Tag Pinterest

Luxury Shopping Bags: Status Symbols and Social Media Props

Photo credit: Sofy Marquez on Flickr.People love to shop and they love to let people know about it.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that for many years luxury retailers have given their customers the ability to let their friends, neighbors, and just about anyone else know that they have just spent some of their hard-earned money by providing trendy shopping bags to carry proudly as they walk through a busy mall or city street.

As Maggie Lange pointed out in a 2013 article on The Cut, “The shopping bag isn’t just utilitarian, it’s symbolic of taste, preferences, and pursuits. In his book Living It Up, author James Twitchell compares people holding shopping bags to “the powder on the heinies of migrating bees as they moved from hive to hive.” It’s a souvenir of where you went and a glossy declaration of conspicuous consumption.”

With the rise of image-driven social networking sites like Instagram and Pinterest, the design of these shopping bags might be more important than ever before.

The Shopping Bag Should Reflect the Brand’s Image

In a 2011 Luxury Daily post, Kayla Hutzler highlights the fact that luxury shopping bags are visible to many consumers and therefore should positively convey the image and feel of the brand.

As Chris Turbyfill, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Design Packaging, is quoted as saying, “That bag reminds consumers of the brand and [therefore] it should look like the store. It is all involved in what we call the customer experience.”

“That bag needs to reflect the imagery and feel of the brand,” says Turbyfill. “And when consumers go home and put the bag on the table, it is a subtle reminder of what happened in the store.”

The post goes on to point out that the shopping bag can be seen by many people as customers walk around in public, particularly in major metropolises.

However, the post doesn’t mention another role that the shopping bag can play.

Use the Shopping Bag to Get Included

As Juliet Carnoy, Marketing Manager at Pixlee, writes in a post on the Pixlee blog, “Customer photos of your products are the purest form of earned media. When a customer posts a post-purchase photo of your product on social media, it’s a 5-star visual review of your brand.

For the brands that make the products, this is great.

However, the retailer that sold the products might get left out if they don’t give the customer some way to visually represent the store in the photo. This is where a visually appealing shopping bag can play the role of photo prop and help get the retailer included in the story.

In some cases, if the shopping bag is really visually appealing or is a part of pop culture, customers will post photos of the shopping bag alone just to commemorate the shopping experience.

When a photo of the shopping bag is posted on social networking sites, it will not only be seen by all the people that that customer passes on the way home from the store, it could potentially be seen by thousands of people online.

A photo posted by Chad Thiele (@chadjthiele) on

Personal Case Study

One of the best ways to explain something is to give an example. And, what a better way than to give an example from my own personal experience.

About two weeks ago, I visited the local Verizon Wireless store with the intent of renewing my contract and purchasing a new smartphone.

The phone that I was looking for was actually sold out at the local store. Instead of waiting for the next shipment, I drove to the nearest store that had one available.

The customer service at both Verizon Wireless stores that I visited was excellent, and I walked out of the second store with a new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

In keeping with the current trend, I prepared to take a photo of my purchase so that I could post it on Instagram.

This could have just been a photo of my new smartphone.

However, Verizon Wireless had just given me this beautiful shopping bag with the purchase that just begged to be included in the photo. So, I did just that.

After posting the photo, the marketer in me realized that by giving me the shopping bag, Verizon Wireless had found a way get included in what would have been user-generated content that advertised Samsung. By adding the shopping bag, it made it a user-generated ad for both Verizon Wireless and Samsung, if not primarily Verizon Wireless.

In my opinion, that was brilliant.

If only they had included a hashtag on the shopping bag, it would have been perfect. This not only would have encouraged customers to take photos of the shopping bag, but it would have also helped customers connect with other customers, brand advocates, and the brand.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes, it is the smallest details that can help get customers to mention and indirectly endorse brands on social networking sites.

And, as study after study has shown, consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than other traditional advertising methods that brands have relied on in the past.

By offering customers trendy shopping bags that properly reflect the brand’s image, retailers can now be included in the post-purchase photos that customers upload to social networking sites after a long day of shopping.

Photo credit: Sofy Marquez on Flickr and @chadjthiele on Instagram.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Some Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Post Content

Many businesses have dedicated a lot of resources to try to figure out why content gets shared on the Internet.

While many factors play a role in influencing what gets shared and what doesn’t, most experts agree that posting great content is essential. After all, why would people share something if it isn’t interesting in the first place?

Once you have great content, getting it in front of the right people (key influencers) is also important. Getting these key influencers to share your content is going to go a long way in increasing the reach of your message.

The question then is: Where should you post your content?

Choosing the Right Social Networking Sites

The best advice that I can give you about where you should post content is to post it where your customers and potential customers hang out.

That sounds easy enough… All you have to do is conduct a survey to find out what social networking sites your customers and prospects currently use, examine what social networking sites are currently driving traffic to your website, and/or look at the demographics of the users of each social networking site.

Say that you find out that most of your customers and prospects are on Facebook and Twitter, but don’t use Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, or any other social networking site. That means that you can focus on these two social networking sites and call it a day, right?

Not exactly.

You see, if you use this logic, you are forgetting the role that key influencers play in social media.

Let’s say that a lot the key influencers in your particular field use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Given all the potential noise that’s out there on Facebook and Twitter, it might be easier to get your message in front of key influencers if you post on Google+ or Pinterest. If the content is good enough, the key influencers will hopefully post it on the other social networking sites that they use. In this case, if they share it on Facebook and Twitter, it would put your content right in front of your customers and prospects, with the added benefit that it is being shared by people that your customers and prospects know and respect. That’s priceless.

The Role of Traditional Media

To complicate the matter even further, traditional media can also play a role in spreading your message.

As Tom Webster points out in a blog post, titled “Why Twitter Is Bigger Than You Think,” when you post something on Twitter, it has the potential to be talked about in the traditional media. In fact, according to research conducted jointly by Arbitron and Edison Research, 44% of all Americans age 12 or older report that they see tweets in other media (e.g., radio, television, newspapers, or other websites) “almost every day.”

Now, before you go running to your coworkers to tell them that your business should be posting on Twitter in order to help get your content shared in other media, you need to keep in mind that the research is only saying that it is possible that your content will be mentioned by traditional media outlets if it is posted on Twitter. However, is it likely? Probably not.

You will need to post some really remarkable content for it to be shared by the traditional media outlets. But, it could happen.

Also, keep in mind, the study only looked at Twitter. (At least, that’s the only site that was mentioned in the blog post.) The same thing could happen if you post on any social networking site. And, as mentioned, if it is good enough, your content will probably find its way to Twitter even if you don’t post it there. (If it is content posted on your blog or website, having social sharing buttons helps make this easier.)

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of things to consider when deciding where you should be posting your content.

Before you write off a social networking site because you don’t think that many of your customers and prospects use the site, you need to consider where it will be easiest to get the attention of key influencers in your field. In some cases, this might not be the same social networking site that most of your customers and prospects use. With this in mind, it might make sense to maintain a presence on this social networking site, anyway.

Furthermore, by posting your content on various social networking sites, it makes it possible for your message to be spread in other media, as well.

In the end, though, you still need to post content that people find interesting. Otherwise, why would they share it?

Photo credit: Rosaura Ochoa on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Pinterest Users: Beware of Copyright Law

Let me start off by saying that I’m not a lawyer, I’ve never studied law nor do I plan to.

However, the things that I’ve been reading online lately have me thinking a lot about copyright law and how it relates to social media. In particular, a lot of articles have been written about the fact that by posting content on the popular social networking site, Pinterest, users could be violating copyright law.

What’s more, a recent article on cbsnews.com points out that users are solely responsible for what they pin.

This has several implications for both users and businesses.

Copyright Law and Social Sharing

If users have to worry about being penalized for sharing something on Pinterest, will this discourage them from using the site?

And, if sharing copyrighted content on Pinterest is a copyright violation, wouldn’t the same hold true for Facebook, Tumblr, or any other site where users can post an image that can be seen without actually having to visit the website where it was originally posted?

Furthermore, will the court ever enforce the law and actually penalize a user for sharing something on the Internet for the sole purpose of letting other people know about it (i.e., not for monetary gain)? I’d hope not.

The foundation of social media is based on users being able to freely share content that they find around the Internet. If that premise is destroyed, then social media is going to change dramatically. Users who are really worried about this issue would be forced to only share their own content, content that is posted with a Creative Commons license, or content that the content creator encourages people to share by placing social sharing buttons on their blog or website.

Businesses Using Social Media to Market Their Products and Services

The copyright issue could potentially get even muddier for businesses that use Pinterest to market their products or services.

If the business posts their own photos of their products or services, then copyright issues won’t be a problem.

However, many businesses that use Pinterest have created pinboards that don’t necessarily feature their own products or services, but are of interest to their customers and potential customers. For example, in addition to pinboards about food, Whole Foods Market has pinboards that feature information about gardening, fitness, technology and books. This is a great way to get consumers to interact with the brand without beating them over the head with marketing messages.

However, here is where the copyright issue comes into play. If a business pins a copyrighted photo on Pinterest, it could very well be interpreted as a way of marketing to customers and potential customers. Therefore, the company is looking to make money, albeit indirectly, from the use of the copyrighted material. In my estimation, this would be the time when copyright law would most likely be enforced. (Again, I’m not a lawyer; I’m just using some common sense.)

Therefore, businesses need to be very sure that they have the right to share content before they post it on Pinterest or any other social networking site.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to keep in mind that when you share something on Pinterest, you might be violating copyright law. This is particularly important for businesses that are using Pinterest to interact with consumers.

However, as anyone who is even remotely interested in social media marketing knows, having your content shared on social media sites is a good thing. In fact, some companies dream that their content will go viral.

Furthermore, as a recent article that was posted on marketingprofs.com points out, even if a company doesn’t like that consumers are sharing its copyrighted content on Pinterest, it may not be the best idea to sue them because of it.

In the end, it will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in the near future, because if the court chooses to enforce copyright law and penalizes users for sharing copyrighted content on Pinterest, it could have ramifications on other social media sites as well.

Photo credit: theilr on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Pinterest: Tumblr for Grown-ups

Last month, I wrote a blog post that listed my top 10 social networking sites for 2011.

On Sunday, I signed up for a social networking site that I predict will be included on the 2012 version of that list. In fact, by the end of the year, I think that Pinterest will be on almost everyone’s radar.

A Brief Demographic Comparison of Pinterest and Tumblr Users

Tumblr was the last social networking site that I got this excited about.

These two sites are very similar in that both enable users to easily share visually appealing content with their network.

However, they currently appeal to different demographics.

For example, Pinterest users tend to be a little older than Tumblr users.

According to a post on brandwarepr.com, only 3% of Pinterest users are under the age of 18 and about 35% are age 18 to 34. Furthermore, 32% are age 35 to 44 and another 21% are age 45 to 54.

In contrast, quantcast.com reports that 18% of Tumblr users in the U.S. are younger than 18 years old and another 45% are age 18 to 34. (Note: The Quantcast numbers are based on the time period between December 16, 2011 and January 16, 2012.)

It’s also interesting to note that over 8 in 10 Pinterest users are female.

Note: It is unclear whether the data from brandwarepr.com is based on users in the U.S. or worldwide.

Reasons to Keep an Eye on Pinterest  

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Pinterest, including how it is helping businesses like Land’s End and Etsy drive traffic to their websites.

It should also be noted that, similar to Tumblr, Pinterest is a very sticky site.

In fact, comScore reported that worldwide users spent an average of 72.1 minutes on the site in October of 2011.

Final Thoughts

I plan to write another blog post about Pinterest after I get more familiar with what people share on the site.

Until then, if you are looking for suggestions about how your business can use Pinterest, you might want to check out a recent post on the 360i Digital Connections blog. It has some interesting observations about the site.

If you are on Pinterest, please feel free to connect with me.

If you are not currently using Pinterest, you might want to give it a try.

Also, if you have any tips about who to follow or ways that you can use the site, please let me know.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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