Final Reflection

My group consisted of Victor Tang, Deepak Kumar, Michael Chernets, Polina Latvina and I. Our eMarketing presentation was to Regency Auto Group. The focus of our presentation was on improving the whole Group’s online presence as well as some specifics for the increasing test drives of the Nissan Leaf.

One of the challenges in developing a campaign for the Leaf was that Regency Auto Group operates dealerships for several different manufacturers including: Nissan, Toyota, Lexus, Volkswagen, Scion and Infiniti. This restricted our strategy as comparing the Leaf to other similar vehicles such as the Prius V5 from Toyota may harm the group as a whole.

My area of focus for the presentation was on listening tools and engaging with creators to support the development of user generated content. As the Nissan Leaf is a new vehicle using breakthrough technology, significant barriers to adoption exist. So the overall goal of the campaign is to use user generated content to overcome some of the barriers to adoption.

The first thing that I researched were listening tools. This included Google Alerts and Social Mention. My research included exploring what keywords and listening tools work best. Although both Google Alerts and Social Mention search a variety of information sources, it was my experience that Google Alerts worked best for news and Social Mention worked best for blogs, Twitter and YouTube. Another important factor was which words were used as keywords. For example I found that with using the keywords “environment Vancouver” yielded few good results as to what was going on with regards to the environmentally conscious community in Vancouver but “green Vancouver” was very effective. Different keywords can be used for different purposes some can tap into some of the lifestyle activities of a target market or it can simply monitor competitors, brands, products and trends. When looking to identify key influencers, listening tools can help a marketer discover where discussions are taking place, who are the influencers, what are their needs and what types of content encourages discussions.

One thing that I have found particularly challenging throughout the MBA is to effectively segment by psychographics. However, social media listening tools make it significantly easier. I learned that I can search a product or category and try to identify what types of people are talking about the product and then based on other conversations that they are having, I can better segment them.

The other key thing that I learned in my research for the Nissan Leaf campaign was how social media and user generated content can overcome barriers to adoption. Presently, the barriers to adoption for the Nissan Leaf include:

  • Familiarity with the technology
  • Range that the vehicle can travel
  • Charging options for the vehicle
  • Price of the vehicle

Currently, there are two local bloggers that own Nissan Leafs and are posting content about their experiences with the vehicle. This content helps increase adoption rates because it shows consumers using the Leaf in their everyday lives. This increases the familiarity with the product, and alleviates concerns over the range of the vehicle and charging. Since a lot of the concerns for the price of the vehicle are due to it being viewed as an “occasional vehicle,” the content of consumers using the Leaf in their everyday lives also helps to justify the price.

Throughout the module I have focused my readings on measurement, as it is one of the areas that I struggle with in marketing communication. Going forward as I review all that I have learned in the MBA, I will continue to connect how best to measure the value of social media. Overall, working with a client for the eMarketing project was a great way to apply some of class material and as I result I have a better understanding of how an organization can use social media to achieve different objectives

Finding Brand Evangelists

I have been reading about using social media for finding brand evangelists. In a portfolio of likes and followers, not all are equal. The most important followers in social media are those that have the largest networks and actively evangelize the brand.

A growing number of consumers are using social media as a tool for search and evaluation stages when making a purchase decisions. To increase the likelihood of a consumer choosing their brand, organizations need to find and support those that actively evangelize the brand. In a recent blog by Marketing Sherpa, 4 tactics were provided for finding and supporting these evangelists.

  1. Find out who they are and what they want- Use tools such as Google Alerts or Radian 6 (see below) to determine where the conversations are taking place, who is starting the conversations and the what is the content of the conversations
  2. Humanize the brand and bring it to life- Create a brand story; determine if the brand was a person what would its values, persona, and mission be; and develop a strategy for communicating in a personable way and not corporate-speak.
  3. Use what you have learned and enter the market- Develop clear goals and a plan for implementing them.
  4. Make your website socially relevant- Websites must be relevant for what consumers are looking for and don’t force transactions to come to website if it is inorganic to the nature of the relationship.

When drawing consumers to the website it is valuable to set up landing pages so that visitors can be tracked to find where they are coming from. This is a feedback loop for the first tactic.

It all comes down to listening. This can be done through free tools such as Google alerts, and old-fashioned manpower. But if you have the money and volume for it, tools such as Radian 6 can also help. Its software can manage the flow of information so that as conversations come in, the sentiment can be assessed and over time the data aggregates. From there it can be determined who the brand evangelists are and where are they communicating. The organization can then make ensure that those brand evangelists have support to be heard and build relationships.

No matter how you do this is will cost either time or money.

Sources

MarketingSherpa 4 Tactics for Finding and Winning Hyper-Social Consumers

Radian 6-Find Your Brand Evangelists

Transparent Marketing and Social Media

To say that I am sceptical of marketing communications would be a bit of an understatement. The thing that that excites me most about social media is its potential to shift organizations away from focusing on advertising to enhancing the customer experience and driving word of mouth marketing.

Today I found some interesting articles on what has been coined as “transparent marketing.” In the era of mass media organizations have thought that their brand is that they say it is. However, with the rise of social media and the growing distrust of corporations, advertising is becoming more and more ineffective. As CEO of marketing consultancy MECLABS has said:

“When a company is humble enough to admit a weakness, they immediately distinguish themselves from the competition. It opens the door for a trust relationship.

The consumer is all too aware of the fact that we are not perfect. To pretend otherwise only serves to raise their suspicion. Tell them what you can’t do, and they’ll believe you when you tell then what you can do.”– Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director (CEO), MECLABS

Companies can capitalize on the huge underutilized resource of its followers/likes. Provided that there were no outlier disasters that would spark an onslaught of negative emotion, customers can asked to provide feedback as to how the organization can provide a better experience. Organizations can also support those ‘brand ambassadors’ that actively participate and evangelize the brand.

If organizations embrace social media and use it as a tool for improvement there is an opportunity for a better world. By acknowledging warts and working to get better, society may find trust in organizations once again. Those that lead this can differentiate themselves from competitors. As Orwell once said, “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

Sources

Social Media Marketing: How to optimize the customer experience to benefit from word-of-mouth advertising

Measuring Social Media ROI is No Easy Task

This week I have been reading metrics on the blogs of Jeremiah Owyang and Avinash Kaushik. One of the issues in social media is there is a tendency to superficially measure results. Some metrics used are number of fans/followers, number of posts, followers to following ratio. All provide no information with regards to the effectiveness of social media.

What both Jeremiah and Avinash say is that what is important is what comes after the tweet/post. These include:

  1. Influencing consumers
  2. Transacting leads or conversions
  3. Fostering word of mouth
  4. Starting conversations
  5. Improving customer service and support
  6. Gaining insights on customer preferences
  7. Generating ideas for future products
  8. Increasing sales

The challenge in social media is that a manager may determine the budget largely by only the 8th while in the long-run all are important. The 8th is also the toughest to quantify. Fortunately, Google Analytics provides some assistance. To determine the conversion rate the basis for measurement it is important to use a landing page. This will help to specify who went to the page as a result of the link or ad. If the webpage is provided in an offline ad, it is even more difficult to quantify, as there is nothing to stop the person from going directly to the homepage. No matter how you do it there is no perfect measure of ROI with social media. Although managers may be quick to jump for it because it is a concise metric that measures the ultimate goal, managers that rely on it can’t see the forest for the trees.

Sources

Web Strategy- Number of Fans and Followers is NOT a Business Metric –What You Do With Them Is

Occam’s Razor- Best Social Media Metrics: Conversation, Amplification, Applause, Economic Value

Brand Personality and Social Media

I read an interesting article in the news this week on a brand that had been hijacked on Twitter as part of a social media experiment. Shippam’s Paste is a long forgotten British sandwich spread whose online presence was as large as one page on one company’s house of brands website. Ed Jefferson, a London based marketer, decided to see what would happen if he tried to run a company’s Twitter feed purposely incompetently. He took on the persona of Ben the social media intern and began tweeting about the brand. The result was astounding. The account went from 0 to 9,000 followers in less than a month, the hashtag #paste trended across the UK and public outrage ensued when Princes informed Twitter of the fake account and had it taken down.

There is a lot that can be said about this case. Some of the news articles that I have read have chosen to focus on the brandjacking that occurred and the implications for businesses. For me the more interesting topic is what can companies learn from the Shippam’s rebirth through social media.

Cut through the noise- As Ed himself puts it companies should be using social media for things other than posting links to press releases. With so many brands with Twitter feeds not providing anything unique they are filtered out by the user as noise. Ben the affable intern grabbed users attention because he provided a different feed and approach than the professionally crafted tweets provided by most companies.

Be likeable- Ben provided stories about what was going on in the office his life and quirky responses to customer questions. His personality humanized the brand and people felt like they could better connect with it. All too often it is forgotten that this is  the purpose of social media.

Don’t try to control what is said about your brand- Since Ben was a joke, there was a timeline to how long it would last. However, Shippam’s stepped in to close the Twitter account and created a backlash. Traditionally companies have tried to control what is said about their brands in the public domain. What would have been better in this situation would be to monitor what was being said and ride the publicity wave.

Ben says in one of his tweets “I am here to engage with conversations, optimise brand awareness among social targets and let’s remember to have fun!” Shippam’s worked because the focus was on the fun.

Review of Branding in the Digital Age: You’re Spending Your Money in all the wrong places

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Branding in the Digital Age was published in the December 2010 issue of the Harvard Business Review. The author, David C. Edelman, takes the position that because of social media channels consumers connect with brands in new ways. He thinks that the decision purchase funnel (figure 1) no longer applies with social media but rather it is superseded by a new model called the “consumer decision journey” (figure 2). (Edelman, 2010) This is because before the relationship between the consumer and the brand would dissipate post-purchase but now the consumer remains engaged with the brand either promoting or assailing the brand. (Edelman, 2010)

Figure 1- Consumer Purchase Funnel

 Figure 2- Consumer Decision Journey

 

While I do agree with Edelman that with social media the touch points with consumers have changed and in many respects expanded, I do think that he is understating consumer relationships with brands previous to social media. To insinuate that consumers did not promote or assail brands previous to social media is false. In some respects I think of social media as a megaphone. Many of the conversations about brands occurred before the medium existed but now they take place on a much larger scale. While the consumer decision journey (CDJ) clearly demonstrates how building relationships with consumers builds loyalty, the CDJ does not clearly show the how a brand loyal consumer can influence his or her networks. This is one of the keys to social media. With the “megaphone” in front of the consumer, he or she is able to grow the awareness and consideration for the product by advocating on behalf of the brand.

The article does highlight some important implications for marketing in the age of social media.

The first implication is that most advertising and promotion focuses on the consideration and purchase stages while consumers are more influenced during the ‘enjoy’, ‘evaluate’ and ‘bond’ stages. (Edelman, 2010) In the study, when it came time to evaluate a product, consumers tended to go to Amazon.com or retailer websites to compare products through visuals, descriptions and reviews. (Edelman, 2010) Most of this occured off of the manufacturer’s website. (Edelman, 2010) This is important because social media offers more touch points with a brand and therefore the brand can communicate with the consumer at various stages while the consumer is deciding on the purchase and experiencing the brand. (Edelman, 2010) Online touch points allow the consumer to share a trial of a product or service or his or her brand experience. It also highlights the importance of external brand communication relative to what the brand itself is communicating. When evaluating products or services peers and experts are trusted and relied upon much more than the organization itself.

This leads to the second implication that marketers should focus on driving advocacy rather than media spend. (Edelman, 2010) Again with using the megaphone analogy, investing in driving advocacy will allow more consumers to louder and more frequently about the brand. This increases its share of the conversation. It is important to recognize that whether this is good or bad is dependant on what consumers are saying about the brand itself. If a brand is not able to deliver on its promise, providing infrastructure for consumers to share brand experiences may result in a lot of negative conversations about the brand.

The third implication is that marketing now requires greater coordination across all touch points. (Edelman, 2010) As the article highlights, touch points can fall across different business functions website, packaging, customer service. (Edelman, 2010) Also through social media touch points can exist outside of the organization entirely (ie. Facebook and Twitter). Therefore, to ensure that the brand is being represented consistently across all channels and delivers on its brand promise, Edelman recommends that the organization have an “orchestrator” such as a chief marketing officer to ensure the consistency of the brand across all touch points. (Edelman, 2010) I think that this is a valuable suggestion. One of the challenges in implementation will be maintaining consistency in those organizations that are houses of brands but share some functions such as customer service (ie. Proctor & Gamble).

The fourth implication is that communication is no longer one way. (Edelman, 2010) Traditional media is all about broadcasting a message. However, with social media communication is two-way. Organizations now need to pay attention to earned media and what is being communicated about the brand. The significance of this for Edelman is that marketing budgets are allocated based on a strategy that only broadcasts information and does not take into account the resources needed for social media. (Edelman, 2010)

Overall, I think that there are some issues with reframing the funnel as a consumer decision journey. Mainly that the model does not clearly illustrate how a consumer can pull others into the ‘journey’ or ‘funnel’. Another issue is that the article falsely presumes that bonding with a brand does not occur without social media. I think that a simpler way of looking at social media is that it is a megaphone for the word of mouth conversations about a brand that historically took place offline. Whether it is beneficial or detrimental to a brand depends entirely on the whether the product or service is able to live up to its brand promise.

 

Edelman, D. C. (2010). Branding in the Digital Age: Your’re Spending Your Money in all the Wrong Places. Harvard Business Review , 62-69.

Measuring the Impact of Social Media

For many companies social media can be a “bright shiny object” or a response to what “everyone else is doing.” In these situations social media is used without an end goal in mind and without the proper metrics in place to determine what impact social media has on marketing.

This week I have been doing research on measuring the impact of social media (SM) on the bottom line. One of the things that has stood out the most to me is that while SM can be seen as a low cost alternative to traditional marketing mediums, there remains a significant time commitment to monitor and analyze conversations to determine impact.

To assess the contribution of social media, an organization needs to do the following:

  1. Establish SMART goals for social media
  2. Determine 2-3 metrics for each of the goals
  3. Analyse the data to see how the strategy is meeting its goals

As described by Radian6, the purpose of social media is not just to have “eyeballs” but what matters is having the right “eyeballs” and then driving them to some sort of action. To prove some kind of action you have to:

  • Look at average monthly reach across networks
  • Count the number of conversations originating from one of those channels during the month
  • Establish a ratio of potential reach to actual progress in the metric (ie. conversations, blog subscribers)
  • To determine dollar value per fan. Divide value of online referred transactions by the total number of people you reach

Social media is like any other marketing tool its effective use is dependent of the use of metrics and quantitative and qualitative analysis.

 

Sources

Radian6: Practical Social Media Measurement and Analysis- http://www.radian6.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Radian6_eBook_March2010.pdf

Marketing Sherpa: Measuring Social Media’s Contribution to the Bottom Line: 5 Tactics- https://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=31648