Using social media for your business: Facebook

ImageOne of my recent thoughts revolved around the different use of social media in a marketing context. While each website/agency/blogger offer their own guide as to what you should use when, I’ll add from my research and point to the best reasons suggested by others as well. Now, this is a topic worthy of a whole book, but I’ll try to keep it simple, short and sweet. For this, I’ll publish a series of posts, starting with Facebook in this one. 

A few things which you should be aware of beforehand are engagement and purpose. One of the words most used when talking about social media is ‘engagement’ which could be roughly equated with a reaction from the reader. A high rate of engagement is obviously something to strive for. During my research, a very interesting aspect has been pointed out: the 1-9-90 rule. This rule states that 1% of your readers/followers will actually create content for you, 9% will comment or share and the rest  of 90% are only lurking around pulling content without any immediate reaction. Secondly, a very interesting theory from the Head of Media at RAPP explained that traditional advertising and online paid advertising are the factors that draw the attention of customers, after which they react by conducting own research in the social space before making the decision to purchase or not. How many times haven’t you heard about a new product and then checked with your friends if it’s any good? 

Facebook stands for leisure, fun and many-to-many

As most of us use Facebook as a procrastination tool to see Lizzy’s new baby photos or to track David in his post-university Euro-trip, the content companies publish on Facebook should be fun, easy to read (no elaborate substances to discussed) and involve some sort of emotion or provoke a reaction. But companies should be aware that Facebook is very difficult control and that once you’ve provoked a reaction, it can go either way as customers voice their opinions. You should always be ready to reply whatever that reaction is. If you’d like to read more about the types of customers on social platforms, click here.

I would also call it a many-to-many tool, more so than others, not by virtue of its easy sharing capabilities but because comments can turn into full-blown conversations and irrespective of the company’s desire to interfere, the sheer amount of comments sometimes give the conversation its own turn.

The type of content published can be explained in more words, but it should include a catchy picture or video to invoke immediate action from the viewer. A link to a different site would also work quite well in this case.

In terms of the social research stage pointed above, customers can get opinions and reviews directly from their social community but this is limited to the number of friends one has. Of course, there is the alternative of going on a specific product page on Facebook, but considering the people who engage there are the ones who have previously ‘liked’ the product, the information you get will tend to be biased.

For a brief explanation of twitter, follow this space for the next post.



An experience to remember

As I was informing you in my previous post, this past Friday I was given the opportunity to go to an assessment day for the Institute of Direct Marketing Summer School. Little did I know that it was going to be such a fun experience and one to learn a lot from irrespective of the outcome.

The day started on a really shy note as I turned up 40 minutes early in my attempt not to be late and beat the traffic, and early I was! Luckily, I was soon joined by a student from Oxford and another one from Cambridge. Talk about competition now! Although they were equally intimidated by me as I am a Master student in the field of Marketing, whereas they had more of an overall business background. Anyway, the day moved on and the room soon filled with students eager to show their best skills and be one of the elected few to benefit from a free week of studying in June in a recognised marketing summer school and potentially get a job from it.

The first task was a short introduction and a unique question to each participant ranging from who you would like to have dinner with to what household object would you mostly likely keep in case of an emergency (note to self: a knife seems like a strange answer, but it is actually very well thought through). Then we were soon divided into 3 groups of 5 and given the task of critically evaluating direct marketing materials from Virgin Media. I must confess, this  was the funnest part of the day, not because of the evaluation, but due to the people in my group I got to know and talk to.

The following activities included a one-to-one interview, a numerical and proof reading test, an initiative test and a 5 minute presentation on a topic of my choice.

For this, I chose a few interesting facts about tea and the audience seemed interested and enthusiastic to know about my passion which I deem a sign of success of my presentation skills.The initiative test put me on the spot of a unique situation within the work environment to assess how I would react and I must admit I missed out on a few points but it was also a fun exercise to imagine flying to Brazil for work.

All in all, I feel more prepared to face to tough world of interviewing now as so many students there were sharing. If I will be admitted to the summer school, I’m sure it will be an amazing experience from the little teaser which was the assessment day. If not, it has still been something I learned greatly from.

The advertising vs. social media battle

As you have probably realised if you’ve read previous posts at all, I have an interest, no, I am passionate about advertising. I believe in it. Even when people criticise it, when they call it morally corrupt or even when they see it dead. Today, I’ve had the great opportunity to learn about a respected professor who justifies my thinking. His name is Byron Sharp and together with other reputable scientists study the empirical aspects of marketing. In order words, they don’t come up with theories for the sake of publishing, they challenge what is there and have the research to support it. This is his book and *hint* *hint* my birthday is in two months.

 To very shortly describe it, what Professor Sharp argues is that against popular (Kotlerian) theory, companies should target light users of their brand despite their switching between different products because that is where the growth opportunity lies. Thus, his argument goes, a Coca-Cola heavy users will buy Coca-Cola regardless of the advertising he sees on TV because he is a heavy user in the first place. So even though it is more difficult to talk to the people which are not paying attention and couldn’t care less about your brand, they should be your audience.

The argument goes further to the realm of social media and the huge buzz created around. Companies like Procter & Gamble are said to cut back on their advertising to rely more on new Internet-based media. However, the customers who are most likely to “friend” your brand on facebook are already heavy users or people who aspire to your brand but will frankly never afford it (see luxury products like Burberry having nearly 15 million fans). A light or non-user would never go on Facebook to like your brand. Thus, it is still advertising that can help you reach and expose those people to your brand. Whether they will be persuaded is a whole other story worthy of a post on its own.

Then Martin Weigel, Head of Planning at W+K Amsterdam, discussed the concept of engagement and the hype around it. He rightfully claims that engagement as a concept is not new. Rather, it has been around for a long time although not manifested in the same way and social media is just another platform rather than the only platform that creates it. He gives the example of the Launderette ad from Levi’s which translated into a huge increase in the 501 jeans and people reacting to the ad to the point of putting up posters of Nick (the hunk in the ad) in their rooms. For those of you who haven’t seen it or those who want to see this classic again, enjoy!

And for those of you who felt inspired by my short description or not convinced at all and you want to hear more arguments from the source, you can see the video from the talk with the two,  I think it’s brilliant.

A story of you, me and our modus operandi*

No, this is not about praising storytelling (not that I’m denying the value of the process and its merits for being praised). I want to tell you about persuasion. Have I lost you with that word? It sounds heavy, patronising and maybe even boring to some, but bare with me and I promise you’ll take something new from it, even if it’s just the video.

As a student for Marketing for almost 4 years now, persuasion has always been at the heart of the study as elements such as advertising, personal selling, direct marketing and so on as they have as objective to persuade a specific audience of something they have to buy, believe, act on, or just persuade them to listen. 

Put like that, marketing sounds like the evil trying to give you something you don’t need, but I like to assume that audiences are smart enough to think for themselves whether they believe an argument or not.

But I promised you a story so let’s go on. In my journey through university, I “met” Aristotel who talked about ethos, pathos and logos as appeals that construct persuasion.

  1. Ethos – the credibility of the speaker
  2. Pathos – the appeal to the emotions of the audience
  3. Logos – the appeal to reason by providing facts

All fair and square, but what does it have to do with you? It’s useful if you want to know how to capture an audience for your own presentation or product promotion, but also to reflect on what works for yourself. I’m the fairy godmother in the story so I’ll give you some examples to help.

First there is the 100 year old technique within marketing of showing someone not only how much work a product took to invent, but also how much care goes into the process of making each product. This is what Apple does and next time you’ll see one of their promotional launches think about it. By this method, they appeal to facts, your reason – they tell you how resistant is that glass that they use on the iPhone screen – but also to the credibility that the different speakers in the presentation have – when Jony Ive, one of the most renowned designers in the world and Apple’s Vice-President, unravels the story of how special the design of each product is, you (almost) fall victim to his spell. No? That didn’t work?

Than take a look at this video. He uses pathos to tell his story and a very original, if I may say, tagline: No arms, no legs, no worries.

So what is it that persuades you? Let me know.

p.s.: You can find a longer but if I might say amusing version of his speech here.

*modus operandi = method of working, or in other words how we operate