Future Implications

The current social media and internet user is always evolving.  The online personas created have agendas, feelings, and wants but are active over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.  These constant changes are taking place over social media and might transfer to consumer behavior over time.  For example, let’s examine Best Buy.  Best buy relies on Brick and Mortar stores to conduct most of their sales.  These sales are generated by people coming into a store and buying something that day.  The costs to run these large stores are very high which cuts into the bottom line.  I go to Best Buy, find and test the items I like, and then find them online for cheaper. Earns Best BuyI use social media to discuss features and the best brands with online platforms/groups dedicated to answer these questions from real consumers.  Yes, Best Buy does have a website.  The problem for these brick and mortar stores is that companies like Amazon.com and others are kicking their butts on online sales.  They have less overhead.  Even if the manufacturer dictates the cost of some items, which is widely done, Amazon allows for the resale of items on their website of used items.  In addition, just because Best Buy has a certain price point, does not mean they can sell it at that price to make money.  So how does social media play into this?  Companies that are active in social media, I mean really active, have a better chance to build their brand awareness.  If Best Buy is to compete in the future, their model may need to be adjusted.  They could utilize a smaller brick and mortar store to their advantage as some consumers still like to touch what they buy.  However, maybe they could have displays and free shipping lowering costs by consolidating their delivery and warehousing plus paying less employees at the stores.  A social media engagement strategy, in real time, can help consumers pick the right product and help with customer service issues.  The change is in the human behavior that must be addressed by the store.  Technology now allows the consumer to access not just the online circular from limitless companies, but discuss the best deals, prices, and specs of anything they want to buy. untitled I don’t want to wait 45 minutes to speak with a Best Buy employee to learn about features.  YouTube and other channels can be used to fill this void.  The consumer has changed.  There is no doubt.  Best Buy now must change with the times.  The older model is still viable on a smaller scale but due to the consumer’s expectations for personalized service over even social media, there are better gains to be made in this realm than sticking with a business model that requires employees to manage a huge store with lots of inventory.  This works for Walmart because they have food and do not sell higher end electronics as their bread and butter.  So, in the end they have a choice: embrace change and advance to a new social media based model or continue to make a profit that will slowly fade away like oil in the desert.

Viral Marketing Initiatives

Share

Viral marketing is something that some marketers are obsessed with.  How do we get the next dancing kids or Old Spice campaign to go viral?  Well, I feel there are five things in analyzing many of these campaigns that may be key to a successful viral campaign.  Humor.  Humor seems to be involved in one shape or another on many of these viral campaigns.  Take Old Spice and the man you want to smell like, a very successful viral campaign with funny videos.

Timing and audience participation is also very important.  With all the health food craze, Lays chips may have been on the downswing.  However, through crowd sourcing, they were able to get people to submit ideas for new flavors of chips.  Check this out.

Great content is another big component.  With great content comes great feedback and can capture the attention span of the target audience.  The ALS Ice Bucket challenge is one that had great content for a great cause.  This inspired people, celebrities, and politicians to support the cause by posting their videos online.  This raised millions of dollars to support research for this deadly disease.

Distribution is also a big need.  Utilizing all facets of the social media domain is very important.  Just do not rely on Facebook but employ Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube to garner the widest dissemination to your target audiences.

From looking at all the above campaigns that went viral, the key ingredient was the widget that let people view and share over the associated social media platforms.  Simple sometimes is the best tool.  The Twitter share, the Facebook like, and the YouTube share for sure helped these campaigns backlink their content across these online communities.  Without the share buttons, these social media strategies might have fallen flat.  Overall, these are some key ingredients that can help a simple idea go viral.  I know that each campaign is different but these will help any company start the process to forever remembered videos or campaigns!

Differentiation

Tags

The automobile industry is very competitive. Companies are all searching for the best way to engage the public via social media platforms. Two companies which have been very successful on digital media are Ford and Mercedes-Benz. Although both companies employ social media into their strategies, they are very different in their approach. Mercedes-Benz brand, in most cases, speaks of quality and performance. While Ford relies on lower prices and quality for the money approach. Therefore, this helps to shape their marketing strategies.

I mentioned in the discussion board this week of several ways that Mercedes-Benz is utilizing social media to engage with the public. Let’s recap their strategy. Mercedes had been active on all of the mainstream social media platforms to include Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, looking at the youth today, they found that they were not utilizing platforms that spoke to the younger demographic (Neuman, 2014). They have since started to exploit YouTube and Instagram to target the younger audience. They utilized celebrities in videos, basically telling small stories, to highlight the CLA. This increased sales and the average buyer for this model dropped to 46, which is 11 years younger than their average buyer at the time (2014). Mercedes launched a new SUV this year, the GLA. The GLA was a subcompact SUV and needed to market it with a fresh strategy. They chose 22 highly influential social media users from athletes to celebrities and gave them each a GLA (How Mercedes, 2014). Each was encouraged to take the GLA on a trip and document the adventures on social media. The socialized this across all social media platforms and of course, added a contest. The contest had each person speculating what they would pack on a GLA adventure (2014). This effort was a huge success. They received a 54% increase to their site from people viewing the pictures and then an even more staggering 580% when people saw the click through ads and the pictorial displays. Mercedes was able to utilize a simple hashtag, influencers within the digital media domains, and cross socialization of platforms to target their key demographics.

Ford, on the other hand, Ford has taken a bit different approach with very heavy engagement marketing. There are of course very creative and timely to illicit a response from the public. Ford has utilized Vine, a platform with 6 second videos, very effectively. They are straight, to the point, and actually very funny (Ratcliff, 2014). In addition, the brand starts to develop a personality that actually has substance to it. Not just a big corporation making cars. Tumblr is a microblogging site used for short content and pictorial messages. With Ford using the ‘And is Better’ namesake, they are targeting the younger audience with such things as unicorns and bacon (2014). Not your typical car company advertising. Also, Instagram is utilized heavily in Ford’s social media plan. The beauty of their plan is they post unique content to this platform not available anywhere else. You must subscribe to their channel to see old cars and other historic Ford pictures (2014). It is a great use of subscriber content and pull marketing. In addition to these platforms, Ford also, as stated above, employs the Facebook and Twitter to interact with consumers.

Overall, these two companies are very successful but utilize different approaches on social media to engage customers. This is most likely due to the target audiences and their target markets that marketing plans attempt to attract. Either way, each company is doing well in their differing approaches on social media.

References

Mercedes Social Media Ads | Digital Marketing Campaigns CT – RebelRebel Interactive Group. (2014). etrieved from http://www.rebelinteractivegroup.com/social-media-ads-mercedes/

Neuman, B. (2014, April 25). Mercedes-Benz Shakes Up Its Marketing Strategy to Target Youth |ContentBoost. Retrieved from hp://blog.contentboost.com/2014/04/25/mercedes-benz-shakes-up-its-marketing-strategy-to-target-youth/

Ratliff, C. (2014, April 15). Why is Ford’s social media strategy so good? | Econsultancy. Retrieved from https://econsultancy.com/blog/64701-why-is-ford-s-social-media- strategy-so-good#i.1sjn6jelsifrc1

Election Content and Fear

Tags

, ,

Wow! From live chickens, a dancing Sharknado style ad, to rhyming candidate’s last names with not so flattering words, the mid-term election advertisements were a sight to see this year. The election season came and went with what has been described as the most expensive marketing campaigns in election history. When you dive deeper into the advertisements and marketing techniques, it becomes very clear that negative ads dominated the landscape. Why? Let’s take a deeper look at the issue. The state of the union can be described as living in fear. The public has a list of things that would affect their cognitive reasoning in this election. Ebola, the economy, ISIS, illegal immigration, and healthcare costs probably top the charts as catalysts to the growing fear mongering in advertising. I personally know military families who have cancelled their social media accounts due to the possibility that ISIS will utilize their profiles to target military families. What is the likelihood that this could occur? Probably very unlikely but, to quote former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, it is a known unknown. In addition, the Republican Party capitalized on the Democratic Party’s voting record in relation to the President’s policies. Whether you personally disagree with those policies or not do not matter but the challengers utilized these glittering generalities to sway voters in several key states. The bigger question remains, what about the issues that actually matter? Education, the economy, immigration, real healthcare issues, and the job market ring a bell. Remember those issues? I would for your thoughts on this: Do you think the negative ads were more effective than the positive advertising? If so why? If anyone has examples of some really effective positive ads please post the link. Thanks.

What have you learned about Twitter and Blogs? I have learned a lot!!

Ideally when blogging or tweeting, people have learned over time what to do and what not to do. The bottom line is that learning to engage the consumer is an art and science which takes time to learn and understand before flawless execution. In this post, I will discuss some of the best practices from a variety of sources and from what I have learned over the course of the last few weeks. We will start with Twitter.

First, avoiding costly mistakes that do not emphasize or highlight the brand is important. According to Courtney Hunt from the Denovanti Group, the proper execution of Twitter use relies on the ability to relate to the new user and the regulars who follow you often. One of the biggest things is timing and quality over quantity. Timing tweets to correlate with a live event tend to allow for more followers and people tolerating more tweets. In addition, quality tweets take precedence over unimportant large quantities of information people just click away from. Keeping the people interested in your feed and information is very difficult yet necessary. Another fine piece of advice is to keep information and conversations private that should be kept private. In other words, don’t take private conversations to the public stage unless you are prepared to lose followers.

Blogging is sometimes no different than tweeting to an audience. There are tons of resources available to anyone starting or refining their blogging skills. There is even a Blogging for Dummies book I encountered at Barnes and Noble one day. Still, the most important part of blogging is the content. Content should be timely and relevant. Timing needs to be figured out first. How often do your readers want to see new content? Well that’s a question that will take some time to figure out. In addition, if you add content too often, it becomes very hard to find original content to post on your blog. Remember, there is also the monetary aspect of a blog for some people. Are you trying to make money with your blog? If so this requires other planning and finding sponsors in some cases. Indeed after content, engagement is important. How the writer plans to engage with the audience through comments or messaging can bring in new followers. That along with the style the blog follows also helps encourage visits to your blog.

How does the Army employ these techniques? Better than expected in some areas but really not very well overall. The content is generally vanilla and is command sponsored information. This sometimes leaves the user looking elsewhere for content. The technologies and platforms are sometimes bring and screams of older platforms or platforms that resemble a vacant lot. The intent was there to make something great but somewhere along the line, the roadblocks or something else got in the way. There exists a ton of opportunity to utilize social media within our community but it will take a dedicated effort and commitment to make it work.

Overall, I have learned so much over the past few weeks. I fully enjoy this experience and will continue to build the blog and include it in my business plan as I move forward. Thanks!!

References

http://denovati.com/2013/12/twitter-best-practices

http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-social-media/blogging

Taking the Brand Social

Should you take your brand social or not? That is a great question.  I think no matter what your opinion is on social media, there are positives to bringing your brand social.  However, there can be significant drawbacks depending on what your business does.  My industry is US Government, specifically the United States Army.  So how does this fit in?  Depending on the need, it is imperative that the United States Government utilize social media heavily.  Communicating with prospective recruits, informing families, etc. was discussed in the previous post regarding the Army’s apps.  There is a need to communicate wider to other institutions and even governments.  The challenges become the information in the posts and the interaction.  My organization must follow certain disclosure rules.  Protected information or information that may put troops at risk must be protected.  Interaction that might be portrayed must be the official stance of the organization as well.  The security of the Soldiers and Families must be the priority.  Thus, controlled use of social media is a viable option to release command information, weather, recruiting guidelines, good news stories, and other public domain data but not exceeding the threshold of ongoing operations or data that could put lives in danger.  With the global footprint of the digital environment, enemies of the United States can easily access and utilize data not in the best interests of the United States.  Stringent guidelines must be followed and double checked.  Without these safe guards, the information environment could be compromised.  In my opinion, though this threat exists, the positive results outweigh the risks and the Army should continue to expand the use of social media.  After all, that how the majority of the youth communicates these days!

The above passage reflects the viewpoint of the author and he is not a spokesman for the US Government.

Really? This app is all you got?

The Army has been playing “catch up” on social media for years. In their defense, regulations and security guidelines outlining what the military can and cannot do on social media has been slow in development. However, in the past few years, they have made several advancements on that front. Utilizing social media to engage recruits has been vital as this is how the new generation communicates. Overnight, Facebook, Twitter, and Apps have all emerged as viable and approved tools necessary to engage not only prospective Soldiers but current Soldiers and their Families. Visit any Army Post official website and you will find a full range of links to their official social media pages and tools.

As stated above, the Army has several apps available to the mobile user allowing instant access to relevant data. I will focus on one in particular in this post. The US Army News and Information Application provides the user access to the Army’s homepage on their cellphone. Features include strategy games, live access to tweets and Facebook messages, Podcasts, learning tools, live blogging, the Soldier magazine, and access to recruiters with customizable portions offering a personal experience. It is available on both the iPhone and Android platforms.

No I will discuss the effectiveness of the application. The metrics of the application itself are somewhat difficult to find, except, based on reviews, users can get a great idea about what other think. Based on 21 ratings on the iTunes store, it has received an average of 2 ½ stars. Not very good. The latest rating in April of this year, discusses a few bugs that need to be worked out including links now loading and other smaller issues with content. The most frequent complaints trend towards the content. It is apparent to me that the people monitoring the GUI have not done a good job improving the application. Looking into the version control on the app, there have been 9 updates since inception in 2010. However, the last update was over a year ago! That is not very responsive to customer concerns.

The Army has tried to lean forward and communicate in ways familiar with their target audience. However, as we all know, the personalized experience and responsiveness is missing from this app management. If a normal company followed these same techniques, they would be hard pressed to deliver results and communicate effectively with their intended target audiences. Therefore, in order to stay relevant, the Army should be responsive to problems, listen to feedback, and maintain their relevance by delivering an app worthy of our service members and families.  Mobile social media is not easy but we sure can do better! Thanks.

The Government has embraced social media, finally!

Over the past 10 years, social media has grown worldwide into a powerful communication and advertising outlet for companies and even governments. The United States government was, at first, slow to adapt to the new changes in the information landscape. Security issues were a top concern and employees may or may not have even been allowed access to these sites while at work. However, there has been a sea change in the past several years. The Unite States Government and local governments have acknowledged that if they will continue to remain relevant in the world, they must embrace the new digital landscape.

The large majority of any small town USA employ Facebook pages and other social media platforms to communicate with their constituents. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg while in office stated that, “With these new channels, the city will be able to get New Yorkers the information they need in the way they want to get it.” That statement included the activation of city Facebook, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts in order to communicate with the public. The key phrase is getting people information the way they want to receive it. That is key for any marketing campaign. If the information consumers rely on the internet and social media for news, why would a newspaper company insist on continuing to print only traditional newspapers? Well, they would not! Online blogs, social media outlets, apps, and uploaded video are the new norm for a large majority of the general public. Personalized interaction can be achieved through these platforms and with the addition of comments or feedback, the consumer can feel as if they are part of the bigger process.

Another interesting example is in San Francisco where they have engaged the public on Facebook and Twitter to identify maintenance issues. The public can sign onto the 311 pages and tweet or message the government on such things as street light outages. Streetlights indeed are a source of public safety. Not only does the website assist in quickly identifying these needs but provides the government an opportunity to show it cares for the people in the city.

The White House utilizes social media in many different ways. The SAVE initiative utilizes crowdsourcing over social media to identify places where the government can save money. This also gives the impression that the government cares and wants to listen to new ideas from the general public again inciting a feeling of ownership in constituents. In addition, the military utilizes social media for recruitment, messaging members on installation conditions, and providing command information relating to events or closures.

Overall, the government has become savvier in employing social media to communicate worldwide. The need to message to people in their target platforms drove the movement to “get in the game”. Without social media today, the government would be missing a very large demographic and key outlet for engagement. With the blinders removed, it will be interesting to see where we are in 5 years and how much more personalized interaction grows out of this initial push. We will see!

Footnote: The writer would like to thank Information Week Government, http://www.informationweek.com/applications/top-14-government-social-media-initiatives/d/d-id/1102918?page_number=1, where some data was retrieved for this blog.

Online persona or the real deal?

Snoopy35 posts to Facebook daily.  His profile states he lives in Canada and is a 25 year old college student who is looking for work for the summer.  He is also on the hunt for a girlfriend in the states as he travels their regularly to see family.  His hobbies include windsurfing, reading, watching sci-fi movies, and sports, specifically American Football. Fair enough? To a marketer this is a treasure trove on a public profile.  If one utilizes the simple Facebook tools to create an ad campaign for men aged 25-30 living in Canada who like sports and sci-fi movies, his profile would be targeted in the ad campaign.  However, what the marketer is not aware of is Snoopy35 is a 16 year old kid from Boise Idaho who gets his kicks by pretending to be someone else online.  The challenge? Understanding the online persona.

Scraping social media with any number of programs will bring you reflections and opinions a user is looking for. However, several tools exist to help take the guess work out of identifying the user’s true location. Mozenda is a very popular tool, available for 99 dollars a month that performs comprehensive web data gathering in a simplified console that almost anyone can utilize. According to their website, companies such as CNN, Orbitz, Oracle, and FedEx utilize their tools to gather information on their users. This can be a great tool for point to point marketing which allows a much more personal approach to marketing. Companies can gather a large amount of data and streamline the output into feeds that help them make more informed decisions.

On the other hand, Scrapedefender.com offers users from 79 dollars and month to 750 dollars a month, protection from scraping bots or intrusive software. They claim to help keep scraping attempts from affecting your website or activities. They are honest though and explain that finding all scraping bots is like finding a needle in a haystack. However, with a little education, even the novice can help protect him or herself from these attempts to garner online intelligence.

With the daily increase of online activity all over the world, the need to better understand the security environment and those who seek to exploit it is very real. Companies want to be sure they are marketing to the right person and people want to feel secure on their own digital platforms. The fact is someone will always be ahead of the other, that’s the nature of technology these days!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.