Since I started thinking about a career in marketing, I have found myself judging virtually every advertisement that has crossed my path. While it’s admittedly easy to critique a campaign when you aren’t the one who had to do all the grunt work from inception to release, I find myself doing more than the occasional eyebrow raise at more than the occasional promotion.
So, with spring finally starting to show itself, it is with optimistic appreciation I write this weeks blog on Dentyne Ice’s April Fools’ Day gimmick. When I logged onto my Facebook April 1st, I saw a sponsored Dentyne Ice page, promoting a new kissing app. Normally, that kind of cohesion between technology and person wouldn’t be something I’d pay attention to, but as I’m currently enrolled in a Mobile Media course I decided to check it out. However, when I clicked on the information about the app for iPhone, I was redirected to a Google search on April Fools.
I think that I enjoyed Dentyne’s gimmick because it exercised two accounts of acting in a timely fashion. The first is obvious. Tapping into the light-hearted nature of the “holiday” shows a playful side. I think that making the consumer work for the joke by clicking the link was a cool way of making them feel as if they’ve just been directly interacted with in the form of a joke. Secondly, I think the timing for this joke was right because of the rapid rate in which new apps are rolling out. I think rooting their humour within a market trend was a clever way of burying the lead.
All in all, I thought Dentyne’s April Fools’ Day post was funny and well done.
In the marketplace, gamifcation within business is generally thought of as a way for real businesses to better access the market. However, the expansion of virtual worlds has lead to the line becoming blurred with business’ between virtual life and reality. The example that I recall from a couple years back that best explains this comes from online “reality” Second Life. Second Line is an online virtual reality, which provides its users to interact with other real individuals from various points in the world. Much like reality, Second Life has the ability to be adapted by those who inhabit it. The currency within Second Life, Linden Dollars, is transferable to U.S. dollars.
In 2006, Second Life participant Anshe Chung became the first individual to ever make a million dollars on Second Life. Not content with merely cashing in her virtual chips for a real fortune, Ailin Graef (the individual behind Chung’s avatar) developed a real-world “spinoff” corporation. Naturally, the questions which arose in popular discourse were how credible was this business.
The way I choose to answer that question is by examining what a business does. The end goal of all businesses is to make money. While some may argue that some businesses exist because the CEOs or powers that be genuinely believe that their business makes the world a better place, the fact of the matter still remains that these businesses would not be able to be successful were it not for their intake of money. Therefore, questioning the legitimacy of this business is just the same as questioning the legitimacy of a million dollars.
In sum, I think it is interesting to think about that way that virtual worlds have allowed businesses to expand into gamification, and in return for “gaming” to turn into business.
With an increasing amount of companies becoming aware of the importance of making their business platforms accessible to mobile consumers, there has been a lot of talk about how this is changing the dynamic between companies and clients. In my opinion, to those of us who have been immersed in the world of smart phones for some time now, it isn’t really breaking news that the marketplace has relocated itself into the palm of your hand.
Instead, what I think is interesting and less talked about is the way that the social media platforms which business are utilizing to become more in touch with their consumers are in turn turning some of their consumers into businesses of their own. One of the cover stories in the latest edition of Vogue magazine read, “Selfie-Made Kate Upton And The Rise Of The Social-Media Supermodel.” With the ability for content to be shared and become viral over social-media, more and more we are seeing individuals, such as Kate Upton, who have used Instagram, Youtube, or something of the sort in order to create a name for themselves and become famous online to the point where it translates into offline fame as well.
Businesses have played a substantial role in ensuring that this is a trend which keeps going. It is now commonplace to see a user on Instagram with a few hundred thousand followers who has included in their Instagram Bio a way for companies to direct business inquires. In this respect, these individuals are no longer just consumers themselves, but they have also been turned into a popular commodity which businesses are smart enough to attempt to link themselves too .
In January of 2013, HMV endured a little humiliation in order to fully understand the importance of social media. The company, which had been enduring economic hardships as a result of more and more people getting their music online, was dealt another blow at the hands of the internet when they fired an employee who had access to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The issue was made public when the employee, who was later identified as Twitter user Poppy Rose, began live tweeting the lay-off of herself and what she stated to be “over 60 other HMV employee’s.” Ms. Rose began her public humiliation of HMV with a sarcastically shot off “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fire! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring.” As a savy social media user, Poppy continued the same hashtag throughout all of her live tweets about the firing, and it wasn’t long until the hashtag was trending on Twitter. To make matters worse, while the disgruntled Poppy still had control of HMV’s Twitter she shared that she, “Just overheard [HMV’s] Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?’”
While the tweets were taken down shortly after they were posted, the hashtag had allowed the prior messages to be easily grouped and many twitter users had already taken screenshots and were sharing the content. Despite the fact that the outburst had garnered international attention, HMV declined to comment on the Twitter scandal, and instead only addressed the necessity of the employee lay-offs. In my opinion, that’s just too little, too late in relation to crisis control – once everyone has already seen your dirty laundry, they may as well see you clean it too.
The lesson to be learned from HMV is a simple one, ensure you have someone with the company’s best interests at the control of your social media, and if that’s about to change, make sure you change the passwords while they’re still on your side.
In this week’s blog, I plan on focusing on how search engine optimization (SEO), while often crucial, can be occasionally detrimental to a company. As of 2011, 59% of all adult internet users were utilizing search engines, and the number was growing on a daily basis. In 2014, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to the internet savvy and even to the occasional user that the answer for most of our online questions are found within Google or our search engines of choice. So, for companies to be attempting to optimize their advertising opportunities where their demographics are looking is only logical. However, sometimes no matter how well thought out an online strategy may be, it can occasionally be hijacked. Earlier this year, I was introduced to the story of how Walmart had a recent marketing campaign, which attempted to boost their Facebook presence, go hysterically array. In short, Walmart held a contest for American cities which had a Walmart, and the winning city was to win an exclusive concert with Pitbull as the musical guest. However, two influential internet users decided that this was an opportunity to send Pitbull to the smallest Walmart, located in Kodiak, Alaska, and started the hashtag #exilePitbull. The campaign hijack was successful, and Pitbull performed in Kodiak. To see just how shutdown Walmart’s campaign efforts were, I typed “Walmart Pitbull” into Google and looked at the results. As you can see in the screenshot I included, 4 out of the 5 first results which show up relate to the prank, and not the contest directly. As the SEO guide I referred to earlier stated, results appearing in 5th order and below receive only 2% of all click through traffic. As a result, the Walmart campaign featuring Pitbull is an example of a company that, in this instance at least, would not benefit from a keyword search.
Last week, I discussed the importance of being able to effectively utilize an array of social media platforms in order to achieve marketing goals. This week, a series of advertisements recently launched by American Eagles intimates subdivision Aerie caught my attention for their incorporation of social media into the company’s new campaign. The brand, which has in the past targeted young women up to the college age, is currently promoting a line of photos which display the caption #aeriereal. The photos from this campaign have come with a disclaimer from the company that none of the women who are featured in the photos have been digitally retouched. Aerie’s tagline for the campaign, the real you is sexy, aims to inform Aerie consumers that they, like the models, have natural beauty.
In order to optimize this campaign, the Aerie website encourages consumers to share their photos to Instagram and Twitter along with the tag #aeriereal. Aerie’s website even offers a photo gallery of the images which were uploaded and accompanied by the hashtag. I think this is a good example of a company who is aware of what is important to their consumers.The #aeriereal campaign appears to be continuing on the mentality behind the wildly popular Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, and focusing it on a younger demographic.
The amount of photos which have been equipped with #aeriereal speak to the success of the campaign. However, in addition to choosing the right message for their audience, Aerie very clearly knew which platforms to utilize as well. As the Pew Report for 2013 proves, women are more frequent on social media then men, and Aerie’s target demographic is the group most involved in social media. Aerie was able to put a fresh spin on a proven marketing message, and combined it with the right platforms to create a campaign which has caught the attention of their target audience and beyond.
Fred Cavazza’s social media categorization gets broken down into four parts, publishing, sharing, networking and discussing. What I like about the approach Cavazza took is that he acknowledged that social media can, and is, utilized to fulfill more specific goals than “connecting.” I think that Cavazza’s idea to break the plethora of social media sites into their specific social goals is useful for organizations to take note of when considering what social tools they use.
Cavazza’s research into the social media tools most used by brands shows that many of the tools which have attained popularity in the business world fall under the category of “sharing” (ie. Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram). Undoubtedly, the aforementioned platforms are among the heavy-hitters in the social media realm. However, this does not mean that organizations should not be taking the time to disseminate their brands throughout social tools which belong to some of the other categories Cavazza referenced. Perhaps trying to branch out into less popular social medias is too much, too soon for the companies that have just started acknowledging the importance of a social media presence. However, it is important for organizations to understand that in addition to the fact that there are substantial benefits for a brand that affiliates itself with social media, the overhead costs are low. As a result, why wouldn’t a brand want to be more involved in branches of social media such as “discussing” and “networking.” The opportunity to have open conversations in a relaxed environment with those who are directly engaged with your product, helps build consumer relationships. This would provide a contrast to the current “sharing” platforms, which often entail a brand posting social media friendly advertisements, and leaving little room for conversation.
This is why, in my opinion, the new generations entering the workforce will make a substantial difference on the consumer-company relationship. The more comfortable an employee is at creating content, and openly engaging with consumers, the more a company will be able to get out of their social media outlets.