Category Archives: Economy

Instagram

Instagram Has Become A Consumer-Friendly Platform: Which Is Good News

Three years ago, what was Instagram and Pinterest? What value did they bring to the consumer, and were they worth the devoted attention by marketers? Some would argue that Facebook was and is currently the primary focus, and that it should be. However, has Facebook reached a point where not only the advertising has lost its effectiveness, but that, combined with Facebook’s evolution to becoming the platform to discuss social, political, and religious issues has pushed consumers to other platforms? Absolutely. There has been a major shift to Twitter and Instagram, and with that brings bigger and better marketing opportunities for businesses both big and small.

What makes Instagram so different is that the picture is what draws people in, not the written text below. Hard selling is very difficult as putting out quality, native content is a number one priority that will make more of an impact due to great visual posts. On Instagram, the consumers come to you. By effectively using hashtags, you’re drawing customers in, but the ball is in their court, not yours. They have the power to choose whether they’ll follow and consume what you sell, and they’re the ones that are engaging with you, rather than you engaging with them. Facebook has become a push platform, where Instagram is at it’s best when you’re attracting customers.

Companies are now promoting their products with the use of great content, and in-turn, are now getting inquiries about prices and services by serious consumers. On Facebook, it’s become rare to see customers engage with companies in such an open manner, unless those companies are very friendly, open, and direct through the use of their content. Small businesses ranging from selling t-shirts to car services, are seeing results through the content they share. Visualization is key. The better the picture, the more engagement.

Instagram is also a platform where it’s a must to update on a regular basis; four, five, sometimes even six pictures a day aren’t enough. But it should be noted that you have a clear strategy when it comes to the distribution of your content as certain hours of the day work better than others. To some degree, Pinterest has a lot to do with Instagram’s growth and maturity as a social media marketing platform. Pinterest is essentially the visualized version of eBay and Amazon, and through that, a great quality of content has now shifted to Instagram.

Consumers have a desire to become “friends” with companies, and build a connection through the use of content. At the rate Facebook is going, advertisements along with boring content is repelling customers, which may eventually lead to Facebook becoming valueless to businesses in terms of selling products in mass volumes. Right now Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms out there, and it would be a mistake to not use it to your company’s advantage.

Prepare to put out great content and engage with your followers. Social media is changing, and Instagram’s current setup is the direction social media marketing is heading. Visualization will be key to selling anything, so it’s time to make the switch and focus on other platforms that aren’t named Facebook.

Paradise

Sell Emotion, Feeling, And An Experience To See Sales

Being a car enthusiast, and someone who is studying social media marketing for car dealerships, the notion of selling emotion, feeling, and experience is rather fascinating. A highly effective form of advertising that is often used in the hotel and resort industry, isn’t being utilized in other industries, or rather, not being used correctly. I believe that the greatest motivator in the buying process is feeling. When your favorite car brand promotes their new convertible, the scenery and sound affects draw you in, and if the commercial is successful, you’ll have a growing desire to experience what the actor is in the ad.

You’ve probably heard business people asking a salesperson to sell them a pen. Most of these sales pitches fail because they talk about the pen, but not about what the pen can do for you, as in how do you benefit from that pen. Selling cars has always been hard selling, and not about the benefits that buyer will see after they purchase that car. Instead of rushing someone into a hasty decision, either use marketing campaigns that strike at the heart of consumers, or consistently post content that gives a potential car buyer the desire to purchase a certain vehicle.

The home decor industry has fallen into the same trap, where spokespeople talk about “great deals”, but don’t try creating an emotion, feeling, or experience. What is better than sitting in an air conditioned house on a summer night, with a comfortable leather coach, watching a movie with the entire family? That’s an experience, a feeling, or emotion that many family-oriented adults desire to feel. We’re living in an amazing time where social media is dominating the marketing world, but industries aren’t using these tools effectively. Instagram and Pinterest are picture based platforms, and with great photos, you can create an experience for customers that will be desired.

It’s incredible that HGTV seems to be more effective at selling home decor products than the companies who produce and sell them. The same goes for the automotive industry where Car and Driver uses pictures, and posts content that could motivate a car buyer to choose a certain brand over the other. For Car and Driver, it’s not their job to sell cars, they’re specialty is reviewing them, and informing consumers. Yet, they’ve become a primary resource where car buyers could easily be influenced by a magazine article.

If you don’t start creating a feeling, an emotion, or start selling an experience, you will not see the ROI you desire from your social media marketing campaigns. Hard selling is slowly becoming the normal strategy for companies, not only those who produce the products we see on the shelves and in showrooms, but the ones who also sell them. How do car dealerships expect a certain model to sell, if they don’t promote their vehicle in a way that creates a desire to experience the feeling behind the wheel of that car? For HGTV, I get the feeling they’ve become more trustworthy and a better source of buying information on everything about homes and interiors than the companies themselves.

Social media has become the tool where customers grow trust in certain brands, whether that be a company, magazine, or television network. The reason why car dealerships and companies in other industries see low engagement rates is because they’re not posting content that builds emotion and a connection. The social media marketing era has created many winners in a multitude of industries, but now that social media is maturing, we’re seeing a lot of losers pop up, and that’s because they’ve resorted to hard selling. Sell emotion, feeling, and an experience if you want to succeed, because the hard selling days are over.

Automotive Social Media Marketing

Not Marketing On Social Media? You’re Playing With Fire

On my other website, Boston Auto Blog, I’ve discussed the importance of having a sound social media marketing strategy for car dealerships, but it’s essential for any industry. Over the past three months I’ve spent much time looking over companies’ social media strategies, while also taking notes on the businesses who aren’t taking social media platforms seriously. The findings were alarming for the businesses who weren’t consistently posting content, engaging with followers, or didn’t have any social media presence. We are now living in a time where marketing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are vital, similar to when big conglomerates moved to neighborhoods, killing the small businesses off in the process.

As in the early days of the shopping mall and companies who could market, advertise, and mass produce products on a grand scale, new businesses who have the foresight of marketing on social media are stealing market share away from local perennial powerhouses. In 2015, it’s a friendly environment for young startups because they can use social media to their advantage as the virtual word of mouth. They can engage with followers even before their doors open, update their future customers on news regarding their startup, and already make an impact before their grand opening. The local stores with a strong tradition of being a great place to shop at is no longer good enough, especially if they’re not using Facebook or any other platform.

This year, there has been a new car dealership that’s moved into the local area. Months ahead of time they were posting updates and promoting their dealership with Facebook ads, so when the doors were finally ready to open, they had immediate customers. In turn, some dealerships in the area started scrambling and began promoting their Facebook fan page, but it was too late. The new dealership was not only promoting, they were also posting native content of their showroom, cars, nail salon, and memorabilia store. So far after 6 months since their grand opening, they’re by far the most popular dealership and have a following of over 8,500 fans on Facebook, which is more than dealerships who have been open for decades.

Traditional businesses who operate the old-fashioned way are playing a very dangerous game. By not going digital and updating their marketing strategy, they’ll get beat by the companies who are primarily marketing on social media. In fact, I haven’t seen one commercial from that dealership. Their popularity arose from word of mouth, social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and engaging with the local community. They were already a member of the neighborhood before the store even opened, and no one can deny that it had an impact on the local area.

Social media marketing will continue to help grow the companies who use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter effectively, and will kill off the businesses who don’t take social media seriously. It’s already become apparent that this new dealership is taking business away from other showrooms in the area. For any company out there, the new kid on the block who is reaching out to the community should be putting fear in the hearts of the hometown boys who’ve owned the local turf for decades. You either update your marketing strategy, or you’ll be forgotten like the town diners and local stores that were eaten up by companies who could advertise on a mass scale.

Marketing on social media is serious. Without a sense of urgency, and not putting in the time and dedication to grow your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followings, you’ll be opening the door for others businesses who understand the importance of online marketing, and they’ll gladly take your customers away from you.

Friends

Social Media: Killing Friendships, Or Building Stronger Bonds?

You’ve probably seen videos or graphics showing the breakdown of socialization due to everyone looking at their smartphones constantly, or spending far too much time on social media. People crying out and spreading the word that social media, despite containing the word social, has destroyed interaction with our friends, families, and others around us. The campaigns that are out there to encourage Internet users to turn off their phones, shutdown their laptops, and other devices that connect us to the virtual world, are out there, but so often not listened to and falling on deaf ears. Little do these activists, if you can call them that, know that they’re the ones being left behind with a 20th century mindset in a 21st century world.

Taking a quick look back 15-20 years ago, kids used to be on the playgrounds, playing basketball at the park, or catch with a small group of friends. They’d have face-to-face conversations with each other, and if they were home, they’d call their friends on the home phone and schedule a get-together. Those were the days right? Maybe not so much.

In today’s world, what is going on? Kids are still playing basketball, baseball, and other sports, but not on their own, they’re usually part of a league (AAU, Little League, Pop Warner). Their friendships arise by playing on the field or court together, not because they live in the same neighborhood. When they’re home, they’re texting, Skyping, and FaceTiming each other constantly. But what about the kids, or even adults who didn’t join an official group that their parents or themselves signed up for, how are they still maintaining and growing friendships? Social media.

Car enthusiasts are joining Facebook groups, commenting on car magazine statuses, posting videos on Youtube that are reaching like-minded individuals, and sharing photos on Instagram that attract others who have the same interest. Through these resources, car meets such as Cars and Coffee have been created to bring an entire community of car enthusiasts together, and these car owners from all over the region likely had an online friendship prior to meeting face-to-face.

Their bond has been created by a common interest. This group is made up of people who probably don’t get along with others in their neighborhood, or go to school with a class that has no interest in cars. Instead of being left out, this group can meet on the weekends, chat on social media, and text each other. Friendships are no longer decided by geography or what school or neighborhood you live in. These people could live 50 miles away from each other, but will meet in the middle on weekends because of that friendship and mutual interest in cars.

Relationships are another aspect that people believe social media is getting in the way of, but is it really? Take a look at your friends and the relationships they are in with their significant other. They appear to have the exact same interests, doing activities together as if they were best fiends. Social media and their smartphones aren’t getting in the way of their relationship, and if they are, then are those two compatible? If not, that’s when the Internet and smartphones begin to dominate.

What we are seeing is the death of the traditional friendship, but the creation of a brother and sisterhood. Celtics fans are getting to know each other on Twitter, after a while of chatting on social media, they’re now meeting up before, during, and after games, and sharing that common fan-hood, creating a fan base that’s much closer than in previous generations. Instead of 18,000 Celtics fans who’ve never met before going to a game, there are now cliques and groups in each section who do in fact know each other. The fan experience has now become a bond and friendship, and not a collection of Bostonians watching their favorite team in the TD Garden.

The people and Facebook users who are complaining about the end of face-to-face interactions and loss of friendships, are now the victims of being last in their social network to realize where we’re heading as a society and how we interact with each other. People desire a friendship that shares mutual interest on a number of levels. Just because you go to the same school, work in the same office, or live in the same neighborhood, doesn’t mean you’re that great of friends. There needs to be more in common than that, and car enthusiasts, Celtics fans, and any other large group of hobbyists have seen that, and they’re joining other lilk-minded people.

As I said before, the only ones complaining about the “over-usage” of social media and smartphones are the last people to know and interact with people who share their same interest. In reality this isn’t anything new to mankind. All this really is are fraternity/sorority, after school programs, and sports leagues on a much grander scale that are being established via social media. Stronger bonds are being created, while the last remaining link is all alone waiting to assimilate with a group of friends who share the same passion towards a hobby.

SMM-Jigsaw-Banner

How Much Different Is SMM From Old School Marketing?

As with any innovation, we are often struck with amazement as to how we went so long doing daily tasks the conventional way, when there was a better solution that offered just as much, if not more valuable in less time. Social media marketing is one of those innovations that business owners look at as the game changer, the revolutionizing method of marketing on a small or grand scale. But is SMM all that much different than old school marketing, which has dominated the advertising agency for the better part of 50 years?

When Steve Jobs created the iPod, everyone thought it would revolutionize how we listen to music, and it has. However, the groundwork was already put in place with the invention of the Walkman. Jobs innovated and improved an existing concept, and by combining that with modern technology, we’re able to access our music libraries on our phones, iPad’s and laptops. Almost every song ever written is now available, and can be bought with just a click of a button, instead of buying individual cd’s or records and frantically searching for the album. Marketing and advertising have seen the same innovation, but instead of one man changing how we communicate and reach out to customers, a group of innovators have created the world of marketing as we see it today.

Advertising in the 20th century was mainly television commercials and radio and newspaper ads. It was pretty straightforward as companies could reach consumers on a massive scale by using a variety of methods to get their messages across. Today the focus is on social media, and instead of giant corporations dominating the advertising scene, small and medium sized businesses can have just as much success as their larger counterparts.

While television, radio, and newspapers are still used today, the innovation Steve Jobs had on the music industry, is the equivalent to what Mark Zuckerberg, Kevin Systrom, and the founders of Youtube and Twitter have done to business and marketing.

One could argue that Youtube, to some degree, has taken a bite out of television advertising. The same ads we see on television are now being seen on Youtube before videos. Combine that with Facebook through sharing links, and you not only have a platform that shares videos that are in essence ads, but a micro blog that allows business owners and marketers to share important news, information, and links to persuade consumers to buy into their products. Facebook can be seen as a mini newspaper because of the ability to post short tidbits of information, while also having the capability to purchase ads to specifically target consumers who would get the most value out of what the company is selling.

Instagram and Pinterest can be used as online catalogs, zoning in on one specific product at a time. Instead of mailing out printed catalogs to a number of recipients, pictures being posted to these two platforms can capture the attention and interest of specific viewers, and with Pinterest, a link can be provided which leads the consumer right to the online store.

Podcasts can be used similar to radio. The major difference here is that companies can choose which podcasts to advertise in, leading to a higher rate of conversion. If there’s a car discussion podcast, a local or regional auto parts store or supplier could advertise, which would have more of an impact on the listeners than if that same company decided to place an ad on the radio, despite the larger listening audience. Of course, podcasting is already niche oriented to begin with, and that plays a factor into how companies use that platform to reach consumers.

Twitter is the virtual billboard. The people who are scrolling down their Twitter feed are similar to the drivers who are passing by signs on a highway. Each tweet is a quick blurb with 180 characters and a picture to go along with the message. The most important factor for companies is how to get those users to click and go to their profiles, and that comes with eye catching photos and short phrases

Social media marketing isn’t exactly a new concept, but it does however offer platforms for companies to specifically target the right consumer. Instead of 30 second television commercials, radio ads, and newspaper articles, businesses of all sizes not only can capture a consumers attention with a strong social media marketing plan, but retain them and add to the community of consumers that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram/Pinterest, and Youtube can provide. Old school marketing captures attention on a grand scale and creates short-term recognition. While SMM, if done right, captures and holds onto the consumer, if those future customers see long term value.

Forum Value Mall

Amazon and eBay Hasn’t Killed Retail Off Like It Was Supposed To. Why?

If someone told you back in 2000 that Amazon, eBay, and online stores won’t kill of retail and brick and mortar stores would you believe them? A click of a button from your couch and the comforts of your own home has had absolutely no affect on consumer behavior, leaving many baffled, especially since we’re in the age of convenience and are part of a “lazy” generation. The irony here is that convenience isn’t ordering online, but actually driving to the mall or store, and buying the product immediately.

Impatience and the desire to want something at that very moment is what’s keeping brick and mortar stores alive. Why wait a day or two when you could have it right now? What’s absolutely shocking is that consumers are willing to spend more money by going out and buying what they want, as opposed to ordering the same item online for much less. In what’s considered to be the age of technology, people still shop as if it’s the 20th century, and there are a few factors behind that. Teenagers who have grown up in the age of the Internet and smart phones, shop similarly to seniors and the elderly.

What it all comes down to is the experience that brick and mortar stores can offer, the ability to touch and feel the product they want to buy, and consumers having an excuse to get out of their houses. Forbes wrote an article last year on the study done on what the percentage of consumers were who preferred buying products via brick and mortar. 90% said they’d rather go to the sore or mall than shop online. The consumers who don’t make their final purchasing decision in the store, window shop, and then click the buy button online after they’ve already seen what they want in person.

This could explain why we haven’t seen the complete demise of bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, or even local public libraries. With Starbucks inside every Barnes & Noble store, people can go read their new book, surf on the Internet, and grab a cup of coffee. It’s an experience that only a brick and mortar store can offer, and it’s incredible that people would rather go out than do the same exact thing at home.

People are social beings, and even if they don’t interact with their fellow consumers while they’re out, being around others and living life outside the four walls of their living room is what they desire. This is why many predictors can speculate consumer behavior and how they’ll react to new technology that will make their lives easier, but if it means that it will change their lives completely, they won’t adapt to that as quickly. The same could be said for autonomous cars and all the hype surrounding them, but it might be safe to say that consumers desire their freedom to shop or drive whenever they feel like it.

We may be living in an age that offers convenience and the ability to stay home 24/7, but technology hasn’t fully taken over our lives to the point that we’re willing to buy products online and never leave our couches. Amazon and eBay are great when you’re lazy or you can wait the extra day or two for the item. But so far, all the speculations and predictions have been wrong, and malls and stores are still thriving today.

Top Gear Vietnam Special

BBC and Top Gear: A Business Lesson Can Be Learned From This

It’s safe to say that if you’re a Top Gear fan, you’re feeling depressed like many other car enthusiasts. With Jeremy Clarkson’s firing, James May and Richard Hammond have already made it clear that it’s all three of them doing the show or there is no Top Gear at all. The BBC and Clarkson have had an interesting history over the past few years, with the BBC threatening to fire Clarkson should another controversial story come about, and now that prophecy has come to fruition. However, is this really the end of Top Gear or just the beginning of something even better?

Top Gear rakes in $74 million for the BBC annually, and this show has become a worldwide sensation, drawing in fans from around the world. Needless to say they’re lucrative, and in business, making money is the name of the game. While the BBC might be willing to cut ties and take a gamble on possibly losing millions of weekly viewers, other TV networks are willing to take their own risk and try enticing Jeremy Clarkson and the rest of Top Gear’s crew to join their TV lineup. Who wouldn’t want to see $74 million in annual revenue? That’s why this isn’t the end of the greatest show on earth, but in terms of the name, Top Gear as a TV show might no longer exist.

TV shows that make this much money don’t just disappear. If money can be made, there’s always a way to mend fences, or build new ones with some other TV network. For Jeremy Clarkson, he’s holding all the cards. Not only has Netflix shown interest in the outspoken presenter, but Sky News and ITV are rumored to be positioning themselves to bring the entire cast and show to their network. If Clarkson decides to go in a different direction and go independent, he’s already got the connections to make it happen, and it wouldn’t shock anyone that Richard Hammond and James May would not be too far behind in joining their brother in arms.

What BBC has done is nothing short of being the worst business decision in the history of the entertainment industry. Not only are they in jeopardy of losing $74 million per year, but they gave the most powerful presenter on television the opportunity to make more money if he decides to make his own TV show, whether that be with help from Netflix, other networks, or business investors.

It’s safe to say that Top Gear is one of the most influential car shows on the planet, possibly creating millions of dollars for car companies that not only sell in Europe, but also in the United States. Having Jeremy Clarkson going his own way, he can choose to have production done in the United States where distribution, annual revenue, bigger networks, and larger audiences reside. What could be a Top Gear fan’s biggest nightmare, might just be their biggest pipe dream come true. There’s the potential for Top Gear to come back better than ever should all three presenters leave the BBC.

Jeremy Clarkson isn’t stupid, and in fact has connections in very high places to make creating his own show a reality. James May and Richard Hammond are without a doubt going to join Clarkson on his next endeavor, and for all three of them they have an opportunity to make more money than if they did under the guidance of BBC.

Bigger profits are the possibility here. Who’s to stop a guy such as Jay Leno from acquiring these three to create an epic TV show in the United States? The doors are now open for all possibilities, and we can thank the BBC.

The lesson than can be learned here is that when you have a product that’s making you money, you do whatever is in your power to make sure that you don’t lose it. Clearly the BBC doesn’t value Top Gear like so many around the world, and they’re going to regret it when Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond make someone else extremely rich, and see their own fame rise higher than it was under the BBC.