Are you on Woo Woo yet?

So far in Social Media and Digital Business, I’ve been forced to face a painful fact: I’m not cool. Not even a little bit. I hear the undergrads in our class talking about things called Yo, Periscope, and Meerkat, and I constantly find myself Googling new words after class. Recently, I asked some of my classmates if they felt that they will be “behind the times” technologically when they have grandchildren. The result was a resounding “no.” I’ve always tended to agree that because my generation grew up with the Internet, email, and (to some degree) social media, I would never fall out of touch with technology the way my grandparents have. However, after just five weeks in of IS6621, I’m starting to have my doubts.

My constant confusion about new digital trends reminds me of a commercial called “Woo Woo” that Adobe released in the summer of 2014.

The commercial makes light of the fact that marketers don’t always understand the trends that they’re investing in or how their efforts contribute to the bottom line. This problem is particularly relevant to social media. Without being able to analyze sales data and attribute marketing activities to transactional data, marketing is nothing more than educated guesswork. As new platforms emerge, it is easy to get excited by unexploited possibilities, but firms must proceed with caution.

So how can marketers make sure they avoid “Woo Woo”-level failures and get the most out of their social media budgets?

  1. Use custom links for each marketing channel. If you’re inviting prospects to register for an event, make a purchase, or redeem a coupon, make sure you craft a custom link for each referral source. Sources can include email, direct mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the vast array of platforms I’m sure I’ll discover from the undergraduates in this class during the rest of the semester. By tailoring URLs to each channel, you will be able to easily attribute registrations and/or purchases to the appropriate channels, and even more importantly, you’ll know which channels are driving revenue for your firm.
  2. Understand your audience. We’ve heard it time and time again in every marketing class we’ve ever taken. However, it’s worth including again here, because marketers need to understand where to find their audience. Certain demographic segments may be more active on different social platforms, so market research will help ensure that resources are being used appropriately. Marketing research can go a long way to ensure maximum efficiency in budget allocation.
  3. Stay in-tune with digital trends, but beware of short-lived fads. As we saw in the “Woo Woo” video, marketers shouldn’t get distracted by “shiny objects” and forget about tried-and-true marketing tactics for their business. Being the first mover to capitalize on new opportunities can provide huge business advantages, but it is also risky. If a marketing department shifts too much budget toward an emerging channel and that channel ultimately fails, the firm has lost potential revenue that could have been generated by using budget elsewhere. (Along these lines, I would be interested to see the revenue attribution for firms paying for placement on the Snapchat “Discover” page. In its current form, I don’t know that the platform is doing its advertisers any favors.)

After just a few short weeks in Social Media and Digital Business, I’ve absolutely learned that the third item on this list is something I need to be extra aware of. I need to find ways to stay in touch with social trends, or at the very least, align myself with a very trend-aware team.

In your career, have you seen any smart examples of firms using new social channels for marketing? Conversely, have you seen any massive failures?

9 comments

  1. I can relate Eric! I wish I had some disposable income to hire a focus group of 13 yr olds and follow their recommendations for the next 10 yrs.

    I have a history of working for socially “immature” businesses that are not using their social channels effectively. That being said, now working for BC I think they are on the right track with their Facebook and Twitter feeds to attract potential students. My goal is to get the IT dept. to utilize our twitter account in a similar way, to inform students of events, get them to participate in feedback forums about campus technology, etc.

  2. Hi Erin,

    Thanks for bring this topic to light – just like this Woo Woo commercial that I’ve probably watched way too many times, the topic of “which social wagon should brands jump on (if not all) ” has also been discussed over and over.Yet I in 2015, I still see organizations (especially small and medium ) make the same mistake time and time again. In one of my previous blogs, I talked about how the social media landscape shifts drastically every 2-3 years. I’ve seen many small/medium business change their social media practice and focus accordingly. While the scale of the organization gives them flexibility to quickly switch to new social media fronts, it also limits their resources and focus to maintain an active presence on all fronts. Without a clear social media strategy or understanding of the platform, what this translates to most of the times is a lukewarm presence on whatever the new “cool” platform is and a few other abandoned accounts on the “outdated ” platforms. They might even have a good amount of followers collectively on all these platforms, but most of their efforts probably didn’t lead to actual sales.

    One good example I can think of was this small local business that sells spicy crawfish and other local snacks. They were one of the early adopters of WeChat ‘s public account platform. By building an online menu and utilizing the payment function, they were able to create very positive experiences all around a customer’s purchase journey – customers check the menu and pictures of the items, and they will be able to order and pay with just a few clicks and have the food delivered to their house in less than an hour. Satisfied customers will then be able to share pictures within the same platform, and generate more potential leads for them. Another good example is how Barkbox uses Instagram as their main social media channel to increase brand awareness and strengthen bonding with customers. With their Instagram strategy they demonstrated excellent understanding of dog owners of social media behavior / psychology.

  3. Erin, that video was awesome! I think it effectively demonstrated the points you were trying to make and your takeaways would help any company trying to avoid this issue. I am an undergrad, but also did not hear about Yo, Periscope, or Meerkat until our class. I don’t attribute this to our lack of knowledge and don’t fear that I will be behind on technology when I am a grandparent– This is because I do understand the platforms that are popular. I am on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and am not missing out on anything by not using Yo, Periscope, or Meerkat. At some point, we must accept that we cannot know all there is to know about social media. There simply is just not enough time in a day! The key is to invest in the social media platforms that you enjoy the most and that have the strongest foothold with the general population. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Erin, I first saw your tweet earlier today and knew I had to read this “Woo Woo” post, and I am very glad that I did. First off, I feel “uncool” too after the first few weeks of IS6621, so you’re not alone! I realized very quickly that I am way behind the times in social media, unlike our much cooler, undergrad classmates (and @yanesval – she’s pretty on top of social media trends and the only reason I know how to use the knew Snapchat). Secondly, that commercial was not only hilarious but extremely accurate. So many companies feel like they need to jump on the social media bandwagon without actually having a proper strategy behind it. I really liked reading your suggestions on how companies can avoid this “Woo Woo” downfall, and I completely agree with your reasoning. Thank you for making me feel like I am not the only grandma in this course :)

  5. runningconvo · ·

    Great post Erin. And yes I agree with you that it is important not go after the “shiniest of object” or the flavor of the month when it comes to ad-spend. Personally I’ve had experiences with both sides of the spectrum- the social media ignorant and the the social media overreach. It’s definitely a delicate balance that as you mentioned requires firms to have both an understanding of what’s most relevant to core audiences while not blocking new potential channels. In my current company I think we do a good job of this by allocating resources wisely and being comfortable cutting ties with non-productive initiatives. And to do this, we have several processses in place to measure the success or failure. I think what I find most interesting is that these pitfalls are everywhere and eve as companies get wiser and technologies get more sophisticated, there are still the “Woo Woo’s” out there that can be so costly.

  6. This is a great post! You bring up some fantastic points here. Regardless of ones age, it is becoming harder to keep up with the progression of technology. Your third point is important, especially in social media. The ability to identify social media platforms that will be successful integrate into our society is crucial for being at the forefront of social trends. But once most people hear about a new trend, that idea has become old news. It will be interesting to see what will be the next Woo Woo in the coming years.

  7. Great post Erin! The points you make not only hold true for marketing and social media for “external” use, they are also true for social media use internally. Especially your point that “marketers shouldn’t get distracted by “shiny objects” and forget about tried-and-true marketing tactics for their business” makes me think of all the companies that implement wikis, yammer and other social tools to improve business performance and collaboration just because it’s what everyone else is doing. It seems like a lot of businesses have trouble keeping up and therefore make decisions that appear rushed and ill thought-through.

  8. Nice list Erin. I would add one more:

    4) Be sure any marketing effort fits into the business strategy of the firm, and that any marketing effort is done as part of a clearly-defined marketing plan.

    Just like technology improvements, many firms look at new social media channels as “must-have” things that they need to address, instead of thoughtfully picking out which social media channels a) reach their intended target market and b) fit with the firm’s current strategy.

    I’m no marketing expert, but doing anything in marketing without a plan seems like a bad idea. Especially when you end up spending scarce resources on a solution in search of a problem.

  9. Really nice post. If you think you feel uncool, try to be a college professor for a while. :) Totally agree with your takeaways. In addition to #2, though, I would add “know why your audience uses particular channels.”

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