Monday, May 19, 2014

Sports Marketers: Tips on Creating a Successful Social Media Campaign

From the NCAA to the NFL to the PGA, its no secret that sports teams and athletes generate fan bases the size of small countries. As sports marketers, it is our job to harness this following to generate excitement for our teams. But how can we make sure we are truly maximizing the full potential of our fan base? As a graduate student in Northwestern University Medill's Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Masters program, I have found 2 articles on how to create successful social media campaigns to engage your fans.

Lauren Drell, author of Five Tips for Marketing to Sports Fans on Facebook, focused on understanding the sports fan persona.  Sports fans are passionate, loyal and more importantly "they crave interaction with the team and will gladly engage right back." Think about any passionate sports fan you know and you'll see the signs - the baseball fan who goes to the game with his glove, in hopes of catching a foul ball; the football fan who plays fantasy football as the "owner" of their own team; the NCAA basketball fans who will paint every inch of their skin and dye their hair simply to match the colors of their beloved team. They all want to feel connected to their team - and as sports marketers, you have the power to make that connection. This is crucial for sports marketers to understand when formulating their social media campaign.  


Ty Scheiner,  author of Four Winning Sports Social Media Marketing Campaigns You Can Learn From highlights the work of teams that have successful social media marketing strategies.  Baylor University has a rewards program that encourages content sharing.  The New Jersey Devils "Mission Control" campaign rewards loyal fans with the opportunity to be part of the team.  Each campaign that Scheiner highlights shows the teams engaging and interacting with their fans through creative social media campaigns.

After reviewing these articles, there are three action items you should immediately consider when developing your own social media campaign:   

  • ENGAGE ALL FANS - Social media gives you opportunity to engage with fans anywhere at anytime. It is important to find ways to keep fans feeling connected with your team - Find a way to reach those who can not make it to the games and ways to keep the fire burning even during the off-season.
  • INTERACT - The fans want to be a part of the team and they want to interact - so be sure that your social media campaign is a two-way street. Create contests, offer give-aways, involve players - anything that provides an interactive forum for the fans to get involved with the team.
  • GET CREATIVE - Create unique content that is cannot be found anywhere else and is only specific to your team. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box! Crazy fans get excited by crazy ideas, so run with it! 

Every sports market is unique and it goes without saying, that it is important to know your market before establishing any type of program. But if you follow these three simple tips, you will be on the path to creating a successful social media campaign for your sports team.

Danielle Pierce, a sports fanatic and marketing wiz, is currently completing a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University.  She previously completed her Masters of Science at Johns Hopkins University and her Bachelors of Arts at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Follow her on Twitter @dmapierce912

Marketing Entrepreneurs: Here’s How to Reenergize Your Social Media Strategy.

Today, there is no question your high value markets are increasingly mobile. Companies are struggling to balance the demands of younger and older markets. In search of reaching millennials and younger audiences, traditional brands (Buick, FordGE, Neiman Marcus) are beginning to experiment on Vine and other hot apps (Tinder, etc). As a graduate marketing student in the Northwestern Medill IMC program, I have found two articles relevant to these challenges you will find interesting.

In a recent article in Fast Company, "How the Most Successful Brands Dominate Instagram, and You Can Too," Rachel Gillett analyzes how Instagram has become one of the most effective, yet most underutilized apps by marketers. Research shows that Instagram has the highest conversion rate from browser to shopper among social networking platforms. Gillett shows how the best brands are using Instagram with great success. The highlights? She recommends personalizing your brand by taking them behind the scenes and using a fans-first approach. Post rich videos and images to drive viral marketing and create buzz around new product launches or campaigns. Instagram is a great way to empower communities of fans to engage with your company and create their own content. Instagram makes it easy to shoot quick, low-budget content that makes your brand relevant and interesting. More importantly, Instagram posts are easily integrated across platforms, including Twitter and Facebook.

Nike consistently ranks the top brand on Instagram. Photo found on Floranet

Jeff Revoy, CEO of Viralheat offers a different perspective in his recent article for Fast Company, "Breaking up with Facebook? You Better Think Twice." Revoy analyzes why increasing your presence on new apps won’t replace Facebook marketing. Facebook has been the dominant social media platform for well over 5 years: every second, 684,478 things are shared on Facebook. With more than 1 billion active users, Facebook’s user base would make it the third most populous country in the world. Revoy reminds us why we shouldn’t cut ties just yet. For Facebook to grow, he points out, it must continue to develop innovative ways to measure audience engagement and provide content that users want. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat are underutilized, but do not face the same pressure to innovate as Facebook.

Based on my assessment of these two articles and on my marketing work at Medill Northwestern, here are three actions I recommend you consider when developing your social media strategy:
  •  Build space into your content strategy for new and popular apps. Understand how they work, who is using them, and how to best represent your brand.  
  • Change the way you’re using Facebook (or at least, your expectations of Facebook). Understand how the demographics are changing and how to use it for better co-creation.
  • Blend the two. Facebook allows for a deeper, qualitative interaction with your customer. Co-creation stemming from this platform can lead to integrated content across other apps.

Limiting your aperture to Facebook and Twitter is a way to get frustrated with your engagement metrics quickly. Expand the scope of your marketing plan to include new apps, especially Instagram, to maintain and foster better engagement with your target markets. Facebook will continue to drive innovation in social media marketing; but don’t just sit around and wait for the next big thing.

Emily Heaslip is currently pursuing her masters in Integrated Marketing and Communications at Medill Northwestern University. She is focusing on innovative digital marketing, with an eye toward start-ups and entrepreneurship in the tech sector. While at school, she’s worked on projects studying Warby Parker, LYFE Kitchens, and Miller High Life. Questions or comments? Tweet to @IMCEmily

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Real Estate Update: Why Invest in Student WANTS

As a real estate professional/investor, student housing has become one of the most stable and promising apartment markets. It's time to seriously pay close attention to the student housing sector; recent trend analysis shows that student housing is a predictor of all other apartment trends. I am a graduating senior at Northwestern University doing research into what students want in student housing and have found two articles which address this profitable market.    

           According to Amalia Otet in  “The Balance Sheet”, investor interest in the collegiate housing sector has grown all around the country, most likely prompted by a steady demand for both on-campus and off-campus apartments and a lack of available units around major university hubs.  Basically, Universities have bitten off more than they can chew, having to rely on outside third parties to build and manage campus student housing to accommodate the student population. Along with this, Student housing investment interest is sparked by favoring demographics.  The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates that between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college rose by 600 basis points to 41 percent. Between 2010 and 2020, NCES expects an 11-percent spike in college enrollments by under 25-year-olds and a 20-percent spike in college enrollments by students aged 25 and older.  In conclusion, Universities are seeing a steady increase in student enrollment, in large part due to the offspring of baby boomers going to college and the increased societal value put on a college education. Demand for student housing is rising and commercial real estate companies are happy to accommodate these demands.

Callaway Freshman Residence Hall Austin, Texas

 Over the past ten years, The Scion Group has collected survey responses from more than 30,000 students through customized survey instruments developed to address the needs of students living in off-campus and on-campus housing. They set out to find out what features and amenities will students dislike, find acceptable, or find particularly appealing. Companies are  developing a more complete knowledge of what students seek when considering cost in their housing. This data  can help when evaluating new housing, but also when trying to make the best use of existing inventory. New construction or major renovations happen only rarely in the life-cycle of a student housing community, making it even more critical to incorporate preferred design elements from the start. Scion has drawn some broad conclusions about single-student preferences through the quantitative survey data collected, along with qualitative data collected via numerous focus-group sessions and observations.  With the rise of big data and its ability to influence major decisions in the marketing world, I want to further investigate how social media can influence business in the real estate world. By monitoring what students are saying on social media, real estate firms could better understand how to build to accommodate their needs.

After reviewing these two articles and from my real estate experience, here are three action items I recommend you consider for the student market:    

  •         Highly Stable -  Recognize the the Student housing sector is one of the biggest growing and most stable niche sector in real estate.  This means a long term market for you and your organization.

  •          Favorable Demographic Trends- use existing demographic data and prior research to begin to generate interest from investors in the student housing sector.

  •           Possible expansion in Social Media - use social monitoring to view area’s that millennials are talking about housing needs/wants, giving you a edge on competitors. 

 It is important for you to recognize the potential of the student housing market and see the future trends. Investing in student housing can yield a stable return for years to come. It's important for real estate professionals to consider adding student housing to their real estate marketing mix in the future. 

James Hall is currently a Student-Athlete at Northwestern University.  He majors in Organizational Change and minors in Business institutions and Integrated Marketing. He previously interned at Harrison Street Capital, working in the alternative real estate research and asset management department. There he researched markets with potential value while also managing existing capital assets. He is interested in pursuing a career in commercial real estate.

Twitter: @JamesHallNU

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Social Strategy: 3 Paths to Social ROI

According to eConsultancy, Only 8 percent of companies say they can determine Return on Investment (ROI) from their social media spending (source: Econsultancy).  From their Global CMO study, they find 63% want to measure the ROI of their social investment.  Yet, many social pundits - while giving "lip service" to the concept of ROI, have "surrendered" to the ROI challenge and, have instead, encouraged their followers to simply focus on the "intangible" justifications for a social strategy.  In other words, don't worry about the lack of social ROI, it is intuitive it benefits your organization and that is justification enough.
While these types of articles imply you don't need to really consider or develop the ROI from your social investment, nothing could be further from the truth.  If you consider the "opposite side" of the IBM quote, if 63% of all organizations would like to measure their Social ROI, this means 27% of them can.  That is the direction I used when I started researching my new book - "Social IMC - Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI".
Social Strategy  Social Media  Social ROIThe fact is there are thousands of companies who are using Social as an integrated part of their marketing mix.  Their social strategies develop very specific KPI's and provide a way to track their social investment from first social contact through to final purchase from the organization.  And these companies are no different than yours.  In developing my book, I looked at B2B and B2C companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100.  I examined for profit and not-for-profit firms, governmental organizations, and organizations across the globe.  From Africa to China, to the Pacific Rim, to Europe to the Americas, companies are designing, developing, deploying, justifying and measuring their social investment with the same precision as their other marketing investments.  The key is not to simply rationalize the fact you don't have ROI today, the key to success is to look at your social investment through a marketing prism.  Start with your high value markets and you can develop strategies which transform your social programs into revenue producing, market share generating assets to your organization.
While my book goes into the strategies in great detail giving you the metrics, methodology, and best-of-breed examples from across the globe, there are three paths you need to consider in re-thinking your social investments from an ROI perspective.  They are:
  • Start with your High Value Markets - Man pundits advocate specific site strategies.  Whether it is blogging, building your Facebook presence, Tweeting, building your PInterest presence, etc., they focus on content and engagement, not ROI.  The path to an ROI strategy starts NOT with social networks but with your High Value Markets.  The goal of social strategies with bottom-line impact is to develop strategies which build 1-to-1 relationships with your high value markets.  Using social to build relationships rather than followers is one of the paths to social with measurable, provable bottom-line results.
  • Think Multimedia Engagement - If you look at social from a marketing perspective, it is logical that your high value markets are engaging on multiple levels of the social pyramid.  Whether they are consumers or business professionals, they are seeking expertise and information using blogs, websites, social networks, private virtual communities, videos, passion sites and a host of other social options.  For success, you need to understand where your high value markets are congregating, who is at the center of their conversations [the influencers] and where they are congregating.  This will allow you to maximize your impact by engaging them on the levels they "inhabit".  This is where social monitoring comes in.
  • Build Relationship Funnels & KPIs - The final path is to begin thinking of your social strategy as a journey rather than a networking site.  To build a business relationship, you need to take your prospects through a process [a relationship or performance funnel] from prospect to customer [and beyond].  While many of these relationships will occur exclusively in social, many can use other marketing channels [sales force, conferences, meetings] to close the sale.  When I work with companies through my consultancy, we start by identifying all of the "steps" from suspect to customer.  Each level is quantified, valued, and then we begin by determining the performance required in each step of the process to be profitable.  Comparing every pair of behaviors in the relationship funnel gives us the KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] we need to manage the ENTIRE process from social contact through to purchase.
In summary, there are thousands of companies across the globe who are implementing highly effective, highly efficient, and highly profitable social marketing programs with their high value & high opportunity markets.  The key is to understand how best to use social as an integral part of your marketing mix.  Today, Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI is a necessity and you need to know how to design, develop, deploy, measure & justify your social programs for your organization to grow and prosper.
Randy Hlavac   Social IMC  Social Marketing
Randy Hlavac is a social and integrated marketing expert.  In 1990, he founded Marketing Synergy, Inc [MSI].   MSI helps business and consumer focused companies define, engage & acquire high value communities using social, web, mobile and integrated marketing technologies.  Using value based predictive systems and marketing databases integrating social and integrated marketing channels, MSI’s clients build profitable, long-term relationships with their most valuable market segments.  Marketing Synergy aids its clients in developing and deploying the marketing database, analytical, and marketing systems necessary to achieve their business goals.
In addition to being the CEO of Marketing Synergy, Randy is also a Lecturer at Northwestern.  He teaches courses on digital, social and mobile marketing.  Randy is a social marketing blogger and his first book – Social IMC – Social Strategies with Bottom-line ROI is available on Amazon.  Randy also writes articles for the Journal of Integrated Marketing, Chicago Association of Direct Marketing and is a frequent guest blogger on social, marketing technologies, and integrated marketing. 
Randy can be reached at  You can also reach Randy on Twitter at @RandyHlavac or on LinkedIn at randyhlavac

Friday, May 16, 2014

Beauty Marketers: How natural beauty brands can make a greater ‘social’ impact

As a beauty marketer, you are witnessing a major shift from traditional media to social to connect with the beauty conscious woman. As a marketing and communications graduate student at Northwestern University passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, I have found two articles which provide interesting insights into social media and the marketing of beauty brands. 

In an interesting article in Forbes Magazine titled, How Social Media is Fueling The Next $1B Beauty Brand, entrepreneur Jane Park discusses how she uses social media to create, test and sell new products. Since many of the businesses in this industry operate on a small scale, social media is the best tool to create awareness and generate mass appeal. In addition, there's a growing mistrust in mass-produced products, where consumers are avidly reading labels and demanding chemical free alternatives. Therefore, social media is a good tool for organic/ naturally based beauty brands to offer consumers reassurance.

Another article recently printed in the New York Times, entitled Younger Skin Through Exercise, emphasizes how running can help keep you skin looking younger. Consumers making the commitment to invest in natural products often want ideas on how to live naturally in other aspects of their life. For example, many beauty enthusiasts are constantly looking for ways to improve their appearance overall without having to resort to chemicals or surgery. It’s not enough to just be on social media to grow your customer base; it’s important to continually aggregate content that appeals to this audience.  Who wouldn’t choose to work out over paying thousands of dollars for Botox? 

Based on my analysis of the two articles, here are three action items I recommend you consider in developing you future social strategies.

  • Think multi-channelSometimes video is more impactful than text or pictures bring your product to life. Whatever the case, be sure to explore and evaluate the best social media platform(s) you think will help consumers connect with your product.
  • Think beyond your product- When deciding to invest in naturally based products, the decision doesn’t usually just apply to one aspect of their life. A lot of times they might want to start eating healthier, exercising more or even using chemical-free cleaning products. Establish your company as a thought leader on adopting a healthier lifestyle so you can serve a resource to learn more about natural ways of living.
  •  Engage in social communities- People like to share their ideas and receive recommendations from those that are like-minded. Participating in social communities is a great way to see what people are talking about and trending topics.
Of course, there are many more ways to connect to this growing customer base through social and digital media. You can use social media to take a legislative stand against the labeling of organic products, which is currently a hot topic right now. Another idea, since many companies in this industry are locally based, would be to use social media to tap into other geographical markets that might not have direct access to your product. There’s no doubt social media can help your business stand out amongst mass-produced chemically based products and will help you guide consumers to leading a healthier, more fulfilling life. 
Jennifer Marzett previously worked in the Global Marketing Organization for AT&T Inc where she served as Lead Corporate Communications Manager and Associate Director of Executive Operations. Jennifer is currently pursing her M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and holds a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Oklahoma.

Twitter Contact: @Miamarzett
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Use Big Data to Make Big Impressions with Consumers in 3 Easy Steps

As a consultant, it is important to evaluate the state of your customer's database. The amount and breadth of information available can drastically change the strategy behind customer service, marketing and even product development. As a graduate student studying Integrated Marketing Communications at the Medill School at Northwestern University, I have found two articles that address the ways that business can use customer data improve service, engage their customers and start taking steps into the big data world.

In 5 ways companies are using big data to help their customers, VentureBeat gives a great overview on how companies should be using big data to help predict customer needs and how utilize feedback to improve pain points. They also note how you can improve customer service interactions by having more robust information such as how the customer has engaged with the company socially or any past purchases. For businesses with a customer services focus, making sure the service metrics are being plugged into your database can help you identify trends as they happen, so you can know what to focus your energies on the most important opportunities in real time.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
Still at a loss on how you can make big data work for you? Nicole Fallon of Business News Daily instructs businesses to leverage their internal information to build out customer loyalty programs in her article Boosting Customer Loyalty with Big Data. The loyalty programs, or even a baseline customer newsletter can help engage customers to buy more of your products and boost sentiments towards your brand. This is excellent advice as most business are probably not utilizing their customer data to its fullest and even simple analysis can help you identify customer that could spend more if they were part of a loyalty program.

After analyzing these two articles, here are three action items you need to implement to start tapping the power of big data:

1. Get your data in order
The usefulness of big data can be hindered by what information you have available on your customers. From contact information to purchase history, be sure that you have an accurate and reliable database solution and try to maintain as much information about the customer journey as possible.

2. Listen to your customers
Now that you have some quantitative data on purchase history, work to include qualitative points based on customer feedback to help move your business forward. You can gain insights from surveys, social media monitoring and even service representatives if available. These insights can help make your products and service better for returning and new customers alike.

3. Communicate with your customers
For the majority of small business, more than half of their annual revenue comes from repeat buyers, which makes cross selling your other products key. In addition to introducing new products and services, useful news and best practices for your specific industry can help create value for your brand. Be sure to set goals attached to your outreach, whether they be to increase sales or even just to improve engagement.

Big data can seem daunting depending upon where you are in the process, but by taking small steps you can get headed in path to better utilizing information you already have. If you haven’t gotten started yet though, consider this your wake up call. If you won’t take action and use data to improve your customers interactions with you company, your competitors certainly will.

Jay Hover is the Senior Manager of Customer Engagement at Rakuten Marketing, an ecommerce marketing services firm specializing in affiliate, display, search and retargeting. He oversees internal client communications and is responsible for engaging more than 2,000,000 partners. Jay is currently pursuing his M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications from the Medill School at Northwestern University and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Follow him on Twitter @jmhover or connect via LinkedIn:

Embracing Social: How Crowdfunding is Changing the Film Industry

As the world of social has pervaded all industries, more and more organizations are experiencing the real benefits of crowdfunding, especially the film industry. Crowdfunding - funding a project through a multitude of smaller investments from a large number of people - has thrived through sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. As an undergraduate Integrated Marketing and Communications student in Northwestern University’s Medill IMC program, I have researched the impact of social on the film industry, and the changing balance of independent versus blockbuster films.

A piece by Matthew Rozsa of PolicyMic from the fall of 2013 proposes questions regarding summer blockbusters and a potential ‘Hollywood bubble’. Rozsa raises questions regarding the continued failures of blockbusters, such as The Lone Ranger, while lower-budget movies such as This is the End and The Way Way Back encounter greater success. The questions raised are rather striking to filmmakers and moviegoers: will the Hollywood bubble burst? Will independent films be the ones to take their place?

Source: Digital Trends

In an article for Film Independent from June 2013, independent filmmaker Elizabeth Ai discusses the profound shifts taking place in the modern film industry and the significance of said changes. With advancing technology, ever-expanding social media, and the growing accessibility to both of them, Ai suggests a “democratization of content creation and creation.” Crowdfunding campaigns are still relatively young, but movies such as Wish I Was Here and Veronica Mars have received serious attention and notoriety. While Ai suggests that crowdfunding is a great way for independent filmmakers to make their breakthrough, she also suggests that media consumption habits leaning towards media such as YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu make it so that theatrical releases do not even have to be the final goal.

Based on my analysis of these two articles and my study of the film industry and its relation to crowdfunding, I have developed three action items for those interested in this emerging trend.

Get Involved! – With crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, it is incredibly easy to get involved with things that you care about. Even if you don’t have a ‘groundbreaking’ idea or the necessary skills to make a movie, you can still contribute.

Stay Educated! – This is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg for shifting trends in the film industry. By keeping up to date with film news, trends, and the en flux tendencies of the industry, you can better position yourself on where and when to invest.

Take a chance! – Of course not all crowdfunded indie movies are going to make tractions, but that is really not the point. You can get involved with things that you feel passionate, or help other people by allowing them to realize their passions.

This shift in the film industry has opened the door for independent filmmakers to increase their chances of widespread recognition. 10% of Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, and SXSW films were kick-starter projects, the same site that initiated the successful Veronica Mars crowdfund, and with kick-starter projects such as Inocente when the Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2013, filmmakers are setting their even sights higher.

Thomas Dawson is currently finishing his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University. He has worked closely to the film industry through work experience and student groups, and is interested in becoming further involved in the film industry after graduation. Follow him on twitter @_ThomasDawson_

Dead Simple Metrics to Measure and Understand Your Donor Better

A data-centric approach towards chalking out salient donor insights isn’t a fad. As a non-profit marketing manager and a candidate of a data-centric Masters in Integrated Marketing Communication at Northwestern University, I can certainly vouch that in the years to come, the ability to measure and understand donor behavior can set your non-profit’s voice above the noise.

      The article 5 Metrics Every Development Director Should Know authored by Mike Spear makes various important observations and recommendations. He starts by emphasizing the relationship between donor acquisition cost and donor lifetime value (Donor LTC = Average donation amount per donor / donor churn rate) in order to decide on resource allocation between prolonged engagement and new acquisition. He further advises that donor churn (# of lost donors / # of total donors) be kept as small as possible and donor lifetime be calculated so that business decisions can be based on effective donor segmentation as shown in the pyramid below:
    Source: Avectra blog

    '5 Basic Fundraising Metrics to Start Measuring Today' by Jeffrey Haguewood further accumulates fundraising metrics that can yield important insights for donor management. The list developed by him uses average gift size and number of gifts for the purpose of planning, budgeting and forecasting marketing activities. He focuses on calculating conversion rate for each marketing activity respectively and measuring them individually against donor engagement. This way, it would be easier for non-profit managers to see which activity reaps maximum contribution and allow them an opportunity to dig deep into donors behavior.

          After reviewing these two articles, here are 3 action items you need to keep in mind and apply to improve your donor marketing efforts:   
    •     Develop Success Metrics - Create metrics which allow you to continually monitor the effectiveness of your donor marketing efforts
    •     Base Communication Strategy on Donor Segmentation - Use donor segmentation to develop strategy that will resonate well with the behavior of high-value and high-potential donors
    •     Leverage Insights - Understand donor motivation by gauging where your non-profit fits in your donor's life story

    Sidra Zia is an MS. Candidate in Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University with a specialization in digital marketing geared towards social development. She is passionate about narrating stories on the digital canvas and has previously contributed to marketing efforts of several international development organizations as a strategic communication professional. 

    Follow: @Sidra_Z 
    LinkedIn: Sidra Zia