Social Media and Marketing Strategies
The third most popular social network, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. With over 25 million users, the social network is currently experiencing a “whopping 400% month-over-month growth.”
Considering Pinterest’s phenomenal rise to the top of the social tier, visual emulations were inevitable. We’ve witnessed countless variations of the image-focused, block design trending across the web. Yet not many have taken this Pinterest inspiration as far as Walmart, Sears and Kmart. We delve deeper into how they recreated this successful, visual shopping experience – in very different ways on their own sites – below.
Along with maintaining a profile on Pinterest, the retail corporation took the visual influence one step further with the “Trending Now” section of Walmart.com. They encourage users to “Get Inspired,” and offer trend filters by way of store department sections. They also include top searched for terms of the day.
Each image includes a reason for why it’s trending. For instance, some of the recent ones are labeled: “New Pin,” “Just Reviewed,” and “Best Seller.” This is an excellent way to highlight products as well as add value for customers.
Integrating social networks, Walmart provides the option to tweet, pin or “like” the item in the picture along with looking at the product page on-site. So although it does look a lot like Pinterest at first, it incorporates Facebook and Twitter elements too. Walmart demonstrates an effective way to improve your site with the increasing social and visual elements online.
Sears & Kmart
The two retailers teamed up – along with Land’s End and My Gofer – for “Shop Your Way,” a digital-focused loyalty program. Hosted on its own site – separate from the retailers – Shop Your Way is essentially an e-commerce focused version of Pinterest. The overarching options are broken down into sections such as departments, brands, stores, topics, etc.
To learn more about their initiative, read the full article here.
The following excerpt, from the article Disappointed by the ROI of social media? Set a ‘giving’ budget, was written by Jay Palter, social media strategist and speaker, and published on The Globe and Mail. For more information on why it’s important to reciprocate social media attention and another way you can accomplish the task, view the full article.
If you’re like most people that are active on social media, you’re probably paying more attention to how many retweets you get, and how often what you share is liked on LinkedIn or Facebook than you do to how often you are doing these things yourself. You’re probably thinking of all the ways you can use your social media accounts to promote your business and its products and services and drive traffic to your website.
In social media, we promote ourselves by promoting others. We attract attention to ourselves by shining a light on others.
Try this. Set a “giving budget” for your social media activities and actually identify some goals. How many “likes” do you want to give each week? How many times do you want to comment? If you’re connected to your clients on social networks, you should be setting a giving budget specifically for them.
Here are some easy ways to focus on giving more to your social networks:
1. Use lists and share content. Track influencers and clients using Twitter lists and Google+ circles, then try to share something from those people every day.
2. Pay some attention. Invest some time and mental energy each week to review the feeds (Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.) of your key influencers and clients and look for opportunities to comment and engage. People will take notice and reciprocate if you are consistently paying them attention.
3. Give credit where it’s due. When you share anything, mention the source. Say you discover a great article shared by a contact on LinkedIn and you tweet it, you should give that person credit on Twitter with a mention.
4. Like and comment thoughtfully. It’s easy to click ‘like’ on articles shared to Facebook, but take the extra time to read/scan what’s being shared and add a meaningful comment. “Great post” is a nice thought, but trying to be more thoughtful is a better investment.
Students are all over social media and one of the newest avenues they’re exploring is Snap Chat, the real-time picture chatting app for iOS and Android. With the app, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their photos, up to 10 seconds, after which it will be deleted from the recipient’s device and the company’s servers.
Noticing major brands were taking advantage of the application’s popularity, University Store at University of Wyoming decided the time was right to run a SnapChat contest of their own.
“We keep tabs on other brands’ social media efforts, and Taco Bell is one that seems to be pretty innovative,” explained Ed Hays, assistant manager. “They’ve done great things on Twitter, and now they’re integrating SnapChat, as well. It made me wonder if any of our students were on the app and how we could use it to connect.”
On a whim, Hays decided to create a promotion to find out.
“It was very spur of the moment,” he added. “We like to experiment so I thought, ‘why not?!’”
Using the store’s current audience on Facebook and Twitter as a starting point, he encouraged students to follow their SnapChat account for access to secret promotions. The following day, the store sent all of their followers a picture with instructions to enter the contest via the app.
“We just typed the contest description into a word document and took a picture of it; it wasn’t very sophisticated, but it worked.”
And the race was on! The first person to respond by sending a picture of the store’s mascot, Steamboat, would win an outdoor furniture set, an unclaimed prize left over from a previous store promotion.
“We had a winner within 15 seconds,” Hays said. “It’s amazing how fast social media moves; it definitely makes you feel good – like we must be doing something right!”
With one SnapChat promotion under his belt, Hays is eager to expand the store’s presence on the app. In his opinion, the best demographic to start with is incoming freshmen.
“Their generation grew up on social media, so they’re even more active than our older students and are experimenting with all the newest applications,” he explained. “Freshmen orientation is just a few weeks away, so I have until then to decide exactly how I want to incorporate SnapChat.”
Regardless of which strategy he chooses, the takeaway Hays finds most significant from his recent contest is the need for exploration.
“It’s so important to continually investigate new resources and other avenues to connect with students,” he emphasized. “You never know what works until you try!”
The following excerpt is from an article written by Sarah Johnson and published on Intuit. Johnson offers helpful tips on how to keep tabs on what your customers are saying on social media. View the full article for more of her advice.
Here’s how to stay abreast of what customers are saying about your company on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
1. Set up alerts and conduct regular web searches. To find comments outside of your own established business pages, set up Google Alerts for your name and your business name (put quotation marks around any proper names to get the most accurate results). For the result type, click on Everything to receive email notifications whenever your business gets mentioned on blogs and discussion sites. Meanwhile, use the search tools on social media sites to plug in keywords related to your company and industry. This will pull up what’s being said in the social sphere about your business and businesses like yours.
2. Consider investing in a monitoring tool. “With a small business, you want to make sure you have a pulse on what’s being said about you,” says Andrew Caravella, vice president of marketing for Sprout Social, whose social-media management software includes a monitoring component. The system scours Facebook and Twitter for mentions of a particular brand or keyword. Other useful tools that can find social media conversations: Topsy, Trackur, and Radian6 Social Marketing Cloud.
3. Make people feel as if they’re being heard. Although you don’t want to get caught in the fray of complainers who spend their free time criticizing everyone online, you do want your business to come across as caring and responsive. Often the complainers just want to be acknowledged. A restaurant owner, for example, should respond to a negative comment by saying, “‘We want to make this right’ and offer the person a coupon or something like that,” advises Andrea Vahl, a social media coach for businesses. Look for opportunities to be appreciative, too. When Vahl stumbled across a positive mention of her name on a site, she jumped into the conversation. “I commented on that forum thread and said, ‘Thanks for the shout-out, and let me give you some more insight,’” she says, noting that doing so could catch the attention of potential customers.
The following excerpt, from the article Millennials don’t worry about online privacy, was written by Hadley Malcolm, personal finance reporter covering retail and young finance, and published on USA TODAY. To learn more about the results of the survey, and how millenials’ preferences may evolve as they age, read the full article.
Millennials let it all hang out. Online that is.
A new survey out from the University of Southern California’s Center for the Digital Future shows that Millennials are more willing than any other generation to post personal information online — especially if they get something out of it.
To be fair, Millennials are still concerned with anyone having access to their personal data or web history. In response to the statement, “No one should ever be allowed to have access to my personal data or web behavior,” 70% of Millennials agreed, while 77% of those 35 and over agreed.
But whether it’s early access to a sale, an exclusive coupon, or more relevant advertising, Millennials more instinctively understand that engaging with companies online has benefits, and that those benefits often become more valuable when companies have more information about who they are.
That could involve anything from “liking” a brand on Facebook, to sharing your location by checking in to an event or restaurant, or Tweeting about personal preferences — all data that companies are tracking and can use to better target customers and build loyalty, says Elaine Coleman, managing director of media and emerging technology at Bovitz Inc., a research firm that partnered with USC on the survey.
According to the survey results, Millennials, ages 18-34, were more likely to share their location in order to receive coupons from nearby businesses: 56%, vs. 42% of those 35 and over. And 25% said they would give away personal information to get more relevant advertising, compared with 19% of the 35 and over crowd.
More than half of Millennials said they would share information with a company if they got something in return, vs. 40% of those 35 and over.
“They understand that their information is a valuable commodity, and they want to be compensated,” Cole says. “They’re willing to accept advertising, but they want something out of it.”
Will McComb, a freshman at University of Virginia, says that thinking about how much information companies are likely able to gather about him from his online profiles makes him slightly uncomfortable, but that the benefits of targeted advertising or following a brand on Twitter outweigh his diminished privacy.
“It makes it easier for them to try to sell me things,” says the 19-year-old, who bought a tie last week after seeing a post about a flash sale in his news feed from a retailer he had “liked” on Facebook. “I can see how it’s helpful for me.”
The following excerpt, from the article Whose answers do shoppers want – brands’ or consumers’ – online and in stores?, was written by Tara DeMarco and published on Bazaarvoice.com. Read the full article for more information on how to handle different categories of customers seeking information and how to increase your retention rate.
Unanswered questions keep shoppers from buying. Over half (56%) of consumers will leave a retail site if they have questions about a product and the merchant doesn’t provide assistance. Smart retailers now offer consumer Q&A, letting shoppers ask questions on product pages. Shoppers who read it show 94% higher conversion – and 161% higher conversion when they read Q&A in combination with reviews.
But how do you know from whom shoppers want an answer – consumers or brand reps? And how can brands and retailers deliver the desired answers – both online and off?
Seeking questions vs. discussion questions
The type of answer a shopper wants has everything to do with the type of question they asked – and is often tied to the product category.
Seeking questions ask for product-specific use cases, and look for facts rather than opinions. “Does this hotel offer free wifi?” “Does the rear-view camera in this SUV come standard?” Seeking questions are most common in expensive and complex product categories. Our study found that most questions asked in automotive (81%), travel (79%), and consumer electronics (79%) were seeking questions.
Discussion questions, on the other hand, ask other consumers to weigh in with subjective opinions, often at the category level. “What brand of diapers do you recommend for newborns?” “I have sensitive skin, does this sweater’s fabric get itchy?” These questions are often found in commodity categories, allowing more room for personal opinions. Our study found that most questions in CPG (64%), retail (58%), and general manufacturing (53%) were discussion questions.
Because retail-related questions tend to be in the discussion section, we’ve included the information that DeMarco cites on how to handle them below. View the full article for more information on how your store can best respond to seeking questions.
For online discussers: Foster active C2C Q&A communities
Brand answers to some discussion questions will have value; for example, “Which shade of eye shadow looks best with blue eyes?” Providing expert opinions to these queries fosters a helpful and knowledgeable brand image. But often, consumers ask “Which brand is best?” type questions, making answers from brands less trusted.
To influence these shoppers, brands and retailers should focus heavily on fostering peer-to-peer discussion communities amongst their customers – especially in categories prone to discussion questions. Follow up purchases with an email, inviting customers back to the site to share their trusted, first-hand product knowledge with shoppers. After a consumer answers a question or submits a review, never leave them at a dead end; once someone contributes, they’re more likely to contribute again. Take them to a thank you page that includes a few more related, unanswered questions.
For in-store discussers: Connect them with consumer opinions via mobile and store signage
In-store shoppers with subjective, opinion-based questions might be less likely to ask a store associate for help. And even those with seeking questions may prefer finding answers themselves – 73% of shoppers prefer to handle “simple tasks” on their smartphones in stores rather than speaking to an employee.
Recognizing this desire among shoppers to answer their own questions via mobile rather than ask for human help, Samsung brings richer product information into stores through QR codes, says Sten:
“We’ve used learnings [from Q&A] to build out richer assets that address the things that we’re finding out that people need to know. So we use that feedback loop to create better content on our end and then bring it in more effectively. We’ve played around with QR codes on displays… Digital is much more efficient way of adding to that story.”
Use QR and barcodes on signage in aisles and on product packaging to encourage shoppers to read Q&A via mobile in stores, and learn from questions asked to improve packaging, store signage, web copy, and more.
Answering a shopper question can give them that last bit of information they need in order to make a confident purchase. Brands that fill information gaps everywhere – online and in stores, via brand reps or consumers – will win more sales.
The following excerpt, from the article Facebook is Beta Testing Hashtags, was written by Chris Marentis, Founder and CEO of Surefire Social, and published on SocialMediaToday.com. View the full article to understand the implications the hashtag would have for users and to learn more about why Facebook may be making this move.
According to reports, Facebook has a plan to implement one of Twitter’s most usable features: the hashtag. Although the two social networking sites have their basic differences in social approach, local marketing specialists have begun to focus on how the two are becoming more alike. The more alike the two become the more they will compete directly for advertising revenue and users.
The Gist of the Facebook Hashtag
Basically, Facebook would use the hashtag in a very similar fashion to Twitter. A person can include a hashtag with a post, which will then link users to a page, on which posts and discussion pertaining to the hashtag topic would be displayed and grouped. Hashtags will give Facebook the ability to better display trending “live” or real-time events, such as television shows or sporting events. This has potential for Facebook pages as well as for business and advertisers, who can take advantage of the real-time spikes in interest, products and services associated with the events.
Facebook Hashtags May Serve Two Purposes
While a Facebook hashtag would allow both users and advertisers to more readily participate in trending real-time events, the real motives behind the inclusion of hashtags on Facebook may be to legitimize Facebook’s new graph search. Facebook graph search allows users to search topics and return results based on their likes and the likes of their Facebook friends.
The “Like” is seen by many as a flawed system for generating true and usable search results in the Facebook graph search. Many users like things arbitrarily or feel a social obligation to like a cause. It is too easy to like a post, business, or cause, while actually having no real interest in any of it. Because of this human behavior, the results given currently in Facebook’s graph search are oftentimes not a real reflection of a user’s actual feelings on a topic.
Cast your vote in the comments section: should Facebook incorporate hashtags?
The following excerpt, from the article 5 easy ways to please your brand’s mobile audience, was written by Kevin Allen, editor for Imagination Publishing, and published on PR News Daily. View the full article for more tips to optimize your students’ mobile experience.
People are consuming our content through handheld devices, yet it’s likely that the content they’re consuming isn’t optimized for mobile consumption.
Here are a few tips to help change that:
Be much more thoughtful about when you’re posting
The average Facebook post gets 50 percent of its reach and engagement in the first 30 minutes of being posted, according to Socialbakers. It’s all downhill from there.
Start asking yourself: Where is my audience going to be in the hour or so after we post this? Is there an opportunity to capture them where they are at that moment and inspire action or tap into an emotion that you know a large number of your fans are experiencing at that time?
Don’t limit it to experimenting with when you post, either. If you have an assumption about where your audience is consuming your content (specifically, where they are on Earth), you can create some calls to action and inspire them to engage that way.
For instance, Instagram, where the mobile engagement is close to 100 percent (unless your fans are Statigr.am savvy), is great for this: “Show us what you’re doing now and how our product fits into that.”
Add value to the mobile experience—which differs from adding value to the desktop or laptop experience
The greater the distance you make your fans travel in mobile, the worse the experience becomes. No one wants to hop from one app to another—to another—to download your app that, let’s be honest, isn’t all that cool in the first place. On a desktop or laptop, people are more forgiving when it comes to bouncing around the Web. You have to be more respectful of the mobile experience.
Similarly, if you’re in the Facebook or Pinterest app and you click on a brand’s link, it’s going to send you to a website. Unless you’ve checked that link in social, you’re not 100 percent sure where you’re sending them. It might look great on your laptop, but on mobile it could look like a Geocities site and do your brand a huge disservice.
Keep your posts simple and undeniably specific to your brand.
Design for mobile first
Keep your font sizes legible on your graphics. If you’re tapping through to a photo, you don’t want to have to zoom in on something just to read it. If you’re taking the time to design an asset, make sure you’re taking the time to design it so that mobile users can read it.
The default has been to design social assets for the desktop or laptop experience and back into mobile. Reverse that. Design for mobile, and it will back into the desktop experience.
Check out more tips from Allen by viewing the full article. MBS Systems inSite includes a customizable mobile site as part of the base functionality for no additional fees. Don’t forget to talk to your MBS Client Representative about how we can make navigating your website via phone or tablet easy!
The following excerpt, from the article How to Get Noticed on Facebook Without Paying for Sponsored Links, was written by Tim Parker, owner of ECS, and published on intuit.com. To learn even more ways to increase your posts’ reach, view his full article.
If you don’t want to pay for sponsored content, how can you increase the chances that your posts will still gain exposure? Use these tips:
- Turn on “get notifications.” EdgeRank is Facebook’s algorithm that decides which posts will be in front of the eyes of your fans and which won’t. Remember the days when the little red number at the top of your page would alert you to a new posting on pages you liked? That’s now turned off by default when a person likes your page. Have your fans turn it on by going to your business’s page, hovering over the Liked box, and clicking “get notifications.” Then, pin the post to the top of your page, so it stays within view of your new fans.
- Don’t abandon text. Brandon Duncombe, social media manager at Bargaineering.com says, “Regardless of the medium, you’ll still need to have text in your posts that draws users in. Asking open-ended questions and encouraging debate grabs eyeballs. But always make it relevant to what you want the user to ultimately do (click on an image, watch a video, click on a link, etc.).”
- “Like” other pages. View other business and nonprofit pages while using Facebook as your business instead of as an individual. Share their interesting posts or announcements on your page. This may prompt others to share your content, which means fans of other pages will see your name. It also puts fresh content on your page without a lot of work.
The following excerpt is from the article Take Your Pinterest Presence From DRAB TO FAB: 7 Easy Tips written by Stephanie Frasco, social media marketing consultant, and published on SocialMediaToday.com. Use the following tips to update your Pinterest efforts, and then view her full article for even more ideas on how to make your page engaging.
- Make A Community Board
Pinterest is a community, and we know that. By opening up one of your boards to allow additional pinners you are going to increase the amount of pages on which you will be seen. Every person who is an authorized user of that board will have your board featured on their board page. You can make a board with your name branded in it for ultimate exposure. While you may get a lot of random pins, you will also be featured on many people’s pages, which is a good thing. After all, it is about community!
- Increase Click Throughs
This really isn’t an engagement strategy but I thought it was an important enough point. Through my experience, I have found that a lot of people repin, but they don’t click through. Clicks to your site are important to driving traffic and getting new customers. By simply placing a little note that says “click on the image to buy,” or “click on the image to learn more,” you will see a lot more clicks to your site.
- Search & Like, Pin & Comment
A huge benefit of Pinterest is the search capability. You can search by keyword or by source. Searching by source gives you an overview of who is pinning what from your site. This is bait for you! Now all you have to do is go and get them.
To search who has pinned from your site go here: http://pinterest.com/source/(ADD URL HERE). From there you will be able to see who pinned which items from your site. Because Etsy is so huge and popular on Pinterest, let’s use it as an example. If you go to this link, http://pinterest.com/source/etsy.com, you will see tons of items that people are pinning from Etsy. Now imagine this is your site. All these people who have pinned something from your site are showing interest in your product. Now it is up to you to talk to them and show them your human side.
The first thing you can do is like the pin. This will show up in their notifications and now they know you are active on Pinterest and care about them. You can go one step further and repin their pin or maybe something else from one of their boards. If you are going to do this you should create a board like “Stuff Our Friends Like” or “Found on Pinterest”. The best strategy is to comment on it. You might want to offer them a discount, let them know about a special, thank them or ask a question.
What strategies do you use to get students engaging with your store on Pinterest? Share them in the comments section!