Social Media is Here to Stay: What does the future look like?

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The creation of this blog can be credited to the growing popularity of social media over the past few years. It is this popularity that has made understanding social media and how to best utilize these tools effectively a top priority for any business. Although the future of social media is uncertain like anything in the future, it is safe to say that social media is a trend that’s here to stay. That being said, it’s crucial to remember that like all trends, it is constantly evolving and one must follow the changes to ensure success for their business.

Pinterest in the Future

In a past post I explored the new social media site, Pinterest. Known as one of the fastest growing social media sites, it has been refereed to as a “Facebook on steroids.” Pinterest has a user base of about 98% women and a majority of the users fall between the ages of 25-44; the demographic that has the most economic impact. It is this statistic that makes Pinterest such a valuable tool for advertising. Although companies are just starting to figure out how to use Pinterest, I believe that within the next few years businesses will really find their place on Pinterest. Companies such as King Arthur Flower could really benefit from Pinterest by creating pinboards for their products and recipes. Clothing companies and craft companies could create pinboards with highlight spring lines or summer DIY projects for kids. The benefit of using these pinboards is that it allows companies to highlight products in a visual way and provides easy access to their websites where purchases can be made. Due to it’s short time in the social media realm, how a business can best utilize a Pinterest is still in the researching phase,along with leveraging it, and tracking it. In the next few years companies will have figured this out and will be able to measure it’s effectiveness. One thing is certain and that is the fact that Pinterest promotes traffic to all companies whose products are “pinned”.

Future Trends in Social Media

As I mentioned above Pinterest users are about 98% female. I believe within the next year we will see a male version of Pinterest that will gain popularity. There is one in the works already Gentlemint.com I think that sharing through social media will continue to develop and be the key trend. It started with sharing status, upgrades to sharing locations, upgraded again to sharing interests and hobbies.I believe that Facebook will try and counteract Pinterest’s growth by creating a feature on Facebook where users could share interests and hobbies. The only advantage they would have on Pinterest would be that they are an established site and would allow people to keep everything under one account providing convenience and simplicity.

Lastly, I believe that technology, including social media, has provided people with convenience. I have added so many dimensions and activities to my daily routine that without technology, especially my calendar in my smartphone, I truly do not think i would be able to get it all done. To me, social media is an other tool of convenience. Facebook allows me to connect with all of my girlfriends from college in one message and within a matter of minutes I can find out updates on what they are doing. LinkedIn has made it easier for both employers and job seekers to find quality employment. In a matter of minutes an employer can search through a website and can find a handful of candidates as opposed to placing a newspaper ad attracting 60 mildly qualified candidates saving them hours off the review process. As social media develops overtime, I feel as though they will develop more and more tools and sites that allow convenience, and provide a great reward to their users. I am looking forward to see how social media sites combined with smartphone technology advance as well as how government agencies use social media to their benefit. Many news articles can been found suggesting what the future might unfold, however the proof is in the pudding!

Can you think of a tool a social media site could design that would help you in a positive way?

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Qwikster Flops Due to Social Media Mishap:Can Netflix Recover?

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In previous posts I have discussed companies that have really put social media to work for them, however social media can be devastating to a company if not used effectively; just ask Netflix.

In 2011 Netflix was set to launch a new service called Qwikster, which would have offered a DVD only service to it’s customers. On October 10,2011 Netflix announced that they would not be going ahead with it’s separate entity in Qwikster only three weeks after it had announced it’s plans to create it. What changed the companies mind so suddenly you ask? Three words: Social Media Mishap

Netflix advertised a Twitter account for @Qwikster before they quickly realized that user name already existed in the Twitter database. Not only did it exist, but also it belonged to a user not associated with Netflix that talked about drugs and cursed a lot. Even though he was not associated with Twitter the damage was already done and Netflix bad reputation had been created and poor judgment would be associated with the brand.

Additions to this Disastrous Recipe

Although the social media mishap was bad, and caused an enormous amount of negative media and opinion of the company, it had an equal counterpart in the downfall of Qwikster. Netflix got to greedy within their success and tried to separate their DVD by Mail package and their online streaming package. Although risk is associated in every setting, including the risk of failure,  a company of this size should have conducted the research and gotten to know it’s customers better, so that they would have known Qwikster was a terrible idea and would not garner support amongst their customers. The customers did not want to pay and have their existing services separated. Although they canceled the separation of services, Netflix still intends to keep its price increase.

Consequences of Their Actions

After Netflix announced their Qwikster plan, their stock price dropped 25% from $155 to $117. After announcing the 60% price increase earlier in the same year, their stock dropped from $300. On website cited “ The cost of this particular blunder was 800,000 lost subscribers, or $192 million in $20/month subscriber fees.”

Whenever a company introduces a new product or innovation there is always some sort of risk involved. How with this affect our existing product sales and customer opinions will our customers be open to the new product will be competitive in our market? Unfortunately for Netflix their marketing team, social media team, and risk management team failed causing them to lose many customers, company value, and money while gaining negative publicity and poor brand recognition.

I think that since Netflix offers a convenient product, and therefore it’s customers will move on from this social media disaster. In the future I feel as though Netflix will be it’s own biggest enemy.

Are you a Netflix customer? If so, did you continue your service when the price increased? Do you feel like Netflix can bounce back from this social media mishap?

Smith, S. (2012, January 20). What the Biggest Social Media Blunders Have Taught Us. Ragan.com. Retrieved February 26, 2012 from http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/What_the_biggest_social_media_blunders_have_taught_44253.aspx

Kafka, P. (2011, October 10). Qwisktter is Gonester: Netflix kills it’s dvd only business before launch. All things D. Retrieved February 26, 2012 from http://allthingsd.com/20111010/qwikster-is-gonester-netflix-kills-its-dvd-only-business-before-launch/

Is “Pinning” the New Social Media Trend?

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According to an article published December 15th, 2011 44% of Americans now own a Smartphone, up from 18% two years ago, and 62% of the users have downloaded an application for their phone. It is safe to say that with the growing popularity of Smartphone and applications, that it is a smart choice as a business to utilize the expanding technology if possible.

 My past two entries have discussed the benefits of social media for businesses and how the travel industry effectively utilizes social media. Today I’m going to discuss how Pinterest, a social media online pinboard, is helping to drive business services and products to consumers. The website allows users to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share the same interests.

 The main website allows users to log in through their Facebook or Twitter account to browse and/or pin either on your own pinboard or one that someone else created. These pinboards help the creator to organize things they find on the site they like as well as helping other Pinterest users to find ideas when the search. For example, if I ‘m decorating my new home and I can search for living room ideas, and find themes and pieces of furniture I like and where I can buy it.

 The mobile application for Pinterest is free and allows one to take all aspects of the site with them while they are on the go. It allows users to browse pins from people and pinboards you follow, repin, like, and comment on your favorite pins, and pin on the go with your Smartphone camera. The application provides users with a great sense of convenience. It can also be used to search for businesses in the area. For example, one could search on Pintrest, best bakery in NYC and find suggestions from other users and then stop at the bakery to judge with the possibility of repining.

Measuring success and Pinterest’s Impact

The Pinterest app in the ITunes store received a rating of 4.5 stars out of five and users of the application raved about the app and Pinterest. The success of Pinterest can also be seen in it’s ability to drive traffic to websites. Piccy is the 18th most shared site on Pinterest and the companies founder Daniel Eckler is happy with the popularity on the site. According to Google, Pinterest has sent over 600,000 users to Piccy’s website in the last year and 50,000 in the last month. The traffic comes from over 200,000 users who spend an average of 4 minutes on the site and Pinterest is the company’s 3rd largest traffic driver. Lastly, Pinterest’s mobile app contributes to 20% of the activity while Facebook’s mobile app only contributes about 8%. Eckler believes that Pinterest will over take Facebook’s referral traffic within a few weeks and will be their number one referrer by the end of the year.

Below is a chart tracking referrals to Piccy’s site by Pinterest. The heavy growth seen over the recent months is parallel to the growth the website has seen with their users. 

piccsy Pinterest traffic

Chart was retrieved from San Francisco Chronicle article published on Friday, Feb 17, 2012, accessed online.

Shontell, A. (2012, February 17). Chart: This is how much traffic pinterest really send sites. San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?

Horn,L. (2011, December 15) U.S. Smartphone use on the Rise, With Andriod Leading the Charge. PC Magg. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2397688,00.asp

Social Media Flying High in the Travel Industry

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I believe that here in New England we have been blessed with a wonderful winter, with little snow and only a handful of days with temps below 20 degrees, however like many others, I still have warm, sandy beaches on my mind. It was these thoughts that led to my post today on the travel industry in social media.

Customer Service

The travel industry has always been based on great customer service, and when the industry uses social media, it keeps this mentality where the customer always comes first. One big aspect to joining the online social media community, as a business in the travel industry, is that you become susceptible to consumer reviews. The new trend with hotels and airlines is to be confident within these reviews. This means linking your website to related travel publications to show confidence and to show consumers that they are not afraid of customer reviews. Along with confidence, companies are using techniques to lead conversations on their site to avoid negative comments. Carnival Cruise line does a great job of this. http://www.facebook.com/Carnival KLM, an international airline set the customer service standard in 2011 when they promised to respond to customers within 60 minutes on both Facebook and Twitter. Delta Airlines then raised the bar when they vowed to respond to all customer inquiries within 10 minutes. By promptly responding these companies are providing fantastic customer service, which will attract new customers and keep the old. Lastly, airports are using Twitter and Facebook accounts to provide a concierge service to travelers while they are at the airport.

Promotion

Of course companies in the travel industry are using social media sites to promote their products and in return consumers can find great deals. Southwest Airlines https://www.southwest.com/flight/subscription/cns-email-subscribe.html?int=GNAVCNSDNGSWA offers a great widget that provides its customers with exclusive deals. The downloadable features allows customers to select certain cities as top destinations, and are then notified when deals come through for selected cities. Estonian Air has created a program where customers are reward for “liking” a link, sharing with friends, posting a review, booking online, sharing a flight itinerary, etc. The program, AirScore, rewards members for completing such actions. These rewards can then be used for flight discounts and Air Goodies. If you reach the top level your points can be used for free lounge access or a meet and greet with the airlines CEO. http://estonian-air.ee/en/loyalty-programme/

Innovation

Lastly, companies in the travel industry have been using social media for innovation. KLM announced at the end of 2011 that they would be releasing in early 2012 the ability to book airfare through Facebook and pick whom you would be sitting next to based on their social media account. They would allow social media users on the same flight to examine fellow travelers profiles and select who they would like to sit night to on the flight. If the other person confirmed the request, they would be placed next to one another during the flight. When the company called Finnair launched a new flight service, they attract fliers using the Angry Birds game. The customers on this flight played the fame for 15 hours and were the first to compete in the Angry Birds Asian Challenge. This not only attracted customers, but an incredible amount of media attention as well. Lastly, the airline SAS became the first airline to get its social media followers to vote and decide on one of the new routes for 2012.

Check out this link as it depicts how social media has taken off within airline companies.

http://www.hudsonhorizons.com/pub/images/howairlinesusesocialmediainfographic.jpg

Sources:

Nigam, S. (2011, December 29). Top 11 Marketing and Social Media Innovations by Airlines in 2011. Simplifying. Retrieved February 12, 2012 from http://simpliflying.com/2011/top-11-marketing-and-social-media-innovations-by-airlines-in-2011/

Nigam, S. (2011, December 29).Customer Service 2.0. Simplifying. Retrieved February 12, 2012 from http://simpliflying.com/2011/customer-service-2-0-top-10-airlines-and-airports-performing-customer-service-through-social-media/

Manzo, M. (2011, November 29). Why Airlines Are Cruising Social Media. Social Media Today. Retrieved February 12, 2012 from http://socialmediatoday.com/marymanzo/397935/why-airlines-are-cruising-social-media

Putting Social Media to Work

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Social Media, What?

As of March 31, 2011 30.2% of the worldwide population were Internet users. In North America 78.3% of people were Internet users. From 2000 to 2011 when these numbers were reported, worldwide users had increased by 481% and North American users had increased by 151%. That being said, it is no surprise that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have attracted the popularity they have. These social networking sites were originally for reconnecting and recreational purposes. Now, they have taken on new dimensions as businesses are using them for company growth, advertising, marketing, etc.  When using them for business purposes it is important to understand how these websites work, what they have to offer your company, how consumers use them, and what do they expect for them. I am going to try and help guide you through these questions using the following social media sites: Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/ ), Twitter (https://twitter.com/ ), Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/ ), and LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/ ).

 Making Social Media Work for Your Business

Like all social media sites, Facebook can be an asset to a business when used effectively. Facebook is the largest social media site and has over 500 million users; that means 1 in every 13 people has an account. The site allows users to connect with people and companies all over the world. As a business you can create a personalized site offering company information including, products and services, location and hours of operation, website link, and photo’s. It also allows the company to advertise sales and promotions.  One of the greatest benefits to a business having a site like Facebook is that it allows the company to connect directly with their consumers and monitor feedback improving customer relationships. As a consumer, these sites allow them to review products, provide recommendations, locate needed businesses and services, and connect with the company directly. As a user myself, my favorite benefits are the special sales, promotions, and contests available exclusively to people who like their business.

Twitter stands out in the realm of social media as it allows people to share real time information, hash tagging, and allows comments to be linked to other accounts.  For business use, twitter has created Tweetup allowing business meetings and collaborations to take place online through their website. It allows businesses to follow user opinions and creates a better customer service department allowing companies to release information instantly to their consumers.  Other companies use twitter to run contest and promotions, which have proven to be effective. For consumers twitter offers relationships with businesses and major endorsers and allows them to share information about businesses and products instantly without them being filtered.

Youtube allows the sharing of video’s and content within a central website. Businesses can create their own channel where content is monitored and controlled by them. Sephora, a beauty company, uses Youtube very effectively (http://www.YouTube.com/Sephora ).  They have how-to videos, runway trends, consumer reviews and take homes, new product promotion and advertising, and much more. Youtube is a great social media outlet for a business like Sephora or a university that can use the site to post lectures.  As a consumer, YouTube allows users  to learn more about their products, how to use them, and other uses or complimentary products.  It also allows consumers to post videos to the general site where a company cannot control content, allowing consumers uncensored content.

LinkedIn is a social media site for the professional world. It allows people to create accounts highlighting past work experience and accomplishments while connecting to people in current and former business networks. Users can search for job postings and provide former coworkers with recommendations. It also provides a list of services available in areas and reviews provided by people who have experience with those businesses. As a business it allows you to seek out potential employees who are qualified for open positions. It also allows you to track networks statistics, review profiles of potential business partners or potential hires, and gain new leads.  As a consumer,  the site  allows one to meet other professionals, connect with old colleagues, receive and write professional recommendations, and seek employment.

Wrap-up

When using social media it is important to recognize all uses of the website so that either as the business or consumer you can make the most of what is provided by these sites. As this is my opinion on these sites, I am interested in hearing what others think. Have you found other interesting features I have not mentioned? If one was to start a new business, what free social media tool would you find to be the most effective to spread awareness? If you have existing Facebook and Twitter accounts, search for Sephora and  see how they use these tools. What do you think?

Miniwatts Marketing Group. (2012, February 15). Internet Usage Statistics The Internet Big Picture. Internet World Stats. Retrieved February 1,2012, from http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm.

 

Hepburn, A. (2011, January 18). Facebook Statistics, Stats and Facts For 2011. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/facebook-statistics-stats-facts-2011/