Social Media Marketing Primer: WeChat

By: Yuyao Ji & Weizhou Wang

WeChat is not popular in the United States, but it is the most popular app in China. The app is available on Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian phones. It is also available on OS X and Windows clients, but these require the user to have the app installed on a supported mobile phone for authentication. The basic use of WeChat is text messaging, hold-to-talk voice messaging, broadcast (one-to-many) messaging, sharing of photographs and videos, and location sharing. The reason why I said WeChat is the most popular app in China is because, up to the first quarter of 2015, WeChat is available on 90% of smartphones in China. At present, monthly active users rare 549 million, and WeChat is available in more than 200 countries and in more than 20 different languages.

The reason Tencent Company developed the WeChat app is because they wanted to connect people together. They want to remove the distance, and improve the connection and communication between people. This is Tencent WeChat’s original purpose. This is why Tencent WeChat chose the earth picture as a start screen: a lonely person on the face of the huge earth, standing there. This is the WeChat startup screen, and a lot of people are very familiar with it. Actually, this is not a picture, it is a photograph, a real photograph, and it is taken by an astronaut 40,005 thousand kilometers outside of Earth. The name of the picture is The Blue Marble. As a communication software, there is no other picture that can express better the loneliness of the human heart. With the development of China’s economy, the people who use WeChat are more concentrated on electronic commerce. More and more people sell goods on WeChat, as well as share their business information.

How are we using WeChat? WeChat has 4 kinds of chat: subscriptions, group chat, 1v1 chat, and file transfer.

The subscriptions are public and owned by a company. If you subscribe, the company will send you a message every day about their news, events, and special discounts for WeChat users. If you have any questions, you are able to chat with the public account: after you ask a question, they will answer you.

Group chat is very useful. You can create a group and name it, and then invite people who you want to be in this group. After that, everyone in this group will see the chat. You can create the group with as many people as you want. You can create one group for your family, one for friends, one for people in your company, and one for classmates.

1v1 chat is a basic feature for WeChat. You can send a text massage, voice massage, or pictures and videos.

File transfer allows you to transfer your files from your phone to your computer. People are using more smart phones in business, and the ability to transfer files between computers and smart phones is very useful.

On Discover, there are features like Moments, a QR code scanner, shake, ‘people nearby’, and drift bottle. Momentsis the most powerful feature in this app. You can post pictures or video on it, and your friends are able to view it, “like” it, or leave comment in below. After you post something on Moment, you can block someone, so they will not see it. And marketers also post advertising on Moments, and if you share their advertising and get some “likes,” you will got a special discount from their store. Some sellers sell products on WeChat, because WeChat allows people to transfer money. For example, they post a picture on Moments, and sell it in an online store. But there is no rule for those sellers. They sell goods at a lower price, but sometime they are selling fake goods or damaged products, so WeChat is now building an application called “Webusiness”.

The QR code scanner can help add friends, because everyone has their own QR code, and if you scan it you can add each other. Also, in some stores, if you scan their QR code you can pay to them through WePay.

The shake is a funny feature. If you shake your phone at the same time as someone else, you guys are able to chat with each other. Sometime when I shake it I find someone in different country, and talking with them is so interesting.

With ‘people nearby’, you can find people in the surrounding area who are using WeChat, and you can send a message to them. If your neighbor is using WeChat, you are able to find them, and if you text them that will be a surprise.

With drift bottle, you pick up a bottle from the ‘river’, and that bottle has come from other people. After you pick up someone’s bottle, you can chat with them, or you can throw it back to the ‘river’. And you are also able to create a bottle, and see who responds to you.

Why do so many people use WeChat? WeChat is created by Tencent Company. If you asked a Chinese person which software was the most popular in China ten years ago, he would answer Tencent QQ. For ten years, lots of people used to use Tencent Company’s product. The fans of Tencent Company started using WeChat. That is the reason why WeChat was so popular from the beginning. WeChat is more convenient for our life. WeChat partnered with banks. In China, banks are owned by the government, so people can pay water, electricity, or mobile fees through the WeChat. Even WeChat users can pay with it in restaurants and taxis, or buy movie tickets with it. WeChat cooperates with a lot of companies. But if people want to get these services, they must linked their WeChat with a bank account. If it is not connected with a bank account WeChat users will not get these services. Also, because there are a lot of WeChat users in China, they are influenced by nearby people. If their parents, their friends, and their teachers use WeChat, they will use it. No one wants to be isolated because they’re not using the app.

What kind of the risks does WeChat have? More and more chat application companies or instant message companies realize the benefits. More and more companies have come into the market. They do not believe WeChat should have a monopoly. Also, these companies offer a lot of benefits. Also, there are lots of entertainment apps on people’s smartphones. When people pick up their smartphones, they may not want to use WeChat. They may just want to play a game or even sing a song. WeChat is faced by challenges from these competing industries. These challenges will make WeChat stronger.

The Communication Process Model and Cottage Cheese

By: Kimberly Martin

Communication is an important part of a marketer’s job, and it is important for them to understand the process it takes to deliver a message. If a marketer wants a campaign to be effective, they need to understand how communication, and the process that communication goes through from the sender to the receiver, works. In an article from Marketing Magazine titled, “Nordica Sees a Smooth Road Ahead for Cottage Cheese,” we can look at their message and how the communication process model can be applied.

First, I want to define the elements of the model, as defined in the class textbook. The elements that make up the communication process model are: the sender, the encoding process, message transmission, the decoding process, and the receiver. The model can also include a feedback loop and noise. The sender is the creator of the message or the company or brand the product belongs to. The encoding process is the sender transforming their message or product into a message that will be delivered to the receiver. Brands that have strong emotions associated with their brand have an easier time with the encoding process. These brands already have an existing image that consumers think of when they see their logo. Message Transmission is the channel in which a marketer decides to release the message on: television, radio, newspaper, magazine, Internet, etc. The decoding process is when the message is viewed by the receiver. The receiver will interpret the message they are seeing or hearing. The communication occurs when the receiver decodes the message. A challenge faced at this stage is that receivers can interpret the message in different ways based on the background and biases of the person. These different views result in selective perception. The receiver is the person intended to receive the communication. They are often the target market. A feedback loop allows for the receiver to communicate back and create two-way communication. The feedback loop allows the sender to get a reaction from the receiver. Noise is the distortion of a message at any point in the communication process. Noise can also cause an interference with a message.

A little background about the article (link to original article is posted below): Gay Lea Foods sells Nordica cottage cheese and they have discovered that 46% of the Canadian population eats cottage cheese, while the remaining 54% refuse to try it because of things like texture and appearance. They have come out with a smooth cottage cheese in hopes that it will get those people who do not like the texture to try it. The company is launching a series of digital ads that will appear on social media platforms. They will launch the second phase of the campaign by adding in print advertising. They have also created longer videos called “Cooking with Nordica Smooth” to show people recipes they could use the smooth cottage cheese for. Both the videos can be watch by clicking here.

Now to break down the article using the communication process model. The first element, the sender, would be Gay Lea Foods, but more specifically the brand Nordica. They are the source of the message. The encoding process is how Nordica is going to communicate the message or idea. In this case, the message they are trying to encode in this video is “all it takes is one tiny taste,” and they have used a video of a small bowl and small spoon with a normal sized hand to communicate the message. The next element is message transmission, and for Nordica, in the first phase of the campaign, this is social media. In the next phase, message transmission will be print ads. This is how the message will move from sender to the intended receiver, hopefully. The next phase, the decoding process, is how the intended receiver interprets the message. An issue Nordica could have with this phase is that 54% of people in Canada already have a reason why they refuse to try cottage cheese and are biased. The hope for Nordica is that people receive this message as a new cottage cheese that takes away some of the obstacles for why people do not eat it, and that if they just try one little bite they will like it. The receiver in this case is broad. They are hoping to reach those who are biased about cottage cheese, those that already like cottage cheese, and those that eat Greek yogurt, as Greek yogurt has stolen market share from cottage cheese. This article does not specifically say how they would get feedback from the receiver, but since it is being launched on social media you can assume they can read comments and posts the receiver writes and this could be a feedback loop. The last element of the process, noise, could be a factor on social media. There is a lot of content on social media that can make things blend in and be hard to see. If I was scrolling on Facebook, I am not sure a tiny bowl and spoon with a normal sized hand would catch my attention to watch the whole 15 second ad based on all of the other things on Facebook already. I think I would be more apt to watching their longer video about “Cooking with Nordica Smooth” as that would most likely be shared by a friend because they find the recipe interesting.

This process may seem simple enough, but it is an important process for a marketer to understand. They need to understand how their message travels from them to the receiver and how it could be distorted, so they can create content that can be communicated clearly and effectively. If you do not think about how your message can be decoded by someone, they could get the wrong idea about the message you are trying to send or the product you are advertising. A message could mean many different things to people especially with selective perception coming in to play. A marketer should understand different views or biases of the receivers and make sure the message will come across as clearly as possible to everyone.

Source:

http://www.marketingmag.ca/brands/nordica-sees-a-smooth-road-ahead-for-cottage-cheese-158186

Gaining a New Marketing Perspective With Periscope

By: Geoffrey Dion (www.linkedin.com/in/geoffreydion) & Devon Rauth (https://www.linkedin.com/in/devonrauth)

Periscope-logo

What is Periscope?

Periscope is a form of social media that allows users to both stream live video to the app and allow other users to watch that live stream from their smartphone. The tagline for Periscope is “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes,” (Periscope, 2015) demonstrating the basic ability of the application to allow users to see live video from around the world. Periscope was launched as a standalone application for smartphones that was quickly bought by Twitter. Now users of Periscope can easily link their Periscope and Twitter accounts, and vice versa. Periscope is much like Twitter, replacing tweets with live broadcasts that can also be viewed later. Periscope offers the ability to easily search and follow friends, family, companies, and celebrities. When a broadcaster goes live, users receive a notification and can access the stream so long as they are in an area where they have an internet connection. During a broadcast the audience can interact with the broadcaster by tapping the screen to send a heart that appears on the screen. The amount of hearts that a broadcaster receives is shown to them on a screen that also contains information on how many people viewed the stream, both live and replays. Those who enter the broadcast early have the ability to chat with the broadcaster. Like Twitter, the default setting for accounts on Periscope is ‘public’, meaning anyone can tune into the live streams. However, it is possible to set an account to private, so only select individuals can tune into your streams. To sum up Periscope, it is an application that allows live broadcasting with a system similar to Twitter for viewing and creating content.

What Do You Do (As a User)?

Users have the ability to both view content and create content. The people who are creating content and sharing a live stream are referred to as “Broadcasters” and those whose are watching the stream are referred to as the “Audience” (Periscope, 2015).  When creating content, broadcasters use their smartphone that has the app installed and enter the mode which allows them to take a video and share it with whoever is allowed to follow them. The system of making an account private or public is very similar to Twitter. In some cases a broadcaster will make their account private so that only followers that they have approved have the ability to watch their stream. Other users will make their accounts public, so anyone can follow. When an account is public (which is the default on both Twitter and Periscope) anyone who searches for the account can follow and view the stream. This is seen mostly with celebrities. One active user on Periscope is Brendon Urie, the lead singer and frontman for Panic! at the Disco. Brendon uses Periscope to stream videos of himself playing music in his home during his downtime. While Brendon is broadcasting, a notification is sent to followers (who have notifications turned on) to alert them to the stream. Once a user is a member of the audience, if they are within the first few thousand people to enter the stream they have the ability to “chat” with Brendon. These chats scroll up the screen so that both Brendon and anyone else in the audience can see. Audience members also have the ability to mute the chat and just view the broadcast. This type of chat while a live stream is going on creates a parasocial relationship where viewers feel that they can connect Brendon Urie in an informal setting. The Broadcaster has the ability to interact with the Audience through their live stream, but not via chat; actual text chat is a one way relationship on Periscope. The Audience can also show their appreciation for the broadcaster by tapping the screen to send them “hearts” that appear on the screen. The Broadcaster can also see the number of hearts they received after the broadcast has ended. For anyone who missed the live broadcast, videos are able to be viewed for 24 hours after the broadcast.

Interactions: Consumer to Consumer, Consumer to Marketer

While Periscope allows for insight into the day to day lives of celebrities and others, it also has huge potential to provide audiences with as up to date news as is possible with live streaming. German journalist Paul Ronzheimer took full advantage of this capability when he traveled with a group of Syrian refugees from Greece to their final destination of Germany. It turned into a successful campaign. As Ronzheimer says, “At the beginning I had about 1,500 followers, but now I have around 33,000. It became really big: one of the videos was played and replayed more than 90,000 times.” (Dredge, 2015) Likewise, another benefit that Ronzheimer discusses is how it humanized the refugees rather than making them seem out to be a faceless mass, as most of the media coverage was doing, whether intentionally or not. Because Periscope is live streamed, or stored within the past 24 hours, it supports the fact that social media has become the fastest way to exchange new information. While this information is not going to be at the same quality of a news broadcast, as it is uncut, unscripted, and unplanned, it gives a glimpse of what Rohnzheimer calls “. . . the most important scene of the story: that emotional moment,” (Dredge, 2015). In this specific case, the following that Ronzheimer gained began asking questions to the refugees, which they could answer real time as they came in. This is arguably not official journalism, but again it provides a level of humanization and connection that can be so important in a human interest story such as this.

As for consumer to marketer interactions, Periscope is tricky. Although there is live interaction with the audience via chat and live conversation, it is difficult to single out and get in touch with consumers. One interesting tactic that Mountain Dew had was to stream items that they wanted to give away to people watching the broadcast. So when people commented on the stream, Mountain Dew would selected a few and sent them free swag (Edwards, 2015). The problem is that Mountain Dew needed Twitter to get this giveaway going. It may have been easier for Mountain Dew to isolate the contest to their Twitter, where interactions are longer lasting and have potential to be more personal. But this marketing strategy of advertising the brand on another platform would be effective in driving people to that platform, building up Mountain Dew’s followers on Periscope, benefitting future marketing efforts. In addition this does demonstrate the ability to have meaningful interactions with consumers on Periscope.

Cost of Engagement

The cost of engaging in marketing activities on Periscope can range from free to expensive, depending on what approach a firm wants to take. The cost for a firm to create a broadcast and live stream it to their audience is nothing. This allows a firm to live stream whatever they would like to show their audience on a moment’s notice. If a company wants to make an impromptu announcement or a teaser broadcast for a new product, they can do that within their office for zero cost. However if a company wants to attract a larger audience for their broadcast they could enlist the help of a celebrity, as discussed before. This obviously would be more costly, but at the same time it may be a cheaper way of integrating a celebrity with a brand. Jonathan Long, in an article for the Huffington Post, writes that allowing a celebrity to “take over” could be a majorly beneficial move to a firm trying to market a new product (Long, 2015). Because Periscope is so “in the moment” the audience interaction and engagement has the potential to spread quickly, earning the firm a greater amount of earned media through people watching, replaying, and talking about the promotion. The true cost of either method depends on execution. A celebrity take over is of no use if the celebrity is not engaging or the audience does not respond well. It would be up to a firm to decide the proper course of action, but overall Periscope can be a low cost form of marketing.

Marketing Activities: How Marketers can use Periscope

Periscope offers something that marketers and firms love to take advantage of: a new medium and the chance to be on the forefront of the next social media. Taco Bell managed to do just that just a month after Periscope was released. Taco Bell used Periscope to announce “Defector Day” – May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, where they would give away free biscuit tacos in the morning (Jennings, 2015). This is a reference to their campaign of defecting from the normal fast food breakfasts, but really what is most interesting is that Taco Bell chose to use Periscope to announce it, especially since at the time Periscope was (and still is) so new. However, despite this, as Lisa Jennings writes, “Though Periscope only launched last month, it appears that Taco Bell’s fans are using it.The video earned 4,931 hearts – the Periscope equivalent of “likes” – while it was live, and 453 replay views within three hours of the announcement.” (Jennings, 2015).

Twitter said in its recent earnings report that “Periscope had 1 million users within the first 10 days after launch. It has already been banned by the NHL, so it has to be good.” (Jennings, 2015). Alternatively to the NHL, the MLB has announced saying that they will not banning live streaming apps such as Periscope or Meerkat. The biggest issue in this matter is how organizations like the NHL will be enforcing this, as they obviously cannot just take individuals cellphones, and most likely will not have patrols looking to check if people are livestreaming.

This issue aside, the fact that Taco Bell felt there was enough of a market to use Periscope as the medium for their announcement shows they have confidence it will have a positive outcome for their brand. This is the kind of early association that a company would like in order to build brand recognition. Being known as the company that used a new marketing platform first can create a link in consumers’ minds that associates that company with that popular brand. So long as Periscope stays relevant, building brand recognition by using the service effectively is key to marketing success.

Along with being known as the early adapter of a new medium however, the fact of the matter is that if Periscope was to be used for a marketing effort, that effort would need to be supplemented by more traditional marketing activities, i.e. television or print ads. Due to its short term nature, Periscope cannot currently hope to create enough buzz around a campaign or product in its short 24 hour period. However, the hope to be the first brand using ‘the next big thing’ as it were still holds some appeal, assuming that Periscope can gain enough traction as the new social media.

Metrics: Measuring a Marketing Effort’s Impact

The data that a broadcaster receives is not very detailed. The “hearts” that the audience can send to the broadcaster may seem like a good indication of how popular a broadcast was, but it can be deceiving. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, on Periscope the audience can send as many hearts as they want during the broadcast. While Periscope does tell you how many hearts one individual has sent to a broadcast by viewing their profile, finding that out for an entire audience would be a lengthy process (Periscope, 2015). That being said, this may still be helpful during the live stream to show the broadcaster what the audience is enjoying and what they are not. However the numbers can be misleading if a broadcaster is strictly looking at the amount of hearts they received, since one user could be responsible for most of the hearts. This leads to inflated and often misleading numbers. Demographics are also hard to measure on the application. Although a broadcaster can see the accounts of the audience members who have viewed the stream, this is not very useful in making sure that the target audience was reached. Companies are not going to examine every account and make demographic data based on that. This would be time consuming and inaccurate.

Tactics for Marketing on Periscope

A tactic that can be taken advantage of with Periscope is the fact that a live stream can create instant value for a company trying to use the app for marketing purpose. Being a live stream means that anyone watching it is actively engaged with that stream. With a tweet or a Facebook post, you can see how many people have seen it, but it’s more difficult to see if the message really got across. With a live stream on Periscope, a marketer knows that the audience is actively engaged with the stream because they are in the audience and watching. The broadcaster can see live reaction and adjust to what the audience wants in real time. This tactic would allow for a more organic marketing approach where action and reaction drive the broadcast.

Another obvious tactic of marketing on a platform such as Periscope would be to develop an association of one’s brand with a sponsor, such as an athlete, actor, musician, etc. The ideal behind this platform is to ‘see the world through someone else’s eyes’, so the idea of a celebrity promoting a product on Periscope acts like a personal recommendation from a reliable source. Likewise, as mentioned earlier, it will further develop parasocial relationships where an audience can ‘get to know’ the people or places that the audience chooses to tune in on. This also would hopefully serve as a positive association between the celebrity and the product for any audience that witnessed the broadcast.

In addition to brand association, another tactic would be product demonstration. For example, if a brand such as Nike were to produce a new product, Periscope could then be a useful medium for showing off the capabilities or designs that this product offers. Arguably, Periscope could even utilized to post installments during the various production stages of a new product. This could be a way to steadily gain interest and curiosity around the unveiling of a the item, by framing it as a mystery, or showing the development process.

The tactic with Periscope that a marketer can take advantage of is the “in the moment” aspect of Periscope. Everything is viewable live or within 24 hours. This is an advantage because it can lead to a higher rate of engagement at the time of the broadcast. Showing a product that has a far off release date might build excitement, but showing the steps of a product leading up to release will maintain that excitement and increase consumer engagement. The “in the moment” aspect can also assist in driving traffic to the company website, where there can be special offers and other ways to take advantage of the customer’s interest.

Risks

As with any social platform, using Periscope comes with risks, both for casual users and for companies trying to use it for marketing purposes. There have already been cases of harassment seen from users who receive inappropriate messages from followers while streaming, a problem that is seen in any realm on social media, but in real time it can be both more hurtful and more frightening (Lorenz, 2015). While a company may not be as susceptible to harassment that the average broadcaster would encounter, there is a risk in running a live promotion. Periscope does not operate on a delay, so if anything goes wrong with a promotion it is being seen live. This could be anything from a simple mistake at the place of broadcast or something occurring during that broadcast that was not planned, such as an accident of some kind. Also in the same vein of “ as with every social platform,” companies need to be careful as to what content they produce on Periscope. When a tweet is deemed offensive or has the wrong effect, it can be deleted. It would be far more serious for someone to do or say something offensive during a live broadcast than for them to simply write it out. Companies need to make sure what they are producing is what they want to happen, and that they can control the environment in which they are producing the content.

Another risk is streaming being banned or limited due to legal issues from streaming content that is not allowed to be streamed (Bedigian, 2015). This can include anything from the public to prototypes of new products that a broadcaster has access to. People may have a problem with broadcasters streaming in public. In this case people may not want to be seen in the video and may take action if they find out they were in a broadcast. Periscope is also being banned by the NHL. Why should you be able to see the view from a front row seat at an arena from the comfort of your home on your smartphone, when someone else had to pay to have that view. This shows that Periscope may not be suitable to be used in all settings, a risk that both casual broadcasters and companies using Periscope for marketing need to consider.

Final Word

In terms of marketing as a whole, social media marketing is a relatively new field. Periscope is even newer, and is experimenting with a format that has not been seen before. Taking the follower system of Twitter and inputting live streaming of videos has the potential to be a marketing tool that companies can build off of. There are a lot of opportunities that Periscope presents, and how marketers use them will be seen in the future. However, there are flaws and problems that come with Periscope’s system. Public venues have banned Periscope use, metrics are difficult to accurately measure, and Periscope is currently only viewable on smartphones via the app (no laptop computer integration). It will be interesting to see what the future of Periscope holds; how popularity will be maintained and what features will be added, like AppleTV integration (Constine, 2015). Periscope may not be suited for all marketing needs, but if used correctly the live streaming app can make an enormous impact on marketing techniques.

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Picture: http://mobilectrl.de/24-stunden-streamen-periscope/