Marketing Student Views

Perspectives by GMU Internet Marketing Students


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Managing crisis with social media

Blogger: Greg McKeone

In the digital age it is easier than ever to reach people on an individual level. This is a double edge sword as organizations and people can benefit from these channels or take crucial missteps. The archaic press release has been replaced by Twitter and Facebook to reach people instantly but just because we can reach people instantly doesn’t mean we should do so. A lot of social media crisis management is flawed because of the instant reactionary message the company takes without stopping and thinking of a strategy before moving forward. In a blog written by Chris Syme, she says “Plastering your messages hastily over every popular social media channel is a mistake. Where social media strategy is vital in business, it is more important in crisis to be strategic about your messaging.”(Syme, 2013) Just as in “Marketing in the Round” there is a need for not only strategy but synergy in crisis management through social media. All your channels must convey the same message and timed in accordance with one another. This is all done with patience and strategy.

In regard to coming up with a strategy, there are many tips and rules to follow. During any crisis, acknowledgement is vital. No one buys the “our account was hacked” excuse anymore because even if it was, the account is still your responsibility. Acknowledgement of crisis syncs with transparency but it also shows the public that you’re taking responsibility for your actions. The public respects accountability over excuses or silence. This brings us to another aspect of managing crisis, transparency.  In an article by Ekaterina Walter on forbes.com she says “Certain companies have been guilty of removing posts they didn’t agree with, ignoring those posts, or else claiming that they had been hacked, when they clearly hadn’t. Trying to cover up or remove justified but negative comments can make you look as if you are ignoring a problem or, worse off, don’t care about the customers. It is critical to be honest and upfront about any issues you or your company may be facing.”(Walter, 2013) This is vital to good crisis management because everything that is posted on the internet lives forever. Trying to delete or take down anything controversial is pointless. The public isn’t stupid; the act of trying to cover up something usually just adds more fuel to the social media fire. You need to be up front and honest with the public with what happened, why it happened, what you are doing to correct it, and prevent it from happening again.

Finally, you must carefully plan a response and know where to put that response. Organization’s and people all know where there main following is whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or a subset of all social media channels. You need filter your message into the best possible places to reach the largest clientele. If you don’t have a Facebook page, you don’t start one in a crisis you stick to where you are and where your following is. This is the most effective way to get your message out. There are many other aspects to consider when using social media to avert crisis, but these steps are a starting point. Transparency, acknowledgement, and strategy are the foundations of effectively using social media when using them to respond to a crisis.

Citations

Walter, Ekaterina. “10 Tips For Reputation And Crisis Management In The Digital World.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013

Syme, Chris. “How to Avoid Spreading Your Social Media Crisis Messages Too Thin.” Cksyme.org. CK Syme Media Group, 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.



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Social Media Marketing: Blogging to build a brand

Blogger: Ashley Hawkins

Social Media is one of the main forms of communication today. Social Media Marketing typically targets efforts to create content that attracts attention and encourages users to share that content on their social networks. Social networking sites and blogs allow the person to “retweet” or “post” comments about the subject they’re reading about. By amplifying these messages out on social media sites, more traffic about the company or product is being produced. When a company reaches out to potential customers, the brand grows exponentially as more people share it. Social networking sites include a gigantic amount of information about what products and services clients might be interested in. Companies that recognize they need more feedback about launching new campaigns which social media helps them accomplish.  Companies turn to blogs to make their products admired and exclusive, and ultimately reach out to consumers via social media sites.  Blogs are now the force behind a brand’s online identity.

In the article, “Building your Blog”, Brianna Smith discusses how to structure a blog post in a presentation which covers the following critical post components:

  • Blog title best practices
  • Heading usage
  • Paragraph length
  • Using bulleted/numbered lists
  • Optimal post length
  • Best practices for adding links
  • Creating sources
  • Adding images

What Brianna Smith suggests in the article, helps us understand the important aspects in creating your blog. Creating a blog can be a fun, exciting and educational passage.  I was  thinking about starting a restaurant review blog, because I love going out to eat and telling people about my experiences at restaurants. With these critical post components Smith provides is helpful when your first thinking about how to start a blog.

In another article “Is Your Business Blog Serving up the Right Information?” by Linda Dessau she mentions on November 7, 2013 a couple hundred marketing professionals gathered in Toronto for a meshmarketing conference. A meshmarketing conference is a one-day event to interact with digital marketing leaders, connect with peers and prospects, and to gather an understanding of new developments that might affect your business. Some of the discussed topics at 2013’s conference were social media and content marketing. Dessau mentions the highlight of the conference was the closing Keynote presentation by Jay Baer, author of Youtility.  “Youtility” is a book written by Jay Baer who is a New York Times best-selling author, a marketing keynote speaker and consultant. Baer has a blog that ranked as the #1 content marketing blog in the world. The concept of Youtility is marketing that’s wanted by customers, instead of marketing that’s needed by companies. Youtility is massively helpful information that creates trust between the company and the customers. The concept of Youtility makes sense because we are in an age of information overload with the amount of information that’s on the internet. We are also in a mobile world, where we need information right here, right now.

At meshmarketing conference they mentioned “a survey found that, on average, by the time a B2B customer contacted a sales rep they had already completed 60% of their purchasing decision process.” Self-serve information is what B2B customers are looking for. No one likes calling a company in order to wait on hold for twenty minutes just to fix a small billing issue. So when writing your next blog post, they suggest check whether the information is self-serve or self-serving. 

Dessau lists some different types of self-serve blog post to offer customers and prospective customers:

  • A “how to” article that helps the reader solve a specific problem
  • Tips and insights about a topic your ideal customer is interested in
  • A video demonstration about how to complete a task
  • A review of a book, website or other resource that will be helpful to ideal customer

External sources:


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Building a Brand through Blogging

Blogger: William Ruckert

In the world today companies can spend up to billions of dollars on getting their company to achieve “franchise in the mind”. Paul Chaney used the term “franchise in the mind” in his blog “7 Ways to Build a Brand Using Blogs.” “Franchise in the mind” is when a customer automatically thinks of the company when thinking of a certain product or service. The problem is most companies do not have this kind of money to spend on marketing campaigns, so away to achieve this “franchise in the mind” is by creating a blog. There are a few major ways to build your brand through blogging.

When starting a blog the creator needs to start by creating a Online persona. The creator needs to tell the story of the product and company. It needs to let the consumers and potential consumers know what the company/product is about. The customer needs to be drawn in and believe the creation story of the company. The blogger can tell the story in the description of the blog. Also throughout the blogs the blogger can continually remind the readers of what the company stands for.

When creating a blog, a community should also be created with the blog. The community can be created on other forms of Social Media and directly on the blog webpage. The creator can use tools message boards, customer ratings, and profiles for their users on the blog page directly. If Social Media is being used also, it must be continually updated just like the blog itself. These communities will help create conversation and connection with the company and consumer.

A blog needs to promote conversations and connections by using the tools previously listed. The posts the blogger creates need to generate comments and questions from the readers. The blogger needs to answers these questions, through the varies forms of interaction. The blogger must also be able to eliminate any concerns that customers or potential customers might see, through the different forms of communication also. Concerns that customers might have are if the product or service is beneficial, cost efficient, or any other issue that the customer might see. Connections are also a major part of blogs. Connection is building a sense of belonging between the product, the consumer, and the blog. These connections will make the consumer needs to visit the blog and read what is going on with the product. This connection can be built by regularly updating the blog, posting relevant information for the customers, and offer incentives to reading the blog. Incentives could include coupons, giveaways, and others. Without this connection the readers can easily find a new blog to visit.

Having guest bloggers can greatly help out a blog. Guest bloggers can lead to more followers to your blog that trust what the guest has to say. These guest bloggers are the authority on the product they talk about to their followers. These guest bloggers can be popular people on websites like Youtube. They can compare different products and services that that they are known for using. By allowing this authority to talk about your product can lead to the followers trusting your product and using it.

To have a successful branding by using a blog, the blogger will need all these aspects together. They also must use all of these parts correctly. The blog creator needs to keep up with changes in social media, regularly answer the questions consumers have, and address the concerns they also have. So the blogger must use all these different tools continuously to be affective at branding their blog.

First Article: http://www.careerealism.com/build-brand-blogging/

Second Article: http://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/business_advice.php?AID=11794&Title=Boost+Your+Brand+Through+Guest+Blogging#.UnvKz5RASH2


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Email Marketing to Drive New Customers

Blogger: Jordan Buranskas

My exploration of email marketing to drive new customers yielded contradictive results.  Some studies that emerged assert that email marketing is a dying art unlikely to yield profit, while others advocate in favor of email marketing, suggesting that is a practical investment that shouldn’t be ignored. Although the search was complicated by the need to filter legitimate sources from statements made through advertising efforts by email marketing service providers.

The most prominent result came from the Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly report, which proclaims that “the decreasing influence email marketing has on ecommerce, how tablets are overtaking smart phones in online retail, and social media’s impact on ecommerce.” According to the report, referral traffic to ecommerce sites and conversion rates from email have decreased since last year. Referral traffic has plummeted 37%, while the conversion rate has dropped another 6%. On the other hand, average order value is up almost ten dollars ($89.43-$99.93) in the fiscal period between the second quarter of 2012, to the second quarter of 2013. This presents an opportunity for brands to exploit direct email transactions if they are able to create more engaging email experiences. This study is conducted by analyzing a random sample of over 600 million online shopping experiences.

An opposing argument on this top came from the “Icontact” blog written by John Hayes who has an extensive library of blogs related to the field of email marketing and social media marketing news. Hayes asserts that email marketing “provides one of the most cost-effective marketing solutions available to today’s marketers”. Unlike many of the costly alternatives to direct cyber traffic toward a given company’s website (such as paid advertisement), email marketing is a retention marketing tool; it is cheaper to hold onto old customers than acquire new ones. Hayes argues for the importance of bringing in new blood, and thus the effectiveness of PPC at accomplishing that, but having to pay every time you attract a visitor can create a fine margin between cost and profit. The addition of email marketing to your alternative marketing strategies (SEO, social media, PPC) will improve your ability to generate substantial return on your marketing budget (Hayes.)

His article segments the process into four steps. The first is to develop a strategy that involves using email marketing to retain and drive repeat business at minimum cost. This is followed by adjusting the website to capture user info; facilitating the process of clients joining your e-mailing list. Encouraging a correlation between the social media and email platforms. And finally testing the methodology by temporarily suspending the alternative forums of online marketing to ensure the email marketing pursuit is time and cost effective.

Clearly the topic of email marketing is highly controversial. With so many competitive digital platforms to reach consumers, research and theory offer different interpretations of this segment of online marketing.

New Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Finds Diminishing Returns from Email Marketing in Driving Ecommerce; Tablets Outpacing Smartphones in Device Share. “Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Report.” September 12, 2013. http://monetate.com/news/eq22013/

Email Marketing – The Profitable Component of Everything Else You Do Online to Promote Your Business. John Hayes.  “Icontact”, The Official Blog.  September 18, 2013. http://www.icontact.com/blog/email-marketing-the-profitable-component-of-everything-else-you-do-online-to-promote-your-business/


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“Did that really just happen?” Social Media Crisis Management

Blogger: Diane Wells

We have all seen that one post, picture, tweet, etc. that has made us ask, jaws dropped, “did that really just happen?”  Social media problems arise every day in today’s society.  A company has the option to fix it or fall deeper into the hole of crisis.  According to Ozgur Alaz, author of Ozurg Alaz: 7 Steps For Social Media Crisis Management, there are 7 steps for social media crisis management.  These steps include:

  • Preparation
  • Knowing relationships
  • Knowing stakeholders
  • Choice of strategy
  • Micro management/ Know your tools
  • Abundant records
  • Social media statement

Preparation 

Alaz stresses the importance of preparation when it comes to social media crisis management.  There are three components of preparation; eliminating risks, competent in social media, and tools to manage crisis.  According to Alaz, eliminating risks increases your brand value.  Eliminating risks also relates to the competence of social media in your company.  All employees need to be knowledgeable of social media; eliminating the threat of those who are not by providing informational advice, will greatly benefit a company by taking away the threat of employee mistakes.  The last preparation must is the need for crisis management tools.  An example Alaz uses is the use of a crisis meeting room.  Preparing for a crisis is a must do in terms of management.

Knowing Relationships

Building relationships is another key component of social media crisis management.  Alaz states that social media can get to a lonely state because there are millions of users to interact with and few companies to befriend.  He believes the company needs to create relationships and retain people who will defend the company.  He calls these people/companies “brand friends”, he also states, “Brand friends know you, trust you and defend you when it’s necessary.”  This will in turn lead to loyalty and trust in your company, as well as a “friend” to help back you up during crisis.

Knowing Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people who are invested in your company.  Alaz stresses that a company must get to know its stakeholders in order to come up with a strategy.  He also states that stakeholders are not just customers; they are employees, suppliers, government, journalists, and investors.  According to Alaz, “it’s important to create a stakeholders map and think about their motivations and communication channels that lead to them.”  This is vital to the creation of the company’s strategy.

Choice of Strategy

Alaz writes that it is important to know that a company’s strategy will change frequently based on different situations.  This being said, a company relies on scenario analysis and keeping their employees updated.  He explains that there are some strategic decisions to be made, which include; “What’s your message?”, “What’s your attitude?”, “How will you create plausibility?”, “Will there be any official statements made? How frequent will they be?”.  These all are great questions to ask in order to be fully prepared for any issues that arise.

Micro Management / Know Your Tools

It is important to be able to micro manage questions/comments that arise.  Alaz suggests each member of the crisis team answer questions via their personal twitter accounts; allowing more questions to be answered.  He states, “The reason I recommend to use employees’ accounts is that by doing this you’ll start a dialogue instead of just “answering” and it’ll feel more convincing and genuine”.  It’s all about creating the relationship and providing useful information to your audience.  Another necessity of crisis management consists of knowing your tools.  Knowing your resources and communication channels will help when applying the strategy.

Abundant Records

When a crisis occurs it is imperative to have abundant records in order to defend your company.  Alaz explains that records can range from camera recordings to positive comments on your social media site.  All of these records will help you have an advantage over the crisis situation.

Social Media Statements

Alaz points out three things that need to be treated with care.  These include timing, simplifying the message, and actively using your advertising channels.

Final Thoughts:

Now that we have gone through Ozgur Alaz’s 7 steps for social media crisis management, I leave you to be the judge of these two social media crises listed below.

AppleBee’s:

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A waitress posted this picture and was later fired for violating one of AppleBee’s rules.  AppleBee’s was ridiculed for firing this waitress; they defended their decision to the end, which did not help them at all.

KitchenAid:

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An employee accidentally posted this on the company’s twitter account; the head of KitchenAid brand sincerely apologized and explained what happened.  This honesty was a plus for the brand.

For more examples visit:

http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/

Articles referenced:

http://www.psfk.com/2013/08/social-media-crisis-management.html

http://oursocialtimes.com/6-examples-of-social-media-crises-what-can-we-learn/


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Integrated Marketing

Blogger: Tevah El Emmet

Integrated marketing is extremely important in today’s society. In the past everything was broken into silos and was separate. Each division looked out for its’ own and did not all work together for the good of the company. Marketing was separate from PR, sales, and direct mail. In contemporary times many companies continue to use the same tactics even with all the research that says an integrated marketing approach works best. This is because many are stuck in only traditional forms of media or in new forms of media and haven’t grasped the ability to effectively use both. This is why integrated marketing is such a huge buzz word and goal for many organizations today because they know that each form of marketing has strengths and weaknesses and when you can put them all together your campaign will be that much stronger.

As we continue to move into a more technology based world many companies are moving to a digital platform. Some are ahead of the times and make sure to use the latest and best in technology and social media and mobile and others are way behind the times. Many however focus their efforts solely on one type of marketing or communication. This is especially true when they are communicating with the millennials. In the articles I read it I learned about how important it is to continue traditional marketing efforts as well as make sure that you are keeping up with current trends.

One article that I read spoke about how 51% of millenials still get there coupons from newspapers. The next highest percent is 50% and is from online sources. Therefore if you do not have both you are really doing a disservice to your company. Others are of course in store options as well. I also learned that even though millennials are the most technologically savvy group most of their shopping still occurs in stores.

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They do however do a lot of online comparison. This means that if you are only doing online promotion for millennials than you are still missing a great share.

The second article I read about spoke about talked about the magazine All You. At first it was just a print magazine. And that is where the money from advertising came. Once the number of sales began to decline a little they added a website and social media aspect. The online component was not the full magazine but of really good content that the users wanted from the magazine. That way they would continue to go to the print magazine and also look at any ads that were on the online media.

Overall it is really important to tie all of your media outlets together. Do not ignore one kind of media because you never know who uses it and how successful it will be when combined with your other forms of media. Lastly and almost most importantly make sure the content that you distribute is of high quality and watch your audience wants that way it turns away from you trying to send them a message but more to them coming to you to find a message.

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2013/09/16/why-integrated-marketing-communications-is-more-important-than-ever/

http://www.strategicdriven.com/marketing-insights-blog/traditional-marketing-approach-2013/


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Micro video and embedded video email trends in marketing

Blogger: Katja Swann

Videos are the best way to grab consumers’ attention; micro videos are even better for consumers with short attention spans.  In this blog post I will summarize why micro videos have become the new trend for businesses to promote their products.  I will also bring up another emerging trend in video marketing; the ability to embed video in emails.  These two trends, while as of now are not wildly used by companies, will possibly become the norm in 2014.

By now everyone has heard of Instagram and Vine’s quick video features.  Consumers often use these micro video capabilities to make funny six second or fifteen second videos to share with their friends.  Recently businesses have joined the micro video trend.  Businesses use these micro videos either to promote a product or inspire viewers.  Nonprofit businesses have especially taken to the use of micro videos to spread information.  Beth’s Blog provides seven examples of nonprofits that have used Instagram and Vine to show their cause.  Of the seven, two examples stood out.  These examples were Charity Water’s Instagram Video and Diabetes UK’s Vine video (Kanter, Beth).

Charity Water installed water taps in the homes of the villagers in Engereda.  Previously, women had to walk four hours to a stream just to retrieve water.  Charity Water provides an Instagram video that shows one of the women smiling as she carries her water from one building to her home.  While the video is short and simple it also helps to inspire the viewer.  Viewers are able actually see a few minutes into her life as her previously four hour walk for water suddenly becomes only ten steps.

The other video by Diabetes UK used colorful fridge magnets.  The vine video, though short, is extremely informative for parents who may not realize their children have diabetes.  Titled “#the4Ts” the six second video lists out “toilet, thirsty, tired, thinner” as symptoms noticed in diabetic children.  These videos provide viewers with an emotional link that static photographs and plain text could not convey in the same way.

Future consumers can expect to see more micro videos as we start to move into 2014.  Typically the way consumers notice these videos meant they were either subscribed to the businesses social networks, have a website they visit mention these videos, or a friend provide the link to the video.  This problem will be lessened in the future as a new trend of embedded video email emerges.

Businesses send several emails to consumers with pictures and text of their products, yet video has not been used as extensively.  Currently, very few marketers use video at all in their email promotions.  According to information from Email Monks, videos embedded in email will become the new trend.  MarketingProf recently posted the infographic from Email Monks further explaining how the new trend can benefit future marketers. 

As of now only a quarter of marketers use embedded email.  After surveying marketers who do not use video in their email it was found that 25% were “very likely” and 55% were “somewhat likely” to join the video email trend.  Only 20% were unlikely to join the new trend (Nanji, Ayaz). The types of content in these videos that have been most effective when used were found to be training courses and product demos. Training courses, I assume, are videos that explain how to use a product while product demos are self explanatory.

The article and infographics do not specify what type of videos would be used.  I would expect that these videos would either be linked from the products official YouTube channel for longer videos and Vine or Instgram for shorter videos.  Email Monks provide great infographics as to why marketers should use video marketing (Video Email Arsenal).

While embedded videos in email can be seen as annoying by consumer, video also provide self serving information and radical transparency.  For example, Product demos show the consumer how to use the product.  This gives the consumer content they need to answer the question “how does this work” (self serving information).  The product demo video would also show the consumer an easy way to understand the products function (radical transparency).  This trend will more than likely be more noticeable in 2014 as more companies join the embedded video trend.

I believe that micro videos and the video email trend will be very useful for consumers and marketers alike.  Nonprofit businesses have already shown how successful the trend is; now name brand companies should follow their lead.  There is no reason I can think of as to why businesses should not use video to provide product information.  After what I have learned about video email I would be surprised if name brand companies did not follow suit. Most consumers shop with their smartphones in hand with access to their email.  What better reason do companies need then this to join the video email trend?  I am excited to see which company will embrace this trend first and find out how successful video emails will be in the future.

Articles cited:

Kanter, Beth. “7 Fabulous Nonprofit Videos on Vine and Instagram.” Beth’s Blog. N.p., 20 Aug. 2013.       Web. 12 Nov. 2013. <http://www.bethkanter.org/7-np-videos-vine-insta/&gt;.

Nanji, Ayaz. “Video in Marketing Emails: Trends and Benchmarks [infographic].”MarketingProfs. N.p., 4 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013. <http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2013/11989/video-in-marketing-emails-trends-and-benchmarks-infographic&gt;.

“Video Email Arsenal.” Video Email Marketing Infographic and Sample Video Email. N.p., n.d.      Web. 12 Nov. 2013. <http://www.emailmonks.com/videoemail/video-email.html&gt;.