Future Implications

Social media is like a river, it’s always flowing and changing.  How does a company keep up with these changes?  In order to be effective in a social media environment, companies need to understand society and its needs.  Understanding that the purpose of social media is connection will provide insight as to how you can use it and grow with it.

So what are these future implications?

According to expert Jason DeMers, some of these future implications include:

  • The potential for a singular dominating social media platform
  • Elimination of organic advertising and reach
  • Customization of news feeds and streams
  • Virtual and augmented reality
  • Streamlining

Although it may seem that some of these are already happening, some of them will likely become more pronounced as society and businesses dictate new changes (Solis, 2014).

Explain the singular dominating social media platform.

Although Facebook holds a large portion of the social media market, it still has competition with Twitter (Google+ is still working to catch up to the two social media giants). The company has already purchased another platform (Instagram), which could be the start of a monopolization of social media by the company.  This could work to the benefit of businesses, but it could also cause a cost increase in paid-for advertising, taking away one of the advantages of social media for business.

I thought that paid-for advertising was already the standard now?

Although many platforms have reduced the organic reach of business pages and accounts, it’s not completely eliminated at this point.  This is a very real future for businesses though, which means that there will need to be a reevaluation of marketing budgets and how much will be allotted to social media marketing.

So what if the platforms don’t go to complete paid-for advertising?

Users are going to be able to customize their news feeds, not only can they decide who they want to hear from, they may even be able to decide when.  Facebook already allows consumers to hide posts that they find uninteresting, offensive, or just because they want to.  Companies are going to have to ensure their content is what consumers want to see, doing research and listening to what they are saying to keep from missing the opportunity to get “in front of” the user on the screen.

Virtual reality, that’s like Pokemon Go, right?

Pokemon Go was a viral success for the brand, for months you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing people walking the streets looking for Pikachu or other characters.  Users were taken into a virtual reality environment on their mobile phones that interacted with their physical environment through geolocation.  Although I have yet to see a game that has gained the same momentum that Pokemon Go did, there is a potential in the VR and AR segment that can help businesses stand out from the rest.  How awesome would it be to have an tablet in your dealership loaded with an application that allows you to show customers how their potential motorcycle, side by side, or all-terrain vehicle purchase would look with different accessory options.  Not only does it increase the potential for an upsell during the time of sale, it also gets the consumer excited because they see an image for what they’re considering for their purchase.

Doesn’t everyone appreciate streamlining?

Streamlining can be a great thing, not just for consumers, but for businesses as well.  It can keep more profit in-house for the business because of the convenience for the customer.  So if a dealership has decided to make their own app, they’ve added a shopping feature that lets the user not only order a part or accessory from the app, but also find out if its in stock or needs ordered.  Although this is already done through many big box stores and their websites, it’s not a feature widely used (if at all) in the powersports industry.  By streamlining the process, the consumer can save a trip or phone call (for those days when they’re constantly on the go) and see if what they need is available to pick up that same day.  Not only can this increase ecommerce revenue, but it also adds an air of convenience that consumers may not find somewhere else.

So what really leads to all these changes in social media?

Well, according to Brian Solis, it’s both the businesses and consumers that use social media.  Either a business releases a new technology, product, or service that consumers deem convenient and therefor necessary, or consumers demand a product, service, or new technology through their buying habits.  Solis explains that there are constantly (what he calls) disruptions entering the market.  He’s even provided a chart to show how they influence social media and the marketers who are trying to chase it down:

Wheel-of-Disruption1

Advances such as Uber, Amazon, Postmates, and more are causing a butterfly effect ripple in the social media environment.  Providing services to consumers that they didn’t realize they needed until they found the convenience.  It in turn causes them to demand this convenience from other companies, causing a ripple as everyone scrambles to make changes (Stelzner, 2016).

 

So what do I do from here?

Understanding that social media isn’t just a place for marketers to get some free advertising, but a place for people to connect is key to a successful effort.  Understanding that there is the potential for some of the changes I listed and how they can affect your dealership or shop will help mitigate some of the impact, but ultimately, realizing that no matter how much you know about social media, you never know it all.  It changes daily with society’s whims, and as a business, you have to be prepared to change with it.

 

References

DeMers, J. (2016). 6 possibilities for the future of social media marketing. Marketing Land.    Retrieved from http://marketingland.com/6-possibilities-future-social-media- marketing-188391

Morrison, M. (2016). Pokemon Go goes viral despite little marketing. Advertising Age.             Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/digital/pokemon-go-viral-marketing/304905/

Schneider, B. (n.d.). Focus on the real purpose of social media. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.schneiderb.com/focus-on-the-real-purpose-of-social-media/

Solis, B. (2014). Digital transformation is about empathy first and technology second. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.briansolis.com/2014/11/digital-transformation-empathy-first-technology-second/

Stelzner, M. (2016). Social media evolution: What does the future of social media marketing look like? Social Media Examiner. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-evolution-what-does-the-future-of-social-marketing-look-like-with-brian-solis/

 

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Viral Marketing Initiatives

How many times have you seen the Doritos commercial with the woman getting the ultrasound? With over 16 million views on YouTube, the video went viral during the 2016 Super Bowl.

The “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign from Doritos has been one of the most successful campaigns for the last 10 years for a few reasons,  but when the idea to utilize user-generated content to fill the Super Bowl slots was brought up, many were not on board with it (Schultz, 2016).

So, what lead to the success of the campaign leading it to go on for a decade?

One of the biggest appeals for the campaign was the user-generated content.  Many amateur filmmakers jumped at the opportunity to showcase their skills to a large viewership.  They became emotionally invested in their projects, trying to put their best foot forward and find a way to connect to the followers who would be voting on the videos.

 

Well, what makes content go viral?

I’ve found five reasons that content goes viral, although these can vary depending on the topic:

  1. Emotions: Consumers like things that bring forth their emotions; whether its anger, happiness, comedy, or something else.  They want content that they can find some sort of meaning in, even if that meaning is just a good laugh.  The more people can connect with something, the more likely they are to share it with their friends.
  2. Contests: Who doesn’t like to win something? Customers love to see that they’re being recognized by a business, so why not give them something for spreading the word?  Not only will the customer win, but the business does as well with the expansion of brand awareness, engagement, and more.
  3. Video: Viral videos have been transcending over the last few years, between the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” which was started to raise funds and awareness, to the “Mannequin Challenge” which was done just for fun.  Videos give that little bit of perspective into someone else’s world, and if its interesting enough, users share that world a little further.
  4. User-Generated Content: This goes back to being recognized by businesses, consumers love to have their loyalty and work recognized.  I recently ran a series of “Show Us Your View,” encouraging our followers to send us photos and videos of their view when riding.  This lead to receiving dozens of submissions within the first two days.  When we shared the content we saw an increase of engagement on all platforms, even seeing some shares (which we had not seen before).
  5. Mobile Friendly: There is nothing worse then sitting around at the doctor and trying to look at something on your phone, only to find that it loads too slowly for mobile applications.  The easier it is for users to see your content, the more willing they will be to participate and share your content.

Other things you may want to take into consideration, this infographic from SailThru gives a lot of good information to consider when putting together your next campaign:

Top-10-Viral-Campaign-Ideas-for-CGM1449106819

Ultimately, you want to relate to your followers, and other users, to have the best opportunity to get content to go viral.  Find something that makes them laugh, provide advise on a topic that you see (or hear) come up regularly, get involved in your online communities to see what your target market is interested in.  Once you figure out the type of content you want to share and decide how you want to present it (company generated or user generated), the hard part is over.

For more information and a step by step guide on how content goes viral, check out this post from Advertising Universe, it has some great infographics to guide you through your strategy.

 

References:

Petrescu, M. (2014). Viral Marketing and Social Networks.  New York, New York [222 East 46th Street, New York, NY 10017]: Business Expert Press.

Rudd, A. & Collinger, T. (2015). Doritos ‘Crash the Super Bowl’-An effective advertising campaign.

Salo, J. (2016). Why simple videos like the Mannequin Challenge go viral. New York Post. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2016/11/16/why-simple-videos-like-the-mannequin-challenge-go-viral/

Schultz, E. (2016). How ‘Crash the Super Bowl’ changed advertising. Advertising Age.  Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/special-report-super-bowl/crash-super-bowl-changed-advertising/301966/

 

Differentiation

When most people think of American made motorcycles, the first name that comes to mind is Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company, although Indian Motorcycle Company is a close second in the market now.  Both companies have a long lineage for their brand names in the motorcycle industry, although Harley-Davidson has been the only one to consistently survive ownership changes over the years.   Being founded in 1903 by William Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson, the company grew from the shed where they produced their first motorcycle to the industry giant it is today.  Now the company is encouraging riders to “Live Your Legend” in their new marketing campaign, by utilizing the hashtag #liveyourlegend they will be able to share the stories of actual riders of the memorable moments and friendships made through riding.

Indian Motorcycle Company has not shared the same success as Harley-Davidson over the years, in 1953 the original ownership ceased operations and discontinued all models.  This lead to a constant change of ownership over the next 50 years until 2011 when Polaris Industries announced their acquirement of the brand.  Since they’ve had the brand, Polaris has put the focus on the historical significance of the brand, even keeping the same model names and incorporating the classic styling of the original machines.  Their “Be Legendary” campaign has been running since the beginning of the year, encouraging consumers to join them in getting back to their roots in the industry.

Both of these companies are running similar campaigns, wanting consumers to see themselves as the legend behind their brands, but what makes their approach different?  Harley-Davidson spends a lot of time “listening” on social media.  A quick scan of their Facebook page shows posts encouraging fans to participate by answering a question or posting a picture of them and their motorcycles.  Using their current campaign, they are not only encouraging engagement with the motorcycle community, they are also getting content from the public to use in the campaign.

Indian Motorcycle takes a different route with their marketing; their Facebook is a place you can see posts about their history, blurbs about their bikes, the events they are sponsoring and participating in, and a little bit about custom bike builders who have won an award using a custom build Indian Motorcycle.  It’s obvious the company is less focused on their social media presence than their physical presence to reach their target market.

Although both companies are successful with their marketing, they are drastically different in their approaches on social media.  Do you think that social media truly has an impact on their expansion and reach to their target markets?  Or is their target market more interested in the actual experience and physical marketing aspects?

Who Controls My Social Media?

So your social media accounts are up and running in full force, you’re seeing an increase in your Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers, but now you’re finding that another beast has been unleashed:  customer service.

Social media is just another venue for customers to approach you about things they’re interested in; from commenting on one of your posts with a question to sending your business page a message asking for a price on a new product.  More and more consumers are using social media to contact businesses and let them know what they think or ask questions.

My social media coordinator isn’t a technician or a salesperson, should I have her just relay the message?

Yes, you could just have your social media coordinator relay the information, but that can cause unnecessary delays in responses to the customer.  For a sales team, this could mean the difference in making a sale and losing it to another dealership who responded back to the customer in a quicker time frame.  For a service customer, this could mean they are stranded on the road longer if they have a brake down.  You may think that these aren’t possible scenarios, but I have seen it happen quite a few times.

So how do you get around the delays in responding to customers?  You give each department access to your social media accounts.

But wait…why bother having a social media coordinator then?

Your social media coordinator is going to control the overall content, but there are times that the sales team may need to post relevant content on the fly when they receive word of a limited time manufacturer offer.  Whenever there is time sensitive information involved, the more people it has to go through, the longer it takes to get to the end user, which means the less time the customer has to take advantage of it.

Okay, so sales makes sense, but why would my service or parts teams need access?  Their specials are planned and can be sent through the designated person.

Again, I go back to the scenario of that customer who is stranded, for whatever reason they can’t (or won’t) call in to your dealership.  They send a message to your social media page, but don’t get a response back immediately.  Although you can set a expected response time frame, customers may not always pay attention to it, or even care about it.  When they’re stranded, they want help now, and just because they sent a Facebook message and didn’t call in to you is no excuse for you not to answer right away (please note that last sentence is layered with sarcasm)

Now on to more reasonable reason as to why these teams need access to the social media, again, answering questions for customers is a big deal.  Your service or parts team can deal directly with the customer, signing their name in the message or response post so the customer knows who helped them.  Also, you don’t want an untrained persons posting your weekly “tech tips.”  If you are sharing content from another page, you want to make sure that information is what your technicians would tell a customer who walks through your door, if it is contradictory to what your technicians tell customers, or if it’s a walk through of how to do a task and results in damage to the customers bike or ATV, they are going to call you asking why you shared the information if it’s not correct.  Giving a service person access to social media will allow them to post relevant content that will not put your dealership in a bad situation.

 

No matter what type of dealership you run, you want to make sure that you’re giving the best customer service you can, and that includes social media.  By giving access to each department, your customer satisfaction scores can only increase by providing accurate and timely information and responses.

Social Media: Life After Starting An Account

 

So I made all these social media accounts and pages for my business, what do I do now?

First things first, once you create your accounts you need to make sure that you completely fill out the profiles.  Doing this provides a more professional appearance for your business and how its represented on social media.  Think about it, if someone finds your business on Facebook, wouldn’t it be more convenient if they had access to your phone number, address, and website from your “about” page instead of having to hunt it down elsewhere?

How do I get more likes and followers?

The last thing you want to do is beg for people to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter.  This makes your business come off desperate and unprofessional.  Instead focus on share worthy content that encourages your current market to want to pass on your page as being the place to get information.  If you have a blog that your company regularly updates, share the most recent post.  Find trustworthy content on the internet to share, give credit to the author who provided the content.  Building a circle of trust with your online community (followers and other pages you share) will keep your name out there and move you up the social media ladder.

How do I find content?

If you run a repair shop then you have a plethora of knowledge at your fingertips.  Your technicians may have suggestions for the different customers (on-road and off-road) and what they want to check before they ride for the first time each season.  Look at different online publications such as http://www.cycleworld.com or http://www.ridermagazine.com for content that may be interesting to your audience.

Our business got a bad review!  We must delete it!

Although no one likes a bad review being out there for everyone to see, it’s not the end of the world.  There is a way to salvage your reputation from a bad review, namely being transparent in your responses.  You do not want to get defensive with the reviewer, instead clarify their concerns and the situation publicly and ask them to contact you and give you the opportunity to rectify the situation.   Once you come to a resolution: go back to your public venue, let that customer know you appreciate their time and how happy you are that you could reach a resolution that worked for them.  This shows that you not only acknowledge your business isn’t perfect, but also that you’re willing to work with the customer to come to a resolution.  Customer service is key, even in social media!

We just got new units in, time to post them up!

Although you’re there to sell new units and draw in customers to purchase those units, this is not what your social media is for.  Social media is there to attract an audience that sees your business as a place they can trust.  You want to use social media to drive customers to your website so they can learn even more about your business and brand, posting up every single new unit you have in inventory isn’t necessary and can be quite the turn off for your audience.  Instead find alternative ways to encourage customers to visit your website where they can see the units; try posting up a poll involving units you have listed asking your audience which unit they like better.  This will not only encourage interaction from your audience, but it will drive them to look at the units listed on your business website.

I just saw a new social media application, it’s supposed to be the next best thing!

It’s great to learn about the newest applications out there, you never know what is going to take off like Facebook and Twitter, but you don’t want to spread your marketing efforts thin by trying to participate on every single platform that comes out.  Focus your efforts on the main platforms, but go ahead and keep your eye on the new ones coming out, understand how they operate and if they’re beneficial to your business.  You’re right, you never know what is going to gain momentum quickly, but you can’t work off the “what if’s” and try to meet goals for every single app.

So people are sharing my content, I’m getting likes and followers, now where do I go from here?

Now that your brand is picking up on the social media outlets you chose to focus on, you’ll want to take the time for thanking the people who share your posts, interacting those who comment on them, and maintaining your share worthy content.  Just because you met your quantitative goals does not mean that you’re done working on your marketing plan and don’t settle for what has worked in the past, social media is constantly evolving and your business has to evolve with it in order to maintain and grow.

Social Media? We don’t need no Social Media!

So you think your dealership or shop doesn’t need to participate in the social media craze and your current customer base is spreading enough word of mouth to keep you going.  For some that may be true, but for most you are missing out on a large part of your market.  There are over one million users on Facebook and over half a million registered on Twitter, all of which are potential customers for your business.

“Well my shop is in California, how can you say someone in Maine is a potential customer?”

I’ve had customers drive 10 hours in order to purchase a machine from us, simply because of how we market ourselves.  Not only do we do our best to provide the best customer service we can to everyone who calls in, we also ensure that we answer any and all questions to the best of our ability.  Sometimes this means spending a little more time with a customer who has a technical question, and other times it means having the customer come in so we can go over things in person.  The same goes for our social media pages; we are constantly answering questions and responding to direct messages via social media about our parts, services, or sales departments.

That’s great, but I still don’t get why I need social Media.

Easy, you need social media because that is how most people are interacting these days.  The  power sports market covers different generations, not only do you have the 20 year old buying his first sport bike, you also have the 50 year old farmer who needs another side by side for his farm.  No matter the age, approximately three quarters of consumers do their research on a business and/or product online before making a purchase.  Your social media is your meet and greet outfit, you always want to put your best foot forward and social media is the way to make it happen.  If the only information you have out there is your business website and whatever reviews customers have left on various websites, potential customers are not going to find out who you really are as a business.

So I opened my social media accounts, how do they impact me?

As I already mentioned, more and more people are researching businesses and products online before they buy, this means if you as a business are putting out quality content, potential customers will see that and the chances that you will gain a new customer increases.  Quality social media marketing can also lead to the increase in brand awareness, brand loyalty, decreases in marketing costs, and increases in website traffic.

So I have all of these followers through social media, now what?

Now is the time you start building relationships with the customers through engaging content.  This means answering questions in the public sector for customers, allowing others to see your customer service level for themselves.  Using that engaging content is also giving you an opportunity to find out what your customers really like and want.  Maybe someone has seen an aftermarket accessory that you don’t carry but they’re interested in, there could be others interested in this same accessory and social media can help you find this out.

Ultimately social media marketing is about your customer’s experience.  Not only can it help you gain brand awareness and loyalty, it can give you insight into what makes your customers tick.  The expanded reach that social media provides will allow you access to customers all over the country, gaining potential sales of both parts and units.  Your quality posts and blogs will give customers insight to who you are as a dealership and let them know that not only do you care about their business, but you care about their interests, wants, and opinions as well.

Social Media…it’s not about you anymore

It’s all about me…

Something I’ve discovered when I use social media for my own research on businesses or products I’m interested in is that I want to shop with a company who is personable.  Motorcyclists and power sports enthusiasts are not different than myself or anyone else out there.  Most of us have seen the viral company twitter responses to customers posts that show not only the humorous side of the company, but also the human side.  Sainsbury’s had a little fun with a customer who posted this tweet (click the tweet to see their entire exchange):

The employee responds to the customer’s satire with his own, he continues the exchange ensuring he signs his name each time he posts.  This gives a few good impressions for someone who comes across the exchange:

  1. The employee, David, has taken a personal interest in the exchange by signing his name after each of his tweets.
  2. The company is not so focused on profits that they can’t enjoy a casual exchange with customers for the sake of entertainment.
  3. I really need to see where this company is so I can check them out for myself, they look fun.

So the last reason is more of a personal reason for me instead of a textbook reason, but I’m a human, I like human interaction, and the Twitter exchange had the desired effect.  I wanna shop at this company.

Here’s the new reality for social media….

Social media has transformed the marketing industry which means its transformed the way we market our motorcycle and power sports businesses.  Customers want that great experience and interaction that they can only get with a “human” company.

What is Social Media marketing?

Social media marketing is just that, it’s marketing via a media (the internet) that is social in nature.  Let’s focus on the social side of things though, I’ve talked about it once, I’ll talk about it a lot.  Customer’s want experience, interaction, and information.  When you look to post on social media, think about how you would feel as a consumer seeing the post.  Is it something that you would be interested in seeing?   Does it make you feel like the company is approachable?  Are you just trying to sell a product, or are you genuinely interested in your customer’s wants and needs?  These are some of the questions we as power sports marketers need to ask ourselves.

companytwitter1_0

So it’s not about me, my product, or business?

Social media marketing has never been about the business or product as it has been about the social interaction for the consumer.  If you’re on Twitter, share some blogs, post tweets that encourage customers to tweet with you, engage in conversations on other tweets.  The same can be applied to Facebook and Instagram as well, provide content that is valuable to the consumer, whether it’s sharing your company’s newest blog post, a photo, product reviews, or simply engaging with your followers.  Put your focus on the social part of social media and the marketing with easily follow.

Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, Oh My!

Social media can be overwhelming for some businesses, you have to think of new content to draw current and potential customers to your page regularly in order to increase interest around your business and the products or services you sell.  But how effective are your posts on the different outlets?  Which outlets are more effective for a business to utilize?

The answer to these lies in what type of content you’re providing and how you dedicate resources to social media.  When we think of social media we think along the lines of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Now you have other outlets such as SnapChat, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, and even LinkedIn.  Overwhelmed yet?  Don’t be, although the number of social media outlets are increasing, it doesn’t mean that it is more time consuming.  Picking which outlets will work best for your business is key, but if you want to use as many as possible, or all, you can do that too.  Just make sure the content you’re pushing is pulling customers into your store or to your website.

Let’s start with Facebook.  So you have a business page with 5,000 likes, do you know how many of those 5,000 people will actually see your posts?  Based on the current analytics tools, you’re likely to reach about 16 percent, or 800 people.  When looking at the amount of likes, this is a small number, but there’s also other matrices at work here.  Facebook users can opt to “unfollow” a page or person, meaning that they only see their posts when they go directly to their page.  Others may not see your posts because it doesn’t fall within their main interests.  Any of your posts can be “bumped” to reach outside of your current following, this will cost you money, but if you’re working on expansion, it could be worth it.

Instagram is more of a visual media outlet, users  can follow specific people or businesses that post images that interest them.  The addition of “hashtags” allows users to search for specific content they want to see at the time.  This is the perfect platform to showcase images of new products, or even draw attention to how hard your service department works.  Take a picture of the guys hard at work on customer units, add a catch phrase to it, some hashtags to include the different product lines you carry, and now you have something that has the potential to draw in more followers and interest in your business.

Twitter is a great place for sharing blog posts and asking questions to generate conversations with your followers.  You have 140 characters to get your message across, but sometimes less is more, right?

No matter if you choose one outlet or multiple outlets, think about the type of content you’re generating.  Don’t let every post be something for sale, add in pictures of customers who purchase a unit from you, think about generating a blog that gives information on riding destinations and riding tips, show what’s going on around your dealership and let followers get to know your staff and what they do, and of course post any events your dealership is putting on or sponsoring.  If you don’t feel you have the time to dedicate to multiple social media sites, but want to use as many as possible, look into a social media management tool such as Hootsuite where you can post to multiple outlets from one source.  Most of all, think of what you want to see when you go on Facebook, you’re in the powersports industry because of a passion you have, so use that passion to reach your followers, regardless of the platform.