Facebook, Google+, Twitter and virtually every other social network have become more than pastimes for the millions that use them daily. Today, these sites are the product offerings of multi-national corporations and have not only changed many aspects of Internet marketing, but impacted popular culture around the world.
From Humble Beginnings…
The world’s largest social network now boasts over 900 million members. That figure accounts for nearly 1/7 of the world’s entire population. Not bad for a company that began in 2004 as a small project of then-Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg. While the story of Facebook’s origins and rise to prominence is well-documented (and has even won Oscars), the reason for the site’s success is not as obvious. Like many social networks before it, Facebook was merely intended to be recreational. It was designed as a platform for people to interact and engage online, while possibly (and hopefully) generating some ad revenue to keep the business afloat. Fast forward to 2012; Facebook is a publicly traded corporation with global reach and more importantly, international influence.
…To a Global Phenomenon
The rapid expansion of Facebook goes beyond Wall Street. The advertising and marketing industries have noticed the impact of social media in the wake of Facebook’s growth. Even news journalism has changed on the post-Facebook Web. In one form or another, social media is now incorporated into the business model of virtually every company with an online presence.
Jumping on the Bandwagon
Success breeds competition and Facebook is no exception. Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn have arrived on the social scene in the years following Facebook’s emergence as the number one network and more are likely to come in the months and years ahead. While none of the aforementioned sites are even close to Facebook’s membership, they are showing exponential growth. In fact, Pinterest even became the world’s third most frequented social network while still in its beta phase.
However, like many industries, social media is not without flaws and is bound to change and evolve according to the demands of its user base. Facebook’s IPO and the subsequent backlash that it has suffered have demonstrated that social networks need to assert their influence in the online marketplace and prove their value as viable advertising outlets. Additionally, social media sites must strive to remain in the Internet limelight in order to retain their ability to attract potentially lucrative online marketing campaigns. There is certainly a place for social networking on the Internet of tomorrow, but innovation will undoubtedly be the key to future success in the social space.
Twitter continues to assert its importance and as a result, it receives a great deal of attention from SEO agencies, social media experts across the board, and us here at WebiMax. All social platforms are evolving and responding to what customers want, but Facebook and Twitter seem to trying to stay ahead of the curve constantly pushing their offerings and what can be done on their platforms. Case in point – Twitter’s new partnership with Pepsi whereby the social platform is the medium for connecting customers to Pepsi’s “Live for Now” global music campaign.
This is a great move for both parties. For Pepsi, it is functional, great for branding as a hip music supporter, and delivers compelling content to their customers. For Twitter, it is a perfect use of their technology and gets them working with a big name player like Pepsi and also exemplifies the relevance of their platform, and surely will give a bump to the number of users on the platform. For Twitter, the glowing endorsement and assertion of the platform as the “quintessential ‘now-time’ media” by Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo.’s Global Beverage Group is a huge positive and barometer of its place in social and internet activity
The “Live for Now” campaign brings music to Twitter users through multiple means. First, a short-form video series being made available every Wednesday over a 52 week period will profile music, artists, and news that is trending that particular week on Twitter. Users will also be able to access free music downloads from Amazon.com’s MP3 Store each week by following @pepsi and using #PepsiMusicNOW as a hashtag in their individual tweets. Additionally, a Pepsi pop-up concert series will occur in the US during the summer and fall months. The concerts will have big name artists and will be announced on twitter streamed on Pepsi’s profile page live.
Companies large and small can learn from this partnership. They do not necessarily need to partner with such a large player to make a difference, but can use Twitter in much the same way as the “Live for Now” campaign will. They can schedule compelling content, using various media…video, photos, music, and written content. It is up to the companies themselves and the quality SEO vendors and social media experts that they work with to determine exactly the content and frequency of the posts. If partnerships are possible though, do them, if not for anything else other than the fact that the follower bases will be joined increasing exposure and cross-over follower acquisition.
When brands are built up effectively over time and used purposefully, they can have a tremendous impact on the company and deliver considerable financial gain, supplementing the primary revenue generation from the sale of their actual products. Ford, one of the biggest and most recognizable name brands in the country and world, is a shining example of this. The Ford brand is worth billions and the company is a leader in the process of licensing out the various elements of the brand. Their activity provides lessons for other companies both large and small in how they can leverage the equity they have built in their brand for financial gain and valuable exposure.
Yes, Ford is enormous and many companies do not have the same name recognition (and everything that goes with it) or find themselves in such a position as Ford does. They built up to their current position over time, creating slogans such as “Built Ford Tough” and establishing the “tough, long-lasting, strong” identity that they have been promoting for years. With that said, other companies can strategically build their name in the same way to represent something, an idea, a feeling, an emotion – marketing, advertising, and branding 101.
According to a recent Forbes article, the company has 400 licenses at present and has granted roughly 18,000 product approvals during the past year, which is a sizeable increase from 3,000 from two years prior. 45 million pieces of merchandise that had the Ford brand were sold last year totaling $1.5 billion. This is a lot of money to say the least from an additional revenue stream.
What types of products does the brand show up in? Well the “Built Ford Tough” slogan was licensed to Forever 21, a young women’s clothing store for one, another is ford-branded Tervis Tumblers for Bed, Bath, & Beyond. But the big winners are those that replicate the products, the cars themselves. This is exemplified in licensing the sounds and look of the vehicles for video-games, like the 2013 Ford Focus ST for the Forza 4 game. Similarly, they have been traditionally doing this with toy versions of the cars and trucks, most popular being the remote-controlled vehicles. This makes a connection to the actual products they sell. Jim Farley, Ford’s global CMO, describes how interest from various “licensees” to use a company’s brand is one of the best ways to understand and measure the value and health of the brand.
Takeaway – Building the Brand
The lesson here is the value in investing in building the brand – making it a priority. For smaller companies this starts with beginning with creating a core message and making sure in all communications, the company details the name, what they do, and the core message/slogan/why they are different. From there, local companies can solidify themselves as the place for a certain product or the place to support a local area business.
Companies can lean on reputable marketing agencies and SEO companies in order strategically build the message between social platforms and have it stick with customers, the hardest part. Social media is perfect for this and several platforms can be leveraged alongside each other to support the campaign. Reach out to us via our contact page for more information on how this can be done on both the small and large scale.
Branding is sometimes hard to separate from advertising and marketing. Although it is all under the same umbrella of external communications, some differentiation can and should be made between them so you can strategically put them to work for your business. Branding deals most closely with the image of a company and how it is being portrayed to the audience and various publics the company has. There are three simple facets to branding that a company wants to make sure they concentrate on in all their messaging for branding goals: (a) name/who they are, (b) what they do/product category, (c) core message (tag line/motto) what separates them from the competition. These are elements that surely are integrated into other forms of communication that the company engages in, however, together they are the essentials in this process.
When a company is looking to brand themselves, they need exposure from off-site locations to push traffic to the site. Concentrating online for this is key and social media is truly essential here. Additionally, integrating in PR efforts establishing media placements is becoming increasingly important. First, let’s look at social media for this, although social media is an extension of the company’s website, it plays an integral role as each new account presents an opportunity to widen exposure. Companies using social media in coordinated marketing strategies or simply on their own accord can and should make an effort to concentrate on these elements in their branding:
- Authenticity – marketers need to prioritize transparency in their online writings for the company and across the various platforms. How the accounts of the company and its employees look and operate reflects back on their image and certainly branding. Things need to be what they appear on the platforms.
- Consistency – content and engagement needs to be kept up because strong companies engage and post regularly without long breaks. Significant breaks reflect stretched staffing, disorganization, and carelessness. The reality is that this can occur easily if the social posting is not made a priority and other activities take precedence, sometimes understandably so, but consistency suffers, and with it brand credibility.
- Quality – the value that marketers give in their posts and writings is also paramount. This has always been the case, but when you are using social media for branding, you need to make sure that every post the company is tied to is compelling and of a high quality.
Further, as Google’s “Search, Plus Your Word” feature, social information will be of increased importance from here on out as the information that companies put on their social accounts will get greater exposure in the results pages of Google.
This operates much in the same way with PR efforts. If company executives and experts have unique insight into the industry and can provide in-demand commentary drawing from their years of experience, then they can be pitched to the media to discuss various tips or perspectives of developments in the industry. This adds credibility to the individuals themselves and the company as a whole.
For more information on branding, check back on our blog as it is a subject we touch on quite often, or reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen(at)webimax.com and @ryanwbudd.
Social media has tremendous potential to brands, we know this. But gaining increased exposure for a brand through purposeful engagement with their audience is a skill requiring a number of elements, among them a viable strategy, and is worth a closer look through the actions of a large social player, the NBA. The league has a powerful social media presence as it is with 260 million Facebook likes and Twitter followers spread around all the player, team, and league accounts – and they have significantly ramped it up for this year’s playoffs and their efforts provide a great global example.
Tumblr & Pinterest
As reported in a piece on Mashable, the NBA has launched Tumblr and Pinterest accounts and are running a campaignthrough their Twitter presence. Marketers for the league are looking at these two additional platforms to take advantage of their visual focus and ease-of-use for photo-sharing. Specifically for the tumblr account, NBA marketers will be displaying pictures depicting classic moments in NBA playoff history profiling famous match-ups and moments.
For Pinterest, they have two goals. First, they will promote retro and throwback team clothing linking it to their e-commerce store to drive more business in that regard. Pinterest is ideal for showing off product visual being able to create boards and pin interesting looks and combinations of the clothing. Secondly, they want to profile interesting “characters” that are in the NBA, looking at quirky styling, haircuts, and other elements.
With the global reach of the NBA brand, marketers for the league are looking to engage fans from around the globe in their “Hoops Around the World” campaign. This effort spurs fans to document the places that they both play and watch basketball. They are pushing fans to tweet photos of where they shoot hoops locally capturing the actual baskets and where they watch their NBA games – mentioning @NBA and #hoops. According to Mashable, the NBA will retweet the ones they like the best and compile a world map of all photos before the culmination of the season with The Finals. If the NBA really wanted to push it they could engage fans on the social platforms of local markets, but I’m sure their reasoning in part is that they wanted to keep it unified.
Businesses can use this as an example per individual company characteristics and goals. WebiMax and other strong internet marketing and SEO companies help businesses to outline their marketing goals and strategy for social media campaigns and one of the primary factors with the new platforms in Tumblr and Pinterest is whether or not your company has visual relevance. Most all companies do, but it is a matter of how businesses can post images that relate to them and their operations in an interesting way to engage with them. The subject matter of the photos all must be interesting whether images taken by the company or shots of charts and infographics, facility or office pictures, and even pictures of relevant happenings in the industry.
For information on leveraging social media especially with an international audience, reach out to me directly at email@example.com or @ryanwbudd.
Although social media users swap countless IMs and posts across PCs and laptops every month, most people fail to realize the amount of direct messaging that takes place between mobile device owners through those same social networks. According to a blog published just a few days ago on the New York Times website, a number of recent studies all point to the conclusion that social media apps are quickly replacing standard phone SMS as a primary form of mobile communication. One particular report states that the amount of text messages relayed by cellphone owners in the Phillipines on a monthly basis has decreased by more than a third from 2010 to 2011 (down to 400 texts from around 660).
Yet, what does this all mean to the standard small to medium-sized business owner? Well, aside from the obvious fact that Facebook and Twitter are quickly replacing traditional phone texting, it’s important to recognize the ever-increasing need for a strong social network presence in the business world. As conversations continue to take place in greater frequency between social media users, companies want to be a part of that dialogue more than ever. It’s one thing to have a prominent link on a Facebook page or Twitter feed, but becoming a talking point in these back-and-forth messages is even more worthwhile.
Maintain an Undeniable Network Presence
Often a luxury exclusive to multi-million dollar corporations, wide-scale recognition on social networks is considered by many business analysts to be the ultimate goal of any social media optimization. At the end of the day, once the ad campaign is over and the dedicated bloggers, tweeters and status updaters have gone to bed, a business owner wants to rest easy knowing that all that hard work is still finding traction. While getting to this point can take months – or even years – of hard work, getting a campaign started on the right foot can make all the difference.
For the best social media results, small business owners and experienced marketers alike need to remain active when seeking out target demographics. By searching for interest groups, watching how the competition approaches their own campaigns, keeping up with industry-related news and always staying active with posts, a social media listing can establish the follower base and ongoing attention it needs to succeed. A dedicated effort on social networks can eventually establish one’s brand across a wide audience and keep traffic going to a page consistently.
Earn, and Keep, the Attention of Potential Followers
Getting communities on social networks to notice a company is not unlike being the center of attention at a party. Although companies can end up handling thousands of followers at a time, getting people to engage a business takes the right approach. Aside from constantly posting new blog content via Facebook and other social media outlets, companies can also remain relevant on social networks by interacting directly with users. In particular, running a contest is a fantastic way to get new followers to jump onto a business’ social network feed. Raffles and community-driven competitions for consumer goods and various leisure items often provide great incentives.
Of course, it can be difficult to secure these users once a contest has ended. Should a business try to use giveaways to bolster its online following, it’s important that it attempts to continually engage these new followers outside of the contest itself. A social media campaign manager should always try to ask questions and for feedback, do community spotlights or even feature posts from social media users. This type of community response rewards users for being actively involved with a company and provides a solid way to keep people following.
Supplement Social Network Activity with even more Activity
While the old adage of “less is more” certainly applies to social media campaigns, businesses still want to make sure their voices are heard. Although one should take care in not turning away users through excessive posting and in-your-face advertising, it’s a smart move to supplement campaign efforts through additional social networks. In particular, Twitter is an excellent avenue through which companies can spread additional links and updates for their other social media assets while not overwhelming followers on other networks.
Maintaining a strong presence in social media conversations is a true challenge that offers as many rewards as it does obstacles. Should readers have any further questions regarding the right practices for social media success, I can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.