Author Archives: drjrogers

About drjrogers

Jessica's research centers around Organic Social Media Marketing engagement, Brand Loyalty & GenX females. Jessica carries a wealth of experience as a marketing practitioner as well as experience in higher education, online course design, program development, faculty management, course development, and serving as a subject matter expert.

From the Archives: Almost any brand can be Pinteresting. Here’s how!

pinterest warning

By Jessica Rogers, {grow} Contributing Columnist

I’m not crafty. I do not scrapbook, do DIY projects, or tackle anything that involves a glue gun.

However, I recently created a “Laundry Room Makeover” board on Pinterest and completed the renovation. Pinterest was a wonderful source for before and after pictures, detailed tutorials, names and reviews of paints, and even lists of where to find the products and their prices.

I must point out many of these, if not all, were not brand sponsored! For example, like other Pinterest users I posted all the materials used in my after photos. This is an amazing opportunity for brands to increase brand recognition by way of social sharing or “pinning.”

This story is played over and over across the globe. Pinterest is the ultimate source for creative (P)inspiration.

Why use Pinterest?

Pinterest marketing specialist Piqora found that one “pin” generates an average of 78 cents in sales. Pins are 100x more viral than tweets and Pinterest Board pages can rank on Google long after the original post.

Like any social platform, Pinterest might not work equally well for all brands. However, Pinterest can be a great way to share valuable content with your target audience and showcase your brand personality.

Pinterest is obviously the home room for the visual content from clothing designers, photographers, and makeup artists. But the platform can be utilized by non-creatives like real estate agents, marketing thought leaders posting relevant articles, even parents posting ideas about home schooling their children. Almost anyone can be more Pinteresting….

Are pins really content?

Absolutely. But keep in mind the importance of  “delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.” Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and of course Pinterest have a specific demographic of users and can be optimized accordingly. What is often overlooked is the importance of relevant and timely content for these platforms.

What should you pin?

  • What does your target audience of client base want to learn more about? What moves them? What interests them? Find pins related to those topics. Become your follower’s go-to resource.
  • Regularly visit the What’s Popular section of Pinterest to see what is trending and what really resonates with Pinterest users.
  • “How to” pins are very popular. Find tutorials your audience can use and pin them, or create your own. Including before and after images.
  • Infographics are a great way to share a large amount of information in an attractive, inspiring way.
  • Do not always pin your own content. If you do pin your own content, be sure to do it in a way that drives users to your website.

Tips for optimizing your pins 

  • Add relevant Search Engine Optimization (SEO) keywords in your “About” section. Search engines index this page, so use those 200 characters wisely.
  • Utilize humorous of catchy titles to entice folks to follow the board, and include keywords in board titles to make the board more searchable in Pinterest.
  • Curate pins that link back to your website, email opt-in page, or product page/catalog
  • Pinterest is social, so remember to interact and engage with others. Repin, follow, and make comments.
  • I found this Pinterest Master Class to be helpful. It is a series of three videos equaling an hour of content.

via Almost any brand can be Pinteresting. Here’s how! – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow} – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}

*Update: With over 150 Million users, Pinterest is worth a gander. Read more here on the latest stats on this power platform! At the same time I posted my reno on Pinterest, I added a “make me move” price on Zillow…. the rest is history. Full price offer, that led to us building a new home, 2.7 miles down the road.

Photo credit: clasesdeperiodismo via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA


5 Attributes of Thought Leaders- Intellectual Takeout

5 Attributes of Thought Leaders

Have you ever asked yourself, what makes someone an entrepreneur of ideas, a so-called thought leader? The ability to invent and spread the word about newfangled concepts? A master of the TED Talk? A magnetic Steve Jobs-like personality?

The Marketing Insider Group defines a ‘thought leader’ as someone who “tap[s] into the talent, experience, and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience, on a particular topic.” Thought leaders are innovators and forest-for-the trees types, not borrowers, technicians or, as Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) called intellectuals, “professional secondhand dealers in ideas.”

With tongue in cheek, New York Times columnist David Brooks describes the thought leader:

“The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it’s like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts.

He doesn’t have students, but he does have clients. He doesn’t have dark nights of the soul, but his eyes blaze at the echo of the words ‘breakout session.’”

Besides being lampooned, the notion of thought leadership has also been widely criticized. University of Reading Management professor Kevin Money and research fellow Nuno Da Camara call thought leadership “meaningless management speak.” Harvard Business Review writer Dorie Clark comments that “it is very icky when people call themselves thought leaders because that sounds a little bit egomaniacal.” According to Tufts University professor Daniel Drezner, we need fewer thought leaders and more public intellectuals. Perhaps, for these academics, thought leadership is a matter of sour grapes, something they cannot achieve, so they roundly reject it.

Whatever the case, thought leaders are highly sought after by business firms and government agencies. High-performing organizations want these people as their executives, consultants and managers, and they are usually compensated handsomely. Why? Because they possess some or all of the following unique attributes:

  1. Ambition: They want to achieve the most they can with their novel ideas, both for themselves and the organizations they work for.
  2. Image conscious: Marketing their ideas and producing the perfect presentation matters, since image impacts how others perceive their brand.
  3. Big thinking: They care more about the macro-level, the larger picture, and less about the small details or technicalities, which others can always work out later.
  4. Expertise: They are authorities in the areas of inquiry where they generate the most innovative ideas.
  5. Ability to see aspects others don’t or cannot see: They detect subtle patterns and larger trends where thought followers fail to.

This last attribute—often called ‘aspect-seeing’—is the most important. To illustrate, look at the Duck-Rabbit image, invented by the Gestalt psychologists and employed by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) in his ground-breaking work Philosophical Investigations:

Most people either perceive an image of a duck or an image of a rabbit. The thought leader immediately detects the patterns for both and possibly more. He is adept at seeing aspects of a puzzle or a problem that others cannot.

Is thought leadership something you aspire to? Or is the notion meaningless, icky and/or trendy?

This post 5 Attributes of Thought Leaders was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Shane Ralston.

http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/sites/all/themes/ito/js/ito-repub.js


From the Archives: 4 Critical Social Media Lessons I Learned From My 4 Year Old

My son just turned 4 and has developed into a kind and considerate little man. Before you say “of course, he is your son, brag much?”, let me support my theory with a bit of fact.  The truth is, I am learning from him. I marvel at what we can learn about connecting on the social web from this little man …

Thank you is just the beginning of the relationship

On his birthday, we had a party for all his friends at a gymnastics place where the kids could bounce around and burn some energy. After the party, not only did he actually thank each friend for coming and for each present, he could recall who got him what afterwards! The staff at the gymnastics joint commented on his awesome manners. A proud Mommy moment and even more proud the weeks following when my son still remembered what each of his friends gave him.

In social it is so easy to show gratitude but often can be time consuming when you have many followers/fans/comments. However, a little “Thank you” goes a long way!

Thank people for sharing in a Tweet, Re-Tweet something that resonates with you, or share a blog post that your followers would enjoy. Pay it forward, be a resource for others and support those around you. Also, know it does not have to stop at “Thank you.”  There have been countless times my son and I have been going into school or a store and someone has held the door open for us. My son politely says (on his own) “Thank you” and then asks me, “Mommy why didn’t they say You’re welcome?”

“Thank you” is just the beginning of a relationship. The doors of communication are now open and you have endless possibilities of what you can do with the relationship.

Stay centered

big hairMy son has the most beautiful long blonde hair, and he loves it! He allows me to trim it but he really wants to have long hair. This is a part of him.

l recently took my son to McDonald’s to romp in the play area (He absolutely thinks this is THE most fun ever). The last two times we went to McD’s he comes up to me with a new friend (once it was a girl the other time a boy) and says, ” Mommy tell him/her I’m a boy!”(because of his hair). No matter how many times he has a “prove your gender” altercation or is called a girl at his own birthday party (yes this did actually happen), it does not phase him. He likes what he likes, and that is it.

Whether you are a person, a business or a brand on the social web, you’re going to get knocked around a bit. But you must represent yourself in one true, consistent voice. You can’t be something you are not. Stay centered.

Patience Pays

My family had been looking forward to the State Fair of Texas all year. My son has big dreams about it and was sure he could ride all the big rides now. After all,  he was 4!

Big TexRealistically, he was just one inch taller than last year, so we were still very limited in what he could enjoy at the fair. This did not phase him at all. He went, he saw, he conquered the same three fun houses and four rides. All day.

He patiently waited all year for the fair, patiently waited to park, patiently waited in many lines to eat, drink, ride rides, and play games.  And then, it was all over in 8 hours.

In social, success rarely happens over night. You must nurture the relationships you make, consistently deliver valuable content, and engage with others in an authentic way. Most of the time, you have to wait to ride the big rides.

Just as it takes time to build a valuable brand, it takes time to build a good social following. Simply opening accounts serves little or no purpose. Don’t give up after one month and you have only 15 followers on Twitter and no one has read your blog post. Just think of the possibilities: communities to be part of, businesses you can work with, folks to connect with, and all of the knowledge that goes along with it.

The Wonder of Learning

Each day my little dude learns at least two new things. How wonderful is that? Life is constantly exciting for him because the world is a wonder.

How can you capture this spirit in your own life? Are you spending time to learn and wonder?

Make it a point in your life to try to always be learning. Social make this so easy. You have a world full of folks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and G+ willing to connect with you and share new content and ideas.  Many of these connections can be instrumental to you personally and professionally and likewise, you can be very instrumental to them. It can be a very mutually beneficial on various levels.  You must first listen, then engage and take part in the conversation. Identify mentors and learn from them.

This post was not meant to be a page in my Mommy Brag Book. But, when thinking of some of the basics of social, they really do relate back to the basics of a happy life. Keep things in perspective. Be genuine. Be the person you want to meet. And be sure to take the rocks out of your pockets before starting the laundry!

What are you learning from your kids and how is relating to your business?

via Four critical Social Media Lessons I learned from my 4 year old – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}


Education Then and Now- Intellectual Takeout

Education Then and Now

If you want to positively impact the future, you must have a thorough knowledge of the past.

One of the most interesting books that I’ve read in the past year is Henri Marrou’s A History of Education in Antiquity. It’s considered the standard treatment of what education looked like in ancient Greece – the fount from which education in the West and in America sprang forth.

In particular, there were 5 characteristics of ancient Greek education that struck me when reading Marrou. I’ll summarize them for you below:

1) It focused on the basics. Primary students learned the “three Rs.” Step-by-step, they would move from the alphabet to syllables, words, sentences, and continuous passages. When they were ready, students would move on to a grammar school and more complex literature. They were also taught enough math to function in everyday life and in a trade.

2) It focused on literature. The ancient Greeks believed that a literary education was the best way to establish a core knowledge among citizens and to form mature and virtuous human beings. Teachers spent most of their time introducing students to the great authors of the past. They had a more integrated view of knowledge and did not split up the curriculum into various subjects.

3) It rooted students in the past. The educational philosophy of ancient Greece is contained in the word paideia – a “training” that students underwent to be initiated into adulthood and the Greek way of life. Education was about introducing students to the great authors and ideas of the past. The ancient Greeks believed that this process was the only way to preserve the identity and greatness of their culture while effectively preparing students to contribute to that culture as adults.

4) Education and character formation went hand-in-hand. In 1947 Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” The ancient Greeks felt the same way. The Greeks believed that the family should play the primary role in character formation. But they also believed that the values the child learned at home should be reinforced in the schools.

5) There was no centralized education system. Throughout the tenure of their civilization, the Greeks were able to preserve a consistent ideal of education without a centralized system and curriculum. Schools were built and funded by local communities. Greek culture visibly reflected the ideals taught in schools, so there was no need for the imposition of a standard curriculum. Citizens were clear about what education was for, and what it should teach.

These same characteristics marked Western education for over 2,000 years. They marked the education of Americans during colonial times, when literacy rates among those who attended school were higher than they currently are. And they marked the education that was offered to Americans in the 19th century.

In the past 100 years, American education has gone down a different path in the name of “progress.” The characteristics of today’s system, however, make me question how much progress we have really achieved.

The current American education system seems mystified about how to adequately teach our students the basics, as evidenced by low test scores. It has lost a sense of the purpose of education – both for the human person and our culture. It cuts students off from the past by almost solely focusing on modern literature selected for its conformity to modern ideals. It has become increasingly centralized, taking away the ability of local communities and teachers to meet the unique needs of their students.

At the same time, many parents do not provide enough character formation to their children at home – a formation that is necessary if students are to succeed in school.

As C.S. Lewis said, “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road.”

We may very well need to do an “about turn” with the American education system.

Image Credit

This post Education Then and Now was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Daniel Lattier.

http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/sites/all/themes/ito/js/ito-repub.js


From the Archives: Social media is saving animal lives

 

By Jessica Rogers, {grow} Contributing Columnist  

Most people read {grow} to see how social media is connecting brands and people … but I wanted to share how it is also connecting people to animals in need, too. In fact, social media is saving lives.

Adopting a pet who has been  abandoned, rescued, abused, or simply unwanted, is a wonderful thing for a person to do. Not only do you get a loving companion who adores you unconditionally, but you get a sense of purpose and true responsibility to this innocent  life you saved from being put down unnecessarily. By also helping via social media, I hope that my “lives saved” tally reaches far beyond the paws I have in my home.

The story of Bit.ly the dog

Last year my family lost two of our dogs due to old age and subsequently began our search for a new pet by visiting shelters every Saturday. Each week we saw plenty of contenders, and then I would go home and visit them on Facebook to see who got adopted, new strays that had been rescued, and the antics the shelter staff would post. This went on for weeks until I was introduced to a beautiful fluffy white dog with a pink nose  who had just been posted on Facebook:

bitly the dog bitly shelter photo

About 45 minutes later we were going home with our newest addition “Bit.ly.”

But connecting people with pets is just part of how social media is helping shelters. Just last month the shelter was able to reunite two stolen senior Basset Hounds from Missouri, Aggie and Clyde,  who were dumped here in Texas!  You can watch the reunion here. My local  shelter has many happy tails, and many not so happy tails of abandonment, neglect, abuse etc. But the point is, they use Facebook. They use it well. With little staff and money, they have managed to pull off consistent stellar Facebook engagement. Some things  they do:

  • Reply to posts within hours to inspire engagement
  • Post intake and adoption photos daily, updates on animals who have been adopted to drive consistent activity
  • Post professional photos of animals up for adoption, some of which are really quite adorable and shareable
  • Promote fund raisers; coordinate volunteer initiatives to get folks involved and posting to the page

Their community is wonderful. There is a lot  of activity, personality, and of course sharing. So why weren’t they on Twitter?

The Twitter connection

One day my son (4) says out of the blue,”Mommy I want a kitten. A black kitten.”  I have no idea where this came from but he never let it go. So we re-started our Saturday shelter visits with a new purpose. I was getting more and more involved with the wonderful shelter pets but noticed there was no Twitter feed. Why wouldn’t they share these animals with people on Twitter too?

So, I sent a Facebook message to the gals at the shelter (we are old friends at this point) and told them I could help them set up a Twitter account, show them how to use Hootsuite, and leverage Facebook posts in this new platform. Easy enough right!?

Not really.

Twitter best practices for a shelter

Well here in lies that pesky problem of time. The shelter needs time to post, which they are already doing and Hootsuite would basically just copy the posts to another social platform, Twitter. But they also need time to devote to building a following, sharing Tweets, and also answering tweets. They simply did not have the resources to do this and asked for my help in setting up and maintaining their Twitter feed.

Some time saving strategies I use, and suggest are:

Set up scheduled backbone tweets. The shelter has many “core messages” they can run over and over on Twitter on a timetable by scheduling through Hootsuite or Buffer. An example would be monthly remiders to followers about donating goods selected from the shleter’s Amazon Wish List.

I like to schedule posts that are pretty basic and not  terribly time sensitive.  The scheduling process is as easy as writing your short blurb, adding the link (Hootsuite and BufferApp will shorten the link for you), click which social networks you wish it to post to, and pick a date and time that you want it to post. There is also the “auto schedule” option that lets Hootsuite choose the most optimal times to post for you. Scheduled tweets can not be the only part of your strategy, but they help free up time to do real time engaging. Don’t forget to add relevant hashtags to help your post be “found.”

Utilize add-ons. Buffer and Hootsuite’s extensions are excellent time savers. The extensions are on your web browser, so you basically only have to click the icon on your browser window when you want to share something as opposed to opening the full dashboard. The shelter might want to use this for any article they run across or even YouTube video that is relevant to their audience. You can choose to post immediately or schedule as described above on Hootsuite and BufferApp as well. You can post to multiple platforms.

Utilize Twitter’s mobile App. I have the Twitter app on my phone (of course) and can toggle between my accounts and the shelter account. This is great for live Tweeting.  The shelter might be able to utilize this at off site functions, of course while utilizing appropriate hashtags. You can also check any mentions, messages or the like while on your smartphone.

While this list is by no means inclusive, it may help you get started with organizing your social media efforts when you don’t have much time.

I hope that through a few  minutes a day of my Tweeting I can help someone find that perfect pet or a shelter animal find their forever family, like “Marlo” or “Roxie” who have been at the shelter for 276 and 236 days respectively. Eventually, I am sure the shelter will be able to take over tweeting, but for now I enjoy it.  My ROI is knowing that I might be able to save one animal life.

And, in case you were wondering, here is “Bit.ly” with our new addition “#hashtag” the black kitten:

bitly the dog

Do you have any experience using social media to help with animal causes? I’d love to hear your story in the comment section!

via Social Strategy for the Dogs. How social media is saving animal lives. – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow} – Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}


Everyone is a Marketer

Since 2009 I have been fortunate enough to encounter thousands of undergraduate and graduate business students at two different universities during those years. Whether it be the sophomore or junior taking their first Marketing course, or the graduate student pursuing a masters in marketing with an undergraduate degree in another discipline – I always come across at least one student per term that is fearful and nervous about the course because they have “no experience in marketing“. Typically, this same student refers to simply advertising and commercials in our first class discussions. Not knowing, that those are only but two elements of a discipline that transcends …..

Everyone is a Marketer

A key idea I like to present to my students in the beginning of the term is for them to not think of themselves as marketing novices. I ask them to look at themselves, as consumers. I ask them to consider why they made purchases, why they chose one brand over another, how they prioritized purchases etc. Then, I ask them to take those details and consider ways marketing may have played a roll. This often opens many eyes. Then, I will also ask student to think of themselves as a product, and ask them ways that they could address the 4 P’s (or 7 P’s). Students begin to think from a different perspective. I tell my students, ” YOU are the most important product you will ever market. Brand it accordingly“. Often this self reflection makes many elements of marketing more applicable…..Because everyone is a marketer.

The Narrative
Students know more about Marketing than they realize, they simply need a tour guide to provide the narrative. In this age of push and pull marketing, consumers are marketed to in a variety of ways throughout each day. Marketing is everywhere, even if it is a bit incognito. As part of this narrative, instructors like myself seek textbooks and resources to not only support our lectures and teachings, but to also help show application and relevance. As part of this quest for useful learning resources has evolved, so has the output from publishers. I was lucky enough to review Hunt and Mello’s Marketing some time ago when the 1st edition was being developed. The undergraduate level book presented a novel approach of “everyone is a marketer” that grabbed my attention. Now, the anticipated second edition will be hitting the shelves.

Social Media Marketing
A majority of the courses that I have taught since 2009 are Social Media Marketing courses, my doctoral research centers around Social Media Marketing. So, when I see college level text books devoting one chapter to social, I cringe. I would prefer to supplement the resources with proven business books on the facets of social. However, for an undergrad Marketing course, that is not feasible. Students need a book that not only covers the basic principles of marketing, but also includes the elements of social media marketing into the mix. Just as social media should not operate in a silo in business, it should not be thought of as a stand alone topic – it should be interwoven throughout an introductory marketing book.

So, naturally I was intrigued by Shane Hunt, John Mello, and George Deitz’s approach to Marketing. As I further reviewed the content, I was delighted with the approach they took for the text. The second edition now includes chapters on retailing, personal selling, and digital/social media; while still doing a great job helping students apply marketing to their own career and career search. For example there is a Personal Marketing Plan section woven through the text, where students have the opportunity to really reflect on themselves, their career, and aspirations as the focus of a Marketing Plan. Through a variety of methods, the authors help make the content relevant whatever student career paths may be:

1. Executive Perspective
I really like the ‘Executive Perspective’ added to each chapter. This section features successful professionals who did not major in Marketing, yet use the principles of marketing every day. This addition helps bring concepts and topics to life by showing them in action, in a business environment, by someone in the field.

2. Today’s Professional Perspective
Another great addition to the content is a section (much like the above) in each chapter that highlights a recent graduate addressing the various areas of marketing that a student may find employment in. Again providing students with information that is relevant and timely.

3. Interactive
The text includes an interactive feature called Connect. Assignments help students understand and apply concepts covered in the chapters. For example, you can assign textbook readings with SmartBook, and for each chapter there are auto-graded analytics exercises. Not to mention, students have access to the eBook and study tools geared toward their own personal knowledge gaps (based on their interactions with the adaptive learning of SmartBook). This is a great display of content meshed well with technology.

4. Ethical and Global Elements
As opposed to devoting one chapter to Ethics and Globalization, they are woven through the text as a section in each chapter. Students are presented with cases that relate to the chapter topics. which helps give them a more robust view of marketing.

5. Social Media Application
Again, this was a key feature of the text for me. While they offer a chapter on Digital/ Social Media Marketing, there is also the opportunity for student to explore application within a Social Media Application section in each chapter as it relates to specific chapter topics. This is a great way to relate basic principles of marketing to social media as a tool for marketers.


The Chapter Challenge
How does your undergrad text measure up? You can take The Chapter Challenge here. Why am I suggesting you do this?.. Well, for every Challenge completed, McGraw-Hill will make a donation to the American Marketing Association’s Diversity Leadership and Social Impact scholarships. The Chapter Challenge takes about half an hour to complete and invites you to compare Shane Hunt, John Mello, and George Deitz’s Marketing, 2nd edition with your current Marketing Principles course materials.

Take the Challenge and feel free to comment below!


Theory and Application: Advancing the World of Marketing

glasses-568408_1280
Both academics and practitioners have long discussed the application of theory. The notion that there will always be a gap between practice and theory dates back to 1793 when Kant suggested in one of his early works that practical judgment by a practitioner is necessary in order to apply a particular theory. Knowing a theory and knowing how to properly apply a theory are two different concepts. The issues lie in transferring knowledge from academics to practitioners in a language they understand, and in a way that is relevant to them. Similarly, academics must see the real value of practitioners in the trenches, acquiring valuable insights into the applicability of an assortment of concepts and theory. Business has changed dramatically over the years, and it is imperative the disparity of theory and application be examined in order for business to harness the power of both for a substantial strategic advantage.

The Relationship Between Theory and Practice
The function of theory is to predict outcomes. Rotfeld (2014) suggests theory must explain existing data, make predictions, and must be falsifiable. The empirical value of a theory can be weighed by assessing if the theory helps in gaining new knowledge about a phenomena, or even helps in the discovery of new phenomena. Further, a theory might be evaluated based on if the theory demonstrates further applicability. Rotfeld (2014) suggests that practical use of a theory would be tied to its ability to predict an outcome in given conditions where there is a decision to be made and new data may not be readily available. Regardless of the impact a theory has made, how applicable it is remains to be of concern to many practitioners.

There is a disparity between practical implementation and research theory. Additionally, practitioners often misunderstand the meaning of many theories presented in academic journals, while also seeing little relevance to the real world of business (Rotfeld, 2014). However, theories are instrumental in guiding decisions by explaining and predicting. In business, theory can help direct decision-making much like it does in the academic realm. Practitioners that draw on their past experiences to make decisions, are in effect using theory. These decision makers are drawing upon conclusions they have made, and making predictions of outcomes. Theory also helps guide values and beliefs while helping practitioners and academics alike reframe their thinking. Conditions, domains, and contexts vary within business, and transferring theory from one context to another necessitates evidence that will still hold true for the newer context. Many ideas and theories within marketing practice are simply not generalizable. This is where we rely on academic research. For example, the copious amounts of data now available from the use of social media platforms will require relevant theories to help interpret this data for marketers. Additionally, appropriate theoretical models could be useful for making sense of the data (Pan & Crotts, 2012). However, the utility of theory for practice can only be assessed in regards to how well they predict and inform decision making if they are actually used and applied (Rotfeld, 2014).

Theories are critical to marketing practice
Practitioners need research for better decision- making, but also for superior understanding of context. Without theoretical context, data generated has very limited utility, or worse, could be considered meaningless (Rotfeld, 2014). Theoretical frameworks may help practitioners in that they can offer a global and abstract view (Pan & Crotts, 2012). Rotfeld (2014) points out those practitioners who do not value or ignore marketing theory development are simply seeking out research that matches a decision they are making rather than seeking out information, and then making a decision based on findings. It is possible to identify evidence applicable to almost any theory, but researchers and practitioners alike should seek evidence that is a compelling test of a theory rather than evidence that is consistent with a proposed theory. Traditional methods of research used in the applied setting are not appropriate to address significant practical issues and questions. This is when scientific and empirical approaches are needed. In order for marketing theory and education to influence practice, academics must ensure practice does not evolve faster than marketing discipline (Harrigan & Hulbert, 2011).

Practice enriches theory. Research initiated to solve practical problems can have immediate applications as well as inform further research. However, Gummesson (2014) believes theory in the social sciences does not take a holistic view and is somewhat fragmented. The author suggests case study research to tackle the complexities of marketing by building on solid empirical evidence and avoiding assumptions (Gummesson, 2014). Simplifying theory through assumptions makes theories become unrealistic, going directly against the pragmatic view of research. Researchers must combine theoretical, methodological, and analytical approaches (McFarland & Ployhart, 2015).

Often academia can look to practitioners for new an innovative ways of thinking that are on the cutting edge of the industry. Given the long process of formal publishing in academia (Pan & Crotts, 2012), some practitioners are able to use low cost of open source publishing to share pseudo-theories. Pseudo-theories are recent conceptual frameworks yet to be tested empirically and are generally proposed by non-academics (Pan & Crotts, 2012). These pseudo-theories can contribute to the understanding of a discipline much in the way a micro-theories or macro-theories can. However, any statement that cannot be tested by observation or experimentation cannot be considered a theory (Rotfeld, 2014). Additionally, practitioners face significant ethical implications in any true research endeavor; they rely on academia for empirical theory development and testing.

Theory and practice work together in a reciprocal and interdependent way

Advances in theory produce advances in practice. Likewise, advances in practice will initiate advances in theory. While theory guides research, it also has the ability to guide practitioners. Similarly, application can guide further research and has the ability to guide academics in their quest to finding suitable research ‘problems’ for empirical studies. Theory guides marketing practitioners and helps to generate knowledge. It helps to describe or explain the discipline of marketing, and importantly theory enables practitioners to know why they are doing what they are doing.

Marketing is based on theory; it is founded on theories of consumer behavior that are drawn from the social and behavioral sciences. Theories applicable to marketing are plentiful, but few are truly relevant to the distinctiveness of social media marketing. Many do not account for more modern social issues and unique situations, and thus may require a more refined approach. However, when considering the act of exchange is essential to the discipline of marketing, focus shifts to theory that can guide research surrounding such relationships taking place within a social media environment.


Theory vs Research: A Symbiotic Relationship for Digital Marketers Part 2

stock-624712_1280Please see part one of this post here. Then, resume part 2!

The Relationship Between Theory and Research
Science occurs in the context of discovery and/or testing (Strong, 1991). Ellis and Levy (2008) suggest a well-defined research problem is an essential starting point for effective research. A well articulated research problem will impact everything from the formulation of hypotheses, methodology, the literature review, and the conclusions. This research problem should integrate both concepts and theoretical perspectives of the existing literature (Ellis & Levy, 2008). Theory driven research allows for the researcher to gather interrelated concepts that will guide research, determining what things to measure, and what statistical relationships to look for. As we construct theory, we rely on research but we also use our own experiences (Gelso, 2006). Theoretical frameworks are important in that researcher must make an implicit framework more explicit in order to not undertake research with preconceived notions impacting processes, results, or even interpretations of findings.

Theory does play a pivotal role in research. Generally speaking, research contributes to theory in several ways: (a) creation of theory (b) validation of theory; (c) to refute a theory. Wacker (1999) believes there are two general objectives of research, theory building, and fact finding. The purpose of the research will dictate the research process and thus identify the undertaking as fact building or theory building. Fact finding research aims to gather facts obtained via precise and specific conditions, where as theory building research develops though an exiting body of knowledge. Fact finding research makes use of evidence to assess if a relationship exists. Theory building research uses the existing literature to define concepts, identify a domain, explain relationships, and then make predictions (Wacker, 1999).

  • Fact finding research plays an important role as it provides facts and empirical evidence that can later be integrated into theory. Additionally, fact-finding research allows for the investigation of new relationships as it is not limited by existing theory based relationships (Wacker, 1999). New theory development is made possible through fact finding research because this type of research discovers differences in data and explains that data. Theory building research, on the other hand, integrates similarities between studies.
  • Harlow (2009) suggests developing a theory involves some form of testing that theory, therefore theory development and testing are intertwined. Theories help researchers generate additional ideas and further scientific exploration and help to integrate constructs into a cohesive view that might otherwise bee seen as incongruent (Gelso, 2006). Harlow (2009) describes a circular process a researcher follows as theoretical ideas are tested against data, ideas are framed, and retests follow until conclusions can be considered trustworthy. The sciences would be a series of untested ideas and biased perspectives without any controlled empirical research (Gelso, 2006). Interestingly, Stam (2007) suggests that the frequent and methodical use of tests of statistical inference has actually impeded advances in (psychological) theory.
  • Gelso (2006) maintains theory and research go hand in hand and work in a symbiotic way. This cycle is on going, theories are being modified based on research, other theories emerge, new theories then guide additional research and are tested, and the cycle repeats (Gelso, 2006). However, not all researchers believe there is a link between research and theory. Gelso (2006) suggests there are some (within the field of psychotherapy research) who maintain that hypothesis-testing research has hindered discovery. However, Gelso (2006) points out theories help generate hypotheses to be tested. Thus, discovery oriented research uncovers relationships that in turn help form theory that can then be further investigated via testing. In fact, researchers use theories throughout the research process. For example, when coming up with ideas, generating hypotheses, and even interpreting the results a researcher uses theory as well as theoretical constructs. In the case of a failed hypotheses, this would prompt a researcher to revise a theory or mini-theory and thus alter hypotheses for further investigation. According to Popper (1957), a legitimate empirical test is designed to disprove theory.
  • Theory-building is paramount as it ensures a framework for analysis, assists in the development of the discipline, and is necessary in order to apply findings to real world problems (Wacker, 1999). Theory building research also helps find recurring themes across related fields thus increasing the theory’s importance and abstract level (Wacker, 1999). Theory building is very dependent on a comprehensive literature review within the research process. This process gives way to accepted definitions, domains of applicability, previously identified relationships, empirical test, and predictions. The literature search ensures all theory-building conditions are filled. Theory building involves defining variables for uniqueness, limiting the domain for generalizability, logically building relationships for internal consistency and abstractness, and giving specific predictions with empirical support for refutability (Wacker, 1999).

It should be noted that both qualitative and quantitative research contribute to theory. Corely and Gioia (2011) suggest that both types of research contribute to theory in terms of originality and utility. Quantitative research tends to offer more generalizability and greater predictability due to hypothesis testing. However, qualitative research is just as important to theory when trying to understand complex social situations (Gay & Weaver, 2011).

The Future for Digital and Social Media Marketing Research and Theory
Currently there are several social media platforms, and each application has its own characteristics that influence behavior. Smith, Fischer, and Yongjian (2012) undertook research surrounding Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube via content analysis. Interestingly, sentiment varied across social media sites suggesting each social media site fosters its own different characteristics. With social media evolving, there will likely be mini theories that are only applicable to certain settings and certain situations (McFarland & Ployhart, 2015).

It is clear that both theory and research are instrumental to the marketing discipline. Researchers must move beyond applying existing theories to the field of social media marketing. Consideration must be made to reflect on the uniqueness of social media as a communication channel. These distinct features should be used to help theory evolve in the context of social media marketing. The cycle of theory and research ensures the body of knowledge advances through testing, and discovery. With the relatively new field of social media marketing, addition empirical research is essential to establishing applicable theory, and building upon existing theory.

Stay tuned as we next explore the relationship between Theory vs Practice…


Theory vs Research: A Symbiotic Relationship for Digital Marketers Part 1

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Research within the social sciences is driven by theory. Theory is a fundamental function of scholarly research in any discipline, providing guidance through the exploration of relationships and discovery. While there are conflicting views on theory, and an ever-present debate on theory versus practice, it is undeniable that the role theory plays in research is an essential one.

The Nature and Types of Theory
Differentiating between the formal definition and the informal idea of theory is paramount to any discussion surrounding theory. There are conflicting notions on what constitutes theory, leading to a lack of agreement on a specific definition for “theory” (Henderikus, 2007), a definitive assessment of its nature (Corley & Gioia, 2011), or a an absolute purpose of theory (Harlow, 2009; Southern & Devlin, 2010). Theory does not have a definition or meaning that transcends disciplines (Harlow, 2009). However, Stam (2010) suggests use of the term theory is relatively unlimited. The term is being used for different unknowns and is often used to formalize a ‘hunch’. Three interpretations of theory that have been significant in research are reductionism, instrumentalism, and realism (Stam, 2007).

According to Wacker (1999), academics typically view theory as including definitions of variables, a domain where the theory is applicable, the relationships between the variables, and specific predictions. It is important to note that theoretical definitions are not observable; they are conceptual in nature and can transcend measurement (Wacker, 1999). Wacker (1999) suggests the definition of theory is a statement of relationships that are observed or estimated; theory must include conceptual definitions, domain limitations, relationship building, and predictions. Gelso (2006) suggests theory to be a statement about the relationships under investigation between and among variables. With this perspective, then it is logical to say that there can be a theory behind all research.

While there are several definitions of theory among academics and practitioners, it appears there are many shared beliefs about theory. However, there are varying opinions on the exact nature of theory. Wacker (1999) suggests some academics and practitioners alike believe theory and its application are somewhat limited and therefore not useful in real-world settings in business. On the other hand, some feel that there is very little theory in academia. The literature suggests that theory may not necessarily require application. However, the true nature of theory depends on the definition of theory being considered, as well as what criteria is being used to identify a ‘good ‘ theory.

A “good theory”
Good theory must have a clear explanation of how and why particular relationships lead to specific actions. In order for a theory to be ‘good’ theory, it should be unique from other theories, it should be generalizable, it should be able to generate new models and hypotheses, it should be independent of time and space, it should be internally consistent, and have few assumptions. There seems to be no consensus among the various virtues of a good theory, but there is an agreement as to what they are (Wacker, 1999). According to Wacker (1999), good theory is dependent on uniqueness, parsimony, conservation, generalizability, fecundity, internal consistency, empirical riskiness, and abstraction. A superior theory is one that is more widely applied, predicts the most unlikely of events, and is one that can be integrated into several relationships into a larger theory. Theories can also vary from formal to the informal, informal theories being those that are not stated explicitly (Gelso, 2006). Gelso (2006) suggests mini-theories to be more useful than comprehensive theories that will likely never be disproved. These broad theories rarely generate new research testing their validity, and are therefore not exactly scientifically useful. These mini-theories may be part of a larger comprehensive theory, or they may stand on their own (Gelso, 2006).

Good theory meets all definitions of theory as well as the virtues of good theory (Wacker, 1999). Theories must be descriptive in that they fully describe the phenomena under investigation. A good theory can effectively explain causes, address why occurrences happen, and also place limits on what is being investigated (Gelso, 2006). However, simply because a theory meets the criteria of theory and has the virtues of good theory, it does not make the theory a valid one. There may be cases where a theory under investigation is actually incorrect. For a theory to be of value to the science of research, it should go as far as to address why variables are expected to relate to one another (Gelso, 2006).

Theory or Hypothesis – Theory is distinct from such terms as concept, proposition, or hypothesis. Bachman and Schutt (2007) suggest a concept to be a mental image of sorts that represents the observations. A proposition on the other hand, is a statement that expresses relationships between two or more concepts (Cozby, 2009). Gelso (2006) posits a hypothesis is a proposition that is stated in a specific way so that it can be tested empirically. Hypotheses stem from such propositions, which are drawn from theory; theories tie concepts together.

Theory and Social Media
Ngai, Tao, and Moon (2015) investigated the current research surrounding social media using the leading five academic databases. Forty-six articles were analyzed. The authors found several personal behavior theories, social behavior theories, and mass communications theories used in social media related research. Social exchange theory was utilized only twice for research investigating virtual communities, once by Blanchard (2008), and once by Lin, Hung, and Chen (2009). The author’s literature review found that many researchers have studied the causal relationships of various variables, social influence and social capital were the most common input variables. User intention and user behavior were the most common outcome variables. In regards to mediating variables, the choice of tool was found to be an important variable given it has a mediating effect on input and outcomes. Ngai et al. (2015) provide a collection of research and an assortment of authors that have published work related to the field of study. The literature review within the study gives insight as to how researchers adopted theory, used research constructs, and developed conceptual frameworks for their research.

A Gap in Knowledge- Very limited research exists surrounding social media given how large a role social networking sites play in today’s business world (Chen, 2013). Specifically there is limited research on social media platforms. Most related studies investigate only Facebook (McFarland & Ployhart, 2015), and not the many other platforms used by consumers such as Twitter, Pinterest, branded blogs and more. Thus, we encounter an incomplete understanding of social media without considering the other contexts, such as Twitter, that offer a different and dynamic experience.

There is an absence of theoretical and practical scientific research surrounding social media use within the business sector (McFarland & Ployhart, 2015). Kane, Alavi, Labianca, & Borgatti, (2014) suggest the very nature of social media makes it difficult to apply established theory. Theories originating in non-digital contexts may not truly capture the essence of social media and it is possible new theories need to be developed (McFarland & Ployhart, 2015). Theoretically, social media interactions are quite different from traditional face-to-face interactions while also varying from other types of digital communication such as email (McFarland & Ployhart, 2015). Thus, meanings from traditional theory may change when used in the context of social media. This may require new theories and frameworks to fully understand social media within this context. If scholars simply take existing theories that are more person centric, and apply it to social media, there is a chance that these theories will not address the very features of social media that make them unique in the first place.
Currently there are several social media platforms, and each application has its own characteristics that influence behavior. Smith, Fischer, and Yongjian (2012) undertook research surrounding Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube via content analysis. Interestingly, sentiment varied across social media sites suggesting each social media site fosters its own different characteristics. With social media evolving, there will likely be mini theories that are only applicable to certain settings and certain situations (McFarland & Ployhart, 2015).

Stay tuned for the remainder of this post, coming soon!
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The State of Branding: A Reflection Part 2

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This is the continuation of a reflection piece. Catch up by reading the beginning here.

As we discussed, globalization and technological advances have enabled consumers to find the information they desire and share this information regardless of geographic location (Jai Beom, Yoori, & Ryun, 2009). The Internet has made foreign businesses more local, and has given the small local shops the chance to be more global. With this technology, businesses are also able to target markets outside their geographic locations and engage with them for better knowledge of the audience. With the understanding of a particular target market, a brand can select the appropriate tool(s) in which to reach and engage with them.

The Internet has changed the way brands build and maintain their image, improved methods of addressing customer service issues, has created opportunities to brand themselves through celebrities, has created the notion of personal brands, and has revolutionized integrated marketing communications. Review Part 1 here. Globalization and technological advances have enabled consumers to find the information they desire and share this information regardless of geographic location (Jai Beom, Yoori, & Ryun, 2009). The Internet has made foreign businesses more local, and has given the small local shops the chance to be more global. With this technology, businesses are also able to target markets outside their geographic locations and engage with them for better knowledge of the audience. With the understanding of a particular target market, a brand can select the appropriate tool(s) in which to reach and engage with them. The Internet has changed the way brands build and maintain their image, improved methods of addressing customer service issues, has created opportunities to brand themselves through celebrities, has created the notion of personal brands, and has revolutionized integrated marketing communications. Let’s continue with our exploration……..

Celebrity
A few years ago, singer Rhianna was described as being too sexy for the Nivea brand as a spokesperson. The campaign was halted by Nivea, who felt the singers dress, behavior, and relationships did not fit the image of the brand. Many brands are choosing to use celebrities as branding tools by having the celebrity appear in a commercial or even starting their own product line. Halonen-Knight and Hurmerinta (2010) believe celebrity endorsement to be one of the most popular forms of marketing, and should be utilized as a brand alliance. A brand alliance suggests value for both the brand and the celebrities’ personal brand. The identification of the right celebrity for the right product is an essential decision for a brand, and engaging in product endorsements is an essential decision for a celebrity (Halonen-Knight & Hurmerinta, 2010). Both the brand and the celebrity must also take into consideration the potential positive and negative effects endorsements could have on their brand image and brand equity.

Twitter & Instagram- Currently, celebrities Tweeting about certain products or services are being compensated for those tweets, known as sponsored tweets. A celebrity may have millions of loyal followers; for a brand to be mentioned on Twitter by a celebrity it could mean a large percentage of those followers saw the tweet. However, the life of a tweet is very short and may not have the power a long-term endorsement such as a print ad has. Instagram has also let consumers delve into the ives of celebrities. But how much of what we see is real?

Transparency- Brands and the celebrity should address transparency concerns before utilizing sponsored tweets. The more transparent the brand and the celebrity brand are on Twitter, the deeper the connection they will have with their audience. Issues with celebrities have made consumers skeptical about the brands and the celebrities paid to endorse them. Today’s market is impacted by technology and the speed by which news and information travels. Consider Tiger Wood’s situation with his wife and how quickly it appeared in the news and subsequently destroyed his brand. Today’s consumers have smart phones and Internet; therefore, celebrities are in the spot light more than ever. Brands must understand they cannot control the Internet. Using a celebrity for branding purposes requires the brand to be prepared to take on loss of control and individual risks.

Personal Branding

Traditionally branding referred to only corporate and individual product branding. Both types of branding aim to create name, icon, and emotional connections. In today’s society, more and more individuals are exploring personal branding brought made possible in part by social media. The individual brand must be positioned within the marketplace and must be continually reinvented. Differentiation among other individuals is essential in personal branding just as it is in product or service branding. By identifying what differentiates a personal brand, an individual can communicate that to the right audience with the right medium.

Digital Footprints– Blogs, micro blog, websites, and other social media platforms are now being used to illustrate competence and a love of the persons industry. Simply having a resume is somewhat dated in today’s workplace. Individuals are building their personal brands with blogs that they write on their own time for the love of what they do and to share with others. These individuals are also gathering followers who value the content they provide via blogs or micro blogs such as Twitter. These folks are building their networks via LinkedIn.com and branding themselves as professionals in their prospective industries.

Self Reflection– Personal branding encourages the individual to look inwardly to who they are and what they stand for to arrive at an authentic personal brand. The authentic personal branding is based on individual identity, vision, mission, values, self-knowledge, positive attributes, and self-management, rather than presenting an image or brand that you wish others to perceive.

Influence- In order to remain competitive, those building a personal brand must explore LinkedIn as a replacement for the traditional resume. More employees, employers, and recruiters are utilizing LinkedIn and the connections within to link positions with the right candidates. A users profile offers viewers more information about the individual that a resume can. Most profiles include job history, connections, skills, as well as hyperlinks to other sources of information and possible samples of work. With the emergence of personal branding, many employers value this online influence. Such influence, or clout, demonstrates soft skills such as writing, leadership, and organization. Individuals who have large and influential networks (via Twitter, blogs, and LinkedIn for example) have the potential to bring something of value to an organization: an audience and potential consumers.

Personal branding will continue to become more important as it separates the good from the great. It will uncover those who work simply for a paycheck and those who work because they have a passion for what they do, are thought leaders, and are influencers in their field. If nothing else, it allows the individual to take charge of their career and seek out connections and share relevant information rather than leave it to chance.

IMC
Technology has made a significant impact on integrated marketing communication (IMC). With the volume of messages presented to consumer sin the form of email, television, Internet ads, social media, and print, brands must ensure the relevancy of their messages. Additionally, brands must address budget issues and allocate the right amount of resources to the right communication to generate a significant return on investment.

Jai Beom, Yoori, and Ryun (2009) suggest the integration of online and offline has led to an increase in the number of touch points for customers both current and potential. Figure 3 illustrates how the core identity of a brand can influence consumers through the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Jai Beom, Yoori, and Ryun (2009) found that each touch point should appeal to each of the senses. Effective use of the various touch points is one way a brand can build a competitive advantage over the competition. With IMC, the brand can coordinate the touch points, the mediums, and the message to create a campaign that caters to all the senses, contributes to the building of a relationship, and ultimately translates into an increase in market share.

screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-11-13-32-amJai Beom, Yoori, and Ryun (2009)

Social- Social media as part of an IMC is essential in today’s business environment. A brands target audience is divided among Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. A brand does not have to utilize every social touch point, but should research which tool would increase interaction with consumers. For example, crafts and home decorating audiences are often found on Pinterest, so a brand with similar targets would benefit from sharing their own images of products, services, or designs on the platform. Social media is a great medium to build brand awareness, solicit feedback, and engage with consumers.

Digital- A combination of on and offline tools such as social, brand website (SEO), print, television, and personal selling can make for a very effective IMC program. However, the target audience and budget play a key role in what strategy should be employed. Integrating these tools is a challenge, but necessary to ensure the right brand image is being perceived. All of the tools should send the same message about the brand to the same target audience. An interesting IMC program is the Nike PhotoiD campaign. It allowed users to design shoes based on color photographs taken by cell phone. Customers would contact Nike via text message and PhotoiD would analyze the photo, matching colors in the shots to the NikeiD palette. Then Nikeid would apply colors to a selected design. Consumers could then do a variety of things such as save the image, use it as computer desktop wallpaper, share it via social media, or purchase the shoe. This is also a great example of personalization, yet another trend in branding that has been made possible through technology.

Conclusion
Consumers now have a wealth of information about brands and their competition, making them a powerful force. Customers have so many more choices than ever before. This gives them the power to demand more from businesses. This same new technology that is enabling the consumer, is also giving businesses the capability of initiating multi-channel strategies for communicating with customers. These emerging, real-time platforms such as the Internet, Apps, and other social media channels place new strains on a network’s existing infrastructure. However, they also generate large amounts of data that contain valuable insight into customer behavior and preferences. Specifically, the use of mobile devices and social media is gathering enormous amounts of personal data that can be a real asset to businesses. Unfortunately, there are businesses not making the most of the data available and there are others not even utilizing the platforms to access this data (Rogers, 2012).

Brands must develop an infrastructure that allows for the sharing of information and effective communication. With the use of a variety of social media platforms (such as blogs, FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube etc.) brands have a direct line to the end consumer for communicating about their products or services. Consumers are online talking about the brands, and the brands need to listen. If businesses can identify unmet expectations and where the strongest expectations exist, they will be more likely to realize an increase in market share and profitability. In order to do this, they must know more about their customers. Brands must talk, listen, and interact with customers more often and with more relevancy in new and innovative ways. The use of social media platforms is one way to drive engagement and participation to create and nurture relationships with customers and potential customers. This is an exciting time for marketers with the technology available to manage customer information, data, trends, and relationships as well as the new social environment that creates a one-on-one marketing opportunity.

If you have enjoyed this 2 part series, I urge you to explore my past articles. While they are more informal, I think you will find value in the content as the posts speak to the themes within this 2 part series.


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