Sally’s feeling…Social! Developing Brand Relationships via Social Media

Content marketing is largely possible due to the digital, mobile and fluid marketplace. If you consider how society has evolved over the past decade with the increasing popularity of the Internet and smartphones, it is no wonder that marketing would change as well. In the past, individuals received news and information through a daily newspaper, the nightly news, conversations with friends, radio shows, and possibly paid advertisements. They chose businesses based on word of mouth and perhaps a coupon or flyer for a particular brand that would come to their mailbox or based on a telephone call that came to their home. These days, it is more of a friend’s status update or a Google review..”Feeling excited after my awesome manicure at Nails R Us. It was so relaxing and amazing.” Someone reading this may then consider trying this nail salon out.

Not only are consumers constantly plugged in, they are experiencing information overload. In one of my IMC classes, I learned that consumers like choices, but they do not like too many of them. At times, in order to avoid sensory overload, they simply detach from a situation rather than try to determine which of the options presented is truly the best. I vividly remember experiencing this myself over the summer when I went shopping at a DSW outlet. The aisles were filled with shoe after shoe stretching out across a warehouse-sized space. My cousin and I meandered down each aisle systematically, but it was all just too much. By the time you finished aisle three, you forgot which shoes you liked on aisle one. At one point, I ended up with a teetering shoe tower, and my cousin ended up forcing me to try each pair on as I went.

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I think about the teetering shoe tower and compare it to consumers as they comb their Facebook News Feeds or the Internet in the morning before work or on a short news break trying in vain to tease out what is important. What are the stories of the day? Consumers have gotten too smart for spam, and direct sales pitches are often Unliked or scrolled past. People want convenience as well as quality. They want information that interests them delivered to them right where they are –on social media, on blogs, on news websites. They want to see what is important to them based on their previously expressed preferences and receive a personalized online shopping experience. Whenever possible, it is important to personalize the marketing message. Everyone likes to see his/her name. One of the most cost effective yet brilliant marketing strategies is to reach out to customers on their birthdays with an email message if postage is too costly. People will remember you for this and appreciate your brand all the more for celebrating their special day.

In this particular aspect, marketers are living in the golden age! As Steve Raddick mentioned in his INTEGRATE 2015 Conference presentation, people are hungry for good quality content. And, it is our job to feed it to them. In my opinion, social media and email marketing campaigns are two of the most powerful tactics in the business right now because they are so relevant. Most milennials check social media at least once a day, and many of you check multiple times per day, and they often use Facebook, Twitter and other platforms as a “Go To” source for finding recommendations for products and services. Often, people become aware of a business online, either through an ad or from a friend’s post. Then, they achieve social interest or the idea that people whom I trust think this product may be valuable, so maybe it is worth consideration. After consideration comes social influence. How many others value this same product or service? In this way, social media helps to drive a potential customer  to make a decision to buy the product or service.

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A few helpful notes about Facebook:

  • Keeping your posts below 250 characters can get you 60% more engagement than you might otherwise see. You can even get up to 66% more engagement if you cut it down to less than 80 characters.
  • Emoticons help people feel connected and help to generate engagement
  • Compelling, creative content convinces consumers to call, come by, or change companies. Use tactics such as alliteration (case in point), metaphors and word illustrations to make even the most mundane of sentences more interesting.
  • Vivid imagery can be used in partnership with strong text to increase engagement
  • Stay relevant and don’t be afraid to address the hot button issues

For example, the topic of childhood vaccinations is extremely controversial right now. There is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there. I work as the PR Manager of a pediatric practice, and  it is my company’s obligation to ensure that our parents are appropriately informed according to the best practices and latest research available. Therefore, in the Spring we tackled a vaccine each week via social media and posted infographics on our Facebook page explaining the reason for each vaccine, the benefits and the potential side effects. This Fall, we plan to post detailed information about the Flu Shot and why it is important for each person to be vaccinated.

Question For You: Why do you follow a business on social media? What kinds of content do you like, and which type of content would make you unfollow the page? Let me know in the comment section below or via Twitter.

STOP! Is your smart phone or other mobile device beside you right now?

If your phone is not within eyesight, you may not yet be a smart phone “dependent.” But, more and more people are succumbing to the pull of this convenient, highly versatile technology! Fully 46% of smartphone owners say their smartphone is something “they couldn’t live without.”

Smartphones are not only used for text messaging, calling, and emailing, they are now essential partners in connecting with friends via social media, entertainment while waiting in line, and healthcare research advocates. As the video explains, many people do not even go to the bathroom without a phone in tow! What do you use your smart phone for? I am currently working on my master’s degree fully online. I can write my assignments on my laptop, tablet or smartphone and submit them virtually through BlackBoard Learn.

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The smart phone is just one channel for accessing emerging media, or the nearly unlimited information that we can access daily, right at our fingertips by connecting to the World Wide Web. Emerging media has become a revolution in the way we live our lives.  And, more and more of our lives are turning digital! (Think: blogging, social networking, streaming TV, etc. 80% of 18-44 year-olds report checking their smartphones first when they wake up in the morning, even before going to the bathroom!)

Parenting is another stellar example of how the Internet and mobile technology is revolutionizing society, and I will write the remainder of this first post examining this idea: what was parenting like 20 years ago versus today with the advent of emerging media?

When I was growing up, my mom would take photos of me using a Kodak camera with film that had to be developed. (Fun fact: To develop film in 2015, it takes an average of 2 weeks to come back, and it’s pretty expensive, too. See more here.) I still remember the excitement of those trips to Wal Mart when we would finally get to see the pictures from our day in the park or from our family vacation to the beach. Then, we would put them in a picture album to share with grandparents and a few close friends. Occasionally, on special holidays, my dad would pull out our home camcorder, and he would shoot my brother and I opening our gifts from Santa, or putting out food to feed the reindeer. But, the rest of the moments–all of the in between–were simply lived. They were not documented for all time and they were not shared with 1,000 of my parents’ closest friends; I can see both the positives and negatives of that.

For me, there were no potentially embarrassing Facebook statuses about my latest bowel movement, no videos of me throwing a temper tantrum in the toy store, and best of all, no naked pictures! (There are some retroactive childhood photos though after my parental figure acquired a Facebook and now enjoys #TBT posts on Thursdays; Thanks, Mom! I must say, I was rocking that Barbie convertible though.)

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On the other hand, looking back, it would be nice to have even more of these every day moments documented. It would be neat to read over my Mom’s thoughts on my third birthday, or to see all of the well wishes of our friends and family when I graduated from Kindergarten. Wouldn’t it be heartwarming to see my grandmother teaching me to make her world famous fudge on a video, or to see my actual reaction when I caught my first fish?

One of my sorority sisters from college, who is now a stay-at-home-Mom, military spouse and talented blogger, has a little girl, and I just love reading her “Day in the Life” posts at WhimsicalSeptember.com. She has been posting about Hadley since the time they found out she was pregnant while her husband was deployed, and even recorded his reaction on video! Even though we live in completely different places, it is fun to catch up on her life via her blog posts. And, I know many of those will mean so much to her daughter when she gets older, too.

Here is an example of one of her posts about Hadley’s life at 8 months of age. It contains cute pictures, fun facts, and even a video of Hadley interacting with her dad. This will be so special to look back on in a few years!

(Other post teasers taken from Whimsical September.com).

Parenting is just one aspect of life that social media, the Internet, and emerging technology is absolutely changing. Even if you are against the idea of social media and sharing photos of your child on the Internet, it is a new aspect of life that you as a parent must consider. What photos of your child (if any) are you OK sharing? How do you handle other people sharing photos of your child, such as from a birthday party or swim meet? Will you want these photos shared with just a select group, with your entire News Feed, or in a more public forum like a blog? One of my cousins’ wives created a Closed Group for just our family to see pictures of her growing family. I thought that was a neat idea for moms who are more concerned with maximizing privacy online.

At what age will your kids be exposed to technology and social media? The local middle school just got rid of text books for all sixth graders in favor of tablets. If your child is using a tablet at school, will you strictly stick to books at home, or will you also incorporate similar technology to give your child a more consistent experience?

When I visited Disney World two years ago for a journalism conference, all of the kids were eagerly watching the fireworks show and nightly parade–through the lens of a smart phone! I was shocked that kids of all ages were filming the parade rather than experiencing the events in the moment. To deal with issues like this, another mom I know strictly limits smart phone time during mealtimes and special family events to ensure everyone is fully present and engaged with the activity at hand. Other moms encourage the idea of constant connectivity and expect their children to respond to their phone calls and text messages instantly, even if the child is fully engrossed in another activity.

I am not a mom yet, so I don’t have to answer any of these questions, but it is interesting to ponder how our family will respond to the challenges and opportunities that come with constant connectivity.

Parents: How are smart phones/emerging technology affecting your interactions with your family? What do you see as the pros and cons of this technology in your daily lives? **Please comment below to help me in my master’s degree course!