Social Media: More than a facebook page.

by Chris Valentino, Partner/ECD

Branding has transcended expectations in the past year as savvy businesses begin to properly leverage social media applications such as facebook, twitter, foursquare, groupon, shopkick and others. In each case brands and businesses have the opportunity to engage captive consumers through web applications and mobile technology. While these platforms offer businesses a marketing soapbox, diverse cost options and a broad consumer base – success still lies in the execution. A business needs to understand the business of social media and recognize the true benefits of it. This is not to say business websites are dead, but it is to say they have fierce competition from social media outlets and their ability to engage consumers in a seemingly neutral playground. Clever marketing and strategic thinking are needed to enhance your brand awareness within the social media space. It is in this arena where brands surrender a portion of their marketing control to the consumer.

So, how do you make it work for you?

Learn as much as you can about it.

That means monitoring how consumers interact with social media, monitoring when they react to it and anticipating what they can benefit from it. Take a hard look at your brand and your budget and ask yourself what do you want in return for your social media campaign? Viewership, sales, goodwill, public relations? Whatever it may be, social media can be your best friend in the digital arena and it often doesn’t take much money to make it work for you. (It does, as we all know, take more than a tweeting intern.) Take facebook for example. Establishing a page is simple. So, be careful when you take the first step. We have a number of tools to make it effortless, but you need to know how you plan to utilize and manage your page. You can start by asking simple questions. Do you want to control interaction and direct consumers to specific messages? Do you want to host your own video player or photo feeds? Do you want customized skins so your brand will stand out? Will you integrate external sources? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then a typical fan page is not for you. You need a smart business page that offers you customization and control and you need to commit to managing it. You may need custom applications for your content, sweepstakes, special offers, twitter feeds or photo galleries. You may want visitors to LIKE your page before they can dive in; which we recommend to everyone. A page needs to grab the viewer from the page load; let them hit that LIKE button and grab that data. That strategy is a winning one for brands. As you drive your “LIKEs” up you capture essential user data and can more easily analyze what works on your page. Facebook offers great analytical tools not unlike those for your traditional website, so don’t devalue them. Also consider connecting facebook to your website to promote cross traffic. Once you have all of this figured out ask the big question – “What is your motive for success?” or specifically, “what is your message?”

You’ve created your facebook brand experience, so now what?

It is one thing to point consumers to your facebook page, it’s another thing to keep them there. You will need a consistent message that will engage them and offer them content on a frequent basis. Successful social media connects with consumers on a few basic levels. They make it easy for them to come and go (when you love someone, set them free…). They offer them something for nothing (content, a coupon, a life altering idea, a reason to say “Hey guys, check this page out!”). They deliver the “goods” on an ongoing basis (it’s not one coupon – once a year or even once a month).

Furthermore, and I stress this, your brand needs to communicate directly with your audience to address their concerns, to share news, and provide a destination portal where consumers feel connected. As each brand is unique so is the approach.

As consumers ourselves, we have the insatiable need for information, products, ideas and inspiration. The digital audience is expanding at a heart pounding pace, with the college ( I couldn’t for the life of me type “younger”) generation turning away from televisions to computers and smart devices. Mobile technology is in reach of just about anyone as evident by the increase in smartphone and tablet sales. Your entire audience may not live in NY or LA, so they may not have the latest gadgets or 5G speed, but regardless a social media presence can be connected anywhere. If you know your brand and your consumer there are innovative tools to make a difference.

Navigating the social media market means sailing the three Cs of marketing with eyes wide open. I define the 3Cs of marketing as Clear, Concise and Clever marketing. This is the Gl-ocal way of thinking – where the world is your neighborhood and the internet the new tower of Babel reaching across borders, languages and race. 

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AR! Some days I feel like a pirate.

by Chris Valentino, Partner/ECD

Jonny

Aaarrrrrr! Okay, let me explain. AR has been the buzz word around the office for some time now. When people ask what we are talking about “AR” rolls off the tongue as eloquently as a quesadilla on Cinco de Mayo. Of course, AR is not a word in the traditional sense. So let’s think of it as a technological piece of the big consumer puzzle. I am sure by now most of you have heard of it, some may have played with it and others have asked “Jane, what is this crazy thing?”. AR is short for Augmented Reality which Wikipedia defines as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input.” I am sure that cleared up things for you, but to truly understand AR you have to see it in action.

Like any new technology there are bound to be a lot of questions and a short list of trailblazers willing to risk using it for the sake of making noise. For us, AR is very exciting for a number of reasons. One reason is that we jumped into the playing field early to both test the waters and see what was capable from a creative and technological standpoint. Another reason is that it gives users control over their “ad-vironment” (my other buzz word). With AR we have the ability to set new creative benchmarks. The more we talk with businesses and brands the more we visualize possibilities. Industries can take advantage of this technology in ways that are both unique to their brands and services and creatively informative for their consumers. We know a good deal about this having had quick success with a location based scavenger hunt which became one of Layar’s (the big player in the AR community) favorite apps of last year. (You can see an overview on our site for find.copan.ie) Most recently we launched a campaign with Mazda to feature their new Mazda2. In both we utilized traditional print advertising and social media marketing to drive and educate the consumer. In short we leveraged key components of the technology and available platforms to present the best marketing plan for the individual brands.

New technology also means new challenges. Perhaps the biggest challenge for AR is consumer and client education. There are other challenges for brands to effectively integrate AR into their marketing campaigns or as a standalone effort. For one your target audience needs a smart phone or camera enabled device such as a laptop, desktop or tablet. Two, they need to download and install an AR browser application such as Layar, Junaio, Wheremark, Wikitude or mTrip (mobile carriers and device manufacturers are now starting to preinstall which is great for the long run, for example LG is poised to support Wikitude on the 3D AR home front very soon). Three, they need to open a specific brand page for your project to launch your awesome campaign that we created just for you.

Now, that may seem like a lot, but let’s look at the benefits Swiss watchmaker Tissot launched an incredibly successful AR campaign wherein users could virtually try on any watch from their home computer. The user simply placed a paper watch on their wrist and held it in front of their computer camera; they could then simply select any style and watch it appear on their wrist. The online campaign soon transitioned to their retail store and the benefits yielded a boost in overall sales. You can find the video demo on YouTube easily enough.

Perhaps the most recent and talked about AR campaign has been for Lynx deodorant (we know the Unilever company as AXE here). Their innovative idea was the Angel Ambush at London’s Victoria Station. As commuters walked past a specific (marked) spot they suddenly saw themselves on a large video screen by the departure display. It was there they discovered they were not alone. An augmented reality angel was right beside them stirring a commuter commotion and consequently a viral sensation on YouTube.

AR has also made its way to other brands and products such as trading cards, retail shops, milk cartons, fashion and of course video games. Enthusiasts have found ways to create their own augmented reality applications (such as AR Tatoos) for devices such as the Nintendo 3DS. Esquire magazine even launched a Robert Downey Jr driven AR issue.

As much as tablets signaled a change in traditional publishing, AR is signaling a change in the static promotion. Any print ad can be transformed to offer a consumer a whole new world of information and brand awareness that can move with them. With the ever increasing penetration of smartphones technology is within reach of most anyone (and at the very least the most common target demos). We are limited only by our creativity and strategy for reaching the consumer audience.

As with any campaign though you have to look at the big picture which includes the marketing plan, the design and the target audience. It is a good idea to market your efforts in areas that will drum up interest and discussion. Hit your facebook and twitter fans, let them know how awesome you are. Get it in front of the tech blogs if you are breaking new ground. Get it on the park benches, bus stops and billboards.

It goes without saying that this technology will continue to evolve and that awareness will continue to grow furthering my hope that I no longer sound like a pirate to passersby. AR!