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Chapters 2 and 3 in Groundswell focus not only on new technologies, but on how these technologies are used in the groundswell. According to the authors, relationships are everything, and practitioners should focus on the relationships they’re building (and HOW they’re building them) with consumers, not just the new technology available to reach them.

Strategic communication is experiencing a shift, with the relationship between companies and consumers rapidly changing. Customers are now the ones controlling the conversation (not corporations) by using new media technologies to communicate about products and companies. Groundswell attempts to provide tactics for companies to use to capitalize on how consumers are using technology. Additionally, Brand Media Strategy notes that in this shift, communication planning is moving away from the job of simply delivering message because “the starting point is the consumer, not the media channel or the discipline” (Nook 42).

Chapter 2 particularly focuses on various communication mediums like blogs, social networking sites (SNS), wikis, and more. First and foremost, when looking at blogs and wikis, the authors strongly urge companies to listen and monitor closely what people are saying and sharing about your company or brand. User-generated content on blogs for example is not regulated, so anything is possible (Nook 25). SNS are by definition “about the facilitation of relationships with technologies” (Nook 27). The authors note that that “fads can spread rapidly through SNS, displacing, undermining, or (sometimes) boosting brand awareness” (Nook 28). The authors also note Wikipedia as a perfect example of what groundswell power is: the public having the ability to determine what’s posted, including what the image is for certain companies.

Another excellent new media example not discussed in Groundswell is Pinterest. Even President Obama has an official Pinterest account that his camp uses to strategically reach constituents. A recent Businessweek article draws from Beth Hayden’s book Pinfluence, and suggests different ways for social media marketers to engage consumers from this booming new SNS including: running contests, featuring spotlight testimonials, pinning videos, telling client stories, creating a “pinfluence” contact list, creating conference boards, and hosting pin chats by integrating Twitter and Pinterest.

Brand Media Strategy shifts gears and explains why the communications world is moving at such a rapid pace and how we as media practitioners can keep up. With the rise of social media giants like Facebook and Google, it’s no wonder why the marketing communications profession has been shaken up.  Digital media in general has set a higher set of standards for branding because it allows us to track and measure user response, which in turn allows us to hone in on what each individual user is looking for. Digital media also gives consumers a more personalized experience. Young states that “users are able to get information how and when they want it” (8). An important focus for marketers should be the peer-to-peer relationship in terms of social media.  Young notes that according to comScore/ Kelsey Group research, nearly one in four Internet users looked at online reviews before selecting a restaurant or hotel or legal, travel, medical, automotive or home services” (Nook 18). Similarly in chapter 3 of Groundswell, the authors discuss the power of the Social Technographics Profile noting that “we can understand how social technologies are being adopted by any group of people” (Nook 45).

In Young’s words, “We are moving from a world of broadcast to broad “catch”.”  With so many different digital media outlets, it is getting harder and harder to catch the attention of consumers.  Instead of sitting down and watching television or reading the newspaper, people are watching TV while checking their email and Facebook account all at the same time.  That is why it is so important to utilize tools like Google and Facebook to target a consumer with exactly what they are interested in.

Branding now particularly goes hand in hand with communication planning where the emphasis is not just on reaching people, but influencing them. Young notes that “context, relevance and involvement have become important components in making the communications more potent” when devising a communication plan (Nook 44). Rogojinaru (2011) who examined Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Avon, and Disney to look at their use of “story-telling” in managing their brands through corporate books noted that “branding in particular is a peculiar interdisciplinary process and action, which combines marketing, communication, cultural aspects, visual semiotics, and discourse management” (145).

Communications is no longer about delivering messages to audiences, but also about understanding why they respond the way they do.  It is extremely important for account planning creative, and digital to be utilized together in order to understand the consumer (Young 39).  It is also important to understand where and how to advertise.  These two questions should be answered first.  Marketers have sought to create advertising that either reinforces brand message or elicits a response form the customer (Young 43).  “The Brand Media Strategy involves making a communications platform that works together with creative and involves touch point-recommendations.  Finally, it is about the brand or campaign idea and its amplification, followed by integrated execution and measurement (Young 48).”

Young says a survey reveals that among teens, 39 percent of word of mouth about a brand happens online via text, email, instant messaging, chats and blog (8).   Google is a pioneer in the digital media realm.  “Google and its competitors have created the first applications to leverage the database of intentions in a commercial manner: paid search (Young 9).” Google allows the client to know who their client is, what they are searching for, and what else their interests are in a matter of seconds.   Advertisers are able to change their marketing plan almost immediately without significant costs (Young 10).  Kafka says that December web forecast pegs Google’s share of the overall Web ad market at 44 percent, a number that has been steadily increasing. Facebook is another leader in the marketing world.  It allows marketers to target consumers by using personal information listed on their site.

“For many marketers, their Facebook fan bases have become their largest web presence, outstripping brand sites or email programs either because a brand’s traditional web-based “owned media” is atrophying or because more consumers are migrating to social media. Coca-Cola, with its 10.7 million Facebook fans, has three to four times the Facebook fan base as MyTown and Foursquare have registered users. (In fact, there are at least 11 brands whose Facebook fan pages have quietly grown bigger than the biggest geo-location providers.) That certainly trumps U.S. unique visitors to Coke’s brand website, which fell by more than 40% to 242,000 in July compared to a year ago, per Compete. Neff (2010) states that “in order to get the best results out of advertising, one must be very knowledgeable of digital media.”  Now instead of telling a consumer to check out their website, they’re telling them to become a fan of their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. Google and Facebook are piorneers in paving a path for future marketers.

Another approach to digital media is offering an experience for users.  One trailblazer in this arena is Nike.  First of all, Nike created an online community for runners who purchased their shoes. They put sensors in the shoes that would be able to track a runner’s activity on their Apple IPod/iPhone.  They can then upload their activity and get advice and motivation from other runners using Nike products.  Nike also organized running events in large cities, released new sneaker lines, and sponsored TV shows like ESPN’s Sports Center. The company also does an excellent job at utilizing social media outlets like MTV.com and ESPN.com.  Stefan Olander, global director for brand connections at Nike says, “We want to find a way to enhance the experience and services, rather than looking for a way to interrupt people from getting to where they want to go.” (Young 19).

After reading about the many ways that social marketers can target audiences now using Google, Facebook and other new technologies, it was surprising to find a recent Businessweek article notes that while 76% of social media marketers say they know what their customer wants, only about 34% have actually asked them. Though Facebook and Google have been successful, a remarkable number of social marketers are not. They note that there’s a major disconnect between what consumers are looking for and what they’re actually receiving from the brands they follow on social networks. Additionally this research notes that consumers tend to seek deals and special content in exchange for social activity with their brand, thought most social marketers believe consumers see customer service as the most important return on engaging with their brand through SNS.

Li, Charlene and Josh Bernoff (2011). Groundswell.

Kafka, Peter. (5 Dec 2011). The Rise of Google, the Ascent of Facebook and the Decline of Everyone Else.  Retrieved from http://allthingsd.com/20111205/the-rise-of-google-the-ascent-of-facebook-and-the-decline-of-everyone-else/

Neff, Jack. (2010 August 8).What Happens When Facebook Trumps Your Brand Site? Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.libezp.lib.lsu.edu/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=9&sid=acdac419-cc7c-4bb6-85be-58ccc9080fb4%40sessionmgr10&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=ufh&AN=53025361

Rogojinaru, A. (2011). Corporate Narrations: An Instrument of Strategic Brand Management. Styles Of Communication, 2011(3), 145-161.

Seven Ways to Market Your Business Using Pinterest. (2012, September 5)
Retrieved from http://bx.businessweek.com/social-media-brand-impact/view?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.innovationexcellence.com%2Fblog%2F2012%2F09%2F05%2F7-ways-to-market-your-business-using-pinterest%2F

The Gap Between Social Customers and Social Marketers. (2012, September 8)
Retrieved from http://bx.businessweek.com/social-media-brand-impact/view?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pamorama.net%2F2012%2F09%2F08%2Fthe-gap-between-social-customers-and-social-marketers%2F%23.UEvf3ZbN58E

Young, Antony. (2010).Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era.

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