Social media is a critical aspect of building any new brand's reputation. Witness the number of goods and services that have developed a following purely through online goodwill, spanning from Groupon to Facebook. Using social media to build the brand of a mobile phone marketing application known as 'Cuphon' is especially essential given the demographic that is its main target -- young consumers who are style-conscious and want the latest or 'next new thing' at a bargain. The Cuphon model of commerce depends upon impulsive purchases by individuals who are constantly using their mobile phones to connect to businesses and services that excite them.
Cuphon, to build awareness of its service, is currently partnering with popular-youth-oriented marketers such as McDonald's and American Outfitters. It emphasizes the ability for users to get instant specials by texting Walgreen's, McDonald's, American Outfitter, and other popular youth brands through its application. Cuphon can be accessed through all types of mobile phones, including the Android and the Apple iStore. It emphasizes the customized and time-saving nature of its approach. According to its website: "Cuphon lets you be picky about which merchants you save money from. Subscribe to your favorite merchants instantly and on-the-go." Consumers can ensure that they are not spammed or bombarded with information they regard as irrelevant through Cuphon. They also do not need to worry about clipping coupons for special offers, like members of a previous generation.
To achieve its goals Cuphon must establish a more secure Facebook and Twitter presence. These two sites are the cornerstones of any social media campaign. By becoming a 'friend' of Cuphon on Facebook, consumers can constantly check for updates about available new offers that might be relevant to them, which they can add to their phone, as more merchants become interested in using the service. But as well as being informative, there should also be an interactive element to using Cuphon on Facebook. For example, Facebook friends can be encouraged to make comments about offers, such as noting the great deal he or she found at a particular merchant by using the website. More importantly, Cuphon can encourage this participation by posting free giveaways, whereby Cuphon users who are 'friends' can be asked to 'leave a comment' about a subject for a chance to win extra cash. When offering a McDonald's-related discount, Cuphon can post a question like 'what is your favorite way to eat a Chicken McNugget' and state that one responder will be chosen randomly to receive a free six-pack of McNuggets.
From a financial standpoint, Facebook also has the advantage of being inexpensive yet highly trafficked. It is very easy to 'like' a page. Typical Facebook users are reasonably comfortable with using the Internet, and since individuals in their prime career-making and income building years use Facebook as well as twenty-somethings and teens, there is also the potential to draw high income earners as well as younger consumers. The broad base of Facebook is also advantageous given the variety of offers provided by Cuphon, which is unlikely to appeal to a single market segment. Even if younger users are the main target, the typical Walgreen's shopper is likely to be different than the typical Abercrombie & Fitch shopper.
The mini-blogging site Twitter also allows for moment-by-moment participation. Cuphon can update users via its Twitter feed about new offers. Cuphon's core users are often logged onto Twitter and Facebook regularly to interact with friends and businesses such as Cuphon, and 'following' Cuphon on Twitter enables users to keep track of special deals. But Cuphon should also use Twitter to create a sense of community, given the ability of followers to direct comments to the organization. Cuphon can ask its Twitter followers what they bought at the Gap (for example) with a specific coupon offer, or what offers they would like to see in the future. It can even ask followers less commercially-directed questions. Since it is trying to establish itself as a quirky, thinking-outside-of the box company, asking random questions about pop culture and life can create a stronger sense of loyalty to the website, even though it is not a substitute for offering highly desirable products.
Facebook, Twitter, and website updates should be worded on in a fun, youth-friendly style. Young people should feel as if Cuphon speaks in their voice, and even for not-so-young users, the desire to feel young and to participate in a deal that is 'of the moment' and instantaneous is part of Cuphon's appeal. This can already be seen on the website of Cuphon, which advertises that it offers 'deals in your pants' (on your phone) and asks users to 'send us cupcakes' to their snail mail address. But cute words on a website are merely a start in the crafting of the Cuphon brand and voice. That voice must be consistently articulated on both Facebook and Twitter. "Frequency matters just as much as content [online]: Blogging once a month or writing a tweet once every week or posting a FB status once every other day is not the way to grow your visibility. All marketing activities require frequency, consistency, and long-term effort. You wouldn't expect one advertisement in the Detroit Free Press to generate leads immediately or ongoing. Similarly, online marketing requires consistent, frequent, and long-term effort" (Shah 2011). The frequency of the contact must also be supported by a similar tone and style in posts. People will not read a blog if there is not something new and fresh in terms of its content every day.
This frequency is currently an issue for Cuphon. Cuphon's blog only has two posts, and its Facebook page and Twitter feed have relatively few entries. Its posts, while witty and featuring comments about how much coffee has been drunk and how many beards have been shaved since the beginning of the site, are not compelling enough to establish core, consumer loyalty in terms of tone and relevance. Additionally, there is too much content about the founders of the website. Consumers are not interested in how and why a new organization was founded -- they want to know what type of value they can accrue by using it,
Cuphon needs slogans and a vocabulary that create a unique brand -- a single image, mission, and identity that users can immediately recognize. Since users will primarily be interacting with Cuphon on mobile phones, the shorter, snappier, and catchier the better. This can be a challenge, given that Cuphon showcases offerings from a variety of businesses. Although it may offer discounts on many types of items, it needs to ensure that users remember Cuphon and do not confuse it with Groupon and other, similar discount sites. The Internet has grown so super-saturated in recent years, it is easy to get lost in the crowd.
Cultivating relationships with bloggers is another essential part of online marketing. Bloggers with influential voices and a large readership can publicize the application in a manner that seems genuine and unforced. Of course, blog ethics must be observed, and the blogger must explain to readers if he or she received compensation for a post. Cuphon is a free service but an affiliate merchant may wish to promote itself by offering a discount to the blogger in exchange for discussing new offers at the establishment where users can get a discount through Cuphon. If this is the case, the blogger must be upfront about the relationship. However, if the right type of blogger is selected, users are still likely to listen -- as can be witnessed by the success of many 'mommy' bloggers and food bloggers who have been able to make a living off of their blogs, because of the traffic they can command.
Submitting blog posts to social networking sites can also…