Officer at the marketing agency Secret Fort. He sits at the center of strategy, technology, and creative to help expand ideas and bring holistic and personalized consumer experiences to life. At Secret Fort, he leverages his award-winning experience to work hand-in-hand with in-house agencies and marketing teams to lead tech innovation, consumer experience, and data strategy to help develop and evolve brand storytelling. His “idea first, digital everywhere” mindset plays an integral role at successful work for a wide range of brands including AMC, Tyson, Coors Family of Brands, Gatorade, Intel, Toshiba, and more.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Chance brought me into marketing. In 2008, I was working in payroll for a global corporation — a job I hated and was eventually laid off from mid-recession. In my scramble to find another job, I ended up back in school through an Obama-era program that allowed students to collect unemployment.
The first class I took was marketing … and here I am.
Of course, it wasn’t that simple. After fortuitously landing in that marketing class and finding a subject that captivated me, I networked like crazy in order to get a competitive job once I graduated. LinkedIn was yet to have its titanic influence over networking, so I turned to Twitter, and I was able to talk to influential advertising industry folks from around the US.
Online chats led to coffee, which then led to meeting a guy named Reggie Wildeman. Something I said impressed him. He helped get me an internship, which led to a full time job before I had graduated.
Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?
From my time as Group Director, Creative Technology — North America at VML to my current position as Chief Experience Officer at the Secret Fort, social media has always been an integral part of the work I’ve helped carry out.
While my roles haven’t exclusively focused on social, my expertise is in technologies and how these can work together with social for fully integrated experiences. This experience spans strategy for brands of all sizes to figure out how to “hack” platforms to fit specific needs.
Bottom line, my work on brands such as Gatorade, Coors Light, and Hillshire Farm has taught me this: Social must be a carefully strategized part of every brand’s marketing. Whether it’s B2B or B2C or a younger or older target, brands must continue to adapt to the evolving social media space and keep it in the marketing mix.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
In the decade I’ve been in this business, the proliferation of digital, social, and technology has been profound. These are such a part of our lives now that we forget it was only a short time ago that they were introduced to our lives and to marketing.
I’ve worked around a lot of old school advertisers that didn’t believe the hype in digital and social, even when all the signs were right in front of their eyes. I still encounter people who refuse to believe that consumers are spending more and more of their attention on those channels than on broadcast.
This fall alone, we saw a 10% decline in broadcast TV viewership with people flocking to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon; Hulu is the only one of the three platforms that allows advertising. It’s been interesting and perplexing to continue to see advertisers simply use their broadcast spots on these types of platforms without taking the time to understand how messaging should be tailored to the audience and other new variables.
We’re experiencing the same need to adapt to the rise of AI, and I constantly witness brands drag their feet to change.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well I suppose the thing I laugh at the most now, is what I thought was a mistake at the time but ended up being one of the best decisions of my career. It also didn’t feel funny at the time.
I moved from Portland, OR, to Chicago to start my career at a mid-sized agency. The agency was fine, but ultimately wasn’t a good fit for me. After six months, I was recruited by another agency. When I gave my notice, the CEO called me into his office and proceeded to berate me because of my decision to leave, telling me how connected he was in the industry and how he would get me blacklisted in the Chicago ad scene.
Would he call my new agency? Was moving to a job I was confident would be a better fit the wrong decision? My mind led me down a road of getting fired, not making rent, living on unemployment … None of that happened.
My choice to take that new job wasn’t a mistake in the slightest, and I now look back and laugh at that period of time. The agency I moved to grew to become one of the most awarded agencies in the past few years.
Mistakes — whether they really are mistakes or not — usually end up being an important part of your career. I learned: Always follow your gut; if something doesn’t feel like a fit, it isn’t; don’t be a jerk; treat everyone with respect and understanding.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
Not what marketers want to hear, but there isn’t an easy answer. The most effective platform for your brand is the one that reaches YOUR audience and fits YOUR creative idea.
I once worked on a brand that had a younger audience and had historically carried out their social on Facebook and Snapchat. Creatives came to me with a fun idea they wanted to bring to life on Facebook, but we ultimately started looking at Twitch and evolved the idea to fit that platform. The platform choice turned the concept into a more engaging idea.
Bottom line, don’t pigeonhole yourself into using one platform over the other. Pay attention and cater to your consumers and creative.
Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
- STORIES ARE KEY
Instagram stories are fast becoming the go-to place users spend their time. I’ve used stories in a number of different ways, including pure awareness. However, I’ve seen them be really good for conversion and engagement. The best conversion driving stories are incentive-based and get people to swipe up. Brands can also have a lot of fun with engagement in stories. I once worked on a campaign for a TV show where we used exclusive content and the tapping behavior to give fans the ability to see other “episodes” or plotlines that were built by the user depending on how they tapped through the story sequences.
- THE FEED IS SOMETHING THAT CAN’T BE IGNORED
People tend to move through their feed slower than they do stories, but not that much slower. Content in the feed is usually more thought out, more carefully edited and filtered, more beautifully done. This gives you more of an opportunity to catch people’s attention. It also gives you a great opportunity to figure out what types of content works best in the feed. I worked on some major food brands in the past where we would do beautiful photo/video shoots and create beautiful thumb-stopping pictures or videos or GIFs to post in the feed on Instagram, both paid and unpaid.
- CAROUSELS CAN BE A GREAT WAY TO IMPROVE BUSINESS
Carousels can be used a number of different ways. One way I’ve used carousels is to show different pieces of content to tell a complete story. I worked on marketing for a major beer brand in the past, and we used the carousel to tell a sequential story inside the creative campaign. Carousels can also be used to show different features of a single product. For that same beer brand, we used each carousel image to show off different product RTBs. Thirdly, carousels can be used to show all the products in a brand’s portfolio. Carousels will even let you use different links and different body copy for each product. That can be a great tool to drive traffic.
- THE SHOPPING FEATURE CAN HELP DRIVE SALES
This is the newest Instagram feature for marketers and brands. Shopping can be accomplished inside stories, on posts in the feed, and inside Explore. This turns your Instagram content into visual storefronts. As more shopping continues to be done on visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, it is important brands strategically utilize these shopping features and stay up-to-date with the evolution of the tools Instagram offers.
- INFLUENCERS CAN BE USED TO HELP GET YOUR WORD OUT Influencers are trusted voices. The tricky part with influencers is letting yourself as a brand manager let go of control. They work best when they aren’t being told when, where, and how to make a creative idea come to life. They know their fans best, so they know what is going to resonate with their followings. So, it’s crucial for a brand to find the right influencer that fits with their brand and with their creative idea that needs to be brought to life.
- THE GRID IS ANOTHER WAY TO IMPROVE BUSINESS THROUGH GREATER ENGAGEMENT
This is one that is very tricky and doesn’t always yield the greatest potential. However, with the right creative idea it can be great. I’ve concepted campaigns that utilize the grid, such as one for a large food brand that beautifully showcased content from local farms that supplied food to the brand.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m passionate about helping people of color and all genders come into positions of equality. That movement towards equality, which I know a lot of people are passionate about, would have to: A. Help others understand the inequality of things and B. Figure out ways to make that equality a possibility.
For instance, I was thinking about the pay gap the other day. There are a lot of companies that are moving forward with equal pay. Well, how do you then become a company that embraces the equal pay idea without becoming a company that is just lip service? The only way to do that is have your entire employee workforce understand what a certain position gets paid and why. We must create systems that make that a reality.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Mark Cuban. First and foremost, he is a business wizard. The portfolio of companies he owns, support he’s given to other ventures, and foresight into opportunities is outstanding. Secondly, I really appreciate his political stances lately. He is probably the one Republican I can think of that — if he ran for office — I would have to stop and consider voting for.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!