Personalized Grassroots Fans Versus Old-Fashioned Celebrity Endorsers

Personalized Grassroots Fans Versus Old-Fashioned Celebrity Endorsers

(Originally posted in Social Media Today)

It’s 11 p.m., and you’re in your local big-box store. You’ve got a package of white sports socks in each hand, and you’re trying to figure out which one to buy. One brand has your childhood sports hero smiling on the package, and the other comes highly recommended by your best friend.

Which do you choose?

Oddly enough, the same question torments marketing professionals as they try to figure out which approach will resonate with their target market: the highly personalized grassroots campaign or the good old-fashioned celebrity endorsement. And the answer isn’t easy.

Grassroots Campaign or Celebrity Endorsement: Which Strategy Is Best for Your Brand’s Story?

Image provided by We Are Social Media.

Which Approach Will Ignite Your Audience?

Celebrity endorsements have long been embraced as the go-to marketing strategy for brands looking to establish trust and build excitement with new customers. But consumers have developed a distaste for in-your-face advertising tactics, and new studies suggest that grassroots advocate campaigns might have just as powerful an effect on customers as celebrity endorsements.

There’s no single factor that determines whether a grassroots campaign or celebrity endorsement is best for your target audience. However, there are clues that can help you discover which option is best for you. Here are three considerations that can help you select the right approach:

1. Analyze your budget for the best ROI. Don’t think that a small budget makes your decision easier; a budget of any size can secure a less obvious, but still powerful, celebrity influencer — regardless of whether it’s the best choice for your brand.

What matters most, though, is that you choose an approach that will resonate with your audience for the most powerful ROI.

Taco Bell’s “Burner Phone Breakfast” grassroots heist is a great example of using a minimal budget for maximum impact. After sending phones to 1,000 of its 1.1 million Twitter followers, the brand texted and called each phone with different challenges to complete, then rewarded these fans with Taco Bell prizes and gear.

This effort created a lot of engagement and awareness via social media and targeted its Millennial audience perfectly — all at a fraction of the cost of contracting a popular celebrity.

2. Track target audience conversations. You can’t confidently predict which trends will appeal to your audience unless you’re tracking their social media conversations in real time.

Gather data and try to incorporate celebrities, events, or topics your audience mentions into your current marketing strategy. Listen to what your audience cares about (their friends’ opinions, a hot TV star’s endorsement, etc.), and redistribute that information in creative ways.

Telemundo is a great example of a company in tune with its audience’s interests. In partnership with Latin World Entertainment, the TV channel invited 100 of its top social media influencers to come on screen and judge its new talent competition, “Yo Soy el Artista.” This approach strengthened the show’s relationship with its social media influencers, who, in turn, promoted the show and the experience to millions of followers.

3. Read into every audience detail. Go a step beyond tracking conversations to uncover your audience’s deeper motivations. Use a social media segmentation tool to identify unique characteristics that describe your audience and popular, but less obvious, influencers.

Every trait you can uncover — from being eco-friendly to price-sensitive — is an important indicator of what will warrant a response from your audience. And if you’re going the celebrity route, this will uncover the people they really care about, not just the hot celebrities of the moment.

Under Armour did a great job of incorporating its knowledge of its audience into its celebrity promotions with the current “I Will What I Want” campaign featuring Gisele Bündchen and Lindsey Vonn. By featuring real women celebrities who have overcome criticism, injuries, and more, each powerful promotion connected with the everyday athletic woman and created buzz around the brand.

It’d be a lot easier if marketing campaigns came in a one-size-fits-all package, but that’s not how you make a genuine connection with your target consumer. Put in the work to determine what resonates with your audience, and use that information to develop an effective grassroots campaign or secure a compelling celebrity endorsement.

Fashion Forward: Why Fashion Brands Belong on Pinterest

Fashion Forward: Why Fashion Brands Belong on Pinterest

Fashion Forward: Why Fashion Brands Belong on Pinterest

Fashion Week in Paris just wrapped up, and like fashion, Pinterest is a visual medium. That’s why 40 million people actively use this booming social network to get visual inspiration each month. So it’s no wonder fashion brands living on visual appeal are creating a Pinterest presence to garner people’s attention and showcase the full spectrum of their aesthetic.

Kate Spade is a fantastic example. Each of the famous fashion label’s pinboards interprets the brand’s message in creative ways and demonstrates exactly what Kate Spade stands for. Although Pinterest isn’t limited to clothes, makeup, and jewelry, it’s an excellent place for fashion brands to interact with their fans in a richer, more authentic way — and build a brand presence that’s even more interactive.

The Advantages of Going Pinterest

Here’s an understatement: Pinterest is extremely popular among young women. In fact, 80 percent of its users are women. According to Pinterest, thousands of brands and businesses are using the social network to showcase their products and reach their customers where they’re already spending time.

Here are a few reasons marketers and brands are choosing Pinterest as their social media platform of choice:

  • People buy more on Pinterest. On average, Pinterest shoppers spend nearly$170 per session, much more than Facebook shoppers (who spend $95 per session) and Twitter shoppers (who spend $70).
  • Engagement is already high. Anthropologie and lululemon athletica have tracked engagement rates of 99 and 97 percent, respectively. Top fashion and retail brands are averaging 46 repins for each individual pin, which means people go to Pinterest to discover new fashion and repin items along the way.

Tapping Into Audience Behaviors

Just because Pinterest boasts high engagement doesn’t mean it’s the ideal place to focus your efforts. Conduct research before you create a campaign to ensure your customers actively use the platform. If you find most of your consumers use Facebook regularly, consider going there.

Here are a few other preliminary steps you should take before launching a Pinterest campaign:

  • See what people are already saying. Monitoring conversations around your brand can help you discover brand influencers who are naturally passionate about your brand and can help spread the love. Often, these conversations also reveal new trends and hot topics within your audience. They reveal what people want to see from your brand — and how you can give it to them in your Pinterest content marketing strategy.
  • Find influencers. Search for influencers based on factors including reach (how many people see their posts) and relevance (how often they post about certain topics). Look at Pinterest boards for events such as Fashion Week 2013, for example. Determine who was influential then, and see if they’ll be attending again this year. Then, add them to your influencer list.
  • Create an editorial calendar. What will you use to create your brand identity on Pinterest? Will you make the content or simply curate it? Make sure you have a plan. If you’re strapped for time, hands-on services such as Curalatecan help schedule pins for you.
  • Make your site pinnable. It should be easy for your website visitors to pin the designs or products they love. Putting Pinterest buttons on your site lets fans choose their favorite products and spread buzz organically.
  • Don’t just pin products. Fashion brands shouldn’t feel limited to simply posting clothing. You can post makeup, travel, weddings and events, or DIY styles, like how to fade a pair of new Converse shoes. You can also promote events and special collections.

For example, last year Pinterest created a New York Fashion Week hub with curated Pinterest boards from designers, brands, publishers, and bloggers participating in Fashion Week. Create boards that speak to your label’s aesthetics, the meaning behind your designs, and what inspires your brand.

Beyond Just Pins

Fashion shows are all about the visual thrill — models on the catwalk, flashing lights, and front-row celebrities, right? That’s why fashion brands should consider taking advantage of Pinterest’s video feature. Whether you’re giving a peek at a new line or a backstage exclusive at Fashion Week, Pinterest can give your customers an insider view.

Here are a few tips for making your video appealing:

  • Mix media. Combine videos and regular pins on your pinboards. You can also post videos on your website and other places, such as YouTube, and include a pin button next to them.
  • Keep it short. Longer videos aren’t as engaging as shorter ones, so make them brief but compelling.
  • Make it visually appealing. Pay attention to your video thumbnails on Pinterest; they’ll attract people just as much as your descriptions. By the same logic, it’s important to write good descriptions for all of your videos. Use plenty of hashtags and relevant search terms in your description. (Be sure to specify that it’s a video, too.)

Remember: For most women, Pinterest isn’t just a shopping cart. It’s a source of inspiration and aspiration, too. Women go there to find new, exciting ways to style, enliven, and reorganize their lives. And the faster your brand establishes a presence that’s focused holistically on connecting lifestyle and fashion, the faster you’ll start interacting with your customers in new, more meaningful ways.

Image courtesy of Bloomua /

3 Social Media Lessons You Can Learn From a Box of Beauty Samples

3 Social Media Lessons You Can Learn From a Box of Beauty Samples

(Originally posted in Memeburn)

What do Birchbox and Adidas have in common? One is a rugged sports icon, and the other is a wildly successful “stuff in a box” beauty subscription service, but both companies have impressive histories.

Birchbox raised US$72-million in funding in just four years and grew its subscriber base to more than 400 000, while Adidas has pulled in an excess of €10-billion for the past four years straight.

But that isn’t all. These brands boast impressive social media followings, and it’s not because they’re incredibly active (though they are); it’s that they understand the power of becoming ingrained in their audience’s lives rather than being just another company.

Birchbox boasts impressive Social Media Marketing techniques.

Whether you’re an established brand or an up-and-comer, you can learn from these social icons. Here are three powerful lessons from Birchbox and Adidas that can help you build a genuine relationship with your customers:

1. Target the right people with audience segmentation

The first step in developing a solid brand identity is to identify unique traits and characteristics of your target personas. Adidas nails this tactic by focusing on its rugged young male market and spending US$25-50 million per year sponsoring FIFA and the FIFA World Cup.

Audience segmentation is critical for connecting with your followers, and fortunately, social media analytics streamline this process. You can discover what makes your customers different from one another and what interests them, and then use those insights to identify topics that will capture their attention.

2. Aim for conversations, not conversions

Once you’ve identified and segmented your target audience, you can focus on the meat of your social media presence: becoming a part of that audience’s conversations.

Just take a look at Birchbox’s Twitter feed. Its tweets ask customers for their opinions, express enthusiasm over a fashion or makeup trend, or simply work to build a positive, happy vibe. Customers can smell a direct sale on social media from a mile away, so your content must be interesting and engaging on its own.

Because each social platform has something different to offer, you should customize your content for each platform. For example, Instagram is good for visual stimulation and teens, Facebook is getting much more popular with parents, and Twitter highlights current news and trends. Realise that your brand might fit into different social sites at different times, and find your perfect niche.

If you’re at a loss for how to start a conversation, look to your calendar and top trending lists. Identify topics that are relevant to your various audience segments and jump on them. Then, consider what’s going to happen in the future so you can start planning content around those events, such as graduation, back-to-school shopping, seasonal sports, and popular concerts.

3. Use the right tools to maintain authenticity

Successful social media marketing requires a steady commitment over a long period of time. Just look at Birchbox’s 50,000 tweets since 2010 and Adidas’ twice-daily Facebook updates.

But producing a high quantity of high-quality engagements requires backup. Here are three tools that can help you encourage authentic conversations:

  • Monitoring tools, such as Hootsuite, can help you follow the conversations going on throughout all of your social networks to identify the most relevant content themes to your audience.
  • Hashtag reporting tools, such as Keyhole, show the most popular trending hashtags, which can give you an idea of what people are currently discussing online.
  • Content creation tools, such as, allow you to create visually appealing infographics with limited design experience. Graphics are a great way to convey information on topics that excite your audience, and they work well across several social sites.

Far too often, marketers try to replicate the social success of companies like Adidas and Birchbox by launching their platforms and plugging their old promotions into their Hootsuite scheduler. But that’s not how effective brands build a dedicated following.

Direct marketing simply doesn’t work in the world of social media. You’ve got to focus on the conversations, not the conversions, and become a genuine, useful, and personable force in your customers’ lives.

What’s your brand doing to make real connections with your audience?