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Here’s a quote for you.

1/3 of us would rather give up sex than our mobile phone.

Scary? I know.

What’s more scary is I think I may be a part of that one third percent.

Today’s society is proving that people are relying more and more on mobile phones, in particular smartphones such as iphones, androids, blackberrys etc etc.

These days phone’s aren’t just for making calls or even checking Facebook, people are relying on their phones to access retail websites, read reviews, and make purchases whilst on the go.

According to a recent American study, “4 in every 5 smartphone users – 85.9 million in total- accessed retail content on their device in July alone”.

With this huge number of consumers shopping on their smartphones, there is no doubting this pronounced shift in consumer behavior is simply too large for retailers to ignore, with the future of their business depending on how well they adapt to the new environment.

“Among all interactive marketing platforms, mobile marketing is expected to grow 38% over the next five years with an estimated $8.2 billion being allocated to it by the year 2016.”

It goes without saying that those marketers getting involved with mobile marketing will have a strong advantage over their competition, so whilst adapting might not always be easy, it’s important for businesses to realise the huge potential mobile marketing holds.

The mobile shift is happening right before our very eyes, and it’s time for marketers to get on board!

 

 

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Target has recently come up with a very clever marketing strategy that may well become a window into the future of advertising.

In an attempt to target consumers in a means different to direct advertising, Target has released a three part “shoppable” film entitled Falling for You. 

The twelve-minute romantic comedy, starring Hollywood actors Kristen Bell, Nia Long, and Zachary Abel, features over 100 products from Target’s fall line that viewers can buy directly from the website.

The short film tells the story of two young professionals working at Target who are given the task of planning a fall style event. Everything you see in the video, including clothing, accessories, and household items, are available for purchase directly from the Target website.

When I first read about the stunt, I had mixed emotions. Target trying to make short films? Stupid Right?

Well, quite the opposite really. As I watched the first episode, I found myself not only intrigued in the storyline, but also loving a number of the products used in the film. What I loved even more? How simple Target made the process of finding my beloved items. No searching, no time-wasting, the products were displayed on the right hand side of the screen, ready for me to purchase. Very clever.

While the film continued to play, I could click a “heart” button for each product I desired, which added each item to “my favorites”. At the end of the film, I could simply access my favorites to review colour and sizing options, and from there, make my purchase. Simple. 

Upon watching the film, I asked myself what it was that really made the experience so special. Why had this stunt caused me to make a direct purchase?

Apart from Target making the whole program so customer friendly, what I found really charming was the way the commercial/movie hybrid brought the brand to life.

Seeing the actors interacting with the products allowed me to catch a glimpse of how they might look in my everyday life, rather than in some fantastical world often seen in commercials. 

Target have figured out how to turn brand into reality, and in doing so, have provided us with the perfect example of how brands are becoming more and more innovative and creative in the ways in which they can engage with their target and market their products. 

Well Done Target, you’ve won my vote! 

Flicking through The Age last week, I came across an article expressing concern about academic integrity in relation to cheating and academic misconduct at Australian Universities. In particular, the article pointed in the direction of “online essay mills”.

Online essay mills help students seeking to buy essays and other written homework and to pass it off as their own.

My first thoughts? Buying essays online is possible?

I’m in my final semester of my degree, and I find this out…now. Great.

Just kidding, the concept seems way too risky if you ask me.

But whilst the concept might be risky, there are plenty of students out there who are making use of online essay mills, and have been for some time. The article noted that whilst buying academic assignments isn’t a new phenomenon, the channel being used to reach out to customers is. Essay Mills have jumped on the bandwagon, and are, like every other business, making use of social media to target their customers.

Social media allows online essay mills to reach out to students, relying on high stress levels, laziness, or lack of confidence to make sales.

According to Wollongong University academic writing lecturer Ruth Walker, the number of students caught cheating does not appear to be rising, as online essay mills are becoming more and more organised.

By using social media, online essay mills are easier for students to find and approach, in comparison to the traditional method of personally finding someone to pay to write your essay.

Whilst their business might not be ethical, there’s no doubt they will benefit enormously by getting in on social media.What are people’s thought about this? I’d love to hear of stories of “friends of friends” who have used online essay mills before!

As mentioned in my previous blogs, when done right, social media has proven itself to be a fantastic tool for generating conversation, and obtaining a valuable source of consumer feedback. With this in mind, organisations are beginning to realize the huge potential social media holds for facilitating market research.

Back in the day, organisations used to rely on focus groups, research and trend analysis to conduct market research, but now, with access to social media, life has become a lot simpler.

 While some larger organisations are using social media as just one avenue in their market research campaign, other smaller companies, with limited resources, are relying heavily on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as cost effective ways to conduct market research. 

According to Southern (2012), one of the most important ways to collect consumer research online is to become an active listener. How does one do that?

>Connect with your consumers on Facebook and Twitter to see what they are saying

>Follow the discussion-taking place on your page, and

>Check out other Facebook pages in your industry to see what’s being said. All of the information is widely available, it just needs to be sought after.

Another essential tool in market research involves generating discussion with consumers to gather information regarding a specific product/service. MAC Cosmetics used this technique when deciding on which shades of discontinued lipglass to bring back. Instead of conducting extensive focus groups, which can often be timely and expensive, MAC went online to the source and asked their social media fans to vote. By doing this, they were able to gather large amounts of data, quickly and cheaply, on which colours were favorites, and please the majority of their consumers by bringing back the most voted shade.

There is no doubt organisations can benefit from social media as a market research tool. It is a fantastic platform to gather data for an organisation, with numerous opportunities to gain “valuable insight into [the] industry and [the] target market.”

 

 

 

 

In last week’s e-marketing lecture, I was shocked to learn that advertisers only have to pay their fee when consumers express interest by clicking on their ad or liking their Facebook ad. It got me thinking, are most people aware of this fact? And if so, are there people out there who keep hitting their mouse buttons to purposely increase advertising costs for businesses?

The answer in yes, and in the case of Facebook, they’re known as ‘Like sellers’. These Like sellers create fake accounts that click on Facebook ads and Like campaigns, in order to significantly drive the company’s ad costs. For businesses advertising on Facebook, this has become very expensive.

Luckily Facebook are onto these Like sellers, and say they are ‘doing more to fight likes from fake accounts”. After complaints by companies that their Likes have been fraudulently boosted with fake accounts, Facebook have announced they will be implementing “newly improved automated efforts [that] will remove those Likes gained by malware, compromised accounts, deceived users, or purchased bulk Likes”.

It will be interesting to see how this new strategy will work out, and whether Like sellers will find a new way of increasing advertising costs for businesses.

My last post discussed the importance for organisations to remove their negative perceptions of social media, and instead see it as a powerful communication tool and a great source of consumer feedback. But what happens when the consumer feedback turns nasty?

Companies feeling the heat from social media are beginning to question whether the benefits of being on social media websites such as Facebook, actually outweigh the risks, or whether the perceived lack of control is too dangerous.

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Retail chainstore Target is the latest company to come under fire, after a Port Macquarie primary school teacher, Ana Amini, complained the retailer was selling clothing that made young girls ‘look like tramps’. The Facebook comment attracted more than 59,000 ‘likes’ and over 30,000 comments.

This is a prime example of how the power shift between companies and consumers has led marketers to question their online presence. So why must these company’s persist?

According to experts, organisations can’t afford not to be involved in social media, especially large-scale brands such as Target. It is important to know what is being said about your brand and who is saying it, and social media provides the perfect opportunity to communicate with customers in an open environment. Those organisations avoiding social media in the hope to reduce negative criticism are forgetting that criticism exists regardless, and by not getting involved, they are choosing to ignore a huge source of feedback.

With the open, transparent nature of social media opening a door to widespread critism, it is important organisations know how to handle negative criticism from consumers. It is how they go about handling it that will define people’s perceptions of that brand or company.

Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, believes approaching the situation head-on is the best way. So many brands go internal and don’t say anything on social media at all, but Zuckerberg says it’s important to make it a “collaborative approach” with people instead of shutting down or turning it into a defensive thing. ”If someone takes the time out of their day to actually go to your page and write something, even if it’s mean, they’re passionate about your brand and they are one inch away from loving you.”

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So for the companies out there remaining outsiders of social media in fear of getting trumped by damaging comments, don’t be. Get involved, take precautions, and when responding to negative feedback, always use a constructive approach, because sometimes it’s the haters that will turn into your most passionate brand advocates.

It’s been established that with the introduction of Web 2.0, one-way communication has become a thing of the past. Consumers now hold the ultimate power, with the ability to share their thoughts and opinions about a product, service, or company, without even moving from in front of their computer screens.

In my previous post I posed the question: how are organisations coping? Will they turn a blind eye to Web 2.0? Or will they man up and strive to take advantage of this new and exciting form of communication.

This blog will aim to uncover why some corporation’s are reluctant to break into the social media bubble, and the implications involved with remaining an outsider of Web 2.0.

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Why the resistance to change?

It shouldn’t come as such a surprise that some corporations are having a hard time adjusting to the new set of dynamics that follow widespread social media use.

Social networking is essentially horizontal and open, in contrast to that of the traditional social architecture of corporations being vertical and closed. For the corporations accustomed to rigid hierarchies and top down management, the idea of power moving downwards towards employees and consumers is a scary one.

According to C.K Prahalad, the introduction of social media means “Consumers are increasingly engaging themselves in an active and explicit dialogue with manufacturers of products and services.” But the problem for corporations is that they no longer hold control over the dialogue. Consumers have the freedom to actively seek out information about an organisation, and initiate discussion about it, demonstrating that “They have moved out of the audience and onto the stage.”

Implications

Whilst these companies might not want to believe it, sooner or later, adopting Web 2.0 won’t just be an annoying noise in the background, but rather, a crucial step in determining the success or failure of the company’s communication strategy.

Rather than view Web 2.0 in a negative light, companies should see it as an opportunity to connect with their consumers. Companies failing to engage in widespread social media use, are missing out on the use of a powerful communication tool, and overlooking a great source of consumer feedback.

It’s time for the organisations to drive this change, by breaking into the social media bubble and joining their consumers in using the shiny new tools of Web 2.0.

Gone are the days of one-way communication, where organisations held the ultimate control over what information they released to the mass market.

Say hello to Web 2.0.

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A world where publics and organisations now exist on the same level, with consumers having gained a lot more control, greater access to information, and a lot more say in what they choose to read.

In short, welcome to the world of Social Media.

Social media Statistics:

-Each week on Facebook more than 3.5 billion pieces of content are shared

-Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day

-YouTube generates 92 billion page views per month

-People upload 3,000 images to Flickr every minute

Through social media use, a two-way communication system has evolved. People are taking it upon themselves to communicate and share information with others, resulting in a much faster transmission of information around the globe.

In such a fast paced society, the question is, how are organisations keeping up?

The key is being aware and up to date, honest and open, and responsive to what’s happening, without it being in their control.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it”.Erik qualman

My question to you, are organisations making the most of this opportunity? Or is widespread social media use getting the better of them?

Who here has heard about the recent debacle involving retail chain-store Target stocking MAC cosmetics at 40% off their original prices? 

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If you are nodding your head right now, then tell me this…What was your initial reaction? Mine was one of utter disbelief. MAC cosmetics pride themselves on being a high end brand, selling quality products from their MAC counters and free-standing MAC-pro stores, with the experience and expertise of trained MAC makeup artists at hand. So naturally i was confused as to why they would risk losing their exclusivity by stocking in Target. Napoleon made that move years ago resulting in a severely reduced brand value. 

My first step into finding out more? The internet of course. I jumped online straight away and googled “MAC Cosmetics in Target”, and was immediately met with a number of forums discussing the latest controversy. The forums informed me that in fact it was not a decision made by MAC, but rather a risky move by Target to unofficially stock MAC products sourced by a domestic overseas wholesaler. The forums posted official statements made by both Target and MAC, helping me to further form my opinion on the issue.

Next i jumped on the MAC Facebook page, expecting to find multiple comments from disgruntled customers searching for answers, but instead was met with absolutely no information regarding the issue. This confused me. I thought MAC would definitely have made use of their social media platforms to inform their consumers of the current situation, but it seems they were keeping things on the quite side. I then jumped on the Target Facebook page and found the same thing, no information! 

It got me thinking, why haven’t either organisations made use of their social media platforms as a way of connecting with their consumers during this time of confusion? Maybe they are waiting for the issue to hit the news before they choose to take action via social media. Either way, i will definitely be taking note on both organisations actions in the next few weeks. 

When browsing through a magazine over the weekend, i came across an article on pop-up stores. The idea of this latest trend is to “Appear with little notice, build buzz around a product or brand and then disappear as suddenly as they materialised”. Pop-up stores can be based around anything from art galleries and fashion stores, to restaurants, sales and boutique events,and can be ‘popped’ up anytime, anywhere, in city lanes, old buildings, and even shipping containers.

The article talks about the use of social media as a primary advertising medium for the pop-up stores, and it got me thinking, is this a strategic approach to marketing, or is it missing a large potential market segment?

By relying solely on social media to advertise, owners are focusing entirely on a market made up of social media users. Which leads me to my second question, have we reached a point where such a high percentage of the population are connecting through social media, that those who aren’t are no longer the focus for the marketing dollar? There is no doubt that in today’s world, social media marketing is a necessity, but does this mean traditional marketing should be scrapped?

As i pondered this question over the weekend, I started to think, maybe the marketers of these pop up stores feel that their entire target market lies within this population of social media users, and therefore attracting others via traditional marketing is a waste of time and money. Part of what makes pop up stores so exciting, is that event details are limited and are released with little notice, which in turn creates hype, generates word of mouth, and gets people intrigued. If marketers chose to advertise the pop up stores through a number of channels, maybe they would be running the risk of losing their exclusivity?

I’ve come to the conclusion that whilst advertising solely through social media might seem new and risky, at the end of the day, marketing is all about attracting the target market for your product, service and brand, in the best way possible.