Future Implications

Society has come a long way in the past few years than ever as far as the change in marketing. Facebook was becoming the “it” thing when I was in high school and college, and now everywhere you look Facebook is the go to place for updates on a company.

Social networking is becoming more popular than other communication methods such as through phone, mobile, face-to-face, and email.”

So where is this all going? Let’s look into our crystal ball…..

Marketers can no longer focus solely on their home markets. The potential to sell products globally should become a chief consideration in market planning. Marketers need to expand their vision of the market beyond segments and targets to use new technologies to see their customers as individuals with a life-time value, as a type of equity to be protected and nurtured.”

Companies need to look beyond their local areas in order to find their target markets. People will be searching globally to find what they are looking for. I am participating in an online holiday shopping event where I get to post about my products up to 3 times a day. These items are going to be displayed to contacts way beyond my current target area. Who knows who will see something I have to offer and it could be right up their ally!

I have seen (or heard from) telemarketers, direct mail, door to door salesmen and so much more. I, like many people, have no interest in being targeted like that. But on the other hand if someone finds a company they like and choose to like the page and receive updates regularly, then the marketing material is hitting people who want it. “Facebook can be an ideal alternative to telemarketing and marketing research because people are tired of telemarketing and marketing research calls made through call centers. Facebook is an excellent direct-response marketing platform, which can provide immediate and direct answers to marketing questions and problems within the least time period.”

What’s the benefit to having customers like a page and interacting with them? Through this interaction with consumers, companies will increase their insights as to what their customers are looking for and what potential products and services are being sought after. But other than what can companies look forward to? Possible lower marketing costs, immediate feedback from customers, and an influence (hopefully positive!) on what their consumers purchase. Then, when social media gets to this point, a majority of purchasing may happen through these social media sites. Want to see?

So social media will all change for companies. Marketers will eventually understand that to be more social is how to interact with their customers than to sell, sell, sell.

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There will be more discussions, companies asking people to share experiences, and how their customers interact with the products and services. I know this happens now, but the extreme it will go to will overwhelm the way marketing is being done now. All of this will be transformed by the current human behavior. How consumers want to interact will force companies to change how they “speak” on social media.

So does my crystal ball sound about right? Who knows what the future will hold, but the acceleration of change for the marketing world will come faster than ever. Also, the turn around on new products will come faster. So where does this sped up world leave us?

Viral Marketing Initiatives

So why isn’t your companies campaign go viral? Well start with your definition of viral marketing. “So the working definition of viral marketing should be that the entrepreneur finds a way to drive a lot of views through a smaller number of contacts.” If we change the way we look at what we are trying to do, it may just be easier to attain.

  1. Having your campaign evoke some sort of emotion in a person David Waterhouse head of content PR at Unruly Media says:

“I think what made this campaign perform particularly strongly is the content, which elicited the intense emotional responses of ‘warmth, ‘happiness’ and ‘knowledge’ from its target demographic — one of the key factors behind a video’s sharing success,” he told Business Insider. “But, more importantly, we are really seeing social motivations behind sharing becoming a lot more important. Brands have to give people a reason to share the video.”

   2. Having the option to share the content is key to becoming a viral campaign. Dove’s beauty sketch was shared 3.17 million times in two weeks. When consumers see a video that creates anger, love, happiness, or some other intense emotion.

  1. Creating a widget for your company that helps them interact with your product or service helps them connect on another level. A&E’s Parking Wars wasn’t getting enough consumer attention with traditional marketing avenues so they decided to make an interactive game for people to play on Facebook.

“The game is passed from one person to the next by way of widgets, small bundles of software that users can download, customize, and forward to a single pal or an entire contact list with the click of a mouse. Widgets like Parking Wars, which are designed for a specific social networking site, are typically referred to as applications. Since its Dec. 17 introduction, Parking Wars has attracted more than 198,000 unique users, many of them repeat players, and generated more than 45 million page views.”

  1. According to Peter McGraw “You need to get the attention of the individuals or organizations that can effectively spread your message.” Not just one person is going to make your campaign viral. Instead a company needs to reach 10 who will each reach 10 who will each reach ten. (Those numbers are just examples, but you get the idea). In this way the exponential effect takes effect.
  1. Keep the content short, simple, and to the point. While they should evoke an emotion, no one wants to sit through a 20 minute video, read a 30 page document, etc and then share it.

So ready? Let’s go! Start sharing your content (or even if you want to help other companies succeed, their content) with others and encourage them to do the same. Make sure it is engaging, easily accessible, and most importantly creates emotion. If these things are done, then it will hopefully fall into the hands of someone who can help push the material even further.

Differentiation

I have decided to look within my own industry to see what people are doing with social media. My first stop is Catharine Morris Photography­. In looking at their Facebook page, there are 8 posts since July 21st. Catharine talks about the photos sessions she has done, what she is doing with her family and then what people can expect to be up and coming. On September 4th, she writes “I will be posting about fall mini sessions soon, giving away a free session and posting some photos! I missed the month of August, time for some catch up:)” By posting this, she is encouraging her views to come back and see what contest she will be having, and what photo sessions she will post. Her strategic plan seems to be her website, using theknot.com, and her Facebook page as the marketing to keep her word of mouth advertising going.

The second company I looked at is NH Images Photography and Video. In looking at their Facebook page, one thing that struck me is that when a contract seems to be signed, they welcome the couple in a post. It says their name, when, and where they are getting married. It not only would make the couple feel welcomed, but also lets other viewers have a peek at what’s coming. It is a teaser to continue making the consumers coming back. Their posts are consistent and interesting.

NH Images has a Pinterest page also. It does not seem like they have developed it yet. There are a five boards, with a range of two to nine pins each. The photos they have posted are intriguing and make consumers want to keep clicking through. The only Twitter page available is the one for the owner, Peter Clayman. His posts are all generic posts about surveys he took. I was able to connect the two pages because two of his first three posts were regarding putting photos in an album and working at a wedding event at Searles Castle. So if this is the correct page, it does not showcase his business and that they can do. Their strategic goal seems to be Facebook, their website, the listings on the knot.com, weddingwire.com, and weddingbee.com and Pinterest to showcase their work.

Both companies have the Facebook page to showcase their images. Neither of them seem to use Twitter to keep the conversation going. These days, with the ability to have your Facebooks posts automatically post on to Twitter makes it easier to keep both going. Catharine Morris Photography seems to showcase how she is a mom and a family person. On the other hand, NH Images Photography and Video is a larger company (in the most recent post as of this writing they talk about having five events in one day).

Both companies are letting their images speaking for themselves. They believe that consumers will see them and know the quality of the work that each business can perform. Their reach to more customers can grow if they engage in blogging and Twitter to engage their consumers more. The assumption for both these photographers listed on theknot.com is that they want to grow their business.  By strategically posting the pictures that will grab the consumers’ attention, posting on a regular basis, and growing the platforms in which they reach out to their consumers will continue their current strategic plans.

But how do I do it…..

Social media has become key for updates and to introduce a business. Everywhere a person looks, they can see the little thumbs up sign to like the business on Facebook or some other button to connect to a business’ social media. Even constant contact has an option for a company to have all the social media buttons in an email blast that is being sent out. So then the questions becomes “I know I should do it, but how?”

There are several ways to get your business on board with social media. Start simple.

  1. Get others from your company involved. The more diverse the people who are posting, the greater audience your posts, tweets, and blogs will draw.Li and Bernoff state “Empower your executives or staff to write blogs. Integral to this strategy is listening to and responding to other blogs in the blogosphere—and that’s one way talking with blogs is different from issuing press releases.”
  2. Variety is the spice of life! Want your blog posts to have a little more pizzazz? You need a variety of sources of inspiration for that to happen.” Look into podcasts­, Facebook posts, journal articles, blogs, newspapers, tvs, movies, magazines, sports, anything. Whatever you can read or see is a potential discussion starter in social media. Here are some examples that is used within my company.
  3. When are your customers online the most? If you are a retail store that targets teenagers, you are not going to want to post between the hours of 745-2pm because that is when the majority are in school and won’t (hopefully) be on their phones. If it’s breaking news, then yes, right away you must post. For example, if weather affects your business, then posting frequent updates in the middle of a storm, no matter the time will be more effective for you. Otherwise, think about your target audience and what their typical schedule looks like to figure out when they are online. You can always just watch online to see when other businesses similar to yours are posting, what are their results, and do you see any of your potential customers on at a certain time. You can always see more here.
  4. About 3-5 tweets per day is a standard amount to keep your followers engaged. That may seem like a lot, or that you will have to be interrupted constantly, but you are able to schedule your posts. So for some of them, if you know what you want to say or promote, the go ahead and schedule it. But, again, for breaking news, it will be a spur of the moment thing. Don’t just post to have something out there, show your personality. Did you read a great article, or eat at a new restaurant that you love (or hate)? How about the new #icebucketchallenge that is going around. Are you intrigued? Confused? Could care less? Just share about what comes natural. 
  5. Don’t ramble in your blogs. If you don’t have time to write, keep it short. When you have something to say, it will flow from your hands to the keyboard. So don’t sweat it. And when you tweet? Keep it short. “Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages. There’s no magical length for a Tweet, but a recent report by Buddy Media revealed that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.” 
  6. Want something fun and entertaining? Have a contest or something similar. Everyone is competitive in some way or another, so competing for a contest on your social media is a great way to get people engaged. Just make sure you follow the Twitter rules
  7. The biggest tip anyone can receive regarding how to succeed on social media is to share the personality. Whoever is the person posting to any of these sites needs to share who they are themselves. Otherwise, with all the social media that is targeted at an individual, how can that person distinguish what they do and do not want to read. There has to be some factor that narrows it done, and the less general a post can be, the more likely a customer is to want to read it. “It’s nice to feel like you’re reading something from a person — not a content farm or an encyclopedia entry. Have some fun, infuse your personality, and allow yourself to go “off-brand” for a bit. You might even find your blog becomes a good testing ground for new brand positioning.” 

If any person looks at their news feeds on Twitter or Facebook, they are inundated with hundreds of updates which is multiplied by how many “friends” they have or followers. So to stand out among the crowd is important. Hopefully following the above tricks will help with this. By becoming personal and trying a few extras companies can stop shouting at their customers (which doesn’t seem to work anymore) and now interact and build a relationship with them. “The type of messages you send out will ultimately determine your success and effectiveness on Twitter. If you are interesting, entertaining, and help people with useful information, your followers will be drawn to you and also recommend others to follow you.”

In my industry, we use social media for last minute weather alerts that can affect our customers. There are constantly posts about storms that are coming or what to do in case of an emergency. But to go along with that, there are many pre-posted comments about things to do in the local area (showing we are part of the community), what weather alerts mean, what to do in an emergency and what sets our business apart. The majority of the time, it is not about our particular business, but instead keeping the customer informed. The personality is shown through the events we attend (and subsequent photos that are posted), how we support our community, and staff information here and there. Customers can get to know the industry because the business are trying to solve a problem that is out there.

Writer’s block……new content…..what do I do?

Here are a few questions for you….

1) Can social media be a risk? Yes.

2) Could it be a bad thing to post about your company? Yes. If you do you don’t have an interest in what the customer wants to read

3) Could it be bad thing for management not to be aware of why you are doing what you are doing? Most definitely.

In the fire/water emergency clean up industry, there is a very specific set of tasks (fire, water, mold, and bio hazard remediation services). So with that, there are only so many things one can talk about before a reader of their social media gets bored or loses interest because they feel it doesn’t apply to them. I mean, how many times do you want to see a link to the same company page saying they can clean up your home after a fire damage?

Therefore, the risk this industry has taken is posting generic home and business safety practices and other factors that could cause us to have to come in and do services for the consumer. In other words, how do you post what the customer wants to read, but not stray to far from content that shows who the company is and what we do? This is a challenge because some of the upper management doesn’t understand how it correlates. I write about deck safety, but we don’t do anything for decks…is this a problem? I think not. Here is why…..

With more than 1 billion active users – including 618 million who log in every day – Facebook has become a virtual world unto itself.”  So with all those users, there will be someone who is interested in deck safety.

I post about weather alerts Screenshot_2014-07-31-12-22-27and what fire alerts mean Screenshot_2014-07-31-12-22-07. This way we are still connected to a topic that my company is involved with, but it is not all about us. It is about the consumer being educated on these topics.

I also try to show that we are involved in the local culture. I have weekly posts about something happening the upcoming weekend in one of our territories. I send out a monthly constant contact to with activities in all three of our territories. We want to be involved. We want customers to see that we are not separate from the community…like outsiders. We want to be involved.

I even put out a post so that parents who wanted a night out knew that had a different option to a babysitter Screenshot_2014-07-31-12-22-13.

We even posted about a This Old House Giveaway.Screenshot_2014-07-31-12-21-46 I mean who doesn’t like a chance to win free money?

Is this a risk? Yes. Why? Because we are not just talking about what we do. We are venturing out in to a world  of people. And those people can be finicky about what they want to see. Are we willing to take it? Yes. We are trying to appeal to the masses versus the couple of people who think a business page should just be about business information. I know personally, I do not want to look a company that says me! Me! Me! I want to see information, I want to be educated if I am on a company Facebook page or Twitter page. I don’t read emails that just advertise things to buy. When I am searching for a product then I look at it, otherwise, it gets deleted. I like knowing I am not being sold to at every opportunity possible. That is what we try to do for our customers. We want them to know what’s going on, what to do in an emergency, and then hopefully they will also reach out to us when they do need help…

So, do you still think it is a risk?

How am I going to spread the word?

What is the best advertising for a photography company? Well, for me, it is word of mouth. Where I have a full time job, I don’t have the luxury of going door to door to meet people or walk into schools to hopefully get their school pictures. Instead, I look towards social media and word of mouth. For me, Facebook, my website, twitter and now Instagram are the ways that I can get my photos out instantly to consumers, so they see the quality of work I provide.

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We can look at why any of these would work, but I want to focus on the question: why Instagram? “Instagram’s success, in part, comes from its ability to provide both photo editing technology and social networking.” So not only can I gain followers like on Facebook, but I can edit photos quickly on the fly on my phone. So as I take the photos with my Nikon, I instantaneously upload them to my phone, jump on Instagram, edit as I please and post to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all at once. That just saved me editing time and the time it would have taken to upload to all three accounts separately.

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Photo and video apps are growing for phones. People want the options to edit their photos and share them on the spot. I mean, think of the money people save on photo editing programs. Plus, I don’t believe that my Photoshop can be used on phones (yet).  “Flurry found that photo and video apps grew by 89 percent from October 2011 to March 2012, and social networking apps grew 54 percent over the same period”

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In this article by the Huffington Post, they list the 27 Photographers to follow. And that’s not even the first time they did this. It is the second round of 27 photographers. With this press, their work can go further.

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Almost 35 million Americans used Instagram at least once a month last year. I want to reach as many people as I can in as little amount of time as possible. “Taco Bell saw a 29 percentage point gain in ad recall for the April roll out of its breakfast menu, per data from Instagram’s user panel that pits a control group against a test group…..According to Union Metrics, Taco Bell’s Instagram following – currently 411,000 – jumped 45 percent during its month long ad campaign” If Taco Bell’s customers remember their ad more often because of Instagram, what can it do for photography? If I am posting photos, and people are “favorite” them or commenting, more people are going to see what I can do. This will help spread the word….what do you think it can do?

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Where has Social Media Taken My Business?

Have you every looked closely at what a single drop of rain looks like on a beautiful white flower? What about a walk through the woods that transports you into a fairy tale? Lastly, what about capturing a moment between a mother and her two daughters that will not be there forever?

I am a photographer. Seeing the beauty that others may not is what pushes me forward. I may not have always been like this,but putting my eye up to the view finder of my camera and letting it show me a different aspect to what others see with the naked eye is exhilarating. To capture my beautiful niece and my husband at a wedding rehearsal dinner was the moment I couldn’t turn away.

But, how do I get this information out there? How do I let others know about my business? Word of mouth is primary use of advertising. I can either try and speak out to as many as people as possible. Or I can use social media to help spread the word.

“Most important, Facebook provides a photo-sharing process that’s fun and ongoing. When you “tag” friends who appear in your photos, those people get e-mails letting them know. If you create an album, your friends can find it easily when they log in, and they can comment on photos that they care about” (2010)

By doing this people will see the photos, share them, tag them or like them. I can reach over 500 people instantly between my Facebook (which instantly posts to my Twitter account), Instagram, and Pinterest. This allows potential clients to see my attention to detail, the creativity, and the comfort my clients feel with me. When customers want to see what I have done, I can send them to any one of these sites.

“Sarah Shepherd from Sarah Shepherd Photography uses Facebook as an online portfolio. Customers love it because it is easy to use, she said. “One important thing is that you need to keep adding fresh content,” Ms Shepherd said. “I know some other photographers who post status updates about deals and sales… but I think it is best to just let my work do the talking.” (2012)

Like Sarah says, the resume is our work. And our work is where we can show our photos. Facebook is my resume.

I have not dove into the world of Tumblr yet, but from things I am reading, it is the new way to go. A place to update your status but with photos is how I love doing it on Facebook, and now it seems as if that is what Tumblr was made for.

“Tumblr seems as if it was made for photographers: The micro-blogging platform is highly visual, social, and easy to use and customize. It allows photographers to quickly share their work with an audience of followers, which can grow exponentially in a matter of months (or even days). Photographers are using it to post diaristic or one-off images that observe the world around them, outtakes from editorial shoots, behind-the-scenes photographs, archival material, tearsheets and whatever else they believe might be of interest to their friends, followers, and the more than 25.5 million other Tumblr users.” (2011)

My customers are able to see their photos sooner, they can share them with their families, and they save money on printing. I believe it is a win win for everyone (except maybe the printing companies). So while I have made shameless plugs for my business, I look forward to seeing where social media takes me. I know that companies may survive without social media for now, but the question is for how long?