Future Implications

The social media landscape is continually changing.  But there are some trends that will continue to grow substantially through 2016 and 2017 that you can take advantage of.  One of those trends is video.  70% of companies report that video is one the most effective marketing tools within their social media portfolio (Holmes, 2015).  Meanwhile more than 7 billion videos are watched daily on Facebook and YouTube.  Animoto has a 2015 video marketing cheat sheet you should definitely check out.  Just a few highlights from their survey of 1,000 participants reveals the following (O’Neill, 2015):

  • Consumers would rather watch a video about a product vs reading about it.
  • Consumers highly value video that demonstrate how a product and or service works.
  • Consumers are more than likely to read email newsletters which include links to video, thus boosting email marketing campaigns
  • A majority of consumers prefer to watch a video more than once before making a consumer purchase.
  • Nearly 2/3 of consumers prefer videos under 60 seconds.

Why is video so effective?

  • Video grabs attention
  • The brains processes imagery 60,000 times faster than text, in other words a picture is worth a thousand words
  • Video speaks effortlessly to human emotions and experiences
  • In comparison to text video images offer faster memory recall

Some even suggest that by 2018 video will account for 79% of all online traffic.  In spite of those stats and 80% of marketers seeing video as an important marketing tool only 10% are actually using video content while a large percentage of websites offer no video content at all (Hook, 2016).

What Else Does The Future Hold?
Actually Facebook’s VP Nicola Mendelsohn predicts that in 5 years Facebook will more than likely be all video for many of the reasons listed above.  The company is finding that video format is growing more quickly than originally anticipated especially with new formats such as Facebook’s new live video feature.  For example, live video receives 10 times more comments than prerecorded clips resulting in increased numbers for engagement.  With that in mind over 100 million hours of mobile video is watched by Facebook users per day increasing daily views from 1 billion to 8 billion over the course of one year.  And what about texting? Texting is actually declining year over year in comparison to video (Zillman, 2016).

Summary
So even though video is currently the present it will also continue to be an ongoing trend in the future and one you should definitely look to adding towards your social media mix.

 

References:

Holmes, R. (2015, Dec 9).  5 Trends That Will Change How Companies Use Social Media In 2016. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3054347/the-future-of-work/5-trends-that-will-change-how-companies-use-social-media-in-2016

Hook, B.  (2016).  Why Video is So Effective. Retrieved from http://www.replayscience.com/blog/why-video-is-so-effective/

O’Neill.  (2015, May 7).  The 2015 Video Marketing Cheat Sheet.  Retrieved from https://animoto.com/blog/business/video-marketing-cheat-sheet-infographic/

Zillman, C.  (2016, Jun 14). Why Facebook Could Be ‘All Video’ in 5 Years.  Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2016/06/14/facebook-video-live/

 

 

Viral Marketing Initiatives

Evian Natural Spring Water promotes the brand slogan “Live Young”.  You’ll find a lot of baby photos on their website as way of alluding that drinking Evian is a sort of fountain of youth.  Something that improves the quality, health, vitality and value of one’s life.  Of course it’s all suggested through emotional marketing which takes one back to their youth / inner child.  In 2011 the company did an amazing job of creating a video concept (Roller Babies) using cgi aided babies tackling extreme roller skating stunts.  The YouTube video was so successful it ended up going into the Guinness Book of World Records for most viewed video in 2 months at over 25 million views (Ankeny, 2014).  Awesome video watch it here:

In 2013 they put another video based on the same goals called Baby & Me which currently has over 132 million views.  The video is genius as it directly speaks to the brands goals and slogan for living young.  The video accomplishes the goal of being emotionally engaging, content you want to share with friends / family and content that raises brand awareness (Ankeny, 2014).   You can watch the video here:

Recap of Why It Worked
Many marketers are trying to come up with the next viral marketing video / campaign.  Many are hit and miss but some fall into the category of continued success based on a creating a recipe with what I believe to be the top 3 ingredients.

Ingredient #1:  Know Your Audience & Your Message
We’ve talked over and over about starting any marketing plan, campaign and or objective by first identifying your audience.  Who are you talking to and are you communicating in a way that your audience can relate with.  Are you using the right social channels for getting your message across?  Evian babies viral campaign reflects a clear understanding of their audience (men and women of all ages) while providing content / message their audience will emotionally relate to (be free, live young) along with using the best social channels for delivering their brand message (YouTube) (Bedor, 2016).

Ingredient #2:  Provide Good Content
When is providing good content never a good idea?  Whether you’re planning to go viral or not always start with good content that will build your audience (Lindteigen, 2016).  Evian provided a top notch engaging experience for their target market through the use of CGI technology which allowed consumers to interact with their child self.  The content went beyond just the message of “live young” to an actual interactive experience of living young and having fun, something that is still building a following for the brand.

Ingredient #3:  Laughter
Planning to go viral you can’t go wrong with laughter.  A Modes Studios survey mentions that 69% of Americans share good viral videos while 57% of Americans believed they could predict whether a video would be a viral hit or not with the biggest predictor being whether the video made them laugh (ADDING MULTIMEDIA Mode Studios Video Survey: 69% of All Americans Share Good Videos Online–Laughs or Social Sharing Are What Make Videos Go Viral, 2015).  Evian babies viral videos nailed it by engaging their audience with content that makes you not only laugh but makes you want to participate, maybe even dance a little and take a time out from being a serious grown up.

Have you had success with a viral campaign / video?  Why was it successful or not?

References:

ADDING MULTIMEDIA Mode Studios Video Survey: 69% of All Americans Share Good Videos Online–Laughs or Social Sharing Are What Make Videos Go Viral. (2015, October 20). Business Wire. Retrieved from http://bi.galegroup.com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/essentials/article/GALE%7CA432069966?u=nhc_main

Ankeny, J. (2014, Apr 23).  How These 10 Marketing Campaigns Became Viral Hits. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233207

Bedor, L.  (2016). How to Create Content People Love.  Retrieved from https://lizbedor.com/2015/09/09/how-to-create-content-people-love/

Lindteigen, R. (2016, Mar 4).  Why “Go Viral” Is Not An Effective Content Marketing Strategy. Retrieved http://marketingland.com/go-viral-not-effective-content-marketing-strategy-166428

Differentiation

Business dictionary has a great definition for market differentiation, a promotional method employed by a business to create an especially strong presence in a particular market (Market Differentiation, 2016).    But the question remains as to how do I as a small business do that?  The first place to start is to establish your business goal, what it is that you want your business to achieve.  That could be better brand awareness, increase of sales, increase of likes / followers, etc.  The next step would be to use the proper channels for achieving your goals along with the proper tactics.  For example you decide that you want to increase brand awareness and customer engagement by offering superb customer service.  The social channel you choose to achieve this goal is Twitter as it will allow you to engage quickly and effectively in real time while supporting your customers. Now, not only have you chosen the proper channel and tactic for your business goal but you’ve also initiated the means for differentiating your company from other companies operating on social channels.  A method of differentiation on social media is key to the ongoing success of your business (Blanchard, 2011). Below we take a look at how Adidas and Nike are differentiating their brands on social media.

Adidas

Adidas’ goal is to use and incorporate social media into the overall marketing strategy for selling shoes, apparel and growing the brand.  The company has over 24 million Facebook fans and 3 million Twitter followers.  What differentiates Adidas social tactics is that they take the time to identify where their customers are hanging out on-line.  With that knowledge in hand they then use the appropriate social platforms which allow the consumer to uniquely connect to the brand in ways they may not otherwise be able to.  Other tactics include exclusive peeks at upcoming footwear and live chats with partnered athletes as a means for building engaging content.  Another important note is that the company strives for quality vs quantity in terms of social media fans and followers (Mulready, 2015).

More details and an interview with Lia Vakoutis, Head of Digital Strategy at Adidas, can be found here: http://rickmulready.com/adidas-social-media/

There is also a really good article on how Adidas is using “social listening” as a way of differentiating themselves within the market.  As mentioned earlier, this tactic helps the company to really zoom in and identify the types of social conversations consumers are having which then helps them to provide engaging content which works for their customers.  You can read more here:  http://www.thedrum.com/news/2016/03/05/adidas-spotlights-dark-social-be-most-personal-brand

Nike

While Adidas and Nike may be using some of the same tactics Nike has really differentiated itself within the market through its goals of providing top notch customer support through social platforms such as Twitter.  Nike adopted the concept of digital customer support early on.  Advantages of digital customer support using platforms such as Twitter include, real-time feedback from customers / public, real-time responses to customers, fast resolution times which can result in significant reduction costs for customer service departments, and most important happy satisfied customers.  Implemented correctly it’s a powerful way to differentiate one’s company within a market (Blanchard, 2011).  While Nike has a number of other tactics which work they have mastered customer support through several customized Twitter handles that allows them to maintain healthy ongoing relationships with their customers (Sprung, 2013).

This Weeks Question

How we will you differentiate your business on social media?

 

References:

Blanchard, O. (2011). Social media ROI: Managing and measuring social media efforts in your organization. Indianapolis, IN: Que.

Market Differentiation.  (2016).  Business Dictionary.  Retrieved from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/market-differentiation.html

Mulready, R. (2015).  adidas Social Media Success.  Retrieved from http://rickmulready.com/adidas-social-media/

Sprung, R. (2013, Aug 1).  4 Examples of Excellent Twitter Customer Service.  Social Media Examiner.  Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/exceptional-customer-service-on-twitter/

Best Blogging Practices for Small Businesses

For the final topic of this series we will discuss the advantages of blogging for your small business.  Blogging does a couple of things for your business and social media.  It enables participation and relationships around your business, industry and customers.

HP Case Study
Let’s use a case study for HP.  HP sells a number of complex products, many of which need product details along with some type of customer support to help navigate through those details.  This is a case where blogging helps fill a need by breaking down complex information or topics into simple streams of content customers can easily find, understand and relate to.  HP took the approach of executing several blogs that were product and or category specific vs just one blog.  They now have over 80 executive blogs with topics ranging from storage and mobility to small businesses.  Blogging has become a successful medium for HP given it creates dynamic interaction between its executive’s stories, customer comments and executive follow up on customer comments (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

For example when Microsoft introduced Windows 10 a number of customers were having problems with their printers.  Reports began to circulate on the web that Vista printer drivers were not working.  Vince Ferraro (HP Vice President) took note and decided to post a solution for the printer problem on his blog.  The post resulted in 26 blog readers posting comments and further questions about the problem.  Mr. Ferraro of course answered every posted comment from readers along with providing a second blog post with more detailed solutions offered.   This created an environment where other bloggers were posting direct links to Mr. Ferraro’s blog posts which quickly resulted in the highest result search for google under “HP Vista printer problems”.   So think about it, customers could now go and do a google search and find an answer to their problem in all of 5 minutes vs having to call in for support.  Think about it, the simple act of blogging allowed Mr. Ferraro to reach out to thousands of customers through talking and responding to just a few customers.  Blogging if used correctly can be a powerful addition to your company’s social media marketing mix (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

Li & Bernoff’s Top Tips for Blogging

  1. Start with listening. What does that mean and how do I do that for my business?  What listening means is to start monitoring other blogs within your industry, that includes competitors and other influencers within your market.  What are they saying?  What topics are hot?  Are any blogs mentioning your company in a good or negative way?  Identifying and answering these questions will narrow down what your blog might have to say or address (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  2. Establish a goal for your blog. Is your blog to be used for customer support? Announcing new products and or services? Or PR and responding to news stories?  Will you need just one blog to serve your goals or will you need several as in the case for HP mentioned above (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  3. Practice, practice, practice. Initially spend some time writing five to ten posts before letting them go live.  You will quickly gauge how much time will be needed for supporting creating blog content while also having the chance to review if you’re going in the right direction with your topics.  If you find you can’t pull together at least 5 posts to start with then blogging may not be for you (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  4. Be transparent. Remember from our last discussion we talked about the importance of honesty and transparency online.  It will take your company far in building authentic relationships with your audience (Li & Bernoff, 2011).
  5. Create a Marketing Plan. This can include press releases in local trade magazines, email campaigns sent out to current customers introducing your blog and or campaigning through mediums such as google adwords.  Other tactics can include going back to some of the blogs you used for monitoring and adding comments to relative stories with a link back to your own blog (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

I want to tell you that there’s so much more to learn about best practices and tips for blogging which can help take your business to the next level, so check out Li & Bernoff’s Business Week Bestseller “groundswell”.  It’s filled with tons of valuable lessons, case studies and practical execution of social media tools and strategies small businesses new to social media can use.

I want thank everyone for all of the comments and support for this blog series!  Best of luck and keep me posted on how you’re doing!

 

References
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Social Media Risks for Small Businesses

You’ve been doing the research on expanding your business to social media.  That includes identifying your goals, identifying your target market, identifying the best social platform to meet your goals and identifying the best metrics to use for measuring success.   We’ve talked a lot about why it’s so important to get your business onto social but now let’s take a look at some of the risks.

To delete or not delete, that is the question…
A great question of concern for small businesses is whether or not to delete feedback or problems posted from customers on platforms such as Facebook and or Twitter.  This tactic comes from the fear in believing that customers who come to your Facebook page will turn away because of reading a bad experience or complaint from another customer.  Let me say that deleting such comments is risky business as it can give the appearance that your brand is trying to hide something.  It takes away an aspect of transparency, trust and honest relationship with your customers.  Before resorting to such tactics think about how your customers will feel, respond and look to your company based on reading a bad experience from a customer which was responded to with empathetic customer support and a solution for correcting the experience. In that scenario customers will see that you have the capacity and transparency to take care of them.  This results in greater trust and a healthier relationship with your audience.  Are there severe cases where a customer complaint should be deleted?  Yes, but use good judgement in making that decision.  A case where things may have gotten verbally abusive, absolutely.  But a case where a customer is clearly and rightfully upset, frustrated or disheartened about a brand experience, you owe it to your brand and your customers to socially hear, support and share a resolution for that customer’s experience (Goldman, 2012).

A Case Study & Questions
Back in 2008, musician Dave Caroll had his $3,500 guitar broken while flying with United Airlines.  He tried to use traditional means of customer support with no success and then decided to take his complaint to social media.  He posted 3 music videos to Youtube based on his experience with the airline which went viral capturing over 10 million views.   After 3 – 4 weeks of the video American Airlines stock dropped by 10%, a loss of $180 million.  Based on the video tactics of Mr. Caroll the airlines did offer to compensate him for his loss.  His response to them was to donate it to charity as by this time for him it was no longer about the money.  Instead, it was about the principle of not being heard as a customer the first time around (Wilson, 2011).

The irony in this case was the company or brand who made his guitar saw an opportunity and took it.  Along with their sympathy and support they sent the musician a brand new guitar.  The company, Taylor Guitars, ended up making their own Youtube video about how unhappy they are when guitars are damaged and how to get in touch with them for repair services along with the best practices for packing and traveling with a guitar (Wilson, 2011).  A smart company!

Was it really worth American Airlines not taking care of Mr. Caroll for his loss early on?  What did it possibly cost them as a brand?  Was it worth the bad publicity?  Let me know your thoughts!

The moral of the story? 
Social Media is powerful.  It can either make or break your business.  As a small business know that it’s ok to make mistakes that may show up on social platforms.  Don’t wait until those problems become bigger problems and don’t try to delete them to make them go away.  Be transparent, honest and supportive.  Your social audience will reward you for it.

 

References
Goldman, J. (2012). Going Social: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media. Saranac Lake, NY, USA: AMACOM Books. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Wilson, R. (2011).  A public relations disaster.  Blog.  Retrieved from http://sentium.com/a-public-relations-disaster-how-saving-1200-cost-united-airlines-10772839-negative-views-on-youtube/

Small Business Be SMART with Social Media

Social Media and Large Corporations
It’s 2016 and a simple google search for “social media corporate success” reveals ongoing lists of various articles showing how large corporations like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, IKEA and more are successfully using social media to creatively engage with their audiences and build their brands.  For example McDonalds designed a Twitter social media campaign for Super Bowl 2015 where they gave away free products like a Toyota Camry.  The campaign created a lot of buzz for McDonald’s and according to some Marketing Analysts actually created more buzz than all of the other Super Bowl advertisers (Martin, 2015).

But I’m not McDonalds and don’t have a McDonald’s budget! What can I as a small business owner do to make social media work for me?  What’s the current state of social media among small businesses?
Yes.  I hear you!  And these are great questions.  First, I want to reiterate how a large percentage of small business are still missing out on the advantages of social media.  This could largely be due to small business owners not having the time to use social media for themselves and so may be opting to not use it for their own businesses.  Other reasons could include business owners not really understanding what a social media conversation looks like and so may not be opting to take the time needed to see what online users may be saying about their business and or business industry.  Factors could also be that business owners are separating social media out of their traditional marketing practices. Regardless of the reasons, I think if you ask any small business owner about the importance of traditional word of mouth marketing for their business all would agree that word of mouth is critical for keeping their businesses successful.  What some small business owners may be missing is the understanding that social media is nothing more than an electronic version of traditional word of mouth advertising (Lentz, O’Leary & Sheehan, 2011).

Tools Small Businesses Should Use to Improve Their Social Media Presence
Second, set and review your business goals.  Decide whether you want to use social media as a platform for increasing your sales, increasing customer service and or increasing engagement with your target audience.  Choosing a goal will help determine which social media platform will be the best fit for you.  It will also help to identify what metrics will be the best for measuring social media success.  Ultimately goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed (Lentz, O’Leary & Sheehan, 2011):

  • For more information on how to apply the SMART method for business goals click here.
  • For examples on how to apply the SMART method to social media business goals click here.

Let’s say that one of your goals is to improve Customer Service given happy customers are eager to spread the word about your products and services.  We’ll use an example case study from Hootsuite for small business Herschel Supply Co. based in Vancouver, Canada.  This retail company specializes in back packs, bags, travel goods and accessories.  Their target market consists of global consumers which are tech savvy and fashion oriented.  One of their main goals was to improve Customer Service.  How would they do this? What social tools would be necessary to accomplish this goal?  Ultimately they decided on the social management tool Hootsuite which would allow them to monitor online conversations about their business (Cisnero, 2014).

Herschel Supply, Co. concluded that the best way to improve customer service would be to try and respond to all questions found online, including those that didn’t mention their business.  They accomplished this by setting up search streams in Hootsuite which would allow them to monitor online conversations through the hashtags of #Herschel and #HerschelSupply.  With a specific goal in mind and choosing the right tool to support that goal Herschel Supply Co. was able to improve customer satisfaction by 20% (Cisnero, 2014).

So remember start with SMART and apply that method to your Social Media plan.  Then do the research on what tools will support your goals.  By the way, Hootsuite is an excellent social media management tool.  Definitely check out their website for more information on their products and how to use them.  And definitely check out their blog.  It’s got great information on the best social media tools to use with your goals in mind (Cisnero, 2014)!  Click here for more info and let me know how it goes!

References
Cisnero, K. (2014, Jun 30). 3 small businesses that found social media success.  Hootsuite.  Retrieved from https://blog.hootsuite.com/small-business-social-media-success-stories/

Lentz, S., O’Leary, S., & Sheehan, K. (2011). Small Business Smarts : Building Buzz with Social Media. Westport, CT, USA: Praeger. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Martin, J.  (2015, Mar 25).  12 standout social media success stories.  CIO. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/2901047/social-media/12-standout-social-media-success-stories.html