Social Media Marketing - by Michelle Rider

Is Social Media Market Research the New Black?

5 new ways to leverage social media for customer research
By Michelle Rider

Early in my career, I worked as a brand manager for Calvin Klein Cosmetics, which was owned by Unilever. I was responsible for launching new products and growing market share for Eternity fragrance and body products.   
Eternity was  one of the top 10 fragrances for women and was sold exclusively through department store retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy's, Saks and Barney's. The department store channel was a bit unsophisticated in terms of its ability to secure deep, or current, consumer market trend information.   Real-time marketing research just did not exist. In order to get my hands on research, I often found myself reviewing last season's focus group information or the BDI/CDI  Reports (Brand/ Category Development Index).   I would use the market information received on the BDI/CDI reports to decide my print and TV advertising spend but this really did not tell me much about the consumer.
I loved the challenge of  utilizing limited data to develop   insights and trends to support Calvin Klein's marketing plans.  However, as fulfilling as this work was, I look back now and often wonder how much more effective my team could have been if we had a Facebook or social media page. Even today I am not seeing much evidence that specialty retailers and marketers are leveraging Social Media Research the way they could be.
So I was thinking, should social media market research be the new black?  Well if I put this in the context of my Calvin Klein days, research now shows that 19% of beauty buyers who made purchases based on blog posts say they stumbled upon the content via web search. I would say social media research is unavoidable. According to an article written in Forbes Magazine, Social Media is moving the consumer from sharing to purchasing at rapid speed.  Vision Critical conducted a report of 6,000 social media users and found the following:

·         About 40% of social media users have purchased an item after sharing or “favoriting” it on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
·         Facebook is the network most likely to drive customers to purchase.
·         Social media drives not only online purchasing, but in-store purchasing as well – and at about equal rates.
Here are 5 ways to leverage social media for customer research
·         Facebook: Facebook offers a behind the scenes look at the way consumers conduct their personal lives. With this tool, companies can now see which products their consumers are buying. Businesses can also view what offers their consumers are taking advantage of and create offers that will appeal to their consumers directly. According to the social media giant, over 1 billion people use Facebook to connect. Facebook has also conducted research that shows only 38% of online advertising reaches its intended audience. By using Facebook, you can raise this percentage to over 89%.

·         Twitter: By studying how people “Tweet”, companies can learn very specific things about the way their customers and potential customers communicate, when they communicate and what they are passionate about. By monitoring “hashtag” comments, businesses can rapidly learn the latest trends that are taking place in their market. Businesses market through Twitter by word of mouth. By using marketing tools provided by Twitter, companies are able to “Drive business growth and sales 140 characters at a time.”
Facebook and Twitter can both be helpful when you want to look at behaviors and the attitude of the consumer market that you are considering tapping into. It is an easy way to see if your product or service might be a fit for a target without engaging in long, drawn-out research.
·         LinkedIn: LinkedIn is attractive more for your professional consumers. The site is intended for people to network amongst their various fields and many special interest groups are active on LinkedIn. By using tools provided by the site, companies are able to share content with their professional customers and can really showcase the company’s brand. Businesses can also spread their reach by working with LinkedIn to help drive traffic to the company’s website.

·         Blogs and Webpages: Blogs and webpages both work to introduce your company to your consumers. They allow you a medium to completely personalize the information that your consumers view about your company and products. There are also many tools that businesses can use to track which blogs and websites that their consumers are visiting. By using this data, you can custom tune your website and blog to the needs and desires of your consumers.

·         Pinterest: Pinterest is just now beginning to gain traction with the social media industry. With this tool, businesses have the ability to see how their consumers respond on a more personal level. Here, you can view the consumer’s favorite foods, vacation spots, and which shoes they are likely to buy in the spring. By using Pinterest to promote their “Pins”, businesses are able to find a treasure trove of information about their consumers.

It is almost impossible not to consider developing a market research plan that includes Social Media. Never before has there been this much information available for businesses regarding their consumers. With this in mind, I would say Social Media is the new Market Research Black. Jump on in.

19% of beauty buyers in “Is marketing research through social media the new black?” section:

The word research in the Facebook bullet:

The word tools in the Twitter bullet:

The word working in the LinkedIn bullet:

The word track in the blogs/websites bullet:

The word promote in the Pinterest bullet:


Membership Marketing

My recently posted article on Membership Marketing on Ezine.

How to Win at Membership-Based Marketing
By Michelle Rider
In today's economy many large corporations, small businesses, and even non-profit organizations are struggling with how to win at membership-based marketing. Over the last several years, a global recession has forced people to tighten their belts and reduce spending on benefits such as fitness training and fee-for-membership-based spending.  Many organizations have been left scrambling for new solutions as they watched their existing membership renewals slip lower than ever before, and new member growth percentages drop year after year.  Although the economy is moving into a state of revival, many organizations are still not seeing their membership levels improve to where they need to be.
Those that are thriving are defining new methods of membership marketing to gain a competitive advantage, as well as refining the practices of their standard tried-and-true methods.   In order to succeed in membership marketing in today’s market you need to make sure you are reaching your prospects on multiple levels in the places they spend the most time, which in many cases means going digital!   According to a recent marketing survey, 97% of consumers are utilizing the internet to research products and services they are considering purchasing. (
Mobile technology, including SmartPhones, tablets, notebooks and expanded WIFI access, has given people more options and more motivation than ever before to stay connected to the products and people they care about.  Companies and organizations in need of improving their membership marketing have caught on to this trend and have gone one step further than creating their own social media profiles; they are creating their own online communities.  An online community adds value to the membership and gives members a sense of belonging, making them more loyal to the brand overall.
In addition to building online communities, companies can gain membership by using SmartPhone apps and running promotional contests and loyalty programs to build awareness and retain current members. For organizations to succeed at membership marketing, they need to know where their members are online and be there with them.  If members are connected to Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, the corporations must be there as well.  With a digital strategy and an understanding of the power of a consumer’s reliance on instant gratification, the marketing possibilities are endless and the response rate is much quicker than a traditional route.
Traditional marketing methods can still be useful, but the organizations that are seeing their profit margins rise the most substantially are incorporating technology to improve on their old stand-bys.  Direct response mail, using both print and e-mail, is still a major player in membership marketing.  Having superior member benefits, a clear message, and a strong call to action still generates results, but the new tricks of the trade include refined data mining to create targeted lists and utilizing modern technology to test messages, designs, envelopes and e-mail subject lines.  In addition, a parallel messaging strategy will score every time.  Social media can now reinforce, and in some cases replace, the message delivered through traditional media, which will not only ensure the message is delivered in the platform members are now using, but also reduce the cost of delivering a triumphant membership marketing strategy over time.
Even after finding the perfect delivery system, it can still be difficult to get potential members to convert.  To turn potential customers into loyal ones, you will need a strong USP (unique selling position) that clearly expresses to a prospect why they should become a member.  It is best if your USP evokes an emotional response of some kind.  Clear, concise copywriting that presents problems and offers your membership as the solution will help turn prospects into members.  Be sure to include a sense of urgency so that people want to sign up instantly, such as a special limited-time offer if they join by a specific deadline.
Although economic conditions are finally getting a reprieve, the way people approach spending and saving money has been permanently and radically altered.  The typical “one size fits all” yearly membership is no longer desirable.  Winning at membership marketing means speaking to your prospects on their level and finding them where they are seeking the information they need. 

Once they get their foot in the door you can win them over with your first class customer service and amazing membership benefits!