Tag Archive | social media

Future Implications

Do you know anyone not using social media? Five to ten years ago, most people could say yes, but today the answer is generally no. Or if they do know someone not using it, it’s just one or two people at the most. It’s remarkable to think how far communication has come in just the past few years. We have new social media sites, mobile capabilities seem endless, and consumers are staying connected with companies in ways unheard of just five years ago. Social media itself has come a long way, but so have companies who utilize social media in their marketing strategies. Future implications for social media marketing include: real time, customer-centric, mobile usage, searching, and tracking data.

  1. To start with, consumers are finding out about news and events almost instantaneously through social media. When the blackout occurred at the last Super Bowl, I just happened to be away from the TV and when I came back I noticed the stadium was black, so I immediately went to Facebook to find out what happened. We’re in an age where people want answers immediately and want to be able to interact and be part of live events. Companies are beginning to use innovate and creative tactics to reach consumers with live brand social experiences such as flash mobs and live promotions. A study in the UK found that 37% of consumers would join a brand’s social media page as a result of a live brand social and 49% are more positive about brands that do so (Taylor, 2013).
  2. Social media needs to be all about the consumer. After all, without them social media would not exist. Companies need to get in the habit of thinking of their social media audience as potential future customers or referrers of future customers (Leaning, 2013).
  3. Smart phones and apps are becoming an everyday norm with more than 50% of U.S. mobile phone users now smart phone users (McDernott, 2013). Companies now need to think about consumers that can access social media and websites through their phones or other mobile devices. Content needs to be altered to fit small screens and low capabilities. Apps can be designed to bring more engagement and interaction between the consumers and brand.
  4. Social searching is becoming a trend as well. Companies need to include keywords throughout their social media site in which consumers might use when searching for the company or product. In fact Facebook just recently announced they will now make hashtags clickable and searchable (McGarry, 2013).
  5. How can a company really know if their social media strategy is successful? Fortunately today companies have many options available to track their data. This includes sites like Google Analytics, HootSuite, etc. All of these sites track and analyze various aspects including, likes, comments, click through rates, how many views, etc. This type of data can really help companies today in that while comparing it to sales figures, it can show whether social media is having an impact on sales or just brand awareness. Companies can also tailor their strategies depending on the results. If they notice certain features are not getting any likes or comments, companies can try something else to generate more engagement. Companies can also find out what consumers are saying about a brand or product by searching social media sites. One tool this can be done on is Social Mention.

Want to know what social media platforms are being used the most by companies? Here’s a list of the top ten marketers plan use in 2013.

Social media is a part of our everyday life and companies are now aware of this fact as well and are able to communicate and engage with consumers in a variety of ways. It’s been interesting to see how far social media has come within the past few years, and it’s hard to believe what they’ll come up with next.

Resources:

Leaning, B. (2013 March 13). The future of social media marketing according to HubSpot’s CMO. Retrieved from: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34257/The-Future-of-Social-Media-Marketing-According-to-HubSpot-s-CMO.aspx.

McDernott, J. (2013 May 28). A majority of U.S. mobile users are now smart phone users. Retrieved from: http://adage.com/article/digital/a-majority-u-s-mobile-users-smartphone-users/241717/.

Taylor, J. (2013 May 22). Are live experiences the future of social media marketing? Retrieved from: http://oursocialtimes.com/are-live-experiences-the-future-of-social-media-marketing/.

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Differentiation

I have chosen to examine two giants in the consumer beverage industry, Pepsi and Coca Cola, and how these two companies utilize social media.

Pepsi is active on Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. There idea is to build relationships with millennials, ages 18 to 35, which just happens to be the “largest, most diverse, educated and complicated group of shoppers the world has ever seen” and they are the most active on social media sites (HootSuite, 2013, para. 3). This is exactly why Pepsi is after this generation. “Pepsi is learning that if you want to remain relevant with this new type of consumer, you have to be where they are, you have to talk their language, and you have to connect with them in a way that keeps them feeling like they want to be part of your brand” (Horton, 2012, para. 5). After all that is the idea of engagement marketing. Companies need to keep their consumers interested in the brand by reaching out using social media tactics and making consumers think differently about the brand because of their engagement on social media. One of Pepsi’s new global campaign is called Live For Now in which inspires consumers or Pepsi fans to live for the moment and live life to its fullest with the idea of connecting on a global level with consumers (PepsiCo, 2012). The U.S. version, Pepsi Pulse, features interacting content with videos of music stars, Pepsi ads, tweets from fans, pictures of Pepsi products taken by fans. Their website engages consumers by highlighting aspects of how they “live for now”. Their Facebook and Twitter pages contain the same type of content by highlighting “live for now”, featuring Pepsi drinks being utilized in different ways, pop culture icons, and thousands of comments from fans. Their You Tube account features videos of their ads and highlights of the “live for now” campaign. What’s so important for any company and what Pepsi is doing very well is keeping their brand image consistent. Every site is all about the “live for now” campaign. Pepsi is utilizing an integrated marketing communications strategy. What’s also important is that Pepsi is simply letting consumers speak, but they are also communicating back by reviewing what consumers say about the brand and answering questions or trying to solve problems.

Coca Cola on the other hand is active on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Flickr. Coca Cola ranks as the most valuable brand in the world and the most followed on Facebook (Roman, 2013). That kind of ranking is a lot of pressure for a brand as they need to uphold their image throughout social media. One of the keys aspects Coca Cola does throughout their social media sites is they listen to consumers and then respond. Their SVP of Integrated Marketing states “we have to, consumers expect that we’re listening and responding” (Roman, 2013, para. 6). They also make sure everything they do and are is share worthy. That is a strategy seen throughout their social media sites. Their Facebook page contains stories and pictures from consumers about what Coke means to them, various pictures depicting Coca Cola, and comments from consumers. Their Twitter and Google+ contains news about the Coca Cola Company. Their You Tube account features different ads they have run, their products in the news, and consumers using Coke all around the world. Flickr features photos submitted by users and also ads the company has put out.

Coca Cola wants fans to talk about them and have that lead to sales. However a recent study from Coca Cola indicated that their social media does little to influence sales (Clark, 2013). Wendy Clark, SVP of Integrated Marketing says the study is true, but yet still says social media can do much more and is in fact a combination of media that helps brands. “It’s the combination of owned, earned, shared and paid media connections – with social playing a crucial role at the heart of our activations – that creates marketplace impact, consumer engagement, brand love and brand value” (Clark, 2013, para. 6).

Overall these two brands have a tremendous impact on consumers as they engage throughout social media. They are well known brands and have to keep up their image wherever that engagement may take place.

Resources:

Clark, W. (2013 March 20). Coca-Cola’s Wendy Clark defends ‘crucial’ social media. Retrieved from: http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/social-media-matter-marketing-coca-cola/240444/.

HootSuite. (2013 January 11). The evolving role of brands for the millennial generation. Retrieved from: http://blog.hootsuite.com/the-evolving-role-of-brands-for-the-millennial-generation/.

Horton, C. (2012 May 17). 5 ways Pepsi’s use of social media is right on. Retrieved from: http://socialmediatoday.com/synecoretech/509355/5-ways-pepsis-use-social-media-right.

PepsiCo. (2012 April 30). Pepsi launches first global campaign, “live for now”. Retrieved from: http://www.pepsico.com/pressrelease/pepsi-launches-first-global-campaign-live-for-now04302012.html.

Roman, E. (2013 January 24). Coke’s 7 smart social media rules for success. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ernan-roman/cokes-7-smart-social-medi_b_2528038.html.

 

General Mills Socializing Social Media

General Mills has world-renowned brands including Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Gold Medal, Haagen-Dazs, Pillsbury, Totino’s, Yoplait, and much more. Their brands include ready-to-eat cereal, refrigerated yogurt, frozen vegetables, Mexican aisle products, grain snacks, ready-to-serve soup, dry packaged dinners, refrigerated dough, dessert mixes, frozen hot snacks, and fruit snacks. Each of those ranking number one or two in the US Retail market (General Mills Inc., 2011). With world-renowned brands however, General Mills must live up to the standards of quality all consumers expect of the brands. That now includes communicating to consumers through social media. It was difficult to find an exact list of what type of social media sites General Mills uses, but from my research, I found they use Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, and a General Mills blog.

  • Twitter included thanking people involved in events and for support, as well as post on food trends and staying healthy.
  • YouTube includes interviews and videos promoting products such as Wheaties.
  • LinkedIn is used for networking with business professionals at General Mills.
  • Flickr includes pictures of new designs for their products, events and promotions where General Mills was a sponsor.
  • General Mills blog includes nutrition and health trends, events, company innovations, information about the company, and much more.

As with any company, switching to social media and having to think about marketing on there is always a struggle, but the important thing is to have a presence online where consumers can communicate easily and efficiently with a company. Last year, Mark Addicks, Chief Marketing Officer for General Mills, sat down for an interview with Minnesota Public Radio and spoke about social media marketing. Here is what he had to say: “And so one of the things that you really need to do is let go and really encourage your marketers and your teams to go out, it’s a social atmosphere, and experiment. Learn quickly. The great thing is, they can now raise their hand. They can give you really instant feedback. They can volunteer and help you, which they couldn’t before” (Hobson, 2011). “One way General Mills gets the conversation going is by saying to consumers, here’s why we created this product, here’s how we think it works, tell us what you think.  Feedback can be in different forms, including video, and the ensuing dialogue provides rich insights for the product developers and food experts” (The Social Media Soapbox, 2009).

“To help track what consumers say about its products on social media websites and blogs”, General Mills hired an Atlanta, Georgia based company, Sentiment360 (Beasley, 2010). They look at what the trend is, how they’re doing against the broader competitions, and even how they’re doing with the category. They try to find answers by looking through social media sites. They even introduced a product, Fiber One Bars, specifically through social media without any advertising in traditional media and it was a success. The success of which was measured through sales. “And what was beautiful about this was that there really wasn’t anything else and we could actually track the daily sales to some of the postings that people had done” (Hobson, 2011). There was in fact, a nearly exact correlation between online postings and sales of Fiber One Bars. The chart below shows this. “It’s the kind of chart you can take to management to prove the value of consumer participation in the development and launch of products through social media tools” (The Social Media Soapbox, 2009).

In today’s world, it seems that you must have a presence online, but also use social media tools appropriately by communicating with consumers. And in turn, you must be able to measure and track social media sites in able to measure the success of social media marketing. It seems as if General Mills has a pretty good thing going for them when it comes to social media. They not only have world-renowned products, but they’re also gaining success by being online.

What kind of social media presence have you noticed from General Mills? Do their presence online make a difference for you when choosing brands?

 

Beasley, D. (2010, June 14). General Mills hires Atlanta company for social media research. Retrieved from http://www.globalatlanta.com/article/23997/.

General Mills Inc. (2011). Annual report 2011. Retrieved from http://generalmills.com/~/media/Files/2011_annual_report.

Hobson, J. (2011). General Mills Chief Marketing Officer Mark Addicks on how marketing can make a better world [Radio series episode]. In Bright ideas: Fresh thoughts on big issues. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved from http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/01/20/bright-ideas-with-mark-addicks–.

The Social Media Soapbox. (2009, October 25). General Mills goes social [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://socialmediasoapbox.wordpress.com/2009/10/25/general-mills-goes-social/.

Social Media in the Education Industry

Social media is everywhere…as most of us know! One area where you may not expect to see it and hear professionals using it is in education, every institution from K-12 through colleges. Of course without social media and the study of it, the class I’m taking now would not be possible! When I graduated from high school five years, social media was just starting to be “popular” so many of my teachers and classmates were either just starting to use it or didn’t know what it was yet. But things have changed a lot in the past five years, so just how is social media used in education today?

Many colleges use the common tools of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. However I’m sure there are several other tools used by other universities. What have you seen with other schools? How do they utilize social media? My undergraduate school used social media as a tool to build a community with students. It was all about community for them. So that included interactive Facebook pages where students could comment, post questions or concerns, enter contests and trivia, and find out about the latest happenings at the university. Twitter was utilized in much the same way. YouTube featured several professionally-done videos highlighting departments, people, and the campus. LinkedIn is used for those just starting in the workforce, where they can follow the university’s page and ask for help with resumes, interviews, and even get recommendations. These social media sites are not just for current students, it’s also used as a marketing tool to attract future students to the university. So in today’s world of teenagers using social media, colleges need to make sure they where the teenagers are as well. Here is an interesting infographic from Sahil Shah’s post about social media in education (see it here, bigger version: http://www.penn-olson.com/2011/04/10/social-media-education-infographic/):

Of course, social media isn’t just used in higher education, K-12 educators are using as well. According to a survey, 61% of educators in K-12 reported they had joined a social network (Software & Information Industry Association, 2011). The survey also reported the main purposes of those schools using social media were to build brand awareness, increase the loyalty of customers, general knowledge, and to create support groups. In fact, “Facebook has made serious efforts to try and ensure they reach out to parents and the education community, addressing concerns regarding the use of the platform by children and teens. They have created a resource for teachers that answers some common questions such as what to do if you suspect abusive behavior on Facebook, how to hide your personal Facebook profile from yours students and how to report underage users” (Peyton, 2011). Do you think K-12 educators should be “friends” or “follow” their students on social networks?

I work for a school district’s community education department and we manage the district’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. We primarily use it as an announcement factor where we update users of events or important information for parents and students. Some school districts even have a blog by the superintendent. How have you seen K-12 social media being used? What do you think are the benefits of it for those age ranges and their parents?

Peyton, L. (2011, Septemeber 14). Breaking down top Facebook pages for the education industry. Retrieved from http://socialfresh.com/facebook-pages-education/.

Shah, S. (2011). How social media is changing the education industry. Retrieved from http://www.penn-olson.com/2011/04/10/social-media-education-infographic/.

Software & Information Industry Association. (2011, June 8). Survey: Social media rising in education industry. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/article/51300.

 

What’s the Best Social Media Site For Your Business?

There are so many social media tools out there for businesses and consumers that many just don’t even know where to start, especially from a business standpoint. So if you’re just starting a business, how do you know what social media sites will be best for you and your customers?

I have a list here of a few sites that are tailored to either businesses and consumers or just business. I will then list features or benefits to businesses.

  • Facebook: Most people know about Facebook and what you can all use it for. So this social networking site can be used for both business and consumers. A business can create a page that includes photos, videos, updates, etc about products or services offered to consumers. It’s a fairly easy and quick way to communicate with customers about any problems or questions they may have. It’s also a good avenue to promote products or special events to consumers.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a social networking and microblogging tool. This site again is extremely popular and can be used for both consumers and businesses. The “tweets” are very short, only 140 characters so you have to be creative in the way you want messages brought out to consumers. But this is again a great way to promote and update consumers about products and services.
  • WordPress: Well it’s a blogging site, obviously, what we are all using now. This again is business and consumer related. For businesses they can blog about current events, specials, promotions, their company and what they offer to consumers. It’s another great avenue for consumers to give feedback and make comments.
  • LinkedIn: This is a professional social networking site used by consumers and businesses, but because of the type of networking, I’m classifying this as business related. To me, I consider this site to be a “professional Facebook”. In that you can build profiles about yourself and include a picture, but then your information includes past jobs, experience, your resume, and whatever else you need to include for future employers to learn about you. Businesses can post job openings and search for potential employers through this site.
  • YouTube: Most of you, again, know about YouTube, but it is a video sharing site used by businesses and consumers. For a business, they can use it to post videos displaying ads, virtual tours, and other promotions. I find that
  • Ning: This site is a custom social networking site used by businesses. Here businesses can create their own social networks instead of using one such as Twitter or Facebook. It’s a better way for them to customize the site to what their business offers and brings to consumers.
  • Mynewsdesk: Mynewsdesk is a news exchange site used by business professionals. News releases and public relation materials are available on this site for businesses, journalists, or bloggers. This site provides quick and easy access to relevant press releases and news related to a business or company.
  • Sitetrail: This site offers website analyses for businesses. This shows specific news related to a company’s website and tracks any websites, where companies can view related analytics. They can also view the analytics of competitors’ websites.
  • SimplyMeasured: This is a business platform used for social media analysis. So instead of tracking the analytics of a company’s website, this site tracks the social media sites being used by the company.

When I worked for a university’s marketing department, we used Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Because our audience was college students, we knew that these sites are what college students are using today. That’s another important feature of picking a social media site. Find out what sites your audience is on and target them through those sites.

With the hundreds of social media sites available, starting somewhere is all you need to do to get the word out about your business and products. Although these are just a few social media tools, hopefully this provides a little more detail on what certain social media sites can do for businesses! What sites are you using and why do you find them beneficial to your company? Please share any experiences you have with choosing a social media site for you business. Online tools are meant for feedback and any business out there will appreciate feedback that will help them be successful as well.