Future Implications

There is no denying the power of the internet when it comes to increasing business, and more Imagespecifically, the power of social networking. Consider that approximately “46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase” (Bennett, 2013, infographic). And that “social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC (PayPerClick)” (infographic). So, what does this mean for the future of brand marketing? It means companies should look for the best ways to use social media for marketing their brands.

To capitalize on the increasing use of social media, there are some specific things a company can do. They include the following:

  • creating applications to be used with mobile technology,
  • emphasizing interaction and engagement with their current and potential customers,
  • using and optimizing Facebook tools,
  • entering the Chinese social media

Doing these four things will help a brand increase exposure and revenue.

Concentrate on using mobile technology

One in four people globally, and fifty percent of all Americans, use social media (Kemp, 2012). Of those, most are—or soon will be—accessing it via their mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. With the proliferation of mobile technology, people are continually connected. With everyone having instant access to everything on the web, businesses need to optimize their social media. If your business doesn’t have an application (app) for a smart phone, create one. Interaction and engagement are essential. They will get people coming to your site and telling their friends about it.  And that’s what social media is all about, right?

Interact and engage your audience through social media

One of your social media objectives should be to continue to engage your audience by using new tools. You must start new—and continue current—conversations with customers and foster interaction. Encourage feedback and provide special offers.

As easy as this may sound, the majority of businesses aren’t currently doing this. Shea Bennett (2013) explains that “two-fifths of companies do not track social media responses” (para. 3). If you don’t track your customers’ responses, how can you converse with them? Stay in tune with them. Listen to what they’re saying, answer their questions promptly, get involved, and find out what they want then give it to them.

Optimize your Facebook page

Facebook is an important social media marketing tool. Like social media as a whole, it is continually changing. And that’s good news for marketers. According to Carol Haskell (2013), “Fifty-two percent of all marketers have found a customer via Facebook” (para. 1). Fortunately for marketers, Facebook seems to be constantly finding new ways for promotion.

One new feature is Ticker. Brands are given more exposure because friends can now see—in real time—what their friends are doing. To promote your brand through Ticker, you will need to create an app that can be streamed or shared such as Spotify has. Since measuring your reach is always important in marketing, Facebook has a Talking About feature that helps “brands measure, react and optimize the social channel content to ensure maximum engagement and increase content sharing potential” (Brown, n.d. p. 6). This is a good measuring tool that allows you to see your Facebook page’s “Weekly Total Reach” and “Friends of Fans” to get information on how your page is being shared.

Enter China’s social media

With China’s purchasing power, they are a formidable global market. A business should not pass up the opportunity to look into marketing there. According to Bloomberg News, “China overtook the U.S. last year as the world’s biggest economy when measured in terms of purchasing power” (2011, para. 1). China’s growth “has averaged 10.3 percent a year over the past decade, nearly six times faster than the U.S” (Chiu, Lin, Silverman, 2013, para. 3). This opens up a whole new market for companies wanting to capitalize on such buying potential. To do this, businesses must start marketing on China’s top social media.

According to a new McKinsey survey, “The country has by far the world’s most active social media population” (Chiu, Lin, Silverman, 2013, para. 1). Since they are extremely active on social networks, businesses must reach out to Chinese citizens through their most popular sites. Ad Age Global says, “China now has 580 million people active on that country’s top social network, Tencent’s QZone (Madden, 2013, para. 3). China’s version of the U.S.’s popular social media sites are Tencent Weibo (akin to Twitter), Sina Weibo (a microblogging website most closely related to WordPress), PengYou (like Facebook), and RenRen (also comparable to Facebook).

When marketing to the Chinese, it is important to know that they are culturally skeptical and “lack trust in formal institutions” (para. 2) so recommendations by peers is important to them. The Chinese are more likely to purchase a product if it is recommended by a friend or if they saw it on a social media site (para. 2) as opposed to through traditional marketing efforts. This knowledge should be taken into consideration when deciding how to market there. Entering and engaging the Chinese market should be a top social media priority.

Social media is changing and so are we

A universal truth is that social media is constantly changing. Is it changing because of technology or is technology changing because of us? In my opinion, it’s both. We are so used to instant access to anything that technology has to keep pace. On the other hand, we’re so used to instant access because it was technologically available. Either way, the fact is it is changing and we have to keep up with it and it has to keep up with us. The businesses that give us what we want and/or need are going to increase revenue faster than those that just provide what we already have. That’s why it’s so important to remain vigilant and know what’s available in social media. If you keep an ear to the ground and know when something new is available, you will be able to implement it quickly (if it works for you). The future of social media means increased revenue and stronger brand affinity as more people look to social media for brand information.

Resources

Bennett, S. (2013, May 27). 17 incredible social media marketing statistics. In Media Bistro. Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-marketing-stats_b43558#more-43558

Bennett, S. (2013, June 12). Drowning in data—How can businesses stay afloat in the sea of social media? In Media Bistro. Retrieved from http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social-media-data_b44758#more-44758

Brown, A. (n.d.). The changing Facebook: What marketers need to know for 2012 social media planning. In Slideshare.com. Retrieved from http://es.slideshare.net/unitedfuture1/f8-recap-the-changing-facebook

China overtakes U.S. as biggest economy when measured by purchasing power. (2011, January 13). In Bloomberg News. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-14/china-tops-u-s-as-biggest-economy-by-purchasing-power-update1-.html

Chiu, C., Lin, D., and Silverman, A. (2013, February). High influence: China’s social media boom. In McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from http://cmsoforum.mckinsey.com/article/high-influence-chinas-social-media-boom

Haskell, C. (2013, May 16). Is your business’ Facebook page effective? In EnvisionMarketingMA.com. Retrieved from http://www.envisionmarketingma.com/blog/articles/isyourbusinessface/

Kemp, S. (2012, April 25). 12 provocations: A dozen digital developments that will shape the future of marketing. In Slideshare.com. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/the-future-of-social-media-12-provocations

Viral Marketing Initiatives

Viral-Marketing-pic-of-peopleViral marketing has a snowball effect. It gets bigger and bigger and moves faster and faster as it goes along. So why is it that some messages go viral, while others don’t? Are there specific reasons that some marketing efforts get shared by so many, while others languish on the social media floor? Fortunately for us, there are specific factors that popular viral marketing ventures have in common, including humor, intrigue, interaction, cleverness, and controversy. The following are some examples of these different aspects that have been used successfully.

HUMOR. A pretty universal strategy for getting people’s attention is to use humor. Of course, there are myriad types of humor so it is very important to know your target audience and what kinds of humor they find entertaining. For example, there seems to be a rash of nonsensical and slapstick kind of humor in the media lately. This type of humor seems to appeal to the ever-popular, media loving 18- to 25-year-old demographic. That’s why Jack Links Beef Jerky’s “Messin’ With Sasquatch” commercials were such a hit. I asked my 21-year-old son (a member of their target market) if he liked these commercials and he said he did so I asked him why. He said he liked that the guys pulled a prank on Bigfoot and then one of them gets attacked because of it. The advertiser knows its target market well and realized they would get this type of humor. They also created a game to play on their website called, “Swing! Throw! Smash!” The advertisers knew this type of game would appeal to their target demographic.

INTRIGUE. People are inordinately fascinated with puzzles and intrigue. They want to be “in the know” and try to quash unfounded rumors. The hype surrounding the horror movie, Cloverfield, exemplifies this. The marketing people created suspense through creating fake websites, teaser trailers, and revealed secrets about and within the film. They also featured cryptic information such as “1/18/08” with no other information given. This and the other marketing schemes created the intended effect, intrigue. All the hype built anticipation for the release of the movie, leading to a very successful worldwide box office gross of nearly $171 million and an additional $30 million in DVD sales (the-numbers.com).

INTERACTION. People love to interact and fortunately engagement is incredibly important in social media marketing. Engage and interact with your audience and they’ll keep coming back. A great example of successful interaction was the Burger King Subservient Chicken. People could type in commands and the chicken would follow them such as doing jumping jacks, doing push-ups, and even watching TV. According to AdWeek (2008), “Within a week it had 20 million hits” (Anderson, para. 2). Followers were intrigued by its creativity and technological innovation and loved trying to stump the chicken to see if it would do everything they commanded it to do.

CLEVERNESS. People find clever, fascinating marketing interesting. One especially successful example of clever marketing was OK Go’s “This too Shall Pass” music video. With incredible ingenuity, the music group OK Go made a video using a domino effect with random objects. Viewers found it fascinating to watch the different items synchronize perfectly in a chain reaction. The impressive video not only achieved 16 million hits, but it won for the music group the UK Video Award’s Best Video as well as Best Rock Video (Telegraph, 2010). This accomplishment quite possibly would not have been achieved without the success of the viral video.

CONTROVERSY. People are intrigued by controversy. They want to figure out if something is fact or fiction, real or manufactured. And The Blair Witch Project kept many guessing. They went out in droves to find out if the legend was true. This is especially impressive considering the movie cost a mere $60,000 to produce, had no major stars, and grossed $1.5 million in its opening weekend (Carvell, 1999, para. 1).

The selective screenings helped it gain notoriety. This selectivity, it seems, was part and parcel to the movie’s success. Carvell notes that “with the movie opening on so few screens, shows began selling out days in advance” (para. 5). The marketing team also created the BlairWitch.com website and co-produced a Sci-Fi Channel special. Carvell says, “These low-key approaches helped foster the belief among audience members that they’d discovered the film for themselves–a belief that, in turn, fed traffic to the site” (para. 3).

Viral marketing should be every marketers aim. We want as many people to hear about our products or services as possible. So, with a splash of ingenuity—combined with knowing your target market well—and one or more of the factors noted above, you should be able to garner enough publicity to make your marketing effort go viral. Fortunately, we can take lessons from the examples given on how to do that best.

Resources

Anderson, M. (2005, March 7). Dissecting ‘Subservient Chicken.’ In AdWeek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising/dissecting-subservient-chicken-78190

Carvell, T. (1999, August 16). How The Blair Witch Project built up so much buzz. In Fortune. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/1999/08/16/264276/

Cloverfield. (2008). In TheNumbers.com. Retrieved from http://www.the-Numbers.com/movies/2008/11808.php

Grainger, J. (2009, June 28). 47 outrageous viral marketing examples over the last decade. In IgniteSocialMedia.com. Retrieved from http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/social-media-examples/viral-marketing-examples/

OK Go win video of the year award. (2010). In The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/8060133/OK-Go-win-video-of-year-award.html

Differentiation

In the Relationship Age, businesses must build relationships with their hidden assets—their customers—through social media (SM) marketing (Galbreath, 2002, p. 9). Both fast fashion retailers, Wet Seal and Forever 21, are utilizing SM to their advantage. And this is no passing fad. As Jim Tobin says on his popular social media marketing website, Mashable, “Sites like Comedy Central, Forever 21 and Etsy are seeing more traffic from social networks than they see from Google” (2010, para. 4). Both Wet Seal and Forever 21 use the standards of the day: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but they are also using some different venues on the social media scene to optimize their presence such as Pinterest, iPhone applications (apps), and other interactive media.

Social Media Venues Used by Wet Seal: Facebook (with interactive feature), Twitter, YouTube, interactive website, blogging, iPhone apps, Pinterest, Tumblr

By spreading their message throughout popular venues such as an interactive Facebook page, a model search on YouTube, and Twitter accounts where they can tweet about the latest trends or any specials the stores may be having, Wet Seal helps optimize their exposure leading to increased revenue. Wet Seal’s market is 15- to 35-year-olds, most of which encompass Generation Y. Knowing that this audience’s tastes are influenced by peers and then marketing to them in a venue they populate heavily (Facebook), is brilliant. Supply that audience with a steady stream of new fashion options that they can show off to each other on a venue where they tend to congregate and you’ve set yourself up for success. Because of Generation Y’s innate affinity for new technology and desire to connect, social media marketing works well for them. Wet Seal CEO, Ed Thomas, knows this from first-hand experience. In an article by Amy Roach Partridge for Apparel Marketing (2010), he said, “The true measure of these tools’ usefulness is whether sales increase. And they have.” Their success is due, at least partially, to Wet Seal’s CIO Jon Kubo. He is constantly looking for and finding innovative ways to market using SM. And it’s working. In an article on IndependentRetailer.com, they say,  “Kubo told the (National Retail Federation) conference that Wet Seal’s social media efforts are generating 20 percent of the company’s ecommerce sales” (2011, para. 2). Regarding the company’s Facebook page he said, “There is definitely a social component associated with apparel … it’s about socializing versus buying something” (Partridge, 2010, para. 14).

Social Media Venues Used by Forever 21: Interactive website, blogging, foursquare (offers promotions), Flickr (photos from store events), TwitterCounter (to measure analytics from different venues), Google Alerts (to keep updated on what’s being said about them), Pinterest, Instagram (picture sharing), smart phone application (app)

With 450 locations in the U.S. and nearly 100 international stores, fashion retailer Forever 21 is a force to be reckoned on the fast fashion scene. According to Kim Bhasin (2013), “Forever 21 is growing like crazy, and the fast fashion retailer is becoming a major threat to the rest of the industry” (para.1). So what accounts for this success? Their SM strategy is partially the reason. They’ve created the “F21POP mobile app lets consumers view exclusive videos” of runway shows and other fashion-related content (Kats, 2012, para. 2). The company uses this social media venue (F21POP) to merge the digital age with reality. Forever 21’s global marketing director, Linda Chang, says, “Our customers are digitally savvy and we strive to bring fast technology to fast fashion” (Kats, 2012, para. 13). Forever 21 also posts photo shoots of their new merchandise on Facebook regularly, allowing their followers to check out any new pieces that have become available. Their blog, The Skinny, showcases new arrivals and puts them together to complete an outfit. If the viewer likes what they see, they know they can buy the pieces online or in the store to recreate the outfit or put together their own version of it. The interactivity of the app is why it is very popular with the company’s audience.

Forever 21 is taking full advantage of SM marketing. They have their own YouTube channel called Forever 21 TV and they have even incorporated Instagram into their social media campaign and featured a giveaway through that venue.

Businesses cannot afford to jump on the social media bandwagon for the sake of jumping. They need to do research to find out which of the social media tools will best serve their company. Then they have to devote time, money, and manpower to maintain it. With smart tools and smart people using them, it is possible for a business to increase revenue exponentially. Because these retailers know that social media is essential to their marketing strategy, they are getting in on the act and seeing increased revenue because of it.

Resources

Bhasin, K. (2013, March 11). The Competition Should Be Terrified Of Forever 21. In Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/forever-21-dominating-teen-retail-market-2013-3

Galbreath, J. (2002). Success in the Relationship Age: Building quality relationship assets for market value creation. The TQM Magazine, 14.1. 8-24.

Kats, R. (2012, November 12). Forever 21 takes shopping to the next level with augmented reality app. In MobileCommerceDaily.com. Retrieved from http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/forever-21-takes-shopping-to-the-next-level-with-augmented-reality-app

Tobin. J. (2010, October 22). 4 winning strategies for social media optimization. In Mashable.com. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/10/22/social-media-optimization/

Partridge, A. R. (2010, April 20). Building a Social/Mobile Strategy—One Outfit at a Time. In Apparel Marketing. Retrieved from http://apparel.edgl.com/news/Building-a-Social/Mobile-Strategy—One-Outfit-at-a-Time63557

Social Media Next Logical Marketing Arena For Retailers. (2011, May 1). In IndependentRetailer.com. Retrieved from http://independentretailer.com/2011/05/01/social-media-next-logical-marketing-arena-for-retailers/