Dena Lorenzi, Owner & President of Faith in Fashion, describes herself as someone who “thrives on complex challenges.” As a sought-after social media marketing consultant and thought leader, she certainly knows her way through its complex world. Dena has worked with many companies in a variety of industries from retailers to services firms and start-ups, conceptualizing and launching traditional and digital marketing campaigns that merge successfully with their marketing campaigns. She recently answered some questions about social media for SPARKS!
1. Looking back on 2014, what were the biggest surprises about social media that stood out? Which apps or platforms took off that you didn’t expect to and which failed that you didn’t expect to?
From a network perspective, there were no big surprises for me. Facebook remains the most popular social media site. Image-centric platforms like Pinterest and Instagram continued to experience significant growth. Globally, four out of the top ten social networking sites focused on instant messaging. Those sites were: QQ, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.
I was surprised to learn about the demise of Google’s Orkut late last year. Orkut was Google’s first attempt at creating a social networking site. It started in 2004, but never became successful in the U.S. The site was incredibly popular in Brazil and India. It appears Google is now putting its time and attention into Google+ Stream, Hangouts, and Photos. From an attitudinal perspective, I’m a bit surprised that some executives still view social media as a fad.
2. Google is the search giant, yet Google+ continues to confuse people. Can you shed some light on why we need it?
A few weeks ago, I wrote . . . “Google+ is over three years old. I’m not sure if it’s bad luck, poor public relations, or a bad platform; the Google+ brand has never gained positive traction in public perception. That’s not a good position for any brand to be in.
Facebook has too much momentum. Google+ is too similar to Facebook. Users did not value Google+’s additional features enough to transition to the network, plus their friends were still on Facebook. Google+ is/was a bit of a ghost town, filled mostly with tech-savvy male users (70%). Has Google coerced users into using its products?
Google execs may decouple Google+’s most popular features like photo sharing and hangouts, and make those products available separately. Or Google+ may be de-emphasized, re-branded, or re-integrated into the Google infrastructure.” On March 2nd, Google announced that Google+ is now being reorganized around its two standout products – photos and hangouts. The Google+ brand may be dead.
For business owners, the most important thing to understand is to create useful and high-quality content that a reader wants to like and share. This action by the reader creates a followed link back to the post. It’s instant organic link building. Social networks can be SEO boosters. Google+, or now Google Photos and Streams, may help you reach your SEO goals.
3. How does social media marketing influence consumers?
We live in a collaborative economy. Consumers want to check-in, get a digital coupon, participate in a contest, be an influencer, or co-create a product with a company. A primary function of social media is to lead consumer behavior. Social media acts as a facilitator in driving the consumer forward in the decision-making process, helping him make an informed choice about what product or service to purchase.
4. Do consumers influence social media marketing?
By definition, user-generated content makes social media what it is. Often, consumers use social channels because they want to connect directly with a brand. In this way, social channels may facilitate customer service; however, a company needs to be properly staffed to make this a reality. Companies need to be clear with their audiences about their “rules of engagement” – i.e., how they operate on a given platform and what a user can expect from them.
Smart brands listen to what their consumers are saying on social channels, and adjust strategy and tactics accordingly. Consumers are changing the way they research and buy products. The consumer journey is less linear and more complicated. Over the next several years, we’re likely to see the consumer experience radically integrated across the physical and virtual environment. To learn more about how consumers are influencing marketers, read my LinkedIn “The Customer Experience” post.
5. What are the ethics companies should have concerning social media marketing?
As a participant on social media sites, a company needs to know its legal and ethical responsibilities concerning confidentiality and privacy. Ethical considerations may vary by profession. For example, a lawyer will have more ethical prohibitions than a marketing consultant. Organizations should have a social media policy in place. Before implementing policy, a company should have the policy reviewed by its legal and/or human resources department. To learn more about ethics and social media policy development, read my LinkedIn posts “Shades of Gray: PR in the Modern World” and “Blurred Lines: Why Companies Need Social Media Policies.”
6. What are companies getting wrong about social media marketing?
Creating mediocre content. And not linking marketing goals to key business objectives. Notice I didn’t say “key sales objectives.” Businesses have non-sales goals that are important too. Strategy separates the amateurs from the pros.
Successful content marketers need to look at all the opportunities and pinpoint the ones that would be best for the organization in the long term. There is always an opportunity cost to pursuing one set of strategies over another. Don’t forget about all the other marketing tools in your toolkit – like email. The challenge is where to place your bets.
7. We can’t predict anything, but are there social media trends you expect in 2015?
– The digital marketing industry will see more professionals seeking certifications, accreditations, and advanced degrees.
– More database marketing
– More blogging and podcasting
– Mobile. Mobile. Mobile. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly!
– 75% of NEW social network growth is happening on mobile apps!
– The return of Myspace! Have you checked it out lately? In 2011, Specific Media & Justin Timberlake purchased Myspace for $35 million. They have re-branded the site and are building it into a “social entertainment destination.”
– Pinterest for Business will be a game changer.
– Uncertainty will persist. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.