My Future in Social Media

I always enjoy a good 5 years forward question and this one is no exception: “How do you envision yourself using social media 5 years from today?”. I definitely expect my use of social media to be different in 5 years because it is already different than it was one or two years ago. Let’s do a quick timeline.

2011: I am introduced to Facebook, think it is just the best thing ever and am constantly posting stupid pictures with my friends, statuses about what we are doing and playing tons of old Facebook games. Also, do you remember when Facebook had that really annoying “poke” feature and your friends would just “poke” you all day long? 

2012: I create my first Instagram account. Again, I am posting really random pictures of my nails, some “artsy” sunsets, vacation pictures. I am using no common sense when it comes to how often I post, what I post or when I post it. It was basically a free for all and I did not really understand the app or the future of what it would become. 

2012/2013?: Somewhere around this time, I create my Snapchat account. I would say my Snapchat usage has remained almost the same. I still use it to communicate with my friends and do not really see it as something I will use to further my career in any way. While I now understand the capabilities Snapchat has as a business tool, due to the newer capabilities of Snapchat stories and such, I do not think this will apply in my personal life goals unless I decide to build my own brand or company. Instead, I assume, if anything, I will be posting on behalf of someone else’s business or brand. 

2018: While I cannot say that my social media has evolved into anything that profound, it is a little cleaner. I have deleted all of the nonsense about my friends and I eating popcorn while watching Pretty Little Liars and all of the other statuses that no one cares to know. I also use social media a bit more sparingly; only posting if I have a really good picture to share or something interesting about my life. I have also added to the number of accounts I have. Now I also utilize Vsco, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. I imagine that in the future this number will continue to increase, and older accounts may become obsolete. 

I hope that in the future I am using social media as part of my career. I have really enjoyed the topics we discussed in this class, a lot more than I have enjoyed my other marketing classes, and I think that I would enjoy a career in social media marketing. I also hope that we do not see consumers giving up on social media because companies have completely taken over the landscape with advertisements; blocking out what drew us to social media in the first place: communication with our friends and family. This is why brands need to use social media sparingly and not overwhelm the consumer. While I understand that it is much harder for customers to see the marketing of the brand if they are only relying on consumers to see their content when they follow their account, I almost feel like pop up ads and sponsored ads will become too intrusive over time. I guess we will have to see what happens!

Thank you, class and Professor Spencer, for a great summer session experience!

 

Social Targeting

Targeting a certain group of people is important in marketing because not all consumers share the same interests or have the same needs. Companies can waste a lot of money by not making their message specific to their consumer. It can also be quite easy to fall into the trap of, the more people I can target, the more product I can sell. However, as we now know, this philosophy is outdated and mass marketing is often a waste of time. Consumers want to feel like they are getting something of value; a product that is made for their needs. Therefore, products and their marketing, have to be more sophisticated and specific.

Real World Example: Colleges

Colleges spend a lot of money on marketing each year because they have a lot of competition to overcome. Students, just in the United States, have hundreds of choices when it comes to choosing a college. Therefore, colleges have to get their name and their mission statement in the hands of the students so that they consider that school as an option. According to insidehighered.com, colleges spend between $10 billion to $100 billion a year on marketing. I remember when I was applying to college, I would get a lot of mailings from colleges asking me to apply. My mom used to get so frustrated with all of these mailings, constantly calling them “a waste of paper and money”. Even though it may seem like a waste to send information out that could easily be accessed online, I would not have known about some of these colleges if I had not gotten their mailing. A couple colleges even sent vouchers waiving the application fee. So, even if I wasn’t necessarily that interested in their school, I still applied because it was free.

Let’s Look at Stonehill College

Stonehill already does a lot of online marketing. Between their website, twitter pages, Instagram accounts and Facebook, they have pretty much covered them all. And they do a great job at diversifying these accounts. In my opinion though, maybe they diversify them a little too much. I do not even want to attempt counting the amount of Stonehill based Instagram accounts there are. There seems to be one from almost everything. Whether that be Athletics, Career Development, CWAA, General Admission, etc., it seems I am always getting a new follow request. Accounts such as these are targeting current students and possible future students. Students on campus can learn about when games are being held, the hours of the help centers on campus or future students can learn about how programs are run at the school or what types of programs are available. However, not all of the Stonehill Instagram accounts are run by Stonehill College. There are also accounts for all of the clubs and organizations on campus. How does this affect Stonehill’s image? Well for starters, it shows the public that Stonehill students are very invested in their community and foster many different clubs or charities on campus. It also adds to the available information applicants can learn about the college when applying. However, Stonehill does have to keep an eye on these accounts to make sure that students who are creating accounts under the Stonehill name are doing so responsibly and maintaining the image of the college.

When it comes to Facebook, I think this account is more for the parents of current and future students. I do not personally follow Stonehill on Facebook, but I know that my Mom does and she started before I even committed to the school. Through the Facebook account, people can ask questions about tuition, services, location and more with the Facebook chat feature. The page also acts as a community where users can connect with other people interested in the college. Then there are the posts about what is going on at the school, information about majors, and posts that highlight the staff or professors. Overall, the Facebook page is promoting the best parts of the college and making it seem like an attractive and worthwhile investment.

 

 

 

Celebrities and Social Influencers

Social media has become a prevalent tool for up and coming celebrities, models, business, and entrepreneurs. As Millennials begin to abandon the typical workplace and opt for more “exciting” or “fulfilling” lives, the way we finance our lives has begun to evolve. The desire to have thrilling experiences, go on exotic vacations, or just kick back and relax is not new, but the ability to make a living by showcasing these lifestyles on social media certainly is. Can you honestly say that you would rather commute to a job where you work all day in an office instead of working from your couch and making your own hours? No. That is what makes social media as a career so compelling. This week, I am going to be talking about a social media influencer who has made quite a name for herself in the beauty industry: Laura Lee.

Laura Lee

For those of you unfamiliar with Laura Lee, she is a recent mogul in the beauty industry. Born and raised in Alabama, she has a sweet southern charm that her followers seem to love. Previously a dermatologist’s assistant, Laura Lee developed background and knowledge regarding proper skin care and how to make the skin look beautiful. This has no doubt helped her in creating her own line of makeup products. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Her career first began on Instagram, where she would post pictures of her daily makeup looks and routines. Today, her account has 2.3 million followers. Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 9.56.40 PM.png

Then, he debuted her YouTube channel in 2013 which showcased product hauls, tutorials, and giveaways. Which as of today, has 4.8 million subscribers. In October of 2014, she was named “Beauty Guru of the Month” by StarCentral magazine. A couple years later, in 2016, she teamed up with the popular makeup brand, TooFaced, to create YouTube videos showcasing their products and while also sponsoring some of her other content. She has collaborated with other notable brands such as Morphe: with whom she co-created eyeshadow palettes and brush sets. In 2017, she launched her own brand beginning with her first eyeshadow palette: Cat’s Pajamas. Lastly, and most recently, this year she launched her second palette along with three liquid lipsticks under the name: Noodie Patootie. Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 10.00.59 PM.png

What Can We Learn from Laura Lee? 

There are plenty of people who want to find success in social media. Who want to promote their businesses and brands, but fall short while others revel in fame. Why is this? There are factors of which everyone can utilize, such as diversifying your platforms or posting regularly. However, none of this matters if your page, your vlogs, and your brand lack personality. Laura Lee has found success because she is entertaining to watch. As a regular consumer of makeup and beauty products, I could develop the same knowledge as Laura Lee, but I cannot recreate her charm. I could also learn the skills it takes to create these looks and record my own videos or post my own pictures, but I cannot recreate her humor or individuality. A brand is only as strong as it’s icon, and Laura Lee started her brand using her own face as her logo. By building followers and fans who recognize her, she created a strong base of where to start her brand. Not only does Laura exhibit all of the aforementioned characteristics, she is also diligent about posting frequently and connecting with her followers. Often times, she will create videos based on what her fans have asked to see, or she will request in advance, via Instagram polls, options for new looks. Another aspect of her Instagram and Snapcat accounts, that are in keeping with the trend of making money by showcasing one’s lifestyle, Laura will post stories of her day or new things she is trying. Lastly, Laura Lee also showers her followers in free gifts through her regular giveaways which request her fans comment her video or latest post to gain a spot in the contest. Not only does this get her more views and comments on her content, it also builds trust and a strong relationship with her followers who love the free products. In short, if you are looking for an entrepreneur who got their start in social media, look no further for exceptional content, follow Laura Lee. 

(Background Information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Lee_(YouTuber) )
(Images: https://www.instagram.com/larlarlee/?hl=en)

Social Communities

What does it mean for a brand to engage?

It is true that social media and social communities are commitment for any company. In order to keep customers interested and active participants in the conversations, you have to post regularly and post interesting content. Consumers will not engage with your posts, if the content is not something new, exciting or interesting. There is also the job of posting at a steady and regular pace so that consumers either do not forget about you, or on the other end, get sick of you posting too frequently. 

I think it is also important that the brand make it known they want to hear from consumers. It can be very beneficial, long term and for brand loyalty, that your customer feels they can trust you or that you want to hear their opinion. Using social networks as a way for not only you to connect with your consumer, but also for your consumer to connect with you, is great for this sort of thing. Activities such as feedback channels, polls about new products or changes to products, etc. all let your consumer know that you hear them and are there for their needs or wants. 

When do I choose to engage with a brand?

I am not someone who regularly engages with or even follows many brands. However, I am on my social media everyday, so why aren’t I more involved? I think it depends what a person’s motive is for using social media. Most of the time, I am not using it as a way to discover new brands or new products; I am using it to see what my friends are up to or to post my own content. I think I would be more interested in company accounts if I knew they were going to be posting information about giveaways or deals. The couple times I have engaged with a brand account, I did so to enter a giveaway. As cheap as it sounds, I am completely down for free merchandise, and do not particularly care where it comes from. However, as we all know, if we get a free sample of something and enjoy it, we are likely to purchase it for real. 

Stemming from my example of free stuff, I think a good way for brands to get recognition and promotion, via their social networks, would be to give away some merchandise with their logo. Anytime their customer wears the product, they are essentially an advertisement for your company. 

A Connected Generation “Like”

“When you’re socializing and self-expressing and your sense of personal worth is also based in how many ‘likes’ you have, it’s kind of important, I think, for people to understand not that this is bad, but for people to understand that they’re living their social lives in a marketplace, and what does that do to the way you think about yourself?” (Rushkoff)

The term that struck me here is “marketplace”. This is something I know exists in the world of social media, but never considered a part of my everyday, personal use. In the back of my mind, I am aware of data mining and data collection. I have read articles, seen documentaries or TedTalks on the concept, but somehow whenever I post on Instagram or write a Tweet, I am not thinking about these concepts; about how other people, besides my followers are tracking what I share or write, and are using it to create a profile on myself, as a consumer. When big companies talk about data collection they make it sound innocent and beneficial to the consumer. They highlight how their work in this field helps them to better understand you and make products or content that express your needs and wants. As a marketing student I stand behind the concept of getting to know your customer and catering to their needs, but as a social media user, I find myself a bit creeped out. I am not entirely sure why, but if I had to venture a guess I think this emotion comes from a concern for my general privacy. As someone who was raised during the dawn of new technologies and experienced the release of social media apps, I am always aware of how this can affect my privacy. How choosing to participate is essentially signing a contract saying that you are releasing some of your rights to your privacy. At the same time, I am the curator of my own content and if I do not want something online, I do have the power not to put it there. However, I am not the creator of other people’s content and many have fallen victim to the backlash of what happens when someone else shares content that you do not want online; it is nearly impossible to erase something from the internet permanently.

So, here is the conundrum: now being more conscious of the fact that social media is indeed a “marketplace” and companies are able to profit from content I like or share, am I going to cease my participation? No, I am certainly going to continue using all of my favorite social media applications. Additionally, the truth of the matter is that in a few weeks this information, like with data mining, will just be another bit of information that resides in the back of my mind and does not affect my social media use. Does this make me an irresponsible user? And how bad is this use of social media as a marketplace? I am not entirely sure, but I can say, in my own opinion, that social media will only continue to grow. Which means the opportunities for profit will only increase and what this will change social media into… I am not sure.

Now, let’s talk about “social consumers”.

The way I see it when online shopping and advertisements online first arose people trusted them. Believed that when they made a purchase online they were guaranteed the product they intended to receive. Now, this is not the case. With so many stories about fraudulent websites and purchases, consumers not getting what they intended, etc. a distrust has formed. Enter the social consumer. We now feel a sense of responsibility to check the validity of websites before giving them our credit card information or attempting to buy their products. The social consumer reads reviews, blogs and consults their friends before blindly trusting the internet. Now, while this is smart on the consumer’s part, it certainly adds a new challenge to the plate of the marketer. In addition to getting the consumer to want to buy the product, they now have to get the consumer to feel COMFORTABLE buying the product. If you’re a socially responsible company you will allow your product to live on the internet as it truly exists. Here is what I mean: The company allows candid reviews on their products which they allow to be publically viewed on their website and if there are concerns, they use them to make their products better. If you are not a socially responsible company, you monitor these reviews by taking down the bad ones or you pay people to write glowing reviews, even if they do not reflect the true nature of your product. Just knowing that companies have this power is another reason marketers have to work that much harder to get the consumer to trust their brand.

How can we make the consumer trust our brand?

I think the key is proper interaction. Let the consumer know that if there is an issue, you are more than willing to make a change in order to solve it. Try to respond to their concerns online, whether that is by commenting on their post or sending them a personal email. A company that seems to excel in this area is Starbucks. They have an idea website where consumers can freely voice their concerns, wants or ideas for products they wish to see in stores or even commend the company for what they are doing right. This is really special because it has given their customers a place to talk to the company directly because that is what the website is intended for! Starbucks is saying YES PLEASE talk to us and tell us how we can make your experience better. This is not something a lot of companies would want to participate in unless they are confident in their ability to make changes or fully stand behind their mission statement. I think that all companies should strive to reach this bar that Starbucks has set.

People Follow People

 

People follow people. I experience this every day in my social media life. Hardly do I ever follow an account that is mass managed, unless I need information from the company, or I stand behind the cause of the account. Most of the time I would rather be following a single person, who can voice their opinions or information based on their own life experience. A great example of this is fitness accounts. I follow quite a few healthy lifestyle or fitness persons on Instagram because I enjoy seeing their daily workouts or meal preps. Seeing that this one person can make such an epic change in their lifestyle or create such a strong following because of it, is something motivates me.

This motivation brings me to my second point. What are people seeking online? People seek accounts or people with whom they share common interests. Maybe, like myself, they seek to motivate themselves towards improvement or they are seeking comfort in similar experiences. Everyone is different, but social media brings us together based on what we have in common. This is such a special part of social media and my favorite part. While I have my close circle of friends, we all have different interests, and they do not always want to talk about the latest workout I discovered or new makeup brand I am thrilled to test. However, online, I am able to find people who are excited to talk about my outside interests. I think that this only serves to make my in-person experiences stronger because when I am with my friends we are able to focus on the aspects of our lives or interests that we have in common.

As a marketing student and regular social media user, I think there is a lot that companies can learn from their consumer’s social media motives. Since people often want to follow accounts that comfort them or relate to their interests, it could benefit companies to utilize spokespersons, celebrity endorsements, or employees of the company who strongly represent their brand on their accounts. It is the personal experience that consumer or social media users seek, and with the boom of technology that is occurring it is important companies remember the root of social media. To be smart in the way they spend their social media budget and their time when it comes to posts.

(Image via: https://www.forbes.com)

My Day-To-Day Digital Life

In the morning, I wake up and check my snapchats. This happens before I even roll over to put on my glasses or turn on the light. This has to be some indication of social media addiction (haha). After I respond to my friends and check for any stories that I missed overnight, I begin to check my other social media accounts. Usually, I check them in this order: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and then Vsco.

Now, I want to briefly discuss how I use each platform.

Snapchat: my main form of communication. This app allows me to easily stay in touch with all of my friends, even though many of them live out of state, and update them on what is happening in my own life. I will usually post between five to six stories a week and I send at least 50 snapchats each day.

Instagram: I have three accounts. My real account- which I use to post pictures of my life, my friends or places that I travel. My joke account (“finsta”)- which I only allow a select group of people to follow and which I use to post stories or photos of the funny or strange things that occur in my life. Lastly, my Calligraphy account- where I post videos of myself practicing different fonts or pictures of recent art that I have created.

Facebook: Here is where I store albums full of pictures I wish to remember later. In terms of my day to day usage, I enjoy the app for news, cooking videos or vines.

Twitter: I also utilize this app for news. I trust Twitter more than Facebook for news because I follow a lot of public figures and I know that the information that I view is coming straight from something that they have said or asked someone post on their behalf.

Vsco: This app is a lot like Instagram, but almost artsier. I will republish travel photos, idealistic images, cute animal images and post photos of my own. The way I would describe Vsco in comparison to Instagram is: Vsco is what users wish they were doing while Instagram is what they are actually doing.

Overall, I would say I benefit from these apps and enjoy their presence in my life. However, I am also aware of the immense amount of time I waste in the pursuit of staying relevant to news topics or what my friends and followers are doing. A few of my friends have given up their social media for brief amounts of time and admitted to liking their “unplugged life” because it gave them more free time, but also to feeling anxious and out of the loop. There is always going to be a good and a bad to social media. I try to find a balance.

(Image via: Dreamstime.com)