Content Communities for Business

Content communities are all the rage lately, which makes it even more important for business owners to implement them into their social media marketing plans. Websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Flickr, Wanelo, SlideShare, etc. are great because they are both business- and user-generated, which creates a perfect platform for word-of-mouth marketing when customers re-post your content.

 

For the company I have partnered with, 27th Star Co., we have created a Pinterest board for their Summer 2017 line. This line includes a mixture of brand-new items and the classics which have been either re-designed or expanded with more color/pattern options.

When it came to choosing content community platforms, Pinterest was our first choice for the simple fact that it’s wildly popular. In fact, Pinterest recently boasted that there are over 150 Million monthly active users. Pinterest is also awesome because you can upload images and links to videos with captions and hashtags, all while being categorized and organized appropriately.

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Another content community we chose to use was Flickr. Flickr is owned by Yahoo! and has 122 million users, as of November 2016. Flickr is not only extremely easy to use but it’s easy to share, as well. 27th is currently working on expanding and partnering with other retailers, so now 27th Star Co. plans to use Flickr as a supplementary portfolio to their website. Potential retailers can be directed to 27th’s Flickr and get many more photos of products and other promotional materials in order to get a better idea of what 27th Star is all about. You can view 27th’s Flickr album here.

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27th Star is utilizing our content community outreach as a way to increase brand awareness and ultimately drive traffic to 27th Star Co.’s site. These platforms help make sure as many people as possible are able to see all of the awesome goods, whether that be direct customers or potential business partners. Both of these platforms are great because they allow us as the business owners and marketers to produce our content our way and in our own “language” so to speak, so that our brand identity is perceived as ideally as possible. Plus, it’s where everyone is heading! We’ve all heard the tip to follow where the people are over and over, but it’s so true. In order to optimize your marketing efforts, follow the herd and get as much exposure as possible, and these content community platforms are where the herd is at the moment.

 

 

Proximity Marketing

What is proximity marketing? To put it simply, proximity marketing is also known as location-based advertising. It is enabled via electronic devices equipped with bluetooth, wifi, GPS, etc. and proximity-based services such as participating social media channels (FourSquare, Facebook Check-Ins, etc.) and business’ apps.

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photo source

 

There are many benefits to using proximity marketing and proximity marketing channels, including but not limited to:

  • Customers are already on their phones, why not push an ad directly to them?
  • Rewards/Loyalty points for frequent purchases and visits
  • Immediately redeemable coupons and discount codes
  • Customer check-ins are free publicity
  • Location-based services are not only based on an address, but even can be tracked down to a certain location within a store, making sure to be specific to customers’ needs
  • Beacons have a much higher percentage of CTRs. “The average click through rate (CTR) for a Facebook ad is 0.119%, according to a recent Wordstream report…The average click through rate (CTR) for beacon based push notifications can be as high as 80%, according to the data published by push notification technologist Kahuna” (Thomas)
  • Analytics are able to measure which offers, times of day, frequencies, etc. are successful

 

Along with mobile devices, the increasing popularity of smart watches and other wearable devices are making proximity marketing tactics even more important. These allow for yet another way to get your customer’s attention; No need to worry about whether your customer left their phone at home/in the car, if their phone is tucked away in a pocket/purse, or even in silent mode. Providing notifications to a wearable device means your business can follow them, in a non-creepy way of course… With all this competition for your customers attention, that only makes the ad space on their phones and on their wrists more desirable for marketers. Pretty soon, beacons and other location-based ads are going to be more expensive and of higher production value. In fact, “According to market research company, Research and Markets, the market for proximity marketing is expected to be valued at USD 52.46 billion by 2022” (Pavithra 2016). Retailers are currently at the front of the race, but tech developers are coming up quickly.

 

One example of myself taking advantage of a location-based advertising strategy is with Target stores. Every time I’m approaching a Target location, my phone automatically picks up on it and triggers their Cartwheel app to appear on my lock screen. From there, I am able to open it up and see all of the latest deals and promotions they have to offer, then load them onto a barcode that gets scanned at checkout. If you love shopping at Target like I do, I highly recommend downloading their app.

 

My client, 27th Star Co., is a small online retailer, so location-based advertising is not the same for them as with brick-and-mortar stores. However, if and when they do open up a physical location, I would highly recommend utilizing a beacon-promoximity marketing combo to increase sales. Customers could receive notifications highlighting any sales or promotions when nearby, and they could even get rewards for visiting the shop often, too.

 

 


SOURCES:

Babu, Pavithra. “Best of Beacons this Week: Proximity Marketing Market will be Worth $52.46 Billion by 2022 and more.” Beaconstac. N.p., 14 Oct. 2016. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

Thomas, Luke. “Benefits of Proximity Marketing.” BeaconSage. n.p., n.d.,Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

 

 

 

Snapchat for Business

social-lg                                                                                                                                          photo: Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social networks. I would say that it’s certainly in a business’ best interest to hop onboard with the snapchat obsession to use it to their advantage. Some ideas for businesses to use snapchat are:

  • Get your own Geofilter. This is great for users to e able to tag their location when they visit (if you have a physical location)
  • Use it as a focus group. Ask questions on your story and measure responses/outcomes by providing calls-to-action such as “screenshot this photo if you want this option!”, for example.
  • Go Behind The Scenes. Show customers a look into your workplace, a sneak peak of new items, etc. to make them feel like they know you a little better.
  • Give exclusive offers. Give out promo codes and other deals on your snapchat story. It’ll be time-sensitive and exclusive to those who follow you!

 

I have partnered with a company, 27th Star Co., to create a Snapchat story for them (follow them at: the27thstarco). We decided that we were going to go the “behind the scenes” route and give a sneak peak at some items that were being added to the shop soon. This is great because we want to build some anticipation for the shop and get people excited to visit and buy some items. When customers get a sneak peak, this makes them feel special and like they’re in on a secret. They feel included. Who doesn’t like that? Even big-budget companies love to give followers a look at “the man behind the curtain”, so to speak. Jessica Maslin, directing partner at DayDream Cinema, a multimedia marketing agency, says, “Snapchat is a glimpse into the lifestyle of your company.” It’s another way to give your company more personality and a taste of the essence behind the brand.

27th Star’s snapchat story looked like this:

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Overall, i’m a big fan of snapchat. I use it both personally and professionally, and it’s a blast every time! I think it’s important for companies to not only use it, but also know how they can use it properly: to build a brand identity and boost traffic/sales.

The platform itself is so fun and genius because of the time-sensitive nature. This creates excitement and urgency and gets people to log on often. Also, Snapchat has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other, because it allows people to let their guard down and be a bit more carefree since nothing is permanent.

 

A Blog about Blogs

Blogs are a great for both personal and professional reasons. They’re cost-efficient and easy to start. Professionally, blogs are an amazing way for a company/brand to get more personal and give a voice to themselves.

Let’s compare two types of blogs, both small and large scale.

 

1. Adderall and Compliments

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Adderall and Compliments is a blog run by comedian and writer, Annabelle DeSisto. This blog is for recreational purposes, as it is more of a side-project for her and a way to share her opinions on her favorite TV shows, past-times, and to promote her Podcast. She also posts more sporadically instead of being more structured or scheduled.

What makes her blog unique is her voice, and her lack of filter. She is not afraid to tell her readers how she really feels about certain characters on TV, political issues, etc. She doesn’t hold back and she uses this blog as a platform to share her views, whether you agree or not. In turn, this is also a reflection of her “Adderall and Compliments” brand, which is all about women who share the same love for pop culture and standing up for themselves, with a comedic twist. Plus, a large part of her brand is her Podcast (also named Adderall and Compliments), which is heavily promoted on the blog.

Most people find the blog through Annabelle’s podcast, or when Annabelle is a guest on another person’s podcast. Her blog is also promoted by other popular lifestyle/recreational blog(ger)s such as The Skinny Confidential, The Bitch Bible, and Stassi Schroeder, to name a few.

Some aspects of Adderall and Compliments, which qualify it to be considered “successful” are: presence on major social media (especially Twitter), original content, and easy to subscribe/follow. One major point where this blog could use some improvement, though, would be consistency of posts. Right now, Annabelle only posts about 1-2 times a month. I think that by increasing post activity to once a week would be extremely beneficial because it drives traffic to the site that much more often.

Currently, there are no advertisers for Adderall and Compliments. While Annabelle has a running joke that she would love to be sponsored by Adderall or one of the infamous “diet teas” that Instagram-models promote, I think a good sponsor for her would be a clothing retailer, a makeup brand, or even a subscription service (such as Texture) that would resonate with the demographic: Females age 18-30.

 

2. Coca-Cola Unbottled 

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Coca-Cola Unbottled is the blog for Coca-Cola, of course! Unbottled is where Coca-Cola shares articles and other news about the company and their affiliates. It is of a professional nature, as the posts are business-related, and intended to share company news and garner revenue by letting customers know about new products and broadening their perspectives about Coke and their other brands. Coke says, “We champion our culture, humanize our company, and find fresh ways to tell our sustainability and innovation stories. We celebrate our past, present and future. And we capitalize on pop culture moments and real-time opportunities”(source). Many different authors contribute articles, which are posted multiple times a week.

What makes Coca-Cola’s blog unique is the fact that it’s very community-based, compared to many other company blogs. Also, the structure itself sets them apart. Coca-Cola says it best about their vision for their blog:

“The Coca-Cola Company dove headfirst into the unchartered waters of brand journalism by reimagining our corporate website as a dynamic digital magazine and owned media channel. Inspired by leading online publishers and powered by social media, the pioneering storytelling brings the compelling stories behind our company and brands – who we are, what we do and why we do it – to the forefront through a digital publishing experience designed to inspire, educate and provoke action”(source).

They have an even mix of human-interest pieces, spotlights on certain employees and company news. This reflects the Coca-Cola brand because Coke is all about community, i.e. their “Share a Coke” campaign.

Traffic is driven to the blog in two main ways. The first is by simply typing “coca cola” into Google, the blog is the fourth result, just under their main website and their Twitter. Another is by the link to the page in the footer of Coke’s website.

This blog can be considered “successful” because blogs are posted many times a week, there is original and interesting content, and Coke’s social media presence is large and is linked on the page. There is also a sense of longevity and commitment to creating great content. Overall, the blog is pretty great, but if I had to make any improvements, I would focus on two things: promoting the blog on their Twitter more and adding some sort of subscribe/email notification button for new posts.

As for advertisers, it’s pretty obvious: The Coca-Cola Company sponsors and supports this blog.

The Power of Carousel Ads

In 2014, Facebook released carousel ads. The purpose of carousel ads is to allow brands/companies to show a variety of photos and/or links in the same amount of space that usually only one photo can take. Think of it as a horizontal Instagram feed meant for branding. There are many benefits to Carousel ads:

  1. They save space on users’ newsfeeds.
  2. There’s a “30-50% lower cost-per-conversion and 20-30% lower cost-per-click than single-image link ads” (“Improving Ad Performance with the Carousel Format” 2015).
  3. Images are at the forefront, therefore appealing to the Instagram-obsessed generation.
  4. The format allows for different products, or different angles/features of one product, to be displayed side-by-side (up to 10 for desktop and up to 5 for mobile).
  5. They are mobile-friendly.
  6. Demographics and Budgeting are built-in to the design center.
  7. Call To Action Buttons are provided at the bottom of each card.
  8. Insights are available, allowing you to tweak your ads to improve performance.
  9. There’s “increased web traffic – you are giving the customer more options to click and buy resulting in better click through rates” (Lay 2014).
  10. You are able to upload that ad to Instagram simultaneously via Facebook.

 

While this advertising format may be new to some, it is important to hop on board and utilize this new feature on your company’s Facebook page. Adobe’s Digital Marketing blog says, “Through multi-product ads, advertisers can offer a user more than one product to choose from, reducing the amount of clicks necessary to get from an ad to an order – which is great for direct response objectives”(Lay 2014). As you can see, it can really pay off!

Now, an example. A company that I am partnering with, 27th Star Co., allowed me to create a Carousel ad for them. 27th Star Co. is a small, homemade goods company looking to boost traffic to their site. Since 27th Star is a small startup, their budget is very tight. A carousel ad is perfect for them due to the lower costs-per-click and ability to showcase a few of their products available for purchase all at one time.

For their campaign, we decided to keep it simple, as it aligns with the simple theme of the company and website. We decided to showcase three of their most-loved products and then to promote the custom ordering option for the last card. The company tagline was added in the text box to give customers an idea of what 27th Star Co. is all about, short and sweet. Here is what it looks like (the header was cut off during preview, but it is visible throughout the carousel slideshow):

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For those of you who are wondering, the mobile-friendly version looks like this:

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The photos were chosen to make sure they fall within the patriotic and earth tone theme of 27th Star Co., and so that the photos looked good together. Visuals are just as important as the links and information you’re providing. There is a link to the website provided in the header to complement the ‘Shop Now’ button next to the photo’s caption. That way, users have an extra opportunity to click over to 27th Star’s site and shop around.

As I mentioned earlier, 27th Star has a tight budget, therefore the budget option would be set low. Also, we would make the duration short for the first round, in order for us to use this as a trial-and-error period where we can see which cards get the most clicks, so that we can change things up in the future.

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Since 27th Star Co. is a home goods and accessories company, our demographic is both men and women of all ages. We would include almost everyone in our search range. Setting the Interests section to align with the basis of 27th Star helps to narrow down more potential customers, though.

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To review, carousel ads are great ways to simultaneously promote multiple items or products at once, for the price of one ad spot. Plus, they are easily customizable and interchangeable based on the data that Insights provides for you. I highly suggest that all companies look into using Carousel ads to boost traffic.

 

 


Sources:

“Improving Ad Performance with the Carousel Format.” Facebook for Business. N.p., 11 May 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

 

Lay, Monica. “The Benefits of Facebook’s Multi-Product Ads | Adobe.” Digital Marketing Blog by Adobe. Adobe, 13 Dec. 2014. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

 

 

Analysis of 27th Star Co.’s Website and Their Competitors

Having an effective website is crucial for business. Not only does a website need to be aesthetically pleasing, but it needs to have proper tools in order to promote and boost sales. Here we will analyze and compare the websites for 27th Star Co. (a handmade home goods company) and two competitors, Minna Goods and Folk Fibers.

27th Star Co.:

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Considering the fact that 27th Star Co. is a fairly small company, their website is pretty good! The web address is straight to the point, and as soon as you arrive to the homepage, you know what the company is about. The site is a very clean, simple design that is appealing and easy to navigate. All pages are available throughout the site. Product info is provided and is readily available within just 2 clicks away. Plus, the site is compatible with mobile devices, which is very important due to the ever-growing popularity of tablets and smartphones.

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27th has done a great job at making sure their social media pages are linked prominently. Providing social media channels is a great method of pull marketing and gaining traffic to those channels. Users who visit their socials are then (re)directed back to the website in order to make purchases (which is easy and secure, by the way). Since it’s a start up, there isn’t much evidence of Push marketing campaigns, as it is not really in their budget at the moment. Once business starts booming more, that would be one of my first suggestions for 27th Star. I believe that implementing an email or newsletter for new items and promotions would be extremely helpful. Also, I would recommend that 27th Star adds a search bar and a sitemap to the site.

 

Minna Goods:

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Minna Goods has a great website, as well. Their web address is simple, and the layout is very neat and easy on the eyes. The layout and theme is consistent throughout the site, which is great because it makes it that much easier to focus on the products. If you want to narrow down your search a bit, you can use the very convenient search bar. Minna’s site works just as well on mobile devices as it does on a computer. Upon seeing the homepage, you can tell that they are a textiles company, as the homepage displays featured items. The site, products, information, and contact page are all easy to find and only a few clicks away.

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Some features on the site, which are also examples of Push and Pull marketing techniques, are a newsletter sign up and social media links. Social media pulls customers back into your brand, and the email newsletters are pushing information to customers on a regular basis. The discount incentive doesn’t hurt either! Speaking of discounts, once customers are ready to make a purchase, checkout is smooth and secured through Shopify.

I would make more suggestions, but this site really is pretty great. They even have a feed that automatically posts their most recent Instagram posts, which is another great branding idea for a website. My only “complaint” would be that there isn’t a home button, and while you can just click on the MINNA logo at the top left corner, I think a home button would be a nice addition to the navigation bar.

Folk Fibers:

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Folk Fibers has a very, very simple layout. That’s okay though, because it goes along with the brand’s identity of being very simple and natural. The web address is direct, and the pages are easy to switch between. Like the other sites, this one works well on mobile devices, too. However, there is not a set home page. The current landing page is a combination of products for sale with blog excerpts.

Push and Pull marketing techniques are apparent here on the site, much like their competitors mentioned above, through social media links and a newsletter sign up. Folk Fibers also has an Instagram feed box that shows recent photos. These techniques are great for small goods companies because these are budget-friendly ways to keep customers up-to-date on new products and promotions.

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My suggestions for improving the site would be to have a separate, simple home page that is your logo, a brief description of what Folk Fibers is, and perhaps a slideshow with photos of your products. I would also suggest that a more substantial contact system be in place via a Contact page, where customers can fill out a form directly from the site. I also believe that the “about” and “contact” sections on the footer can be moved to separate pages that can be navigated to when a customer chooses to seek that information out.

Customer Profiles for 27th Star Co.

For those of you who are unaware of 27th Star Co., they are a handmade goods company based out of Vass, North Carolina that”focuses on handmade textiles for the home. Our products are inspired by American patriotism and natural fibers…We make our designs with love, to be loved.”

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27th Star Co. is considered as a B2C, or a business to customer, business because they sell their product directly to the consumer. In order to hone-in on the most efficient business practices, it is important to understand the types of customers a business has. The typical 27th Star Co. customer is someone of any age or gender who is looking for new home goods or other small goods. The typical customer is located here in the U.S. and is a fan of the “shop small” or “shop local” movement. It also help that our customer is a fan of natural materials and eclectic designs. Below we will discuss 3 different typical customers which frequent 27th Star Co.

1. The End User: “Lauren” – your everyday woman who is looking for a new item for her home.

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Demographics and Psychographics

Lauren is a 25-year-old Female who works in Hospitality with a yearly income of approximately $30,000. She has received a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality Management. She likes fashion, being social, pop culture, and music. She dislikes being too normal or boring. As far as decision making, she has an eclectic taste and she knows what she wants. Lauren uses her interest in the fashion industry to keep up with trend forecasting and to influence her choices.

Behaviors

When it comes to media consumption, she is very active on her smartphone and uses apps and other social media to get news. She subscribes to daily newsletters to stay up to date on current events. Streaming is king when it comes to watching tv and the news. Lauren is very outgoing and social, she would consider herself a people-person, she’s hospitable and loves to entertain (especially at her own home), and is great at problem solving. Lauren scours the internet daily and utilities relationships with family and friends for information. She mostly shops online and in boutiques in order to find more one-of-a-kind pieces.

Environment

Our end user is very familiar with smartphones and computers. Lauren is even familiar with photography software. Her buying power is that of personal use. She typically pays for things with cash or a debit card. Before she makes a purchase, she usually bookmarks items for a day in order to reduce impulse buys. She may occasionally ask a friend or two for their opinion.

2. The Economic Buyer: “Ashley” – an interior designer (buying for herself or a client).

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Demographics and Psychographics

Ashley is a 35-year-old female Interior Designer making approximately $45,000 a year. She received a B.F.A. in Interior Design. Before she makes a decision on purchases, she curates a collection of potential choices and tries them out before making a final decision. She must also account for the clients budget and taste. Personally, she likes art, music, nature, and bold colors. She dislikes anything too “artificial” or mass-produced.

Behaviors

Ashley is great at feng shui and color theory, and is very social. She receives her news and other information via apps, television news, and podcasts. She looks for inspiration online and in magazines, and uses the trial-and-error methods for her designs. She tends to shop online, in design showrooms, and in antique or thrift shops for pieces.

Environment

Ashley’s technology landscape is mostly based around smartphones and computers, but she also utilizes 3D design software. Her buying power is up to her and the client’s ultimate needs, she just has to use either her or her client’s budget wisely. Her purchasing process is simple: if she loves a piece and the price is right, she’ll buy it.

3. The Technical Buyer: “Cameron” –

co-founder of R. Riveter and mentor to 27th Star Co.’s Paige McGee.

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Demographics and Psychographics

Cameron is a 30-year-old female. She co-founded R. Riveter, a handmade accessories company meant for supporting military spouses, and is making approximately $70,000 a year. She received her Masters in Architecture. When she makes a decision, she must gather material based on standards, she must make sure completed items are of good quality, and she must ensure that her goal of supporting military spouses is being met. Cameron likes beautiful architecture and clean lines, recycled materials, and supporting military families. She dislikes being harshly critiqued.

Behaviors

Cameron is kind and a neat-freak. She is excellent at sewing, drawing, and working with her hands. Cameron is also very busy, therefore, she gets her news from social media and the radio during her morning commute. She uses the internet to locate surplus military gear and recruit new employees. She also keeps up with the local women on the Army base that she lives on, and goes to local shops for materials.

Environment

As for technology, Cameron is very comfortable running the company website and using the purchasing/Shipping & handling software. Her buying power is mostly up to her and her co-founder. She has to consider the budget for materials and the cost of the completed item when buying and making new designs. Her purchasing process typically consists of locations surplus military supplies, bargains for deals, and then crunching the numbers.

In this case, when she’s a customer for 27th Star Co. her purchasing process is a bit different. R. Riveter often looks for military-spouse independent contractors to make goods that R. Riveter will then sell in their retail stores. Cameron must then choose pieces she likes and knows will sell, and make a deal on the price that works for the customer, R. Riveter, and the contractor (which would be 27th Star Co.).