Complexity or Simplicity in Online Shopping?

By: Hechuan Lou

In “To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple”, Spenner and Freeman (2012) discuss what consumers want from marketers when they go online shopping. According to the authors, marketers think that consumers are web-savvy, and they are good at filtering information in order to get the best deal from the market. By thinking in this way, marketers started expanding the volume of marketing information. However, the authors claimed what online consumers want from marketers is not a large amount of information but simplicity. Expanding the number of marketing messages will make it complicated for consumers to make decisions and push them away from look for alternatives. The authors conclude that marketers should provide simple purchase paths based on consumer’s behavior.

Spenner and Freeman analyzed the reasons why simplicity worked by giving an example of two camera brands, A and B. After comparing their online purchase path instructions, brand B won more consumers as they provided a simple path to make decisions based on consumers’ individual needs. I agree with the authors’ opinion that marketers should understand the consumers’ needs first and then provide trustworthy and simple information and paths to help them make decisions, because consumers are not interested in becoming an expert in a specific area by gaining a large amount of information; they are interested in using the easiest way to find perfect products. It’s very important for marketers to understand this before they develop their marketing strategies. The marketers’ goal is to attract as many consumers as they can, and the key to achieving this goal is to meet the consumers’ needs because customers’ behavior will have a direct impact on the number of products the marketers sell.

How do the marketers satisfy consumers’ needs to help make decisions simple? In this article, the authors analyze three points to answer this question: aiding navigation, building trust, and making it easier to weigh options. I agree with these three points because thry can make sure that the consumers are on the right path that will lead to a positive result for the marketers. However, there is one point I disagree with. The authors suggest that marketers should “build cadres of trustworthy advisers, rather than simply developing recommenders who will push the brand”. I disagree with this opinion because people who are looking for a real product are more likely to trust other consumers’ recommendations rather than a person who they think is on the same page with the marketers. In other words, consumers believe “word of mouth” is better than paid advisors. To illustrate, people like to shop on They read and write reviews, and the reviews help them make decisions. For example, I recently bought a pair of headphones from Amazon. I saw the pictures that other buyers uploaded and the suggestions they gave, and I decided quickly to buy the headphones. Therefore, when the reviews are positive, customers are more apt to purchase. Otherwise, they will look for other products or even go to other store websites. For example, there is a video on YouTube video, “I made a mistake I bought a Jeep”. After it was posted by an Australian customer, many people commented that they were going to buy a jeep, but changed their mind after watching the video.

In conclusion, the article pointed out that “[m]any brands lead consumers down confusing purchase paths.” By addressing this problem, the authors suggested that marketers should combine the three points above to make decisions simpler. I think with so many online resources day-after-day, consumers are tired of filtering a large volume of messages. Providing a simple and easy path becomes more and more important for marketers and many of them have already started developing their simple paths for consumers.


Spenner, P., & Freeman, K., (2012). To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple. Retrieved from


Customer Relationship Management: Caring About What Your Customers Think

By: Maria Rabadad

According to TechTarget, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) comprises of “practices, strategies, and technologies that companies” are able to take advantage of in order to analyze their customers’ interactions “across different channels,” such as the “company’s website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials, and social media.” Knowing how the customers use these resources and for how long will provide managers with enough information to know how to tailor their business to their customers. There are a variety of software options available to aid companies in managing their customers’ use of the company’s resources; Microsoft, SalesForce, and Oracle are among the well-known CRM systems. As exciting as it is to know how the CRM systems operate, more information is available in their websites provided at the end of the blog. This blog post will mostly talk about an exercise app that uses the customer relationship aspect of CRM.

The mobile application is called “Zombies, Run!” It is an app that is meant to either introduce non-runners to running or to enhance expert runners’ running experience. Yes, this means that “Zombies, Run!” provides options for their runners to allow accommodations for those who have never ran before…Like me! I started using the running app in January 2016, when I could not run for more than 45 seconds, but as of today, I am able to run 1.1 miles without stopping and have run a few virtual races and am working my way to participating in live races.

What is it?

Zombies, Run! is an immersive mobile application that provides a zombie apocalyptic storyline to listen to as you walk, run, or jog anywhere! You are able to use the app outside, indoors, while cycling, during a race, and anywhere else. While doing an active activity, story runners are collecting supplies, which can be used to upgrade the runners’ bases either online or right in the mobile application. Not only is Zombies, Run! providing a unique experience already, but the creators, Six to Start & Naomi Alderman, also provide customer relationship features that will give each runner a unique experience.


One of the main principles of customer relationship management is being able to provide a unique experience to each customer by providing a service that is customizable. Zombies, Run! provides two apps: Zombies, Run! 5k training and the ‘normal’ Zombies, Run!. The 5k training app is for novice runners who have never ran before; it provides guidance on when to train, how long to run, provides different stretches, etc. while the ‘normal’ Zombies, Run! doesn’t give as much guidance but does provide training sessions in completing more advanced races: 10k, half marathons, etc.

5k training customization is not as grand as the Zombies, Run! app. Besides training for novice runners, the app lets the runners decide which music to play, whether to shuffle the music or not, and what type of tracking the app should use to track steps (GPS tracking or accelerometer for indoor/treadmill use; if accelerometer is selected, options of whether the phone will be held in hand, in an armband, or in a pocket show up for selection in order for accurate tracking).

Zombies, Run! app not only provides a greater selection of options to customize each and every run but it also provides in depth storyline. Customization options include:

  • 10k beginner, 10k intermediate, and half marathon beginner training plans
  • Preset interval training, runners are able to create their own training
  • 5k, 10k, 20k races
  • Free run while listening to the “Radio Abel,” a ‘broadcast radio’ with the characters à able to customize the time or distance the characters cut off music to ‘broadcast,’ how to track the workout (step counting, GPS, set a constant pace, or no tracking)
  • Ability to turn on or off ‘Zombie chases’ (zombie chases are when the characters say, “Zombies are catching up to you, run!,” and runners have to increase their pace in order to avoid being caught and losing hard earned supplies)
  • Length of the run can be customized: the shortest run is 20 minutes and the longest run being 60 minutes
  • Selection of music playlist

A lot more features are able to be customized in the running app in order to create a unique experience in every run.

Customer Relationships:

Six to Start & Naomi Alderman, communicate with their fan base through many communication outlets. Being based in London, it is not as difficult for fans around their area to visit them in their office, but they really use social media to their advantage in order to reach fans around the globe: Twitter (specifically), Facebook, Tumblr (their blog), email, and phone. In their Tumblr blog, Six to Start & Naomi Alderman try to incorporate work from their fans, such as advertising fan art and the artists’ pages, asking fans to send in recordings about their running experience to create a mashup to post in their blog, posting about fans’ running accomplishment in their experience, publishing a ‘Community’ blog dedicated especially for fans, and much more community-based publications.

If fans have any issues with the app, there are several ways they are able to contact them for help. A quick tweet through Twitter often results in a fast response from Six to Start & Naomi Alderman, who provide guidance. A help page is also provided featuring FAQs and their solutions, as well as a dedicated link for fans to ask the actors and creators anything (the actors might even record themselves answering the questions!). Offering a way for customers to reach the company in some way to ask for help or for troubleshooting questions is a customer relationship positive; not only will customers receive help but the company will see what they need to improve on either in their instructions or in their products to make it more user-friendly.

Using social media will allow Six to Start & Naomi Alderman to not only reach their audience, but also to also keep track of feedback they receive, giving them ideas on what to change or add to Zombies, Run! This is another important principle in customer relationship management: continually improving the services around the customer’s needs.

Another way Zombies, Run! creates a unique experience is by individualizing their running fan base/ community by calling them ‘Runner 5s;’in the storyline, the runner (you) is called Runner 5 by the other characters. This personalization is what creates a community of Runner 5s in which others who use the app can gather and run together. This customer-relationship is yet another way to create a unique experience with their customers by separating them from other running apps and other runners.

If you are just beginning the healthy journey of working out, or if you are an experienced workout/gym junkie, Zombies, Run! will take you on a journey where you are running in the real world while being a hero in another! Happy Running!

Their Social Media:

The game:




Help Page:

WhatsApp: “Behind the Scenes” Marketing

By: Joseph Sanfilippo and Ronald Zampanti

WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that is available for IPhone, Blackberry, Android, Nokia, and Windows Phone. Each phone is able to send messages to each other across this platform. WhatsApp allows you to exchange messages with your friends and family without having to pay for Short Message Service (SMS).  WhatsApp uses the same internet data plan that you would use for email and web browsing, making it free to message your friends since it can be used over Wi-Fi.  WhatsApp’s biggest competitor is Telegram, which is a free messaging app over the internet that prides itself on being the most secure messaging app available.  However, WhatsApp is way more popular and used by way more people globally.

WhatsApp was founded mainly by Jan Koum, but was also co-founded by Brian Acton in 2009.  Jan and Brian both worked at Yahoo! before they created what we know as WhatsApp.  After leaving Yahoo!, Jan and Brian realized how big apps were growing, so they decided to come up with a great app that would make them money.  Jan came up with the name “WhatsApp” because he liked how it sounded a lot like “What’s up.”  In 2014, Facebook officially bought WhatsApp for an astonishing 19 billion dollars, which is ironic because after leaving Yahoo!, they both applied for jobs at Facebook, but were rejected.  As of February 2016, WhatsApp reached one billion users, making it the most popular messaging application, and it is still growing.  At one point, WhatsApp was gaining about a million subscribers every month, and users were sending 30 billion text messages a day.  Despite selling the company to Facebook, Koum still is involved in the app.

When using WhatsApp, you can only communicate with people who have the app as well.  Recently, WhatsApp was made free to download and use whenever you want.  However, WhatsApp used to offer their product free for the first year, and each year to follow it cost $0.99, which was still cheaper than using regular SMS.  In the licensing agreement, it states that users must be age sixteen or older to use WhatsApp.  WhatsApp is mainly used by people who travel and reside in a different country from home for a while.  This app is unique in this way, as customers can avoid international charges that they would incur by using regular SMS messaging to contact their friends and family back home.  The messaging on WhatsApp is all over Wi-Fi, so if you and your friends and family download WhatsApp, you can communicate with each other for free rather than paying the large international messaging costs you would normally pay without the app.  As long as you have Wi-Fi, you can communicate with your friends and families overseas for no cost.

WhatsApp is used just like text messaging. With the help of the app, people can send unlimited basic text messages to anyone who also has a WhatsApp number.  You are also able to send unlimited images, videos, and voice messages on the app.  Just like normal SMS messaging, you can create group messages as well as share your location with your contact list.  The app also features a large number of emojis and symbols, as well as allows you to post status updates so your WhatsApp friends can see if you are busy or not. WhatsApp also offers WhatsApp Calling, which allows you to call your friends and family for free, even if you are in a different country.  WhatsApp uses your internet connection just like it does with its messaging rather than your cellular plan’s voice minutes.

The people who use WhatsApp are young; half of users are below the age of 36.  Fifteen percent of WhatsApp users are between the ages of 18 and 34.  WhatsApp is also popular among teenagers.  When looking at the demographic of WhatsApp users, almost half of the adults that use WhatsApp during a normal month are Hispanic.  Also, users are 20 percent more likely to have a household income that is less than 50,000 dollars. WhatsApp sees most of their users in poorer countries around the world, as many of them cannot afford the high prices that can come through using SMS messaging and a cellular plan’s voice minutes. WhatsApp is now completely free to use. Many people, especially those with low household incomes, use WhatsApp to avoid the costs of regular messaging and regular calling.

WhatsApp does not have any advertisements. The creators wanted to provide a service that is not riddled with advertisements. The founders of WhatsApp know people often try to avoid ads and they hope consumers will stay on the app longer without ads.

Businesses can broadcast using WhatsApp. Broadcasting consists of sending bulk messages to WhatsApp users that can include text, images, video, or audio content. Broadcasting was created in 2013 by WhatsApp. It also allows users to send group messages without revealing recipients to one another, which cuts down on the user’s notifications.  This is used by marketers on the app because with broadcasting they are able to reach almost one hundred percent of their contact list, which is their target market. Since WhatsApp is a personal communication app, businesses should be advised to tread lightly in how they market themselves, especially since they cannot make formal advertisements on the app.

Marketers can make their own WhatsApp account using their phone number. They can create their own brand persona or character on the account. For instance, a fictional character was made by Absolut Vodka in order to create interest and engagement. Absolut Vodka wanted to engage young consumers with the brand for its limited edition Absolut Unique in Argentina. So they decided to throw an exclusive launch party but to get in you had to contact the “fictional doorman” Sven, a guy who is notoriously hard to please. The Whatsapp number was released in all Absolut media and advertising and users started sending messages, songs and even indecent proposals to Sven in order to get in.

Businesses have to do what we consider “behind the scenes” marketing. Without the ability to make advertisements on this media platform, businesses have to acquire consumers’ phone numbers in order to deliver any form of content on WhatsApp. Marketers can offer consumers something in exchange for consumer phone numbers. Incentives can range from deals or sales to valuable information. Once a phone list is built, marketers need to produce great content on relative topics in order to keep consumers engaged. Content can be delivered through images, videos, audio recording, or text messages. Speedy customer service is needed of businesses marketing on this website. Messages are generally seen within minutes on WhatsApp, while messages can be seen days later on other social media platforms such as Facebook. WhatsApp has a 70% open message rate, meaning marketers are basically guaranteed exposure to their messages. Marketers can also engage in consumer research with this app. Marketers can question consumers regarding certain things they like, or have them choose between options the brand is proposing to launch. Consumer input is always useful in making decisions.

Sales is a metric marketers can use to measure a company’s marketing objectives. Businesses can determine whether more sales are being made since utilizing the app. The amount of open messages can indicate whether consumers are actually reading and looking at content created by the company on this app. The amount of people directly messaging the company through WhatsApp is a statistic to keep in mind as a marketer. Website traffic based on how many people clicked the company’s website link on WhatsApp is also important.

In countries where SMS messaging (a.k.a. text messaging) is less accessible or more expensive, WhatsApp is widely popular. The app is not that popular in America because of SMS deals. Small businesses and artisans in countries such as India have used the application to communicate directly with clients and finalize sales. In other countries, some businesses have put their WhatsApp numbers on advertisements and websites, letting the public know they can be reached using the application.

Businesses can purchase credit messages to market on this media. The greater the number of messages bought in a subscription, the smaller the cost per message. Five credit messages costs about $178.16, while three hundred credit messages costs $6,427.32.

It costs practically nothing to use this app and it doesn’t require the upkeep of other social networks that necessitate active content production. WhatsApp is simply another avenue by which customers can reach you; all you need is a phone number.



Why Vine Videos Will be Most Successful For Businesses

By: Olivia Sullivan & Derek Lawton

Vine is a widely known video-sharing app founded in 2012. Vine has been able to attain a competitive advantage by being purchased by Twitter; this allows a vine to spread fast. It enables users to create and share short videos of up to six seconds. The app allows you to start and stop filming so quickly that you can create stop-motion-effect by just a touch of a finger. Currently, Vine has 40 million users and more than 100 million people view Vine each month. Vine is a cutting edge new application that will revolutionize marketing and communication for brands.

Vine has features that allow users to post and share short creative videos, as well as edit them to their liking. Users can see what other people post, share, and even videos they like. This allows users to customize their videos and share them with friends, family, and people around the world. Not only do users gain attraction from current followers, they also gain free publicity when followers tag their friends, or hashtag a word to share their products.

Vine is used not only to share videos with people, but many companies use Vine to advertise their products. With attention spans beginning to lower and creativeness rising, Vine is one of the most effective ways to market a product. People like to see what the product looks like and the features before buying. By companies posting videos of products, promotions, or services, they allow viewers to see what they offer and put the products or services in front of the specific audience they want to reach.

Although Vine is a creative way to get people’s attention, is it enough time for marketers to get their point across? Six-second clips are the perfect length for a brand to keep the customers attention and still create awareness. Marketers can segment by geographic areas based on the user’s location, which will bring out more views from watchers. Vine’s flexibility provides a marketing tool that will complement and enhance a company’s marketing efforts. As mentioned earlier, Twitter purchased Vine, so Vine videos gain more awareness because they can be retweeted. More people have Twitter accounts so the Vine will be sent around faster and seen by different types of people, age groups, or businesses. Along with being creative Vine has the ability to grab someone’s attention without them getting bored or distracted. This is a major issue when trying to market a product. No business wants their commercials to be clicked away from; they want them to grab people’s attention.

Vine is a successful marketing tool because many people get bored seeing commercials, or they tend to get distracted because of how long they are. Most of the time when people watch television, they skip through commercials because they do not want to watch them. The commercials end up being the same advertisement over and over again, so this wastes a company’s money because no one is actually watching their commercial. With Vine, a company can come up with many different videos to display because the videos are only six seconds and do not cost anything to display. This generates a bunch of little ideas that you can make into a video, rather than into a big commercial. The attention span for people has gone down to seven seconds so Vine seems to be the perfect “commercial” or advertisement. Also, new and upcoming marketers are from a generation in which videos and pictures are more effective than words on a screen. No one likes to read articles or newspapers anymore. Even Instagram videos seem to be too long, and they are only fifteen seconds.

Just like many other social media sites, Vine provides users with an explore page. This page is really important because you can search Vines using the account name or hashtags. The explore page also has different categories when thinking about what types of vines you want to watch (for example, comedy, music, gaming, animals, etc). This is good for businesses because they can make a specific Vine that will be easy for a consumer to find. Providing hash tags will also get more people to watch your video. The explore page also shows trending tags, meaning tags that are popular at the moment and show up first. Businesses can also tag their location, which will generate more views.

Vine is all about being creative and that is the meaning of marketing today. How can Vine come up with a way to market something that will be interesting to watch? Vine provides marketers with many tools to edit their videos and many ways to reach their target markets. Vine’s original features included a like and comment button, but they finally installed a ‘revine’ button. Just like retweeting, a Vine can be ‘revined’, which will increase views and awareness. Vine has added multiple new features since it first came out, and that has enhanced the app. Their new features are: their online site where you can watch videos if you cannot access them on a smartphone; the front facing camera so you do not have to turn your hand or have someone record you; new editing tools that provide more ways to get creative; the ability to upload videos from the camera roll; and many more improvements.

There are many advantages of trying to use Vine to market a product, but there are also things businesses need to worry about. Even though people’s attention spans have lowered, are marketers going to have enough time to present their product in six seconds? This is what every business worries about. Marketers might not be able to make their information simple enough for that short of a time. Vine may not be the right marketing tool for a professional business because anything can be put on Vine. Consumers may come across inappropriate content that could make them shy away from a product, or not want to use Vine at all. Vine has changed the age limit for this reason and they also allow user to be private.

The users of this app range from 18-30 years old and it is used by both men and women. There are many “famous” accounts on Vine and those people are called “Viners”. Businesses should take advantage of a viners skill and have them market their product on their profile. That way a company’s brand will get out into the world. This way, if a business has no experience using Vine, they can have someone make one for them, which can also be displayed on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Tapping into the 1% of a platform’s most popular users could mean getting your brand or product exposed to millions of individuals. Virgin Mobile USA teamed up with Brandon Calvillo, a famous viner, to promote “Virgin Mobile Freefest 2013”.

Marketers are starting to use Vine because they can show their products in action. This is helpful for consumers because they want as much information as they can get on a product before they buy it. This will increase the brand’s awareness because people can post themselves using the product on Vine with a hashtag. Vine is also used by marketers to promote themselves and engage with their customers. Businesses can come up with contests, give coupons, or other rewards for making a video about their products and using hashtags.

Many different businesses are using Vine to market their products. For example, Sephora uses Vine to show “How to” videos about makeup application. Dunkin Donuts uses Vine to show the creative possibilities Vine has to offer and how much can be accomplished in a short amount of time. Also, the way the Vine is presented is a reflection of the brand. The weather channel used Vine to show a ‘behind the scenes’ view of their office. They recognized that their customers may want to learn more about the inner workings of their business and its people. Lowe’s made a DIY, do it yourself, vine about using coffee filters to keep soil where it belongs. DIY vines are also a way businesses market their products and that is another category on the explore page. Creating content that makes that possible can be an effective way to engage and build your audience.

Vine has created a new way for customers and businesses to interact. Businesses are able to create an interesting video and share it on multiple social media sites. For example, they create a Vine, which takes seconds, and by touch of a button it can appear on Twitter. This video can be retweeted as well as ‘revined.’ Vine is becoming a great marketing technique because you are able to catch consumers attentions without them getting distracted or bored.

Vine has truly evolved into one of the leading social media apps despite its competition with Instagram. Vine is continuing to change more and more lives everyday, but if Vine wants to continue to be one of the leading social media apps they are going to have to continue to come up with new ideas.  Vine has always found ways to target more audiences and users. The six second video is great, but giving consumers more options such as photos, compared to only videos, will be a good thing for Vine. Vine is going to have to become less of an entertainment app and become used more to promote business. Many businesses have used Vine in the past, but many have overlooked its abilities.  At this point, Vine is here to stay. Vine has given its users a presence on the platform, and it will continue to give these opportunities to a lot of new talent to be discovered. What’s cool about Vine is that there is new talent emerging every moment. I’m excited to see the continued development of Vine and the impact it will have on society in the future.


Would I Lie to You? Contradictory Deceptive Behavior in Online Dating

By: Kathy Makiver

Do you believe how people present themselves in the online dating world or do you doubt that they are being truthful?

The dating scene has changed significantly in the past few years with a dramatic shift in the perception of online dating.  It is now more acceptable to meet a partner online and most of us even know someone who is in a successful relationship as a result of online dating.  However, deceptive behavior is becoming more common online since information can easily be changed and manipulated in the digital world. Online dating profiles usually contain photographs and text designed to emphasize personal data, including physical description, interests, and preferences. We have the freedom to represent ourselves on the internet in a way that we wish to be seen. Many people feel pressure to alter their profile and picture(s) to present what they perceive to be their ideal self in order to increase their attractiveness and marketability.

An article called Contradictory Deceptive Behavior in Online Dating suggests that many online daters resort to lying about themselves online.  According to research by authors Lo, Hsieh and Chiu, physical attractiveness is the most prominent variable in attracting others.  Online daters usually pursue others who are attractive because they are thought to have better social skills, more confidence, and appear to be more trustworthy and kind.  Since appearance influences behavior in online interactions, they want to become acquainted with attractive people because it stimulates their positive emotions. The halo effect is an important concept in forming attitudes about others.  It is the tendency to use a characteristic (such as attractiveness) to determine certain personality traits (such as outgoing). This happens unconsciously and we are unaware of the bias we develop simply based on a person’s looks.

Physical interaction is absent online so users usually review a photograph and make an assumption in .05 seconds of the person they are viewing.  86% of people feel that photos are misrepresented and once they suspect that a picture is not authentic, they may not believe the text based profile.  Attractive daters are the first to be contacted and to establish a social bond so some people use deception on their profiles to make a good impression on them.  One of the experiments in the study focused on the behavior and perception of participants whose age ranged from 20-26 years old. They were asked to actively send personal information to a specific person (with either low or high physical attractiveness) to ask for a date. The results showed that when online daters met physically attractive daters of the opposite sex, the user’s self-presentation deception level was much higher than when meeting a person with low physical attractiveness.

In many ways, online dating is similar to online marketing especially with respect to the human to human interaction. There are many factors that influence behavior including cultural and social factors. People need a sense of belonging and social interaction so they are motivated by this.  Online dating sites are marketing the pursuit of a perfect match through unique personality and character tests which intrigue people. There is a need to promote a brand, which is self-promotion in terms of a profile and photograph.  Creative marketing techniques are needed to promote yourself.  A target market needs to be determined so you are not focusing on everyone online. Next, you need to make sure that you are marketing yourself on the right platform, using the right tools and strategies to reach your audience.  You can specify your demographics and preferences in order to filter the data. Finally, you should market a short, authentic message with selective wording.  These techniques will help you to meet your expectations and goals in the online dating world.


Chiu, Y., Hsieh, A. Lo, S. (2013). Contradictory Behavior in Online Dating. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1755-1762.

D’Costa, Krystal. “Catfishing: The Truth about Deception Online.” Scientific American Blog Network. Nature America, 2014. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

Hodge, Greg. “The Ugly Truth of Online Dating: Top 10 Lies Told by Internet Daters.” The HuffingtonPost., 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

Television or Netflix? Your Choice Affecting the Marketing World

By: Joe Lamagna

The age of 24/7 connectivity has gave way to some amazing technology advances. 10 years ago who would have thought you could stream full length movies on your iPhone, while riding the bus, or connect to Netflix with your PlayStation. With Millennials constantly using mobile devices or the internet to stream content they spend much less time watching traditional television. This change in the way we consume media has not only lead to falling ratings but has forced the world around us to change as well. Huge corporations who have historically invested billions in television ads are second guessing their strategies and testing out new ones.

The first thing you need to know is that television ads are typically purchased in two ways, upfronts and in the scatter market. The upfronts, as the name suggest is buying time at the beginning of the year so you can lock up the best times, generally for a good price. The scatter market runs as the year goes on you try and buy time – this is typically bought at a premium due to the lack of supply of time slots. The scatter market, often times, offers less desirable time slots as well.  The sellers will offer attractive pricing in the upfronts season so they can lock up time slots and not have to worry about time going unsold.

The television ad market is usually broken up into two groups: broadcast and cable. For the last 3 years broadcast TV endured declines in the upfronts market, cable upfronts have declined for the past two consecutive years. Advertisers have pulled back their spending in the upfronts and started investing more in digital media. With ratings declining and the popularity of DVR, On Demand, and streaming increasing, television ads are not as effective as they once were. Advertisers saw this as an opportunity to reallocate some of their marketing dollars to digital media, where they could seemingly reach more people for less money.

Unfortunately, they quickly discovered flaws with their digital media strategy. Advertisers were unable to judge the viewability of their ads, and due to things like computerized “bots,” they couldn’t decipher between real and fake web traffic. Then Ad blocker apps started popping up and the advertisers were unable to reach as many viewers as they had hoped. The bottom line is that digital media is not providing the return on investment (ROI) that it was expected to provide.

This realization was causing advertisers to run back to television and try to hop into the scatter market, where they got burned by premiums up to 20%. In 2016, upfronts are projected to grow up to 5% from last year, because advertisers are not willing to risk getting burned in the scatter market again. A spokeswoman from Proctor and Gamble, which has increased their 2016 upfronts budget by 13%, said “…we see TV and digital not as an ‘either or’ but an ‘and.’”

So although they have not abandoned TV yet, major corporations are taking note of your choice of Netflix or TV and it has forced them to change the way they invest billions of marketing dollars.


How Clemson’s Social Media Crew is Winning the Internet

By: Sam Walsh

In 2016, social media is becoming an even larger part of our everyday lives. We are constantly checking our phones for the latest updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This has resulted in athletic teams competing not only on the field, but in marketing themselves in the cyber world as well. With this new age media, one of the biggest questions is how can one differentiate oneself from its competition, keep loyal consumers interested, and successfully attract new audiences? Clemson University’s Social Media Team, led by Jonathan Gantt, has seemingly found the answers to those questions.

Clemson is on the fast-path to sustained success both on and off the football field. While Clemson’s football program was breaking school records on the field, seemingly the only team in the country as hot as them was Clemson’s Social Media Team. Using a wide array of material, Clemson was able to captivate the internet throughout the fall. On the field, the football team earned the school’s first ever #1 ranking in the College Football Playoff rankings. To match them, the social media team earned Sports Illustrated’s #1 ranking for Best College Football Twitter Handle to follow.

What has set Clemson apart from its competitors in the social media market? It obviously helps when you’re backing a winning program, but their social media team has taken it to a whole new level with their implementation of graphics and videos. In late September, prior to a showdown versus Notre Dame, Clemson’s Social Media Team posted a picture of a mock speed dating profile, inviting ESPN’s College Gameday to host their show from the school. Whether Gantt knew it or not, this was simply the tip of the iceberg for what his team would soon accomplish. As the football team kept winning, the graphics, vines, and short films kept coming. It gave the fans not only a laugh, but a chance to see what it was like to be a Clemson Tiger. Posting behind-the-scenes and locker room videos of the players and coaches practicing, preparing, and even dancing, kept the audience captivated. Their Social Media profile boomed and Clemson became a national name.

While I believe Clemson’s Social Media team is excelling, there are areas where they can improve. The majority of their social media posts are related to the school’s football program. Clemson has a number of other talented sports teams on campus, so it would be interesting to get a behind the scenes look at some of those teams. Of course, College Football is many schools’ largest revenue generator. Some in the Athletic Department may not see it worthwhile for the school to spend the resources they do for the football program to provide more of a behind-the-scenes looks at non-revenue sports. It will be interesting to follow Clemson’s team going forward, as their approach on Social Media has seemingly set the standard for how to successfully entertain your audience.


Social Media Manners

By: Victoria Guskiewicz

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have progressed into developing platforms for marketing and advertising. Social media provides a stage for consumers to voice their comments and feedback with ease through the click of a button without ever having to physically go to a store. Thus the rise of social media now makes the customer complaining process, easy, and more efficient than ever. Never before have consumers been able to reach out so effortlessly and directly to a brand as they now can through social media channels. The reality is, customer service expectations are constantly rising, and consumers are looking for their favorite brands to stand up to these expectations. This article describes, the good, the bad, and the ugly of crises management through social media, and offers advice to businesses and management of how to handle these situations and prevent a major public crisis from occurring.

These public relations “catastrophes” can offer both opportunities as well as various threats for companies. The way that a situation on social media plays out relies heavily on the company’s ability to respond quickly and in an effective manner to resolve consumer’s problems and needs. The article gives excellent insight and examples for companies to be able to respond and handle various situations before they spiral out of control. The biggest take away is to remain aware of your customers, and always be present on social media. There are a lot of various services and tools available to companies to support them. For example, Google Alerts is now easily available to business. It is also important to take into account whether or not a company responds publicly or privately to consumer complaints. This relies heavily on the company to make this important decision depending on the complaint. If they choose to respond publicly, it is recommended only if the situation offers a simple solution, and if that solution will benefit other customers with a similar question about a product or a concern. It is recommended that businesses respond privately to customer complaints that are more serious and require more attention. Furthermore, there are many opportunities that can arise from these consumer complaints that businesses can capitalize on. Social media can offer free publicity for firms that can directly benefit them. Or they can cause serious public crises that give the company a bad reputation among consumers. In other words, companies must always keep an eye out for such complaints, and be equipped to respond appropriately. It is important for businesses to use each and every complaint as a way to brand the business in a positive way to attract new customers, and keep loyal customers happy. For many companies, negative comments, and complaints are a small price to pay for the many opportunities that come with connecting with customers online. If managed accordingly, it can turn into a positive to enhance a customer relationship and may even create a loyal returning customer for life. However, as social media continues to evolve, and matures, the looming question becomes, how will the complaining process also change?

Source: Managing Social Media Crises With Your Customers: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Digital Junk: Food and Beverage Marketing on Facebook

By: Camila Pachon Posada

This study focused on investigating how energy-dense, nutrient-poor (EDNP) food and beverages are being marketed in online social media channels. EDNP food and beverages are high in calories but low in nutritional value. In the United States alone, the medical costs of obesity are estimated to be $147 billion. Although the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents in countries such as the United States and Australia appears to have plateaued in recent years, rates remain high. One-third (35.5%) of Australians aged 15 to 24 years are considered overweight or obese.

One of the powerful environmental factors influencing the rise in obesity is the ubiquitous presence of food and beverage marketing. The food and beverage industry is increasingly targeting young people aged 15 to 24 years. These young people spend an average of $180 per week on food and non-alcoholic drinks and most (85%) use the internet for social networking or gaming. So it’s not surprising marketers are placing a firm grip on Facebook.

Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world. As of September 30, 2013, 1.19 billion users accessed the site at least monthly and 727 million users accessed the site daily. This study ranked the top 250 Facebook pages on the basis of the total number of Australian Facebook users who had liked the page, using data from the social media monitoring site Socialbakers. The study excluded any pages that did not represent food and beverage products or companies and included food manufacturers, food brands, retailers, and foodservice providers such as restaurants. Alcohol brands were excluded because these Facebook pages only allow members who state they are of legal purchase age to join. After this process, 33 pages that had a connection to food and beverage brands remained. Several more exclusions resulted in a final sample of 27 food and beverage brand pages.

Data collection was done through a content analysis coding tool developed by the researchers to categorize the marketing techniques used by the brands. Researchers assessed each piece of content posted with respect to what type of marketing technique was being used; for example, was a celebrity included, were users being offered an incentive or prize, or was the company promoting its own socially responsible behavior?

In terms of age groups, pages were most commonly liked by those aged 18 to 24 years. Although some of the fast food restaurants included in the sample do offer healthy options, observational studies have indicated that regular, less nutritionally beneficial, menu items made up the bulk of food sales in these outlets. The study found that pages widely used social media marketing features that increase consumer interaction and engagement, such as competitions based on user-generated content, interactive games and apps.

The most popular Facebook food and beverage brand page in Australia was Bubble O’Bill Ice Cream. Bubble O’Bill Ice Cream was exceptional in that the page responded to virtually every post made by others to its timeline and engaged with post comments daily, which may explain why it was the most popular page.

All pages included photographs and branding elements, such as logos, trademarks, slogans, and brand colors. Of the 27 pages, 17 highlighted their philanthropy or corporate social responsibility activities and 21 included content that showcased their sponsorship of events or partnerships with other brands, companies, or services. The majority of brand pages used celebrities, licensed characters popular with children, and sportspeople to promote their products. Nearly half of all pages, including the most popular, Bubble O’Bill, included a branded character created by the company to promote its products.

A typical example of User-Generated Content (UGC) is a consumer taking a photo of the product or of themselves eating or drinking the product and tagging the brand page in the photo. The page can then, in turn, share the photo with all followers on the page so that the image reaches well beyond the social network of the user. This is the strongest, most effective marketing techniques evaluated.

The following statement identifies the successful marketing tactics supported by the study.  EDNP brands are using the interactive and social aspects of Facebook to market their products. The reach of social media marketing messages should be assessed not just in terms of audience engagement but also in total audience exposure. With pages posting new content on average approximately every 2 days, and some pages posting multiple times a day, combined with the daily log-in habits of Facebook users, the reach of marketing messages quickly amplifies. This study shows that users require very little incentive to openly interact with EDNP food brands. The prizes offered by the brands in the study were generally of low monetary value, but some did provide users with the opportunity to be a featured page member or fan of the week. This suggests that increasing the visibility of users on social media among their peers—or fellow consumers—is a distinctive social media marketing tactic.

There are several important take-aways from this study. Of particular note is the popularity of the sugar-sweetened soda and energy drink pages. Increased consumption of these beverages is an established contributor to rising levels of obesity. People who experienced strong positive emotions while viewing Facebook page content for food and beverage brands were 3.25 times more likely to claim that they would recommend the brands and 2.5 times more likely to prefer the brands. Facebook pages evaluated were quick to align themselves with positive, fun events such as Australia Day and the Super Bowl. This indicates the importance of a light and inviting attitude required when marketing through social media, especially with the target audience identified in this particular study.

Freeman, Becky, Bridget Kelly, Louise Baur, Kathy Chapman, Simon Chapman, Tim Gill, and Lesley King. “Digital Junk: Food and Beverage Marketing on Facebook.” Am J Public Health American Journal of Public Health 104.12 (2014). Web.

Find us on Facebook: A Marketer’s Guide to Success

By: Cassidy LeBert and Kayla Regan

Notifications, friend requests and likes are all words that have become second nature to social media users over the past ten years. These terms refer to some of the many activities that occur on the most widely used social media platform today: Facebook.

Facebook was created by a Harvard University psychology student, Mark Zuckerberg. At age 23, Zuckerberg had already created two social networking sites. The first was Coursematch which allowed its users to view and connect with other students that were in their major. The second was Facemash where users could rate other people’s attractiveness. But Zuckerberg’s third social networking idea was his greatest and most successful.

In 2004, Zuckerberg launched “The Facebook”. Within 24 hours, 1,200 Harvard undergraduate students had signed up. After one month, half of the undergraduate population had an account. From there, the platform extended to other Boston Universities and Ivy Leagues. Then, “The Facebook” became in 2005 when Zuckerberg purchased the website for $200,000. The platform has only took off from there.

Many different features exist on Facebook for it is a platform that offers users multiple ways to connect with the people in their lives. But there are ten top Facebook features that keep it alive and thriving. These include photos, the newsfeed, the like button, Facebook messenger, relationship statuses, turn off push notifications, embed in posts, social plug ins, the timeline and events. Each of these features offer a new and unique facet to connecting with others. Facebook photos are simply photos that users can post and that their friends can view, like, comment on and share. The newsfeed is where users’ posts are shared with one another. The like button allows users to click on a thumbs up icon to physically “like” their friends’ content. Facebook messenger is an instant messaging feature where users can talk to their friends instantly. Something to note is that Facebook Messenger has actually grown to become a social media platform in itself. Relationship statuses are posted on a user’s’ profile to show that they are single, in a relationship, married etc. At the time of this post, users can comment and/or like a friend’s relationship. Facebook offers push notifications, which are optional. Users have the choice to either receive push notifications or turn them off, which would mean that users receive their notifications when they are logged into their Facebook account. Embed-in-post is the ability to post an article, video or picture on Facebook with linked content directly in the post. Social plug ins are when users can comment on various websites just by being logged into their Facebook account. Facebook’s timeline is considered a user’s personal profile. Lastly, Facebook events is a tab where users can create events and invite their friends to them.

Because Facebook has so much connectivity to offer, there is a wide variety of users. Worldwide there are over 1.59 billion Facebook users. The most common age of these users is 24-35. This age group makes up 29.7% of its total users. When comparing Facebook users to all internet users, 77% of females use Facebook and 66% of males.

Aside from Facebook advertising, businesses can create Facebook pages for their company. If this is done strategically, these pages can create significant brand awareness which would ultimately lead to increased sales. With that being said, there are understandably some dos and don’ts of creating a Facebook business page. It is encouraged that businesses use a recognizable profile picture. Facebook users are not likely to click on a profile if they do not recognize their profile picture. It is also important for a business to coordinate their cover photo, posts and content to promote their marketing campaigns. Thirdly, it is recommended that businesses post at strategic times of the day. Studies show that posts between 1-4pm have the best click through rates. What Facebook business pages do not want to do is leave their “about” sections on their profile blank and be slow to answer consumers. Both of these aspects will immediately turn consumers away from their page.

Since Facebook is so widely and largely used, some statistics about this platform may be surprising to its users. For instance, every second, five new profiles are created. Also, the highest traffic occurs midweek between 1 and 3pm. On Thursdays and Fridays, Facebook traffic is increased 18%. Lastly, every sixty seconds, 510 comments, 293,000 statuses and 136,000 photos are shared. One statistic that may not be a surprise is the average Facebook visit is 20 minutes long.

If you’ve ever used Facebook it’s no surprise that the social media giant lands itself as number one on the list of advertisers using such communication forums. Although the everyday user may get annoyed with the constant sponsored posts popping up in their newsfeed with seemingly no control, businesses love the easy access to native advertisement. Yet as you’re scrolling through with utter annoyance or maybe you’re one of the few users actually interested, you can’t help but wonder why the ads seem to be so relevant to your life. The answer lies within Facebook’s Ad Targeting strategies

Facebook gives businesses the opportunity to target specific audiences before posting their ads. The social networking site provides marketers with the tools necessary to get however broad or specific they want with their target group. Marketers begin by selecting a geographic location that may get as detailed as zip code or as vague as a country. They are then prompted to specify specific age groups, gender, and even language spoken. Next, depending on the product or service businesses can explicitly choose to target audiences with certain interests or behaviors such as “organic foods”, “biking”, “cooking”, sports teams, etc. all of which Facebook can tell you how many people are interested in that topic.

The cost of advertising on Facebook varies just as it would for Google. There are two ways to bid for ads on Facebook: (1) Cost Per Click (CPC) or (2) Cost Per 1,000 Ad Views (CPM).  Average click costs are generally $0.24 whereas CPM averages $0.64. Retail stores (like Target) typically have to pay a very high CPM or CPC. The average CPC cost was $0.31 cents and $1.39 for CPM. Food & Beverage companies (like Coca-Cola) paid an average CPC of $0.21 and CPM of $0.65. CPM tends to be better for companies trying to promote brand awareness whereas CPC is more successful for conversions. US advertisers on average will have to pay $24.00 to get 100 people to click on their advertisement or will have to pay $24.00 to get their ad shown 36,364 times. It’s important to note that advertising for local businesses may cost more because the target range is a lot smaller and there are more local companies bidding for the same ad space.

Before hitting that final create button, it’s important for marketers to make sure they’re honing in on the following best practices. First and foremost determine your objectives! Understand whether the aim of your campaign is to increase brand awareness, conversions, video views, etc. Next, be specific with your target audiences as discussed earlier. Finally, don’t forget to rotate your ads regularly! When people start to see your ad too many times, they stop clicking. When click through rates drop, Facebook penalizes you, driving up your cost per click (CPC). It is recommended to rotate your ads every 3 to 5 days.

Facebook features almost a dozen advertisement options for businesses to choose from. The first category of ads is best for marketers looking to gain traffic leads for their website. This includes Domain Ads which are the simplest, cheapest form offered by Facebook that only may be placed in the right column. A Domain Ad features a small picture, description, and URL. Similarly Page Post Links are the most common type of ad used on Facebook. The main difference is this ad appears on mobile apps and in users’ Newsfeeds as well. Multi Product (Carousel) and Dynamic Product Ads are best for sales leads. These ads have high click through rates and effective retargeting strategies especially with Carousel ads given the ability to promote 5 products or promotions at once. Page Likes, Posts, Videos, and Photo Ads are best for brand awareness and likes. Event and Offer Advertisements are self explanatory in driving consumer traffic to stores and events.

One of the most successful Facebook advertising campaigns came from Eggo Waffles in 2014. The company, which had fallen in the breakfast shadows in previous years was looking to make a comeback with their previously used L’Eggo my Eggo campaign. The goal was simple: stay relevant in a mobile world while targeting a younger audience. Eggo tried to put a twist on era where people share everything on Facebook, but still not their Eggos. The campaign featured Facebook videos of supermarket workers giving out free samples of Eggos but running away when customers actually put their hands out for the taking. The company also posted best practice photos of how to protect your Eggos whether it be a castle wall or decoy label.

You might have found it weird that one day you Google searched Eggos and then three days later the ad popped up in yours Newsfeed. The same can be said for that pair of shoes you couldn’t decide on, or maybe a restaurant you were thinking of trying out. As much as you might think it’s just a coincidence, Facebook is very strategic with their big brother ways. Facebook Exchange is a CRM tool created in 2012 in partnership with Kenshoo Social that allows advertisers to target users with highly relevant ads based on their browsing habits. This is made possible through a bidding ad exchange forum in which advertisers drop tracking cookies on users’ browsers as they surf the web.

— Now that you know the facts, would you use Facebook for more than just friends?