Tag Archives: social media

Applying What I’ve Learned: Developing a Social Media Audience

Ok, ok, so I’ve totally been neglecting Fans of Brands. But you can’t blame me! I’ve started developing marketing materials, managing the social media, and blogging on behalf of two stores here in Jackson Hole: Belle Cose and Goodie2Shoes. You can check out my efforts at bellecosedish and goodie2shoesstyle and become our fans on facebook here and here.

So while I have not been updating Fans of Brands as frequently as I’d like, I can’t say that I haven’t been busy blogging. And I must admit – while I love being the voice behind these two stores, I’ve found the task quite challenging! I want to increase our web presence and fan base, but now that I’m the one on the other side of the equation actually thinking up fun campaigns and ideas that will engage our audience rather than snarkily critiquing other brand’s efforts, I’m left wondering where to begin. How the heck do I start developing more of an audience and fanbase?

Well first we need to link the Belle Cose website to the blog and facebook page. That’s number one on the list! Next we need to actually CREATE a webpage for Goodie2Shoes, which currently doesn’t have a website at all. Then we need to create a link to our blogs on all email blasts. Fortunately both stores have comprehensive customer databases, so that will definitely help our cause.

Now if I’m going to take a page out my own book, I think the next thing I need to do is “get involved in the conversation.” I need to start sounding off on homeware, interior decorating, and cooking blogs (for Belle Cose, a high end home goods store) and fashion and accessory blogs (for Goodie2Shoes, a clothing and accessories store geared at women age 50+). Then I need to link back to my own blogs. Or maybe I should just start writing about Lady Gaga on both websites and see if they start garnering as much attention as Fans of Brands! I guess that wouldn’t be attracting the right target audience though…

Do any of you, my loyal readers, have ideas for how I can start generating fans and directing traffic to my sites? Please feel free to click the above links, or leave comments on this post – I’m all ears!

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New Obsession: StumbleUpon

Maybe I’m a little behind the times, but I just discovered the wonderous time-wasting properties of a joyful little internet application called StumbleUpon. For those of you who don’t know of this fascinating phenomenon, StumbleUpon is a social network where users recommend, rate, and share web pages. A toolbar at the top of your browser allows you to “stumble” into a random webpage, video, or photo that’s been recommended by the StumbleUpon community, and filtered by your interests (select from topics including food, music, humor, science, and more). You may then “like” or “dislike” the page, share it with the network, add it to your list of favorites, and even blog about it.  Having been founded in 2001, the appication now boasts over 8 million users and 5 billion “stumbles;” it looks like I’m not the only one with an obsession!

Already a fan of bizarre internet finds such as CuteOverload, and icanhascheezburger, StumbleUpon has opened my eyes to a whole new world of website trolling. Not only does the site allow you to discover funny, quirky, and compelling photos and videos you may have never found on your own, it also introduces you to new sites where you can spend even more time nerding around, consuming new and exciting media. In the past week, StumbleUpon has introduced me to many new sites that have become obsessions including tastespotting, a gorgeous and lipsmacking collection of recipes, OhJoy!, an exhuberant design and fashion blog, Haha.Nu, a self proclaimed “lifestyle blogzine,” and countless other personality quizzes, photobanks, lists, and videos.

But how does the site generate revenue? Apparently paid advertisements will pop up for users in about two percent of their stumbles, so the site does in fact rely on a more traditional advertising model. StumbleUpon was actually purchased by eBay for $75 million back in 2007, but then in 2009 its original founders, Garrett Camp and Geoff Smith, and several other investors bought the company back. So it seems that StumbleUpon is now an independent, investor-backed startup once again, with offices in San Francisco and New York City.

Even while I’m not sure how the site is going to generate enough revenue to stay afloat without outside investment, I’m sure glad it exists. Boredom be gone – StumbleUpon will introduce you to some of the coolest, most mind blowing randomness you’ll ever hope to encounter on the web. I’m head over heels for this site and want to shout it from the mountain tops… but most likely I’ll just be up ’til 3am diving deep into the complexities of the web,  “stumbling” to my heart’s content.

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Your Farmer List

Your Farmer List

Maintaining a web presence and maintaining a farm seem worlds apart, but blogging about your brand and milking Bessie are more similar in essence than you may think.  At least according to one of my favorite bloggers Chris Brogan, whose post this morning compared web presence maintenance to chores on a farm– your “farmer’s list,” he calls it.

I came across Brogan’s post while checking my RSS feed – one of the chores on my own “farmers list” as it were – and found it particularly relevant for several reasons.

First, having recently moved to Wyoming, I am smack dab in farm and ranch land, and Brogan’s allusion to farming definitely resonates with my new surroundings – blogging and farming aren’t so far apart in my own world anymore.

Second, I hope to start freelancing for some local businesses to implement and maintain their social media presence. As I start blogging on behalf of others, Brogan’s advice on managing your web presence couldn’t be better timed.

But although creating and maintaining a web presence for your brand may take a lot of hard work, it doesn’t have to be a chore. Growing your brand and engaging consumers requires daily upkeep on your website and social media pages, but how fun is it to hear back from your consumer? Chris Brogan gets hundreds, sometimes thousands of responses to his posts, and he replies to a majority of them. That kind of consumer interaction not only makes readers and customers feel appreciated, engaged, and inspired to return to the site, but it also feels really rewarding for the blog writer to get reader’s feedback, write a response, and thus form a bond with the reader.

So just as Farmer Bob bonds with Bessie during her daily milking, these “chores” for daily web maintenance and consumer engagement can also be fun and rewarding for everyone involved.

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Sweethearts Candy’s “Tweet Me” Message is Short and Sweet

I love Valentines Day. Not only because it happens to be my birthday, but also because it’s a bright spot in the otherwise bleak month of February. In the midst of the coldest month, I love walking into stores festooned with sparkly heart and cupid decorations, eating pink and red m&m’s, and receiving hand-made valentines penned on delicate doilies. I resent those people claiming to be “anti-valentines day” and consider this stance a personal affront (it’s my birthday, come on!).

This is also why I love the new partnership between Twitter and Sweethearts candies. As of today, Sweethearts, the 145 year-old brand whose heart shape, pastel colors, and “kiss me” messages have become a symbol of February 14th, will this year include a new message: “tweet me.” The new message will launch in tandem with an iPhone app whereby users can send their valentines a personalized electronic Sweethearts box that will be displayed on the recipients twitter page.

The campaign feels like a logical pairing: Sweethearts have always been up on the latest technology trends (remember “fax me?”), and Twitter is one of the fastest growing and most relevant social media platforms in use today. Both brands are based on sending short messages where brevity is key. While I tend to prefer long, detailed love poems where my valentine pontificates on all my best qualities, nothing gets the message across like those chalky little candies. Even “I love you” in under 140 characters will do when my lover is tweeting my praises to his entire social network. I’m hoping my valentine is clued in to this branding and social media partnership, and that a “Happy Birthday/Valentines Day” message appears on my twitter page come February 14th. Until then, I’ll be picking through all 80 messages in the Sweethearts box to find the new “tweet me” candy to send him. Hint, hint!

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Pepsi Forgoes Superbowl Ad in Favor of Social Media Campaign

What’s the most effective way to spend 20 million in marketing dollars?  I’m thinking of my grandmother’s advice as she hands me a $20 bill: “now, don’t spend it all in one place dear!”

By forgoing advertising in the Superbowl for the first time in 23 years, Pepsi is doing just that. In an historic move, Pepsi is shifting their advertising dollars from Superbowl to a social media campaign called the “Pepsi Refresh Project,” which launches on January 13, 2010. Facebook fans will be encouraged to submit suggestions for projects to “refresh” their communities, and users will vote for their favorites. Pepsi will then spend the 20 million to fund these various projects, thus “refreshing” the world to make it a better place.

The marketing move is important for several reasons. The first is that it marks a seismic shift in marketing trends. We’ve already seen this trend and its effects on the world of print media: companies forgo traditional, expensive print ads for cheaper internet marketing and social media campaigns. Then without that advertising revenue, print publications are unable to survive. We have also seen the effects of the marketing shift in television content with a proliferation of talk-shows and reality shows, which are cheaper to produce than scripted sitcoms and dramas. But is social media truly a more effective use for ad dollars, or is it simply a cheaper alternative? Are companies actually reaching more people and generating more effective buzz online and via social media than they would by traditional media advertising? Pepsi seems to think so.

The second implication of Pepsi’s marketing move is that it marks not only a shift in marketing, but also a shift in culture. Gone are the days of expendable income, luxury and consumer gluttony, exemplified by the media and entertainment circus we know as the Superbowl. Consumers are more socially and economically aware these days, and big brands know this – the shift from flashy advertising to a marketing campaign based on social consciousness is Pepsi’s attempt to capitalize on the trend. But because Pepsi is pulling out of the Superbowl altogether really makes me wonder if they are simply jumping on the socially-conscious bandwagon, or if there’s an inkling of legitimate concern for society somewhere in there… seems to me it’s a combination of both.

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Social Media + Free Chair = Ground Score!

What’s the difference between dumpster diving, ground scoring, and a marketing campaign?  Apparently, not much. While dumpster diving is when someone actually roots around a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant looking for “leftovers,”A ground score is when someone in an upscale urban neighborhood leaves old books, furniture, or other miscellany on the sidewalk – it is technically “garbage” but is still perfectly usable – and you, the lucky passer by, spot the item and take it home. It is a perfectly acceptable form of urban furniture shopping, practiced by many reputable and classy New Yorkers… myself included! Sometimes the previous owner leaves a sign that says “take me” or “I work!” (if it’s something like a TV or a fan), but mostly there is no sign – just a slightly used end table or desk lamp just waiting to be given a second chance in a new home. I found my shoe rack this way, and have left many an ikea book shelf on the sidewalks of New York – they’re usually gone within 5 minutes.

The real difference between dumpster diving and ground scoring is that you can turn ground diving into an effective marketing like these guys did. A furniture company called Blu Dot apparently knows of the New York City ground scoring phenomenon, and left 25 of its best selling chairs,  each tagged with a covert GPS tracker, on the streets of Manhattan. The company then filmed New Yorkers making off with the supposed garbage, thus turning trash into treasure.

The social media component of the campaign was that Blue Dot twittered the location of the chairs. But, this part of the plan was abandoned – too many Blu Dot fans and “design freaks” were following the twitter campaign and deliberately hunting down chairs. This foiled the authentic, spontaneous part of the project: Blue Dot wanted footage of real New Yorkers discovering the chairs, picking them up and carrying them home as though they had found someone elses’s garbage. The video and results of this performance-piece style marketing campaign will be broadcast in the company’s Soho store this week.

To read more, check out The NY Times Magazine wrote about it in this week’s edition of Consumed by clicking here.

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A Lesson in Irritating Your Consumer – J. Crew’s Social Media Campaign

Last Thursday on Thanksgiving, after my family said grace and gave thanks for all being together, the conversation shifted to a more important topic: what everyone wants for Christmas.

I am one of five semi-preppy 20-something siblings, and all of us receive marketing emails from J. Crew. Santa receives these emails too, and with frequent offers of 20 percent off of orders over $150 and free shipping,  the chances are very high that this Christmas morning we each open a box with a fuzzy new J.Crew sweater in our favorite color.

But, after dropping the requisite hints about how cute we all think the new cable knit v-necks with the ruffled detailing are, we began discussing how exactly we all know about that one cute sweater: J. Crew’s marketing.

In the past, we have all agreed that J.Crew’s marketing efforts have been superb. The company is religious about sending a glossy catalog to our residence each month. Its marketing emails are timely, and keep us informed of its sales, deals, and new merchandise. But its emails are pretty much always the same bargain – 20 percent off and/or free shipping, mostly on orders over $150. And that’s where the complaints began. The “deal” emails usually come in the same format – white lettering on a black background touting those same, predictable sales.

We started talking about marketing and the value of a brand switching up its techniques to keep things interesting for their consumers. We love J. Crew – we already want what it sells.  It does a great job of taking its tried and true concept and tweaking it just a little bit each season in order to keep things fresh.  That may be the reason we like its clothes, but it’s the reason we don’t like its marketing. We want J. Crew to surprise us, because we already know it can surprise us with little bows and sparkles on otherwise basic tee-shirts and headbands.

This leads me to our biggest complaint about J. Crew’s recent marketing – its social media campaign.  We all received the same email recently: J. Crew told us that if we became a fan of the J. Crew Facebook page, it would give us a special exclusive deal. “Ooooh” we thought, “maybe it’s a free tote bag or keychain! Maybe it’s 50 percent off!” But when each of us signed up as a Facebook fan and saw the deal, we were disappointed.  It was the usual twenty percent off.

Wow, never seen that before, J. Crew. Pretty exciting. You enticed us, your already devoted consumers, to be your Facebook fans, published that information on all of our friends newsfeeds, and will now flood our homepages with product and company updates. And all we get is a measly twenty percent off? Thanks a lot, really. Now, instead of making us happy, you’ve irritated us. You haven’t irritated us enough to stop buying your products, but maybe you’ve irritated us enough to de-fan you on Facebook, or worse, to unsubscribe from your marketing emails.

The moral of this story is that when your consumers are doing you a favor, you better reward them properly. Keep them interested, give them something unexpected to show them how valuable they are. But it has to be genuine – it can’t be the same old ploy. If J. Crew really had given us that tote bag or keychain, its dedicated consumers would have felt special and appreciated. We would have forwarded the offer to all of our friends, and the campaign would have generated hundreds of thousands more Facebook fans. Instead we feel annoyed and bored.  J. Crew is doing all the right things as far as keeping its consumers informed with email, social media, and direct print marketing, but it needs to work a little harder to keep things its marketing as exciting as its knits and tees.

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