Posted by: thinkeak | October 3, 2009

Is your business ready to take the Social Media plunge?

By Kristin Snyder
October 3, 2009

Is your business ready to take the social media plunge? If not, why not? Maybe you are a business that just does not understand the medium and how it can be useful specifically to you. Maybe your business still feels that the only way to get their message across is through traditional TV, Radio, and print advertising – all one way communication pieces directed at consumers. Or maybe, like many you are simply overwhelmed and just do not know how or where to start.

First, it is important to understand the way businesses communicate with consumers and people communicate with friends and family is changing because of the social networking technology. These new mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube and more allow for businesses to interact and engage consumers on a personal level to create a grass roots buzz while building brand loyalty. Sales 101 teaches us that if we have a relationship with someone, it is much easier to make the sell. Social media gives the opportunity to communicate with a mass amount of people on a somewhat personal level.

Consumers are changing how they want to receive messaging from advertisers, “The Break Up” is a great video that depicts the disconnection between advertisers and consumers.

PowersReview commissed a social media study with 117 companies. “The study surveyed 117 companies, including multi-channel retailers (44%), brands/manufacturers (26%), pure-play retailers (12%), catalogers (9%), and suppliers/agencies (9%).” This study asked business what the goals for using a community and social media tool. The results are: Greater customer engagement, increasing brand loyalty, and mobilizing advocates to drive word of mouth. If your business can increase those areas, your bottom line will follow.

PowersReview

PowersReview

Is your business now ready to take the plunge into social media?

Advertisements
Posted by: thinkeak | September 27, 2009

Consumers be smart!

September 27, 2009
By Kristin A. Snyder

Consumers be smart!

Emerging media has opened new doors for marketers to target consumers and has created new avenues for consumer to find information as well as communicate with friends and companies. The new trends have challenged marketers to find new unique ways to grab and retain consumer’s attention. Traditional media alone is not enough to create brand awareness, relay product and pricing information in order to generate sales. Traditional media also does not allow companies to truly know its customers and their preference’s. Through new media marketers have the ability to know more then ever their consumers and their preference in addition to providing a way to directly correspond with them to communicate product information. Today’s market demands marketers to step up their game to use various forms of emerging media to the point that consumer privacy lines have become a topic of concern.

Individuals are willing to put their personal information on the web for public view on social networking sites, so is it wrong for advertisers to gain knowledge and insight from such information? If a consumer posts messages (ie: I’m looking to buy a new car – maybe the new Chevy Equinox) on Twitter or another social network which is open to the public, is it wrong for a company to respond to it (ie: New shipments of Equinox’s are in, special offers, let us know how we can help)? If it is on a public site and open to public viewing, then I say it is fair game!

Other areas that consumers may feel invaded are IP addresses and Search Engines. Consumer’s IP addresses can be cookied or web bugged then tracked in order to gain insight into preferences, wants, and needs basically creating a nameless user profile. This will show what sites they have visited and how much time was spent on particular sites allowing companies to target consumers based on relevant information. Advertisers will use this information to place banner ads reflecting those interests. For instance, maybe the consumer has searched various family vacation destinations sites, after that ads for Disney World will start appearing.

Finally, search engines are a users first stop in searching for web sites, images, news, blogs, maps, etc are highly targeted by advertisers. How? Search words and terms can also be bought so certain companies appear higher on the search results page. In addition, search engines can have sponsored areas where advertisers pay for placement like on Google. Note the top link is highlighted in pink and the far right is also separated with special notation that they are “sponsored links.”

Picture 5

Not all search engines denote what links are paid/sponsored and which are most popular. Google is currently the most popular search engine, perhaps in part because it does the best job in keeping lines clearly defined so consumers know what is paid advertising and what is not.

Consumers – be smart and don’t be insulted or feel like your privacy is invaded when you choose to send messages on a public forum. Just like product placement in TV shows, movies, entertainment venues, etc. advertisers are all over the web and have the right to be. After all they are trying to fulfill a need, want, desire that you have. Consumers today are smart and savvy, and need to be alert and responsible. Advertisers also need to maintain boundaries and use caution in diving into undefined new areas on the web. The last thing a smart brand wants to do is a make current or future customer angry. In the end, it is the consumers’ choice if he/she wants to further engage in contact with a brand, and a brands right to inform the buyer he/she has a choice.

Posted by: thinkeak | September 22, 2009

Lack of minority content in Corporate Websites?

September 22, 2009
By Kristin A. Snyder

Are companies catering to the minority markets through their websites? Minorities and their spending power in the United States is the highest it has ever been and continues to increase. This blog will look at three Fortune 100 companies’ websites to determine if they utilize this medium to speak directly to any minority groups.

Finding three Fortune 100 companies that had specific sections designed for African-Americans, Hispanics or Asian Americans proved to be a difficult task. Some Fortune 100 companies did not have any sections dedicated to a single ethnic minority group, or if they did, it was difficult to locate on the company’s homepage. Ford Motor, Bank of America, and United Health care all had some sort of ethnic content, which one did the best job of adapting its site to incorporate minorities?

Marketers need to relate to ethnic groups and incorporate specific messages directly for that group, understand cultural needs, spending habits, and lifestyle. “Innovative marketing methods, like lifestyle marketing, are gaining popularity with ethnic marketers as it enables them to position and market their products around customers’ lifestyles”

Ford Motor’s created an alliance with American Online with the Mi Negocio web site which is designed for Hispanic small business owners, featuring live chats, in-person forums and informative article from Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0. Ford has been committed to offering products and services that aim to help the U.S. Hispanic Community to grow. One would assume that commitment is true, it would be reflected in its corporate and brands websites with either a button to click through to Mi Negocio or a full Hispanic oriented dedicated site about its product line. However, when visiting the Ford.com there are not any special page sections for the Hispanic market until you start clicking through pages into the individual vehicle brand sites: Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, and Volvo. Ford and Lincoln consumers can choose to view a limited selection of pages that are in Spanish by clicking the tiny and hard to find “en espanol” button on the top right hand corner of brand page. After one or two clicks the consumer is directed back to the English version pages. This could be frustrating to the Hispanic consumer that is looking for content information in Spanish. More interesting is that, Mercury and Volvo brand sites do not even provide Spanish language pages as an option. Ford has been successful at building relationships with the Hispanic market outside of its own website, specifically outside the US boarders, but needs to fully integrate the marketing tactics by taking additional steps to tie those relationships back into its corporate site and/or brands websites.

Bank of America is the No. 1 overall Small Business Administration (SBA) lender in the United States and the No. 1 SBA lender to minority-owned small businesses.” In 1991, Bank of American President Richard Rosenberg gave a speech to the Hispanic Bankers Association saying:

The U.S. Hispanic population has $171 billion in buying power. “New segments of the market are growing in influence and affluence and we have to structure our marketing to build a relationship with these groups.”

Bank of America web site offers some web pages that are in Spanish, which include the Bank of America Newsroom and the Personal banking section that features a picture of a Hispanic couple. There is also a pop-up to instantly chat with a Bank of America representative online for assistance. Yet, when personally using this feature the representative did not speak Spanish nor was there an option for a translation box. Despite Bank of America being the number one lender in minority-owned businesses, there are not any pages in the Small Business section that speak specifically to any of the minorities groups.

When it comes to speaking to the minority groups the most impressive web site that I found is United Health Care. United Health Care offers the most comprehensive minority web site that is available in five languages, along with a dedicated African American and Women’s section. Four of the languages are subcultures of Asian American that cover Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese subcultures. These four subcultures represent 63% of the Asian American population. Asian Americans have the highest household income of any ethnic subculture in the U.S. and are the most affluent and best educated. Asian-Americans are best approached as a number of subcultures based on nationality which is exactly what United Health Care has done by providing various language options. Spanish is the fifth language option on its site. In addition, United Health Care web site features sections specifically for African Americans and Women’s health. The landing page for each minority site features a picture of an individual or family that is to represent each sector.

The African American sections covers health topics that are specific to the African American Community, news and events specific towards this group, allows the consumer to find a doctor that specializes in the health needs of African Americans, and even provides scholarship opportunities for African American high school, college or graduate students interested in a career in the health care industry. If United Health Care offers content specific to each ethnic group through its various languages offered, then this site is truly a home run.

My top pick goes to United Health Care’s web site in speaking to all three-minority groups: Asian American, African-American, and Hispanic. The elements that make this site rise above the other sites are:

• It speaks to issues that affect each minority segment
• Allows consumer to find a doctor that specializes in health needs of the specific demographic
• Pictures are representative of the group United Health is speaking to.
• Unlike Ford and Bank of America, numerous in depth web pages are dedicated to each group and the consumer is not bounced back to English as they click through their web site.

Posted by: thinkeak | September 20, 2009

Online Video Advertising

September 20, 2009
by Kristin A. Snyder

Tired of static banner ads? Try video advertising!

Consumers have experienced the pop-up, pop-under, banner ads, and have been spammed for years. It is doubtful that those annoying pop-up and pop-under ads are going away anytime soon. So what is another way to capture a consumer’s attention and the next phase of online advertising?

Video advertising takes the standard static Internet ad to another level. Video advertising alone seems to have endless opportunities for implementation by companies in order to create awareness through an interactive lead-generating medium, for instance: you may see that once static banner ad on Yahoo’s homepage come to life with streaming video; before you watch your favorite TV show on Hulu you will see a :15 to :30 pre-roll ad run; there are also flash layovers that arguably make that annoying pop-up less annoying and more entertaining. Video ads can also be embedded in emails, posted on YouTube and any social networking site, even incorporated into corporate websites. The implementation possibilities for video advertising is virtually endless.

One of the benefits to video advertising is that companies can use existing footage and reuse it for any of the above mediums making it very cost effective. Video could come from promotions and events that a company conducts and then post it to their own website, social networking site, or use it ad as banner ad.

For larger budgets, one of the coolest benefits to video advertising is the ability to customize videos to showcase the product while interacting with it, something that cannot be done through traditional advertising.

Video messaging, like other advertising mediums comes with many pros ad cons. Below are some of pros and cons to video advertising according to Barry Grant on his MediaPost Blog:

In-Stream
Pros

• Well-understood (and most complementary) when compared to traditional television ads
• Easy to develop if using existing television assets
• Tends to have highest completed views and click-through rates
• High engagement due to a “captured” audience

Cons

• Tends to receive user backlash due to intrusiveness
• Repurposed television ads may not be best suited for this purpose
• Inventory is generally more expensive than display inventory

In-Banner
Pros

• Easy-to-find, relatively inexpensive display inventory
• Can be easily sold on a performance basis
• Relatively unobtrusive (as long as it doesn’t auto start with sound)
• Offers many opportunities for rich-media customization

Cons

• Often not as engaging as in-stream or page-level
• May not be seen if appearing below the fold
• If trafficked via an exchange, may not provide desired transparency
into site placements

Page-Level
Pros

• Extremely engaging
• Affords tremendous potential for creative freedom
• Offers lots of flexibility for rich media customization
• Great for building awareness and other top of funnel metrics

Cons
• Can be quite expensive, depending upon where it’s being run.
• If not user-initiated, can be very intrusive and annoying to the user.
• May require considerable design work

Internet advertising is constantly changing and offering new unique ways to target consumers and grab their attention. Video messaging can be done in numerous formats and implemented in various online advertising mediums in order to fit in with any marketer’s budget.

Posted by: thinkeak | September 14, 2009

Do you Boo?

September 14, 2009
By Kristin A. Snyder

DO YOU BOO?

My friend and associate, Tory Castillo, introduced me to the latest social media trend, Booing. Audioboo is a microblog social networking site that allows users to share and post audio messages, it is like Twitter but audio. It is a free application that can be downloaded on the iPhone (only the iPhone!) and has been integrated with Twitter and Facebook. A Boo is typically a short message around three minutes long but can be much longer to be utilized as podcasts or interviews, etc. Like blogs and podcasts, you can subscribe to someone’s boo’s through iTunes RSS.

Booing is pretty simple to do. After downloading the application to your iPhone push record to record an audio message, then hit upload to post the message to the public timeline at AudioBoo.fm.

This video shows a more detailed explanation of Audioboo.

Audioboo could be the next driving force in social media but one drawback is that the application is currently only for iPhone users. For those of you, like me, who do not have an iPhone, you can still Boo through Phoneboo (dialing into a UK number) or by using SkypeOut. However, both methods may cost you additional fees.

Another drawback to the system that keeps Audioboo from being a fully functional social networking tool is the inability to comment to Boo’s through your mobile device. Currently, if you want to comment, you will need to be at your computer logged into Audioboo’s website.

Audioboo’s application needs to become compatible to other mobile devices and needs to be further developed to include instant comments through the mobile application. Overall, this is a cool personal way to stay connected allowing you to capture moments that text could not give justice too.

What do you think the future of booing holds? Will this type of social media compliment or take over current text base communication?

Posted by: thinkeak | September 6, 2009

CORPORATE TARGET: YOUR KID ONLINE

September 5, 2009
by Kristin A. Snyder

CORPORATE TARGET: YOUR KID ONLINE

Chances are your child is not playing outside with the neighborhood kids, nor are they inside building a fort out of old boxes and blankets and using their imagination for stories. Best bet is that they are in front of the computer playing games, doing homework, emailing, IMing friends, listening to music, or updating their status on their favorite social networking site.

According to a February, 2008 Harris Report, youth 8-21 years old have a buying power of $132 billion annually. Because the youth have a large buying power and they spend the majority of their time online, marketers need to turn their advertising dollars towards the internet to capture the youth market to build brand awareness and loyalty. But how?

Some brands, like Nabisco, have websites that incorporate branded games like Oreo’s Ready.Set.Lick along with a variety of other games that target a large age range. In addition, Nabiscoworld.com provides promotions, recipes, various brand line and nutrition information, and community goodwill programs. Does this work and it is ethical to draw kids into a corporate site to play? Is it more beneficial for brands to sponsor educational sites like Discovery Kids or Noggin?

Marketing to youth comes with many grey areas and blurred lines. Therefore brands should take special consideration when targeting youth and error on the side of caution, looking to provide opportunities and information to benefit the child whether it is creating its own internet site or sponsoring an independent site.

Posted by: thinkeak | August 31, 2009

Are you being followed? The power of the Tweet!

August 31, 2009

by Kristin A. Snyder

Are you being followed?  The power of the Tweet!

Lance Armstrong Tweeted the message “’Hey Glasgow – ride’s at 12 noon. Location tbd. Stay tuned! Still dialing it in. And yes, I have my rain coat!” and an estimated 300 people showed up to ride with the seven time Tour de France winner.

Earlier this summer Iranians turned to Twitter, Facebook, and blogging to get messaging out about the opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi.  Social media turned into the main media outlets during the controversial Presidential Iran elections since other forms of media had strict state restrictions.    The New York Times published an article about the role tweets played during this election, “Social Networks Spread Defiance.”  One tweet used in the article sums up how important twittering was: “We have no national press coverage in Iran, everyone should help spread Moussavi’s message. One Person = One Broadcaster. #IranElection.”

These are just two examples that show vastly different uses of the social media tool.  The first is for fans to keep up their favorite celebrity, and the other is for news resourses. The top 25 Twitters, ranked by Twitterholic.com, are all celebrities (athletes, actors, TV Show Hosts, Politician) or news outlets (CNN, New York Times).   It is easy to see the correlation of why and how celebrities and news outlets develop and maintain a twitter following.  But is Twitter just as good for businesses?

Simply, YES.   The great thing about Twitter is it is FREE, and relatively easy to learn. Twittering can be useful for all sizes of businesses for marketing, customer service, and even research purposes.  New tweeting companies need to keep in mind that they need one dedicated person to oversee the messaging and who speaks to the followers (ie: customers) not at them.  The goal is to have the followers to keep coming back for more tweets, so it is recommended to mix up the messaging and to keep it interesting.

Below are some examples how companies are utilizing Twitter:

Whole Foods Market:

  • offers $25 gift cards as prizes for people who submit the catchiest messages promoting Whole Foods.
  • Store openings
  • Recipes

Home Depot:

  • Focuses on customer service from answering questions to replying to unhappy costumers: “@willrichbridal Just saw ur tweet, sorry we let you down. I would like to hear more so we can make improvements. Feel free to DM.

Southwest Air:

  • Purchase a Southwest Airlines ticket for $250 or more on southwest.com and receive a $50 rebate from PayPal.
  • Tweets delays
  • Tweets trivia questions

Check out the Mashable’s 40 Best Twitter Brands and the People Behind Them.

One question still remains…can you over Tweet?

Posted by: thinkeak | August 30, 2009

Think! Explore! Adapt! Know!

August 30, 2009
by Kristin Snyder

Welcome to ThinkEAK!

Think! Explore! Adapt! Know!

Emerging media has changed how the world operates.  It has transformed the way people interact with one another on a daily basis, to how people capture and share information, and it is constantly transforming how companies market its products. Emerging media encompasses a wide variety of mediums including but not limited to: websites, blogs, social networking, podcasting, chat rooms, blue-tooth, video ads, widgets, RSS feeds, banner ads, and in-game advertising.  These mediums have created new avenues that allow marketers the flexibility to change messaging on the fly in addition to accelerating the pace of word-of-mouth information sharing.

How has emerging media affected your life? Do you find yourself texting friends or updating your status on Facebook to stay connected with friend’s verse actually picking up the phone to say hello?  If you had a bad experience at retail outlet, chances are you tweeted or blogged about it. Do you go to the front door to grab your newspaper or do you log onto to Foxnews.com?  How have you used these mediums to market your products, services, self?  How have you used these mediums in your daily life?  What innovations are around the corner?  What are the ethical issues facing new media?

The next nine weeks will be a deeper dive exploring these questions and much more. I will examine the world of emerging media and its impact and influence on the world around us and invite you to share your thoughts and experiences along the way.  Let’s Think about emerging media and the new doors it offers us as marketers. Let’s Explore each medium and Adapt to utilize emerging media to better our marketing tool kit.  Let’s expand our horizons and Knowledge!  ThinkEAK!

Social Media Revolution

« Newer Posts

Categories