Ekaterina Walter has led strategic and marketing innovation for brands such as Intel and Accenture, and she is a cofounder and the CMO of Branderati. She is an international speaker and author of the WSJ bestseller Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg. She also sits on a Board of Directors of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

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I invited Ekaterina to Marketing Smarts to talk about her latest book, co-written with Jessica Gioglio, The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand.

Here are just a few highlights from my conversation with Ekaterina:

Brands need to empower their employees to be brand ambassadors (08:10): "Stop boxing people in! Not just your customers sometimes, but your employees, too. Your lowest hanging fruit are those people who work for you. They know your brand, they know the story of your brand, they love your brand (hopefully), and they have their own experiences with it. People always like the human element of the brand. Open the kimono and show what's behind the scenes. Not just successes and celebrations, but the challenges that you're having. That human side is what really connects, and you want that emotional connection. So, empowering your employees first and foremost to say 'look, go and talk to our customers, go help them as much as you can, whatever networks you're on, whatever platforms you want to tell your story on, be our ambassador.' Then, take that one step further and connect with the most passionate advocates."

Real-time marketing starts long before the tweet or Instagram photo goes out (11:20): "Oreo's campaigns like '100 Daily Twists' that they ran before the Superbowl image came out for which they've gotten a lot of exposure, they've practiced that, that became second nature. You need to make sure, like you're playing a sport, it becomes sort of a muscle memory. I think real-time marketing is truly sort of a muscle memory, with a combination of truly knowing your audience and making sure you don't put your message in where it's absolutely irrelevant."

Don't dismiss Pinterest (13:19): There is a ton of data that says that, especially for e-commerce, that Pinterest is becoming the biggest traffic drivers. Sephora, for example, is a brand that tried and tested multiple different networks, and even though they are still on multiple different networks, what they've found is that Pinterest followers spend 15x more than its Facebook fans so for that brand, they found that a really highly visual element is what's driving not only traffic, but purchase intent and purchase behavior. For each company, I think it's all about context. It's not about 'let's talk about Pinterest' it's about 'let's talk about what works, and where do we feel like we fit naturally?' It's a conversation of what assets you produce, and if you are everywhere, how do you produce the right assets, how do you spark the right conversation in the right context?

For more information, visit EkaterinaWalter.com, or follow Ekaterina on Twitter: @ekaterina.

Ekaterina and I talked about much more, from brand advocacy to the importance of meeting people face to face, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by the MarketingProfs Professional Development Program.

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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