ENTER MUS-GRAMMYS 226 LAIn today’s social media driven world it seems like all companies are using social media and are trying to be the experts in the field. But as we all know creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle and frequently shouting about your brand is not likely to make you an expert in social media. 

This post comes as a result of the Twitter storm that was sparked around Adele the night of the Grammys. This suggests that personalities work better than brands with online conversations often backfiring on brands and advertising often taking over true conversations. Instead, it is about being able to create content which users can discuss, share and recommend while also supporting customer service and experience.

There is no doubt that brands must embrace social media. The fast-changing landscape means that many companies remain confused about exactly why they are on social media sites – beyond the usual talk about building a fan base there are many ways that brands can interact with customers using social media including handling customer complaints, offering discounts and listening to online conversations.

There are only a small number of brands that are using social media to really connect and interact with customers. For example Dell, has a social media ‘listening command centre’ that identifies customer service issues along with brand evangelists. KLM also is using social media to improve customer service and gleam customer insights. They have a unique 24hr customer service platform on Facebook and Twitter, employees held up large poster with individual letters and created a living alphabet that was videoed and sent to customers to spell out customer questions. Unisys also has a social knowledge sharing platform for employees to network and share information.

Another great example of a brand excelling in their use of social media is American Steak house ‘Morton’s’, who identified that a social media guru tweeted about craving a @Mortons steak after a long flight. Morton Steak House acted quickly and used this as a media opportunity organising a number of employees to greet the influencer with a juicy steak at the arrivals gate. This highlights the importance of noticing a PR opportunity and acting fast.

Looking at these brands examples gives useful insights into why these companies are succeeding in social media.The small handful that really are using social media successfully are listening and communicating with their customers by two way communication that is not overly brand biased. Improving customer service is a key theme flowing through the above examples; customers who feel like they are listened too and understood are likely to be more loyal to the brand. Successful brands are talking to customers about what they actually care about.

Brands who demonstrate understanding, creativity and innovative thinking which moves them out of their comfort zones seems to be winning ingredient. 

@T_Bloore

A very interesting blog post on the FT about changes in the fashion industry caught my attention and I wanted to share the most subversive etail initiative I have ever heard about. 

www.honestby.com is the brainchild of Belgian designer Bruno Pieters. The site will sell a collection of 56 pieces for men and women. But what is groundbreaking about it is its transparency. It is transparent both financially and in terms of manufacturing.

By the time you press “buy” you will know exactly what you are paying for – everything from the material used, weight, who spun it, whether it is organic, a website for the supplier and so on – and you will find this for the fabric, the zipper, the lining, the trim, the label, the buttons, the thread etc. Under “price information” you will find out the cost per meter of the fabric, how much was ordered, how much was used, how much labour was involved, what the mark-up was, and how the profit was used.

High-end fashion has historically been a business built on opacity. Things cost what they cost and the less the consumer knows about the literal value of these, the better off the brands are and the more they can charge. It is precisely this attitude that Bruno wants to change as he thinks it breeds consumer mistrust – and why he wanted absolute clarity in his own brand. He has even gone so far to have said that if orders go up and he achieves economies of scale, his prices will come down.

It seems to me this has the potential to be a real game-changer in fashion, because if consumers get used to having this sort of information available, who knows, maybe they could start demanding it from other brands…

@natfut

honest-by

The quote in the title was an interesting comment from my LinkedIn Marketing Solutions client Joshua Graff which really got me thinking about why brands would and debatably should use professional networking platform LinkedIn over social networking site Facebook to market their brands.

Facebook can of course sometimes be a good forum for brands to engage with customers, but it isn’t always. Research and my personal experience shows that people primarily use Facebook to be sociable, whether that is organising your Saturday night plans or messaging old friends users are in different frame of mind to when they log on to LinkedIn where they go to search for jobs, make business decisions and primarily to gain insight – 85% of members.

LinkedIn is arguably a more professional and safe place for brands – whether they are consumer or commercial – to engage with customers. It offers marketers a powerful audience of educated and affluent business influentials (80% of decision makers being on LinkedIn). 42,000 of the Business Elite in Europe (BE Europe) visit LinkedIn everyday creating a forum where business decisions are made. Marketers can also gain really rich data about their followers, for example how senior they are, how much their average income is etc.

Be great to get other people’s opinions on the benefits/pitfalls of these two social platforms for businesses -so tell me what do you think?

Many of you will be aware of how the above question applied to the Roman Empire during Monty Python’s Life of Brian

“alright –APART from sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order…”

 

I was reminded to apply the same question to Europeans in general as part of an investigation into the future of work being undertaken for a client. The findings to date predict a truly global and “frictionless” marketplace where, by 2020, skills and experience will be matched with job profiles and budgets through a sort of “global employment dashboard”, probably residing somewhere in the Cloud.

How will Europe compete in such a competitive environment? Well, it certainly won’t be on cost…

Europeans will have to find clear distinction; what they are good at, where their value lies in order to compete in an increasingly frictionless market.

To this end, my colleagues and I have been trying to compile a list of sectors, expertise, and markets where Europe really excels. These are areas where skills and heritage built up over centuries give Europe an unassailable competitive advantage.

First, we start with the serious list; by 2020, Europeans will still be in a position of competitive advantage in the following:

Next, the list of slightly less serious areas where the Europeans excel however:

I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for either list.  So in 2020, when the question arises, “What have the Europeans ever done for us?” we’ll have our answers ready!

@RogerDara

"So don't become some background noise"

Spotify: a PR success, a service the world has grown to love and a potential game-changer for the music industry – but also a service which most of us have decided not to pay for. Instead, the majority of revenue remains reliant on advertising, users largely accepting an advert being played every half an hour as a small price to pay for having legal access to a myriad of music.

Yet over the weekend it emerged quite how insignifigant a money spinner this currently is for even the most popular artists. Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ is one of the most popular tracks on Spotify, being played over a million times, yet a report claims that she has earned only $167 (about £100) from this. In view of the fact that many of the big music labels are given equity in Spotify in return for their artist’s material, this could understandbly lead to some anger – Swedish artist Magnus Uggla being a case in point.

Whether it is really relevant to measure the success of Spotify in this way remains to be seen as it is still a service in it’s infancy. Much like Twitter, it is phenomenally successful in terms of usability but is still finding its feet in terms of making money. As it continues to attract users it’s appeal to advertisers will grow and so to will the financial returns. How this filters down to the individual artist is then probably more of an issue with the labels than with Spotify.

If at this stage you instead view Spotify as a brand building tool to drive fans to the places which do make an artist money, it all becomes a bit more acceptable. After listening to a track on Spotify, many will pay to download the album, go to a gig or watch the video on YouTube – the latter being highlighted by Lady Gaga herself as one of the most lucrative touchpoints. The video for her latest single ‘Bad Romance‘ is a case study in product placement. The incredibly slick electro pop production includes products from Phillipe Stark, Nemiroff, HP, Nintendo and Burberry among others. Whilst there is always a danger that product placement in a video will translate to it becoming a glorified advert, each product has a logical role and is subtle enough to ensure credibility remains. For Lady Gaga (or her management) this means a big wad of a cash. By inviting the brands into her video It also means she can capitalise on her value as a brand endorsement whilst still playing by her rules. For the brands in question it means an instant association with a cool, headline grabbing personality. It also brings (at the time of writing) almost 17 million views and the knowledge that this video and brand exposure will stay online indefinitely. A win win situation.

@AJGriffiths

DISCLAIMER: HP is an Edelman Tech client.  @LukeMackay also has a Burberry coat, though no one pays him to wear it.   More’s the pity.

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