Are you ready for the social media revolution?

Social media may be a relatively new marketing strategy as compared with traditional media marketing, but the power of social media has proved that it is here to stay. According to Pew Research’s Internet Project, as of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites. With a variety of social media platforms available, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, online users have more options than ever of which they can choose to engage with. Consider the video below to see how the social media world continues to evolve and how users  are impacted in their daily lives:

Which of these facts and figures surprised you most?

It’s not enough just to consider the power of social media, but even more so, to be able to analyze, understand, and evaluate the way social media is used. Social media analytics is used “to provide the ability to track a company’s return on investment (ROI), which will help a company justify its digital marketing budget and/or to optimize that budget by supporting activities that have the most impact on revenue…also allows marketers to analyze and statistically process user and customer behavior (Reed College of Media, WVU, 2014).

The World Of Social Media Monitoring And Analytics [INFOGRAPHIC]

(Source: MediaBistro, http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-monitoring-analytics_b55547)

This is particularly important for brands as they engage with social media to seek business results. Take a look at the infographic below to learn about some different types of social media analytics tools.

Have you used any of these tools before? From a brand perspective, what features do you think would be most beneficial from a social media analytic tool?

Michelle

From Consumer to Content Generator: The role of UGC in Emerging Media

User generated content (UGC) can be defined as “any data or media that is contributed by individual users of a website” (Dictionary.com, 2014). UGC refers to any content contribution made by a user for the purpose of being provided to a brand or company. UGC campaigns are those in which companies encourage fans to contribute content, which is then used by the company for marketing purposes. With more and more companies seeking out UGC from their customers, fans, followers, etc, there are abundant opportunities for users to contribute to campaigns that have been launched by their favorite companies. “The growing popularity of media-based social networking sites is forcing marketers to find new ways to reach out to customers” (DeMers, 2014). Marketers have leveraged emerging media by launching UGC campaigns.

What does this mean for the user? Consumers have the opportunity to voluntarily increase their level of engagement with the brands they support.

What does this mean for companies? Companies have the opportunity to better understand their consumers, while also receiving submissions for content, rather than creating all content their own.

Disney recently launched the “Disney Side” campaign, encouraging fans to “show their Disney side”. The campaign integrated the use of many media platforms to get loyal fans involved. Take a look at the video below to see how Disney utilized Vine as a platform for their #DisneySideContest:

For some more examples of UGC campaigns, check out these 10 campaigns:

http://www.postano.com/blog/10-great-examples-of-user-generated-content-campaigns

What are the drawbacks for companies that use UGC campaigns? What are some of your favorite UGC campaigns? Have you ever contributed to UCG campaigns?

Michelle

Getting to the Point…Generating Engagement in 140 Characters or Less

Twitter is a social media platform used by companies to engage with their customers and by individuals to share their personal thoughts with others. “A Tweet is an expression of a moment or idea. It can contain text, photos, and videos. Millions of Tweets are shared in real time, every day” (Twitter, 2014). The user is limited to 140-characters per post and can follow, retweet, and favorite other users and posts. According to The Media Octopus, a digital marketing agency, the infographic below provides insight in to the 8 ways that Tweets can be used to generate engagement:

8 Tweets That Generate Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC] Although the user is restricted to 140-characters per Tweet, there are several “Tweet structures” that can be used to encourage engagement with followers. When individuals use Twitter for personal use, there is a bit more flexibility in freedom. It is an outlet of personal expression. When companies use Twitter, they must be more cautious as brand image, brand perception, and customer loyalty can be at risk if a post is interpreted the wrong way. As Twitter serves different purposes for corporate accounts than for personal accounts, the structure of the Tweet can help determine its success. Different companies might choose to use their Twitter accounts to serve different purposes.

For example, a non-profit organization, might use strategy #7: The Fact/Statistic Tweet to bring attention to their cause. Brands that sell consumer products (like many of the brands under Procter & Gamble) might use strategy #5, the offering advice tweet, to share how their products can be used to help support daily needs. Brands seeking to improve customer relationships might choose #6: The showing some love tweet, to show care for their customers. In any case, a successful Twitter account is able to a variety of tweets to serve different purposes and maximize their reach.
Which of the 8 structures do you think companies should use to promote a product?
Which of the 8 structures companies should limit use of?

Do you think different structures appeal to different audience segments?

Share your thoughts!

Michelle

…But I don’t follow that account…

Do you ever catch yourself noticing posts from users on social media from accounts that you do not follow?

Two popular social media platforms, Instagram and Facebook, have recently begun to integrate sponsored posts, which are promoted posts featured on “community-driven notification-oriented” websites as a form of advertising. These types of posts are paid for and sponsored by companies and are designed to blend in among user posts.

Instagram recently introduced sponsored ads, which shows ads that look like any other Instagram post, in a user’s feed, even if the user is not following the account. Facebook uses sponsored stories, which are based on a user’s activity, where an advertiser pays to highlight an action taken by that user. While, this could seem intrusive, it is also smart and strategic.

How often do you notice these types of posts? Are social media platforms using these ads effectively? What can social media platforms do to ensure that users are attracted to these posts, rather than bothered by them?

Social Shoppers – Millennials and the Role of Social Media on Purchase Behavior

It is no surprise that Millennials are actively engaged with social media and that brands must consider their social media strategy, particularly as they target this age group, but what does this mean specifically for retailers?

The chart below provides a visual to help understand how the millennials (Ages 18-24) use social media, as compared with all social media users. netbase-millennials-social-media

(Source: NetBase)

Based on a research study in May 2013, NetBase, a socialintelligence company, was able determine the following statistics:

  • 80% of millennialsuse social media “several times a day”
  • 83% of 18-24-year-olds consult at least one social platform before purchasing in at least one fashion category
  • 28% are “social shoppers” whose buying is influenced by their brands and products theirfriends use

What does this mean for retailers? In today’s consumer society, it will benefit nearly every brand to have asocial media presence. For retailers thatare specifically seeking to reach Millennials, they must engage on social media platforms. It is no longer just about having a social media presence, it is about utilizing and managing it in a way that builds awareness and relationships with customers to encourage purchase behavior.

Social Media allows brands toengage with users in two way communication, so don’t just use it, use it right! Understand which social media platforms youraudience use most. Encourage users to share their ideas. Ask for feedback and opinions. Promoting sharing and offer rewards for this behavior.

Word of mouth is powerful — getting involved in social media helps retailers gain power over what is being said about the brand. What do you want to say about your brand? What do you want your audience to say about your brand? Which retail brands do you think best engage with Millennials?

What does your corporate website actually communicate?

There are many possible reasons that a consumer will visit a corporate website. Perhaps they are a new customer looking to understand more about the brand. Maybe they are a repeat customer looking to gather more information about a product or service. Regardless of the reason, a corporate website has only a brief amount of time to capture the attention of its audience. If the website catches the attention of its audience, it is not enough to ensure that this attention will be held. A corporate website is used as a communication tool, but what is actually being communicated?

Search Capabilities – Does your website have search capabilities? Is the search function easy to find? Are the results accurate? When building a corporate website, search capabilities play an important role. Think about when you go to a store looking for a specific item. If you don’t see it right away, you might just leave the store immediately. Or, maybe you ask a Sales Associate. If the sales associate helps you, you are more likely to purchase the product. If the Sales Associate can not or does not want to assist, how would you describe your overall experience? You would likely visit another store to search for the same product.

Ease of Navigation – If a user was to visit your corporate website for the first time, how easy would it be for them to navigate the website? A user should be able to easily determine what information can be found on your website, and how to find it. If the website is easy to navigate, the user will spend more time on it. If the user spends more time on the website, this allows for more time to build trust, and perhaps even encourage the user to visit the site more frequently.

Contact / social media – By including a “contact us” section and/or sharing social media links, a company is showing interest in hearing what you want to say, as well as expressing in interest in connecting on other platforms. This shows that the company welcomes feedback and values relationships with their audience, customer, etc. 

To summarize, the elements of a corporate website represent a brand’s personality. The capabilities and functionality helps determine the length of time the user will interact with the website. These elements also help represent the brand and communicate to the user how they might expect their overall experience with the brand to be.

For additional insights on how to create a successful business web presence, check out this article featured on Mashable: http://mashable.com/2010/02/10/business-web-presence/ 

What elements of a website influence your experience with a company or impressions of a brand?

And the award for most receptive ethnic minority goes to…

With growing number of ethnic minorities making up the U.S. population, brands seek to reach these audience, and in order to do so, they must understand the communications preferences of these audiences. “The most recent studies show that nearly 60 percent of all adult Hispanics are online, making Hispanics the fastest-growing segment of online consumers” (WVU, 2014). With majority of Hispanic adults online, advertisers must not only be online, but also be sure that the messages they deliver and media they utilize will be received positively by the consumer. The infographic below helps to visualize how highly receptive the Hispanic community is with social media.

(Source: uSamp)

These statistics are not only reflective of social media, but they also represent the ways Hispanic markets embrace emerging media. In addition to social media, studies by the Pew Research Center show that Hispanic consumers use mobile technology at higher rates than the overall population. “The Pew study found 67 percent of Internet users use social networking sites. For Hispanics that figure is 72 percent” (MAADD, 2014). Knowing that the Hispanic community is highly receptive to emerging media, this provides insights for marketers as they consider the platforms used to deliver messages to this audience. What brands, products, or services would most benefit from this information? Do you think these statistics vary based on age group within the Hispanic population?

What is Emerging Media?

What is Emerging Media?

Before we can discuss how emerging media is used in today’s marketing environment and understand how it influences the world around us, we must first grasp the concept of emerging media. What is emerging media? Emerging media, also referred to as new media, can be defined as mass communication implemented through digital technologies.

Emerging media uses digital platforms in order to deliver a marketing message.These platforms are ever-changing. Technology continues to evolve and, as a result, marketers continuously discover, test, and implement new ways to use any and all emerging media.

For an in depth definition of new media, the New Media Institute provides greater insights: http://www.newmedia.org/what-is-new-media.html

In yesterday’s world, traditional media was used to simply deliver a message to a mass audience. In today’s world, emerging media is used to engage in two way communication with potential and current customers to understand personal preferences and to tailor messages based on the receiver’s activity.

With every post, search, click, “like”, re-tweet, favorite, etc., we, as consumers, are providing marketers with insights into our world. We offer our personal information, preferences, and purchase information to marketers, and oftentimes we are not even aware that we are doing so. Next time you log in to Facebook, take a closer look at the ads that appear to right side of the page. These ads are likely directly related to your Facebook activity.

To gain understanding in the shift from traditional to emerging media, Forbes provides an in depth look at the major shifts: http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2013/07/02/emerging-media-marketers-its-time-to-move/

As consumers, emerging media is all around us and the more we interact with it, whether intentional or not, we help marketers reach us. The communication we receive becomes more relevant to our wants and needs, and subsequently, we are putting the power in the hands of the sender. With a basic understanding of emerging media, some considerations are: Who is in control? How can that control be adjusted? Should consumers be concerned with their engagement with emerging media? What can marketers learn from traditional media to enhance the relationship with customers?

Michelle