Thursday, March 28, 2013

Social Media for Good VIII

Health-related websites and social media networks are certainly not new, but they seem to be growing in popularity. According to some interesting statistics on All Facebook, health-related pages represent a burgeoning category on Facebook. In fact, they increased in number of pages in the third quarter of 2012 by more than other fast-growing categories like travel.

Health related social media can perform many functions from providing support to patients and their families to raising money. The feature on Living Kidney Donors Network on local TV caught my attention last week.

This is a great example of direct and worthwhile action prompted by a Facebook post. Hear the story on the WCVB video.

Remember that it's not the size of the page by any measure; it's the good it does. And take the good being done by this social network  page as a happy thought for the Easter weekend1

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Migration to Mobile III--All Shopping Can Be Local

It used to be a sign that you were cool with current technology; you did research on your computer before heading to retail stores to shop. That’s no longer true. Now shoppers can use their smartphones or tablets to get the information they are looking for right at the POP--and maybe a coupon to boot! That is a powerful concept and it is driving profound changes that go all the way down to the individual retail location.

It doesn’t start when the shopper nears the store or walks in the door, though. It starts by building a meaningful SoLoMo strategy. One interpretation of the mobile shopping funnel captures the essence.

Social marketing helps build—or maybe for the small local retailer builds all by itself— awareness and a positive brand image. Retailers use tactics ranging from paid advertising to instore promotions and events to lure followers to their social platforms. Mobile marketing—whether paid ads or content marketing—reaches people when they are actively researching a purchase or provides a triggering cue by suggesting a reason to purchase. Local marketing reaches them at the point of purchase, giving them compelling reasons to buy at that moment.

Adding another dimension to that argument is data about the role of various types of shopping apps during the 2012 holiday season. The huge growth is seen in retailer apps and the lowest growth in the daily deals apps, whose difficulties have been much in the news. I wrote about the Macy’s shopping app during the holidays. The mapping application still seems to be available only for the Herald Square store but deals, wish lists and other retail services are going strong. At the moment they are offering me a 20% off promo code, which might be useful, and a bridal registry, which definitely is not! My initial reaction was “so much for personalization,” but how do they find out unless they ask?

The data also highlights another important mobile issue. Price comparison apps also experienced explosive growth. Showrooming—checking prices in stores then buying more cheaply online—seems to be ongoing.

But there’s good reason for local retailers not to hit the panic button. The trend can be their friend! No less a retailer than Walmart is encouraging people to use their phones in stores. Wired explains it well:

Walmart’s stores are “geo-fenced,” which means the location-aware app enters “store mode” when you walk through the door. Once in store mode, you have access to an interactive version of the weekly on-sale circular for that store. You can see what’s new in the store. You can scan bar codes with the phone’s camera for prices and keep a running list of everything you’re buying so you’ll know the total cost when you get to the register.

How can retailers without Walmart-level resources turn showrooming to their advantage? The advice from the Retail Customer Experience site is:

1. Embrace omnichannel.
2. Bring the best of online shopping into the store.
3. Implement innovative in-store technologies.
4. Empower in-store personnel.
Putting it all together they say:

Innovative in-store technologies can help shoppers engage with brands and create a great, enjoyable shopping experience that leads them to both return to the store and to act as brand ambassadors through social media, leading to more visits from their peers.

Very interesting—it all comes full circle. Use both the human touch of your store employees and the power of technology to give your customers a great shopping experience and they will share it with their friends on social media. Like all good advice, it’s easier said than done, but the guidelines are there!