Instagram Does What?

instagram login screen

Hello Followers!

When was the last time you checked your Instagram account? What do you do on the social application? You may browse, like, comment, and share, but have you ever really thought about the implications of Instagram? Since this is a marketing blog, naturally, we will be discussing the marketing implications of the social media platform in today’s post.

The recent integration of social media as a marketing channel has proved to be wildly successful. Utilizing social media platforms allows companies to connect and communicate with their customers on a personal level, receive criticism, comments, and feedback about their goods or services, and target a certain audience. Social media platforms encourage participation and communication while adding value to the relationship with the company’s customers. When a company chooses to integrate social media into their marketing strategies they are building a closer connection with their audience. It can result in authentic, transparent, and real communications (Agresta, Bough & Miletsky, 2010).

Social media can be an extremely powerful marketing tool due to the ease and spread of information. For example, it only takes one click to share information with hundreds (if not thousands) of followers instantly. And then what about when they share it with their followers, and so on. Information (or a marketing message) can spread like wildfire (Agresta et al., 2010)!

It is pretty much common knowledge at this point that social media is a very powerful marketing channel. But what about Instagram in particular?

Well, as of late 2017, Instagram had over 800 million active users! What an audience! And this is changing how consumers make purchase decisions. Per Adweek, “as the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities” (Smith, 2018, para 3).

Instagram, and the rise of the “Influencer,” are changing the world of word-of-mouth marketing. Per the Impact article, 72% of Instagram users make purchase decisions based on what they have seen on the application. Additionally, brand advocates and real fans are 4 times more influential than celebrity endorsers! On top of all that, Instagram actually has been shown to have the most influence on consumer shopping habits out of all the other social media platforms (Instagram – 51%, Facebook – 23%, Pinterest – 22%, Twitter – 3%, and Snapchat – 1%) (Smith, 2018).

Instagram has an influence on both the pre-purchase and post-purchase stages of the consumer buying cycle. In pre-purchase, as discussed above, consumers are now able to browse Instagram for reviews, comments, and feedback from friends, family, (and most importantly) influencers. These WOM reviews drastically sway their opinion, and the likelihood of purchasing, a certain product (Agresta et al., 2010).

In the post-purchase stage, Instagram gives consumers a platform to share their feedback and experience with a product, or company, quickly with masses of other users. Negative reviews and feedback can spread rapidly and can be detrimental to a company. It is imperative that companies listen to their customers, respond quickly to concerns, and attempt to fix the problem. Instagram (and other social media platforms) have empowered the consumer to demand only the best from businesses (Agresta et al., 2010).

So, all this information is great, but how has this really impacted me as an individual? Yes, I have an Instagram account. And yes, I check it multiple times a day. While perusing the application, I often come across advertisements that spark my curiosity. I typically interact with ads from smaller companies that are promoting unique and innovative products that I typically don’t see in stores.

For example, I am a crazy millennial dog mom. I LOVE buying new dog products for my furbaby! Needless to say, my Instagram is full of dog related products (it’s like they know me or something). One that recently caught my eye was an ad for a new way to brush your dog’s teeth (yes, I brush my dog’s teeth. Total dog mom. Told you). It is a hard plastic chew toy that is covered with small rubber bristles. Your dog brushes his own teeth while he is gnawing away on a cool new toy. This totally intrigued me! No more wrangling him in for his nightly teeth brushings! Alas, I am a frugal millennial and the price point was just not worth it for me.

Instagram has allowed companies to be able to target me based on my specific interests. This has resulted in more appealing (for me) marketing content on my Instagram feed, which results in me interacting with more advertisements. It has also made me a much more informed consumer. For example, I read the comments on the dog toothbrush ad, and there was mixed feedback. This swayed me not to fork out the $20 for a dog toothbrush.

However, I will say I am still very much swayed by Instagram influencers. I also have personal interests in beauty and fitness. I follow many beauty and fitness influencers on my Instagram. When one of them posts about a new product, particularly if I am in the market for it, I will more often than not take their word for it and purchase it. As a consumer, I view influencers more so as a benefit. One can easily get lost in the isles of a supermarket, reading the back of the packaging, determining what product is best for your needs. Influencers can very quickly, and efficiently, give you the run-down on the pros and cons of a certain product. While one should always remember these are still often bias reviews, it is at least a starting point.

What Instagram ads have you interacted with recently? Why did they catch your attention? How has Instagram influenced your own purchase decisions?

Until next time, my beautiful readers.

 

 

 

 

 

Resources

Agresta, S., Bough, B. B., & Miletsky, J. I. (2010). Perspectives on social media marketing. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu

Smith, M. (2018). The eye-opening influence of Instagram on buying [infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/influence-of-instagram-on-buying-infographic

Image retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/best-time-of-day-to-instagram-3485858

But is it Ethical?

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Hello beautiful blog browsers!

Today we touch on a very important topic, ethics! As marketers, we often get a bad rap for unethical marketing practices. Therefore, it is up to us to prove to ourselves, our industry, society, and consumers, that we CAN market ethically!

My advice for maintaining industry standard ethics is to apply the American Marketing Association’s Code of Ethics in all that you do. The AMA’s Code of Ethics includes doing no harm, fostering trust in the marketing system, and embracing ethical values (AMA, n.d.).

Per the AMA, doing no harm means “consciously avoiding harmful actions or omissions by embodying high ethical standards and adhering to all applicable laws and regulations in the choices we make” (AMA, n.d., para 2). One can foster trust in the marketing system by avoiding deception, dealing in good faith, and working toward a fair and effective exchange system. Finally, the ethical values set forth by the AMA include honesty, responsibility, fairness, respect, transparency, and citizenship. Embracing these values can help build consumer relationships and encourage consumer confidence in the decency of the marketing industry (AMA, n.d.).

To embrace these ethical values, I recommend that you be honest in all your interactions with not only, consumers, but also fellow employees and company shareholders. Additionally, you should accept responsibility, and the associated consequences, for all your marketing decisions. I recommend you balance profit decisions with consumer interests. You should respect the dignity of all those you interact with including shareholders, management, fellow employees, consumers, and the community. Further, you should be transparent in all your marketing operations. Finally, you can embrace citizenship by implementing actions conducive to legal, social, humanitarian, and economic responsibility (AMA, n.d.).

These ethical best practices should be implemented into every marketing decision you make, especially when you are crafting an IMC campaign. Here are a few examples of how you can integrate these ethical best practices into a campaign.

First, make sure the product you are marketing does what the company is claiming, and you should be ready to stand behind the product if it fails to meet these claims. Next, you should avoid any coercion and make special commitments to any disadvantaged market segments that may be affected by the campaign. Environmental stewardship and customer satisfaction should also be considered in IMC campaigns. Campaigns should be void of any manipulation or deception including price gouging, false claims, or bait-and-switch tactics, and represent the product in a clear and honest way. You should show respect to all those you connect with during the campaign. This includes acknowledging efforts from fellow employees, avoiding customer stereotypes in advertising, listening to the needs of the consumer, and treating everyone how they would like to be treated. Additionally, throughout the campaign, you should strive for open and honest communication with fellow employees, shareholders, and customers. Finally, you should strive for the betterment of the environment, community, and the marketing industry as a whole in all campaign efforts (AMA, n.d.).

To ensure that ethics are maintained throughout the campaign, I recommend you implement an ethics program. This would include your organization’s own code of ethics, ethics training, and an ethics consulting system. This would ensure everyone is on the same page and stays on the same ethical path. Failure to maintain ethical practices can result in many negative consequences (Clow & Baack, 2017).

These consequences can include a loss of customers (and their loyalty), negative public perception, negative publicity, negatively impacting relationships (with consumers, the public, shareholders, and suppliers), and even litigation in the court of law. For example, the AMA states that marketers should stand behind the products they are marketing and the claims about those products. Failure to substantiate claims in advertisements could actually result in legal action, lawsuits, settlements, and civil penalties pursued by the FTC. In extreme cases, corrective advertising may be required if the court felt the deceptive advertising required counteraction (AMA, n.d. ; Clow & Baack, 2017).

The AMA stresses the importance of maintaining honest, respectful, and transparent communications with all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, suppliers, and the public. Failure to do so could hinder or destroy the relationships built with these stakeholders. For example, if it got out that your company was implementing deceptive marketing tactics, the press would first spread negative publicity, leading to increased negative public perception and a decrease in sales. Your company would lose potential customers and many loyal customers. This would ultimately result in a loss of profits, hurting the company’s bottom line and the shareholders. This would also impact any suppliers the company was working with. As we can see, the consequences of integrating unethical practices can be immense (AMA, n.d.).

As marketers, it is our responsibility to maintain ethical values and standards in all we do in hopes of building relationships with customers and the community and boosting the public’s confidence in the industry. We should implement common sense in all our marketing efforts and treat others how we would like to be treated. Finally, we should seek to spread creativity and have fun!

What ethical value do you connect with most? Why?

Thanks for popping in browsers!

Have a magical day!

 

 

Resources

American Marketing Association. (n.d.). Statement of ethics. Retrieved from https://www.ama.org/AboutAMA/Pages/Statement-of-Ethics.aspx

Clow, K. E. & Baack, D. (2017). Integrated advertising, promotion, and marketing communications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Image sourced from http://micheleandco.com/blog/returntoethics/

SMART Goals and KPI’s!

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Hello my lovelies!

We are back at it again, coming at you live from my Integrated Marketing Communications class!

This week, we are learning all about the incredibly important topic of setting SMART goals, what steps a company can take to achieve them, and how their success can be measured.

First, what the heck is a SMART goal? Well, SMART goals are the first step in crafting any effective marketing campaign. SMART is an acronym referring to specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. Setting strategic goals that meet these criteria, helps a company formulate strategies and tactics that align with this overarching goal. It is the framework that keeps a company focused and on track to reach their target (Charliesaidthat, 2016).

So what is the difference between goals, strategies, and tactics? According to digital strategist, Charlie Southwell, “strategy is a strong overarching vision, intended to fulfill your predetermined goals and objectives. Strategy is the plan that ensures all your day to day activities (tactics) contribute to your monthly, quarterly and annual business goals” (Charliesaidthat, 2016, para 4).

Where tactics are the daily activities a company undertakes to contribute to their strategy, and ultimately, their goals. Tactics can be sending out weekly emails to subscribers, writing blog posts, posting on social media accounts, connecting with influencers, revamping web pages, etc. (Charliesaidthat, 2016).

So, we see that a goal is a very broad objective, usually performance-based, that contributes to a company’s success. Strategies are a broad plan of how the company intends to reach their goals, and tactics are the daily steps taken to fulfill their strategy. So, we see that setting SMART goals is so important because these goals direct the rest of the company’s marketing activities.

When setting these SMART goals, there are a few questions that a company should keep in mind. These include “Can the detail in the information sufficiently pinpoint problems or opportunities? Can a quantitative or qualitative attribute be applied to create a metric? Can the information be used to improve performance? Can the information be applied to the specific problem faced by the manager? Can the information be viewed through time to identify trends?” (Charliesaidthat, 2016, para 8).

Let’s look at some examples of how goals, strategies, and tactics really come together. Let’s say Robin’s Tweezer Co. wants to increase their sales. They may begin by setting a SMART goal of “Increase sales revenue by 20% by this time next year.” This is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive.

Next, Robin’s Tweezer Co. would craft a strategy to help achieve this goal. For example, “we will increase our sales revenue by encouraging repeat purchases from current customers and increasing traffic to our website.”

The tactics are the steps that Robin’s Tweezer Co. will take to implement their new strategies. For example, to encourage repeat purchases, they may choose to email their current customers a coupon code and include a coupon voucher in any purchased order through the month of August. To increase web traffic, Robin’s Tweezer Co. will embed their company’s URL in all their social media bios, engage with their target audience through Instagram, and include their website in a Facebook ad.

We see how the company’s goal influenced the strategies, which influenced the tactics.

Finally, a company needs to monitor the performance of their tactics and strategies to ensure they are on track to reach their goals. This can be done by applying and monitoring relevant key performance indicators or KPI’s.

For example, to monitor website traffic, Robin’s Tweezer Co. could utilize total visit metrics. This measures how many users have visited a company’s website. Monitoring this metric would give the company a clear understanding of any increases in webpage views. Further, RTC could use a web traffic source metric to get more detailed information as to what channels and tactics are most effective in driving the increased web traffic (Klipfolio, n.d.).

Further, to monitor how effective their direct email tactics are, RTC could implement and track email marketing engagement score metrics and coupon conversion metrics. These metrics would tell Robin’s Tweezer Co. how many of their current customers were engaging with their new email marketing tactic, and how often the unique coupon was redeemed (Klipfolio, n.d.).

By tracking the performance of the implemented tactics and strategies (with KPI’s), a company can see how well they are on track to hit their goal (or not), and make needed adjustments.

What is your one must have marketing KPI? Why do you find it is so effective?

Until the next info nugget,

Have a magical day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources

Charliesaidthat. (2016). Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics – Explaining the Difference. Retrieved from http://charliesaidthat.com/digital/digital/difference-between-marketing-strategy-vs-tactics-an-example/

Klipfolio. (n.d.). Marketing Metrics and KPIs. Retrieved from https://www.klipfolio.com/resources/kpi-examples/marketing

Image received from http://habitica.wikia.com/wiki/SMART_Goal_Setting

Corporate Social Responsibility at REI

REI

Hello Readers,

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think ethics? Honesty? Morals? Values? Integrity? All of the above? For many businesses, it’s corporate social responsibility.

This weeks marketing assignment has us assessing the corporate social responsibility of a particular retailer. I chose REI, Recreational Equipment Inc. This is a company I frequently shop at and consider one of the leaders in ethical business practices.

First, let’s look at what exactly corporate social responsibility (CSR) is. It can be defined as “a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, employees, as well as, the environment. Voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families, as well as for the local community and society at large” (Olsen & Veerman, 2010, slide 4). Some examples of how a company can incorporate CSR is by participating in charitable events, philanthropy, fundraising, community development projects, green business practices, and accurate reporting of social and environmental impact (Olsen & Veerman, 2010).

Let’s assess how REI practices CSR. First, REI’s mantra throughout their business is their stewardship efforts. To the company, this represents their love for the environment and outdoors. The company takes great pride in preserving the outdoors, reducing their environmental footprint, and creating a positive workplace for their employees. The company produces annual stewardship reports highlighting their CSR efforts during the past year (Sustainable Brands, 2014).

REI’s 2016 Stewardship Report included many ways the company practiced CSR. First, the company invested in the outdoors. They accomplished this by granting $35 million to programs that help to preserve the environment. They donated $3 million to local non-profit organizations and donated $462,500 to groups connecting youth and diverse cultures with nature (Sustainable Brands, 2014).

Second, the report highlighted their responsible business practices. These practices include their commitment to using renewable resources, including the 26 solar powered systems they own and use. The company also purchases certified renewable energy certificates to help power their stores and distribution centers (Sustainable Brands, 2014).

Third, the company also focuses on product sustainability. The company evaluates their product’s lifecycle and works to increase it. Additionally, the company uses a “Bluesign” system that helps to eliminate harmful chemicals from the materials the company uses in manufacturing (Sustainable Brands, 2014).

Fourth, the company is committed to creating a positive work environment. This has landed them a spot on FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for the last 17 years. They achieve this through competitive pay, a comprehensive benefits package, and employee engagement (Sustainable Brands, 2014).

Finally, the company is a co-op. Meaning they share their profits with their customers. The customers pay a one time $20 fee to become a member. After that, the company pays out annual dividends to its members. The company also takes pride in working with the community. They host events, adventure trips, and “Outdoor School” classes that all members of the community are welcome to join (Sustainable Brands, 2014).

REI has managed to do a great job maintaining their ethical and sustainable reputation and staying out of the legal spotlight. However, back in 2014, a class action lawsuit was filed against the company for not paying their employees overtime, forcing them to work off the clock, and failing to pay the minimum wage. This went against the company’s ethical claims. The lawsuit consisted of a class of more than 5,000 of the company’s current and past hourly employees. The lawsuit was settled in 2015 for $2.5 million (Lubin, DiTommaso & Austermuehle, 2015).

So, does REI practice CSR for the environment, or for a profit? Well, upon assessing the company, it seems they truly do place a high value on maintaining the environment and outdoors for future generations. However, as discussed in this TEDx video by Alex Edmans, it really is both. The company practices CSR, and the profits follow. Practicing CSR creates happy employees (most of the time), happy shareholders, happy customers and a happy community. All of which will lead to continued patronage and increased profits. Therefore, the concept of CSR is really a win-win situation for all (TEDx Talks, 2015).

Do you think that REI is “green” for profit, or for the environment? Or do you agree with Alex Edmans that it can be both?

 

 

 

 

Resources

Lubin, P., DiTommaso, V. & Austermuehle, P. (2015). REI Overtime Class Action Lawsuit Settles for $2.5 Million. Retrieved from https://www.chicagobusinesslitigationlawyerblog.com/2015/05/rei-overtime-class-action-lawsuit-settles-for-2-5-million.html

Olsen, K & Veerman, B. (2010). One Smooth Stone Corporate Social Responsibility. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/gvlk/one-smooth-stone-corporate-social-responsibility-290779

Sustainable Brands. (2014). Stewardship at REI: Reflected in its Communities, Operations, Products, and Workplace. Retrieved from http://www.sustainablebrands.com/press/stewardship_rei_reflected_its_communities_operations_products_workplace

TEDx Talks. (2015). The Social Responsibility of Business – Alex Edmans – TEDxLondonBusinessSchool. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5KZhm19EO0

Image retrieved from http://www.rei.com