Viral Marketing Initiatives

Viral Marketing Initiatives

 

Social Media platforms have made viral marketing efforts much easier in the recent years. The ability to share information is incredible, and when something is popular, boy, is it popular, and fast.

 

The five viral marketing campaign characteristics listed below are important for marketers to know and understand, and even more so, to apply to campaigns in order to be successful:

 

The top five characteristics of a viral campaign are as follows:

 

  1. Evoke emotion
  2. Customer focus
  3. Universal appeal
  4. Short and simple
  5. Call to action

 

Current example: The following link is a great viral media resource.  There are a ton of examples of different initiatives that have gone viral. My favorite from this site is from a couple of years ago, and it is the one about the homeless man with the “golden voice.”

 

 The Man with a Golden Voice – perhaps this is one of the most inspiring video released on You Tube. A man with a very nice voice who is living on the street was given a chance to find home and work after suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. This video attracted more than 26 million views on You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rPFvLUWkzs

 

http://www.webbythoughts.com/viral-marketing-videos-examples-strategies/

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Differentiation

Sassy Shortcake Boutique is a clothing company from Charleston, South Carolina, that has really taken to social media. One way that it has reached out to the consumer is through contests, giveaways, and “quick sales”. Contests include liking, sharing, and tweeting about the company, and in return those who participate have a chance to win an article of clothing or a piece of jewelry. ssb

They also do Facebook “quick sales” in which they put up a certain number of items and lower the price on all. Then, FB users can go on and enter their email on the picture, pick their size, and users can continue to do that until the product runs out. After that, SSB send the user an invoice through PayPal. This way, SSB now has emails of users who clearly have an interest, and they also sold the product. These items are usually ones that have been on the site for a while or are going out of season, but nonetheless they seem to sell really quickly.

SSB differentiates itself from other online clothing companies because it really targets FB and Twitter users, and using free or discounted items in order to gain their attention, interests, and to get their information – from them! It’s a really neat tactic because they really get to know and reach their target market – consumers who already like and want their product. This is a great strategic goal because not only does it keep people shopping, but it keeps them interested, checking back, and updated on their social feeds.

Lovely Wholesale is an SSB competitor. In their social media efforts, they promote really cheap items, at “wholesale prices” and typically showcase one at a time in an attempt to sell it. Unlike SSB, they really don’t gain attention of their users or attempt to intrigue the users to come back, especially when they post items like the picture below. As you can see, many users were actually commenting “ew” or “gross” on this pair of pants. When it comes to women’s clothing, negative press isn’t good press! Their differentiation process is to post really “different” and unique items, but it seems to backfire more often than it works. I would say their strategic goals need some work as they are lacking. They also don’t utilize any other forms of social media, which could prove to be helpful.

lw

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Comcast Voices!

I really like Twitter’s blog that talks about best practices for tweeting. Who knows better about how to maximize the results for tweets than the Twitter professionals themselves? While it focuses on the best practices for journalists and news publishers in this following link (http://blog.twitter.com/2012/09/best-practices-for-journalists.html), I think it can really apply to any business and gives great advice. My favorite tips are to live-tweet regularly and also to use hashtags for context and @ to cite sources. For new Twitter users, these two recommendations are vital for success.

For those brand new to tweeting, the book we are reading in my social media marketing class – “The Tao of Twitter” is also a very good resource as it really explains how to gain followers, reach the audience you are looking for, and brand your business online. You can get an excerpt from the book, buy the kindle version, or buy the paperback here: http://www.thetaooftwitter.com/book-excerpt/

The more you tweet and blog, you will realize that the two really do go hand-in-hand. Although tweets are quick and the characters allotted are only 140, and blogs can be endlessly long, they both serve the strategic business purpose of reaching out to the consumer.

Blog best practices that I find to be the most crucial are knowing your audience, picking an effective and conversational writer, and most importantly, understanding that blogging can help your company with SEO, which will help your portential future customers find you first, not your competitors.

For a more detailed list and to view a live webinar, go to PR Newswire and check out this corporate blogging article: http://blog.prnewswire.com/2012/10/03/corporate-blogging-best-practices/

This webinar brings me to my next thought, which was the blog I read and follow the most because it pertains directly to the industry and company that most immpacts my life – Comcast. Our company blog, which is named “Comcast Voices” and can be found at this link: http://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices

It’s a corporate account, made for discussions with all different levels of Comcast employees, customers, and other consumers. According to Comcast Voices, “Everyone from product managers and programmers to business unit leaders and technical specialists will discuss news, change at our company, and our thoughts on what’s important in our industry. We look forward to our conversations, and welcome your feedback.”

This blog has been very maintained and kept up to date, and a lot of good information about the company can be found here. Especially due to the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, it is great for people to be able to view and contribute to this blog and get the answers to questions they have from the most informed and influential people in the industry.

I think that Comcast could spice it up a little, and I’d love to see more pictures, more consistent updates, and information about industry trends, programming, and fun facts. Things that would keep it more interesting and entertaining and keep me coming back more often than I do. I’m not sure if I wasn’t an employee if I would look at the site at all, so that needs to be worked on – as now it seems to target employees and the press.

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Going Social

Taking the brand social is definitely riskier than not taking the brand social, as there are many opportunities for errors, offending, and lack of monitoring in a company’s choice to go social. That being said, if done correctly, there is also a lot of room for reward if a company goes social and does it right.

While some argue that social media won’t save your business, I really disagree. A lot of businesses have really benefited from social media and the ability to target certain consumers, keep them interested, and figure out their markets. Engagement rates increased on websites, customers were encouraged to buy more, and couponing became much more effective.

However, not all people have that outlook. An interesting article from Forbes.com states the reason people should quit social media in 2013 – including that it will give you more time in your schedule and also that it will make you feel much better, healthier, and happier. You can check out the article for yourself at this link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhenderson/2012/12/29/3-reasons-you-should-quit-social-media-in-2013/

I don’t agree with this viewpoint – I think that social media is important and it makes people happy because it allows people to become and stay connected. I will admit though, I have tried to quit using my social media accounts in the past, and it’s a lot harder than it seems. I had to really try not to use Facebook, and I only made it three days before reactivating – I’m definitely addicted. But, I’m not ashamed at all! I recommend heavy use of social media to all my clients and am constantly enjoying finding new apps, new programs, and new sites.

Back to the original topic, taking a brand social, I think it’s important for companies to see the value of social media. First of all, it’s free. Second of all, the potential reach is huge. Third, it’s FREE! In all seriousness, I’ve seen social media accounts work for clients and improve their sales. That being said, a company must understand that growing their company with social media won’t mean just being on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter forever. New social media sites will come around, and they will take over. There WILL eventually be a site as popular as the three I just listed. So, it’s necessary not only to use social media in effective ways (such as posting items of interest, offering coupons, sharing pictures, being on top of the sites) but also to grow with technology and changes and be willing to be on top of the social media trends, just as the customers will be.

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XFINITY Home Security

Screenshot of the App

Screenshot of the App

The best and most convenient app that I think XFINITY has out right now is the home security app. From my cell phone, I can check the security cameras inside and outside my home, turn the lights on and off, turn the thermostat up or down, and I can see every time a door open or closes. It really gives peace of mind and lets me know that I’m safe, protected, and that I can watch my place no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

The app is super convenient to use, and while you can also log in online from a computer, it’s awesome to know that I can turn on a light if I’m coming home late or turn the heat on during my ride home home all from my phone, without having to worry about Internet connection.

It has also been really convenient to have the outside camera and to be able to watch what is going on during storms, so to check for plowing, flooding, downed lines, etc. It has been an awesome addition to make my life so much easier and to make my living situation very carefree and very safe at the same time! Plus, it’s funny to see my dog playing while I’m not home! 🙂

This isn’t the only app that XFINITY offers – they also have an app to take care of your dvr, email, and account services. I don’t typically use that one, but if a show is coming on that I haven’t set my dvr for, it is really easy to make sure that it records and that I have the program saved for later.

I can only expect that in the future these apps will get even better and more advanced, as they are already very user friendly and very conenvient to use and to have. I’m looking forward to the new apps and the advancements and changes to the current ones, because I can only imagine that it will make my living situation and caring for my home even easier, which I never thought I would be able to say!

I am extremely happy with this product and would recommend it to literally ANYONE – even more than that, though, I’m thrilled with the app and find it to be the most amazing one that I have. I use it ALL the time and really love it.

You can read more about the product at http://www.comcast.com/home-security – and I suggest you do!

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Campaign Changes

As I previously mentioned, the television/Internet advertising industry spent a lot of time at the beginning of the social media boom actually combating against the sites. Sales for TV/Internet took a dip, and many traditional advertisers did not see the positive impact of campaign/marketing dollars being spent on these sites, as the technology and experience was so much less significant than other forms of what they referred to as “traditional media” – in other words, newspaper, tv, radio, and some forms of Internet.
At the beginning we spent a lot of time, and still do, talking about geo-targeting, which is directing ads to the businesses backyard and directly to the customers and consumers that will walk into the stores. However, as time has progressed and results have come out, we now spend a lot more time seeing how we can best work WITH our client’s social media sites in order to enhance their business revenue and overall marketing and advertising campaigns. While we still compete with other Internet sites (besides XFINITY.com) and with radio/newspaper, our business has become very educated in social media sites, how to use them, how they help, how to integrate them into our client’s campaign, and how to give the best advice for success.
So, now, our company has become a lot more informed and a lot more supportive of sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. That being said, Pandora, Pinterest, Amazon, Ebay, and relative sites do not make our list of good business decisions, partially because of the way they do behavioral targeting, which is pretty frowned upon, and partially because the results do not seem to be there like it is available for other sites. Behavioral targeting is something that makes a lot of consumers (we have found) very uneasy and uncomfortable. The fact that they look at something on Ebay, say a treadmill, and then an ad comes up every other site they go on for the next two days, leaves a lot of people aggravated and also concerned about who is following them, how, and how often, and what the people know.
I think that Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be used in a very positive manner for a business, and we often preach that in order to reach a customer, you have to figure out how to contact them in at least six different ways. Social media has made the frequency of contact MUCH easier! But, it is important to remember/research/understand that the posts that are placed MUST stay professional, otherwise they can come back to haunt you. Done well, they can come back to help you!

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Picture Perfect

Instagram has become a social media tool for people of all ages. Quickly becoming a household name, the free app for Android and iPhones allows users to upload a picture, crop it, edit it, and add other enhancements and effects, and then immediately share it on a variety of platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram itself. The tool has become increasingly popular for its user friendly experience and ability to truly take photos to a new level of creativity and beauty.

During the 2013 Superbowl, Nabisco encouraged fans of the long-loved cookie “Oreo” to Instagram and share a picture of their favorite part of the cookie – the cream, or the chocolate. This type of encouragement from the company to its consumers will most likely get a lot of hits, as people want to share with friends and family their photos and daily activities, and now they are given a reason to post something cute, funny, or creative about one of America’s favorite treats.

Instagram not only is quick to download and easy to use and figure out, but companies are really starting to see that the number of users and followers (there is an option to follow friends that you pick from your phone book in your mobile device) has really started to pick up and become increasingly popular. Instagram even has its own social media button on some sites, which typically in the past have been reserved for larger social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and GooglePlus.

Another picture posting site, which has more commonly been referred to as a “Virtual Pinboard” is known as “Pinterest.” This site has also become extremely popular, primarily among women.

According to the Pinterest website, http://www.pinterest.com, the company’s mission statement is as follows, “Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.”

In other words, users can post all kinds of pictures, craft ideas, do it yourself projects, quotes, and then categorize them and share them with people from all over the world. The goal of Pinterest is to provide an avenue for people to share their best ideas, particularly for home decorating, weddings, and recipes, although it has increased its categories as it continues to grow, and also to help people plan and get good ideas for events.

These two picture posting sites, although different in mission and goals, are both gaining popularity in social media savviness, and are providing people all over the world with the ability to share photos, creativity, and ideas with others.

You know how the old saying goes, “a picture says a thousand words”… and as these sites show, people have a lot to say.

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