Mom’s Don’t Tweet But They Do Watch The Voice And #VoiceSave Through Their Teens

The other night I was watching The Voice and admiring their innovative use of social media to engage their audience. With a Web staff of 10 constantly updating 110 Web pages about the hosts and contestants, the Hollywood Reporter said in 2011 that the NBC hit was already closing in on “Glee” with user engagement. The Voice provides engagement by: fans tweeting their favorite finalists and coaches (often responding), the stars rally viewers for votes; finalists solicit their followers for advice, and producers mine the scroll of memes for comments on song selection, lighting, or Carson Daly’s hair.

This year fans got another social media treat. As explained by Entertainment Weekly – Voting via Twitter, fans can prevent one of the bottom three singers from going home when Carson gives a signal to start casting votes. For five minutes, you can save your artists by tweeting their first name with hashtag #VoiceSave. Retweeting is a vote, but only one tweet per ID. The singer with the most tweet-votes remains, and the other two go home.

I put this live Twitter voting to the test with one of my local favorites James Wolpert. While tweeting and retweeting #VoiceSaveJames I noticed something strange. A lot of people kept saying they were “tweeting this for their mom.” A look at some of the tweets I collected in the image to the right will show you what I mean.

My theory was that moms watch The Voice, but are not on Twitter and want their teens to save their favorite singer. This thought does seem to pan out when you look at the latest eMarketer report on Twitter use. Between 2010 and 2013, the percent of internet users on Twitter more than doubled for every adult age group except over 65. But as you can see in the chart on the left, 30% of Twitter users are in the 18-29 age group compared to only 17% for 30-49 year olds and 13% for 50-64 year olds.

And who watches The Voice? Recent Neilson numbers reveal that the show continues to win the ratings war among the key 18-49 year old TV demographic – beating out the other networks. And it seems moms are watching with their teens.

HubShout, a SEO reseller and online marketing firm, noticed all this social media activity on The Voice as well. In fact, they developed a SMAP (Social Media Average Points) score that is reported as having predicted the winners for season three and four. A couple of weeks ago HubShout used the SMAP system, to evaluate the remaining season five contestants and predicted the winners to be: Caroline Pennell, Matthew Schuler, and Jacquie Lee.

I guess hind sight is 20/20 and social media monitoring isn’t perfect, but you don’t have to be on Twitter to engage with Twitter and your favorite TV program. How can marketers leverage these social insights during commercial breaks or via product placement? Package goods marketers may have been staying away from Twitter because most of their prime target of middle age moms are not on Twitter, but perhaps we should follow the producers of The Voice’s lead and not let that stop us. Could a food brand consumed by teens, but bought by moms leverage a Voice sponsorship and Twitter campaign?

Can Retail Make Room For Showrooming?

Retail stores have had to deal with an increasing threat to their sales as smartphone ownership has crossed 50% and more consumers are using stores as a “showroom” before buying goods online. This especially became a problem for retailer Target when Amazon offered a 5% discount to anyone who used their Price Check app to scan a bar code of an item in a store and then bought it from the website. As a result, Target dropped Kindle from shelves saying, “What we aren’t willing to do is let online-only retailers use our brick-and-mortar stores as a showroom for their products and undercut our prices.” Not too long after Walmart followed suit by dropping Kindles from their stores.

How big is this problem? A recent survey says 50% of respondents with smartphones research prices while in store, 1 in 3 who research prices leave and buy from a competitor, and 96% plan to “showroom” in the future.

So what can retailers do? An article in Forbes suggests three strategies:
1. Begin a strategic conversation between brands and retailers. Through dual distribution or multichannel marketing they often end up competing against each other. Big retailers such as Best Buy need to develop exclusives to keep customers coming and buying. Tom Van Riper from Forbes said this is how Barnes & Noble kept Amazon from closing their business by developing the Nook.
2. Embrace customization as a key area of strategic growth. Large shoe brands such as Reebok and Nike are seeing revenue numbers in the $100 million range with their custom shoe programs.
3. Focus on the customer experience. Forrester research says 35% of shoppers want to purchase custom products to stand out from their peers. But also consider custom buying experiences for long term loyalty and engagement.

Mashable suggests innovation as another way to battle showrooming and talks about a store in Australia which started charging consumers $5 just to walk into the store. Before you start a retail cover charge also consider new digital marketing services that engage shoppers to entice them to stores. For example, Target has announced plans to price-match online competitors, such as Amazon. And Brian Gillespie, principal at a service design firm, suggests encouraging “webrooming” (the opposite of showrooming) where shoppers search for products they want online, and then head into the store to make a purchase.

Gillespie makes a good point. It comes down to retailers creating an in-store experience exceptional enough to keep consumers purchasing in-store. The kind of customer service Nordstrom offers and enhanced with digital environments. But will that kind of service draw a crowd for toilet paper at Target the same way it does for Eau de toilette at Nordstrom?

A Text For That? App Hype Shouldn’t Discount Text Marketing

What I have noticed recently in the marketing press is we hardly ever mention texting anymore. A lot of people are jumping on the marketing App bandwagon the way QR Tags were all the rage a couple of years ago, but many have seemed to skip over texting. The latest 2012 Pew Internet Research indicates that 79% of cell phone owners say they use text messaging while smartphone usage is still only around 45%, and of those smartphone users only 27% report having scanned a QR Code.  In fact, B.L. Ochman of Ad Age recently said “QR codes are dead.” It seems texting has been really underused or at least “under-talked” about by marketers.

The latest Neilson U.S. Digital Consumer Report shows that behind Apps, the second most used function of mobile phones is text messaging. Another good point about text messaging is that you can use them in mediums where QR codes are not possible, such as radio. With a QR tag you need something visual. I actually saw a 30 second TV commercial flash a QR tag for two seconds on the end. What are the chances of that being used?

Instead they could have used an easy to remember text code that someone could punch in without pausing the TV or getting up from the couch! Ads can request users text a code to a number, such as “text JOIN to 99999” to opt-in to a campaign or get an offer. Text codes can be included in just about any marketing medium, from direct mail to email to landing pages. Once someone responds you have their number and can sending messages back. At a concert I texted to win a seat on the stage. I didn’t win the seat, but the band still texts me updates on album releases and concert dates based on my opt-in.

After reporting that 98% of SMS messages sent are opened, and 83% of them are opened within 3 minutes, Corey Eridon from Hubspot gives us some advice on how to conduct a SMS text message campaign:

1. Fundraising and Raising Awareness:

‘The Cove’ case study from Msgme talks about how the documentary film had a “digital social action” campaign to reach other socially conscious people, get them to join a mobile subscriber list by texting a short code, sign a petition, and continue to receive updates about the cause. It engaged viewers at their highest moment of inspiration – the closing credits of the movie.

2. Communicating With Your Most Active Customers:

Zpizza used SMS to identify and reward loyal customers for repeat business by using SMS to make registration quick and easy. Customers texted a keyword that entered them into a contest, and received a follow-up email prompting to join the customer loyalty program.

3. Sending Service Alerts and Reminders:

Mobil1 Lube Express’ SMS campaign to remind customers about regular service and communicate promotions was more effective than email and direct mail. “The read-rate for direct mail is poor. Open rates for email are hindered by spam-combat software and other bounce problems. SMS is virtually a spam-free channel that goes wherever the customer goes.” – Bob Jump, president, Digital Rocket.

4. Driving New Sales:

Through an SMS initiative, regional Ace Hardware users were encouraged to opt-in to receive weather-related mobile notifications based on their ZIP code. Ace integrated the campaign with the National Weather Service to provide timely, location-based weather notifications that included promotions that drove in-store traffic and sales.

But I will close on this caution: EVERY consumer must provide an EXPLICIT opt-in using a cell phone or another approved way of giving permission! Jiffy Lube was Sued for $47 Million, for reckless texting. I suggest you read this article in Chief Marketer about how you should handle SMS Opt-Ins – a lot of this is based on selecting the right experienced vendor. But I don’t want to end on a sour note. SMS Text Messaging can be a very effective marketing tool that doesn’t cost a lot. Big ideas and big results don’t need big budgets or big marketing hype. Have you considered text marketing?