Social Media Branding; Where to Start?

Now that I have chosen my topic for my Major Digital Project, it is time to dive in head first. My Entrepreneurship students have been researching potential business ideas for our class to run and I decided to use this opportunity to do an informal pre-assessment. Students were encouraged to use their own social media accounts to conduct some initial market research to determine if their network would be interested in purchasing their proposed product and how much they would be willing to pay for it. Out of the 15 groups only 4 chose to use their social media to conduct market research. These groups used polls on their Instagram accounts where their followers answered Yes/No questions or they posed a question for their followers to answer using a sliding scale.

One such example was how much potential customers would be willing to pay for homemade lip balm:

Screen Shot 2019-10-27 at 8.43.43 PM

I was honestly surprised that more groups did not utilize their own network to determine if there is interest in a product and how much potential consumers would be willing to pay. Upon further discussion with my students most did not want to utilize their own networks for an idea they were pitching as they didn’t want to deal with the follow-up if their idea was not chosen as our class project. This is something I can relate to as I had asked my Instagram followers what I should learn for my Major Digital Project and I didn’t end up using any of their ideas. I have had to explain to a number of my followers that I decided to go a different direction for my project and I can understand why my students wouldn’t want to have to go through with that same kind of conversation with their followers.

Now that the business pitch project is almost over, I have began doing my own research on Social Media Marketing so that I can better teach my students how to utilize social media in their businesses. Aleh Barysevich from Marketing Land wrote a very informative article of 16 social media updates for marketers in 2019. In summary, the major updates to be aware of include:

  • Google+ is officially gone
  • TikTok has more than 500 million users and this year began advertising. TikTok now has interest-based targeting, custom audience and pixel tracking, and age, gender, location, network, and operating system targeting.
  • Facebook has made custom ads more transparent, letting users know why they are being targeted by a specific ad through the “Why am I seeing this?” feature
  • Facebook has restricted targeting for certain ads, for example housing, employment and credit ads can no longer be targeted by age, race or gender
  • Facebook now has automated ads which allow you to create a marketing plan for your business by answering a few questions about your business and goals and the tool will create up to six different versions of your ad, provide audience suggestions, recommend a budget, and send you notifications about your ad.
  • Facebook has added an appointments management feature that lets costumers book business services through Facebook and Instagram. This feature also allows businesses to send appointment reminders to customers, display availability, and manage appointments from the business page.
  • Instagram now allows businesses to turn a sponsored post of an influencer into an ad with a notation saying, “Paid in partnership with XX.” so brands can target ads for the posts of their influences
  • Twitter has a new desktop design and has reduced the limit of accounts a user can follow from 1,000/day to 400/day
  • LinkedIn now combines a business’ image of a customer persona with data from LinkedIn to help find a target audience
  • LinkedIn also introduced interest targeting this year based on a profile’s professional interests on LinkedIn and more
  • LinkedIn now provides audience templates, post reactions, and an algorithm update
  • Pinterest has created a new customer experience features such as shop a brand feature, personalized shopping recommendations, and brands have an option to upload their full catalog

This article allowed me sigh a bit of relief as I have either used or am aware of each of these social media platforms, as well as Snapchat. I am glad that I am not too far out of touch with the current social media platforms being used so I can help my students to understand how social media marketing works on the platforms that they currently use and how to utilize these platforms for promoting their future businesses.

Students will hopefully decide on our class businesses this week and will begin creating business plans and a social media presence. Do you know of any businesses that are a good example of using social media marketing? Or have a strong social media presence? What makes them so effective?

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