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

Is all PR, Good PR? Not Necessarily.

The subject of my blog this week deserves a place in the “I don’t believe it” Hall of Fame (if there was such a thing). While responding to a classmate’s blog regarding her wonderful tips on how to use social media successfully, I came across a story about a guy who thought that any media attention was good attention. Like a spoiled child, he thought that if he couldn’t get positive attention, he would settle for negative attention. Here’s the story:

A guy named Vitaly Borker owned the online eyewear company, DecorMyEyes. He routinely bilked customers out of their money in several ways: sending fake designer eyeglass frames while advertising and pricing those frames as genuine; overcharging customers after their orders were placed; forcing customers to change their orders saying the brand they wanted was not available; and not refunding unsatisfied customers’ money. But wait, this isn’t all! He also started to threaten those customers that complained with bodily harm that included homicide, dismemberment, and rape! Yeah, this jerk was the epitome of horrible customer service.

In a New York Times article by David Segal, “A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web,” he detailed how one customer’s experience with Borker and his company, DecorMyEyes, led to a two-year nightmare of threats, overcharges and pure intimidation. Not only did this guy tell the customer, Clarabelle Rodriguez, that she had to choose a different brand of contacts she ordered, he also charged her more than what the order  came to, by $125! When the glasses she ordered came (without the contact lenses), they were obviously knock-offs of the designer brand she paid for … and he charged her for the contacts that she never received.  She called DecorMyEyes to complain and was met with a rude, hostile customer service representative (Borker himself posing as someone named Tony Russo) that not only profanely refused to refund her money, but also threatened her. He actually told her that he had her address and that he lived only “a bridge away” from her! Ms. Rodriguez then called her credit card company (and the police) and disputed the charges. This, however, did not fix the problem.

Once Mr. Borker found out that Ms. Rodriguez had disputed the charges (and the credit card company refunded her money), he started harassing her daily, even several times a day. During the 60 days it took her credit card company to investigate the disputed charges, she received a letter telling her that they were closing their investigation per her request. Since she had never told them to cancel the dispute, she called her credit card company. Apparently this Borker dude had someone pose as Ms. Rodriguez to have the company drop the dispute! So her credit card company not only added the charges back to her card, but included fees and interest!

You can read the whole sordid story online at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/business/28borker.html?pagewanted=all. So I’ll get to how this story relates to social media. After all this happened to Ms. Rodriguez, she complained about Borker and DecorMyEyes on the GetSatisfaction website as well as the ComplaintsBoard.com and ConsumerAffairs.com discussion boards. Here she found others like herself that had been defrauded by Borker. There were hundreds of complaints, but this was only helping the company. With each complaint online, DecorMyEyes was moving up in the search engines!

Borker was profiting by his negative publicity! And he was ecstatic about this. He actually said, “I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works” (Segal). When a representative from GetSatisfaction.com asked him to be proactive in remedying all the negative comments his company was receiving, he sent them an email with a photo of him holding up his middle finger. Borker said he almost went so far as to plant a story in the social media that his alter ego committed murder just to increase the hype! Boy, oh boy. What a guy, huh? By exploiting Google’s algorithm that was unable to discern between good publicity and scathing reviews, he was using this negative publicity to his advantage by increasing his Google ranking.

The story has a happy ending fortunately. Google got wind of this man’s story and changed their algorithms (the mathematical formula it uses to rank websites in its search engine) in order to keep this kind of thing from happening again. And, I’m happy to report, Borker was arrested for fraud and sending threatening communications. He was sentenced in September to four years in prison and ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution and fines.

I guess all PR isn’t good PR after all, as Borker erroneously thought. The power of social media can obviously break a business if not used correctly.

Works Cited

Segal, David. “A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web.” The New York Times. 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 07 Nov. 2012.

Segal, David. “Web Businessman Sentenced for Threats.” The New York Times. 06 Sep. 2012. Web. 07 Nov. 2012.

“Old” Social Media Sites You May Have Forgotten

As I was discussing old social media sites (and old is relative here since they were created within about a decade) with my son-in-law and daughter, they reminded me of some sites that I hadn’t even considered SM until now. Such SM as AOL chat rooms, Open Diary, Live Journal, Reddit, and Stumble Upon came up. I was never involved with the chat rooms or any of the others, but my children were. They were teenagers at the time and used Open Diary and Live Journal almost daily. If you don’t know about these “old” SM tools, let me inform you. 😉

Open Diary: OpenDiary.com

Open Diary is an interactive diary (blog) for you to write about your personal thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. It’s like a real diary, only this one can be viewed and commented on by anyone online. Open Diary’s welcome message says that it’s for connecting with friends, keeping your life online, and learning about yourself. They offer free blog space with an opportunity to upgrade (for a price, of course). The site lists a “People’s Choice” of entries as well as a “Theme of the Week.”  I don’t know how popular it is now, but as can be expected, the most popular blog diaries are about depression, love, and poetry. I say “as can be expected” because I believe that’s what most people write about in their physical diaries. I imagine that teenage girls make up the largest population of Open Diary users.

Live Journal: LiveJournal.com

Live Journal is another diary-type SM tool. It has more information about its users than Open Diary. Like Open Diary, it offers free blog space to whomever would like to keep a public diary (which seems to me to defeat the purpose of a diary since I always thought diaries were very personal and not shared with anyone except, perhaps, one’s closest friends). Live Journal, however, keeps stats about its users. It claims to have 53,8 million journals and communities who submitted over 141,000 posts in the last 24 hours. It also includes a poll and updates on news items and lists popular entries and communities. Of the two, I’d say Live Journal is more advanced in its offerings than Open Diary. If you love writing about your thoughts and feelings—and want public feedback—both SM sites are a free, easy way to accommodate you.

Reddit: Reddit.com

Reddit is a lot like Digg in that it lists the most popular news stories as found by its members. You can even pick a topic that most interests you such as Funny, Politics, Gaming, Technology, etc. These topics have the latest and most popular news about each topic. You can even go to specific categories about each of these topics. They include Hot, New, Controversial, and Top. I’ve never gone to the Reddit site before, but it seems to me that if you want to stay on top of the latest news on whatever topic you choose, this is the perfect place to do just that.

Stumble Upon: StumbleUpon.com

StumbleUpon is a great SM tool for those who want to discover new sites about whatever interests them. They claim to “help you discover great sites, videos and photos from around the web.” And it’s free! I think this could be a great resource for finding the best sites for anything you might want to learn more about. Twenty-five million members tell StumbleUpon their interests then StumbleUpon directs them to sites, videos, and photos related to those interests, and members rate them. I joined. 😉

Next week I’ll have information about the “Captcha” tool. Find out how this program protects social media tools like websites, blogs, emails, polls, etc. from bots.