Personal Touch key to Brand Success in Social Media

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One of the brands I feel comes across more human and personable than most in my social media estimation is Chipotle.  I believe a good majority of Chipotle’s popularity is actually based on it’s aura of caring for the customer by offering healthy organic food produce and meats. I especially appreciate their heavy emphasis on procuring from local farmers whenever possible.

I’m definitely not alone in my loyalty. Even though their recent bad press, they managed to reign victorious by not only being unfettered in their in-store customer service, but they seal the deal by being very engaging and interactive in all their social media.

Even though I do believe a brand can come across as human and caring in traditional media, I don’t think the same can be accomplished automatically in the social media arena.  The biggest challenge with any brand seeming “real” and “caring” in traditional media is the one-way communication.  Unless you really are having a conversation with your consumer, how do you really know how they feel or relate to the product, or ideas they have to improve or change a few quirks.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many companies in traditional channels very adept at making it seem like they are human and have your best interests at heart.  There were a couple of brands I recall growing up that came across as more friendly and caring via television.  At least with TV commercials you have two-dimensional motion, audio, and video unlike radio or newspapers.  Coca-cola and McDonald’s always had a very light-hearted, touchy-feel about them.  Coke has always evoked peace, harmony and diversity while McDonald’s seemed to be the first to champion and cater to kids via Ronald McDonald Houses, happy meal toys, mascots, play places, etc.

However, many consumers are wise enough to know that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in businesses.  Just because a company is great about answering your social media posts quickly in a nice tone, doesn’t mean that the company is without faults or seriously lacking in other areas.  But in this landscape, the face of the company is extremely important for building and keeping good impressions and social media is the most cost effective, and convenient way to interface with customers.

Tradeshows: Maximizing Awareness in a Tidal Wave of Brands

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How can a brand really stand out at a tradeshow?  It’s not as hard as you may think. Using the the 62nd PGA Merchandise Show that featured more than 40,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries, let’s first establish branding consistency, goals and target priorities for the event. For instructional purposes and to better establish goals, I will assume promotingCallaway (Links to an external site.) that manufactures and sells golf clubs, balls, apparel, footwear and accessories in more than 110 countries worldwide.

Branding consistency: Displaying consist branding through our black and white color schemes, combined with our data-driven targeting and social media strategy will ensure all our promotions are easily identifiable.

Goals: To make the Callaway booth the #1 destination for attendees amidst the 1,000 competitors at the PGA Merchandise show and 1) Showcase the new Callaway Chrome Soft golf balls and secure at least 1 million balls in sale orders; 2) Feature the advanced Big Bertha Alpha 815 driver and secure $30 million in sales during event. The booth sales person who writes up the most orders will get a $10,000 bonus.

Target:  Reach out and secure onsite appointments with all top industryexecutives. Maximize attendance at opening night Callaway hospitality suite. Maximize attendance at Outdoor Demo Day, the world’s largest professional golf testing event where we will be showcasing our new drivers, clubs and 65 compression soft golf balls.

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Top Three mainstream communication channels

Proximity! Proximity! Proximity – Having been to many trade shows where there are an endless sea of booths—proximity marketing is perfect for the PGA show. We will be using Qualcomm’sGimbal Bluetooth Low Emitting (BLE) beacons (Links to an external site.)because it not only provides a way to communicate with bluetooth capable devices forproximity awareness (Links to an external site.),but the system and customer experience can be customized. The PGA tradeshow floor is so extensive with 1,000 vendors, instead of getting an alert when someone is quite far from the Callaway booth and can be easily distracted, microfencing is much more granular and accurate and will send alerts when attendees are within a stone’s throw of the booth. Afterwards, to ensure that someone who has already visited the booth isn’t alerted again, the registered API key recognizes when a person has been in the booth space.

To sweeten the pot for users to grant permission to enable communications, we will offer a free four pack of our new “soft” golf balls in choice of four colors. Here is a good video that explains the microfencing processhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR8txVtT_Ao (Links to an external site.)

PGA Show Mobile App – The PGA show mobile app will give quick access to an optimum 41,000 attendees, buyers and industry leaders from 79 countries. The app highlights exhibitor map, presentation schedule, show specials, discounts, featured areas and events, demo day info, agenda planning, appointment requests and callbacks.  Because Callaway is a major sponsor for the event, this is a new channel we want to take advantage of to get our maximum reach. As part of the package the most important feature will encourage current and prospective retailers to set up appointments with Callaway during the show.  Other ways we will utilize the app is with the following:

    • Callaway logo branded on all pre-show and onsite show marketing which includes all digital and printed material
    • Callaway logo branded on PGA Show Mobile App registration pages and confirmation email
    • PGA Show Mobile App postcards will be handed out to all at onsite registration
    • Callaway sponsorship mention in first text message opening the show
    • Callaway logo on intro splash page and home page banner ad
    • Feature Big Bertha and new soft golf ball photos & descriptions
    • Feature our latestCalloway video (Links to an external site.)
    • Link directly to Callaway’s featured Showroom

Twitter – Callaway needs to step up their game with Twitter (only 938 followers) and very rarely do they issue a tweet let alone answer a tweet. The show will be a good chance to use this channel with a sample of the following:

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Other Best Fit IMC

The other top two forms of multimedia communication that would be the best fit to support Callaway marketing communications plan for the tradeshow are email and postcards.

Email: We will target top people specifically by sending a visually attractive email encouraging to set up appointment with Callaway during the show. This will include a special invitation to the best hospitality suite at the event for several reasons.  1) They know all the big execs in industry will all be in one room in a relaxed atmosphere to do some heavy-duty networking; 2) The reception will be peppered with golf pros and celebrities; 3) The complementary food and drink will be topnotch; 4) there will be special giveaways at this invitation only event.

Postcards: Postcards may seem like a very outdated and outmoded marketing tool—but these can be effectively used and why they are a really good fit for the PGA merchandise show. Postcards would be used two different ways for the show.  They are really good for pre-event promotion because nowadays most businesses are inundated with promotional emails. About one-month prior to the show we will use our best mailing list and send a really nice, glossy postcard that features the booth number and a message that says to call/email to set up an appointment during the show and bring the card for a one-on-one tour and demonstration of all of Calloway’s newest featured golf equipment and clothing. Afterwards, you will receive your choice of a selection of our any latest top products.

The other use for the postcards, is each day at the entrance of the tradeshow we will have a couple of employees passing them out: Stop by the Callaway booth this morning for a complimentary cappuccino/latte in a souvenir cup. The next day we can pass out another with the message to stop by Callaway’s in the afternoon for a beer in a souvenir porcelain mug.

Using Customer and Employee Testimonials, Especially in Government Contracting Industry

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There is a very unique business in America that doesn’t fit into the standard business model when it comes to social media marketing. For those unfamiliar with government contracting and how it works, a government contractor is a private company that produces goods or services requested by the government.  To be awarded the contract, a company must compete with others by submitting a proposal based on the government’s Request for Proposal (RFP) which specifies the work requested and timeframe the contract covers. Most of the time a contract is set for a year, with several option years if the contractor continues to do a superb job under budget. Government contracting websites and social media channels are among the least customer viewed for a reason. Current and prospective clients aren’t interested because there is no cause for them to research a company in this fashion due to the stringent award process.

The recession continues in government contracting, prompting more federal companies to explore options to service offerings in some adjacent private markets and generally the best ROI is face-to-face marketing. Most government contractors are in niche markets, so the good news is many of these contractors are considered top in their industry with subject matter experts on staff that can author rich company blog postings.

Customer, Partner Testimonials and SME interviews for Content Resources

The most coveted external sources are satisfied customer testimonials. There are many restrictions using current government customers to endorse private industry, so it’s best to place emphasis on former customers who are no longer in a restrictive position that you can use as modified case studies. .

To ensure the best use of customer/partner testimonials in building an IMC content strategy, I first researched several external communication sources that could offer advice.  These included (Kittaneh, 2014)5 Social Media Sources of Testimonials for Your Business (Links to an external site.); (Ash, 2014)Using Customer Stories to Build Trust and Increase Conversions (Links to an external site.); and (Burdett, n.d.)Defense Contractors: Pros and Cons of Social Media Platforms (Links to an external site.).

Legalities of Using Customer Testimonials in Advertising Resource

The power of referrals, endorsements and quotes from customers can really bolster a brand but it’s best to be entirely familiar with truth-in-advertising and endorsement laws as set forth by the Federal Trade Commission.  Here is a good source to ensure proper compliance:FTC’s Endorsements guide for businesses (Links to an external site.). Some of the highlights include:

    • All Endorsements Must Be Truthful and Not Misleading
    • Endorsements Must Reflect Typical Experiences
    • Disclose Any Connections or Affiliations to Your Endorser
    • User-generated reviews from other websites are the property of the person who wrote the review. There are other ways, however, to incorporate customer reviews into your website:
      • Add links or plug-ins to your website that take people directly to your page on crowdsourcing review sites like Yelp.
      • Use third-party rating and review tools, such as Shopzilla or BazaarVoice, on your site so that consumers can review products post-sale. Don’t forget to add a disclaimer notifying your customers that the review may be posted online and used for marketing purposes.
      • Many companies receive awards from various government or media sources. Even though the government cannot endorse a company in an advertisement, posting some of the content in the citation is acceptable in various social media forums.
      • Put the following on Twitter with ceremony photo: #___ receives _____ award for ________ from___________. Use the embed tweet option with complimentary tweets which  provides fully formatted piece of text to embed on company site. An embedded tweet makes for a perfectly credible testimonial as it can be traced to a real person.

Use Social Media to Promote Stockholders meeting or other key meetings

      • At annual stockholders meeting, conduct several short video interviews of board members, CEO, and or pre-approved executives that can be tweeted out, used on company Facebook page, website, etc.
      • Prior to meeting, post photos with short bios on featured speakers on Facebook and LinkedIn company pages to promote stockholder attendance at meeting. Link the post to email that will be going to all stockholders prior to meeting.
      • After annual stockholder’s meeting, post the two interview videos on company website, Youtube and company Facebook page with short description on company services and capabilities.
      • Send out Tweet with each of the Board Member’s photo with link to interview.
      • Cross promote the interviews on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. Embed Instagram image with caption.

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Using Subject Matters Experts for robust social media video content

      • Video interview several staff subject matter experts (SME) together on latest and future trends in their industry (approx. 4-5 minutes) and post on website, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and cross promote to Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Encourage comments and oversee comments by quick turnover of comments by SME.
      • Video interview several staff subject matter experts together on latest and future trends in company capability fields (approx. 4-5 minutes) and post on website, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and cross promote to Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Encourage comments and ensure quick responses to all comments from one of the subject matter experts (SME).
      • Video interview a variety of SMEs on “why they like working for your company” (approx. 1 minute) and piece together on website for recruiting and then post , YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and cross promote to Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Encourage feedback and coordinate responses to all comments by SME.

References

Ash, T. (June 24, 2014).Using Customer Stories to Build Trust and Increase Conversions (Links to an external site.).Burdett, D. (n.d.)Defense Contractors: Pros and Cons of Social Media Platforms (Links to an external site.).

Kittaneh, F. (Dec. 9, 2014).5 Social Media Sources of Testimonials for Your Business (Links to an external site.)

Beasley, C. (June 5, 2013).Using Testimonials, Endorsements and Online reviews in Your Marketing – How to Ensure You aren’t Breaking the Law (Links to an external site.).

Proximity, Location-based or Hyper-local Advertising is ‘Where it’s at!’

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Proximity, location-based or hyper-local advertising is a method a business uses to get the attention of a mobile or tablet user (and those on laptops) that are in close range using WIFI, GPS or Bluetooth enabled.  Usually an alert will be in the form of a discount or special freebie to try and get them to come in to your establishment. Consumer privacy is completely protected since a person can  choose whether or not to receive the message. More companies are also using this measure as a reward for loyal shoppers who are currently in their store. (See for good example)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMPP-TmYqAg (Links to an external site.)

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Benefits to marketers using proximity channels

As our lecture (Rhoads, 2015) states, “Proximity marketing offers marketers the opportunity to promote brands to highly targeted, on-location audiences to access what’s nearby and are good for any size business.” The lecture also mentions other positive mobile proximity variables such as providing deeper engagement with your audience and delivering relevant timely ads for the unique needs of mobile users

“Proximity marketing merges the physical and digital domains by using mobile devices to reach consumers at the greatest point of influence, providing bargains for shoppers and increased sales and consumer insights for retailers.  (Romanov,2012).Proximity Marketing: When Worlds Collide. (Links to an external site.)

In addition to its new Mobile Audience Network, in October Facebooklaunched (Links to an external site.)local awareness ads (Links to an external site.)that are more cost-effective than traditional advertising channels like newspapers and flyers, plus they offer “more precise targeting, greater reach and a great way to discover new places of interest.” (Protalinski, 2014).Facebook Launches Local Awareness Ads to let Businesses Target Users Nearby. (Links to an external site.)

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Why incorporate into an overall communications plan?

Statistics point to a good return on investment to include53% of consumers willing to share current locations specifically to receive offers of which 63% feel a coupon is the most valuable form of mobile marketing. Data has also shown that 57% of people are more likely to engage with location-based advertising along with 62% sharing local deals with friends.

Macy’s, an early adopter of Proximity Marketing, announced in 2014 that it will be rolling out the technology to all of its stores after a successful pilot last holiday season. Macy’s will send personalized department-level deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards to customers who opt-in. In addition, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Levi’s and Kraft have reported that interactions with advertised products increased 19 times and in-store app usage was 16.5 times higher for users who received a beacon message. A large Las Vegas casino tailors messages to customers such as the benefits of joining their player’s club, or welcome offers to VIP customers including greeting them with their favorite drinks.  (Petro,2014).How Proximity Marketing is Driving Retail Sales. (Links to an external site.)

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Research also shows what common sense suggests: Consumers are most likely to buy when they’re in sight of products and services in which they’ve shown an interest giving merchants an edge. Retailers who have targeted merchandising strategies to move specific products can benefit greatly from proximity marketing because it allows them to quickly change messaging as inventory levels fluctuate. The real time engagement will also yield valuable data on your consumer buying habits and message effectiveness. A recent installation at a leading North American convenience store chain didn’t garner even one complaint, and the messages did help to drive sales increases. The consumer who is most receptive is also in a highly desirable demographic: tech-savvy customers with disposable income. (Romanov,2012).

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How will wearables influence proximity marketing strategies?

The modularity of the NEX Band is its biggest advantage because the product will be able to grow with its user. Although younger testers are much more interested in gaming features, young adults are much more interested in the proximity features, in the fashion component, and in customizing notifications that go directly to the bands. (Yury,2014).Betting on teens on Wearable Tech. (Links to an external site.)

“NFC and RFID chips could be easily embedded and thus turn any daily item into a wearable,” Donovan noted, “and that means a lot of consumer data to be generated”. As Clarke pointed out, however, many companies are still “trying to figure out what to do with the data that proximity and wearable tech generated”. In order to realize the aforementioned contextualization in consumer marketing, we will need figure out how to leverage data into consumer insights.Called by some “The Holy Grail of Content Delivery” – wearable tech offers marketers the opportunity to speak to their audience based on their location, in real time. Wearables will be able to measure so much: movement, stress levels, the sound in your environment, how frequently you go outside, whether you take the elevator or the stairs, whether you usually go to noisy bars or quiet cafes. Nike could offer a 15% rebate on a pair of shoes after the consumer runs 50 miles in them. (McDonald, 2015)4 Ways Wearables Will Change Marketing. (Links to an external site.)

When have I taken advantage of a proximity marketing offer?

I am very disappointed to say that I’ve never received a proximity offer.  Even though I haven’t really signed up to receive many offers from some of the restaurants in my area, I have remitted my mobile data to all the grocery stores I frequent (Safeway, Giant, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Target) and am perplexed why these major chains aren’t taking advantage of this effortless and useful technology. I also have the McDonald and Dunkin Donut app and have never received a proximity alert for either. The odd thing is that I’m bombarded with constant messaging but not when I’m near a point of sale and would gladly veer to another store with a decent offer!

References

McDonald, M. (Jan. 26, 2015)4 Ways Wearables Will Change Marketing. (Links to an external site.)

Petro, G. (Oct. 8, 2014).How Proximity Marketing is Driving Retail Sales. (Links to an external site.)

Protalinski, E. (Oct, 7, 2014).Facebook Launches Local Awareness Ads to let Businesses Target Users Nearby. (Links to an external site.)

Rhoads, J. (February 2015). MMC 5006 Lecture Week 8: Proximity Marketing.

Romanov, A. (Dec. 11, 2012).Proximity Marketing: When Worlds Collide. (Links to an external site.)

Yury, C. (July 31, 2014).Betting on teens on Wearable Tech. (Links to an external site.)

Social Networks vs Community Content

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Social media networks are held together by the desire to communicate with already established interpersonal relationships. Community content is a byproduct of social media by fostering a large, overarching group of users that generally share common interests by maintaining, updating and populating content in a shared environment. Community content can be as simple as posting a picture, small snippet of information or just by commenting or replying to content which adds to discussion or continued dialogue. However, with the ever-growing ability and ease of adding video and audio, community content is much more robust, entertaining and informative.

“By 2016 one third of the population will use video and social networking on the mobile devices. Visual engagement on a mobile platform can help brand content in a pleasing way; with audio adding another dimension. This makes it more appealing and interactive than just print or static websites. People love video and it’s a way of capturing attention and beating boredom, especially to 18-34 year-olds.” (Rhoads, 2015)

To further enforce this trend, PR Daily (Working, 2012) reports, “Three billion videos are viewed every day on YouTube, making it among the hottest places around to tell your story visually. The videos are embeddable, enabling a fan of an airline or carmaker to drop a URL into a blog, spreading its reach.”  Needless to say, this works well in social networks as well as community sites.

 Transition from social to content? Is it both?

The blurred line in delineating social media to community content is becoming even harder to see where one ends and one begins. As Dr. Michael Wu (2012) puts it, “Communities can overlap and are often nested.”  The crux that is catapulting the two together is the advancement of technology, thus easing the option for anyone to add audio and visual content to just about any social media channel.

It is both? One of the best examples is our MMC 5006 class.  We all came together as strangers initially as a community based on inputting content in pursuit of individual, yet similar gaols.  However, through consistent interaction and getting to know each other, even virtually I now consider each of you precious classmates and instructors an integral part of my social network dynamics. Through this incidental union, this content community channel has given me even more access to branch out a step further. Albeit rare, one of my classmates happens to also live in the DC area and I see us growing into a dear friends as we continue this unique academic bonding experience until we schlep together to Gainesville to don the cap and gown and meet the rest of you (shout out to Ashley!).

How does Instagram measure up to being a content community?

Instagram is a great example of how a community channel can skyrocket based on its intriguing content appeal.  Numbers don’t lie—especially for this powerhouse that began in 2010 and boasts the largest increase of users. According to razorsocial.com (Cleary, 2015), as of December 2014, Instagram now reaches 300 million.

In exploring Instagram’s inclusion as a community content card-carrying member, according to Search Engine Journal (Sornoso, 2014), “Three factors that make Instagram very attractive to businesses: visual appeal, engagement, and mobility. This last factor sums up the very nature of the network. Once an Instagram account gains a substantial number of followers, it starts to feel and behave like a community. The beauty of Instagram is that its content can be found across many social media platforms; with the motivation to see what others are doing successfully.”

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New Hyperlapse app

Instagram also features the ability to customize photos and videos with several custom-built filter effects. Moz Blogs Julienne Staino sums it up nicely, “Video content is like the new sliced bread.”

TechCrunch (Crook, 2014) has this to say about Hyperlapse, “Generally speaking, image stabilization tech is processing-intensive to the point where it really isn’t feasible on mobile. However, by using the gyroscopes in the phone itself, the Instagram team used algorithms to calculate the movements of the phone and correct it in the shot. They’re able to get away with this by using a cropped portion of the massive resolution available in your phone’s camera, leveraging the extra pixels of the sensor to stabilize the view. The end result is an app that creates beautiful, souped-up videos that look and feel as though they were shot by professionals using expensive equipment.”

Adding the new standalone app, Hyperlapse, is a progressive smart move to keep the spike of mobile users rising, however, Instagram’s success is really built on simplicity. Pre-set filters and easy streamlined process replace tedious editing and commenting. From start to finish, the process is centered around simplicity, something even this old gal managed in minutes.

References

Cleary, I. (January 2015). How to Rapidly Grow Your Instagram Followers (Links to an external site.).

Crook, J. (Aug. 26, 2014). Hands on with Hyperlapse, Instagram’s New Video Creation App. (Links to an external site.)

Rhoads, J. (Feb., 2015). Week Six Lecture: Content Communities.

Sornoso, E. (Mar. 14, 2014). How to Grow Your Instagram Account in 5 Steps. (Links to an external site.)

Staino, J. (March 4, 2012). How to Leverage Content Communities to expand your brand reach. (Links to an external site.)

Working, R. (Jan. 19, 2012). Brands use Youtube to Create a Story Telling Presence. (Links to an external site.)

Wu, M. (Sept. 14, 2012). Community vs Social Network. (Links to an external site.)