Marketing in the Making

Marketing; Thoughts and Questions

Archive for the category “Social Media”

Consumer Behavior

For the longest time I have wanted to take a class on Consumer Behavior, so when I had the opportunity to sit in on a class on Behavioral Economics at Northeastern University, I jumped at the chance. During the first class I was at, we were discussing Prospect Theory where people use various heuristics to make analyzing risky choices easier. These heuristics include coding, combination, cancellation, simplification and detection. Instead of going into detail about each of them here, I recommend you look into it on Wikipedia.

As we were discussing supporting evidence for Prospect Theory such as loss aversion, the endowment effect and the status quo bias, I began thinking about the importance of recommendations. How can a recommendation decrease the degree of risk when making a choice? I have learned in the past about the importance of “organic” recommendations. For example, in a magazine, the pages which have the collections of outfits that writers picked out versus the advertisements that the brands paid big money to include in the magazine (see below image from Health Magazine). Social media has encouraged this trend of recommendations even farther through social networks and the simplicity of interacting and sharing information. Hearing a recommendation from a name you recognize and maybe respect means a lot more than an ad from a brand who you can’t match a face to. You can also see this happening when you listen to the radio and Ryan Seacrest, for example is talking about the newest Kindle and how much he likes it. Even if these people are paid to say these “opinions”, they seem realistic enough that we as consumers believe them.

Whose recommendations do you trust? Celebrities, bloggers, authors, family and/or friends? I tend to trust my family and friends a lot…especially when it comes to electronics.

What’s New Facebook?

I feel as though every time I sit down to write a post about a specific platform, it is always Facebook. I know I have written about others like Google Plus and Pinterest but, Facebook just keeps coming up in the news.

What is the latest you ask? Hmm… Let’s see… Facebook is now being traded on the NASDAQ, Mark Zuckerberg got married just days after Facebook went public, the new app called Airtime and of course the constantly changing privacy settings. Don’t worry, I will at least touch a little upon each of these.

As I was thinking about what to write for this post, I knew Facebook’s stock was almost a must but my only problem with that is I am not very knowledgeable about stocks. So, instead of trying to explain to you what is happening with Facebook’s, I will simply summarize so neither of us get confused. The starting price on day 1, May 18th was $38 and at close it was only $38.23. Since then the stock price has been less than amazing. Based on my research, investors are less than impressed but rather cautionary about their investment in Facebook. Because of this, Facebook is left with a lot of work to do to impress investors. Needless to say, I don’t see myself investing any money into Facebook anytime soon. Take a look at this article in The Economist to see what is happening and learn more.

Mark Zuckerberg apparently got married just one day after Facebook went public to Priscilla Chan… Personally, I would at least wait a week to get married after my multi-billion dollar company went public…but that’s just me. Really though, congratulations to the newlyweds!

Has anyone heard of this new app for Facebook that came out called Airtime? Well, it is similar to chat applications like Chatroulette and Omegle that connect you with other strangers using the application. The only difference here is that Airtime is through Facebook and the app connects people based on similar interests listed in your profile. Users can share videos with one another as well. You can also choose to be anonymous until you “add” each other and then you can determine additional privacy settings. I personally have not used this application yet, but a friend of mine has and seems to like it. She said she even spoke to one of the creators, Sean Parker…very cool! Please check it out and let me know what you think! I will try it too.

Facebook always seems to update their privacy settings, so I just feel that it is necessary to mention. A friendly reminder here to check your settings again to make sure you have all your bases covered.

As always, please make sure to comment! Maybe you could teach me about stocks and update us all about how Facebook is doing.


What’s Up Pinterest?

First, I would like to say that I have finally joined the digital age and purchased a smartphone. I got an iPhone 4 to replace my old go phone that had no camera and could barely do the basics of make phone calls and text  (I had to relearn T9 for it). I am still adjusting to the iPhone and have had it for almost three weeks now. Favorite games so far are Draw Something and Scramble with Friends. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

In other news, I wanted to talk about the craze of Pinterest. Since the beginning of this school year it seems, Pinterest has been growing like gangbusters. Yes, it does seem to be mostly around women but there is still a pretty decent male population as well. The basic idea of Pinterest as it seems to me is to collect images with design, health, thoughtful and lifestyle items to share with everyone. In a sense, another way to procrastinate. The great thing however, is that you can create your own boards and customize your interests so you can choose what you see. I personally did sign up for an account but very rarely put the effort to pin, repin, follow or even login to my profile. The public page is just perfect enough for my procrastination. Pinterest is one of the sites I make sure to visit before I actually can begin my homework.

The question the Pinterest craze arises, however is whether or not companies should join the site and try to create relevant boards. The argument about just claiming the domain is still relevant here and important but the issue of what to post and how active to be is the next problem. Luckily, repinning is as simple as clicking a button (literally). The “Pin it” button can be installed in your Google Chrome browser to make adding things to your boards simple. Remember, that pinning articles doesn’t work too well. Pinterest grabs images to choose from on the site to pin that will steal your attention. Browsing and repinning from other boards is a great way to build a community on the platform.

Just like Twitter, it seems important to post items that would interest your followers. Be mindful not to focus on purely promoting your organization (Pinterest seems to be very serious about this).

Personally, I think that Pinterest is a great way for companies to have fun with their communities and show a personality and maybe even sense of humor. This platform does not and should not be 100% professional.

What are your thoughts on Pinterest either personally or professionally? If you do have any recommendations for good iPhone apps, please share!

 

 

Ma and Pa and the New Year

Happy New Year! In this coming year, I hope that more of these small companies hop on the bandwagon and realize the possibilities that social and new media have for them.

I understand and do like the uniqueness and charm of a small boutique company that seems like family, but in an economy like ours and in a growing world like ours, the success of a company like that is not likely.

Having a presence on social media allows your company to extend its reach and gain a voice on the new platform where your current and possible future customers are.

Of course, how involved any company chooses to get with social media depends 100% on the target customers. This partially comes from the general 80/20 rule. 80% of your products/services are bought by 20% of your audience. Take a look at this post from Entrepreneurs-Journey blog about the 80/20 rule. (Ok, that little bit about the 80/20 rule may have been a little bit of a tangent, but I wanted to make sure to tell you about it) What I am trying to say is that your customers are the ones who should be deciding which platform you should be on, not you. Your company is catering to them and not the other way around.

These smaller Ma and Pa stores are starting to put up signs in their windows about being on Facebook or Twitter which is a great start, but in all honesty, it is completely pointless if your audience doesn’t even use these platforms. This new year, I small businesses come up to speed in an intelligent and well researched manner.

Take a look at a few specialty social networks:

Dog Lovers: http://www.dogster.com/

Interior Design: http://mydesignstories.net/

Foodies (there are soo many of these): http://www.foodcandy.com/

Sailing Enthusiasts: http://www.sailingnetworks.com/default/welcome

These specialty networks, give specialty companies a more easy and direct way to communicate with their customers.

What are your thoughts about small businesses and their involvement in social media?

Advertiser and Fan

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving and ate enough turkey to last the year. I know I did.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the difference between being a consumer and an advertiser. Yea, I know, pretty obvious at first glance, but let me tell you what I mean.

As a Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn user, I personally use my profiles in different ways than a lot of companies. I think that this should change. A big plug for social media is that it reaches the consumers and your target on their level, so why not use these profiles the same way as their consumers. It should be easier to get their attention.

Companies need to learn that posting about themselves all the time isn’t going to keep their fans interested. It is important to interact with their fans, make them feel important by responding and asking them questions. Also, talk about things that interest them in the news and such. Things like this actually give the fans/consumers a reason to keep you on their newsfeed and interested. In the end, you want your fans to not only read what you are writing, but take it a step farther. Companies want their fans to tell their friends to follow you and then actually purchase your product/service.

Luckily most companies seem to be understanding this more and more lately. They are playing the game that is social media the same way their consumers are playing it and even adding a little extra splash to it. That is how it should be.

Take a look at the great job Jimmy John’s is doing with their social media. They do a great job interacting with their fans and keeping their content relevant. Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages to get an idea. I love Jimmy John’s and just seeing the great job they have been doing on social media made me even happier.

Have you noticed any other companies doing a great job with social media? Let me know!

Facebook To Twitter And Back Again

Lately, I have noticed a lot more of people interchanging Twitter and Facebook lingo.

Initially, it was the “@” symbol when speaking at somebody, which Facebook eventually integrated into their platform. Now people are using hashtags on Facebook…and actually in every day speech. I wonder if Facebook will now be incorporating the “#” to their platform. I mean, they are changing enough as it is, why not just tack this on as well?

Even if the platforms do offer different things, social network vs. micro-blogging, their affects on the general public clearly are crossing over. There is no direct line. The trends are passing from one platform to another. Although, I do feel like it is inevitable, I am not sure if I am ready to edge it along. I am still a sucker for the originals of Twitter and Facebook. I still even prefer hand written things like to-do list or calendars than electronic ones. But even with that the new forms are really exciting.

Are you using hashtags on Facebook?

A Tweet Here, A Tweet There

Recently, for one of my classes this semester, my professor created a Twitter account for the class to interact with. I think this is a great idea, for a few reasons. As Management students, I think it is important that everyone learns how to use Twitter and its possibilities. So many people are judging the platform without even understanding the platform. In addition, using this for classes allows students to easily ask questions and teachers to more easily send out information for the class and any other interesting items.

The only problem I do see with this at the moment is not only relevant for this class but companies using Twitter in general. Because everyone puts out so much information, the feed moves very quickly so a single tweet can be lost very easily. Even if the tweet is incredibly valuable, the only people who will see the tweet will be those looking at their feed at the time it was tweeted.

How can and is this problem resolved?

There is actually a lot of research about when is the best time of day to tweet. Take a look at The Social Media Guide and Predictive Marketing. If you read these, you will notice that it tends to be around 9:00/10:00AM and Noon. And this makes sense. At the beginning of your day, when you first get to work when you are getting comfortable you check to see whats new and then around lunch when you are taking a break and want to check out lunch specials.

Of course, this is assuming that your target audience is working a full time job. As students, for a class Twitter account, it is a little different. I would say that the best times would be in the morning, when we first wake up (around 9:00AM) and in the evening, around 7/8:00PM after dinner and before we start our homework.

At the same time, it is understandable that you will not always be on hand to tweet at these times and that is why tools such as Hootsuite have come in so handy. Hootsuite allows members to schedule Tweets and Facebook posts whenever you want. This way, you don’t need to actually be on to post. This is exactly how companies are able to post at all hours of the day. It makes it easier to actually reach your target market whenever they are on, rather then you having to be awake then to do it. Luckily, the basic service is free, so we can all use it.

 

Happy Birthday!

Today was a day of birthdays. It was my brothers birthday and Mashable’s. I know what you were wondering, “what did you do for your brothers birthday?” Good question! We went to this really good barbeque place called Redbones in Somerville. It was amazing! I definitely recommend it if you are ever in the area.

Oh, was that not the question you had in mind? I guess you would rather read about Mashable (except for my brother–he was my first subscriber).

In light of Mashable’s birthday, I thought I would share some things I have noticed. For those of you who don’t know what Mashable is, it is “The Social Media Guide” and it has everything from news about technology, social media and design to jobs. In short, it is my go to website (After email, Facebook and Twitter of course). I recommend checking it out every once in a while just to stay in the loop. You can even follow it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

If you have a Twitter and follow a lot of Marketing agencies and even companies from other industries (like me), you will notice how a lot of them will post something about the same article and many times it will be from Mashable. Now, I want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with that. It just makes me realize how we are still all very new at using social media for marketing. We are filling our pages with the same information as the people down the street.

It makes sense. It is time consuming to leaf through thousands of news sites, article, images and anything else that your followers may find interesting. But in the end, leafing through all that, I believe actually pays off. The key is finding an efficient way to do that. And that is where we are today.

What do you think?

Google+ vs. Facebook

Google+ finally made its debut at the end of June and is slowly becoming available to more and more people. I just got it a few days ago. The invites are coming out in slow waves (not Google Waves!) as Google continues to test it out.

I have had the chance to play with it and am still trying to get used to it. I find myself consistently comparing it to Facebook. The first large question I approached was the concept of “the wall”. I was trying to figure out if you could actually write on somebody else’s profile. You can choose who gets to see the post, as well. It can either be a single person, an individual circle, multiple circles, multiple people or everyone. This is done by clicking in the space below the Stream title, where it says “Share what’s new…”. You can also tag a person in a post which makes it a little more like Facebook.

One of the major differences I noticed is Google+’s use of circles. With Facebook, you have the choice to either limit who can view your profile to some people and not others. But Google took it one step further. They made it possible to split up all of your friends into groups and through that, choose who can see what you share.

Even further, Google+ has a “Hangout” feature where up to ten people can participate in a video chat where they can utilize chat and YouTube features at the same time. I think this feature is truly excellent however there are still some kinks. Once these kinks are ironed out, I think it could be really amazing

Take a look at this article on Technorati about Google’s Social Media Marketing Plan. They say that it was one of the first steps in bringing Facebook and Twitter to the table. Google hopes to encourage these platforms to open up their information to Google indexing. Facebook has rejected them and Twitter just recently rejected them. To me this is interesting and a little disheartening. What does this mean to you?

At the same time, Google is definitely creating a buzz and limiting the number of invites is making the network that much more special. I hope that it doesn’t end up like Buzz and Wave and just flop. It has the potential to beat Facebook but not right away. Such a strong following like Facebook has won’t disappear overnight. Google+ means stepping out of our comfort zone and learning something new which is not an easy thing to convince someone of.

It is true that there currently is not any advertising or companies on Google+ yet but I wonder how long that will last. Facebook started out that way as well but it was just a matter of time. Companies will be looking to follow the crowd. Google makes money off of advertising and it is only a matter of time before Google+ will need to prove that it is a viable venture for Google.

Even with all this, I don’t see myself deleting my Facebook account any time soon.

Word of Mouth Marketing is Not Dead

The most valuable way to get the word out about your company and/or event is through word of mouth. It has been a long lasting successful tool. According to a study by Yahoo! in the end of 2010, word of mouth as a marketing tool still proves valuable in passing along that all important message about your company.
The study also pointed out that although social and new media in marketing is growing, when people are discussing the brand, they reference the company website more often than the various social media platforms. To me this makes sense, since the most concrete information needed about a company will be primarily on their website. However, social media has played a role in assisting word of mouth.

Yes, you can still turn to your friend down the street and ask about where is the best place for some clam chowder, but social media allows you to get more opinions and options. Your friend down the street only knows maybe a few places, versus asking your friends on your social media platforms through a simple tweet or status can give you back even more places to choose from. Having this ability to ask so many people so easily gives you a better chance to find what you are looking for. Why would you trust these people? Because the idea of your friends on these sites is that you have built a connection and a relationship with them that provides you with a reason to trust their recommendation.

Word of mouth marketing is what I believe, as well to be one of the most valuable marketing tools available and luckily cheapest as well. The key then is to find the right people to pass the word on to…but I will leave that up to you to discover.

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