Tag Archives: social media

Lessons from Startup Culture: Innovative Marketing Strategies

Our series Lessons from Startup Culture focuses on the ways in which startups have changed the business landscape through the necessity of innovation and outside-the-box thinking. While many larger companies face different challenges, there is still a lot to be learned by examining how small businesses navigate product design, branding, and marketing on a limited (often nearly non-existent) budget.

In this installment, we’ll explore the marketing strategies that pioneering startups have developed in response to emerging social media landscapes and out of a need to build name recognition and introduce new products to their target markets.
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Inside the Innovative Mind: Online Social Networking

Of the many incredible innovations that have impacted our lives over the past few decades, one in particular stands out to me as an example of how technology can change the way we relate to each other on a fundamental level – social networking. Whether you take an optimistic or pessimistic view of this evolution, the change is undeniable. Technology and social networking have given us the ability to connect with friends or strangers (both near and far) for business or for recreation, all at the touch of a button.

The story of innovation behind social networking and the internet is a complex one, full of give and take. At times, social networking drove the development of the online experience, at other times it struggled to keep up with technological advances. This is a look at the innovators who changed our lives by connecting us (and our data) online.
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What Does Social Media Do For You? The Case of An “Out Of This World” Strategy

If you're just joining us, our most recent posts have highlighted just a few companies for their innovative and transformational approaches to social media in all its forms. We've covered Dove's changing of the social media conversation surrounding beauty, as well as JetBlue's daisy-chain of human kindness with their “fly it forward” campaign. While each of those campaigns were innovative on their own, it may perfect make sense to you why these companies found success on social media. After all, both of them have their own brand story and personality to share with consumers.

However, one organization's social media strategy proved that even the most white-collar, scientific organizations can gain big benefits from social media

NASA: From Geek to Social Media Guru

No one really saw NASA's social media explosion coming. These brilliant minds successfully guided a man to the moon, propelled rockets into deep space, and held some of the highest knowledge on topics like warp travel and black holes. They were the serious group of people who actually were doing rocket science, not an organization that spent their time on tweets and Vines. So how did it all change? 

A robot. 

In early 2008, NASA had just landed the Phoenix Rover on the surface of Mars. Instead of simply relaying statistics and facts about what the rover had found, NASA's head of communications, Veronica McGregor, decided to make a change. She began relaying playful, lovable, first-person tweets to millions of followers back on Earth. She brought the rover to life! For the first time in a long time, real-life robots were astonishingly human.

Since then, NASA's presence on social media exploded. However, its rise should be a surprise to no one. Posting images of nebulas and new galaxies has given NASA a reputation for content that’s not just enthralling but greatly informative as well. Through a perfect amalgamation of interstellar images, complex universal phenomenon, and down-home, earthly representations of both its astronauts and its organization, NASA has created an avid following that spans all ages. 

Power Your Product with Voice

The most exciting aspect of NASA's social media strategy is its relatability. For an organization that exists in such a complex industry, you'd think it would be hard to tweet to a general audience. However, NASA has found the key. 

So how do you make a Mars Lander roaming across the surface of a mysterious planet a billion miles away relatable? Have it take a selfie!

Last October, while trekking across the surface of Mars, Curiosity paused to take in the view and snap a selfie. The picture was immediately tweeted via @MarsCuriosty, an account made specifically for the robot, with the following tagline,

“No shame in my #selfie game. These pics help my team see the state of hardware over time.”

The space missions became fun. NASA abandoned complex lingo and esoteric language, and embraced commonality using pop culture jargon. It was playful, engaging and sincere. It was a concentrated effort to engage its audience, and its was appreciated. 

Place Your Content on the Perfect Channel

NASA currently operates more than 500 unique social media accounts including a Twitter that recently peaked at more than 15 million followers. However, like Dove and JetBlue, the team realizes it's not a numbers game. Think about it: Would you rather read about a majestic sunrise filmed from the surface of Mars or pull up an Instagram photo of the exact same phenomenon? Even better, think of how amazing it would be watching a Vine of it on your commute to work or while drinking your morning coffee?

NASA has mastered the art of creating social media accounts that interact perfectly with specific platforms and channels. Some of its most effective campaigns can be found on Google+, an often underutilized social media channel. However, Google+ offers NASA unrivaled connection and interaction with some of most active participants. Rick Mulready, consultant and blogger, explains in an article in Entrepreneur

NASA leans on Google+ as an effective channel to communicate and engage with its audience. They also use Google Hangouts to hold live question-and-answer sessions and informational meet-ups for their followers.”

There's no better way to engage an audience than to directly interact with them, and there's no better way to build rapport than to show our audience we care about their individual questions and concerns. Whether they're hosting Q&A sessions, streaming the launch of a new product, or providing customer support, NASA's control across a variety of platform is flawless. 

Relaying Reality

NASA sets itself apart by bringing its audience inside. Whether that's inside a lab in Florida or on the lens of a telescope floating 10 billion miles away from Earth, brand advocates are given real, behind-the-scenes glimpses into the inner workings of NASA. Through this personable and open outreach, NASA has created a legion of followers and brand advocates committed to “making space cool again.”

Al Eidson is the owner of Eidson & Partners, a business and marketing strategy consultancy, and a founder of SparkLabKC, an early-stage startup accelerator program in Kansas City. He's an expert in taking products to market and has launched more than 220 new products and ventures through his career. He's also proud of killing off a great many problematic products before they hit the market. His vision involves meaningful and lasting products through innovation. 

What Social Media Does for Your Business: Dove Changes the Conversation

Social media can be an ugly place. The open, unrestricted and often anonymous nature that's led to the popularity of Twitter and Facebook has also made those environments prone to negativity and ugliness. Even with the top marketing professionals in the world pushing the power of positivity, true positive staying power is rare. This is exactly why Dove's “Real Beauty” campaign was a fantastic example of positive honesty done well. 

In 2004, Dove set out to begin a global conversation about the need for a new definition of beauty after they realized the societal norms had become “limiting and unattainable.” It was Dove's goal for each and every woman to not just realize their beauty but to embrace it with confidence. And, though the campaign remained rather nascent for most of its first decade, it exploded in 2013 through the use of a few imaginative social media strategies.

Quality Over Quantity

Much in line with JetBlue's “Fly It Forward” approach, Dove understood a single gesture that's both effective and genuine could harness more power than dozens of posts, tweets or ads with no direction or purpose. So, in 2013 Dove released its “Real Beauty Sketches” video. In the ad, an actual FBI sketch artist completes two different drawings of the same woman—one based on her descriptions, another based on a stranger's. Every time, the woman's picture was much more beautiful based on the stranger's description than from her own.

The three-minute spot contained a powerful message: Women are far too hard on themselves about complying to a certain “image” or societal body type—and Dove proved it. In less than a month, the video elicited more than 114 MILLION views in more than 25 languages. However, the reactions didn't stop with views, as men and women across the world took to Twitter and Facebook to not only share their reactions but also to offer encouragement and kind words to others. Fernando Machado, VP of Dove Skin, explained,

“The campaign evoked an emotional reaction in millions of people that inspired them to share the positive message with others. Beyond just the millions of views and publicity impressions, it is the outpouring of testimonials from around the world that is exciting us.”

Dove transformed a three-minute spot into a global phenomenon. How?

They truly understood their customers, and they gave them a cause to rally behind and a platform to do it on. In an instant, their brand became synonymous with honesty, transparency and beauty. They gave their customers the cause and allowed them to help spread the word!

Partnerships and Perceptions

For Dove, the “Real Beauty Sketches” video was only the beginning. Now that they had reached their audience on social media, it was time to empower them. They knew powerful partnerships would be a must. 

If an ultra-connectivity had given rise to these negative, unattainable standards of beauty, who better to partner with than Twitter? In early 2015, Dove partnered with Twitter to launch a collaborative campaign aimed at transforming the notions surrounding beauty and also the ways in which it was discussed using social media. The two began imploring women everywhere to abandon typical social media criticisms and adopt #SpeakBeautiful.

However, in order to build both campaign and brand awareness, Dove needed a splash, and it used the 2015 Oscars to provide just that. On a night where social media tends to be overly cynical and judgmental, Dove urged women across the world to tweet positively about body image and beauty throughout the show, while including #SpeakBeautiful! Within hours, the hashtag was trending across the United States.

And the campaign worked! According to research by Vayner Media and Dove

  • In 2015 alone, #SpeakBeautiful was tweeted more than 168,000 times and created more than 8 million social media impressions. 
  • The hashtag led to a massive reduction in negative Tweets about beauty and body image, dropping from more than 5.3 million in 2014 to 3.4 million in 2015–a 36.8 percent decrease
  • The #SpeakBeautiful campaign changed how people thought of the Dove brand, increasing brand affinity and brand sentiment among consumers more than 17 percent.

A Community Conversation

These calculated campaigns have created a community around Dove and its products. Because consumers identify so deeply with the company's mission to change the culture of our society, they simultaneously stand behind the brand while participating in the conversation. Dove's campaign did a great deal of work to show consumers that their brand had a mission for societal good behind their products, which is exactly what the consumers of today desire.

Al Eidson is the owner of Eidson & Partners, a business and marketing strategy consultancy, and a founder of SparkLabKC, an early-stage startup accelerator program in Kansas City. He's an expert in taking products to market and has launched more than 220 new products and ventures through his career. He's also proud of killing off a great many problematic products before they hit the market. His vision involves meaningful and lasting products through innovation. 

What Social Media Does for Your Business: JetBlue’s Branding is Soaring

I was recently reading an article in The Huffington Post when one of those bottom banner headlines caught my eye. While I usually ignore these grabs for clicks, the title drew me in: JetBlue's 'Flying It Forward' Gives Passengers Free Flights, Just For Being Nice

As I read, I found the concept of JetBlue's free flights to be a very smart combination of conscious capitalism and social media marketing efforts.

JetBlue bought Tameka Lawson a “free” plane ticket to New York City so she could attend a nonprofit conference. However, the ticket came with one condition: once her flight had concluded, Lawson had to choose another person in need to receive a free plane ride. Her selected recipient would then have to do the same, creating a generous daisy chain of free plane tickets. The success of the campaign made its way onto Twitter and Facebook, and has since gone viral.

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The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer: Who Holds the Power of Influence Now?

If you're just joining us, our most recent series of posts have discussed the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer and the global impact its results may have on businesses, governments and the media. In our most recent post, we addressed the ever-growing skepticism customers harbor toward American business leaders. However, while a solid percentage of the global population expresses some form of hesitancy and distrust, the situation is far from hopeless.

In fact, despite the current attitudes expressed by citizens around the globe, Edelman's results show large portions of our society remain optimistic about business and its leaders:

“The survey shows that despite the general population’s skepticism, business has the best chance of bridging the trust gap while still fulfilling its mandate to create value. The general population sees business as the institution best able to keep pace with rapid change, ranking it well above government and higher than nongovernmental organizations.”

As business owners or team leaders, if we're to reverse the negative trends that have created this trust disparity, we must begin by understanding the way “trust” has changed in recent years.

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Brand Advocacy: Getting Your Customers to Converse

In the past, many marketers sought to create messages that spoke to a broad audience. Because interpersonal communication wasn't possible at the same speed and ease that it is today, many brands competed to have the largest megaphone, blasting out the most creative message to large swaths of customers. 

More recently, with the rise of new digital technologies and platforms, customer engagement has become an increasingly two-way street. Brands that have discovered meaningful ways to have a conversation with their customers, instead of just talking at them, are reaping the rewards of brand advocacy. Wendy Lea, CEO at Cintrifuse, highlights this in an article for Inc Magazine,

“[Companies are] using social technologies to form meaningful, ongoing relationships that involve frequent online interactions… [and] customers who engage with a brand online report spending 20% to 40% more on that brand, or on that company's products.”

So, how do we get our customers themselves to advocate for our brand? Let's take a look at good ways to start a conversation and build a relationship.

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