Just Google It

On Monday I decided it was about time I get my hair re-done. Due to not entirely being content with the current place I go to, I typed “best hairdressers Melbourne” into Google’s search engine. On Wednesday, a friend called me up asking if I could recommend any decent quality, yet affordable camera’s to her. Having been out of the loop lately, I turned to Google to re-jog my memory.

Google is (and has been for a while now) the holy grail of search engines. Indeed, their current desktop market share sits at 67.78% compared to other engine’s such as Bing, Baidu and Yahoo. In contrast to this, their mobile market share sits at a whopping 94.22%. It is no wonder the word “Google” has now become officially recognised as part of the dictionary and of our society today.

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Typically when I’m completing an information search, I never go beyond the first or second page. I might even go on the third or fourth page depending on how desperate or unsatisfied I am with the results listed. However, on the rare occasion that I do find a link on a later page that turns out to be exactly what I want, I think to myself how it would’ve been nice if it turned up much earlier to save all the time and effort.

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The role of search engine marketing (SEM) in this case, is crucial if sellers are wanting to be one of the first sites listed and become part of the buyer’s post-search consideration set. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is one of the two main SEM strategies which allows sellers to improve their search listings by modifying their site codes to make them more relevant and more search engine compatible (Sen, 2014). In spite of this, and in most recent publications, online sellers claim that SEO produces results which do not justify its costs particularly as high search result rankings aren’t always consistent or guaranteed (Sen, 2014). Subsequently, paid placement ads are often the strategy of choice among buyers despite that 70-80% of users ignore paid ads, focusing only on organic results (Imforza, 2013).

SEO meanings will vary depending on the person, however stating that “SEO is dead” is an unrealistic claim and in most cases might be the opinion of companies who are not utilising it in an ethical manner (such as through invisible text or content spamming). Google often update their algorithms to prevent these sellers from cheating the search engine algorithms, so you could say that it is this sort of black hat SEO that is being pushed out of existence.

Bottom line is that if sellers want to have high listings, their website must be optimised in a way that is both meaningful and helpful to potential buyers. In fact, SEO is essentially (or should be) built on satisfying the customer’s needs and wants, thus companies should view high-listings as simply a bonus to their efforts. For that reason SEO will always be relevant – just google it.

Other Sources:

Ravi, Sen., (2014) Optimal Search Engine Marketing Strategy. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10864415.2005.11043964
https://www.imforza.com/blog/how-much-does-seo-cost/
http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/10-seo-statistics-every-marketer-should-know-about
http://www.sitewit.com/2015/01/27/10-surprising-statistics-pay-per-click/
https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=1&qpsp=2016&qpnp=1&qptimeframe=Y
http://www.theneweconomy.com/home/immortal-evolving-why-seo-is-anything-but-dead

 

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The IoT: Who Really Wins?

Now, I don’t consider myself completely technology incompetent nor do I consider myself much of a tech-geek either. I’ve never ever used or owned a FitBit for that matter, or don’t really ever intend on buying myself an Apple smart watch because a) I can barely afford more than 3 sushi rolls from that sushi place on campus, and b) well is it really going to make my life that much better?

I recently spoke to a friend who said that despite wearing his Fitbit  most days, it didn’t make a drastic difference to his health or lifestyle. Indeed it would depend on the consumer’s level of motivation. These Fitbit statistics indicate that, of the 190 million registered users only 9.5 million are active as of mid-last year.

I suppose this is all besides the point, because whether we like it or not, these smart devices are indeed becoming a reality (and represent only a small fraction of where the internet of things is headed) as consumers become more reliant on technology. In fact, Cisco estimates that by 2020, computers (including PC’s, tablets, and smartphones) will represent only 17% of all internet connections while the other 83% will result from the IoT, including wearables and smart home devices.

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Smart accessories such as the aforementioned FitBit and any other wrist-borne fitness trackers will soon feel less cool than the type of smart clothing being manufactured and sold today by major companies such as OMsignal. In fact, this year the company will be launching their so called “OMbra”, which will be sold alongside their other already existing smart t-shirts for men. You can check it out here.

But it doesn’t just stop there. Engadget (2016) state that these products might only just be stepping stones to what is truly in-store for the future as wearable devices become increasingly connected to our bodies, almost like implants (Anderson and Rainie, 2014).

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are working on wearable displays that effectively “blend into our skin”. As it is currently in it’s prototype stage, it only has the capacity to detect blood oxygen concentration levels, however further development will result in many possibilities and eventually they will appear as tattoos on our bodies without the surrounding film. Freaky but somewhat cool right?

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The University of Tokyo, Someya Group Organic Transistor Lab (engadget.com)

This is more likely to be revolutionary for athletes, fitness junkies and the elderly (or perhaps even be used as toys for the wealthy (Anderson and Rainie, 2014)). But as for young, healthy, ordinary individuals such as myself, will these devices actually make a difference to our lives?

The large amounts of data recorded by these devices may just be more useful to the marketer than they might ever be to us.

Of course, a downside will be how to efficiently structure and analyse all of this data, but once this is overcome there will be major concerns surrounding the pervasive nature and exactly how our information is being used and who it is being sold to. I definitely wouldn’t want some ghost company monitoring every aspect of my health and then bombarding me with offers and program incentives just because I’ve fallen over and my heart rate goes through the roof. Essentially what this means is less control for us, and more $$$ for them. Although, if it comes in the form of Baymax take my money pls.

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What do you guys think?

Other resources:

The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025 (2014): htp://www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/internet-of-things/
http://www.statista.com/statistics/302482/wearable-device-market-value/http://www.buzzfeed.com/stephaniemlee/how-many-people-actually-use-their-fitbits#.nl2lJE1a8
http://www.wired.com/insights/2015/02/the-future-of-wearable-tech/
http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/omsignals-performance-tracking-biometric-clothing-line-launchestoday/#/2http://www.engadget.com/2016/04/17/skin-display/
https://internetofshit.net/the-internet-of-things-has-a-dirty-little-secret-28bce2d412b2#.s9qkdh797
http://www.digitaltrends.com/wearables/smart-clothing-is-the-future-of-wearables/

The Brand vs. Instagram

So I’m probably going to be one of many bloggers out there to comment on the whole Instagram frenzy/debacle/catastrophe or what have you not circulating throughout social media over the past few days, but I thought I’d put my two cents in…. not talking exactly about whether I agree or disagree with the changes, but more specifically, touching on how much power social media apps have over the way businesses operate and do marketing online. 

By neglecting the feed’s chronological order and changing it to show posts that Instagram thinks are of most interest to the user, many small business and young entrepreneurs run the risk of losing their established, follower-base and forego the possibility of becoming #instafamz. But is this what they should really be concerned about?

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@pityreally

Despite their statement on Twitter saying no changes were to be implemented for the time being, the negative response from many users speaks volume about the importance of attracting followers through engaging content both within Instagram and extending beyond to other platforms such as their own branded applications. After all, without this function (i.e. the instantaneity derived from chronological feeds), businesses have only theirselves to rely on. It therefore holds true that, good content = greater reach. Brands must keep in mind the importance of relevancy, and Kaplan’s (2014) four I’s (individualise, integrate, involve and initiate) provide critical advice on how they can uphold that.

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Like many other fashion brands, the Australian online fashion retailer The Iconic generates involvement by hosting the occasional photo contest and encouraging users to post/hashtag/tag. This creative process often creates excitement among followers (particularly when ultimately there is a reward waiting in the end) and initiates the creation of user-generated content. The holy grail for mobile social media.

In 2014, the brand was awarded “Best Mobile Commerce Application” winner at the Oria awards, based on great feedback from customers. Their app provides easy integration into user’s lives by allowing customers to scroll through and purchase clothing items instantly through a fast and secure checkout, anywhere at anytime. It is also somewhat individualised in the sense that users are able to sort through clothing based on their needs and interests (i.e. filtered by brand, colour, price, size or whether it is a sale item).

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The Iconic App

Adding to all the hysteria, just a few hours ago Instagram also put forth an announcement stating they will officially be updating their video function which will allow users to record for up to 60 seconds (a jump from the current 15 secs) and create videos with multiple clips from your camera roll. So how exactly will these changes to mobile social media technology affect marketing? This will provide more creative opportunities for businesses and force them to rethink their video marketing strategy. However, at the same time they must ensure what they post is captivating enough to hold the viewer’s attention as most often it takes only a split second to decide whether or not to continue watching.

Other sources: 
Kaplan, A. (2012). If you love something, let it go mobile: Mobile marketing and mobile social media 4×4. Business Horizons, 55(2), 129-139.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2011.10.009

Kayla Itsines: A Marketer’s Dream

Pretty recently I’ve made the life changing decision to put all my lonesome gym equipment to good use in pursuit of perfectly chiseled abs and the ultimate Kim K booty (well maybe not completely Kim K, but getting close ‘cos let’s be honest… that shit cray).

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And who to turn to none other than the all-time Ab Goddess/Workout Queen formally known as Kayla Itsines *cue heavenly music*

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Now, if you’ve never heard of Kayla before ya’ll must be living under a rock because as of today she has over 5 million likes on Facebook and 4.5 million followers on Instagram and still counting.

Kayla is a qualified personal trainer from Adelaide who studied at the Australian Institute of Fitness. After graduating she worked at a “women’s only” personal training centre where alongside her usual PT practices, she began to develop her own set of workouts and nutrition guidelines to help clients who were unsatisfied with their own bodies. On her website she states:

“Before I knew it, I had developed workouts and cardio techniques, mixed with nutrition planning that achieved a certain result: a bikini body confidence… My clients saw amazing results in 12 weeks or sometimes even sooner, and began to tell their friends and spread an amazing positive message. I soon realised that this was becoming bigger than I had imagined, and I needed a way to reach more women..”

And indeed she has. The Kayla Movement is growing every single day (even minutes) as more individuals aspire to live healthier and happier lifestyles.

There are, of course, other fitspo internet sensations (such as Amanda Bisk, Emily Skye and of course the controversial Ashley Bines) who have also secured an online presence with many followers, however, greater success can no doubtedly be attributed to Kayla Itsines and her program.  But how exactly has this movement gained a cult following and become so well-liked?

One word:

 C O M M U N I T Y.

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Community unites. Community brings meaning. Community brings value to those around. This is not only important, but vital to a brand’s business model and strategy if they are to succeed.

According to Dessart, Veloutsou and Morgan-Thomas (2015), engagement with the online community and the brand can translate into increased loyalty, more specifically when there is an exchange of positive experiences, content and information (Vivek et al., 2012).

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Instagram: @kayla_itsines

Indeed, there has been copious amounts of shared experiences and support circulating on various SNS (Facebook and predominately Instagram) through what is known as the “BBG Community”, which is named after Kayla’s popular “Bikini Body Guide”. Many of the followers who actively take part in the program often create BBG-specific accounts to track their progress and to be-friend, support and train with others part of #kaylasarmy.

Despite the movement having originated from Kayla’s Instagram, there are more likes on her Facebook page in contrast. Perhaps due to the nature of Facebook and it’s greater flexibility in providing different forms of content that appeal to the different interests and behaviours of users within the online community. A lil something for errybody. Thanks Oprah. I mean Kayla.

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In an article by Hodis (2015), she describes four distinct segments which provides a framework for how marketer’s can increase consumer engagement (pull rather push strategy):

(1) The Entertainment Chasers – escaping the shackles of their boring, no-good lives. Soz, that escalated quickly.

Plenty of smoothie bowls (much aesthetic), nutrition facts, work-out vids and the occasional feature of her cute pup to keep these peeps entertained.

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(2) The Attention Seekers – those who want it all. 

Part of the BBG Community is built on hashtags, progress shots and account features on behalf of Kayla and many other users. Despite a pursuit that may not even be exactly narcissistic, these peeps have the opportunity to talk about/show off their smokin’ bods and clean eating to the wider online community.

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(3) The Devotees – if the Entertainment and Attention Seekers were to have a lovechild. Dis b it. 

These users may need to go through SNS rehab at some stage in life (just u wait), but their need for high levels of consumption and creation would indeed be satisfied by the amount of community support and involvement – from being able to share and post comments to the many entertainment posts.

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(4)  The Connection Seekers – all for da comunicación.

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Considering the true motivation of connection seekers is to hang out (Hodis, 2015), Kayla’s Boot Camp World Tour gives followers of the community the chance to work out together and socialise on all things fitness. Additionally, the level of involvement from the overall community provides many opportunities to engage and connect with one another.

Despite being a social network platform, Instagram operates predominately as a photo-sharing/video-sharing app. What this means is that although it has also been successful in engaging users through being visually satisfying, it’s functions are in some ways constrained. Users cannot see what events their friends are attending, or how many other users of the public may be also be going. It might also be difficult to target these different segments as Instagram does not present a bundle of various content in the same way as Facebook does and, therefore limiting the users’ selectivity.

Can you guys think of any brands or companies who are great at connecting with their communities? Comment and let me know!