Using social media for your business: Twitter

Following the previous post where I started talking about the roles of social media, and Facebook in particular, it is now time to discuss its all-time rival: Twitter. Image

Twitter stands for quick, interested audience and real-time reactions

Twitter differs from Facebook in that it’s focused much more on interests than friendships. By this I mean that people can follow the updates of someone/a company they are interested in without being followed back. Also, Twitter is mostly based on text and links to articles or photos and the text is reduced to a maximum of 140 characters. But perhaps the most important is the use of hashtags, which groups together tweets with the same topic.

This is where companies can really benefit from Twitter as they can measure sentiment around the brand by the type of hashtags used in tweets related to it, but also identify more easily which tweets are saying something about the brand. Taking it a step further, companies can relate themselves to certain events or other brands by integrating hashtags in their own tweets. To give an example, a hotel in Edinburgh can tweet about the film festival and thus associate itself with the event and suggest to customers that they should stay there. Another very popular term in this case is real-time marketing, explained in more detail here. By using Twitter, companies can react much quicker to events in the real world than through any other social media channels, a famous and brilliant example being that of Oreos in the 2013 SuperBowl blackout. 

Where there are ups…

Another aspect that is most relevant to consider is that if customers want to complain about something, they will most likely do it on Twitter. As I said above, sentiment is very easily shared to large audiences using hashtags. And it appears that companies are now taking it seriously and employing people specifically to deal with complaints on this channel. As Lisa Bachelor so nicely puts it in this article, in this day and age 140 characters are worth 1000 words.


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.


Of advertising and social media

As I have mentioned at some point in my previous posts, I am currently researching my dissertation on the topic of the impact of social media on traditional advertising. Following the countless web links resulting a quick search on ‘advertising is dead’ and being told so by university teachers, I’ve set on a quest to see whether or not this is true. 

I’m now in the midst of my interviews with practitioners after reviewing what academics have said about it. And I must say that my findings so far have surprised me. ImageNow, in this map I’m moving from the Desert of Desolation to the Data Jungle so I’m still a long way from the end. But I want to share what I know so far. Sure, there are people who agree, there are some who completely disagree that traditional is dead and see social media as this huge hype and companies don’t know what they are getting themselves into. But what I have found is that the strengths and weaknesses of both complement each other making them a very well suited match in an integrated manner. So, if traditional advertising is very much one-way communication it has a great reach, frequency driving brand awareness and easing the creation of a brand image, whereas social media is interactive, two-way communication encouraging engagement from the customer and in this way creating relationships and, according to some, even loyalty. So while advertising is great for the first stages of attracting customers, social media can help in the following stages. 

Now, this might not come as any news to anyone, but I’ve been repeatedly told by practitioners I’ve interviewed is that brands haven’t quite grasped social media yet. Sure, some have and some are built entirely on it, but most of them still have difficulty because they try to treat it as another traditional medium. So, no brands, don’t tell us about your discounts on Twitter, we want to know you as a ‘person’. Since brands pump so much money into building a personality, one would think they try to act like a human as well. To make my point a bit clearer imagine a brand is a person at a very crowded party and all he (or she) does is talk about himself – ‘oh, I have so many muscles and so much money. I have 3 cars and a huge mansion and I’m smart, I’m expensive, I have many qualities, etc.’ Without ever asking about the other people there. Some might find this attractive, but the chances are slim. On the other hand, people talk about themselves but also about the weather, about the news, their views on politics, religion or their favourite music band. In the same way brands should talk about their products but also about any relevant topics. A great example of this is Pandora (the jewellery company, not the radio) which, in their monthly magazine, have articles on celebrities, on fashion shows, on outfits for special occasions or even on teaching their customers about different precious stones. All of this while seamlessly integrating their products. 

If you get a chance, have a look here. I truly love it and I like the fact that it’s monthly so it doesn’t shower me with content too often. 

Being afraid of non-worthy ideas

Keeping in contact with friends is hard. Keeping in contact with unfamiliar people who take the time to read whatever your mind decides it’s worthy of launching in the universe is even harder. So for fear of exposing non-worthy ideas, you push back the time to write and you find yourself updating the blog after more than a month. Yes, I’m talking about myself. What can I say, I’m guilty as charged. But let’s mend that with some excuses/updates/events/non-worthy (?) ideas.

1. I’ve been working on the 42 business, creating more products and preparing for a new fair. And it seems that time does bring good ideas and experience as we appeared to have found our best painting technique yet. (Insert cheeky advertising: products are running out, so if you’ve thought of getting one, do it now! I’m not joking) The last fair we attended was special for us. We decided to go the extra mile in attracting children so we became a bit friendlier by painting our faces which brought us the Best Sales Team Award!

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2. I’ve been reading about the topic of my dissertation (which is an investigation of the current role of traditional above-the-line advertising in a much social-media hyped world) and it appears, to my great delight, that there are people out there who think just like me and there is empirical evidence supporting that advertising is not dead at all, but still supporting the branding and sales of a company to a significant greater extent than social media (more on this to follow, so stay tuned).

3. I’ve been accepted to a next stage in the interview process for the Institute of Direct Marketing Summer School (insert fireworks here yaaaay!) and I couldn’t be more nervous or excited at the thought of having a shot of getting in. Lessons are taught by practitioners and you get to work on a live marketing brief. For more information, visit their page.

4. Enjoyed Easter in no-Internet country Wales with beautiful scenery, mountain walks, cuddles and plenty of chocolate. Sorry, had to get that in.

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Hope to write again soon. Meanwhile, I’ll be pretty much like this.

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.