How does social media in the U.S. help brand building?

Social media is pervasive in the U.S. and is becoming increasingly integrated into the entire media landscape. From a consumer point of view, people use social networks in a few primary ways:

Connection: Facebook is far and away the most popular social platform; as it’s grown over the last 8 years, Facebook has gone from connecting college classmates to being the central social network. Facebook’s wide reach means many people are becoming more selective about what they share, and have higher standards for what they consider relevant or interesting on the platform.

Nicheworks: More active social users are turning to what we call “nicheworks” that have a more specialized interest or functionality and smaller circle of sharing. Sometimes this means sharing similar information, but more in-depth or with a different audience (for example, professional information on LinkedIn). Other platforms, like Instagram or Pinterest, are focused more on image sharing where users upload and post content based on certain topics – like recipes, crafts, travel, or other hobbies and interests.

Discovery & Sharing: Twitter is the most open information platform and has become a cascade of data consisting of personal updates, news and politics, and TV. But it also tends to be the sharing platform of choice for users of nicheworks: when those users create or find something cool, they share it more broadly on Twitter. As Twitter has grown both as a “pure-play” social medium and as a distributor for many smaller networks’ updates, it’s become a microcosm of what’s happening across nearly all of social – and traditional – media.

What do consumers think about brands using social media to reach them? What challenges do brands face in the U.S. when using social media?

Consumers are tolerant of brands but tend to be somewhat transactional in terms of what they want in exchange for their “likes” – they want something back for their attention. Ultimately, almost no one voluntarily wants to interact with ads, so it’s up to brands to change their messaging strategies to offer something genuinely interactive and interesting. This also means brands must have a much stronger arsenal of content at the ready, and they need to be limber and experimental in how they deploy it.

Mobile and Facebook: Don’t Get Ready, BE Ready

On February 29th, Facebook revealed big plans for the mobile platform, including that the new Timeline format for brands will also be available on the mobile platform. The game changing updates mean that for users of other social media marketing platforms, the message for 2012 will be: we need to get ready for mobile.

Let’s recap the announcements Facebook made and what they mean for your brand:
Timeline for brands will also be functional in the mobile platform (but will be made available at an unspecified date in 2012)

Implications for brands: Where brands can currently launch mobile-optimized marketing campaigns that users can access from their smart devices, soon users will be able to experience the same exact workflow on their desktop as on their smart phone. The new Timeline format for brands, once available on the mobile network, will enable page managers to curate an identical experience for all users, regardless of how they’re accessing branded content on Facebook. This means a big impact on your brand’s reach, especially as we consider that nearly half of the active Facebook user population interacts with the network from their mobile device.
Sponsored Stories now appear in the mobile feed as well

Implications for brands: To date, there has been no advertising reach to any Facebook users on mobile devices. In light of the fact that approximately 450 million Facebook users interact with the network using a mobile device, this was an enormous opportunity lost to marketers— until now. Sponsored Story ad units are the only ones being released to mobile Timelines— this means that promoting these “organic word of mouth” advertising units will become a major part of every marketers mission.

In a sense, it’s a bit silly to call 2012 the Year of Mobile because every year since the release of Apple’s ill-fated Newton has been the Year of Mobile. We have always been moving toward computing devices that are smaller, faster, and cheaper. According to research by Morgan Stanley, the number of people who access the Internet primarily from mobile devices will surpass desktop users sometime in 2013.

Succesfull iPad Marketing Streategies

Just 22% of the top 50 retailers in the country have an iPad app. Yet the iPad is the fastest-growing consumer computing device on the planet. Why haven’t brands embraced it as quickly as they have the iPhone?

Clearly, brands have been slow to launch apps for this device – and other tablets – for a combination of reasons. Many marketers have already sunk millions into creating iPhone apps and assume these apps will works just fine on the iPad. Sometimes, this strategy works. After all, some apps offer an almost identical experience on the iPhone as the iPad. But to really get maximum marketing impact, brands do need to create iPad-specific apps that take advantage of the tablet’s larger screen and tap into the unique frame of mind of an iPad user.

There are some hurdles to overcome, like where to start, and whether a brand should go with a native app, a web-based app, or a hybrid app? The short answer is that a lot of this depends on the company. But there are some basic best practices to keep in mind when coming up with how to market your business on the iPad. Here are five tips.

1. Content is King, Context is Queen

People are only interested in the things they are interested in. This means marketers should use the iPad to reach target audiences based on their specific interests. The first step is to not create a one-size-fits-all app and then flood app users with tons of irrelevant content. Instead, plan for user segmentation so the content you deliver to individual users appeals to their interests, needs, and wants. It’s the same segmentation methodology brands are using for email marketing, just applied into the iTunes distribution model. Aside from letting users choose what type of content they want to view, always give them ways to revise their selections.

2. Invest in the Right User Experience

You can create fantastic content, but if users have a bad app experience, they won’t continue to launch the app. That’s why it’s critical to invest in UX testing as you develop iPad apps. Take a look at how Flipboard created a great user experience for content aggregation, or how an iPad app like Collarbone displays content and photography.

3. Focus on the Long Term

An iPad app is like a baby: It needs constant care and feeding. You can’t launch it and forget it. Invest in maintenance, content updates, testing, and optimization. The best way to ensure your iPad publishing app gains and maintain users is to create an editorial team much like magazines do. Hire writers, photographers, videographers, editors, and other creative types to constantly focus on it. They can be freelancers or contractors, or in-house, but everyone must meet regular deadlines. And there will always be iOS updates, so ensure you continue to optimize your app in that way as well.

4. Open the Door to Adjacency

Consumers may love your brand, but they also love other brands. Think about other, non-competitive companies also in your category. These partners can help enlarge the audience for your app if you keep them close. iPad publishing apps are a great potential advertising platform for partner brands. For example, if you develop a monthly iPad magazine full of branded content, let adjacent brands advertise within your iPad magazine to generate increased partnerships and/or ad revenue.

5. Get Your App Found

Consumers don’t just stumble upon apps. You know you’ll have to promote your iPad app. The question is how best to do it among your target audience. One of the best ways to promote apps is through links in paid advertising. For example, tag or promote the brand’s iPad app in print, TV, and display ads. But brands can also gain an audience for their app by promoting it through in-store signage and kiosks, search engine marketing, and social media. The North Face experiences a spike in downloads for their Snow Report and Trailhead apps each time they are featured in a print ad.

The iPad may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for marketers. Brands that can win hearts and minds on the tablet will be ready for the major shift away from the laptop and PC that’s sure to happen in the next decade.

10 Surprising Brands Killing It on Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to collect images and links to ideas you love, products that rock, and just about anything else under the sun. While most users of the site are still individuals, brands and big businesses have taken note of the major traffic the social media site has been seeing in recent months, and many have begun creating their own Pinterest boards, pinning things from their own sites as well as from around the web. There are hundreds of brands currently using Pinterest for marketing (a number that will undoubtedly grow before the year is out), and some surprising companies are making the site’s visual features work for them. Read on to learn about some of the unexpected brands that are drawing in loads of fans from Pinterest.

Infographic: Why People Follow Brands

This is a great infographic that has just been released from the team at get satisfaction. It gives you an interesting insight into why people follow brands in the social media space. The main reason is pretty obvious, apart from being a current customer of the brand, is to receive special offers or deals, however there are some other interesting stats in this infographic.

The highlights:

  • Over 97% of people say that social media has influenced their decision to make a purchase of a brand or product.
  • Over 23% of people have downloaded a branded app onto their mobile devise.
  • Over 18% of people follow a brand on Facebook for interesting and entertaining content.
  • Over 22% of people follow a brand on Twitter for interesting and entertaining content.