Fight to Glory: Twitter v. Instagram

11 Dec

It was interesting to read this week that Instagram as cut ties with Twitter. You can still post your Instagram photos to Twitter however it now no longer displays to people who look at your tweet. Instead, they would have to click the link and follow that to Instagram to view your photo.

A big belief is that due to Instagram’s strengthened bond with Facebook, they are now conspiring against Twitter; at least that’s what the skeptics believe. Regardless of if you think this is conspiracy or not, it’s something worth paying attention to. Since I can remember Instagram booming into popularity, you could upload those photos to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously and clearly see the images on both. Instagram has been a great way to bring out the photographer in every one of us and allow us to quickly post it for everyone to see.Now you can still post it, however, the “ease-free” part of it has downgraded.

Now, in response to this, Twitter has developed their own form of Instagram for their photos. When you go to take a picture, you have the option to filter it, crop it, and put a boarder on it as you please. While it doesn’t hold the brand of “Instagram” it was a great move on Twitter’s part. People still want to post their artsy pictures and share it with their friends, now they can still do that and it will be shown automatically, people don’t have to go to Instagram to view it.

This controversy will be one to watch as time goes on, as many people have suggested, this seems to be the start of a long battle of the social medias. In my opinion, it’s a battle that only those that use social media will suffer from. People love the ease of social media. But, they love the ability to connect multiple ones together even more. The fact that this social media battle has begun will only complicate the user’s more than the companies. It seems entirely unnecessary and I think they are going to find a lot more negativity from the users than positive feedback. No matter who throws the next stone, the rival company will come up with something counteract that. I feel that this could ultimately lose users and defer them from using these various social medias.

The fact of the matter is that Instagram is replaceable. Twitter has clearly formatted their own form of it that makes it easy for their users to implement. I think Instagram really dug themselves a hole by choosing Facebook over Twitter. Instagram made a  smart move of initially being neutral to both, this will prove to be interesting and I’m intrigued to see what will come of Instagram.

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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

11 Dec

Over the past few years it has been apparent that social media is here to stay; it has grown into an extremely powerful marketing tool. But, as my title says, it is true that with great power comes great responsibility. While social media has been a great asset to the growth of many companies, it has also amplified the voice of the consumers, both good and bad.

It is just as easy for someone to share their negative experience with a company as it is when they have a good experience; and many times, it seems, the negative attention spreads like wildfire in comparison to the positive experiences. It is because of this, among many other reasons, that social brands MUST become experts in telling their brand story. Not only this, but the story must also be one that is real and authentic, and relatable.

In July 2009, Melinda Partin, writer for Fast Company, released the article, Brand Storytelling: Connecting With Your Audience. Simply put, Partin writes, “Marketing is storytelling. The best advertising campaigns take us on an emotional journey –appealing to our wants, needs and desires– while at the same time telling us about a product or service.” Storytelling is the merging of a company’s information and story with a consumer’s story. Many tools are available to aid in story sharing including: out-of-home, events, marketing collateral, retail presence, online and offline advertising, public relations, and websites. It is crucial for corporate marketers to know how and where the target audiences will see this media.

Partin continues, “The goal with corporate-brand storytelling is to transition the consumer from awareness to trial to advocacy. You want people to use your brand to describe their life: A ‘Windows User,’ a ‘Mac Guy,’ a ‘Honda Driver’ and so on.”

Partin finishes with three things that are vital for storytelling success.

  1. You must understand how your brand’s products and services meet a customer’s emotional needs.
  2. Understand both where your customer will be exposed to your message AND what his or her emotional state will be when they are engaged with it.
  3. Tell a consistent story about your company, product, or service regardless of where the message is delivered; inconsistencies mean lack of power the story will have.

I also read a blog post written by Amalia Agathou in November 2012 titled, Brand Storytelling In The Social Media Era. I found this blog interesting because she brought up a very interesting point. Brands have always used storytelling to promote heritage and authenticity. Agathou begs the question, “How relevant are stories about heritage and tradition in a world where the ‘now’ is already too late?” She continues on saying that the relationship now between brand and consumer is creator and audience and these two roles are constantly interchanged. The following are some tips she listed of how you can leverage social media to engage people.

  • Embrace consumer stories. The most enticing stories are the ones where the consumer can feel the personal experience and emotion. Considering the fact that a customer’s tweet about a product has the power to be as influential as a multi-million dollar campaign, it is of grave importance to engage in real-time dialogue with the customers.
  • Make use of the moment. Simply put, there are plenty of companies and people fighting for people’s attention, and getting someone to read 140 can even prove to be a challenge; but it’s important.
  • Say it with a video. They always say “a picture is worth a thousand words” so why not add more words by making it a video. People, especially young adults, LOVE visuals and sounds, so make it happen! Videos have the ability to rapidly spread information in a fun and informational way and can reach millions of people.
  • Mix the online/offline world. Research done by American Scientist Magazine shows that customers that see the real thing are willing to pay nearly 50% more. Like I previously stated, digital matters, but customers in the store are still a battle in itself. This is why it is so important to intermingle your story with the online and offline worlds.
  • Go mobile. If you want to reach people, you have to find a way to get a single individual to look at it. Wherever they are and whenever they’re on the go, it is up to you to find them and give them a way to connect with you.
  • Spread your message across different touchpoints, but keep each piece of the story supportive to the overall experience. Use mini-stories that build up together to give a whole story.
  • Bring your A game. Basically, you have to be at your tip top shape. There are plenty of companies that are already considered game changers in their industries and there are already companies within your industry working to be the next game changer. If you want that to be you, you have to get working!

The Social Media Monitoring Market

3 Dec

That’s right folks, in today’s work, it’s a Social Revolution; Consume it, or be consumed by it. Social Media is changing the ways we interact with people and changing how much we talk about various topics , brands, and companies. If you’re a company, you should be very concerned and interactive with social media.

Social Media Monitoring is the process of finding posts, tweets, statuses, and every update you can think of that matter to your organization, company, or brand. 42,000 Facebook status updates and 173,000 tweets are posted nearly every minute. This is why it is important to know how often people are talking about your brand and what exactly they are saying. There are many businesses that help with this tedious and time consuming task.

Radian6: Here is a short overview of what Radian6 can be used for! 

Radian6 is a full service social media monitoring platform that helps you listen, measure, engage, and discover online conversations other people are saying about your brand to ain in building your community.

  • Listen: Radian6 assists in tuning you into all of the important conversations surrounding your brand. If you excited and interested in hearing what people are saying about your industry or even your competitors, Radian6 can help.
  • Measure: After the conversations have started, its important to measure the results. This involves tracking what is and isn’t working for your organization.
  • Engage: Here is where the real fun starts. INTERACTING WITH YOUR AUDIENCE! This could be reaching out to them, using their feedback to better your company and much more. Radian6 will make sure you don’t miss a beat.
  • Discover: Radian6 shows you more about your online audience than you ever thought possible! This company has the ability to show you author demographics, influential topics, in-depth sentiment, people’s intentions, and so much more!

This site also opens you up to an Applications section where an outline is given of everything from selling your organization and the importance of social media monitoring to uncovering sales leads via online listening.

Radian6 offers 4 different packages, the lowest starting at $5,000 a month. No matter what your company wants to focus on, there is a package to suit your needs! Just want to learn more? They’re website, http://www.radian6.com, offers a easy to navigate layout and also has many free resources that are open to the public for viewing.

Lithium: 

Lithium was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Emeryville, California with additional offices in San Francisco, London, Austin, Paris, Atlanta, Sydney, Singapore, New York, and Zurich. This company focuses on computer software, social software, social media, and the emphasis of online community.

This company places great importance on “the power of the people.” Lithium works to help companies unlock the passion of their customers.

Lithium has many partners  including software companies, interactive agencies, strategy consultants, ISVs, and system integrators. Some of these partners include: Adobe, SalesForce.com, Sapient, CloudSquads, and Eloqua.

Zappos “More Than Shoes” Campaign: Case Study

7 Nov

In the summer of 2011, Zappos began a new campaign “More Than Shoes” which was an effort to emphasis that they are a company that has many other things available for purchase besides just shoes. This campaign gained a lot of positive and negative turmoil.

Tanzina Vega, a writer for the New York Times wasted no time in writing about this new campaign and the attention it had quickly gained. This campaign was created by Mullen which is Zappos’ company agency they work with. A Creative Director for Mullen, Tim Vaccarino, stated, “Zappos has a quirky culture. Doing something typical is not really them.” You can find the article titled, “From Zappos, an Unadorned Approach” here.

Now, I’m sure you want to know more about this campaign. Well here are some images of the print ads that were released for this campaign.

Along with these print ads, this campaign incorporated digital ads, videos and QRs (quick response codes). Vega also reported, “If the idea of using naked people who need to be clothed to sell clothing seems too literal, that is exactly what the marketing minds at Zappos and Mullen say they had in mind.” Michelle Thomas, Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Zappos noted that many times too much creativity causes the underlying message to get through.

A goal for this campaign was that customers would look at the print ads long enough that  they would see the quick response codes. If the consumers noticed these and scanned it with their smartphone, this allowed them to interact with the campaign even further. Vega explained, “When scanned by smartphone, the codes will take the phone user to a mobile site featuring fictional videos of what happens to the naked women in the ads. Users can also select outfits for the  model to wear and can enter the Zappos mobile site to buy the items on the smartphone.”

Senior Director of the Brand Marketing & Business Development department at Zappos, Aaron Magness, wrote a blog on Zappos website, More Than Shoes Print Campaign and discussed the ads and the controversies. He talked about how Zappos was receiving a lot of coverage about this campaign and noted that the overall public sentiment was very positive; however, some did find this campaign offensive. There were a few people who felt that this campaign was more focused on sex and nudity. Magness quickly argues, “If you look at the creative, you’ll see that these are not about sex or nudity for the sake of it. They’re really calling out the fact that Zappos sells more than shoes (this is the primary goal of our brand marketing efforts right now) in a very obvious way.

Magness also released photos from the original shooting of these print ads. 

Yes folks, that’s right, the models were not ACTUALLY naked! Nevertheless, comments stemmed from this campaign. It ranged from:

THE GOOD! 

THE BAD! 

and THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY! 

Some people, specifically women, we so appalled by this that the Tell Zappos Women Are More Than Objects Petition was started.

Regardless of this, Zappos’ social media presence is still positive and Zappos is still considered an excellent company to work for and purchase from. The Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh only has 2,273 tweets but has over 2.5 million followers! Zappos Couture, a spin of Zappos made for the people with more expensive taste (and funds) has only 7,715 followers but they are also targeting a specific market.

On the Facebook side of social media, Zappos has 310,915 likes with over 7,000 people talking about the company. Their Facebook page appears to be the place they post more frequently; it is typically 3-4 posts a day nearly everyday.

Regardless of if people loved this campaign or hated it, Zappos succeeded in their goal, they got people talking about their company and gaining public attention. Whether you think it objectified women or not, the point got across that Zappos has more to offer than simply shoes. Negative attention is attention nonetheless.

 

Social Media Strategy…What?!

28 Oct

Social Media Strategy. What does this mean and why the heck am I talking about it?! Well, I swear, there’s a purpose! Social Strategy is a term we are frequently hearing more and more as time goes on. In the past year or so, companies have begun thinking of how they can go beyond the tactics they’ve always known and used. Companies want to connect more with their communities and consumers and even enhance the connections within the company structure itself. This concept goes way beyond marketing skills; it has to be from the inner workings of the company all the way to the consumers and suppliers and stakeholders.

Radian6 took a look back at their articles from 2011 and brought some of the key concepts and points from them and created the eBook, “30 Ideas for you 2012 Social Media Plan.” In this, a section specifically devoted to implementing Social Media Strategy and doing it well.

1. Socialize your Culture, not just your Technology. Businesses no longer control the conversation, but some have not adapted yet. The organization needs to adapt to the empowerment of the customer.

2. Write Up a Plan. Social Strategy needs just as much planning and thought as any other business action. Preparation pays off

3. Cultivate Long-Term Relationships. Keeping brand loyal customers can be 5 to 10 times cheaper than the efforts involved in requiring new ones. Is it important to place efforts on short-term sales? Absolutely. But you could gear efforts towards the long-term customer experience as well.

4. Automate the Boring Stuff. A wide range Social Strategy means becoming more efficient. In the original article, “Strategically Social: 5 Keys to Becoming a Social Business” by industry analyst Brent Leary, he states, “Automating routine operations frees up even more time that could be better spent focusing on finding ways to more meaningfully engage with customers.”

5. Calculate the Value of your Social Customer. According to Leary, this calculation is simple. “Add up all the products and services they bought, subtract the cost of servicing them (phone calls, emails, chats, site visits, etc.) and you have a pretty fair measure of what a customer adds to the bottom line.”

Radian6 interviewed Amy Tennison, leader of Dell’s Social Media and Community University program, and she had a few things to add.

Share the Vision. Inspire your employees with the big picture. Share and promote the strategy and principles instead of just giving orders. Allow them to engage and give their opinions and ideas.

Craft a Content Strategy. Don’t just blog for the sake of blogging. Ask the question, “Why and for whom are you creating this?” Figure out that BIG IDEA that will play a role in everything you write and every tactic executed. Add personality and allow your customers to feel like they relate to you and the brand.

Fill in the Topic Gaps. Find a topic you’ll love, the customer’s will love, that’s current, and that no one else is talking about.

Build Community Relationships through your Content. Simply put, accept feedback; in fact, encourage feedback. Take the time to listen and use the responses to your advantage!

Social Media Strategy: It’s important, it’s current, and it’s not going anywhere. Learn to love it, or get run over by the crowd that’s taking the idea and running with it.

Make Your Business the Place to Be

7 Oct

Foursquare is a great way to promote your business and gain customers; people thing it’s fun to check in on Foursquare and get points. Jian James wrote in article in February of this year about ways to enhance your business through Foursquare.

Obviously, the first step is to claim your venue on Foursquare if it has not been done already. From there, it is all about finding ways to get customers to come once and want to keep coming after that.

The following are some ways a business could increase foot-traffic in their business.

One way to gain attention is to have Check-In Specials. For example, James writes about Jamba Juice and how they had each customer that came in Check-In, take a picture, and then proceed to post it in Foursquare and gave a few lucky customers a $25 gift card.

Another way is to have Check-In Milestones. The most incentives a person has for checking in somewhere, the more likely they are to do it. A way of implementing this would be to give a special discount or promotion code to the 1000th person to check-in. This adds a little competition to Foursquare which, in part, makes it more fun.

Like I said, people love incentives, so why not offer bonuses for checking in? Especially in a downtown area like Milwaukee, parking is next to impossible; you almost always have to pay to park in a structure. The Solution? Perhaps offer free parking to those that check in or enter them into a drawing to win a gift card or other promotional prizes.

Finally, offer group discounts. We are a social group of people, we enjoy going places with groups of people, so what better way to drive customers to come in than to give group discounts?! Let’s say a group of people go out to celebrate a friend’s birthday; consider offering a 25% coupon or discount for groups of 4 or more.

Okay, so now that you’ve got people to come into your business, how do you keep them coming back for more?! Well, have no fear, there are ways to make that happen.

Foursquare is not only a great way for people to connect with your business, but a great way for your business to connect with the customers. You have access to who checks in, how often they do, and if they leave tips, you may just find out what their favorite thing about your business is. USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE! Customers love feeling appreciated and noticed. Use Foursquare to see who these people are so you can greet them by name or maybe even know what they will be ordering. The more personalized, the better.

Incentives and bonuses for checking in will always be a driving force, so don’t stop using them just because you got them to come back a couple times, KEEP GOING! Foursquare is a great advancement in the traditional loyalty programs. Link these incentives to their check-ins. For instance, coffee shops have punch cards and rewards cards and after a certain amount of drinks purchased, the next one is on the house. Implement that with Foursquare. After 5 or 6 check-ins, give them a discount or free drink depending on what your business is.

Another great way to promote customers to come in again and again is to promote your events or upcoming promotions on Foursquare! Are you an ice cream shop or a frozen yogurt place? Tell everyone the flavors you have to offer! Are you a clothing shop and have a BOGO sale coming up? TELL IT ON FOURSQUARE! If you don’t advertise it, the customers won’t know about it.

Building a Social Business

5 Oct

Dan Schawbel, an interviewer for Forbes Magazine, conducted an interview with Sandy Carter, the Vice President of Social Business Evangelism  for IBM. Her position’s primary focus is to help set the direction for IBM’s social business initiatives.

Carter stated that a Social Business is so much more than simply having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Social Business is every department, from marketing and human resources to customer service and sales, using social media the same way it uses other tools to accomplish their tasks and jobs. Schawbel writes, “It’s an organization that uses social networking tools fluently to communicate with people inside and outside of the company…Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas faster, identify expertise and enable a more effective workforce.”

Carter and Schawbel discuss the acronym AGENDA and how it can aid in the start of becoming a social business. When creating a social business, it is important to keep in mind a company’s culture, trust among management and employees, risk management, measurement, and engagement. So here’s the breakdown behind the meaning of AGENDA:

A: Aligning the goals and culture to be read to become more engaging and transparent. You should not underestimate the task ahead.

G: “Gain Friends through Social Trust” This focuses on finding fans, friends, followers, and best friends from tippers, influential clients, or outside parties. Here you figure out what social trust is all about and how it will be instilled in your company.

E: Engaging. Here you focus on how a company can engage its clients and other employees and dives into gaming, virtual gifting, mobile, or other experience offers to increase engagement.

N: Network your processes. You need to figure out how to add social to your processes within the business. It could be here that you start to think deeper about customer service. This could mean implementing a Twitter account strictly for addressing customer concerns or complaints.

D: Design for Reputation and Risk Management. You need to manage the risks of having your brand online, employees as brand advocates, and your clients becoming your marketing department. It is important to expect the best but have a Disaster Recovery plan to be prepared for the worst.

A: Analyze the data! It is crucial to see the patterns of sentiment, who your tippers are, and listen daily.

Social business can be a benefit for many reasons.

1. Social Business increases productivity: It frees up sellers’ time to generate revenue, for example.

2. Social Business helps to enhance innovation: You can develop solutions faster

3. Social Business reduces cost: Travel, email, and phone calls are reduced.

This interview was a very interesting one to read. It has been predicted that by 2015 Social Business will be a nearly $100 Billion market. That’s crazy! Carter discussed how much of a shift has occurred. Ten years ago was when this shift in how people interacted with each other began to change. The web became a workplace and a serious business tool for all kinds of organizations and industries. Even today this shift continues as Social Business continues to expand as cultures change. Social Business will be something that will change with technology and will be an interesting thing to monitor.