Please… don’t read this.

Of course you had to read.

Curiosity is human nature, especially when it comes to knowing something others don’t want us to know. Apply that to app companies, users, and mobile devices. The formula is a recipe for privacy issues.

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Photo Credit: yahoo.com

Consumers are very connected to their mobile devices. Considering how many different uses the devices offer, this is understandable. Sure, people use iPhones for calling and texting. Beyond that, though, a phone, for many, serves as a calendar, watch, reminder list, social media source, news source, etc. As companies create new apps that make consumers even more reliant on mobile, such apps often require a privacy agreement.

Yet, are consumers knowledgeable regarding what they agree to and are app companies honest regarding how much information they take from app users? Many users do not take the time to read privacy agreements due to their length, and many companies are deceptive regarding how much privacy they actually provide app users.

The FTC recommends tactics for app companies to implement to improve approaches to privacy concerns. However, will there always be a loophole?

Emerging media can be very helpful to society. Because of its complexity, there is also a risk for harm.

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Would you like even more fries with that?

Some McDonald’s consumers may add extra fries to their order with the money they’re saving through mobile deals.

mcdonalds

Photo credit: mcdonalds.com

With the fast food chain serving up mobile-only offers, those who are smart-phone savvy may find a greater incentive to eat at McDonald’s. The brand is targeting the millennial cohort through its McD app. Promotions through the app include buy one, get one deals.

Playing to the tools that consume youth’s attention is a smart move on McDonald’s part. There are potential disadvantages, though.

First, with so many apps competing for consumers’ attention, the fast food chain needs ensure it creates buzz about its new app through integrating its marketing efforts. Twitter hashtag “#McDAppSavings” campaigns and Facebook “McD app tip of the day” posts are both ways for the brand to do so.

Second, as the app does have limitations, deals can only be applied at participating McDonald’s, some consumers may be annoyed by the “fine print” restrictions.

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Playing Taboo, SEO style.

taboo

Photo credit: calendars.com

Let’s play a game. I’m thinking of a brand, but I can’t tell you its name (sorry, that’s the rule). I’ll give you some hints, though. Words associated with this brand:

-fast food chain

-burgers

-fries

Any guesses? McDonald’s? Yep, you read my mind.

On a very simplified level, the approach to playing Taboo is similar to that of companies investing in search engine optimization efforts. Considering what keywords come to consumers’ minds when they think of a brand is a vital aspect of companies developing effective SEO. The more accurate the keyword-brand-industry association, the more likely a company will be able to meet the needs of consumers.

Creating a “list of keywords related to the organization’s services and offerings” and setting up “individual searches on those terms” is a smart first step for brands that wish to be SEO-savvy. But how can they know which keywords to implement within their web strategies and which lack impact?

Because they are not merely relevant to SEO, but also reveal the core elements of a brand personality, keywords contribute to the “heart of a company’s marketing campaign at its most granular level.” Adding to this point, Fast Company notes five key secrets to SEO success including focusing on good phrases, avoiding vanity keywords and utilizing repetition purposefully.

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Here’s looking at you, #hashtag.

If you haven’t already noticed from this blog’s name or banner, I am quite the hashtag fan.

The simple punctuation has become a useful marketer’s tool via social media sites like Twitter. Not only does it allow brands to integrate their campaign efforts and develop topic-based conversations with consumers, it also enables companies to focus the purpose of their message. With only 140 characters available on Twitter, content must be clear and concise. A hashtag can add that extra bit of purpose or humor needed to capture consumers’ attention.

However, even more than serving as a marketer’s tool, it has evolved into an element of culture. Like all cultural references, the hashtag runs the risk of being overused and losing its original intended impact. Those who tire of the hashtag’s overuse make fun of it. I’ll admit, Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s #Hashtag video made me laugh. There is a bit of truth to the ridiculousness of how some people use the hashtag.

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The question is, can marketers cut through the hashtag clutter to maintain the tool’s dignity as a marketing tool? Or, will the hashtag’s overuse contribute to consumers’ declining interest in Twitter as their social media platform of choice?

It all depends on marketers’ approach. There are a few important strategies for creating hashtags that don’t merely add to social media clutter. One of those strategies, “thinking hashtags through for potential abuse,” is particularly important to consider. If the hashtag is planned carefully, marketers can maintain control and consumer interest.

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Company-Blogger relationship status: It’s complicated.

The power of consumer voice is incredible. Compared to company-promoted media, like official blogs, those that are consumer-driven (or unofficial) hold a certain sincerity and credibility that is unmatched.

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What does it say about today’s consumerism that buyers are more likely to trust a brand outsider than those conducting official media relations for a company? Do companies feel a twinge of anger that emerging media denies them complete control over content distribution, or are they grateful for the free exposure?

It seems like the reaction is mixed.

One popular blogger, Melody Overton of Starbucks Melody, noted that the popular coffee company has given her mixed responses. Understandably, Starbucks may worry that Overton is mistaken as an official representative of the brand. On the other hand, inviting the blogger to Starbucks events is an opportunity to encourage “business-to-consumer interaction” in a way that strengthens Overton’s audience’s favor towards the company.

Ultimately, communication is an important way to maintain the proper balance. There are some notable unofficial company blogs that seem to be managing that balance. Those that get it right, both through coordinating site design and content relevance, can garner the attention of targeted brand consumers.
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Advertising’s mystery-flavored Dum Dum.

Short films that market products. What are they exactly? Part advertisement. Part movie. Part pure entertainment? It all comes down to purpose.

mystery-flavor

Photo Credit: yahoo.com

Short films are like those mystery-flavored Dum Dums. They’re all packaged the same way, but the ratio of content flavors varies depending on the individual product. Some have more of a pure advertising taste, while others seem to embrace “art for art’s sake.” As Americans are swimming in a sea of messages, brands have adjusted their approach to gaining consumer attention by relying more on entertainment than a straight sell.

Longchamp does an exceptional job of using short film to simultaneously entertain and sell to the consumer. The brand’s Oh! My Dog short film captures the luxury, accessibility and whimsy of Longchamp products. Viewers of the film are aware that Longchamp is showcasing its products, but the artistic approach almost disguises any negative associations to advertising.

Does this merging of advertising and art raise any ethical questions? Just like those who question the flavorings of a mystery-flavored Dum Dum, consumers will voice their opinions, whether positive or negative, through both social media and their purchase decisions.
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The juggling act.

Managing content for various online social media sites is a full-time job for brands. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. Pinterest. How do companies provide their audiences with fresh yet consistent content across all platforms? 

As social media has become a necessity, rather than a luxury, integrated online efforts are vital for brands to both maintain and build upon their equity. Consistency breeds brand clarity.

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Photo credit: birchbox.com

For ecommerce brands like Birchbox, a monthly beauty and lifestyle sample subscription box service, creating a clear brand voice across its many social media platforms has proven productive.

The brand balances its web site (a shop to purchase full-size products), blog (providing insider beauty tips and behind the scenes looks), YouTube (monthly sneak peek videos and product tutorials), Twitter (live chats with brand partners, customer service center, contests) and Facebook (invite followers to “unlock” sample previews by sharing or liking posts). As Birchbox designates different purposes for different platforms, but retains cross-promotional techniques, the brand properly integrates its online efforts into a smooth juggling act.

Remember, Birchbox is an ecommerce brand that relies on its online voice to attract and retain customers. Without paying equal attention to the many platforms it utilizes, the brand’s clarity could diminish.

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