Being an Authentic Brand on Social Media via Mashable

Today’s blog post comes via Mashable writer Valerie Beckingham. Beckingham explains to readers the importance of your social media efforts as a brand and why it is important to keep your social media efforts authentic.

If you want your brand’s social media efforts to come across as authentic, you need to know what you stand for and what’s meaningful to you. In other words, authentic social communication requires you to be honest about what your brand represents, what you have to offer, where your weaknesses are, and what’s really important to your audience.

If you’re not listening and engaging in a candid manner, you run the risk of having a message that doesn’t resonate, or worse, creates a backlash, calling into question not just what you’re trying to say via social media, but across all outbound communication channels. For a brand, that’s bad news. Here are four tips for keeping your social-media outreach authentic.

1. Focus On The Individual

Your people are your greatest asset when it comes to social media because they offer a real human perspective rather than a pre-packaged marketing message. The problem is social media can get stripped of its authenticity by strict brand guidelines that mandate an omniscient company voice. Instead, imbue your social channels with the many unique individuals who work for the company.

Think of your audience in the same way. Don’t assume that they are a homogenous mass. This will help you develop a social communications plan that takes into consideration whether this audience is just getting to know your brand or if they are loyal followers. As individuals, we speak differently to different people. Remember that a brand is no different.

2. Listen Up!

It’s impossible to tap into sentiment without a system for listening. As brand communicators, we need to constantly have an ear out for changes in the consumer landscape and be tuned into what’s important to our audience.

For example, a key group influencing the tech industry is millennials, which loosely includes consumers born between 1980 and 2000. You might think you already know it all when it comes to millennials: that they’re all rebels, that their values are vastly different from their parents, and that they’re obsessed with changing the world. In reality, when you listen to young people today through research, you find that they defy those traditional stereotypes. Today’s millennials actually admit they love their parents and list them as friends on Facebook. They have no strong desire to leave home. They’re not even skewed liberal. This new generation is also questioning consumerism more than ever before, and they’ve proven to have very little brand loyalty. Most importantly, they’re currently defining what is real, cool, and interesting. That’s why listening is crucial.

3. Keep It Real

Today’s millennials are not just good at figuring out what’s authentic, they can also spot what is inauthentic from a mile away. Having grown up in the Internet age, they expect brands to talk to them with a real voice, and they’re not afraid to engage them in a public forum.

One great example of authenticity in action is a program recently run by airline KLM. KLM kicked off their social media program by asking, “What do we know to be true about how people interact with our brand?” The conclusion: people waste a lot of time in airports.

Starting with that simple truth, KLM set their campaign up for authentic direct-to-consumer engagement. They decided to surprise passengers that mentioned their KLM flight via Twitter or Foursquare. The teams used social media profiles to learn a little more about these travelers, enabling them to respond with appropriate perks such as a travel book for the hopelessly lost or a sports watch for the casual runner. These random acts of kindness took a little more effort than generic communications, but the response was rewarding. Travelers were only too happy to share their KLM experiences online with others. And let’s face it, what’s more authentic than consumers speaking on behalf of your brand? So don’t be afraid to change your message to suit your audience’s real needs and desires. Then reap the rewards.

4. Follow This Guiding Principle

Given the speed of social media, your message can go from trusted to falling out of favor in the blink of an eye, and it could all hinge on what you say next. That’s why the number one thing you can do to ensure authenticity and trust when connecting with fans, customers, and partners is to think about what your message means to them.

Source: Mashable

The Future of QR Codes. Will They Soon be a thing of the Past?

Within the past year, the popularity of QR codes have ramped up in recognition as technology increases and they are incorporated into packaging of products. Throughout our blog posts this year we have emphasized the use of QR codes in product promotions such as with General Mills and Budweiser. QR codes are great ways to for consumers to interact with products they love as well as presenting a way to simplify the lives of those who want to interact with their favorite brands.

Although many people are aware of QR codes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these things were meant to last as once initially thought. Having been an owner of a smart phone for quite some time, I have yet to interact with a product via QR codes. This lack of interaction piggy-backs on the findings of a recent study by comScore, which states that only 14 million American mobile device users have actually interacted with a QR code. In essence, less than 5% of the American public has scanned a QR code.

There can be many reasons that American’s having fully utilized QR codes to their full potential though. Inadequate technology, lack of education, and a perceived lack of value from QR codes are just some of the reasons mobile barcodes are not clicking with Americans.

One finding suggests that as humans, we are very apt to be drawn in by visuals, as is the case with packaging. It may be hard for QR codes to get any sort of reaction or emotion out of us. Perhaps in the future there will an a more visually appealing alternative to the QR code that will spark more interest and positive responses to the consumers.

So, if QR codes aren’t meant to last, what will take its place? It sounds like a new technological development is starting to show up and it is called mobile visual search (MVS). With MVS, all you need to do is simply point at a product or a logo with your smartphone’s built-in camera and shoot a picture. Within a few seconds of snapping the picture, the MVS will provide company and product information, or it may even presne the option to make a purchase of the product using your mobile device. MVS is already being used around the world and is starting see MVS pop up. For example, companies in Argentina and South Korea currently allow commuters waiting for subways or buses to view images of groceries or office supplies.

Check out the following link: 10 Funniest QR Code Fails

Source: Mashable

Since when does Toy Packaging Become Cooler than the Toy Itself?

Earlier this year we shared Mashable writer, Matthias Garcia’s annual mobile marketing trends on the rise in our blog “Mobile Marketing Trends to Look for in 2012,” and one of those trends was marketing through augmented reality. This trend is already starting to make its mark in 2012 and can be seen courtesy of Bandai’s new Thundercats, Ben 10, and Power Rangers.

In this augmented reality package design, consumers who want purchase the product may use their smart phone or iPad  to bring the package to life via Aurasma’s augmented reality. Parents as well as kids are presented with a to-scale 3D animated image of the toy that they want to purchase. The benefit of this allows the consumer to see the product from all sides and angles without having to actually open the box.

“The toy industry is always looking for new ways to excite customers so we are thrilled to be the first partner of this pioneering 3D technology creating 21st century window shopping,” said Darrell Jones, Marketing Director at Bandai.

Martina King, Managing Director of Aurasma, expanded on Jones’ enthusiasm:

“Parents will now have to remember not to throw away the packaging which, thanks to Aurasma, looks set to become an essential part of the toy’s experience and something kids keep returning to.”

“Using new technology comes as second nature to kids today and whether using their parents’ or their own mobile phone, this imaginative partnership between Aurasma and Bandai will delight the whole family. And best of all, because Aurasma is free to download, it means that now pocket money can be stretched just that little bit further.”


Mobile Marketing Trends to Look out for in 2012

Mobile technologies are constantly being created to bridge the gap between the digital world and reality. In the past few years, digital marketing has become a way to engage consumers with a brand through their phones and this year will be no exception.

Matthias Galica, contributor to the social media news website, Mashable, recently shared with readers what he felt would be the top mobile marketing trends in the year 2012. Here’s a rundown of his predictions and what he thinks will be “the good,” or the benefits to each new technological platform. If you are unfamiliar with some of these new media terms, we will provide a definition to help you gain some more insight for what this next year may hold.

Quick Response (QR) Codes Will be More Prevalent
QR codes seem to be everywhere these days, and don’t expect that to slow down any time soon.

Definition:  A QR code is a type of bar that is designed to be used for smart phones or other electronic devices that have a camera. Many modern smart phones have the ability to interpret a QR code. The amount of information on a QR code is much more than a standard UPC-style bar code. A QR code can direct users to websites and to other online information.

The Good: We will see the disappearance of non-standard formats, an exponential rise in the amount of devices that are capable of reading the codes, and a “steady march towards improved calls-to-action spurred by more accountable analytics.”

qrcodes 300x142 Mobile Marketing Trends to Look out for in 2012

Augmented Reality (AR)
Check out this cool video to see an example of AR, Augmented Reality Cinema.

Definition:  It’s a complex idea, but simply put, it’s a new technology that blurs the barriers between reality and computer.

The Good: Mobile devices are becoming more capable exponentially, and a few successful AR campaigns have been able to capture mainstream imaginations. 

augmented reality wide 300x155 Mobile Marketing Trends to Look out for in 2012

Near Field Communication
Definition: Near field communication (NFC) refers to a short-range wireless communication technology using radio frequency waves. The purpose of the technology is to enable communication or information to be exchanged between devices separated by a few inches. Examples of uses include:

  • You could take pictures with a cell phone with a built in camera, and touch an enabled computer or television set to transmit the images for display;
  • You could download applications or games to a handheld device by touching the computer

The Good: New advancements in technology have hastened the competitions drive to create mobile marketing opportunities that give consumers the ability to swap SIM cards for NFC in lieu of upgrading the device entirely. NFC campaigns will appear in along side with QR codes.

nfc iphone 5 ability1 300x279 Mobile Marketing Trends to Look out for in 2012

The Field (Everybody Else)
“QR, AR and NFC are getting all kinds of buzz, but a healthy contingent of other contenders is also vying to close the loop. Given the wide spectrum of opportunities in offline-to-online engagement, it’s not inconceivable that multiple technologies can succeed across mutually exclusive consumer behaviors.” – Galica


Where People are Looking on your Facebook Brand Page

On Facebook, many brands experiment with having an eye-catching profile picture in order to draw more traffic to their website and gain a bigger following. In order to track where people are drawn to when first connecting to a Facebook brand page, social media news and tips website, Mashable, worked with EyeTrackShop to get results. The webcam eye study found that the participants in the study almost always looked at the brand’s wall first; about four times longer than anything else on the page.

The image below shows where attention was held the longest when first looking at the Facebook brand page.

The study further explains other observations they found:

  • Content matters. Facebook brand page visitors almost always saw the wall first, and spent more time looking at it than any other element on the page.
  • The exception: Scantily-clad women. Victoria Secret’s page was the only one in which people looked at the profile photo — a busty woman in a brassiere — before they noticed the Facebook wall. When they did move on to the wall, they spent about 25% less time looking at it than they did other brands’ walls.
  • Profile photos can be the difference between seeing and not seeing a brand. Most brand pages’ profile photos didn’t get a lot of attention. Only 57% of visitors to Coca-Cola’s page, for instance, even saw the bottle of Coke that occupies this prime piece of real estate. Generally, profile photos with faces in them got the most attention. An exception to this rule was Skittles, which had an image of a bag of Skittles in the profile photo spot that 90% of visitors saw.
  • Photos on the wall get attention. The Facebook wall with the most images at the time of the test, PlayStation, was also the one that people spent the most time looking at. On average, viewers stayed on the wall for 4.88 seconds. No other page element on any brand’s page held attention for longer than four seconds.