Why (You Think) The Ice Bucket Challenge is Stupid

“Why don’t they just give some money to ALS and skip the stupid Facebook video?”

If you’ve thought something like this, you’re not alone. In fact, millions of people probably share your opinion. And all of these people have some specific values in common. You’re not a bad person; it’s just that the craze around the Ice Bucket Challenge pushed your “scorn button”. Why?

Bringing this thought to work, does your brand marketing push your consumers’ buttons?

So far, the Ice Bucket Challenge has provided a whopping $41 million in donations.Intellectually, you know this couldn’t have happened without the awareness of the Ice Bucket. Let’s talk about the buttons the creators of the Challenge dialed in and specifically, the emotions elicited by values we all share. Then, how you may be able do the same with your marketing content.

We All Have Them

Without going into deep detail about values in this piece (plug: which we’re adding to our platform in September), research shows that every culture shares the same core values:

Researchers agree that the Schwartz Circumplex Model of Values is a good adaptation of earlier values research.

Most researchers agree that the Schwartz Circumplex Model of Values is a good adaptation of earlier values research. Importantly, this is a “circumplex”, which infers that there’s a relationship between the values, even if they’re conflicting, and that our values may move along the circumplex throughout our lives.

For example, Self-Enhancement comes at the expense of Self-Transcendence. If you’re very open to change, or a non-conformist like Richard Branson, you’re less likely to be that more deliberate person steeped in tradition.

How You Can Leverage Values and Emotions

Adapting Schwartz so that we can apply these great data to our marketing efforts, Arizona State University researched how emotions and values are linked in consumer purchases. From their research, we can illustrate ASU’s work:

 

How Values and Emotions are Linked

Now think back to the Ice Bucket Challenge. What value-buttons are they pushing? What value-buttons do you push with your content marketing or branding?

Shame on You!

Universalism (your “Public Self”), among all cultures, is said to be the dominant value. It makes sense; if we want to survive, we need to look out for everyone and the planet – not just our clan or tribe, which would be “benevolence”. In the Walking Dead, Hershel is the Universalist while Rick is the benevolent leader, suspicious of outsiders and fiercely protective of his group (if this changes in the last season, don’t tell me).

Universalists are sincerely sympathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America or Syrian refugees. They may give money to the homeless and observe water or ozone restrictions. This public self value comes at the expense of both the private self and self-indulgence. It’s “Self-Transcendence” in Schwartz’s circumplex, “Public Self” in the second adaptation.

Most interestingly, the leading emotion evoked by public self values like Universalism and Benevolence? Shame.

How to Spin the Shame Card

Shame alone doesn’t work, at least not as well. Before there was the Ice Bucket Challenge, there was Movember, which donates money for men’s health. The social proof provided by Movember and the Ice Bucket Challenge does a fine job of spreading the shame. Do you share those horribly sad images of starving children? Of course not. Jonah Berger writes about the research conducted about “why we share” in his book, Contagious.

Those sad images just aren’t fun, which is what we’re wanting more and more. Self-Indulgence, or Hedonism, is the second value in the Challenge that makes it, and Movember contagious. If the ALS Association’s entire campaign were posting videos of people with ALS sadly asking for pledges, it would still evoke shame. But the donations only started rolling in when the giving got fun – self indulgent: enjoyable, surprising.

For the topic of an upcoming article, I’ll use some research to show that, as consumers, we’re moving along the circumplex to Self-Indulgence as a buying culture.

Where does that leave you, my scornful friend?

You’re Not a Monster

I’m sure you’re a fine human being if you don’t accept the challenge or think it’s stupid. I thought it was stupid. Take a look at the original Schwartz circumplex again. You need to have dominance in two values, Self-Transcendence and Hedonism/Self-Indulgence.

Opposite Self-Transcendence on the circumplex is Self-Enhancement. If you’re driven by power and ambition, climbing the corporate ladder regardless of who gets in the way, these values must come at the expense of the Self-Transcendence.

But remember, you need both. If you’re not into power and money and more benevolent than Rick, do you scorn selfies? Do you resist upgrading on your flight to LA because you don’t really need the extra legroom? When you go on vacation, are you more likely to have all your reservations lined up ahead of time instead of the “anything goes” approach?

If you’re contemptuous of the Challenge, we can infer that you have dominance in Self-Enhancement and/or you’re put off by Self-Indulgence.

Your Brand Has Values, Too

Stephen Colbert still laughs at the fact that the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people. Whether you agree or disagree, you can look at the values your branding and advertising possess how they align with the people who buy your products or services. If you’re consistently in alignment, you can start to leverage them and push some emotional buttons with data to back you up.

In this short article, I’ve really just hit the high points. If you’d like to know more about values-based marketing, drop me a message or sign up for the Mattr blog.

(Click Here to Donate to the ALS)

Retarget Your Back-To-School Campaigns Before the Bell Rings

(Originally posted in Business2Community)

Backpacks in banner ads. School supplies in search ads. Fall clothes in Facebook News Feeds.

Chances are, you’ve seen a few of these in the past couple of weeks. With back-to-school campaigns in full swing, your marketing team has already spent lots of time figuring out how to best target your customers with relevant ads, but your efforts shouldn’t stop there.

As campaigns roll out, it’s important to understand how to follow brand conversations, use analytics, and tweak campaigns appropriately to ensure your messaging continues to hit the mark.

The Power of Retargeting

Social media is the best way to retarget your back-to-school campaigns
Social Media works best for retargeting. Image courtesy of VerticalResponse.

For most websites, only 2 percent of traffic converts on the first visit. That’s where retargeting comes in. By monitoring your marketing campaign in real time, you can adjust it as necessary for maximum impact and target interested consumers where they’re already engaging.

Social media is the best route to take for retargeting success. Social lets you follow brand conversations in real time, which helps reveal any campaign adjustments you need to make.

For instance, you might change the segment you target (boys instead of girls, teens instead of parents) or which platforms you utilize (Facebook instead of Pinterest) based on insights you pull during the campaign.

Here’s how to use social to be more strategic in your retargeting efforts:

Take advantage of tools. Use the right tools to help you discover your brand’s influencers and fans, track popular content, and segment your audience. Whether you use social conversation tracking tools or choose to monitor it manually, make it a priority to dig deeper into the discovery of your brand influencers. These are the people who have the most influence over what people say and think about your brand. Then, work to foster ongoing relationships with these people.

Meet your audience where they are.  Brand conversations can tell you what’s resonating within specific demographics. Are teens latching on to your campaign, or do parents seem more interested? Adjust your campaign to target each group differently. Then, look at their interests (favorite websites, blogs, celebrities, etc.), and find ways to take your campaign there. For example, Teen Vogue recently declared the second Saturday in August as Back-to-School Saturday (#BTSS) to cater to its teen/tween audience. About 50 brands participated in offering promotions and product launches, promoted primarily through social media, a mobile insider app, and a dedicated website. Those brands were smart to latch on to Teen Vogue’s influence with teens, tweens, and 20-somethings.

Stay platform-agile. In the old days, marketers received insights about their audience months after putting in a request (by which time many insights were no longer relevant). Now, you should be taking advantage of the opportunity you have to follow conversations around your brand in real time. Analyze social chatter moment to moment, and switch platforms based on your insights. Keep in mind that enthusiasm for Facebook is declining among teens, but if you’re going after Mom and Dad, it might be the best place to be. Of course, these trends change quickly, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest social crazes.

Be mobile-minded. Mobile has redefined today’s retargeting. Not only does it allow you to reach your target anytime, anywhere, but it also lets you retarget banner, app, and browser ads based on consumers’ past activity. When they search for your products but don’t purchase, you can make sure the product they were considering follows them to future browsing sessions. Twitter is especially hot for retargeting right now because brands can share desktop cookies with Twitter to target users with Promoted Tweets.

Measure, tweak, repeat. If one of your retargeting choices isn’t performing as expected, make a quick change and measure again. For example, if parents aren’t responding to your back-to-school campaign, maybe it’s time to go straight to the source and target teens. If most of your audience is engaging from Pinterest, get aggressive with your pinning.

By continuing this cycle of research, planning, strategic implementation, execution, and more monitoring/research, you’ll cultivate a living, breathing campaign that remains relevant and laser-focused on your target audience — whether they’re teens trying to impress their friends or backpack-seeking moms and dads trying to tackle back-to-school fashion.

Aeropostale Pumps Up Their Marketing GPA for Back-to-School

Aeropostale is trying on something new for this year’s college back-to-school. And according to an internal marketing study we conducted at Mattr, I think they’ll clobber both American Eagle and H&M – two retailers serving different segments of the teen fashion market.

Back-to-school season is here, and brands are pulling out all the stops to attract the attention of college shoppers. Combined spending for the back-to-school and college market is estimated to hit $75 billion in 2014, with more than half of that being spent on clothes, dorm furniture, electronics, and school supplies for college students.

These shoppers aren’t one big homogenous group. To be successful, you need to court and convert your unique audience–and like those college kids, you can do it on a ramen budget.

Here are three approaches brands like Target and Aeropostale use. And since these approaches all leverage social data, you still have time to put some strategies into place for this season’s back-to-school.

1. Identify (and woo) your college student brand persona.

If you’re like many brands, you might only target college shoppers based on age or location. But the college market is unique and varied, and many brands are missing out on catering to their audience’s interests, values, and personality traits.To engage your target customers, you need to segment.

Within the college market, there are people whose personalities and values compel them to click on discounts. But others within the same age range and lifestyle bracket are so repelled by discount messaging that trying it would damage your brand.

Just look at teen fashion retailers Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle. They overwhelmingly fall into the “rugged” and “daring” personas — personalities that love edgy messaging and are turned off by discounted, commoditized goods. Their suggestive, forward advertising appeals to that daring personality and can cause a bit of controversy.

 

On the other hand, teen fashion discounters or “fast fashion” brands like H&M speak to an entirely different segment of the college market and inspire their customers with different messaging.

2. Target the right influencers for your unique personas.

When you aim blanket messaging at the college market, you have to pay for generic, expensive media influencers. But what if you could make the most of your advertising budget and resonate with your audience at the same time?

You can. By identifying unique, over-indexed influencers and media personalities, you can spend less but reach a higher concentration of your audience. Here’s that ramen budget win.

For teen fashion retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle, the “daring” spenders are all focused on pop culture entertainment interests associated with a younger demographic.

 

Reliable “fast fashion” H&M engagers, however, scream Honda Accord budget practicality with bloggers and other discount consumer goods and retailers.

Using research gleaned online or from your data-gathering store location, you can view the overlap between your brand, your customers, and other brands based on interest. You can then identify less popular influencers who are more likely to resonate with your audience.

3. Be ready to shift gears.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. According to our analysis of the people talking on social to brands like Abercrombie and Aeropostale, teens are becoming more price sensitive. So they still respond to edgy advertisements, but are more than willing to pay less than the American Eagle price.

So here’s what Aeropostale has done. Because of the trend to price sensitivity among their teen consumers, they launched an aggressive shift by moving down market. With sub-brands like “Live Love Dream” and prices closer to H&M and Forever21, they’re positioned to capture the American Eagle teen. They know that their target market will click on edgy content, but will also click on the Buy button when they see the H&M – like prices.

The lesson for hungry college market brands? Be willing to shake things up with targeted tactics and promotions that will speak to your specific segment of college students.

Most brands think of the college crowd as a single category, and their back-to-school marketing suffers for it. Gain an edge in the college market without blowing your budget by looking to form deeper, more nuanced connections and inspiring your audience to make purchases that align with their values.

Social Data Earns an A+ for Back-to-School Marketing

(Originally posted in LonelyBrand)

4 Ways Social Media Data Can Boost Your Back-to-School Marketing Campaigns

In 2013, analysts projected consumers would spend $72.5 billion on back-to-school gear. But before the number of chino sales gets you too excited, there’s another important trend you need to take into account: Consumers are spending less and shopping smarter.

In that same year, consumers planned to spend 8 percent less on school supplies, and 32 percent of parents said they would comparison shop online before making purchase decisions.

So companies looking to get a piece of this year’s back-to-school pie have to deploy every resource they have.

Fortunately, marketing teams have access to unprecedented amounts of data that can inform their back-to-school marketing campaigns. It’s simply a matter of using that data creatively.

Use Social Media to Boost Back-to-School Marketing

One of the biggest challenges for marketers during the back-to-school season is connecting with youth through authentic, meaningful interactions. That’s where mobile and social marketing have become integral to narrowly focused campaigns.

Engaging with brands that use hashtags and other social conversation tactics is a form of expression for teens. And when they latch on to a brand as a form of individualism, high levels of engagement can follow.

Here are four ways you can use social media data to fuel your back-to-school marketing campaigns:

1. Use Online and Offline Location-Based Marketing Tactics

The most effective social media marketing managers understand the digital and physical locations of their target market.

While the digital platform with the highest concentration of your audience will give you amazing detail about demographics, usage, and shopping habits, the majority of customers will enter a physical location to complete their purchase.

To provide a seamless online-to-offline experience, utilize data about your audience’s behaviors to advise campaign-related decisions. Employ geotargeting data to identify shopping and movement habits, and develop location-based coupons to entice customers to enter your brick-and-mortar store.

2. Channel Analytics to Determine the ‘What’ and ‘Where’

Once you’re monitoring the right audience, you need to make sure you’re using the right words in the right places. Identify trending hashtags and topics on all social sites, then plan your content from there.

Take H&M. There’s an overlap between the audience that interacts with it on Twitter and the hashtags used. H&M’s audience is drawn to giveaways and contests. By incorporating these in its back-to-school campaigns, H&M can further engage with consumers.

Untitled2

Use this insight to determine where your target market spends the majority of its time and shares the most content, and move your campaign to that platform.

Untitled

It might mean you need to move your promotions from Facebook to Instagram. Wherever the majority of outbound links are headed, you should follow.

3. Excite Audiences With Visuals

While text-based social sites are still popular, visuals are a critical part of solid content strategies. Images and videos get more click-throughs and shares from younger audiences, which almost automatically expands your reach. Share experiences, humor, culture, or news — anything that helps your brand naturally fit into real conversations.

4. Shift the Focus Away From You

Teens are influential in the buying process, and because they’re accustomed to products, services, and media that cater to them, they’ve lost the ability to care about you, your products, or your services. To get youths’ attention, keep them at the center of your efforts.

Simple tweaks can make a big difference in shifting the focus of your promotions to the audience. Offer contests positioning them as the stars of an ad or YouTube video. Ask for input regarding something influential in their lives. Attach your brand to a celebrity or event that’s meaningful to them. Use what you know to provide relevant and interesting promotions, and you’ll take their attention — and their dollars — away from other brands.

Too often, marketers run back-to-school campaigns that don’t speak to the right audience, or they try to engage with them in the wrong places. But with all the data available from social media analytics, you have no excuse. Offer something valuable, and keep it simple. If people see a clear benefit, they’ll share it. If it’s a simple message, it’ll be more engaging. Use real-time, honest insights to craft the perfect message every time.

Are Social Data Nerds Threatening Old Media?

Tap into Twitter's research potential to identify targeted media placements for your audience.
Tap into Twitter’s research potential to identify targeted media placements for your audience. Photo courtesy of EdTechReview

(Originally posted in iMedia Connection)

Today’s fragmented media landscape means it’s becoming harder and harder for brands to reach a critical mass. Consumers are now divided across millions of different channels and hundreds of devices, which means the brands that are still trying to reach everyone with blanket media placements are in serious trouble.

But for marketers who are willing to dig in and get to know individual segments of their audience, the digital media landscape presents wonderful opportunities to make meaningful connections in less crowded environments. You probably already use Twitter as a vehicle for your brand messages, but you might not know how to tap into this social giant’s research potential to identify targeted media placements for your audience.

Use public Twitter data for an analytic edge

Twitter is a rich source of free, up-to-date public information about your target consumers. This data can uncover narrowly targeted media placements that are more effective and less expensive.

Just use these three tactics to help you sort through the data:

Segment to find No. 2
The first and most important step to using Twitter for research is to segment your data. Even if you can’t get fancy with algorithms and text analysis, segment for basic demographics like gender, age, location, and frequency of engagement.

When you’ve identified the most valuable segments, set aside your most engaged segment and look at your second most engaged segment. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but moving beyond the expected will allow you to identify media outlets that aren’t receiving as much attention from advertisers.

Ignore overrepresented media in favor of segment saturation
Dig into your analytics tool, and determine which media is overrepresented by the personas you want to reach. Popular sites such as The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and ESPN will be overwhelmed with advertisements and probably out of your price range.

Instead, compare the ratios of your followers to a media source to the rest of Twitter’s user base. Taking this extra step will help you find the media outlets with a higher saturation of your target audience (not just Twitter’s total audience), which could unearth less popular blogs with a high concentration of your followers.

For example, if you were looking at media placements for the FIFA World Cup, hopefully you didn’t get stuck on sports blogs. Your audience visits other places online, such as @FiveThirtyEight, or Nate Silver’s blog. His account doesn’t even hit the top 25 for @FIFAWorldCup in popularity, but for uniqueness, he’s at No. 8. His blog is a nice outlet advertisers could use to extend their reach.

Identify what else is popular
Next, look at the other off-topic media outlets your target audience engages with. Identify the most popular media by counting the links your target personas share on Twitter. Which URLs and media outlets do your top engagers link to when they’re not talking about you? This data can reveal media options you might not have considered.

How to ensure the right fit

Identifying possible media placements is only half the battle. When you’ve put together a list of possible media outlets, there are three questions you need to ask before moving forward.

Are you trying to extend your reach or defend your most loyal advocates?
Determine your goals for this promotion. If you’re trying to defend your loyal advocates, you’ll want to stick with media outlets that are comfortable for your audience. If you’re trying to extend your reach, the personas you use become a little more flexible, and so do your media options. Customize your promotions and content accordingly.

Are you trying to win over your competitors’ engagers?
Another value of persona-driven targeting is that you can sometimes win over competitors’ engagers. If your competitors are behind the times, you can find their market and target them as you would your own.

In this case, go for their No. 2 segment again, which might be more likely to swing over to your brand without a fight. Just look at what Apple has done to Microsoft Windows. Apple started with its core audience of heavy graphic design users but quickly moved to users who weren’t emotionally attached to Windows. Apple targeted them and increased its market share by more than 300 percent in just five years.

Can you match the tone of the targeted media?
Even after performing an analysis and finding unique and popular media for your targeted personas, you have to be able to match the tone of the publication for your efforts to be successful. If the tone of the publication doesn’t match your brand truths, it’s not a good match.

For instance, if your brand is straightforward and honest, you can’t bend it to be snarky and sarcastic for the sake of a media placement like The Onion.

When you know your audience, there’s no need to fear media fragmentation. With the right approach, you can put Twitter to work for you and identify a highly targeted media placement. You’ll stand out by appearing in a less crowded environment, and you’ll make an instant connection by associating your brand with media your target audience already loves.