Tag target marketing

Is Twitter Destined to Fail or Did It Find a Creneau?

People are always trying to assess the future of various social networking sites.

For businesses, this type of assessment is needed from time to time, because businesses don’t want to invest heavily in a particular social networking site only to see it close its doors.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that HubSpot is holding a debate about the future of Twitter on Friday, June 22, 2012, at 12 P.M. EST.

The debate will feature Kipp Bodnar, Inbound Marketing Manager at HubSpot and co-author of “The B2B Social Media Book” (affiliate link) and Laura Fitton, Inbound Marketing Evangelist at HubSpot and lead author of “Twitter for Dummies.” (affiliate link)

Mr. Bodnar predicts that “Twitter is slowly coming to an end.” On the other hand, Ms. Fitton “couldn’t disagree more.”

Personally, I agree with Ms. Fitton, but it will be interesting to hear what they both have to say during the debate.

Finding a Creneau

I’m currently reading, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” (affiliate link) by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

In the book, the authors point out that the French have a rather useful marketing expression, “Cherchez le creneau.” The English translation: “Look for the hole.”

The authors suggest that it is difficult (if not impossible) for a brand with a small share of the market to take on the established leader by competing head-to-head.

Instead, they suggest, “Cherchez le creneau and then fill it.”

Facebook Vs. Twitter

In the social media world, with over 900 million monthly active users, Facebook is clearly the established leader.

Using the logic put forth by Ries and Trout in their book, it doesn’t make sense for another social network to try to take on Facebook by offering a similar product. However, in my opinion, that is exactly what Google+ is trying to do.

Twitter, on the other hand, with its approximately 100 million users, offers users a social network that is very different from Facebook. Instead of using a complicated formula similar to Facebook’s EdgeRank to determine who sees a post, pages and a timeline that are filled with a lot of other distractions, and a plethora of other features, Twitter focuses on speed, simplicity, and brevity.

In fact, what makes Twitter unique is brevity. That is, given the fact that posts can only be 140 characters long, it forces the person who posts the message to get to the point.

Furthermore, Twitter is great for skimming through a lot of posts quickly to see if there is something that you might want to learn more about by clicking on the link, if there is one. This is not as easy to do with Facebook.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that according to a MarketingVox study, 40% of active Twitter users don’t actually tweet. They are using Twitter as a resource for information.

And, as Tom Webster points out in his blog post, titled “Why Twitter Is Bigger Than You Think,” the way that Twitter is set up makes it easy for traditional media outlets to use the site as a source for their news stories.

Bigger Is Not Always Better

The HubSpot blog post that introduces Friday’s debate points out that while Twitter came out only two years after Facebook, it hasn’t grown as fast.

I’d argue that this might not be a bad thing.

Often when a site gets so big that everyone is using it, it loses its appeal to a certain subset of the population. Twitter offers people an alternative to Facebook.

Furthermore, while users might use Facebook to connect with certain people, they might choose to also use Twitter to connect with a different subset of their network. This allows them to post things without sharing everything with everyone in their network. (I know that you can accomplish this by changing the post settings in Facebook, but sometimes it’s just easier to post to another network and not have to worry about it.)

Twitter for Business

Twitter is not going to be useful for every business.

As with all social networking sites, Twitter is going to be the most beneficial to your business if your customers and prospects are using it. Therefore, the future of Twitter might not matter to you if your customers and prospects don’t use the site.

Keep in mind, however, what you tweet does have a chance of showing up when your customers and prospects do a search on Google or any other search engine. This is just something to think about.

Final Thoughts

It is important for businesses that use social media for marketing purposes to keep up with trends and assess the health of each social networking site that they use to connect with customers and prospects.

Therefore, it might helpful to watch the debate that is being held by HubSpot on Friday.

Going into the debate, my feeling is that Twitter will be around for a long time, even if it only serves a small subset of the population.

Social networking sites can’t be everything to everyone.

As I pointed out in this post, I think that the fact that not everyone is using Twitter can actually work to its advantage.

In other words, I definitely think that Twitter has found a creneau and filled it.

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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Don’t Worry, They’re Just Words

Words have power.

We use words to communicate ideas to other people when we talk, sing songs, write articles, or even send messages on social networking sites.

However, we often don’t think about the words that we are using. Furthermore, other people don’t always interpret what we are trying to say in the way that we intend them to interpret it.

Business Implications

Keep in mind, I haven’t studied linguistics, but having spent a decade conducting survey research, this is something that I have thought a lot about.

The way that you word a question on a questionnaire could have a huge impact on the survey results. In fact, where the question is placed relative to other questions could also influence the way that respondents answer the question.

In other areas of marketing, the words that you choose to use can be even more important.

Changing just one word in an advertisement could possibly make a huge difference in how effective the advertisement is.

In his book, titled “Ogilvy on Advertising,” (affiliate link) David Ogilvy gives some suggestions about how to write effective body copy for print advertisements. He states, “It pays to write short sentences and short paragraphs, and to avoid difficult words. I once wrote that Dove made soap ‘obsolete,’ only to discover that the majority of housewives did not know what the word meant. I had to change it to ‘old-fashioned.’ When I used the word ineffable in copy for Hathaway, a reporter telephoned to ask me what it meant. I hadn’t the faintest idea.”

In the online marketing world, the words that you choose to use are equally important. Changing even just one word could have a huge impact on click-through rates. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you create multiple versions of your ad copy and test to see which version works the best.

To complicate things further, the words that we use can have different meanings in other cultures. This can cause problems for businesses that are trying to sell products to people who have different cultural backgrounds.

Final Thoughts

We use words to share ideas each and every day. Without words, it would be nearly impossible to live our lives the way that we do.

The problem is, sometimes the words that we choose to use have a different meaning (or no meaning at all) among the people who we are trying to communicate with.

In the business world, this can impact the efficacy of your marketing campaigns.

Therefore, it is highly suggested that you test your marketing messages to make sure that consumers are getting the message that you are trying to send.

Furthermore, even if consumers do understand the message that you are trying to send, you should also test other ad copy to see if it is even more effective.

Finally, make sure that the words that you use don’t have a negative meaning in other cultures, particularly if consumers with these cultural backgrounds are in your target market.

In the end, the words that you choose to use could make or break your marketing campaign.

Indeed, words have power.

Photo credit: Horia Varlan 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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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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You Can Learn A Lot in the Margins

The way that we live our lives is constantly changing as a result of advancements in technology.

In some cases, the changes have been subtle. In others, the changes have been far more dramatic. Either way, it is hard to question that most of this change is for the better.

However, sometimes there is a tradeoff that is taking place that you might not even be aware of.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at the way that businesses administer questionnaires to respondents when they are looking to find out what their customers and potential customers think about their products or services.

In my career, I’ve been involved in survey research studies where the questionnaires were administered via the telephone, the U.S. mail, online, and face-to-face. However, most my research experience involved two of these methodologies: U.S. mail and online. (Note: I worked in survey research when online surveys were still in their nascent stage.)

There are pros and cons for all of the survey research methodologies. With that said, many businesses have moved to online surveys as a way to collect data, because they are faster and cheaper to administer.

However, I’d still recommend mail surveys (or telephone surveys) over online surveys in some instances, because of two of the drawbacks to online survey research.

The first is the most obvious—not all people use the Internet. Therefore, if you survey customers or potential customers online, the data is only going to be based on those consumers who use the Internet. As I pointed out in my last blog post, this is going to exclude about one in five American adults. And, if your product or service is targeted to older, less educated, and less affluent consumers, the problem only gets worse.

The second issue with online surveys is that there is less flexibility for respondents to offer input as to why they answered the way that they did, unless there is a follow-up question that specifically asks them. That is, when a survey is administered via a paper questionnaire, they have the ability to clarify their answers in the margins.

While this seems like a very minor drawback, there have been many cases where this input has led to some key insights that we could give to the client. Or, in some cases, it made it impossible to report the data to the client without some clarification, if the data was reported at all. Without this input, the client might have gotten the wrong impression as to what was actually going on in the marketplace.

Keep in mind, I am aware that the benefits of online surveys often outweigh the drawbacks.

The point of this post is to highlight the fact that with each advancement in technology, there are some tradeoffs. And, as people enter into the business without ever experiencing the old processes, they might not even think about these particular issues at all.

It should be noted that this is not limited survey research. In fact, I’m guessing that this is occurring in all areas of our lives, to a varying degree.

They key is to try to identify the pros and cons of each particular option, in advance, and make a decision as to whether the tradeoffs are acceptable.

Photo credit: ReillyButler 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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Marketing: A Case for Using Traditional Media

Online marketing is becoming necessary for brands because their customers and potential customers spend a lot of time on the Internet.

Mobile marketing is also becoming more important because it often gives brands the ability to reach their target audience when these consumers are making purchase decisions at retail stores offline.

However, online and mobile marketing should not replace a brand’s marketing messages that are delivered via traditional media channels (i.e., print, radio, television, etc.) Instead, online and mobile marketing should be used in addition to the brand’s other marketing efforts.

A recent study that was released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reinforces this fact by pointing out that many consumers still don’t use the Internet.

As of August 2011, 78% of Americans age 18 or older used the Internet. This means that about one in five American adults can only be reached via the traditional media channels.

Demographic Comparisons

The survey results from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project study point out that Internet usage among Americans age 18 or older is strongly correlated with age, education, and household income.

As would be expected, Americans age 18 to 29 are the most likely to use the Internet (94%).  In comparison, only 41% of Americans age 65 or older go online.

When examined by household income, we find that Internet usage ranges from 62% among adult Americans who live in households with incomes that are less than $30,000 per year to 97% among adult Americans living in households with household incomes of $75,000 or more.

It’s also interesting to note that only 43% of adult Americans who didn’t graduate high school go online. This percentage increases to 71% among adult Americans with a high school diploma. Furthermore, 88% of adult Americans who have attended some college courses use the Internet. As would be expected, this percentage is even higher among adult Americans with college degrees (94%).

Nonusers Are Just Not Interested in the Internet

According to another study that was conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in the spring of 2010, only 10% of adult Americans who weren’t Internet users at the time that the study was conducted indicated that they would like to start using the Internet or email in the future.

Final Thoughts

Online and mobile marketing are becoming increasingly more important for brands.

However, given the fact that only 78% of Americans age 18 or older go online, it’s important to remember that brands still need to use traditional media channels when marketing their products or services to consumers.

In fact, marketing campaigns that are delivered via the traditional media channels are even more important for brands that are targeting older, less educated, and less affluent consumers because these consumers are the least likely to go online.

Moreover, brands that are targeting consumers who are likely to use the Internet should still use other media channels to get their message out. After all, many Internet users still consume content via the traditional media channels. If consumers haven’t abandoned these traditional media channels, why should brands?

The key is know where your customers and potential customers consume content, and then advertise there.

Photo credit: bossco 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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In the Spotlight: Tumblr

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.In order to compete, it is becoming more important for brands to have a presence on social networking sites.

When it comes to social media, a lot of focus has been placed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more recently, Google+.

However, brands, particularly those that are targeting consumers age 18 to 34, should keep an eye on Tumblr.

According to a recent Nielsen study, titled “State of the Media: The Social Media Report Q3 2011,” Tumblr nearly tripled its audience in the last year. In fact, it has become the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

The Nielsen study also states that, “An analysis of online buzz by NM Incite shows that Tumblr is also a popular conversation topic, generating an average of 21,280 messages and links per day to the site during May 2011, spreading critical word-of-mouth fueling its viral growth.”

What is Tumblr?

The Tumblr “About us” page answers that question like this: “Millions of people sharing the things they do, find, love, think, or create.”

The Nielsen study that I mentioned above describes Tumblr by saying that it combines elements of blogging and Twitter and allows users to post and customize everything from pictures and videos to links and quotes.

A recent blog post on socialmediaexaminer.com, titled “Should You Be on Tumblr? Seven Business Case Examples,” has a pretty good explanation of Tumblr. You might want to check it out.

Who’s on Tumblr?

My last two posts put forth ideas that were supported by Gary Vaynerchuk’s work. Therefore, I feel it’s necessary to mention that he is a big Tumblr fan. In fact, his main site, garyvaynerchuk.com, is powered by Tumblr.

Many celebrities have also taken a liking to Tumblr, including Katy Perry, John Mayer, Josh Groban, John Legend, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to name a few.

However, celebrities are not the only ones who are using Tumblr.

Your customers are as well… and lots of them.

As I mentioned earlier, according Nielsen, Tumblr is the 8th largest site in the U.S. Social Networks and Blogs category.

This makes Tumblr a site to watch and be on if you want to reach your customers where they hang out.

This is particularly true if you are selling products or services to consumers age 18 to 34.

In fact, according the Nielsen study that I mentioned earlier, 44.4% of Tumblr’s U.S. audience is age 18 to 34 and an additional 12.9% are age 2 to 17.

What might be even more important is the fact that Tumblr is gaining users, not losing them.

Brands Currently on Tumblr

The blog post on socialmediaexaminer.com that I mentioned earlier points out that Oscar De La Renta, Ann Taylor, Rolling Stone Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Huggies, Milkmade Ice Cream, Somebody’s Mother’s, IBM, The Museum of Useful Things, Doctors Without Borders and Newsweek are all on Tumblr.

A post of socialfresh.com, titled “60 Brands Using Tumblr,” also has a list that you can use to see what other brands are doing with Tumblr.

My Thoughts on Tumblr

I started using Tumblr in September, 2010, for a 365 photoblog, titled “A Year of Yesterdays.”

The concept was to publish one photograph each day that was taken the previous day, thus “A Year of Yesterdays.”

In the process of posting photos, mostly of buildings in Atlanta, and later Central Wisconsin and Minnesota, I noticed that photos of certain buildings and restaurants were frequently getting reblogged.

Nothing viral, mind you, but enough to get me thinking that beloved local bars and restaurants, like The Varsity in Atlanta, Georgia, should definitely have a presence on Tumblr.

The same holds true for popular brands.

People are already sharing photos of products and brand logos on Tumblr.

Why not give them additional photos to help get your message out?

I think that the author of the post on socialmediaexaminer.com is correct when he says that, “short, highly visual blog posts tend to do much better than text-intensive posts.”

If your brand does choose to use Tumblr, remember to keep in mind the audience who uses the site.

The fact that Tumblr tends to attract a younger audience may be a result of this age group’s willingness to try out new sites. However, it might also be an indication that they are looking for a social networking site that their parents are not on. In other words, Tumblr users may be looking for an alternative to Facebook.

With this in mind, in addition to having visually appealing posts, I’d also suggest trying to keep your content cool, youthful and fun with the hopes that it will get shared by the Gen Y audience.

Conclusion

As Nielsen states, “Tumblr is an emerging player in social media, nearly tripling its audience from a year ago.”

That alone should make brands take note, and at least consider establishing a presence on the site.

Tumblr makes it easy to share content, and many of your customers are already doing so.

So, why not make it easier for them to let others know about your product or service by giving them great content that they can easily share on Tumblr?

Photo credit: A Year of Yesterdays on Tumblr.

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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The Importance of Pinpointing Your Target Market

Photo credit: theimpulsivebuy on Flickr.In order for your marketing campaigns to be successful, you need to make sure that your marketing message is appealing to the right audience.

Sometimes this means that you need to create marketing campaigns that will appeal to your target audience and only your target audience.

To illustrate this, let’s take a look at Unilever’s marketing efforts for Axe Body Spray.

The Axe Effect

The book “Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens, and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail” (affiliate link) by Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., and Jayne O’Donnell, points out that “Axe connected with young men through MTV, ads in video games, and interactive websites—all with a direct boy-gets-girl message.”

Unilever’s marketing efforts for Axe Body Spray were incredibly successful.

However, they might have been too successful with a demographic that the brand wasn’t targeting.

According to the authors of Gen Buy, “Ironically, the soaring success of Axe Body [Spray] with preteen boys may be responsible for a recent dip in sales. Axe, which is officially targeted to men aged eighteen to twenty-four, was a runaway success with middle school boys. Older men taking note may have felt they didn’t want to be using a “kid product” and lost interest in Axe. And kids don’t want kid products either; they use products that help them feel more manly and mature—that means men have to want them too.”

When presented with this information, Unilever could reach the conclusion that they need to make their marketing campaigns more appealing to a more mature audience.

However, this might be a mistake.

In a blog post on blogs.stealingshare.com, titled “Axe body spray and the target audience “trap”,” Tom Dougherty, President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., points outs, “If Axe, as some reports have suggested it might, expands its brand to attract a larger audience (say, going after males in their 40s), its market share would shrink. The core demographic would not believe in its “specialness” anymore, and the older one would not give it permission to speak emotionally to them.”

If both analyses are correct, Unilever’s decisions on how to make adjustments to their marketing campaigns are not so easy.

It’s not all gloom and doom for Axe Body Spray, though.

As the authors of Gen Buy point out, the market for grooming products among Gen Y men is sizeable and growing.

Conclusion

There are many things to consider when creating your marketing campaigns.

In some cases, even if your marketing campaigns resonate with your target demographic, they can lose their effectiveness if they also strike a chord with a wider audience.

Furthermore, the adjustments that need to be made to increase market share are not always clear.

It is definitely recommended that you conduct market research in order to make a more informed decision.

While business success is never guaranteed, additional information about the needs of your target audience and what messages resonate with them will increase the likelihood that your brand will be successful.

However, it is also important that you find out what factors will make your brand less desirable to your target audience.

This is another thing to consider when creating your next marketing campaign.

Photo credit: theimpulsivebuy 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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