Going viral- a possible outcome, not a tactic

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Wanting to go viral is the dream of all businesses pursuing marketing strategies. This is understandable, viral marketing can enable firms to engage with customers and promote their brand with low costs and high returns (awareness). Kaplan & Haenlein describe viral marketing as electronic word of mouth– in many ways this is an accurate description, especially due to the nature in which the viral content is shared to friends, often via social media. Kaplan & Haenlein have outlined five pieces of advice for spreading a virus including:

  • highly provocative and edgy messages are a tricky business

This tip is imperative for firms considering the development of viral campaigns. This is because businesses need to understand that they have little control over how their campaigns will be received.

Remember that time Apple and U2 collaborated and forced their unwanted album Songs of Innocence  into all of our playlists *shudders*. While the campaign went viral by force, half a billion people recieved the ‘gift’,  it is estimated that only 1 in 6 chose to ‘experience’ the album and accept Apple’s generosity. Apple called it the biggest album launch in history, however it quickly became the most deleted album in history.  The campaign cost several hundred million dollars and was overwhelmingly considered an epic marketing fail, with Apple called to make a removal button to enable users to easily delete the album. Celebrities and users took to social media to vent their frustrations with some hilarious results:tyler-the-creator-tweets.jpgU2-tweet.png

 

Consumers felt their privacy was invaded and others complained the album took up the storage on the device and was difficult to delete. The campaign was a PR disaster with music critics reporting that forcing the album on to consumers hindered the albums popularity more than it helped.

The Apple/ U2 album case shows that although a viral marketing strategy may achieve a wide audience, its success is purely up to consumer opinion, and sometimes its failure can be brutal.

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So, What are your feelings about businesses pursuing ‘viral’ marketing campaigns? How did you feel about the U2 and Apple’s gift to your iTunes playlist?

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The In’s and Out’s of Search Engine Marketing

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The strategies to standing out in search engine results

Employing coy marketing techniques may be beneficial and strategic when communicating with unsuspecting consumers,  but there is nothing more vital than being easily found when a consumer comes searching for you and your products.

Although your brand may be listed on a search engine online, this is not merely enough- your place on the list of a relevant search is essential to your success.  It was found in a recent study that 90% of online users rarely look beyond the first 3 search pages.

So how do you get your brand on those first 3 pages?

There are two strategies with varying levels of success and costs; Search engine optimisation (SEO) and paid placements (PP).

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Involves increasing and improving the keywords, tags, content and links associated with your site to make them more relevant for search-engine searches. This ensures the search engine’s algorithm provides the site a higher score than competitor sites and prioritises it in the search results list.

It has been found that 60-86% of online users prefer to click on these links in the search list (the editorial section) rather than ad links (paid placements). While it may appear that SEO programs are more effective in generating traffic, they may be very costly and time consuming, there is no guarantee that your site will make it in the top three pages. SEO services can charge between $499 to $40,000 a month and work to research and create the appropriate content, keywords and strategies. Despite this investment, it can take up to 120 days before results are visible and  there is very little control and the success of your site’s ranking is largely out of your hands.

Paid Placements

Involves paying search engine for a placement in the advertising section on a search results page.  There is certainly more control with paid placements as it can guarantee visibility at the top of common related search result pages. While this would appear to generate a nice return on investment, only 14-40% of online users will click on sponsored links rather than editorial search links. This is because consumers consider this sponsored section less trustworthy, and would prefer to click on the actual search results.

Do I really need to worry about SEM?

Well, that depends. If your market is filled with customers that are known to enjoy spending their time browsing sites (such as women’s clothing sites) or a niche market with few online competitors (such as vintage cameras sites), you may not need to. However, if your market is highly saturated with other online competitors with similar products, the value of the product is low or customers are disinterested spending their time browsing the products, SEM may be a necessary investment to attract these customers.

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What do you think? What is the most effective SEM strategy, SEO or PP?

The Internet of Things: A whole new world of convenience or another stalker?

The Internet of Things is a terribly obscure term to describe something that is so familiar to us all now; It is the integration and network of physical items with technology such as smart phones, watches and televisions. We live in a world where a phone can unlock a door, monitor our pet’s health and tell our coffee machine to make us a long black.

Although I experience many positive instances of the Internet of Things throughout my day currently, like most people, initially I was very apprehensive. In my most memorable experience, there was a mix of amazement and panic. It was when I had purchased a new smartphone and started using Google Maps. After about two weeks of using the device, I was prompted with a notification, “It will take you 15 minutes to drive home with current traffic”. WHAT?!! HOW DOES IT KNOW WHERE I LIVE?! I had not provided the location of my house, work or university but over the course of those weeks it had recognised my common whereabouts through my mundane routine. Although I was living a fairly boring life, I thought how this would affect people doing some pretty cheeky things. The concept of this convenience would be lost if cheaters were prompted with a notification of the travel time to some scandalous location in front of their partner.

Since then however, using The Internet of Things has become a more familiar and accepted concept. I have grown to love and adopted more instances of the Internet of Things into my own life- I am even the owner of Apple Watch.

Karl Fogel argues that wearable technology will one day be a ridiculed fad- akin to the calculator watches of the 1970s. Maybe I am biased but I have to disagree. Those calculator watches serve a very limited purpose that does little to impact every everyday errand. Having Siri organise my life, remind me of events, check my heart rate, tell me where the closest coffee is, call/ text my friends and play some Kanye West (all whilst I’m driving to uni- shhhh..what? who said that?) helps me be more productive and efficient with very little effort.

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Consolidating marketing communications with a process that is convenient and aides the organisation of daily tasks is greatly beneficial and valuable to consumers. Marketing opportunities arise as more people adopt and further integrate the Internet of Things in their everyday lives. Similarly to the points made in the previous readings about mobile marketing, the Internet of Things can provide an opportunity for marketers to communicate with customers in a timely and location based manner. As the Internet of Things continues to evolve and becomes more widespread, more consumers will embrace the integration and the trade off between privacy (as long as information is obtained legally and responsibly) and convenience will not be as daunting…. because we’re all just a littttle bit lazy.

 

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Every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you..

I’m not sure about how everyone else is feeling but Andreas Kaplan’s article ‘If you love something, let it go mobile: Mobile marketing and mobile social media‘ has left me feeling a little creeped out. Since reading the article I’ve gone through my phone and checked my privacy and location settings. Whilst modern marketing tactics (like those involved in mobile marketing) help streamline and target the most relevant and receptive audiences, the privacy and integrity of consumers is potentially compromised.

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How I imagine mobile marketers. (Credit: giphy.com)

 

Kaplan briefly notes the issues of security and privacy in mobile marketing and references the site PleaseRobMe.com, in which users of site are provided live updates of social media users that have left their homes. I investigated the site (and found it was still up and running) and other related reviews and articles. Despite the site’s questionable name, the creators of PleaseRobMe.com deny that they are encouraging the burglary of homes and instead state that they are merely “raising awareness about sharing” and their goal is to “have people think about how they use services like Foursquare, Brightkite, Google Buzz etc“. Whilst I question the site’s principles, I’ve certainly been scared out of oversharing.

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PleaseRobMe.com, raising awareness of privacy through exploiting and endangering social media users.

 

Kaplan has identified ‘The 4 I’s of mobile social marketing’ (Individualise, Involve, Integrate and Initiate) that aims to direct marketers to create more engaging, less intrusive mobile marketing strategies. Although this advice is greatly beneficial to marketers and encourages more imaginative and appealing campaigns, further points should be added to ensure consumers don’t feel stalked.

The 4 concepts outlined in Entrepreneur.com‘s  article a “How Not to Get Sued When you Start Mobile Marketing” are a good starting point. The 4 points: Choice; Transparency; Control; and Security ensure marketers abide by Privacy Laws when collecting data and enable consumers to opt-out of the campaigns easily. It is a part of the Spam Act 2003, that all commercial messages must contain an unsubscribe link. However, even in my own experiences with mobile marketing, the option to opt out is only sometimes provided and often made difficult to navigate and complete. It’s quite a sneaky strategy and I believe it reflects poorly on the brand.

This weeks reading has certainly made me question the integrity of the brands I engage with through my phone. Our smartphones are personal devices, filled with personal details and private information. The access and use of this information should be done legally (obviously), and be handled with respect.

How open is your phone’s privacy settings? Do I sound like some psycho with a tin hat or are you concerned too?

— Psycho with Tin Hat

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Analytics: Online Marketing’s Necessary Evil

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“Analytics”- is there a more terrifying, soulless word?

Trawling through statistics may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it is essential for a successful online marketing plan. Businesses who fail to analyse their audiences miss the opportunity to better understand their customers and the market strategies that may or may not be working. Such inefficiency can result in great loss in resources as businesses are essentially ‘cold-calling’ potential customers.

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Failing to recognise appropriate demographics and strategy performance  can result in ineffective, expensive marketing attempts.

The statistics and techniques that assist in measuring the of efficiency and effectiveness of online marketing strategies are called “metrics“.  Seemingly mundane data such as pages per visit,  visits per visitor, top pages and and the referring URL can be an invaluable resource for online businesses. With this information businesses can easily identify why customers have visited their site, what content they have looked at, the customer’s satisfaction with the site/ contents and the revenue gained by these customers. Businesses can analyse these metrics and determine whether goals have been met and take corrective action if strategies aren’t working. This enables businesses to more accurately streamline their content, marketing strategies and service to greater appeal to potential and current customers.

Sites such as YouTube and Google Analytics can help marketers track metrics and assist brands to better engage with customers.

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BlendTec’s YouTube page statistics can help them identify what viewers prefer watching-     Is blending the latest technology more popular than blending glowsticks?

So what can these statistics show you?

Metric: What it indicates:
Pages per visit (PPV) PPV provides a fairly accurate indicator of customer’s engagement with the site. Calculated by number of page views/ number of visitors. Higher PPV indicates that customer’s enjoy and are interested in the content available.
Visits per visitor (VPV) VPV indicates the number of times a customer will return to a site. Calculated by the number of visits/ number of visitors to the site. VPV may help marketers identify the type of relationship certain customers have with the site.
Top pages Marketers that are aware of what pages are most popular can tailor future content to align with these subjects.
Entry and exit pages Enables marketers to identify the pages in which users entered the site and the pages in which users left the site. Marketers can utilise this data by continuing to generate content similar to the entry pages and work to improve the exit pages.
Referring URL Assists in identifying the sites that linked the business’s site to users. Marketers can therefore identify the sites that attract customers and direct more resources to the sites that generate greater returns.

 

 

Can modern day marketers get by without analysing data about their audiences?  Leave a comment!

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The Deadly Sins of Social Media Marketing

After reading through Kaplan & Haenlein’s article citing Ten pieces of advice for companies deciding to use Social Media, I found myself thinking of some recent social media marketing fails by several brands and how social media has changed since their article was published in 2010. Social media usage has changed with a 2015 report finding that 49% of Australian social network users access their account at least once a day, up from 30% in 2011.  Several issues and dilemmas for businesses who use social media have also arisen in recent years. The pressure to develop an online presence has seen many businesses make many misguided attempts at social media engagement.  Inspired by the recent changes to social media and the social media fails, I have revised Kaplan & Haenlein’s list of advice for companies and added two other warnings.

1. Insensitive and Uninformed

Social media platforms have provided businesses an unprecedented outlet to communicate instantly with consumers about complaints and crises identity on a uniquely personal level; it has the power to positively transform or destroy perceptions of a brand and relationships.

Kaplan & Haenlein prompts businesses to be unprofessional; engaging with customers through informal responses and memes can create a fun and personable brand image for businesses.

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Minor customer concerns can be addressed promptly in a nonchalant manner, further strengthening the brand’s relationships with its consumers. Using unprofessional, informal and mocking responses when managing crises and serious complaints as can however have severe consequences; brand’s can be seen as insensitive and indifferent to legitimate concerns. There are several recent instances where businesses have received widespread condemnation for joking responses to customer complaints.

Telstra recently experienced backlash for their indifferent and mocking responses to customers concerns regarding a widespread service outage. Customers in major capital cities lost service for several hours and contacted Telstra’s social media sites for an update on a fix. Their response “nah we just flicked the off switch as a bit of fun ;p” left a lot to be desired, further angering customers and making national headlines.

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2. Buying Fake Followers

Drawing on Kaplan & Haenlein advice about the importance of honesty, I considered the issues that have arisen recently with brands buying fake followers on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. The “follower economy” enables businesses to purchase illegitimate followers for as little as $5 per 1000 followers. The practice is surprising popular, in late 2014, Instagram culled millions of fake accounts with some businesses and celebrities losing more than half their number of followers overnight.  Paying for followers may be a convenient way of instantly  developing the appearance of online popularity, but its benefits are largely superficial. Purchased fake followers are inactive accounts that are often bots. They will not engage with the business or participate in marketing strategies.

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Using fake followers is also morally wrong; fake followers are known to spam brand’s genuine, organic followers. Technology savvy consumers are aware of these inorganic methods and are skeptical of businesses that grow their number of followers suspiciously rapidly. Fake followers can therefore diminish a brand’s reputation and credibility and thus leave businesses marketing strategy worse off.

 


So, what do you think? What do you believe social media marketing deadliest sins are? What is your opinion of fake followers? Leave a Comment!