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BRANDE : Digital Brand

September 5, 2011

The Latest in Social Media for Retailers

With the big Labor Day shopping weekend behind us and retailers already planning for the holiday season, I thought I’d spend this week’s blog looking at the recent developments in social media for retail.
Not Such A Great Deal?
The biggest news came from Facebook, which eliminated its Deals feature after only four months. Just a few days later, Yelp announced that it was scaling back its Daily Deals service, cutting that department’s sales force in half. These unexpected moves signaled that the trend of retailers using daily deals and online coupons may have peaked, probably due to market saturation. MSNBC’s Technolog says consumers are suffering from “daily deals fatigue,” citing a 7% decline in industry revenue between June and July.

Image courtesy of Yipit
Social Media Isn’t Going Anywhere
But retailers aren’t giving up on social media. A recent survey conducted by audience research company Bizo revealed that 65% of retail marketing executives think social media is “most important” for the upcoming shopping seasons. And 96% thought that social media marketing is more important, or as important, to their marketing in 2011 versus 2010.
Does that mean social media marketing leads to sales? In the Bizo survey, 41% of respondents said the most important aspect of social media was simply “creating general awareness.” In fact, only 14% had actually tracked the business results of their social media efforts. So many companies are finding it either difficult (likely) or undesirable (unlikely) to measure social marketing’s effect on their sales.
QR is OK
Meanwhile, mobile marketing is growing. ComScore, a digital analytics company, just released the results of a study on mobile QR code scanning. Almost 40% of the 14 million Americans who scanned codes on their phones in June did so from a retail store. 25% scanned a code from a grocery store and 8% scanned from a restaurant. That’s more than ten million people using mobile technology to enhance their shopping experience in just 30 days.
When Customers Play, Retailers Win
Retailers are also using mobile games to drive sales. The iMedia Connection blog recently listed 15 ways brands are using gamification, such as points and rewards, to increase business. Several retailers made the list, including Target, which uses the ShopKick mobile app to incentivize shopping. Customers receive points when they enter a participating store and when they scan select product barcodes. Customers can then redeem the points for Target gift cards. A number of other retailers, including Home Depot and Sephora, are using a similar app calledCheckPoints.
So deal-of-the-day websites are declining while QR codes and mobile discount games are on the rise. Looking ahead, retailers should beware “daily deals fatigue” and concentrate on loyalty programs, scannable in-store codes, and ways to “gamify” their shopping experiences. The next step in this mobile retail evolution is the exciting world of augmented reality – but that’s a topic for another day.
August 1, 2011

Why Moleskine is a Social Media Superstar

As many of you know from my presentations and webinars, I’m always looking for brands that are using social media in innovative ways. I honor these organizations with the name “SoMe Superstars.” PepsiCo, with its brilliant social recruitment marketing, was the most recent winner.

Today I’d like to recognize another company that’s interacting with consumers in exciting new ways: Moleskine, the Italy-based maker of fine notebooks and journals. Rather than seeing its products as simply blank books, the company brands itself as embodying creativity, bringing tools to artists, writers, and travelers. To further this branding, Moleskine has created a number of social media channels that celebrate painting, drawing, writing, poetry, and scrapbooking, and encourages users to post their work. The result is a remarkably loyal fan base that consistently uploads and shares new content. In fact, BrandChannel recently declared that “If any brand name seems to be loved by all who come in contact with it, it is Moleskine.”

                                          

Here are the three superstar strategies that Moleskine uses to engage with its audience in a branded way:

* Moleskine has profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Tumblr, each with active communities and lots of user-generated content, from artwork to fiction to videos.
* For “old-fashioned” content, the company runs a blog, Moleskinerie, that integrates many of its social efforts while also providing unique content.
* Moleskine has just launched a mobile app that allows users to write or draw on their iPhone or iPad as they would in an actual notebook.
As the New York Times recently reported, Moleskine’s social efforts are immensely successful. 91,000 people are fans of the company’s Facebook page, while 12,000 people follow the company on Twitter. On both Facebook and Flickr, Moleksine encourages its fans to post their sketches, paintings, and collages, creating a community of user-generated content and supportive feedback.

Moleskine’s YouTube channel has 3,800 subscribers and more than 235 videos, both from fans and the company itself. The videos range from actual footage of artists drawing in the books to short films that celebrate the company’s creative spirit. The company also posts videos of its traveling art exhibitions and its workshops, which allow fans to meet and collaborate, making the Moleskine customer base feel even more like a community.

                                       

Most companies have a blog, but the Moleskine blog stands out by serving as a companion to its Facebook and Twitter accounts, rather than simply duplicating them. “Tweet” and “Like” buttons atop each post make it easy to share the content on users’ social networks. Moleskine also made the bold decision to stay distinct from the company’s website, giving the brand a platform to focus solely on its community. The blog includes a link to a very cool beta application, myMoleskine, which allows users to upload their own written or visual content, or images from a gallery, and create a virtual notebook, complete with turnable pages.

Even while it embraces its product’s low-tech charm, Moleskine is moving into the modern era with a clever new mobile app. Users choose a Moleskine notebook paper style, create a new “thought,” and then type or draw, using different colors and sizes. These “thoughts” can be geo-tagged, catalogued in different categories, and shared with others through social networks or email.

Art by Jinho Jung

In speaking to the New York Times, Moleskine America president Marco Beghin said “We let our fans speak for themselves. We wanted to create a relay of stories to become the ambassadors, interpreting the message.” Moleskine knows that its customers are creative and gives them an outlet for them to express themselves.

What can you learn from Moleskine? First, find the positive and compelling aspects of your brand, company, or product. Then learn who your market is and how they relate to those aspects. Finally, find ways of connecting with that market that utilize your strengths and are on-brand.
For fostering creativity in creative ways, I’ve dipped my quill and inscribed Moleskine in the honored list of genuine SoMe Superstars!
July 4, 2011

Social Media Starts to Sizzle

I just wanted to express a few quick thoughts before the holiday weekend.
It’s an exciting time at BRANDEMiX. We have new projects, new clients, new staff, and a new, larger office space that’s designed for collaboration.
Things are changing in the social media world as well. Foursquare’s recent partnership with American Express shows that mobile marketing has a big future. Google+ hopes to compete with Facebook at the same time that Skype, now owned by Microsoft, is integrating more closely with the social network giant. Amidst all this, MySpace’s sale to Specific Media at a $545 million loss closes a major chapter in the history of the internet.
Many of you will be enjoying the holiday weekend but still updating your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles, still checking in on Fourquare and  uploading videos to YouTube. But is it for work or pleasure? Are the borders between the two coming down?
That’s something I’ll explore in the coming weeks, along with more spotlights on Social Media Superstars. I’ll also introduce you to my own superstar, the Director of Digital Branding at BRANDEMiX.
Until then, have a happy Independence Day.
June 26, 2011

This Week in Social Media

– Mobile marketing took a big step forward when American Express announced a new partnership with Foursquare. The social networking app allows cardholders to link their Foursquare profiles to their cards, giving them access to specials without the need for coupons. When a cardholder sees a special they want, they check in to the location and “load” the discount onto their card, and their credit card statement confirm it. While only available at three merchants so far, I predict this innovative partnership will spread to other credit card companies and to other social networks, including Facebook.

The takeaway: Mobile is the next great frontier in shopping, socializing, and job searching. Is it part of your social media strategy?



– UP2U, a new stick gum from the makers of Mentos, launched an aggressive social media campaign ahead of its product launch. Though the gum isn’t yet sold anywhere in the US, the UP2U Facebook page neared 100,000 likes this week. Mentos offered free gum to the first 1,000 people who liked the page, but even after that milestone was hit, the promotion continued to go viral. The campaign should hit a whole new level next month when Mentos asks its Facebook fans to provide the name of friends who would like free samples.

The takeaway: Even without a product, UP2U has created fun, opinionated community by asking questions on its Facebook wall, all of which include the phrase “it’s up to you.” Chew on this smart blend of branding and engagement.

– Jason Valdez, an ex-convict in Salt Lake City, found time during a 16-hour police standoff to update his Facebook status. Friends and family members responded to him in real time, offering everything from pleas to “do the right thing” to, in one case, alerting Valdez to a SWAT officer hiding in the bushes. The standoff is over and the hostage is safe, but SLC police are still trying to determine if anyone who commented on Valdez’s Facebook wall should be charged with obstruction of justice or hampering a police investigation. Authorities are also debating whether Valdez’s posts themselves are a crime.

The takeaway: Social media is changing every type of interaction, and no one is totally certain what the new rules are. We’re all pioneers, so don’t be afraid to try.



– Lastly, this week my company BRANDEMiX partnered with the US Open to promote their July 7 job fair, where the National Tennis Center and all its hiring partners will be accepting resumes and conducting interviews to fill thousands of positions at this year’s tennis tournament. For this project, we created a microsite, a Twitter account and a Facebook Page.

The takeaway: Check out our Team US Open sites and tell me what you think!
May 8, 2010

Your Digital Brand


The Art of Cultivating Awareness, Likeability and Relationships online.

According to a February LinkedIn study of over 1,100 corporate recruiters, half of those in the US are nervous that competitors are learning to use social networking and social media more effectively than they are.

While many reading this may be dismissive of that fear- I understand and defend it.

Presenting a unified, authentic brand over a variety of new media requires a real strategy, a thoughtful examination of goals and projected outcomes (fans, followers, leads, applicants, sales) and true culture change. Organizationally, you may not be sufficiently staffed or aligned to be creative, collaborative or most importantly consistent. And unlike a magazine article or newspaper ad, digital failures can be forever.

I invite those interested in this topic to continue the discussion and become members of a new LinkedIn group: Your Digital Brand.

Uniquely poised at the cross section of technology and marketing, Your Digital Brand invites members to share stories of success in cultivating awareness, likeability and relationships online.. Business owners, human resources professionals, CMO’s and CEO’s are encouraged to enjoy learnings from the outliers of the digital world.

As the silos between employee, customer and shareholder have dissolved, it has become a business imperative for organizations to create a unified message that is both authentic and differentiated. And while social media marketing has a very low barrier of entry, I contend that the bar to excellence is still very high.