Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Power of Social Media

Either you've been living under a rock for the past week or you realized exactly how strong the power of social media is. If you have been living under a rock, I'll briefly explain what happened.
On April 16, two bombs exploded at the Boston marathon, essentially killing three people and injuring over 170 more. This event was such a monstrosity and absolutely despicable, however, without social media we might have never found the attackers.
As with any marathon, many spectators took photos of the race with their phones and one man actually took a photo just after the second bomb exploded. He subsequently sent this photo to police and it was used to track down the suspect.
But here's where social media is really involved: the man posted the photo of one of the attackers on Facebook and it spread like wildfire. Friends of friends starting sharing the photo which caused it to spread even more and people also commented with information they had regarding the suspect. As well, with Twitter, everyone updated with their own information faster than the news could. People turned to Twitter for information rather than the news because Twitter is as real-time as it gets. The two guys that are considered responsible for the bombings were both caught in less than a week, although one suspect passed away in a shoot-out with police.
The link with social media and this case is incredible. I can only imagine what would have happened if social media was around when JFK was shot. Only a small number of individuals ever took photos that even showed the shooter and even then, it still took time and money to get the film developed. It took even longer for news to spread and even then it had to seem relevant to a higher source for it to even begin to spread. Nowadays interesting information can spread much quicker.
This case also highlights the importance of information from our peers. Most people turned to Twitter for their news during this tragedy, which also sparks the debate about the news and how they could become more real-time in a real-time reliant world. That is for another day. I just think it's nice to see what can come from social media when we learn to use it to help us rather than hinder us.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

New era in social media?

I can't help but think about the current change in social media. Long gone are the days of sitting in front of a computer scrolling through websites such as MySpace and Facebook (unless you're over 65, in which case you have time to do that). Everything has changed from sitting and actually reading status updates or looking through an entire album of photos, to more of a quick scroll viewing process.
I'll call this the "scroll-view" although I can assume I didn't make that up. When social media websites first arrived, everyone wanted a place to socialize with everyone. Or so they thought...but now it seems as the more people join Facebook, the less active everyone is.
Many people I know prefer Twitter because they say it's less invasive. You don't have to have your full name or any photos and you can post freely about anything. But with Facebook it's really like a profile into your life, so it seems as though many people use it less and less.
As well, with Twitter, you're limited to 150 words, which eliminates those annoying "OH MY GOD MY LIFE IS SO BAD, I JUST HAD THE WORST DAY EVER...First I woke up and fell out of the bed, stubbed my toe, then slipped in the shower...." posts that no one really cares about.
Not only that, Instagram offers the whole scroll-view process as well. You can only upload one photo at a time, which sort of limits you to some extent. I don't mean to say that Facebook isn't "scroll-view" but something about complete and absolute freedom seems to bore people. Maybe we need a limit on how many photos we post or how long our updates are.
Along with the whole scroll-view process comes the tablet. This revolutionized the way we consume content. Not to mention, apps offer many more unique ways to stay in touch with friends rather than just writing on someone's Facebook wall.
So although we want social media, we also want privacy and exclusivity. When Facebook was college exclusive, so many more of my friends used it, and now it's like the long lost shirt you loved at one point, but kind of forgot about.

Is Piki the new Pandora and Spotify?

I must start out by saying I love Pandora and Spotify, but I've always felt as if there should be something more. I love that with Pandora, songs are automatically played based on your "taste," but you have very little control besides stating that you like or dislike something. With Spotify, you simply play songs that you want to hear. Sometimes I'll search playlists, but other than that I'm on my own.
However, just released is a new app called Piki and here's how it works:

  1. Add songs you love to your profile (hence the name "Piki")
  2. Find and follow people with "great taste in music" (or really just your taste in music)
  3. Start listening to a mix of all of their music
I've always wondered why your friends' taste in music wasn't prevalent in any apps or music sites. Now you can follow all of your friends and make playlists based on what they like. This is, essentially, what happened in the 90's when you'd make a mixtape for your friend (of everything you liked haha).
As free apps such as this become more prevalent, marketers can find unique ways to draw in these crowds of people.

Monday, April 1, 2013

ModCloth is gettin' it right!

One thing I've noticed (while looking for bridesmaids' dresses) is that hardly any websites actually organize their dress selection. I know this seems extremely mundane, but many know exactly what they want and do not want to look through twenty pages to find it!
For instance, on Pinterest many women have a wedding inspiration board and will post dresses and other items according to...COLOR! So why would a company with thousands of different dresses not organize their selection according to color?
As well, many women prefer a certain fabric such as silky lace or dreamy chiffon and the color is not as important to them. ModCloth is one of the only companies that I believe has done something right. First of all, they have organized by color...

ModCloth also has a vintage wedding style selection too.
You can also search by designer, length of dress, size, price, and even what type of dress:

As women begin looking to more casual dresses for their bridesmaids, I think ModCloth will become a huge supplier. They recognize not just one need from the consumer, but multiple needs, making it a memorable shopping experience.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Social Media Myths...

Many companies, especially small businesses believe that they shouldn't even both with social media. Many different opinions exist on how to "deal with" social media. But with a great social media marketing strategy, one should never have to just "deal with" social media.
I'm going to discuss my personal Top 3 annoying social media myths, although many more exist.

1. "Social Media is only for 'the kids'"
On Facebook for instance, 61% of adults ages 35 - 54 have a Facebook, while 48% of people over 55 have a Facebook page. In fact, older users are among the fastest growing adopters of social media. So it's not a question as to whether older users are on social media, the question is more of, "what social media do older users typically engage in?"

2. No ROI exists for Social Media!
Although difficult to measure, if done correctly, social media can provide an ROI. In order to measure your social media ROI you must set up your own metrics. You can measure this return through your savings in customer service, online word-of-mouth promotion, your improved brand awareness and reputation, increased brand loyalty, and lead generation. As well, google analytics helps by showing last touch attribution.

3. Well if I "do" social media, I must be present on every social network!
No, no,!
This may seem obvious, but many companies make this mistake. Once you determine your target market, you must also determine where they have a social media presence. This will be different will all different companies which is why there is no one-type-fits-all solution. Although Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest are extremely important, if your target market doesn't have a presence on one of the networks, then don't put all of your time towards it. However, it's very important to start to understand the way each network works, because you don't want to enter into a network after a majority of your market has.

These are obviously just a few myths and I will explore more in upcoming blog posts. Until then, start researching your markets and see what social networks they're present on!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

How about that content?

Sometimes when I think of social media, I think of tweens effortlessly tweeting their friends with every minute detail of their day. Or I think of how every time I log into facebook, I’m bombarded with ads and noticing less and less “friends” using this platform every day, and more advertisers turning to it.
When I got engaged, of course I changed my facebook status (which is really hard to do from a phone; Facebook: get on that!). I was then bombarded with advertisements about weddings and I didn’t even want to start planning yet.
They must think consumers are dumb, right?
However, this would explain why I chose marketing instead of advertising, but I won’t delve into that. But I’ve always been annoyed by typical advertisements (besides infomercials) and known that there are more efficient and effective ways to reach consumers.
For instance, I love to sew and design clothing, but I hate using patterns. So I find myself constantly researching ways to design, and shortcuts to help me with the sewing process.  I read books on sewing, but sometimes it’s hard trying to learn about a hands-on trade, while simply reading about it. One of the most effective ways for me to find different ways to sew things is by watching tutorials. It’s nice to watch someone rather than read directions.
This is where content marketing comes in. Content marketing is different than social marketing because you actually own media rather than “renting” it and you attract customers by creating your own content to enhance or change a consumer behavior and to basically, make the consumer smarter. In turn, the consumer will trust you, and always come back to you. In addition to content marketing, social media helps to get the word out
So, back to my story about sewing…
One great example is I can buy a sewing machine, notions, or fabric from them, and I can also watch videos about how to sew different things, read a blog, or even interact with other like-minded hobbyists in a forum.

When I found this website, I thought I had struck gold; I couldn’t believe it. While many companies just offer coupons or discounts, this company offers KNOWLEDGE. What can I do with knowledge? Anything!
The Chinese proverb goes something like, “Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.” This couldn’t be any more true.
I now trust this company and will continue to use them because of this. So although we may notice petty advertisements screaming, “look at me, look at me!!” we always end up relying on the more subdued, yet engaging marketing. It’s like the friends you choose in high school. I always stayed away from the girls constantly begging for attention and instead chose friends that were more interesting and offered me some sort of knowledge.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How to focus on visuals to capture your audience.

As I stated in the post before the last one, according to hubspot, Facebook images and photos receive 53% more likes than the average post. So why would a marketer not pay attention to visuals when creating a marketing plan.
One fact about marketing is that the plan will differ depending on who your target market is, where your target market is, and many other factors. So when using visuals to capture a market, one must choose meaningful images. I will discuss four important things to consider while marketing using visuals.
1. UNDERSTAND! Understand your consumer! This should go without saying, but if your target market is tween girls from the suburbs of L.A and you're posting videos marketing eyeshadow and using RoseAnne Barr as the spokesperson, you're clearly not understanding your consumer.
2. FIND MEANING! Why should anyone even consider your product? What sets you apart? Why would your target market prefer you over another brand? Have meaning!
Look at Toms shoes for example. Many people don't necessarily think the shoes are the best aesthetically, however, the brand actually has meaning! For every pair of Toms shoes you buy, another pair is donated to someone in need. This also ties to corporate social responsibility, but I'll elaborate on that another time. Brands can have meaning in different ways, but a brand is nothing without meaning.
I don't believe you can connect if your brand doesn't exude meaning. But you want to REACH your target market. What better way to connect than through visuals? Pinterest is the perfect website for this. It's exponential word of mouth. Users choose whether they want to "pin" your items and their friends then "repin" it and so on and so forth.
As well, Instagram is awesome for connecting. Many consumers connect to brands by posting photos (of the specific brand) to Instagram and hash tagging the name of the brand. This is so simple yet speaks at way higher volumes than just exclaiming, "I LOVE THESE NEW SHOES I BOUGHT, YOU SHOULD ALL BUY A PAIR!" Users of Instagram can search hashtags and see photos other users post. This is great for seeing a pair of shoes (or really any clothing) on someone (besides a photoshopped 18 year old model) before making your purchase. This also creates a connection among your consumers.
Last, but certainly not least, HAVE A BRAND PERSONALITY! This is especially important when connecting with users through visuals. Nobody wants to see visuals from a robot, it's like having a conversation with Siri. Don't be afraid to post things that don't always pertain to your brand specifically, as long as it pertains to your brand personality! I will use the shoe example again. For instance, you don't always have to post photos of your shoes, you could even post a photo of a cute cat with a funny caption if that's what you prefer. Just make sure it pertains to your brand personality. Also please don't post too many photos of cute may cause your consumers to think you're a "creepy cat lady" (what's so wrong about that anyways??)...I hope this helped! And never forget about the visuals.