Is Social Media Losing its Marketing Potential?

Recently, the web has been buzzing with talk about Facebook and Twitter’s new policies and layout changes regarding what pages can or cannot post, and how it appears to users. Facebook is attempting to give the general public more power in restricting what they see from the pages they follow–in other words, they want to stop brands from being too “salesy” on the channel. Facebook was originally created to keep college students connected, not for some random company to pay to show up on my timeline. Twitter, on the other hand, is trying to get account holder usage up, by streamlining the interface and making it look, well, like Facebook. An interesting tactic, I suppose, but not one that has mulled over well with some users.

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(Photo credit: Mashable)

So, those working in brand marketing, social media, and business consulting might be asking themselves: should I still recommend that my clients use these mediums of social communication? Is it even worth it anymore? My answer is yes. I would still encourage the use of these social platforms for a couple reasons. For one, social media humanizes brands and provides a human connection that followers and customers long for in the brands they choose to stay loyal to. Social media allows for instant customer service through Twitter responses, direct messaging, and more. One concept that I believe brands need to embrace more is working on not forcing their products and services down consumer’s throats. If your customers want your product, they will buy it. While there is a time and place to market certain aspects through social media, there is a point where it gets to be too much. Brands need to know when it call it quits.

Personally, I feel as if Twitter and Facebook are trying too hard to stay relevant with how much they update their layouts, which makes it confusing for users. The Mashable article which the screenshot is taken from shows that people clearly don’t latch on to these changes. There is always going to be a new trend, a new network, a new way to market, but Facebook and Twitter have proven to be pretty solid grounds for social media marketing and have the largest user bases. Telling a client to stop using either of these channels would mean they would be missing out on a huge market opportunity. Companies simply just need to learn how to optimize it for their needs, and how to marry that with a strategy that won’t push consumers away.

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Dear Nordstrom, I Love You. A Social Media Policy Love Story.

Going through the motions of school and work, and I once again find myself doing an assignment on Nordstrom. It’s like witnessing that awkward fifth grader (me) who will do anything to talk to her crush (Nordstrom). Today’s mushy gushy love letter topic: social media policy. Riveting stuff.

With social media being such a huge deal now, especially for brands looking to market online, it is essential for these companies to set a list of rules and guidelines to follow when using these mediums of communication. And, because they are perfect in every way, Nordstrom has set up a little social media policy of their own. It can be accessed on their website, here. The policy is listed under the rest of Nordstrom’s policies, but it has a title and page of it’s own. #MissIndependent

All in all, it’s a strong policy. It offers do’s and do not’s (because variety is the spice of life), but mainly just encourages employees to be themselves online and present Nordstrom in a positive light. The biggest strength of the policy is one of the last parts that addresses accidental slip ups or errors. Nordstrom understands that their employees **newsflash** are human. Mistakes will happen, and they simply advise that wrong doers correct their issues efficiently and effectively. They also reiterate the fact that social media is a tool to enhance customer interaction, not replace it. Face-to-face communication exists! It’s important! Brands cannot let the paths of different forms of interpersonal communication cross too much and get muddled. They understand that top tier customer service should be the #1 priority. I love when Nordstrom gets all 1950s on me.

Social media policies are extremely important, especially for brands that handle confidential customer information. They allow the employees to conduct their online media presence in the same manner and appear uniform.

Faucet Envy: A Moen Case Study Response

In terms of leveraging your brand using social media, “what you did last year probably won’t work today, and it definitely won’t work next year.” Ginny Long presents an examination of how Moen, a popular home fixture brand, was able to successfully find and draw in fans through social media. They started with a “phased approach,” that included social monitoring, content strategy, and effective use of various social platforms, such as Facebook. This effort ran from 2009-2012.

An important aspect of their social media strategy was the idea of social monitoring, in which they tuned into the conversations and wishes of their target audiences through social channels. One thing they found is that people are mainly talking about their dreams and wishes when it comes to home remodels, not specific brands they wish to use in the process. Moen used this information to determine how they would go about informing consumers on their brand and products using social space. Another significant lesson Moen learned was the need to integrate customer service into their social media efforts by “talking their language”, so that consumers have a positive view of how the company conducts customer service. They realized that many people expressed complaints and praise on social media, and being able to strategically manage that is key to success.

Ginny Long made a good point, in stating “we learned that the way to engage people in the social space is not by saying ‘here’s our brand page, please come,’ but rather, where can we be where they are?” Moen put this strategy to work in their blogger outreach efforts, and it worked. By the end, they were engaged with 1.6 million domains. Moen also realizes that all the various social media platforms available serve a different purpose. Therefore, the social efforts on these channels cannot be treated equally. Long speaks about monitoring these platforms, listening to what consumers are talking about on each of them, and tweaking their responses regarding Moen according to the conversations going on.

Overall, Moen has been extremely effective via social media, due to their monitoring efforts, and the realization of how consumers are conversing about home remodel projects. They have leveraged their knowledge and used to the best of their ability in a successful social media campaign that has allowed them to gain more presence in social.

#Hashtag: The Good vs. The Bad

Hashtags: we know them, love them, use them, and abuse them. Do we use them religiously? Yes. Do we use them effectively? Not always. But that does not matter so much for us as it does for companies attempting to actually make something of their social media and increase awareness through the use of hashtags. Their hashtag use, in this case, needs to be strategic and effective in order to get the most out of their efforts, and to appear professional. Twitter is filled with brands that are getting it right…and with brands that are flailing. Keep reading for my insight on two brands on Twitter–one that is social media savvy, and one that could use a little help.

We all know Samsung. We know their products and their persona. Their USA Twitter page, an account with almost half a million followers, is an example of what not to do on social media. Scrolling through Samsung’s feed, the first thing that stood out to me was their low level of engagement with their followers, and the obvious sales-y aura they give off. Almost all their tweets are hard to follow (there’s no explanation of the hashtags they use) or too heavy on marketing. Samsung, I know who you are. If I’m ever in the market for an inferior product to Apple, I’ll let you know. Exhibit A…

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This tweet is utterly confusing. What is #edtech? Why should I be concerned about the news relating to it? What is #SamsungSolve, and the purpose of it? And check out the engagement: only 7 retweets and 6 favorites…out of 453,000 followers! Ouch.

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Another weak effort. What is the ATIV Tab Pro, and why should I care (because I don’t. I have an iPad.)? How does Samsung related to Fantasy Football? What makes this tablet a more effective medium than my phone or my laptop? This is an example of a brand trying too hard to be relevant (the fantasy football reference) and too sales-y (tablet purchase pushing). Evidently their followers didn’t latch on: only 3 retweets and 3 favorites. Obviously brands should be using their social media presence to leverage sales and stay connected to their users. But Samsung is an example of a brand that is simply trying too hard. The themes should be consistent, meaning a brand shouldn’t tweet about technology, followed by a tweet about football…especially when the brand is not related to sports.

I might be a bit biased with my next example, because I have the ultimate #companycrush on Nordstrom…but they really do use social media to their ultimate advantage and are absolute rock stars when it comes to promotion and engagement. Their use of hashtags is effective, because they are consistent and they make sense. Nordstrom is a middle/high end department store that knows their audience (both their in-store customer base and their 510,000 Twitter follower base). For example, every Sunday they post a tweet with a funny or inspirational quote, then #HappySunday. This humanizes the company (it’s not ALL sales, ALL the time) and allows them to express their company values in a different way.

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It’s cute, it’s relevant to Nordstrom, and it’s not an in-your-face “BUY THIS!!!!” sales approach. It’s a subtle confidence booster, but still also gets the customer thinking about Nordstrom. (*reads quote* *internal dialogue* “Red looks really good on me. Red is the best color in the world. Should I go to Nordstrom.com to look for an awesome new red top for this weekend? Probably.”) And check out that engagement: 127 retweets and and 166 favorites. Money.

When Nordstrom isn’t killing it with their #HappySunday’s, they’re at work showcasing new products with pictures, straightforward hashtags (#boots, #cozy, #fallfashion, #NotInYourFaceAndCryptic, #LookingAtYouSamsung), and a bit.ly to their webpage where the product can be purchased. Nordstrom aces the sales side of Twitter, because they don’t use sales-y language. Rather, they just upload an extremely aesthetically pleasing photo and let it do the talking. When you have a gorgeous pair of shoes styled in a to-die-for manner…the photo speaks for itself. It would be great if I had an example right? Oh look at that…

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Is this photo geared towards showing off fall denim? Yep. Do they kill two birds with one stone by making the shoes look fabulous and #hashtagging it? YEP. Over 100 favorites. Nailed it.

Google+… or minus?

I am a 20 year old college female living in 21st century America. I know a thing or two about social media. I might even consider myself to be quite good at using it to my advantage, and to the advantage of the various companies I have interned for. With that being said, if Google+ was not a branch of Google, the most popular search engine in the world, I would have zero idea of the social media platform. Not only does it lack the presence and following of sites like Facebook and Twitter, but it doesn’t have a unique purpose that sets it apart from the ever increasing amount of social media.

When we want to post an album from the family vacation we just returned from, we go to Facebook. When a hilarious, 140- character thought crosses our mind, we head on over to Twitter. Google Plus simply has too many features (that already exist on other platforms) that it’s difficult to peg what the point and purpose of the site is for. In addition to that, it doesn’t have the enough users, or active users at that, to really make anything of it. Once giants like Facebook and Twitter exist, and have been existing successfully, it’s very difficult to move everyone over to an unfamiliar site. That is not to say that this was Google’s intention in creating Plus (or maybe it was), but either way it proved to be unsuccessful. As a whole, Plus comes off as a site that is trying a bit too hard to become something it’s not and keep up with the joneses. While the desire to stay relevant and up to speed is understandable, Google also has to understand something…they’re Google. Nobody has forgotten about you, or will be anytime in the near future. Relax a bit. Put your feet up.

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The Sharks Foundation

Most major league sports organizations have some sort of charity foundation, but the San Jose Sharks have one of the most active Bay Area charity organizations that I’m aware of. Their mission statement, “The Sharks Foundation is dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth and families in our community,” couldn’t ring more true. They currently support 21 different charities in the greater Bay Area. Both local, such as Sunnyvale Community Services, and nationwide, such as Playworks, organizations are supported through the Sharks Foundation. During the 2013-2014 season, they donated over $1 million, and since starting the foundation, over $7.2 million has been donated to 120 different organizations in the Bay Area.

They mostly focus on helping out children and place a special emphasis on education of underprivileged youth in the area. The foundation is focused on the idea of creating a better tomorrow by working to enrich children and give them the capability to make the world great. In addition to donating to charities, they host their own fundraisers, usually focused on getting kids out onto the ice through hockey-related activities.

The Sharks utilize social media extremely well. They promote the foundation on the team’s twitter (@SanJoseSharks), and also have an individual twitter for the foundation itself (@SharksCare). They have a major presence on Facebook as well. The foundation offers multiple opportunities for fans and season ticket holders to get involved through fundraisers and special events.

I really admire the Sharks Foundation and that the Sharks association supports and donates to so many charities. Especially since professional hockey players are paid less than most other major league sports, it’s admirable that the Sharks have given away millions of dollars to those less fortunate.

Back to the Future: Social Media Edition

I had the privilege of hearing the lovely Abi Gilman talk to my ADPR 4300 class yesterday. Honestly, when I see the words “guest speaker” on a syllabus, I don’t usually get too excited. I’ve never been wowed by a guest speaker, or truly felt like I learned any extremely valuable information from a guest teaching session before. But Mrs. Gilman completely changed the tide.

She brought up a lot of really interesting information and insight regarding retail, agency v. corporate work, and the future of social media. One student asked what she believes the future of social media will be, and she answered, “there will be no social media. It will just be life.” This simple yet extremely thought provoking opinion got me thinking…what IS the future of social media??

Social media, at this point in time, is pretty ubiquitous. For anyone that uses the Internet, it is almost impossible to stay away from the pull of all the different social media platforms. Once sucked in, social media can be addicting. Millions and millions of people are users of multiple forms of social media, creating a vast web that is only growing. In the near future, more and more companies are going to realize that social media is the #1 way to reach consumers and market a new product. It is the easiest and most effective way to reach mass quantities of people, and I don’t think it is too bold to predict that all marketing will eventually be completely digital. Additionally, much like media conglomerates Disney and Viacom, social media will have its own conglomerates and mass stakeholders. Facebook will inevitably be one of, if not the largest, as they have already bought out countless apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp. Social media is undoubtedly bound to rule the way we communicate and interact with one another, and it’s already well on it’s way.

Nordstrom: Raising the Twitter Bar

Nordstrom has always been a company that I admire and love doing business with. Their customer service is unbeatable and they offer individual, specialized care for all of their customers. For that reason, they have always been #1 in my book in terms of department stores of their kind. But recently, since following them more on social media, specifically Twitter, I have found even more reasons to love their brand.

“Twitter bashing” is a familiar concept to anyone who uses the platform frequently and follows a decent handful of accounts. It is becoming increasingly common for customers to turn to Twitter to “bash” companies or brands they had a negative experience with. Despite Nordstrom being essentially perfect, they still get online hate from time to time. They are always so kind and respectful to their customers, offering direct contacts for resolution, a refund, or an exchange. But don’t a lot of companies do that? Yes, but besides being respectful to those who aren’t respectful to them, they also reach out to users who mention a positive experience they had with Nordstrom, or a rave review of a product. It is a lot less common to see companies going out of their way to thank customers on Twitter, but Nordstrom lives up to their customer service reputation quite nicely by doing this.

Nordstrom realizes that not everyone shopping at their store can afford to spend $1000 on a skirt; but they also realize that some people can, and do. They do an excellent job of catering to every single audience that they serve, through posting pictures of $20 scarves and $700 loafers. I always feel like Nordstrom has something to offer for my price range, because they do a great job at putting information out there and informing the consumer that yes, you CAN afford a little something from this nice department store.

I will always be a huge fan of Nordstrom, and I can’t wait to see what else they do in the future in terms of social media!

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everyone remembers this classic middle school anthem (or at least you should). i still remember every word to this song, made possible by the countless time i spent watching the music video and replaying it on my ipod mini. up and coming dj, matt dimona, remixed this song and turned it into something completely new and dance-worthy. this song is definitely back on my radar!

Ice Ice, Baby

I have had conflicted thoughts about the ice bucket challenge. From a PR and social media-related standpoint, I think its awesome and amazing at how much attention to and awareness of ALS this effort has brought about. The only reason I knew what ALS was prior to this challenge was because I did a biology project on it, so I’m sure many of my peers weren’t as aware of it. The society has raised over $15 million dollars in less than a month after implementing the challenge, compared to almost $1.8 million at this same time last year. That is an absolutely incredible increase in donations, and an invaluable amount of awareness due to the videos.

At the same time, being from California and experiencing the historic drought firsthand, I can’t help but be irked at what a huge waste of water it is. Maybe it’s just the environment freak inside me coming out, but it angers me at how California is in an awful drought, and many countries are struggling to find clean drinking water, and millions of people are just dumping water on their heads so that they don’t have to donate $100 to a cause. I also suspect that many people (that I’ve seen at least, not making assumptions) are really trying to jazz up their videos “for the likes” and for the attention that they will get on Facebook or YouTube for posting the video.

On another note, I think this is really going to get other disease organizations to start realizing that social media IS the way to reach people, and ultimately the way to make money by doing something unique. While I think other fundraising efforts shouldn’t directly copy the ice bucket idea, I am excited to see what other groups come up with (hopefully that don’t waste resources) in an effort to raise money for their cause and create awareness about the disease they’re fighting against.

Watch my own ice bucket challenge, here!