What Do Yuno About Social Influence?

New site alert!

Online shopping is a competitive market; search for a product like a pair of sneakers, a blender, or a DVD player (do people still buy those?) and you’ll get tons of choices for where you can spend your dollars. Americans spend loads of their hard-earned cash on Internet shopping each year. And if you want to see a really cool constantly upgrading calculation of just how much they are spending each second, check this out.

To attract customers lots of shopping websites reward them for the purchases they make; some offer simple sales just like those in brick and mortar stores, others, like Ebates give shoppers cash back on the purchases they make. Macy’s and a few other retailers have collaborated to create Plenti, a card where you earn points for your purchases, which can be saved up to get discounts on future purchases.

Now a new site is using something you may or may not have to give you discounts – social influence. Yuno is an e-commerce site that lets users shop for over 70 million products from retailers like Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Best Buy. Generally, the social shopping site offers cashback on every purchase.

But, on top of the cashback users are already receiving on their purchasers, Yuno provides more money when someone in their social network sees that they purchased something cool and decides that they need it too. The social aspect of the site comes in because you can like, comment and recommend products to friends in your social network.

Yuno
Photo Credit: Yuno

What’s interesting is that an active Yuno user could receive up to 100% cashback depending on their level of influence or what the site calls “social capital.” That’s where the name of the site comes in, on this site you benefit from who you know…

“At Yuno, our mission is to help everyday people enhance their lives based on who they are and who they know,” said Yuno CEO Andre Walters, a sports lawyer turned tech entrepreneur. “With social media, the power to generate attention and to influence others’ behavior is no longer limited to famous celebrities. We are all valuable in the world of commerce through word of mouth marketing, and we believe that value should be recognized in our everyday transactions by the companies we support.”

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Photo Credit: Yuno

I’m not sure what I think about this site. Will it succeed? Do people really want to tell their friends that they just bought a sexy Elsa costume for $70? We do like to share an awful lot online, but how fast does knowing that some guy you went to high school with bought paper towels and an Eagles t-shirt get old? Something like this seems like it would be a great product for middle-school girls, who all just want to fit in and all own the same Aeropostale hoodie. Maybe during the holidays when everyone is clamoring to buy the same popular toys for their kids the sharing will become important, but other than that I’m not convinced.

I would love to hear what you all think about Yuno and its possibilities.

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Facebook Reactions are Coming, What Does This Mean for Marketers?

For years, avid Facebook users have been calling for a dislike button, a way to show the world that they disagree with your post about supporting Donald Trump for president, are sad to hear that your grandma passed away, or that they think the dinner you cooked and photographed looks gross. Alas, Mark Zuckerberg and his team have set to work in creating a way for us to share our displeasure with a topic without having to use our words.

According to Zuckerberg, “what they really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment.”

Last week Facebook revealed that they will start testing “Reactions” buttons, a set of six emoji that can be chosen when it just doesn’t feel like a like will be the best option.

FB Dislike
Photo Credit: ABC News

Users can hover over the choices including love, unhappiness (I think that’s what the one all the way on the right is anyway) and laughter to choose something that conveys the appropriate emotion for the situation.

“As you can see, it’s not a ‘dislike’ button, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly. We studied which comments and reactions are most commonly and universally expressed across Facebook, then worked to design an experience around them that was elegant and fun,” said Chris Cox, chief product officer at Facebook.

What that means for marketing…

Some speculate that the look of Facebook ads will change once the reaction buttons are offered on posts. Is there ever a time when a brand wants anything but likes on a post? Generally, no.

Allowing marketers to feel the pain of a dislike or unhappy face button on posts may be unlikely due to all of the revenue Facebook earns from ads – almost 90%. Giving people a reason not to advertise would be a silly move for Facebook’s business.

Others see the potential for marketers to grab much needed insight into what their customers think and feel about the brand or specific product or service. Hate is a feeling after all…

I tend to agree with those who think Facebook needs to tread lightly across the board on the reactions we are allowed to express on posts. Making it easy to mindlessly dislike posts could get ugly quick, creating brand shaming, bullying, and lack of true insight into what exactly it is that consumers are thinking and feeling. Taking away the voice of the consumer and replacing it with a quick fix button may actually cause us to lose insight and ultimately think twice about turning to Facebook with our ad dollars.

@Twitter Considers Increasing Character Limit on Tweets #goodidea?

This may be some sort of sin in today’s world, but I’ve got to confess I’m not a huge fan of Twitter. Shocking, I know. Probably because it just seems to take so much time to keep up with and be current, clever, and have anyone actually see your posts. Plus, I’m super wordy and find 140 characters limiting of my verbosity.

Turns out I must not be the only one who feels this way. Twitter recently announced that they will soon release a new product that allows users to share Tweets that are longer than the current 140 character limit that has been one of their signatures from the start. It is still unclear if this means that they are upping the character limit to allow large blocks of text on the current platform or if they will create a separate service that allows text to be linked to Tweets.

Twitter might also update the way in which Tweet characters are measured, no longer counting links and user IDs, which would definitely make those of us who use social media for a living a little happier.

Tweets
Photo Credit: Infoblizzard

The Pros & Cons

Some are dismayed by the news, noting that it will “be detrimental to the unique community of writers and creatives who have found a home on the platform.” The Quartz blog argues that many have worked to hone their Tweet-writing skills and at once become better writers and salespeople while crafting short, succinct messages.

“These parameters have taught us to develop our own unique style and flow. With practice, you learn how to use the limit to your advantage. For those who like to use Twitter for comedic reasons, the pressure to be swift and impactful is intensified, and punch lines become amplified as much by what’s left unsaid than what is said.”

On the other hand, Twitter is looking for a boost in users and making some changes might help. AdWeek notes that the change would “improve its appeal to the mainstream “regular” social media user, who often doesn’t quite “get” how to interact on a 140-character landscape.” An influx of users could mean more eyes on the content that is being artfully created for the space.

Of course, marketers will need to pay close attention to the possible changes on Twitter and also think about how they will update their Twitter marketing strategy. If more characters are allowed will fewer Tweets be best? Or will more time need to be spent crafting longer messages while posting with the same frequency? Will images still attract the most attention on the platform? Will brands be able to more adeptly address the complaints and comments of Twitter users to their pages? Does that necessitate more staff? And finally, is it all worth it?

Pay Attention! IoT is Going to Change Everything (Including Your Job)

If you’re like me (living under a rock), you may not have heard about something called the Internet of Things (IoT), “the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.”

To get a really good understanding of this idea, check out this New York Times video.http://graphics8.nytimes.com/bcvideo/1.0/iframe/embed.html?videoId=100000003003809&playerType=embed“>

Wow, right?

The Internet of Things has the potential to change the way we live our lives, making smarter products and helping us live better, easier lives. The IoT also opens up a world of possibilities for marketers, especially if it meets expectations and grows to earn $11.1 trillion a year.

Obviously as there are more and more places where humans connect, marketing won’t be far behind. In fact, as devices become smarter and more connected, the ability to target messages to the consumer will become even more skilled. “As a result, the age of the interruptive commercial will finally come to an end on the consumer side. In its place will be a new world in which advertising must be beneficial and completely relevant where no prospect is served an advertisement that doesn’t 100% align with their interests, behaviors, and past purchases.”

Completely beneficial and relevant advertising means lots of specialization for marketers. In looking at some of the products soon to be “enchanted” some potential opportunities for marketing might include:

Medical: Over the past few years, wearable fitness devices like Fitbit and Jawbone have grown in popularity with 70 million sold in 2014. While this fad is expected to slip in the next few years it will most certainly be replaced as Apple Watch and others like it become more fashionable and more advanced. As the devices begin to track, monitor, and advise on chronic disease and other illnesses, ads are sure to follow. Marketers from pharmaceutical companies, drugstores, and food products will find ways to make disease-specific recommendations within apps tailored to provide this content.

Home: Homes are starting to be able to do more to monitor themselves and alert owners to potential trouble spots. As this happens it is likely that the IOT will create ways to make money from the advanced technology. Repairmen can be called, replacements can be ordered, and upgrades can automatically be made without the user ever having to get involved.

Auto: A few car companies have already started offering vehicles equipped with Wi-Fi, allowing connectivity on the go. While this is great for watching movies like this commercial shows, it will also allow marketers a more targeted view of where drivers are, letting them offer coupons or play advertisements for nearby businesses. Tracking consumers becomes easier and “key information about their daily habits, such as whether they, say, stop at McDonald’s every morning or often visit country clubs. That, in turn, could open up opportunities for brands to target specific groups of consumers or to target consumers by habit.”

The Internet of Things is a fascinating thing to watch grow. To see our society become more plugged in, but at the same time see that connection grow smarter to (hopefully) make our lives easier will be amazing. As for marketing, the coming years will be all about paying attention to opportunities to personalize messages in places where consumers are connected. We really have to stay alert and find ways to cut through the clutter to get consumers listening, even if that means buying ads on the iUmbrella or whatever they decide to call it.

Social Media Allows Fans Front Row Access to Fashion Week

So much has become more accessible with social media. We now have the ability to do all sorts of things that we couldn’t previously. Some good, like staying connected to a college friend or talking with students across the country who are taking the same online class as you. Some not so good, like keeping up with the day to day activities of your ex or being privy to the political opinions of your crazy cousin.

One exciting thing that social media has made possible is offering access to the once closed off and elite-only world of fashion week. New York Fashion Week 2015 came to end last week and those of us not on the list still had access to great photos, live streams of the shows, and the play by play via Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or whichever medium you were currently plugged into.

Social has become such a big part of fashion week that designers are expected to keep up and rather than close the doors of fashion events, they are inviting fans to get closer. Throughout this and other fashion weeks, many were consistently posting constantly to increase brand engagement. There’s even a scorecard:

scorecard
Photo Credit: WWD.com

The different social channels also offer designers unique opportunities to bring fans closer, too.

According to Likeable Tweets mentioning the word fashion have risen 17 percent from August of 2014 to August of 2015, showing Twitter’s commitment to becoming the place to converse about fashion. Through September 17th the hashtags #NYFW and #FashionFlock will supply custom fashion-inspired emojis (fashtags!) to jazz up your Tweet.

Fashtags
Photo Credit: Likeable.com

Over on Snapchat, Alexander Wang invited followers to his store to score special fashion week prizes. By showing a screen shot at the door, the first ten people were eligible to win.

In 2014, Marc Jacobs let fans pay for products in his pop-up shop with social media. “The pop-up store, called the Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop, didn’t accept money; as the name suggests, shoppers could only “pay” for perfume via social media. To get a small bottle of Daisy perfume, shoppers had to tweet or snap an Instagram picture using the hashtag #MJDaisyChain and then show the tweet or picture to the “cashier.” Marc Jacobs also gave away pricier items like jewelry and handbags to people with the most creative #MJDaisyChain posts.” The hashtag was used about 6,000 times in six days.

In Spring 2015 fashion week, Instagram pics were liked and commented on more than 140 million times from February 12 through March 12. One designer even chose to keep her designs off the catwalk in favor of hosting an “Insta-show” for her collection.

Others have launched collections via Pinterest. Giving fans the opportunity to pin styles before they were seen on the runway.

The possibilities for how this will grow is potentially endless, between contests, meet-ups, and hashtags designers can draw customers in to see their new collections even if they are far from the current fashion shows taking place. Fans can get closer to their favorite fashions and even if they can’t afford them in reality, they can pine over them, pin them, share them and Tweet about them, which has to be pretty close to the same thing.

Native Ads Are In, But Are They Ethical?

Article? Ad? Both? These days it’s hard to tell if the content you’re reading comes from journalists, advertisers, or some combination of both. Native advertising, also called sponsored content, is basically advertising made to look like editorial content. On many sites it is interlaced with regular content, leaving many readers puzzled as to what exactly they are reading; something legitimately researched and written or something meant only to sell them products.

As the amount of money companies pay for native ads grows each year, it is expected that $4.2 billion will be spent in 2015. To grab some of these earnings, many popular news sources like TIME, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times have started accepting native advertising on their sites, with some charging over $100,000 per campaign.

native
Photo Credit: Contently

On a local level and with a much smaller budget, I use native advertising monthly to promote the place I work; writing pieces that are advertorials for my company’s happenings. For me it is a win because local newspapers and other small publications are hungry for content and as a non-profit with a tiny ad budget I am eager to fill it. I get more exposure for certain services and the paper can fill the space. We all end up happy people.

Why go native?

Native advertising is said to be the solution for consumers who have lost interest in traditional ads and also an active form of advertising that captures and keeps the attention of a reader when there is so much they could be looking at or doing elsewhere.

Photo Credit: SamKayDry.com

But, is it ethical?

The use of native ads has not been without controversy as many wonder if sites are misleading readers with these stories.

Contently.com did a survey on native ads recently, surveying 509 male and female consumers of different ages to see how they interpret the native content they come across. They found that across publications (ranging from The New York Time to BuzzFeed), readers often identified native advertising as an article and not advertising. Meaning that most readers are not able to tell the difference between the two.

Some news sites have already been called out on their choice of sponsored content. The Atlantic had to answer to accepting sponsored content from the Church of Scientology, which caused outrage among their readers. They apologized, agreeing to no longer compromise the integrity of their news source for the sake of advertising. They also agreed to make advertorials very distinguishable on their site, changing the font or text box color to point out the difference between regular and sponsored articles.

The distinction between the two types of content is key and will likely be a more universal standard for all publications as the marketing medium continues to grow. Even then as readers skim, skip, and come to content from electronic sources those things may not be enough to keep online news outlets safe from regulations down the road.

Is it worth it?

What’s very interesting is that native advertising may be making money for these news sources, but 62% of respondents to the Contently survey felt as though a “news site loses credibility when it publishes native ads”. And, in addition many consumers had a tough time determining what exactly was being advertised, so this tactic may actually be lose-lose, not working out for the news source or the advertiser.

#HappilyEverAfter

Fall at the Jersey Shore is the best time for weddings; awesome weather and fewer people make beach towns a hot spot for off-season nuptials. I have the privilege of attending two weddings come October and November and aligning with current trends both have been very different in their use of social media.

Consciously Unplugged

One wedding trend that has become very popular is deciding to keep it all unplugged. That is to ban all those would-be professional photographers from using their phones to capture and share every moment of the big day on every social media channel possible.

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Some brides, including my friend Julie, have been clear from the start that they don’t want their wedding photos posted all over Facebook before they even have the chance to cut the cake. Her shower featured signs similar to the ones below and her wedding will have someone responsible for keeping phones in pockets and minds present on the importance of the day.

unplugged2
Photo Credit: Pinterest

The idea is to allow the photographer to do her job of recording the big day, while the guests stay in the moment and enjoy seeing the couple tie the knot with no filter. Plus, it leaves the bride and groom in control of placing the perfect photo and message about their event on social when they are ready.

Tell Me More

On the other hand I attended the bachelorette party for my sister-in-law to be last weekend and early in the night the talk was of creating a hashtag for the celebration to be chronicled and appropriately tagged on social media channels like Instagram.

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Photo Credit: Pinterest

Social media has truly changed the way weddings are planned, booked, and recorded. There are 38 million wedding Pinterest boards currently helping women (and men) plan their dream day from the time they are old enough to log on to a computer. Wedding websites have also become increasingly possible to let guests in on the details of the wedding day, plus links to online registries, maps to ceremony sites and more.

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Photo Credit: Awwwwards

Of course there is also the obligatory perfectly manicured hand featuring the shiny new engagement ring photo that is displayed on Instagram and Facebook shortly after the ask. Getting congrats messages and likes from around the country helping to add to the excitement of the proposal.

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Photo Credit: Brides Magazine

Wedding apps are also adding to the mix of must-haves for brides to be, offering checklists and schedules that can be used to create and execute the perfect day right from a smart phone.

The wedding hashtag is also on the rise. In 2012 only 9% of couples said they planned to use a tag for their wedding, last year 55% said they would.

Creating a perfect and unique hashtag has become a business to some. TheWeddingHashtag.com will help couples order up the ideal tag after submitting some simple info about their wedding day. The service is free for now, as the business hopes to expand to selling hashtagged gifts down the line.

Another company is making money by livestreaming tagged photos and displaying the results during the wedding. Others sell hashtag themed products like displays and cards.

Letting guests stay plugged in does have its advantages, too. By finding a unique and creative moniker for guests to add to their online photos is a great way to see details and perspectives of the wedding day that might be missed considering the professional photographer is only one person.

Whatever anyone decides to do with their day, it is clear that social media and new apps are changing the way weddings happen. What isn’t changing is that wedding days are big business and there will always be new and different ways to spend money in the planning.