Social media has endured its fair share of skepticism when it comes to delivering value for marketers and companies. But for many businesses, especially ecommerce companies, brand recognition can be pivotal in a customer’s decision making process — even if just to feel that the store exists and has trust with other consumers.
It’s interesting to me to see that many small ecommerce companies, even retail businesses that have existed offline for years and have finally shifted some attention to online sales, aren’t placing nearly enough concentration on the value of social media marketing. Surprisingly, I often find that smaller companies and emerging brands focus on PR rather than a straight approach to brand marketing and growing online awareness. Nothing beats data and unfortunately PR often struggles in that space. Social media presents multiple layers of data yet companies can struggle with understanding it all. At a minimum, at least you can collect data points to leverage at a later stage. So, be sure to gather information and prepare to analyze and compare metrics from your efforts.
To get to the point: online business requires customers. There are countless ways to acquire customers, each with their own expense and resource draw. Stores need to have initial touch points with customers at the top of the funnel. This is essentially the introduction. I recommend that businesses take a step forward with their strategies and evaluate the potential that social media marketing has with growing awareness of their companies while also acquiring customers (even at top of funnel sales stage). Additionally, the cost to acquire tens of thousands of fans for an online retailer is modest in comparison to other expenses including paid and organic search, but still provides future value that is not yet realized…
Remember that social media more than just enables your customers to help you, it can empower them to grow your business. Use that opportunity wisely.
"It’s simply an engine of convenience," Evan Williams on what the Internet is.
The internet has offered the world many things, yet I agree to a large extent with Evan Williams and his statements about the web ultimately offering convenience. Understanding and accepting this notion only raises more questions and concerns about online business, web practices and if any real value is added from services and business marketing product companies.
Big data is a popular term thrown around quite liberally with many businesses and service providers. As is many other buzz terms of the moment (take your pick: machine learning, data mining, etc.). While the marketing days of old relied greatly on art and craft, today’s marketing departments are based in analytics and scientific approaches. Yet, the never ending pursuit to create and partake in the buzz word of the week conversation has the online marketing industry often sounding like internet salesmen from the nineties.
Certainly it can be convenient to know what is happening in the industry, ala big data and data mining and such, yet it is not essential for online marketers. As Evan pointed out in his interview, “Those who can tune that engine well — who solve basic human problems with greater speed and simplicity than those who came before — will profit immensely. Those who lose sight of basic human needs — who want to give people the next great idea — will have problems.” (Wired.com).
Marketing software and services companies, as well as marketing professionals out of and in-house, only need to know how to master the variety of engines for business. The terms come and go, but at the end of the day it’s the mechanic and engineering approach that matters more to the results. In a nutshell, the services and solutions companies should be providing more efficient picks and axes for marketers to tune their engines.
The season has finally changed here in the Big Apple. For awhile it felt like the summer was going to make it to October. Still, 70 degree days in late September feel really nice.
Generally, I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to talking about the weather. Usually if I talk about the weather it’s probably because I’m putting a mild effort forth to strike up a conversation and haven’t sourced a topic worth leading with yet. This can often coincide with introductions to people without context. That’s not to say that conversation won’t find context, but often times I’m introduced to individuals without much explanation of why or who each other is.
Ok, where am I going with this unnecessary weather talk? It’s a staple. It happens more than I plan it to happen. But talking about the weather can lead to more interesting conversations, occasionally. It just requires follow up. My issue with so many people in the business world today is they lack follow up; respectful persistence or simple courteous correspondence.
It’s important to note that every email not returned can’t honestly be believed to have ended up in the SPAM folder. Professionals that skirt answering questions by providing answers to questions that weren’t asked, are essentially disrespectful.
All of this happens far too often. Conversations die out before they ever really begin because people aren’t even willing to talk about the weather, again. Sooner or later that same weather talk changes to a new season, and we as professionals have to be more than willing, we have to be persistent in following the change towards new opportunities.
In my recent professional past, I have been fortunate to have built and launched a number of projects online. I use the word “projects” despite some of these developing into full corporations. With each project I’ve done, I admit, I think about them and expect them to grow into fast growth companies. #wishfulThinking
Many of my past projects centered around the “launch” and getting as much publicity and buzz as I could out of the gate. It was very non-Lean Startup methodology. This approach meant I got to tell people that publications like Teen Vogue, Womens Wear Daily and SELF magazine featured me in articles about my projects - it stroked egos for sure. And I’m sure this media lead to the opportunity to work with brands like ALDO Shoes, Current/Elliot, The Smile Train and others. But, it didn’t make the projects sustainable.
One of my most recent projects evolved into Closetista, a video commerce driven web property that at its height reached consumers across the globe and had a network of nearly three dozen style bloggers syndicating our content. Of course, Closetista launched in much the same way as my previous projects: with media and press. But, the funny part was that I was totally un-prepaired for it and unable to capitalize in any long lasting way. This eventually propelled many projects within Closetista as a company, each trying to garner different and new publicity, including online contests for emerging designers.
The amazing difference with the designer contests, that we named Style Gone Social, was that we didn’t really promote. Instead, we baked marketing into components of the contests and required contestants to drive awareness and sales. This worked incredibly well at driving traffic and sales, but also at reducing our overhead and dependency on media and PR.
Shortly after the first contest I reached out to my current co-founder and asked him to get involved so the two of us could build an online contest marketplace — gamified to the nines! We even had term sheets from institutional investors before we had a beta. My cofounder and I ultimately decided to take a step back and refocus. We would not build this contest marketplace. Why?
Neither one of us really wanted to build an online contest site, but we were excited about the tech approach and strategy we had outlined. We ultimately decided to do a new venture, one that would not include press and media: A business to business, SaaS, solutions provider for ecommerce companies. This company has not “launched” but we do have a closed beta with a few clients that are using our solution and driving sales and acquiring new customers with incredible efficiency due to our solution. In fact, part of our company strategy is to not necessarily have an official launch with any press or media. As in, possibly ever.
Obviously I’ve connected the launch of a startup to getting press. And certainly many startups can have a launch and not involve press at all. I guess my main point is that building a company shouldn’t begin with the launch, and surely shouldn’t center around getting press. Neither is sustainable and neither will be the core of a startup.
If you think that the tech your young kids are using today are any reflection on what will be used in the future, even in the near future, you are mistaken. It’s also short changing the intellect of every kid 18 and under. You don’t think they can come up with something better ?
That’s not to say that watching our kids use technology that didn’t exist when we were kids isn’t adorable. It is. And of course each of our kids is smarter and more aware of the future than any other kid in the world. Obviously.
THe reality is that we do not live in the world we were born into. Things change.
After a weekend out of town, but one that felt like I spent most of the time behind the wheel driving, I was excited to get the official work week started. Waking up to a cloudy sky and dropping temperatures wasn’t motivating, nor was the idea that there was a very strange technical issue still awaiting my undivided attention. I was fortunate to have my cofounder look into the issue while I was away and was pleasantly surprised to discover the issue no longer remained.
The unfortunate part however is that we have not clearly identified what caused the original issue and incorrect experience. I’ve scoured the behaviors that lead to the issue arising last week, but yet have been unable to identify the cause. Thus, we are not sure what the cure was.
Has anyone else felt this way: elation from the issue apparently correcting itself, and then more frustration from the confusion or lack of ability to understand what has actually happened?
From time to time I’ll look at the number of Facebook Friends I have or the number of connections on my LinkedIn account. Or, even scan the Followers on the various Twitter accounts I access.
Without question, all accounts have some virtual-friends —- people I haven’t met in person. While I can’t necessarily argue for actual value of these friendships, isn’t it not enough or more inline with new-age Internet relationships to connect with people you haven’t met in-person? I mean, don’t people connect on dating sites without ever meeting in person until the “final” stages?
My question is this: can valuable relationships exist from virtual friendships, connections, acquaintances?
Some days it feels like just yesterday that I launched Tweet My Style with an orchestrated campaign for Rebecca Minkoff. That was early 2010 and the website ended up running a number of promotions for various brands including Seychelles, BC Footwear, Ban.do, ALDO, Current Elliott, Lords of Liverpool, and others. We ended up with just over 30,000 total unique Twitter users logging in and posting pictures.
During the half year I was developing Tweet My Style there seemed to be several competitors popping up every other day… By competitors I mean websites catering to people who take pictures that are fashion oriented and share socially. This mainly included style bloggers who essentially built their audiences off the traffic sent from networks like chictopia and lookbook. Both of those sites, according to compete, have seen a drastic drop in traffic over the past year. This made me wonder if style blogs also are seeing decreases in traffic?
Quickly running through some of the style blogs that were growing at the time of Tweet My Style (i.e. The Glamourai, Man Repeller, etc.), I notice that they now lack the traffic numbers for compete to even report: “This site has relatively low traffic.”
There appears to be HUGE declines in traffic, and likely audience reach, or at least “owned” audience reach, for many of the players in the online fashion space over the past few years. Similarly, the Tweet My Style competitors (although not direct competitors) raised around $10 million from angels and VCs and the three major websites I checked (Go Try It On, Fashism, and Pose) now appear to lack the amount of web traffic for compete to report on them as well.
All this to say, there are many more individuals sharing and posting their style pics and fashion editorial pieces online. But why have the major players in the space just a short time ago taken such a deep fall in captive audience retention and influence?
My hypothesis is that Instagram essentially killed the utility providers like Fashism, Go Try It On, etc. It doesn’t necessarily make sense for a style blogger to be vertical when you can build and grow with a much larger reach on Instagram. Obviously, the Instagram followers are most likely nowhere near the devoted style audience that an profile gets on Pose or a similar website.
And the bloggers? It seems their reach and influence too has begun to wane. Traffic to their websites has dropped significantly because people consume their sartorial content elsewhere. While Twitter and Instagram followings can be in the hundreds of thousands of followers for some of these style bloggers, why is it that few can direct that audience to consume any little bit of content from their own web property, their blog, let alone a partner website for a promotion?
For example: I highly doubt the 726,000 Instagram followers for Aimee Song of Song of Style is anything close to a captivated foodie, fashion and design audience. After all, if there are nearly three quarters of a million people as part of a devoted audience or following, why is it that too few can be guided to Song of Style’s blog website in a large enough number that compete would be able to report on? After all, the blog appears to be updated more often with “fuller” content.
If the real seed of the style blogging movement was looking at photos of attractive (mostly younger) women wearing trendy outfits, then the need for, and consequently the influence from, a blog or editorial contribution has been severely hampered by social media… the same source that enabled and built the trend of style blogging.
So, while it seems more monetary success is coming from the style blogging space (i.e. bloggers getting paid), the value, if any, is mainly in the appearance of someone stylish. Not in traffic numbers. Not in drawing an audience. Not in delivering customers or driving sales. It appears to be that the return for a brand or partner would be the image that is taken and shared on Instagram and various websites, most insignificant one possibly being the blogger’s own. That there is truly no captive audience should begin to effect brand campaign budgets and strategies if it hasn’t already.