Wow. Just wow.

Not in a sarcastic “what a load of BS”  kinda way, but in a “holy sh*t, that is the most interesting thing I’ve watched all year” kinda way.  So to begin with, I’d like to thank Tor for giving us Mark Ritson’s Mumbrella360 video/article  to dig into.

It’s hard to find faults or critique such well reasoned and justified theory, in fact,  I feel Ritson has really extended my understanding of social’s place within the big wide world of marketing. The biggest take home I had from Ritson was the phrase:

“You must know the difference between strategy and tactics; strategy first, followed by tactics.” 

As a young aspiring marketer ( the young parts quickly disappearing, no Birthdays will be counted after 25), it’s easy to see social media as a ends to a means, not a means to an end (did that make sense..?).  It’s easy to be pulled into the thought process whereby social and digital marketing are the bee’s knees – that they are a strategy in and of themselves. Working at a completely online company, this thought process is even more entrenched.

This phase doesn’t take away from the fact that social media is a powerful marketing tool within the marketing tactic tool box. But infers there shouldn’t be such as thing as a social media marketing strategy.  Social should work as a part of the overall marketing strategy, not as an independent rebel organisation which has defected from the original cause. If social is the best-fit with what the business wants to achieve, and it’s set resources then, by all means, knock yourself out. But, this should be guided by a thoughtful evaluation of all marketing mediums, not the myopic assertion that social is best.

Following from this, Ritson’s points out:

“Social media is a social media.”

I think this is key. Key for formulating marketing strategy where social media is employed as a successful tactic.

No one wants their social feed to be Safeway telling them how fresh strawberries are this week, or ANZ telling us it’s ‘money minded Monday’ (yes, this was a real thing). The usefulness of social is going to be limited for these sorts of ‘unsocial’ companies, where the personal story or brand personality isn’t really that relevant or useful to its core consumers. Sure, they’re great from a customer service perspective (Woolies does this well), but there usefulness outside of this is questionable.

But, if you’re running a company where the brand story, imagery and ‘persona’ of the brand are important to the core target market, then social is likely to have a bigger impact. Take Mecca for example, while they utilise other marketing tactics as part of their marketing strategy (print, personal-selling, outdoor), social is a major component. With over 265K following the brand’s Instagram, it’s clear the numbers are significant.  Social is important to such a company because the ‘social’ component is an inherent part of the brand.  It’s not just company curated pages at work;  the tactic includes utilizing prominent social users to influence consumers into engaging, and ultimately buying from the brand. Social pictures are ‘lifestyle’ porn, with their core target market swooning over new Nars, and skincare flat lays. The brand is integrating itself within the social medium… not just talking at a random audience who probably doesn’t see much value in what they have to say.

 

 

 

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So after reading Kaplan‘s academic article on mobile marketing… I couldn’t help but see a bit of a hitch. Let me explain.

The article centred a lot around the marketing potential  of consumer check-ins at various places via social media using “spacetimer” applications. These platforms allow for communication exchanges relevant for one specific location at one specific point-in-time if the user logs their location activity. Foursquare and Facebook places were cited as specific examples.

While this data has significant usage for marketers  (marketing research, communication, promotion, CRM) …. to an extent… these are all reliant on the consumer feeding “spacetimer” platforms accurate information about their day-to-day movements and activities.

Here’s where the problem arises. How often does the stuff you check-in/hashtag/Instagram really reflect how you live your (everyday, mundane, go-to-work-come-home) life? In my experience, not a whole bunch. Kaplan alluded to this notion himself when discussing the concept of self-presentation and self-disclosure, which states that people are willing to reveal information about themselves if it’s consistent with how they want others to see them.

I don’t go around checking in at Aldi every time I pop out to nab and bargain, or Instagram-ing pics from the local Thai restaurant. Instead, my last check- in was on a holiday in Portugal, and my last Instagram picture was from a degustation at a two- hat restaurant…hardly representative on my daily actions as a consumer.

How realistic is the data company’s glean from such mobile social media platforms? How targeted is the auto-generated  promotion that’s fired off to check-ins at  X, Y or Z?

So while the use of social media mobile marketing is valuable in an age where everything and everyone are going mobile,  data should be taken with a grain of salt.

Well, in my opinion anyway…

 

SOS. Drowning in data. Send for help. 

This weeks academic reading  by Germann et al  seemed to confirm what we kinda already knew. Data analytics is good, bloody great in fact. But, there’s  a (many) catch (es). Applied to social media marketing, these are a plenty. Sadly, these are often used by managers as a reason to avoid or undervalue social media data analytics.

One of the issues highlighted as a reason for managers not using/utilizing analytics in Germann’s article was that data can be big. Real big. When data is so vast, management might be inclined to  assume that real-time action is not a possibility. I can sympathize with this view. If a firm has multiple social media accounts, millions of (insert user lingo), and other data point interactions from outside sources… it can’t be easy to synthesise data, interpret it, and act on it quickly (I’m getting anxiety just thinking about it!).

Nestlè thought so too.  So they sent out an SOS. 

Nestlè sells 1.2 billion product a day. They are using social media to help drive these sales, by converting engagement. They are active on a number of platforms…the regular offenders Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram along with Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Flicker. Across these platforms 1, 500 + pieces of content are posted daily and have 21o million fans on Facebook.

As you would expect, the enormous amount of data produced from the interactions and content posted on the above platforms was a huge challenge. To be able to improve their analytics and make more timely and informed responses, they needed to find a meaningful and coherent way to understand and draw actionable insights from the data. Monitoring social performance was a critical aspect of their analysis, but they also needed the capabilities to benchmark  it too in order to measure how their social strategy stacked up against competitors, and where to improve.

So, the challenge is clear, but what next? Well, Nestlè decided to employ a firm to help them cope with their social data. Many such firms exist nowadays. These businesses provide a valuable service to marketers who need help synthesising data. Socialbakers  came to the rescue. They helped Nestlè build a customised system which showed synthesised social data in real-time to marketers. Dynamic screens in head office gave Nestlè insights in readable form. They can monitor the best performing content, user engagement, and the increase/decrease of Fans/Followers on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube about their brands, and those of their competitors, in a single view. The benefits of this data in real-time have been big and have freed up staff to spend more time interpreting the synthesised data against KPI metrics.

While this is an extreme example, the moral to the story is that there is help available to businesses wanting to better utilize social data. Socialbakers is just one provider who gives business a better view of their data. Use is not restricted to big business, SME’s can get in on the action too, monthly subscriptions to these sort of providers needn’t be cost prohibitive.

 

Dear Marketer,

While functionality, quality, and price are important to me when choosing your product/service, they aren’t going to make me clean out my wallet time and time again. If you really want me to splash my cash, you’re going to have to work harder. I want more. So read on.

It’s clear that to be successful, businesses need to engage customers and give them the opportunity to feel a part of the brand. How Brand Community Practices Create Value and Customer Engagement: The Best of the Best offer us some insight into this phenomena . After reflecting on these articles, I wanted to share an example of a brand that has scaled like crazy over the last 18 months, thanks to the way they have managed their consumer engagement and community building.

Vinomofo (short for wine motherf**ker ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) … is an online wine retailer, that has grown into a multimillion-dollar business overnight. It’s founders, Justin Dry and Andre Eikmeier are not strangers to the idea of community building. Their first business venture began with a love of wine. Andre wanted to share the “voice of the people”, real people rating and reviewing wines and sharing recommendations with other wine geeks, and Justin had discovered Facebook whilst travelling in South America, and wanted to create a social network for people to just wanted to talk vino. So, they launched Qwoff.

The essence of Qwoff is what Vinomofo is built on. Real people talking wine…with ‘no bowties and no BS’.

This credo is extended through all the communication Vinomofo has with its tribe of wine loving mofo’s online. To foster involvement and engagement from the community, social communication is fun and real. No airs and graces, cut to the case.  The brand’s social community  (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) is encouraged to share their own thoughts and memories of their wine purchases online. Social networking, impression management, engagement and brand use are all evident within the online community Vinomofo has created. All community content (whatever its nature) is responded to by staff. This makes followers feel even more welcome and valued within the community. Currently, the Vinomofo facebook site has 100,000 followers. Not bad considering this time last year the company had 30 staff.

The brand’s social community  (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) is encouraged to share their own thoughts and memories of their wine purchases online. Social networking, impression management, engagement and brand use are all evident within the online community Vinomofo has created. All community content (whatever its nature) is responded to by staff. This makes followers feel even more welcome and valued within the community. Currently, the Vinomofo facebook site has 100,000 followers. Not bad considering this time last year the company had 30 staff.

Both the website and social presence aims to continually engage. All promotions are designed to be fun and exciting, playing on pop- culture…and just cool sh*t in general. Customers can also feel like their doing something good in supporting the brand, who give each customer the opportunity to donate to one of 5 charity causes at checkout.

 

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Wine deals are meant to be fun

 

 

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Meme theory employed, each week a new copy is uploaded

All in all, Vinomofo is a really good example of a brand that is using the idea of community engagement really well. They’re giving consumers more than good product and service delivery…they’re giving people the opportunity to feel part of the brand, to feel like something bigger than a consumer, to feel continually excited and open to what the company has to say.

 

The industry reading for this week really caught my attention. Jennifer Lonoff Schiff has written a really interesting piece titled ‘7 Ways to Create a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign’. If you haven’t read it, let me quickly recap (if you have, too bad). Schiff recommends 7 steps marketers need to take in order to create successful integrated marketing campaigns across multiple platforms:

  1. Have a clear understanding of who you target audience is
  2. Pick the appropriate channels
  3. Have a consistent visual aesthetic across of brand touch points
  4. Create clear, consistent and compelling content that can easily be adapted or repurposed to suit different media or channels
  5. Ensure message synergy
  6. An integrated work team, or co-ordinated contract force
  7. Track and analyse campaigns

But, I’d like to introduce an 8th step, which is becoming more and more important to marketers IMC statergy:

8. The ratios of organic to paid content.

Organic content refers to free messages (marketing, or otherwise) which utilise differing platforms to share and respond to content and build an interactive and engaged community. For example, you might share a funny meme once a week to engage and interact with an audience, or build your audience via shares. On the other hand, paid content refers to adverts which have been paid or sponsored to be displayed on social, based on user profiles. Both these forms of content are important to marketers, but how do you decide which you should be using, or should be investing in most?

While web 2.0 was built around the idea of user generated ‘organic’ content and social media was primarily a vehicle for authentic communication, more and more this is not its only function. If the first era of social media was engagement, the new era is acquisition and conversion via paid-for social content placement.

Organic content is great for engaging with core consumers. It super important to maintain if you have a current following on social, it is the form of communication that ‘converted’ (people who already ‘like’, ‘follow’ or ‘linkin’ with your business/brand) consumers will engage and listen to. Consumers generally form a greater connection to a brand through organic content, and it is important for marketers who utilize social to invest time in creating content that shows consumers the real voice and values of a business. This form of contact keeps the brand ‘top’ of mind for the consumer, building trust and maintaining business/ consumer relevancy. Even more than that, organic content allows for business to listen, learn and respond to consumers.

However, the major sticking points of organic content is that to be effective it needs an audience of scale, there is no exact way to track its overall effectiveness (via conversion and reach or frequency metrics) and there is little control over who sees it. Also, it takes up a lot of time… there’s only so many pictures you can take, edit and upload to Instagram a day… #nofilter

On the other hand, paid content allows business to upload content to their chosen social platforms, which will be promoted to an audience outside of your organic audience reach (within sites that are monetized). The major plus to paid content is the ability to determine who is seeing it. This can be made as specific as the marketer wants; age, sex, occupation, location, interests and browsing history can all be used to determine the target audience. Then, most social platforms allow businesses to in-depth data which to analyse the value of content against various metrics. The obvious downside of paying to promote is that it costs $$$. If you’re targeting a competitive consumer audience and there is competition from other businesses, the dollars can add up! This obviously limits the value of paid content to small or start-up businesses who have little capital to invest.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t be relying on one or the other. In an ideal world organic and paid content should be used together to drive engagement and consumer value, but also increase brand reach and conversion rates. To begin with, a new social media profile will have a very small audience, and it can take time to build it up from scratch. Paid content is a great way to extend brand reach and build a wider audience, amongst a key demographic. For businesses running time sensitive offers, a paid or sponsored post is a great way to increase the reach of the message, with a higher probability to generate a much greater ROI.

The ratio of paid to organic content is impossible to define exactly, and it does depend on the business plan and marketing strategy of the company in question. However, it is clear that both should be leveraged in some way to get the most out of social.