social butterflies.

In this day and age, we’re all somewhat of a social butterfly, thanks to the two social media giants that we all love so much: Facebook and Twitter. These two platforms truly are giants, and as the two most popular social platforms in the marketplace, they offer users valuable, but vastly different social experiences.

Facebook is the social site where users go to connect with friends and family members, connect with acquaintances, RSVP for events, support causes, “like” pages, post pictures and videos, share content, find hilarious memes, and keep up with the world in nearly every way imaginable. It’s also a place for businesses and organizations to disseminate information, build cause-campaigns, engage with consumers and fans, listen to trends, augment brand awareness, enhance brand perception, and Facebook has integrated every aspect of life, and has created a digital version of our communities – local, national, and global. The following infographic characterizes this idea:

Facebook Stats1

This infographic comes from an article entitled 13 Mind-blowing Facebook Statistics.

Follow the link to learn the other 12!

With obvious reason, the size of Facebook alone makes it an incredibly valuable tool for marketers. Consumers are constantly accessible, and conversations are no longer one sided. Where brands used to communicate to the silent masses, the masses are now given a voice to communicate back. Facebook exemplifies 699 million voices, all of which are engaging with each other and with the brands they support on a daily basis. And the site continues to grow as well. In just the last year, Facebook has grown in the following ways:

Facebook Stats2

Facebook is all about engagement. Connect with others; share content; post content. However it’s used, it’s all in the name of connectivity. So, how do you use Facebook? What can brands do better to make you, the consumer, feel more valuable and more engaged with them on this social platform?

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Now we turn to Twitter, which is equally embraced by our digital marketplace. Just as Facebook is about connectivity, Twitter is about information gathering and dissemination, and engaging with other information creators. The concept of the hashtag and the retweet speak directly to this idea, making information gathering even more simple through specific searches and tagging, and information sharing happen in the time it takes to retweet. With over 465 million Twitter accounts, and 175 million tweets per day, the potential that brands have to share and connect with consumers is enormous. What kind of content makes consumers willing to engage, favorite, or retweet? Check out the following infographic.

Print

Just like Facebook, Twitter is also a social site that bridges national boundaries and connects people across the globe. Actually, Twitter has even more relevance in our global culture, from my perspective. Take a look at the following Twitter statistics that really highlight this global nature:

Twitter Stats2

In 2011, co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, talks about the intent of this social platform. He got to a point when he realized “‘this was not just something in the Bay Area for technical geeks to fool around with and to find out what [they’re all] up to, but a global communications system that could be used for almost everything and anything,’ Stone says.”

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He continues to say

“People all around the world are realizing that we’re not just necessarily citizens of a particular state or a particular country, but citizens of the world. And this is a growing feeling, and I think that the Internet and social media tools are making the world a smaller place and allowing us to feel this empathy.”

This very truth is what makes our digital marketplace so exciting, and so valuable from a marketing perspective. Regardless of which platform you prefer, we are growing into a global world where we can connect and share. These social giants have transformed and continue to transform how we communicate; each makes our world seem bigger, making everyone accessible to everyone else. They also make our world seem a little smaller, too, instilling a digital sense of community and connection.

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#hashtagpower

Today was truly a wonderful day to be a Mountaineer! Our Mountaineers took on number 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys, and played a great game! Though it was supposed to be a definite loss for our boys, we worked hard and finally became a team. We defeated our Big 12 competitor with a score of 30-21. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful day for some old gold and blue!

What does this have to do with the digital marketplace? EVERYTHING. I’ll tell you a little story…

Once I got home from the game, I decided (like almost everyone else I know after our win today) to get online to make posts that illustrated my utter pride for our Mountaineers. I am hardly a fair weather fan, so I’m always proud of them. But today was a different kind of pride. The odds were not exactly in our favor, yet we proved an entire country of college-football-loving-viewers wrong. I logged into Twitter from my smartphone and composed a tweet:

“A stunning day for such a satisfying WIN! I’ll always love those #Mountaineers! #letsgo #WVU”

As I wrote my tweet and thought of hashtags to use, I started contemplating the recent discussions I’ve had and witnessed about the art of hashtagging. This contemplation began earlier this week, actually, as I viewed the YouTube video of a skit starring Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. If you haven’t seen it, please watch! It’s hilarious.

My best friend and I were joking about this today at the game,  verbally “hashtagging” things like #blueandgold #letsgo #winning, among other ridiculous but appropriate phrases for the game. Just like JT and Jimmy, we had a blast doing it! But as I scrolled through Facebook and Twitter, taking in all of my friends’ posts about the game, I thought about all of this while I also composed my tweet. I realized that while it may be a ridiculous idea, and most people use hashtags more for humor or cleverness than suitability or tracking a trend, there is power in it.

The digital marketplace is booming with this idea. The concept is used on social networking/sharing sites, originating on Twitter, but having since found a home on Google+, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook as well. Users can hashtag different phrases and ideas to add their content to brand/product communities, and make their content searchable by the tag they provide. But are they actually valuable to marketers? Yes and no.

blog entry by Lauren Hockenson describes the positive and negative aspects of the hashtag. “The problem with hashtags lie in their relative ambiguity: there’s no standard for hashtags and no long-running conversation.” This is exactly what kept me from understanding the validity of a hashtag in the first place. There are too many options, not enough stipulations for users to implement when forming a hashtag. The likelihood of a hashtag being absorbed in a trend is very small. However, when a brand utilizes the hashtag, a greater opportunity exists to realize success and value. Brands wishing to use hashtags should do so through promotion – paying for hashtags to be trending for a particular amount of time, or through hashtag campaigns. These hashtags should be specific, consistently advertised, and thoroughly integrated into all other aspects of the brand’s marketing mix. The consistency will yield a profitable result. Brands can monitor the effectiveness and trend success of their hashtags through a handful of hashtag analytics, and learn the frequency and nature in which they are used.

Still, social sites continue to figure out how to use these hashtags most advantageously. For example, the hashtag usage on Twitter vastly differs from that on Facebook. And to be honest, the Facebook hashtag hasn’t been too widely incorporated since it’s integration in June of this year. Take a look at the following infographic to compare:

hashtag comparisons

The digital marketplace is certainly thriving, growing and evolving day by day. The marketplace is a place for innovative connections to be made and concepts to be tested. The hashtag is just one concept that we’ve seen adapted by multiple vendors. What do you think? Do you find them troublesome and lacking value? Or do you think hashtags can be effective, when used well?

#SoManyQuestions #DigitalMarketplace #ThanksForReading

having it all together.

There are always those few vendors at a Farmer’s Market that seem to have it all together – MORE than all together. The products are great, the people are helpful, and their business seems to be booming. They are an essential presence at the market, and it wouldn’t feel right without them there.

My classmates and I have similarly been discussing examples of brands in the “marketplace” that epitomize the successful integration of digital media. Amazon, Target, Joel Osteen Ministries, Samsung, Disney…all of these brands (and numerous others) have exemplified the trending belief that new and emerging media should be incorporated into marketing campaigns. These organizations hold a powerful presence online, through social sites, blogs, video/photo marketing channels, email marketing campaigns, and variations of each.

Let’s take a look at Southwest Airlines. This brand has received awards for such impeccable and substantial digital integration. With particular regard to Facebook and Twitter, Southwest holds its own, with over 1.5 million Twitter followers, and almost 4 million followers on Facebook. The brand operates a blog called Nuts About Southwest, and is thoroughly integrated across all channels. The following infographic compares Southwest to several domestic and international carriers, and claims that Southwest prevails when it comes to engagement:

Social-Airline-New

Ramon Van Meer, the marketing director at Let’s Fly Cheaper, an online travel agency, stated the “Use of social media marketing demonstrates innovation born out of the simple need to do more with less. The social atmosphere is today’s cutting-edge low-cost/no-cost marketing environment…It’s no surprise to find Southwest at the forefront of social media marketing. Southwest was founded on ingenuity and has always been a leader in passenger and public engagement. Social media fits the Southwest culture perfectly, where older airlines seem to be playing catch-up in this powerful modern marketing arena.”

The Twitter site is one “that is customer-service driven and reactive to people posting their comments regarding Southwest Experiences” and the blog is all about ” improving connections between the Southwest Airlines Team and its clients.” All in all, Southwest strives to enhance its goal of superb customer satisfaction through its integration of various digital media. Needless to say, this brand is one of those marketplace “vendors” that just has it all together.

Pohlman, B. (15 April, 2012). Southwest Airlines Blog and Social Media Use. Retrieved from: http://www.business2community.com/social-media/southwest-airlines-blog-and-social-media-use-0160248#M3wpcYohyG8QKZDd.99

Rice, C. (27 May, 2012). When it comes to Facebook and Twitter engagement, which airline is first class? Retrieved from: http://www.examiner.com/article/when-it-comes-to-facebook-and-twitter-engagement-which-airline-is-first-class

vendor to vendor.

market vendors

My analogy continues:

Just as a marketplace is made up of various vendors, the Digital Marketplace is comprised of “vendors” as well. Thus far, we have mentioned social media, photo/video-based media, mobile marketing, mobile app creation, blogs, mini-blogs, bookmarking sites – even though, a multitude of others exist.

Take a look at these two images that illustrate my thought:

The vastness of this seemingly unending list of new and evolving digital vendors leads me to discuss the idea of consistency. How do brands maintain consistent representation across the board? Carefully and strategically, I would assume. Brand management, as I’m quickly learning, is a multi-faceted task that involves effective communication, brainstorming, and execution from various brand representatives. While it was a relatively easy task to maintain brand consistency using only traditional media, the new and emerging media in our digital age require a much more stringent approach.

An article I read this week for class affirmed this notion that a brand’s presence is everywhere. Whether marketing a product, service, person, idea, or concept, the message conveyed must be consistent. The representation via web site must translate to the logo, the sales people, the promotional materials, the mobile screen, the email layout, and any other digital representation of the brand itself. It has to be integrated, otherwise, a consumer will lose faith and loyalty to the brand.

What can we do to reach true consistency? Let’s consider these four ideas:

brand consistency

It’s a lot of work and takes a lot of careful monitoring. But when you want consumers to keep coming back and visiting your presence among the marketplace, it’s worth it.

the digital marketplace.

The phrase “new and emerging media” has been rattling around in my brain for over a week now, all thanks to my stellar graduate school program and the course I’m currently taking! I have made great efforts to understand the symbolism of it. What does it look like? What are new and emerging media? Are they really new and emerging, or are they just adapting and evolving from day to day? Before understanding what these media look like, let’s just take a breather, and understand the world in which they live.

I look around during a typical day, and see those around me enveloped in a digital world – my location is irrelevant. Almost everywhere I go, I see someone, using some sort of digital device, to engage in this digital marketplace (hence my blog name). The evidence is pretty astounding, but I doubt many would dispute it. Go with me for a second…

Picture a marketplace. A crowd of various people, mixing and mingling in a space that is lively, thriving, and vibrant. It is booming with conversation, each individual bringing his or her own perspective to the group of those gathered.  Everyone is interacting and engaging with others, all the while perusing the assortment of products available. Sure, the products at any marketplace draw these people together – whether fruits and veggies, fish, fine crafts, artisan goods, art and photography, etc. What’s more powerful, though, is the experience that these people endure. Discussing, sharing, purchasing, tasting, witnessing, and learning. Each person has a unique function at that marketplace.

What happens when we view this special, creative, and adventurous experience and compare it to our digital world? Can it be compared? Of course it can!

Our digital world is made up of an enormous variety of media – platforms for social networking, career networking, information gathering, information sharing, bookmarking, writing, photography, videography, music… There are digital means for nearly every kind of engagement. It is truly a marketplace, and a vibrant one at that.

Blog Post Week 1Though we tend to call them “emerging” or “new” media, I think a better way to think about these media is to consider their purpose. They are created to engage, and engage to the fullest. Each has a slightly different function, but they are all of the same essence:  to augment the potential for interactivity. Virtual mixing and mingling.

The digital marketplace is thriving, growing exponentially, and evolving every minute of the day. People are learning and communicating, marketing and engaging, in ways that people years ago would have only dreamed of.  The good news is, we don’t have to wait for the market to open every Sunday to purchase some products or take part in the experience. The digital marketplace is all around us, available at nearly every fingertip, at any moment. How incredible is it that we get to witness this? Is this a positive or negative concept? Stay tuned!