The Debate Lives On: Quantity vs Quality

In the short-term, quantitative can be incredibly influential in social media marketing. If you go to a webpage with 20 fans and then venture over to one with 100, which are you going to trust more?  It’s the social proof or credibility that will initially get people to notice you, but in order to keep their attention at some point you have to focus on more substantial, quality posts to hold the engagement. By having a large following you will have more brand awareness especially since friends can see which companies their friends like, again you will gain more credibility since people typically make judgments about a business based on the number of friends or followers they may have, more potential customers since you are exposing them to many messages, and more opportunities to partner with other brands since you have proved you have some authority. When posting on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, you can have high quality posts but get lost in the newsfeeds if they are few and far between.

With all that said, quality posts are still just as important as focusing on quantity because they are needed to hold engagement. Leading up to INTEGRATE 2014, people would post on the event page betting on who would win a contest for most tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram pictures etc. Once I arrived at the conference, it was reiterated that we should participate in the contest and see who could post about INTEGRATE the most. There was no emphasis on the quality of these posts until the first guest speaker pointed out the importance of also having solid quality posts. How can marketers truly promote a message if it has no substance? Quality however, is much more difficult to measure than quantitative. It isn’t all about how many retweets or how many fans you may have. To measure quality some great indicators come from monitoring unique page views, time on page, and total pages viewed. The best advice I can give is to not pick just one side of the coin and stick with it. Quality may seem like the most obvious, successful choice in managing social media pages but that’s not always going to be the case. So much depends on your social media goals whether quality or quantity will win out. To initially gain more followers, quantity is going to rule. The more you post the more likely you are to be noticed. However once you have the engagement you need to hold it through quality content.

4 Brands Prove The Internet Can Be a Dangerous Place

We all know that social media is a necessity when trying to extend the reach of your brand but unfortunately some companies are still doing “it” wrong. Here are four examples of companies that made some big mistakes and if they were able to rise again or just crash and burn.

Apple

While Apple is still relatively quiet and nonexistent on the social media front, the company had a bit of a slipup today when Apple accidentally posted screenshots of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 in the iTunes store today. The big reveal was supposed to be set for Thursday however Apple jumped the gun. I’m curious to see how the press event goes tomorrow and if Apple will acknowledge the blunder or gloss right over it and just focus on the new devices.

DiGiorno Pizza

DiGiorno Pizza ran into a rough spot just last month when the company mistakenly tweeted:

DiGiorno

It sounds catchy enough, unfortunately the hashtag, #WhyIStayed was at that time being used to bring to light domestic violence and why women stayed with abusive partners. As soon as the backlash started and DiGiorno realized its mistake, the company took down the tweet and released a statement that they had not read what the tweet was about before posting. I believe one of the best things DiGiorno did – besides immediately admitting its mistake – was when the brand responded to as many tweets as possible questioning their motives. Rather than regurgitating the same message over and over, DiGiorno made the attempt to personalize each complaint or comment and humanized itself.

digiorno 2

Kenneth Cole

In 2011, designer Kenneth Cole decided to use current events to bring attention to his new spring collection. Normally this probably would not be an issue however he decided to use the uprisings in Egypt as the hook to his tweet:

Kenneth Cole Egypt

His post was eventually removed and he took to Facebook and Twitter to apologize for the insensitive comments. It doesn’t seem as though Cole learned his lesson since he tweeted the following in 2013 regarding the Syrian conflict:

kenneth cole syria

It seems safe to say that Cole will continue to shock and surprise consumers as long as he is in business.

American Red Cross

One of my personal favorites has to be the Red Cross’ Twitter fail. On February 15, 2011, Red Cross media specialist, Gloria Huang accidentally sent out the following tweet:

Red Cross

Unlike DiGiorno who almost immediately realized its mistake, this tweet stayed up for an hour. After it was taken down, Huang tweeted that she was the culprit behind the “rogue tweet” and was incredibly embarrassed. To counter this unfortunate tweet, Red Cross created one of the most amazing comebacks I have ever seen:

red cross 2

This mishap actually worked out well for the Red Cross because Dogfish Head tweeted to followers that they should donate to the Red Cross and after tweet about it using #gettngslizzerd. Well done, very well done indeed!

There are plenty more companies who had some epic flops when it comes to social media. What are some more marketers can learn from, whether it’s how to not handle the situation or who did it best?

Evian – It’s Okay to Be a Baby

Last week I wrote about how Kmart has created some fairly successful viral campaigns yet the company is still on a downward spiral. This week, we’ll continue with viral videos but focusing on a company that is still thriving, Evian.

For this week, I have selected Evian’s Baby & Me viral ad. The commercial begins with a guy who catches a glimpse of his reflection in the doors of a bus. Upon closer inspection, he discovers his reflection is showing him as a baby. He begins dancing and then more people notice that they too appear as babies in their reflection. Before you know it, there is a group of adults dancing in front of a giant mirror. Their baby reflections show the babies mimicking their adult selves, ensuing in quite a bit of hilarity.

The ad first aired Friday, April 19, 2013 and by Monday, April 22nd there was more than 13 million views. As of today there have been 94.7 million views on YouTube. Laurent Houel, global brand director for Evian stated that the “love affair of the brand with babies started in France in 1935, when Evian was first recommended as a perfect water for babies”. Today, Evian is still the number one water used by mothers for their babies because of its pH-neutral mineral composition.

Remi Babinet, creative director at BETC Paris, wrote that the ad “Baby & Me” was the kickoff to the brand’s new campaign about staying fresh by renewing the “Live Young” concept of earlier work. Houel also said that BETC had the idea to “leverage the babies into a powerful symbol of purity and youth. The baby is a symbol of you and how you feel when you experience Evian, and a symbol of the purity of our water”.

To try and engage consumers, Evian even created an app that uses facial recognition software that allows you to “babify” yourself. The app is available on Android, IOS and Facebook. On Evian’s website, they have established the “Live Young” community where 9,494 photos have been uploaded showing people of all ages, race, ethnicity, etc wearing a white t-shirt that has a baby body.

Evian

In addition to the viral commercial and smartphone app, Evian created the Baby & Me poster campaign. It was an outdoor campaign which began May 15, 2013 in France. There were ten portraits showing the adult and baby version of the same person displayed all around town. The creators purposefully gave the adults a surprised face because it is supposed to show them discovering their “inner baby” for the first time.

Evian 2

I believe a consumption community has been built around both the brand and the ad through its “Live Young” concept. In order to “live young and stay young at heart” there is a lifestyle we have to adopt in order for this to happen. Evian’s Live Young Training utilizes their “roller babies” and coaches you how to “use your mind and your muscles on a regular basis, and keep your childlike spirit”. The training tests your intellectual ability, physical capabilities, and mindset. Evian is really trying to engage its consumers. I have never been someone who just has to drink a specific brand of water, but plenty of people do. Have any of you found yourselves more loyal to one water brand over another? Would a campaign such as this make you gravitate to a brand you may not have used or preferred before?

Viral Marketing: Does it Always Work?

Kmart is having a rough few days.

Actually, Kmart has been having a rough go for more than 12 years, well before it had to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2002. Since 2003, Kmart has closed more than 680 stores across the country. Now there are announcements of stores closing by December in its home city of Detroit. What happened to this one flourishing giant? Kmart has yet to move beyond its traditional brick and mortar stores and make itself into a more exciting place to shop. There was hope for a time when it began producing some instant hits with the “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” commercials.

In one week the “Shipped My Pants” ad received 13 million views, making it the 37th most shared ad of all time. In 15 days the ad had more than 19 million views and more than 2 million social media shares. Kmart Vice President Andrew Stein has said that the company had not planned to make a viral ad, it just happened. Stein said the “objective was to promote a new service in which shoppers who can’t find something in store can have it shipped to them from Kmart warehouses”. About a month after “Ship My Pants” went viral, Kmart released “Big Gas Savings” to promote 30 cents off per gallon of gas for customers who spend at least $50 at Kmart. The point of this ad was get people to laugh and create a more positive view of Kmart. Typically it is difficult to manufacture viral success even once yet Kmart was able to have back-to-back hits. “Big Gas Savings” aired on a Wednesday, by Friday morning of the same week the ad had been viewed roughly 1.4 million times on YouTube. Studies have shown that videos which elicit a strong emotional response are twice as likely to be shared. In addition, if it provokes a strong “positive” emotion, it has a 30% more chance to be shared than any other emotional response. Kmart did an excellent job with creating these videos because they did have that emotional factor that caused people to share the videos. However with the good came the bad.

A group of people were so “inspired” by Kmart’s videos that they decided to make a parody video, one that almost got Kmart in a lot of trouble. Like “Ship My Pants” and “Big Gas Savings”, this parody utilized the play-on-words to create “Kmart Knickers”. Unfortunately for Kmart, many people were under the impression that “Kmart Knickers” was a real ad by Kmart and missed where the creators stated it was a parody.

In response to all of these viral videos, conservative Christian group, One Million Moms, tried to have the “Ship My Pants” commercial pulled off the air because the phrase “ship my pants” is used in a “vulgar” way.  Whether the videos were shared because people found them hilarious or because of how shockingly vulgar they were, Kmart hit the nail on the head with the emotional factor and with how creative their commercials can be. The one thing to remember though is while Kmart may be able to create witty commercials, it still has a long way to go to improving the overall brand experience for consumers. Although as more and more stores close, it seems no amount of viral videos will be able to change the very negative impression consumers have on the big-box store.

Connecting with the Groundswell

Social media has completely redefined the way companies can reach consumers. Marketers can have more two-way conversations with consumers to define critical wants and needs and then actively go about making it work as best as the company can. In a 2013 study, 73 percent of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business and 79 percent of consumers indicated that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This trend will make or break a company, depending on how its run. The easiest way to maintain a positive image would be to produce great products and have amazing customer service. Every single day. But let’s be honest, that’s not realistic and that will never happen. This is when businesses need to be more in tune with social media and take a more active role in listening to the groundswell. Let’s take a look at one company has used social media and its online community to successfully connect with the groundswell.

Starbucks – My Starbucks Idea

My Starbucks Idea is an online community Starbucks created for fans to post suggestions of products or services the consumers feel would make their Starbucks experience even better. Within the first five years of its launch, My Starbucks Idea received more than 150,000 ideas and 277 of them were actually implemented by Starbucks. Here is an infographic of all the fun creations over the last five years:

MSI Infographic FINAL

While Starbucks appears to have a well-oiled machine going, there is one interesting thing Starbucks does not do on the website but it still manages to function well enough, and that is communicating with the consumers. The posts are created by fans and majority of the time any questions, concerns, or comments are address by other fans, not Starbucks. I would usually suggest a more active voice, however Starbucks makes up for its silence on My Starbucks Idea by being very involved on Facebook and Twitter. When there are issues or misconceptions – such as the rumor that Starbucks did not support the military – the company is there immediately to address issues or thank fans for their support. Starbucks is unique in that it created a separate place through My Starbucks Idea specifically to listen to the groundswell and allows people to critique the company and keeps it separate from its other social media accounts. Not many companies have offered a separate forum like Starbucks has, let alone properly maintain a social media presence. So it is very impressive that Starbucks has been so successful in its online endeavors.

Design to Impress

Let’s talk about website design, folks. Before I started with my current company I would search through countless marketing and public relations websites trying to find a company that really stood out and made me want to work for them. Something I noticed that was rather distressing however, was the number of companies that did not take proper care of their websites. One would think that when a company’s job is to market a product or service on behalf of a client, the company would at least know how to market itself as well.

First impressions are everything, whether it is meeting someone in person for the first time or visiting a website. The only difference is a person has more opportunity to reach out and try to change the impression whereas a website can’t say, “Wait! Give me another chance!” It only takes a mere two-tenths of a second for someone to form an opinion about a brand once they have seen the website. That’s it, not one or two minutes, two-tenths of a second. How can a company ensure in that precious amount of time new online visitors will have a positive first impression of its webpage?

One crucial tip to take away is to not create a website that is either full of good content or has a great design. A great website takes the best of both worlds. A website can have an awesome design and keep someone on the page a little bit longer, but if the content is sloppy visitors will still leave with a bad taste in their mouths. Design a website that is both aesthetically pleasing and has quality content. On a personal note, I visited several websites where they were very text heavy and had little graphics and while I appreciated the plethora of information on the organization, it was overwhelming. As a PR graduate, one would think that I would love lots of text but honestly, there is such a thing as too much information. Or at least too much information that is not organized efficiently.

In addition to balancing design and content, the next most important tip is make the website mobile friendly. That’s not to say that all companies need to create an adaptive website, one which is designed specifically for a mobile device, but at the very least invest in creating one that is responsive or recognizes it is being accessed by a mobile device and adjusts the settings accordingly. We are living in an increasingly mobile world and must adapt. Sixty-three percent of cell phone users go online via their phones and another thirty-four percent mostly use their phones to go online than any other device. By 2017 it is predicted that mobile phone users will reach or exceed 5 billion. With these numbers, it’s hard to argue not designing a website that is mobile friendly.

Infographic: 5 Billion People to Use Mobile Phones by 2017 | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

 

There are so many ways one can go about designing a website to impress online visitors, but at the very least try to strike a balance when in design mode. Don't get overexcited because you have learned how to work HTML or have so much information about your company that just has to be front and center. Scale back and find that balance.

 

#Selfie

Selfie: noun – a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.

Hashtag: noun – (On social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.

 

Remember when taking a picture of yourself wasn’t something to be mocked or even make a song about? You look good, you like the scenery of wherever you’re at, so you want to snap a picture. Today, the “selfie” is perceived as obnoxious, something only to be undertaken by the most self-absorbed. Or, if you can make an excellent duck face.

In 2013 the term “selfie” became official when the Oxford Dictionary dubbed “Selfie” word of the year. The selfie has become this phenomenon amongst smartphone users and companies have jumped right on the bandwagon. Selfie contests are constantly springing up across various social media channels. Jones Soda Co. is currently running such a contest and has teamed with Fiat to give away a new Fiat 500. The terms of the contest is to take a selfie with a Fiat 500, tag it on Instagram and Twitter with #jonesinforafiat500, and fill out an entry form. American Apparel began a back-to-school contest where fans take a selfie while wearing American Apparel clothing and tag #AABTS on any social media platform to win a $300 gift card.

Contests like these are quite brilliant in all honesty. The people who participate in these contests are providing free advertising to companies who run these promos. Add in the use of hashtags and the level of engagement just begins to skyrocket. Hashtags allow the photos to have quick, witty descriptions and can be applied across social media channels. They also provide marketers the ability to track the level of participation in the aforementioned selfie contests. As obnoxious as thousands of pictures of duck faces are and seeing people overuse hashtags, they have inadvertently become excellent marketing tools.

#howgreatisthat

 

Speaking of hashtags…

 

Emerging Media and the Market

Remember the days when couponing consisted of sitting at a table for hours with the Sunday paper scouring for the week’s discounts? If you don’t, that’s okay because the way the world is changing, clipping coupons is eventually going to be a thing of the past. Not the act of couponing, but the way consumers go about finding coupons. As technology continues to improve, finding the best deal is becoming less of a headache. Rather than spending the day clipping coupons, you can “Google” search your way to one that works best. If you are one of the 58 percent of American adults with a smartphone, you may even have an app or two whose purpose is coupon sharing. Some of these apps will even send a text message alert with specials when the user is within so many feet of a favorite store.

Marketers have taken it yet another step further to ensure that these precious deals are quickly making their way into the hands of consumers. How many times have you made a purchase online, or even did a simple web search, for new clothes or a vacation package and suddenly banner ads are filled with the brands or items you just purchased? “Buy now!” these advertisements say, but how do they know what you just bought? For those random ads that pop up, why were you of all people targeted? On social networking sites such as Facebook, marketers can use the demographic information users have already provided to flood walls with ads which may, or may not be useful.

The consumer in me feels as though there has been an invasion of my privacy. Yes, when anyone signs up for a Facebook account there is some basic information you are required to provide in order to access this social networking giant, but it still feels unnerving. However when I tap into my marketer side, the feeling is completely flipped. It is fascinating, the sheer amount of information one can uncover about people just through simple web searches, clicks of a mouse, and a few cookies. Emerging media is making it possible for marketers to engage consumers even more efficiently than ever before. With websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram brands can promote products instantly to thousands of users. Companies can post status updates about flash sales and know that hundreds of fans will receive the information instantly. When brands begin adding hashtags to their posts they will see 21 percent more engagement on that update. However the overzealous moderators will see a 17 percent drop when they use three or more in a single post.

Over the next nine weeks it will be intriguing to see the scope of emerging media especially via social networking. Will brands jump on the latest hypes such as selfies, memes, and the overabundance of hashtags or carefully navigate through new territory and embrace the direction new media is taking us?