strategic communication

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” – Lawrence Clark Powell

Archive for the tag “ermerging media”

The Future Starts Today

Attention all smartphone users: Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a flip phone.

Attention all FaceTime users: Raise your hand if you remember when a phone call was the only option to talk over distance.

Attention all bloggers: Raise your hand if you’ve ever kept a written journal.

Attention all Pandora Radio/iPod users: Raise your hand if you remember your first boom box/portable CD player.

Attention all Facebook users: Raise your hand if you used to log on AIM every day.

Attention everyone: Raise your hand if you are ready for what is next with communicative technology and emerging media.

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There should be a lot of hands raised. The future of technology is limitless and exciting. Think of the technology that seems so normal to you now, and then think of a time when you did not have it. It is so easy to take smartphones or the GPS for granted today because they seem like normal, everyday items to own. However, they are not normal devices. They are advanced- an evolution from an earlier product. Soon the world will be filled with other “normal” devices that will do things we cannot imagine. I can barely wrap my head around products like Google Glass. There are products that are ready to let us dive into virtual realities. There are products that allow us to share our information more than ever, and connect with our friends, family, and loved ones.

We can now say a short phrase to our phone and instantly get turn-by-turn directions to anywhere. Directors can film movies in a single studio that take place all over the world thanks to green screens and CGI. A job seeker can post an online resume and gain access to jobs anywhere around the globe. Everything is instant and convenient. The Internet and the World Wide Web have opened up doors for everyone.

Strategic communicators cannot fall behind on all of the effective tools for human connection. There are so many tools out there that will increase productivity. Check out sites such as Wired, Businesses Insider, CNN Tech, and more. There will always be technology innovations that will improve conversation.

Businesses have so many new options to connect with their customers. They can post on social media, offer e-commerce options, create apps, and anything else to get names and brands out there. Businesses can inform customers of their brand in a variety of ways: participating in live tweeting, creating a company hashtag, and sharing employee experiences through a company blog. The amount of time people are spending on their phones and tablets is only increasing, so there is an advantage to having a strong online presence.

I am finishing my first term in my graduate program and I cannot believe how much I have learned in just nine weeks. I am excited to continue learning throughout the program, and sharing information on this blog. There is so much out there for us to discover now, and so much more to come later. Stay tuned, strategic communicators. If you think it’s crazy to picture a world of holograms and advanced artificial intelligence, take a look at what AT&T predicted in the early 90’s and see what they got right.

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Bring Your Brand to Life

A successful business or organization owes much of its accomplishments to good branding. Brands are how people find out about services. One may have a great organization, but without a strong brand and clean reputation, the organization will never be seen. What are some ways brands can be used to promote a product or organization?

By definition, a brand is used to “evoke…a certain personality, presence, and product or service performance.” A Business Insider article instructs that the meaning behind a brand must “fulfill a specific unmet need in a well-defined target audience, AND be perceived as special and valuable.”  These two sources stress the importance of not only establishing what you want your brand to be, but to prove to the audience the importance of your brand and how it is relevant to them. Unique brands that take time to reach out to customers are working toward establishing trustworthiness.

One of the most important factors for companies to add value to their brands is to develop a strong social media presence. As I have previously mentioned, avoiding where technology is harmful. The more digital, mobile, and social the world is becoming, the more important it is for brands to adapt to these platforms. Individuals will avoid waiting in line for customer service, or dialing multiple extensions for help if they can. Social media has made brands seem that much closer to customers. The concept of i-Branding features four pillars that all companies should keep in mind:

  1. Understanding the Customer
  2. Marketing Communications
  3. Interactivity
  4. Content

PRNewser posted an article titled “10 Brands That Do Customer Service Right on Twitter.” Each brand mentioned in the article provides examples of responding to customer complaints, questions, and compliments on Twitter. These brands have succeeded in using the four pillars of i-Branding. The fact that someone from any part of the world can communicate with a brand is amazing. Brands that actively participate in conversations with customers show that they really do care what the customer thinks of them, and will work to fix any problems that arise. In 2013, @XboxSupport claimed to hold the “Guinness World Record for ‘most responsive Twitter feed’” and account holders reply to tweets from customers every minute.

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A company’s brand can also use Twitter to promote their new product in a humorous way. The key to these brands having successful Twitter accounts is that they are creating personable and unique characters that relate to customers. People love positive energy, so bringing a brand to life with an enthusiastic personality is great for promotions.

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Oreo tweeted this during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout and immediately became an Internet sensation

Oreo tweeted this during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout and immediately became an Internet sensation.

Sometimes a little bit goes a long way on Twitter. Tim Leberecht mentions that a brand is what people are saying about you when you are not in the room. He continues by stating the importance of simply helping customers and employees to establish a positive reputation. For example, someone was having a bad day and venting on Twitter, and a flower company offered to send that person a free bouquet. Imagine how that person must have felt, and how positive that person’s perception of that company is now! Even if a company cannot offer a concrete product, a simply acknowledgment will suffice. One humorous example is my friend tweeting at the official account for Moe’s Southwest Grill. She tweeted that the Moe’s she went into did not give her the traditional “Welcome to Moe’s!” greeting as she entered the store. Shortly after she tweeted, they replied a personal apology on behalf of that store. She laughed at how serious Moe’s takes their welcome greeting and retweeted it so all of her followers could see the reply. Brands like those of fast food places benefit from reaching out to their customers because it is not always expected, but can be enjoyable.

The Shorty Awards honor the best brands on social media. The 2014 Shorty Award for Best Brand on Twitter is American Express. Reasons for this win ranged from business propositions to personal connections with their customers and followers. Not only did American Express offer specialty prices for those who connected their cards with hashtags, they also hosted a Twitter party for its 163rd birthday. This party showed personalized birthday images from users who wished them a happy birthday. American Express successfully used Twitter to promote new ideas, and establish a strong sense of community with its users. American Express clearly used the four pillars I previously mentioned: they understand customers want convenience and rewards when shopping, they advertise promotions on Twitter, they interact with customers in celebration of a birthday party, and their content is both informing and engaging. The Shorty Awards feature many more nominees of brands that are excelling on social media. It is worth it to take a look and take note of their success!

There is clear evidence how social media helps promote brands, but establishing a social media presence can be difficult. The American Red Cross uses social media to engage in customer relationships and recruit young volunteers. Social media strengthened their relationship with customers and kept them informed by posting information on upcoming events. It clearly improved its brand by being able to reach all of its customers through its Twitter and Facebook pages. However, they reported the struggle with limited time and staff available for keeping up with their pages. A Midwest participant said their region struggles with keeping social media a priority because of lack of staff. Other participants say they simply forget about bookmarked pages.

My recommendation for companies that are trying to establish their brand on social media is to reach out to young volunteers. Most college Communication programs require students to complete an internship. A company would truly benefit from offering a position such as a social media intern because they would be hiring someone who has studied current trends and will work for school credit. Free work along with ideas from someone who knows the best strategies sounds like a win-win for any company. Furthermore, there are recent graduates who are looking work to help them gain experience. These graduates will most likely be interested in an internship so they showcase their talents. A company can hire an intern and if there are clear benefits from the intern’s work, then the company may find value in offering the intern a full time position. Internships prevent staff from being spread too thin and offer learning opportunities for both students and employers.

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Branding and digital advertising go hand in hand today. To show that your brand has personality and value, you must promote it in a way to reach the highest volume of customers. Businesses should make their brands accessible on social media and show customers they are reading and willing to provide the best products and services.

Disconnecting from the Wall

Greetings from 30,000 feet in the air! I’m currently on an airplane and this is my first time blogging strictly from a mobile device: my iPad. Before now, I used it only for entertainment purposes such as social media, Netflix, and games. I told myself I would use it for my undergraduate classes, but it has served other purposes. This week I am attempting to keep up with emerging trends by completing my blog post as if my iPad were my primary device. I downloaded the WordPress app and so far it’s the same as the website. The fact that I can access my blog on multiple devices, from anywhere, is what emerging media is all about. It is amazing how WiFi is available on airplanes. Clearly mobile influences have a lot of pull on what assets should be available to customers. As of the beginning of this year, 90% of American adults have a mobile phone and 58% use smartphones. Chances are a person will have his or her phone with her at all times, and 67% frequently check their phones for messages even if they do not hear an alert.

Smartphones and tablets have changed everything about how we access information. When it all boils down, a tablet is like a large smartphone while a smartphone is like a small computer. It all comes full circle. Yet tablets are increasingly the most popular device. Tablets are just large enough to offer a desktop-like feel, but mobile enough to take anywhere like a phone. I remember when the smaller the phone, the more popular it was. Today, smartphone screens are getting bigger, almost competing with some of the mini-sized tablets. Phone carries are realizing that more people are spending time staring at the screens of their mobile devices.

The following picture is one that shows just how much mobile media has consumed its users.

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TV is not enough. Individuals are consuming so much information from both television shows/news stories, as well as news/social media on their phones. Organizations should consider this information when promoting their products. If a nationwide event such as an awards show or sporting event is happening, companies should know that people will use their mobile devices post about it. “Live tweeting” has become a popular pastime for those who wish to share their opinions about such events on Twitter. Most live tweeting is posted using the Twitter app on a smartphone or tablet. During the live performance of The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood, DiGiorno Pizza brilliantly joined the conversation on Twitter. Throughout the show, the brand took song lyrics and quotes made popular by the movie and replaced them with words that relate to their product.

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Not only was this hilarious, but it made DiGiorno Pizza a trending topic on Twitter with users across the country tweeting at them. Some may think these silly tweets were a risk of not looking professional, but they succeeded in participating with their customers. They understand their target customers’ interests by checking the trends on Twitter and making their product noticed. The younger generations are actually the future of how business will be conducted through mobile, so it is important to get their attention now.

Retail companies are increasing their e-commerce sales. Buying departments are hiring individuals specifically for e-commerce merchandising and sales. Most e-commerce purchasing is from consumers using a PC. Even though it appears everything is becoming more mobile-only, we cannot deny the importance of current PC users. The PC is still used in offices and homes, and people use it for more than just browsing-they are viewing products and shopping. Marketing teams can send e-mail blasts or display ads on their site to ensure PC users are getting the deals. However, to increase traffic to their sites it is important for businesses to have a mobile presence.

Last week I discussed the benefits of media convergence, and converging to mobile is an excellent business strategy. Companies are becoming more efficient in using mobile as a marketing tool. This article describes the benefits of businesses using mobile apps to personalize an experience for their consumers. When a consumer downloads and opens an app, the app enables marketing teams to pinpoint the location, purchase history, and shopping patterns of the customer. This information allows direct targeting for what the customer is looking for from the store.

One of the most fascinating market trends is the feature of geofencing. Geofencing is a location-based service and can be used by businesses to not only promote themselves, but keep customers away from competitors.

Here is a scenario to give you the full effect of strategic geofencing:

Let’s say Company A is an established business with great customer satisfaction. It is connected to customers through an online store, social media, and it’s own app, Suddenly, Company B builds more stores in the same locations as Company A’s stores, and it’s their biggest competitor. How can Company A stay on top?

Geofencing allows certain alerts to be triggered based on location. If a customer enters a certain barrier around the store, that customer will receive an alert (in form of an app notification, e-mail, or an ad display on another app) with a coupon. Instant coupons? Why not go into the store and take a look around? However, it is important to not overdo the alerts and annoy the customer. Integrating coupons and sales information seamlessly, such as providing rewards for checking into the store location, is very effective with mobile-savvy consumers.

Alerts are a great way to get sales information to the customer as long as they are not spamming their phones. Again, understanding purchase history can increase customer satisfaction. If there is a sale for a certain product, alerts should go to everyone who has previously bought that product in that location. Relevancy with specific, personalized ads makes all the difference in whether or not a consumer will read an alert.

To take geofencing a step further, Company A could create a barrier near their competitor’s location so when customers are somewhere near Company B they will receive sales information about Company A. Location services are powerful and should be used strategically for promotions.

Mobile technology is absolutely necessary for future success of businesses. It does not have to be the only used technology just yet, but businesses must understand that mobile technology is changing everything about consumer interest.

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