Archive | April, 2013

Guide to business review sites

22 Apr

Background

Since almost the beginning of the “internet age”, business reviews sites have been in existence. One of the oldest business reviews sites still in existence is City Search, which was founded in 1995.  Other formats, such as traditional phone book companies (such as yellow pages); have transitioned to the internet where business listings also feature reviews. The most popular website on the internet, Google, began allowing reviews in search results for business locations (initially through Google Maps), to appear in 2007 (Google, 2013).

The most aggressive period of growth for the business reviews sector occurred during the most aggressive period of growth for the internet as a whole, the dot com bubble. Investors were speculatively investing heavily in many internet companies, believing they would all be million dollar ideas during this period, between 1997-2000. Many websites were started with capital investments. The “bubble” finally popped in March of 2000, as investors pulled out their funding of many websites (Colombo, 2012).

Business Use for Marketing

Since the very first business  review site came into existence, business review sites were used with a business focus, and unintentionally, had an impact on the overall marketing of a company. No matter how great an advertising campaign a company runs, with perfect selection of their target market, and a slick website, if a company is receiving constant bad reviews online all those marketing efforts will be for nothing.

Business reviews are in most major company’s marketing plans currently, usually listed as “listening” activities. Google always business to set up Google+ pages which give their business a more in depth listing, with the benefit of being able to add pictures and other information about the business. Google also always companies to pay for top results on searches.

However, like many areas of digital marketing, medium to small business have been the slowest to adapt to online business reviews. Many do not set up pages on Google with additional information, and many are unaware that their business even has listings on the internet with reviews.  Even the businesses that are aware of the online reviews will do nothing to monitor the reviews, or try and respond to them. Small and medium sized business, for the most part, have yet to understand the importance of business reviews online, and have not come up with active strategies to engage them.

Another major issue affective the small to medium business that do not monitor reviews are the legitimacy of a reviewer’s complaint, which is why many businesses choose to ignore this section of online marketing. Since users can post anonymously, there is not legitimate voice behind a complaint. Also a misinformed consumer could be posting about a business with a complaint that could be easily solved, if the business did respond to the complaint online.

 

Lack of Success

Many small start up business review sites have not been able to compete with the major players in the industry mainly due to issues generating traffic. Many of these sites are still in existence, such as yellowbook.com, matchpoint.com, and openlist.com, but have not been able to generate significant traffic. Due to the small size of these sites, many have simply faded away into nothing without being noticed.

A major trend in the industry appears to be the “partnering up” of reviews sites. Reviews sites will combine with other sites (such as City Search and Trip Advisor) to share reviews. Users who go to these sites can then see more reviews, and have more information to make informed decisions on. As competition continues to increase, more partnerships are likely to occur, and some will lose their overall identity, such as YellowPages.ca who has combined with Yahoo.

 

The Giants

Google/Google+/Google Maps

Google is the dominating force in the business review sector of the internet. Google allows users to use the search engine to not only find businesses matching search criteria, but also find information such as location, hours, contact information, and since 2007, reviews of the businesses, all on one screen (Google, 2013). The integration of the multiple features on Google allows users to stay all on one site and find all the relevant information they need.

 

 

For businesses with poor SEO, Google is not a friendly tool. Those businesses will fall down the list of search results, some to the points where they will not be seen on the first page of results, a death sentence for many small businesses. Google will also feature “paid” search results at the very top of the page, hurting those who do not pay for the service as they will again fall farther down the search page.

Unfortunately with Google, users can post “anonymous” reviews, without information such as name and location showing up on the business page. The downside of allow “anonymous” reviews is it can lower the legitimacy of the reviews, and may turn those looking for reviews to other sources. By allowing “anonymous” reviews, businesses can create multiple accounts that show up as “a Google user”, and post fake reviews (usually in an effort to make their business look more attractive). With “anonymous” reviews there is also the potential for users to make fake accounts and fake reviews of business, usually with negative effects on the business.

Facebook

With the popularity of social media, Facebook has become an important tool for business. Many businesses have a presence on Facebook, with a business page that allows users of Facebook to “like” their business, receive updates from the business on their newsfeed, as well as communicate directly with the business. The Facebook format for a business page is similar to a Google search result for a business, as it displays contact information, address, hours of operation and other business information.

 

Facebook allows businesses to upload photos and other content directly to their page, allowing for the businesses to “own” their media. Another advantage of Facebook for a business is the ability to post content directly onto the main page of their Facebook page, letting customers see the most up to date information and promotional material. Facebook also allows for conversation to occur directly between the businesses and their customers directly on the page, which can quickly solve problems.

 

A major downside to the open communication format of a Facebook page for a business is that, especially when they are a popular or major brand, it is very easy conversation to be “hijacked” by users on the page. For example, when McDonald’s posted a picture of their fries spelling “Lucky me”, much of the conversation in the comment section turned off topic, with comments ranging from “Your fries taste like cardboard”, to comments about the overall health of the planet (Facebook, 2013). Business has little control over these comments, and such comments can again delegitimize the quality of the reviews on Facebook.

Yelp.com

Yelp.com is a combination of a search engine and social networking site for business reviews (Yelp, 2013). Similar to Google (the maps are generated by Google), search results for a business show information such as location, hours, contact information, but also feature far more detailed information such as price range, Wi-Fi availability, even if there are televisions at the location. Yelp.com requires reviewers to create an account to post reviews, which helps increase the legitimacy of reviews.

 

The social network aspect of Yelp.com is that users can create profiles, where users can even rate the helpfulness and quality of their reviews. Users can find users with similar tastes and search their profile for all the places they have gone and see what they like. Users can also see a “rating distribution chart” of a user to see how they typically rate businesses (Yelp, 2013). Thus, when reading a bad review, a look into that users rating history can confirm that they always post negative reviews, or that they usually post positive reviews so a bad review must be legitimate. Users can also add friends, and comment on reviews, such as confirming bad service at a restaurant, or suggestion the reviewer should give it another try as the service is usually better.

 

 

 

Yahoo /Yellow Pages

Yahoo, once the most popular search engine, has integrated YellowPages.ca information into search results to provide business listings, with reviews. Similar to Google, sponsored results show up first, regardless of ratings, and SEO optimized businesses show up higher on the list of search results, again regardless of ratings. Ratings show up in the search results page, but in order to see any reviews, users must click on the search results and go to the Yahoo/Yellow Pages specific site for that business. Similar to Google, each business page features information such as contact information, hours, and allows businesses to upload photos to the page. Due to YellowPages.ca not being very popular, Yahoo also integrates reviews from Trip Advisor into the reviews page (yahoo.ca, 2013), letting users choose between the two.

 

City Search

City search is one of the newer business review sites, with a focus on Restaurants, Bars and Clubs, Spa’s, Hotels, and Shopping (City Search, 2013). Users simply vote if they would recommend the business or not, (and a percentage based rating is made from there), and are allowed to post “tips”, where they can post a review with advice for other City Search users. Many of the ratings are skewed high (for example, all Las Vegas clubs appear to have a 100% rating), due to a low number of users and there are not many reviews.

 

AngiesList.com

Angie’s list brands itself as the most legitimate source for reviews anywhere on the internet.  Angie’s list is subscription based, requiring users to pay a fee and create an account to access reviews and post reviews of businesses (Angie’s List, 2013). Angie’s List claims that since the subscription base is their revenue source, business cannot pay (through advertising, and rankings) to receive preferential treatment when it comes to ratings and reviews. All reviews are verified, as Angie’s List even claims every single review is thoroughly checked by Angie List’s employees.

Each business has its own page, and can respond to negative reviews (Angie’s List encourages it). Businesses are ranked on an A-F scale, with A and B companies being allowed to post coupons for Angie’s List subscribers (Angie’s List, 2013). While Angie’s List is one of the most legitimate sources for business reviews on the internet, they are also one of the only review sites on the internet to require a subscription fee.

TripAdvisor.com

TripAdvisor.com is a business review site focused solely on travel, with reviews mostly focusing on hotels, resorts, and restaurants (TripAdvisor, 2013). Users must create a profile to submit reviews, describing their personal travel style (such as if they are thrifty or a splurge) and are allowed to upload pictures of their trip directly to the main page of the hotel listing.  For users not wanting to submit a full review, Trip Advisor also allows the option of submitting a rating based on set criteria.

 

Trip Advisor’s primary is to get hotel rooms booked through the website, which does detract from the overall experience of the website. Pop ups and sponsored listings are frequent on the pages, in hopes that users will book a stay at a hotel.

Customer Lobby

Customer Lobby is a resource for businesses to help manage their online business review presence. Customers Lobby allows businesses to share reviews across multiple platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, and will generate provide progress reports for businesses on their online presence (CustomerLobby, 2013). Customer Lobby requires users to create an account to provide a review, and will not post reviews that are offensive in nature.

 

 

The Future

Google appears to have the business review sector dominated in terms of traffic for the foreseeable feature, due to excellent integration of many features, which allow users to get much of the information they are seeking all from one source. Google’s main competition will be from websites that seek to differentiate themselves from typical business review sites, and have a specific focus. Yelp appears to focus mostly on restaurants, and combining a social media aspect to their user experience, while Trip Advisor has been successful due to its focus on the travel industry.

Facebook will most likely find a way to combine business reviews into their business Facebook pages as well, by perhaps adding a rating feature to business pages. In typical Facebook fashion, Facebook will probably find a business review site that they think would be success under the Facebook format, purchase it, and integrate it into the Facebook experience.

All major players in the business review sector will also continue to try and legitimize customer reviews through practices such as verification of reviews, and requiring users to create profiles on their sites. Businesses will also use these sites more often as they are included in their Digital Marketing strategy, to respond to customer complaints and manage their online presence effectively. 

Works Cited

Angie’s List. (2013, March 24). Angies List. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.angieslist.com

City Search. (2013, March 24). City Search. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.citysearch.com

Colombo, J. (2012). The Dot Com Bubble. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from Stock Market Crash!: http://www.stock-market-crash.net/dot-com-bubble/

CustomerLobby. (2013, March 24). CustomerLobby. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.customerlobby.com

Facebook. (2013, March 24). Mcdonalds Canada. Retrieved March 23, 2013, from Facebook: facebook.com

Google. (2013, March 24). Google. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from Google: http://www.google.ca

TripAdvisor. (2013, March 24). TripAdvisor. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from http://www.tripadvisor.com

yahoo.ca. (2013, March 24). Yahoo. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from Yahoo: http://www.yahoo.ca

Yelp. (2013, March 24). Yelp. Retrieved March 24, 2013, from Yelp: http://www.yelp.ca

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Social Media and Job Seekers

22 Apr

Background

Before the advent of social media, emphasis on hiring candidates for a position within an organization focused primarily around their resume, their references, and how they performed in a formal interview. Candidates only had to worry about their resumes and their wit when it came to answering questions in the formal interview.

However, with the digital age came a whole new list of problems for job seekers. Employers are not only looking at the traditional aspects of job application, but are searching into potential employees personal lives through social media to find out more about them. While pictures of a candidate at a party, passed out on the coach, may be amusing to the candidate’s friends on a social media site, a potential employer may view that same photo as a reason to not hire the candidate, no matter how strong their resume. Candidates must now realize that everything on the internet has the potential to be public, and can affect their abilities to gain employment.

According to Next Web, in a survey 37% of employers admitted to looking up prospective employees on
Facebook (other studies have indicated over 50% of employers using social media screening) (Messieh, 2012).  65% of employers said that they “screen” on a Facebook to see if the prospective employee has a professional image, while 51% say they use social media screening to see if a prospective employee would be a good fit for the organization (Messieh, 2012). According to the Next Web survey, employers are using social media screen to look for inappropriate photos, examples of drinking and/or drug use, poor communication skills, bad mouthing previous employers, racist comments, and lying about qualifications as reasons to not hire a prospective employee (Messieh, 2012).

               

Current employees are also faced with a similar dilemma. In the past, an employee could talk to a friend about work related stresses, and perhaps talk poorly about their employer in a casual conversation. Such conversations do still exist today in restaurants, pubs, and via text message among employees. Yet today, increasing more employees are using social media as a way to “gripe” about their jobs, and are facing the consequences. As well, other conduct, such as illegal or questionable activities can go “viral” on social media, making employers face the choice of firing an employee so their organization is not associated with the employees conduct.

 

Social media conduct for both potential employees and current employees is vitally important. Both parties must be aware of how social media can affect their potential to get a job, as well as their current job.

Suggested Use of Social Media by Job Seekers/Current Employees

Job seekers are entering a highly competitive job market, with an economy recovering, barely, from a recession, and world financial crisis’s hampering growth in almost every industry. Internationalization of business has also increased the competition in the job market. Prospective employees must brand themselves and differentiate themselves from the competition in the job market.

Using Social Media

Many organizations are heavily investing in social media and digital platforms for marketing and advertising. Potential employees in these fields must be actively involved in as many forms of social media as possible. If an employer is looking to hire an employee to do social media related work, and finds out they do not have certain social media accounts (especially Facebook and Twitter), then they will move on to the next candidate that has such accounts and experience using them.

With so many forms of social media popping up every day, it is vitally important for prospective employees to be constantly researching about new forms of social media to keep their skills sharp and relevant. Current employees, especially in the marketing field must also stay constant and updated with new sources of social media, and use them effectively.

Consistency

Potential employees must display consistency among social media sites to be effectively. Similarly to how an organization wants to keep their “brand” consistent, employees must make sure their “brand”, themselves, is consistent throughout social and digital media. Prospective employees must keep all their sources of social media consistent throughout, and convey the same image.

Professionalism

Both prospective and current employees must you social media in a professional manner. Misuse of which has resulted in the termination of current employees, and inappropriate content has lead to many potential employees not being hired. Employees, both prospective and current must think of the consequences of what they post on social media, and must do their best to convey a professional image throughout their use of social media.

For Employers

Employers should use social media to screen perspective employees, but not in the way they are currently using it. Instead of going on a witch hunt of sorts, and looking for content that gives a reason not to hire a prospective employee, employers should be using social media to see the skill level of their prospective employees. Current employees should be encouraged to use social media in a professional manner, and experiment with new sources of social media.

However, employers still have to make sure prospective employees will fit into the company image and culture of the organization. It is an employer’s responsibility to do their due diligence on a prospective employee. Obvious examples of inappropriate content on social media should result in a prospective employee not getting hired. Employers are also responsible to make sure their current employees are using social media in a proper way.

 

Examples of Social Media’s Impact on Employees

The Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots

On June 15, 2011, the Vancouver Canucks lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins. Vancouver lost their best chance at a Stanley Cup victory in decades, and surprisingly, some employees lost their jobs as a result of the ensuing riots, all thanks to social media (Wilson, 2012). Before the game had official ended, trouble makers in the downtown core of Vancouver had already started a chain of events which lead to a full blown riot. The result was cars being torched and stores being looted. Unlike a similar riot which occurred in 1994 after another Canucks Stanley Cup lost, the crowd was armed with an important tool, social media.

As the riot went on, those not directly involved in the riot brought out their cell phones and cameras and recorded the destruction. Many of the photos were uploaded directly to Facebook, some by the actual perpetrators of looting and other crimes (Wilson, 2012). The recorded activities resulted in criminal charges for many, and groups were set up on Facebook were users collaborated to identify rioters by sharing pictures of the events.

While many rioters were not surprised when their criminal activities resulted in official charges, some were surprised to learn that their actions would cost them their jobs. Some of the photos from that fateful evening were plastered all over the major newspapers in Vancouver, as well as shared with the public by the Vancouver police, and video of the destruction and lootings were shown on news stations throughout the world. Some employers were able to clearly see their employees engaging in the riot, and did not care for them to be associated with their businesses in such a manner. The result was some employees were ultimately terminated from their employment (Wilson, 2012).

Caitlin Davis

Caitlin Davis was the youngest cheerleader in the history of the NFL at the age of 18, as she made her way onto the cheerleading squad of the New England Patriots. However, in November of 2008, Caitlin Davis posted a picture onto Facebook, showing her next to a passed out male with writing all over his body. The writing ranged from vulgar, to flat our racist, and when the picture went viral, the New England Patriots decided to drop her from the squad (Goehst, 2013).

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason

In a recent example from this week, the CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason, was fired. Andrew Mason was not fired because of a social media disaster, such as the prior example in this report, but was fired due to the poor performance of the company. The reaction to the firing was what set off a social media storm. Andrew Mason decided to post his farewell letter on the site jottit.com, citing that he believed the farewell letter would leak anyways (Mason, 2013). The letter started with “After four and half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding, I was fired today”. The letter went on to thank employees, and also made references to video games (Thier, 2013). The letter took the internet by storm. Andrew Mason showed how even in the face of failure, social media can be used in a profession, yet still humorous manner. If another company was considering Andrew Mason as a CEO, they would see that he can handle adversity with class and humour.

 

What are prospective employees/current employees to do?

Prospective employees and current employees have to become engaged with social media and manage themselves as a brand to ensure they stand out from the competition. Below are ten best practices for prospective and current employees

 

1. Blog

Blogs are a great way for prospective employees to share their views on industry news and other information, as well as show a sample of their work. For example, WordPress is a free blog platform, which allows users to set up a blog with a predetermined layout. Prospective employees can set up a blog with a variety of topics. For example, if a prospective employee was looking for employment in sports marketing, they could set up a blog related to sports marketing. An employer would only need a link to the blog from a resume to see the prospective employee’s thoughts and see if they could work well within their organization.

2. Set up a Linkedin account

Linkedin is social networking site geared towards professionals. Linkedin is designed to look like an interactive resume, highlighting career achievements, past work experience, and skills and attributes. Employees can also list their hobbies and interests like any other social media site. Linkedin allows users to “connect” with one another. Prospective and current employees can use LinkedIn to find industry contracts, stay up to date on industry trends, and find job opportunities.

 

 

3. Use Facebook Properly

Prospective and current employees have two options when it comes to Facebook, the most popular social media site in the world. Either never set up account or delete their current Facebook account, or ensure they have high privacy settings and are extremely careful about what they post. Since the first option is not a viable option to many, especially in the fresh out of school job searcher category, prospective and current employees must do everything they can to make sure their Facebook pages are “clean”. Prospective and current employees must think before they post statuses and pictures, and think about how they would be viewed by employers.

4. Know what to Tweet

Similar to Facebook, many in the younger generation would view Twitter as an essential social media application. For prospective employees, Twitter can be a way to grab the attention of potential employers through insightful tweets about the industry they are interested. Again like Facebook, users must think how potential employers and their current employers may view the content of their tweets, before they tweet them.

5. Show interest in current events and social media skills with Storify

Storify is a hybrid blog/social media utility. Users can create post on a topic, and within their blog post search for reaction among social media which can quickly be quickly attached to the post. Prospective employees can show employers their social media listening savvy using Storify, as well as show their opinions on important topics within their industry.

 

6. Create a Digital Portfolio

Potential employees can enhance their blog or webpage by setting up a digital portfolio. By organizing and posting all their work in one place, a potential employee can show an employer exactly what their work looks like in a very clear and concise manner. An employer can quickly see what the prospective employee is capable of.

7. Create a Webpage

Another must for prospective employees is a webpage dedicated solely to them. The page can feature their resume, past work, a digital portfolio, as well as links to social media sites. Employers can see exactly how effective an employee is at setting up a webpage, and can easily see their work.

8. Use Monster.ca

Monster.ca is a job finding site which allows job seekers and employers to meet in one place. Job seekers can post resumes, while employers can post jobs and search resumes. Monster.ca is a source that job seekers must explore to maximize their chances of getting a job.

9. Create a Pinterest account

Pinterest allows users to create a digital bulletin board of basically them. A prospective employee can easily show all their hobbies and interests all on one site, which will make it easier for a potential employer to learn about them. Posting about industry news and trends will also differentiate a potential employee from the rest of the field.

10. Set up a YouTube channel

Prospective and current employees need to set up a YouTube channel to show their effective use of the digital media platform. Prospective employees can show off their personality through videos, as well as set up a “video resume” of themselves. Current employees can display their current work if its video related, as well as create a channel for their organization if it is appropriate.

Bibliography

Facebook. (2013). Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com

Goehst, D. (2013, January 22). Social media: Workplace cool or ultimate firing tool? Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Technorati: http://technorati.com/business/small-business/article/social-media-workplace-cool-or-ultimate/page-2/

LinkedIn. (n.d.). LinkedIn. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com

Mason, A. (2013, Febuary 28). For Groupon employees. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Jottit: https://www.jottit.com/v5wux/

Messieh, N. (2012, a). Survey: 37% of your prospective employers are looking you up on Facebook. Retrieved from The Next Web.

Monster. (n.d.). Monster. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Monster: http://www.monster.ca

Pinterest. (2013). Pinterest. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com

Storify. (n.d.). Storify. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Storify: http://www.storify.com

Thier, D. (2013, March 1). The Video Game Reference in Ex-Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s Farewell Letter. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/2013/03/01/the-video-game-reference-in-ex-groupon-ceo-andrew-masons-farewell-letter-explained/

Twitter. (2013). Retrieved March 3, 2013, from Twitter: http://www.twitter.com

Wilson, T. (2012, June 19). Social media conduct could get you fired. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-managing/human-resources/social-media-conduct-could-get-you-fired/article4346982/

WordPress. (n.d.). Retrieved 3 2013, March, from WordPress: http://www.wordpress.com

YouTube. (2013). Youtube. Retrieved March 3, 2013, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com

 

The changing direction of advertising

22 Apr

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While it has been no secret that digital marketing is becoming more important on an almost daily basis, data is finally being realized to back up these claims. Standard media index has compiled data which shows that television advertising spending is declining, while digital platform marketing is on the rise (Mandese, April).

The data shows that a shift is beginning to occur. Digital media now accounts for 25% of marketing spending by the big media holding companies. The fastest growing sections of digital media are mobile advertising, and exchanged based media buys, while search and display advertising still account for the majority of digital media marketing budgets.

Brands will now have to find ways to convey their message into digital platforms instead of television, which could be a challenge for older established brands, and present an opportunity for new brands to make gains.

The numbers:

  • Television advertising spending has fall 5% year over year (Fennesy, 2013).
  • Digital has risen 15% year over year (Fennesy, 2013).
  • Mobile ad spending has increased 92 % in the last year (Fennesy, 2013).
  • Display and search advertising have both increased 12% year over year (Fennesy, 2013).

What does it all mean?

Marketers will have to prepare to go along with the shift, and tailor their advertising campaigns around digital media, instead of traditional television advertising. Brands will be forced to adapt their strategies to match their consumer’s habits in order to remain successful.

 

Works Cited

Fennesy, J. (2013, April 19). Walking Dead: Broadcast Bites Into Network Ad Erosion, AMC Leads Cable’s Momentum. Retrieved april 22, 2013, from Standard media index: http://blog.standardmediaindex.com/s/20/Cable-network-spending-Network-Ad-Erosion

Mandese, J. (April, 19 2013). Digital Now 25 Cents Of Every Ad Dollar: Display, Search Still Dominate. Retrieved 22 2013, April, from Online Media Daily: http://www.cmo.com/content/cmo-com/home/articles/2013/4/18/comeback_trail_gap_o.frame.html

The Mobile Challenge, Proving that it Works

22 Apr

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It seems that all marketers have been hearing lately is “mobile this, and mobile that”. Every day, new studies and statistics are showing that mobile is the fastest growing platform, with over 86.7% of the world having a mobile device per 100 people (mobiThinking, 2013). Marketers are trying to figure out how to take advantage of the mobile trend and find new ways to reach mobile users. All the big players, such a Google, Facebook, and Twitter are trying to find ways to sell ad space targeting mobile users.

There is one problem however, so far, no one has proved mobile advertisements work. Even the geniuses at Google are having issues selling mobile ad space because they have yet to develop a way to communicate the value of mobile advertising. As Google’s Jason Spero states “Until you can show (that tracking connection), they are not going to pay much for it. We are investing heavily in helping people track value” (Isaac, 2013).

However, it is only a matter of time before the next step of the digital marketing revolution, the prevalence of mobile advertisements, occurs. Mobile usage stats are impossible for marketers to ignore, and as soon as someone develops clear metrics on the ROI of mobile advertisement campaigns, the floodgates will open.

Where will we see ads on our phones?

We are already starting to see some advertisements, such as promoted tweets on Twitter (Isaac, 2013), and we will see them on several other platforms as well:

  • Facebook mobile apps will somehow find away to display advertisements
  • Many other apps will also find ways to more effectively display advertisements (perhaps as your search results are loading an ad will appear)
  • Google may find a way for more invasive advertisements to show up while checking your Gmail from a mobile device or conducting a search

 

Works Cited

Isaac, M. (2013, april 15). The Biggest Challenge for Mobile Ads? Showing That They Work. Retrieved april 22, 2013, from All things D: http://www.cmo.com/content/cmo-com/home/articles/2013/4/16/the_biggest_challeng.frame.html

mobiThinking. (2013, March). Global mobile statistics 2013 Part A: Mobile subscribers; handset market share; mobile operators. Retrieved April 22, 2013, from mobiThinking: http://mobithinking.com/mobile-marketing-tools/latest-mobile-stats/a#subscribers

 

What is Conversational Marketing?

22 Apr

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Before the digital revolution of marketing that we have become to known today, marketing used to be a one-way conversation. Marketers would talk to their target markets about their product, its benefits, and why they should buy it. Businesses controlled the tone of the conversation, and could communicate their product to customers exactly the way they wanted to be perceived. Customers wanting more detail and information had to go directly to the business to find this information out.

However, with social media, blogs and other forms of digital platforms, marketing is now a conversation. Customers can post reviews of products to various websites (such as Amazon), or post business reviews on websites such as Yelp. No longer can businesses hid shoddy service or product flaws in slick marketing campaigns. Listed below are three examples from Chris Silver Smith of searchmarketingland.com:

  1. The Kryptonite blogstorm of 2005, after people discovered Kryptonite locks could be picked simply using a pen. (Kryptonite ended up replacing the locks, at a cost of $10 million (Spencer, 2006)).
  2. The infamous “United Broke my Guitar” Youtube video created by Dave Carroll, which resulted in over three millions views on Youtube (Grove, 2009).
  3. 1-800-Flowers received hundreds of complaints on Facebook and Twitter over messed up orders (BENNETT, 2012).

Even with such major, viral examples, many businesses still choose to view marketing as a one way conversation (Smith, 2013). Small to medium size businesses especially ignore complaints on social media, and do not respond to poor reviews on sites such as Yelp. What these businesses are not realising is that online conversation can easily have more effect and influence on a potential customer than a marketing campaign. If someone is looking for locks, and sees a blog post outlining how easily it is to pick a Kryptonite lock with a pen, it does not matter how good the Kryptonite website is, they are not going to purchase that lock.

Small and medium size businesses must be proactive and manage their reputation online. Social media is a start, as Facebook and Twitter allows these businesses to communicate directly with customers. Also, small and medium size businesses need to communicate and respond to customer reviews on sites such as Yelp, to show that they do indeed care about their customers, and to see what aspects of their business need to be fixed.

Works Cited

BENNETT, D. (2012, Feb 15). A Rough Valentine’s Day for Flower Delivery People. Retrieved April 22, 2013, from The Atlantic Wire: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/02/rough-valentines-day-flower-delivery-people/48716/

Grove, J. V. (2009, June 14). United Breaks Guitars Surpasses 3 Million Views in 10 Days. Retrieved April 22, 2013, from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2009/07/15/united-breaks-guitars/

Smith, C. S. (2013, April 22). Conversational Marketing Benefits Local SEO . Retrieved April 22, 2013, from search engine land: http://searchengineland.com/conversational-marketing-benefits-local-seo-155968

Spencer, S. (2006, May 22). Aftermath of the Kryptonite Blogstorm. Retrieved April 22, 2013, from Stephanspencer.com: http://www.stephanspencer.com/aftermath-of-the-kryptonite-blogstorm/

Why is Foursquare dying?

22 Apr

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Only a few years ago, Foursquare was considered one of the hottest, and potentially most lucrative, location based social media apps. For those who don’t know, Foursquare is an app that allows you to “check in” at locations, earn points and badges (for example, I would be the mayor of several bars if I ever checked in…..kind of sad), and share those locations with friends (wikipedia, 2013). Foursquare has raked in over $71 million in funding, however, was only able to bring in $2 million in revenue in 2012 (Hall, 2013).  Foursquare also has a heavy debt burden of $41 million (Schwarzberg, 2013)

The reason Foursquare is dying is because they could never capitalize on their niche. Eventually Facebook moved in with the additional of “check ins” to their social media platform, which has forced Foursquare to try and move to more of a business review platform. However, the business review app/website arena is saturated with competitors, and companies such as Yelp already have established presences and business models that work.

Foursquare’s last stand is to sell all its user data, such as user location and behavior data, to companies that will find the information useful. However, as soon as users find out that their data is being sold, a lack of trust in Foursquare could lead to a quick exit of users. Foursquare has tried many things to stay alive, but it appears as though they are on their last legs now, and unless they could find a dynamic way to stay relevant, they are destined to die off.

Below is a list of five reasons why Foursquare has not been successful according to Brian S Hall of CMO.com:

  1. Gamification does not scale: While the gamification features seemed to captivate some users initially, it appears that in the long run, earning badges and being declared king of the local pub was that interesting to users.
  2. The business model remains elusive: Foursquare has tried to be too many things at once, instead of sticking to one core attribute, which has led to direct competition with giants such as Facebook, Google, and Yelp.
  3. Yelp is better: For business reviews, recommendations, and ratings, Yelp has a better, well established platform that Foursquare cannot compete with.
  4. Better design isn’t enough: A new app format looks good on the surface, but combines too many features which results in a confusing experience for users.
  5. Selling data is not a slam dunk: While Foursquare has a lot of data based on location and users, there is no guarantee that those looking to buy the data will find it useful.

 

Works Cited

Hall, B. S. (2013, april 22). 5 Reasons Foursquare Is Losing The Social Local Mobile Revolution. Retrieved april 22, 2013, from CMO.com: http://www.cmo.com/content/cmo-com/home/articles/2013/4/22/_5_reasons_foursquar.frame.html

Schwarzberg, J. (2013, April 22). Debt woes weigh on Foursquare. Retrieved April 22, 2013, from The Deal Pipeline: http://www.thedeal.com/content/restructuring/debt-financing-may-force-foursquare-to-check-out.php

wikipedia. (2013, april 22). Foursquare. Retrieved april 2013, 2013, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foursquare

 

More Pointless Sh*t? Using Vine Effectively

8 Apr

 

One of the latest digital media platforms is Vine, a twitter video app that allows users to create at maximum, a six second video clip (Larsen, 2013). With such a short limit on video, many have wondered about the effectiveness of Vine in any marketing efforts. A member of RAPP’s team in London even created a video on Vine with words written on paper scrawling across the screen asking the question, “More pointless sh*te? Discuss” (Grossman, 2013).

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Interestingly enough, one of RAPP’s clients (by the way, RAPP is a full service marketing agency), Bacardi, has been one of the first major companies to find a successful way to employ the use of Vine in a substantial campaign. So far most major companies who have used Vine, have done so in a reactionary way, such as Calvin Klein, who used Vine to show a fit male doing sit ups in his Calvin Klein underwear during the epic blackout at the Super bowl.

With such a short time frame to get their message across, many companies have not been able to generate much success on Vine. However, Bacardi realised that the short time frame could work perfectly to display their product in use. Bacardi has created a series of Vine video, featuring six second cocktail recipes, obviously featuring Bacardi as a main ingredient. The Vine video captures the users attention by giving them a reason to watch the Bacardi video, and even a feature use for it.

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Mark’s Take

While Vine will without a doubt feature a healthy library of useless cat videos (just like every corner of the internet), the potential for marketers are there. Not every company will be able to use it effectively, as only simple messages will be easy to convey on Vine. As we have seen with many other forms of social media, Vine will also not be a “one and only” source for marketers, but just a piece of the puzzle to what is digital media, and getting a customer base engaged. Below is a list created by Loren Grossman of RAPP on how marketers can successfully use Vine:

1 .Focus on Utility and Authenticity

  • Focus on the core values of your brand.

2. Be Clever and Simple

  • Creativity and simple messages are the key to success on Vine.

3. Be Nimble

  • Quick responses to trends on Twitter, can generate success on Vine.

4. See the whole board

  • Remember Vine is just a small part of social media, and any ad campaign will need support on other forms of social media.

Bibliography

Grossman, L. (2013, April 8). Bacardi Mixes Mobile into Marketing. Retrieved April 8, 2013, from CMO.com: http://www.cmo.com/content/cmo-com/home/articles/2013/4/6/bacardi_mixes_mobile.html

Larsen, L. (2013, January 30). Vine App Review. Retrieved 8 2013, April, from PASTE: http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2013/01/in-the-past-few-years.html