Intro.

Welcome to B2C: Business to Consumer.

This site is here to provide information about consumer relations in today’s society. “Business to consumer” is a way to label the direct conversation that businesses have with people that can use their product. This conversation helps companies decide how to make decisions, release information, and gain new customers.

Consumers engage with social media, advertisements, and transactions everyday. This blog will look at the different strategies businesses use to be a part in those engagements. Instant communication has changed the way that consumers intake information. Businesses that value positive consumer relationships realize that, and make themselves available to the people that they want to serve.

Media distrust is changing how consumers interact with companies. People use more research, and look at the business’ practices and values rather than just looking at the product in front of them. Because of this, it is important for both sides of the B2C relationship to be aware of the ways in which they choose to communicate.

This blog, B2C, will use research to look at how consumer engagement occurs in real-time.

Interests/Experience:

As a student at the UO, I was asked to explore a PR specific concept for a class. I quickly realized that the main way that I see PR tactics like campaigns and transparent communication is on social media.

Now, movements can live on social media. I have contributed to conversations and hashtag movements because platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow anyone to be a communicator. At the same time, brands that I follow have created and helped hashtags and trends survive maintaining conversation. From this I decided to explore the way that consumer engagement can help or hurt a business because many companies use social media to interact with their audiences.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Social Media Tactics vs. Politics

access blur close up colorful

Photo by O M K A R on Pexels.com

In 2010, President Barack Obama became the first POTUS to tweet, creating a direct line of communication into the white house and its staff. Through Twitter, the POTUS’ communication staff had access to a large audience of supporters and their opposition. After the 2018 midterm elections, it became even more clear that social media has a large influence on voters and political events. Social media allows an ever evolving channel of communication. Celebrities and public figures have posted to influence voters to go out to the polls. In this past midterm election, celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Beyoncé and Rihanna all posted on social media to either advocate for a specific candidate or inspire people to go vote. CNN states that the freshman class of politicians is using social media to give people the inside scoop of what is going on in our government. Officials like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking a step further to make politics “relatable” through Instagram stories. Hunter Schwarz from CNN reports that, “Social Media was a big part of how they won, and its a big part of how they’ll lead”.

Just like political campaigns, businesses use social media to communicate with a large audience. In politics, officials and candidates position themselves and, market their promises to their audience. Businesses can model this through consistent messaging and defining what mission they stand by. In both politics and business, a strong social media presence can help you connect, strengthen your brand image, and compete with your opposition.

Reporter Tom Murse collected 10 ways Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have changed American politics. In his article, Murse explains how social media has made politicians, more accountable and accessible to voters, and how the ability to, “publish content and broadcast it to millions of people instantaneously allows campaigns to carefully manage their candidates’ images based on rich sets of analytics in real time and at almost no cost”.

By now we all know that social media creates direct contact for feedback and public opinion. But, just like politics, companies can benefit from using social media for two main reasons.

  1. The Power of Many.

Twitter and Facebook have allowed Americans to join together to petition the government and their elected officials. Businesses can mirror this in a way where their customers and supporters can vouch for a particular good or service. This is where customer loyalty comes in, and the ability to tailor and re-tailor messages to reach more and more people. Having supporters is what drives the success of campaigns, both political and public relations focused.

2. Viral Campaigns: “Advertising Without Paying For Advertising”

With a large following, brands (and even ideas) can sell themselves without the need to pay for advertising. With the retweet, and share functions all over the internet, campaigns succeed as long as they are a topic for conversation. They allow for more than 2-way communication channels, for feedback, and also the chance for opposition. The ease of visibility online can be used to better a company’s connection to its consumers at any time.

Ice Cream for Company Ethics

download

Recent Political events  have caused the political climate in the United States to  be described as troublesome. Because of this, consumers are doing more research about the ethics that their favorite businesses hold. According to Morgan Stanley, the importance of ethics in a younger generation of consumers has risen 9%. Topics such as green practices, LGBTQ support, and domestic sourcing have been brought up in recent conversation. According to research done by the Gallup and Knight Foundation, nearly 7 in 10 adults report a loss of faith in the news. With all of this doubt and uncertainty, some companies have taken it upon themselves to “clear the air” and voice their political stance to show support, or even resist.

Ben and Jerrys launched a new flavor with a description depicts the company’s stance. It reads, “we can peacefully resist the Trump administration’s regressive and discriminatory policies and build a future that values inclusivity, equality, and justice for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, and immigrants. Pecan Resist supports four organizations that are working on the front lines of the peaceful resistance, building a world that supports their values.”

Other “politically-minded flavors include EmpowerMINT, released in 2016 to draw attention to claims of voter suppression in North Carolina and I Dough, I Dough, a temporary name change to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough to celebrate the passage of marriage equality”. Forbes released information that due to their outspoken ways, Ben and Jerry’s actions have at one point created  #resist and #boycottbenadnjerrys  as the top two hashtags in response tweets. Although conservative voices immediately called for a boycott of the company, Ben and Jerry’s stock is up 4.74% five days since the release.

With other companies like Starbucks and Buzzfeed coming out with their political stances, the question arises: should companies come out politically? When doing so, a company outs its niche audience, cutting ties with some portion of its consumers. It also creates chatter and movements on social media because thats where the fastest flow of communication exists nowadays. Because of this, companies need to be aware of two things:

  • If planning to establish your political stance, be strategic.
    • Will it cause you to lose a majority of loyal consumers?
    • Will it ruin revenue or reputation?

Ben and Jerry’s had a core value and stuck to it. It increased consumer loyalty, and allowed people to form their own opinions. They chose to be outright with their messaging and chose to completely oppose the current political environment.

  • You need to have a cohesive message throughout your company- starting from the CEO down to your advertisement copy.
    • For Buzzfeed, their CEO broke off an advertising deal with the Republican National Committee (RNC) worth $1.3 million, due to presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign. In a memo to employees, Peretti wrote, “The Trump campaign is directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States and around the world and in some cases, such as his proposed ban on international travel for Muslims, would make it impossible for our employees to do their jobs.”
    • The Harvard Business Review found that 40% of respondents said they are more likely to buy from a company when they agree with the CEO on an issue, a comparable segment (45%) said they are less likely to buy if they disagree. So companies need to have a firm understanding of the attitudes of key customers and other stakeholders before CEO activism goes public.

 

 

Influential Experiences

jakob-owens-518866-unsplashIf you are on social media, odds are that you have come across a social media influencer.  Social media influencers are people who have a large amount of followers on their social media accounts and use online credibility to persuade those followers to buy a particular good or service. They usually have built some kind of reputation within an industry either as a user or a fan of a product and so people feel inclined to hear their opinions. Social media influencers charge companies to give them access to a niche audience and advertise their products over competitors.

Recently, Forbes wrote an article asking if social media influencers are worth the investment. In fact, social media influencers are so on trend, that Forbes, and other news outlets have multiple articles about them. This is because social media influencers can be anyone. Any “average joe” can build online personas that draw people in with authenticity and cause people to trust their views over advertisement blatantly trying to sell them products. Author Dennis Kirwan, current CEO of Dynamic Digital, wrote about how his company tried to hire a social media influencer for a project. They later found that her account was a scam and that they were paying someone for nothing. Now, Kirwan shares three things to keep in mind for choosing a social media influencer:

  1. Examine their followers. Basically make sure they are followed by real people.
  2. Look at their engagement. Are they themselves real people?
  3. Consult the Experts. Ask real marketing professionals to check the influencer’s status.

Social media influencers are important because they add to successful consumer engagement.  No wonder over 30 billion dollars was spent on social media by companies in the last couple years. There are over 2 billion people active on Facebook alone with  Youtube, Instagram, and Twitter following close behind. These are the people that will buy your product over someone else’s because their favorite youtuber or influencer mentioned a time where they used your product.

According to Inc.com, “Various changes in business models and trends have ultimately shifted power from the seller to the buyer”. Michael Fallon, Director of Customer Success at PTC, says, “customers have a voice and a choice”. Customers now have, “the power to remain or take their business elsewhere, and to tell others about why they decided to do so.”

Happy customers can drive business, as seen in a successful campaign by Sugar Bear Hair. This company sells vegetarian vitamins that help your hair grow healthier and stronger. The company shows a strong social media presence especially on Instagram where it uses posts from influencers such as Kim Kardashion, Kylie Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, but also smaller scale influencers like Bretman Rock, and others. This is an excellent example of how to use social media to drive sales effectively.

Here are two things to takeaway from their efforts: 

  1. Keep the campaign consistent and regulated. Make sure your product or service actually delivers customer satisfaction. You can’t establish a relationship on lies.
  2. Create a culture and organization for customer engagement. Understand your customers and engage in a meaningful way.

photo by: Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Feel Empowered Yet?

five people huddling

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

The #MeToo era is live.  The topic of female empowerment is making its way up the communication chain from the average joe on social media, to celebrities, to businesses. The spark of it all? Recent events covered by the media have highlighted women in situations where they are belittled, victimized, or even dismissed. Movements like #MeToo were born to rally women and their allies together to grow female empowerment and visibility for women and their stories.

Vanity Fair recently published an article explaining that stories about sexual harassment have consumed news cycles, and audiences are now thinking more deeply about the ways their media and entertainment were made—and who was making them. Because of this, companies should be more aware of their communication around the topic of women and their stance on the issue.

Sports Illustrated (S.I.) editor MJ Day and her team of all women staff have been plotting an issue of the sexy swimsuit magazine that feeds into the #MeToo movement. Day uses her issues of the magazine to answer the question of  how can she use the images that you’ve come to expect from S.I. to change attitudes about women? She added in more participation from models to not only be in front of, but in front of the camera as well. Taylor Ballantyne, is the first female photographer to lead an all-female staff on an S.I. shoot in 54 years. Day let Ballantyne run the entire photo shoot. She even left the set so that models could freely express themselves, allowed for models with a passion for photography to shoot, and also brought on a diverse set of models to be shown in the campaign. Day also admits that she is, “committed to fostering a supportive culture on shoots” and avoids hiring anyone with a harmful reputation.

What you can takeaway:

As a company, you should keep up with current news trends. But you knew that already. Take this step deeper, and look at what you can do. Sports Illustrated drew inspiration from The Silence Breakers, and other influential women speaking out about their experience. It is important to know what your audience is talking about, and how they choose to do so. Some may not be female-identifying twitter users screaming about their experience with abuse, but instead an ally mindlessly scrolling through their timeline who just so happens to bump into your advertisement.

The movement affects the way that your target public communicates. In many cases, people in your target audience are becoming more bold, and ready to point out your flaws. For example, when cutting out 11 senior managers to cut out a “boys’ club” culture, Nike received backlash from #MeToo movement supporters that they are not doing enough. After multiple accounts from employees, and a survey that revealed work place gender bias and sexual harassment, Nike was shamed into taking action. In another example, the entire fashion industry took a hit during the Kavanaugh trials. The trial’s decision made it seem as if a man’s voice would always be heard over a woman’s. The industry, or at least those who would like to stay on top of it, is urged to rewrite the history of women being treated poorly in the media.  Consumers are becoming more conscious about the companies that they support, so it would be wise to look internally and take note of what you can do to support the cause.

Forbes recently came out with an article that highlights three ways to successfully empower women. Providing equal opportunity, proper education, and safety standards are just some ways that your company can maintain the conversation with your target public. Times like these should encourage your company to stay on trend, think about your stance, and position yourself in line with your consumers.

Google Search: Engagement Online

mac-freelancer-macintosh-macbook-401851.jpeg

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

According to PR Daily, Google is changing its search engine process to PR focused strategies, replacing the traditional SEO. SEO, is shorthand for search engine optimization. Here is a helpful video for those who, like me, need more information about the way SEO works. SEO allows links and content to be shown and ranked based on what the search engine classifies as “most relevant”.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO has 10 chapters to help businesses and communication professionals understand traffic in search engines. SEO is further defined to be, “a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results”. The guide focuses on the fact that companies had to make their sites appealing to not only their desired readers, but their search engine platform so that they would be able to reach said audiences before their competitors.

As of late, Google’s Panda 4.0 has thrown this entire guide out the window and has switched to a search engine that prevents sites with unrelated or poor content from popping up on people’s search results. This means that Google is more reliant on seeing site content and quality than ever before.

What you can do:

In 2016, Forbes published an article titled, “Everything You Need To Know About Panda 4.0”. The article finishes with 4 simple steps on, “how to avoid being negatively impacted by Panda”. These steps are geared for marketing and communication professionals. For a more in depth step by step plan to ensure your site’s web traffic with Panda, the SEM Post’s  Jennifer Slegg wrote another guide titled, “Understanding Google Panda: Definitive Algo Guide for SEOs”.

Both of these guides advise that communicators get rid of old content and consistently refresh their information. It is crucial that Panda recognizes new, quality content in order to show a site in search results. Jenn advises her readers to reference  Google’s quality guidelines to double check that their content and their site’s performance is top notch.

If you are wondering whether or not SEO is important to consumer engagement, take a look at Nike. In 2018, they announced Colin Kaepernick as their campaign spokesperson. Amongst the controversy of Kaepernick, Nike published a progressive ad with the intentions of sparking a movement within youth, and making a statement in regard to the social/political climate. This ad ruined Nike’s search engine presence as soon as the backlash erupted and people against Kaepernick and Nike’s views started to burn Nike gear and post about it. Nike stocks decreased significantly, and the most viewed search results that came up in the weeks following the ad were either about the controversy or news articles about the influx of “Nike haters”.

Now, brands have to change their engagement strategy depending on what their platform is. Here are the two main takeaways:

  • You have to change your strategy/mindset.
  • You have to know the rules of the road of whatever platform you want to join.

For instance, before posting on Twitter, you should know that you shouldn’t publish long narratives in tweets. Instead, understand that an audience found on Twitter, is an audience that is looking for short, digestible, updates. All in all, as a PR communicator, you have to adapt to the latest trends and search engine optimization is one that most do not think about right off the bat.