Tag Archives: social media

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

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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}


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}


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…


The State of Branding: A Reflection Part 2

medium_222036777
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.


Recommended movies for Marketing Students

medium_4683421549 I usually share a list of movies with my undergrads to get them pumped up about Marketing and to see how it infiltrates our everyday lives. Hopefully those of you who are students past and present, undergrad and graduate will enjoy these hand picked Marketing flicks! Those who are not students, but Marketing geeks like me: enjoy! I must warn you that may get a little resistance from non-marketing family members if you tell them these are Marketing related (as I did with my husband). But, I assure you they will enjoy them!

The following are some great movies to request on Netflix, Blockbuster, HULU, or whatever you like (in no particular order):

For trailers of the movies visit My TAMU page on my blog here.

Chef
2014 Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson
A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Great for those who love Social Media Marketing.

Syrup
2013 Amber Heard and Shiloh Fernandez (Note this is Rated R)
A slacker hatches a million-dollar idea. But, in order to see it through, he has to learn to trust his attractive corporate counterpart. This covers branding, image, and perception.

Guilt Trip
2012 Barbra Streisand, Seth Rogen, Julene Renee
As inventor Andy Brewster is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, a quick stop at his mom’s house turns into an unexpected cross-country voyage with her along for the ride. Fantastic movie on getting your product to market, and funny!

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
2011 Morgan Spurlock
Very informational, funny, and gives great insight into branding. My favorite!

The Joneses
2009 Demi Moore and David Duchovny
Great example of how we influence each other and how marketers can and do manipulate consumer behavior.

Idiocracy
2006 Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph and Dax Shepard
Not a movie that requires your undivided attention, but I enjoy seeing brand sponsorships for everything and placed everywhere!

Minority Report
2002 Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton
I enjoyed seeing a glimpse into the future in this movie. Keep in mind this was 10 years ago. Pay attention to the personalized marketing messages on billboards.

Boiler Room
2000 Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck and Nia Long
Token FBI/ethics/fraud movie.

The Husdsucker Proxy
1994 Tim Robbins, Paul Newman and Jennifer Jason Leigh
A rather comical look (a Coen brothers movie) at running a manufacturing plant. Free on Amazon Prime.

Glengarry Glen Ross
1992 Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin
A movie about desperate real estate agents. Free on Amazon Prime. Available on Netflix streaming.

Tucker: A Man and his Dream
1988 Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landau and Christian Slater
Great movie on a man, his product, and going to market. Free on Amazon Prime.

What other movies should be added to this list!? I am always looking for more movies to watch and share with students related to all facets of Marketing (and business)… Please share!

photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc


How To Use LinkedIn To Stand Out Among the Crowd: Professional Social Network Hacks That Work

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According to a recent Mashable article, 37 percent of surveyed job recruiters identify social (professional) networks as one of the most important sources for hiring. Additionally, 90 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s corporate talent solutions to find future hires. Whether you are about to graduate, just started classes, or are somewhere in between: you must seriously consider utilizing LinkedIn as a career tool!

I often have undergrads asking what the difference is between LinkedIn and Facebook, as they see it as ‘just another social network.’ That notion could not be further from the truth. Facebook is more about establishing personal relationships, while LinkedIn is more about conducting business.

Profile Basics

As you enter your profile details, do not think of your LinkedIn profile as an online resume, it goes beyond that. LinkedIn allows you to create a profile that can showcase projects you have worked on that relate to your career and goals. It also allows you to use keywords that align with what you currently do, what you have done in the past, and what you ultimately want to do in the future. Thus making you “findable.”

You can visually illustrate your skills with rich media, such as pictures, video, projects, or even a presentation you’re especially proud of. Include these if they are professional and relate to your overall goals and career aspirations. Help recruiters visualize what type of talent you bring to the table.

As you set up your profile, know you can come back and add to it and tweak it as well. Remember:

1. Post a photo! Use a professional headshot if possible.
2. Professional presentation is important on LinkedIn, but do not omit all of your personality. LinkedIn is a social network- creating personal connections is important. Also important is engagement and relevancy.
3. Consider your goals. Think long and hard on this as these goals will shape how you create and maintain your profile. LinkedIn offers some suggestions here. Are you looking for a job, are you creating a personal brand, are you making connections now for when you graduate and/or change careers?

By now I hope you see the importance of a LinkedIn profile. Take a moment to click on the hyperlinks within this post and bookmark them for later reading. A great article to start with from U.S. News that outlines some great tips can be found here.

Groups and Connecting with Thought Leaders

Not only does LinkedIn allow you to post your own profile, you can view others and connect. Unlike Facebook, connecting with folks you do not actually know is not seen as ‘creepy.’ It is a great personal branding tool for students to post relevant information, a photo, and interests, as well as connect with those in their industry. In addition, LinkedIn offers many groups that are industry specific that can be used as a sounding board, for advice and even support. For example, you may be interested in the SNHU Alumni Group or the Graphic Design Group. Search LinkedIn for your particular industry.

LinkedIn groups are a great way to engage directly with others in your industry and establish yourself as an active contributor rather than a passive spectator. Mashable suggests one of the best ways to get noticed is to participate in conversations and ask smart questions. Be professional and do a bit of research (or at the very least a Google search) before you ask a question.

Connect with your friends, current and past co-workers, professors and industry leaders; always remember you are judged by the company you keep!

Recommendations and Endorsements

A recommendation from someone in your desired field speaks volumes to your ability to stand out from the crowd. Seek recommendations from those who have a good sense of your work ethic and accomplishments. Those you ask for a recommendation will have to write a bit, so keep that in mind. Alternatively, an ‘endorsement’ is achievable with a simple click. Note it is common practice to reciprocate an ‘endorsement.’

Research

Always check out the pages of your targeted employers, or those you will interview with. By visiting company pages, you can conduct valuable research on the business, its policies and more. This kind of company research on LinkedIn can help keep you ahead of your competition. You may also discover an internship in your research. Several companies list these wonderful opportunities on LinkedIn.

Get Started: Focus on the value you bring to a potential employer.

The Huffington Post suggests that having a LinkedIn profile in an age of technology is absolutely crucial for college students. Utilize these (free) tools LinkedIn provides to brand yourself as the employee the company you want to work for will WANT. It does not happen overnight, but the connections you make will prove to be a great source of support, information and encouragement.

There are multiple tutorials on how to use LinkedIn efficiently for various purposes. Click and save to your bookmarks:

LinkedIn for Students

LinkedIn Guide and Checklist

Again, Be sure to click the hyperlinks within this post! The curated links will assist you in crafting the most effective profile for LinkedIn. Please do not hesitate to connect with me at any of my social touch points!photo credit: Graela via photopin cc


Translating Business Objectives into Social Media Objectives

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This month, my Social Media MBA students are working on a project that involves a website, blog, and multiple peripheral social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. The objective of this project is to give them a virtual sandbox of sorts to put into action what they have learned in my previous two social media courses. The project involves creating a social media strategy from the ground up. Quite a challenge with the limited amount of time in a semester. However, they are moving right along and will pass the torch so to speak when their course ends.

The first hurdle we faced this term was setting goals and objectives that accurately addressed our vision and mission. This is often the case for many businesses. Initial goals and objectives are either too broad, not specific enough, or not measurable. Once we clearly defined our business objectives, the social strategy fell into place.

Regardless of the type of new business venture, organizations should evaluate their business objectives, strategies, and tactics beforehand. The world of social media is no different. Each organization is unique, and their approaches to social media strategy will vary according to set business objectives.

Before undertaking any type of social media initiative, an organization must begin with identifying objectives and then coordinating social media activities that address those objectives specifically. Most readers would choose to utilize social media to ‘increase sales’ armed only with an arsenal of tactics such as start a contest on Facebook, develop a blog with postings weekly; set up related Twitter feed. These actions in and of themselves are fine and could very well increase sales. However, what about the long term?

A viable social media strategy should start with these basic questions:

* Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
* What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
* When? When will you evaluate the social strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
* Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
* Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
* How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

A key concept for business to understand is that a large portion of Internet traffic still comes from searches, and mobile use for these searches will soon exceed those done via personal computer! Read the entire article on Maximize Social Business.


Guest Post: 5 Reasons to Hire a Social Media Marketing Professional

AslanMedia / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Strong marketing is essential to business growth. With a good marketing plan your business can reach more customers, make more sales, increase its cash flow and generally achieve more success within your industry. One important aspect of your marketing plan is your social media presence, which is no longer optional in this increasingly digital world. With a well-crafted social media strategy you can nicely complement an existing plan and bring a larger customer base to your business. You can also use social media to interact with existing customers, increasing the likelihood of return customers. If you want to implement or improve your social media presence, it pays to hire a social media marketing professional for a number of reasons.

1. Increased Traffic

One huge benefit of increasing your social media presence is an increase in traffic to your website or other online assets. A tweet linking back to your website can draw customers who may engage with your brand and possibly purchase. Sharing an image of a product on Instagram with a link back to your site can bring customers to inquire and possibly purchase. No matter which sites your company uses, a social media expert can make the most of your online presence and increase website traffic.

2. Brand Continuity

When you don’t have a social media professional on your staff, you might have different folks managing each social media site you belong to. This means each profile probably looks different, the content shared is inconsistent and overall there’s not much brand continuity going on. Having a consistent, well thought out brand is important for a successful business and a social media marketing professional can help keep your brand personality consistent strong across all websites and accounts.

3. Plan Creation and Integration

If you’ve already established a strong social media presence, an experienced social media professional should be ready to build upon that plan, instead of replacing it entirely with their own ideas. When you do choose to hire a social media marketer, they can come up with a social media plan of attack based upon what your existing marketing team has put in place. A good social media marketer will integrate with existing structures in the interest of brand continuity (as previously mentioned). As a result, the themes and ideas already in use will be enhanced by a professional whose perspective can balance everything you love about your brand with industry trends and effective implementation.

4. Wide Range of Subject Knowledge

While you might be able to tweet a few times a week or put up a Facebook post every other day, a social media marketing professional has a much wider range of knowledge about various social media sites. This means that they know about the existence of many more useful sites, best practices, and trends.. As a result, they can create the most useful content possible, share it efficiently and design your page and profile to match your existing brand design.

5. Sufficient Customer Communication

Chances are that if you’re in charge of your own social media, or if you have one person who runs the social media accounts in addition to all of their other responsibilities, your customers could get neglected. When you have a dedicated social media employee, they have a sufficient amount of time to dedicate to customer communication via your social accounts. Whether you’re dealing with consumer complaints or compliments, it’s important to make sure that your customers are getting the attention that they need.

Having a strong social media presence is a must for a successful business. If you’ve got a marketing team in place already, a social media professional can complement the existing structure quite nicely. The benefits above are just some of the many ways a social media marketer can improve your company; consider hiring one today.

Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet. She works to help readers learn about a range of subjects, from the best travel discounts to planning for college tuition. Stop by and say hello to Sara on G+.


The Future of Social Media: Six Points to Consider

Ed Yourdon / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

As we round the bend to the end of another term of learning and applying the principles of social media marketing, I wonder what the future will bring to the social media world. I have spoken to my classes about the history of Marketing, the emergence of social media, and how we utilize social platforms and tools for B2C and B2B. But, now we need to consider what new tools, processes, trends, and gaps could appear as social media becomes more pervasive, effective, and required in business.

In the future, I think we will see a further evolution of how we produce and consume marketing messages as well an increase in the value of information produced via social (for business and consumers). Some points to consider:

Tribes

I believe the future of social media can be seen by looking to the past. Humans by nature are social creatures, however we have spent years relying on mass media. As time has passed, we are now relying less on mass media and more on our peers: we are once again turning to one another. Consider your friends on Facebook or those you follow on Twitter. Via social, I have surrounded myself with like minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter I follow because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce.

Relevancy

Relevant connections, content, and communications will remain increasingly important in order to cancel out the “noise”. As consumers continue to be bombarded with tweets, status updates, mobile marketing messages and the like, it will be paramount for these communications to be relevant, timely, and personalized. This is true for the business as well. I see the future of social including smaller more niche social groups organized by brands to further identify consumer needs, research, and for crowdsourcing purposes.

Social CRM

If your business is on a social platform and engaging, good for you. If you are not utilizing it to facilitate customer service, shame on you. Obviously, this will take some planning on your part to prepare staff and get processes in place for customer service inquiries. Nevertheless, the benefits far outweigh the costs in this situation. Consider the company who is “on Twitter” and ignores customer inquiries made via tweets. This is the equivalent of having a customer at your business, asking you a question (with a store full of other customers and potential customers) while you stand there not listening with your hands covering your ears.

Read the entire article at:
http://windmillnetworking.com/2012/12/07/the-future-of-social-media-in-2013-six-points-to-consider/


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