The author or this report is to identify three best practices relative to a social media strategy that can and should be implemented by Red Bull GmbH. The overall strategic approach, the implementation of the strategy and the expected results of that strategy will be covered for all three examples provided. The strategies and implementation thereof will come from expert and scholarly sources from the academic and/or business world. While social media has made it much easier to reach customers in an efficiently and effective fashion, the harnessing of the tool that is social media is not foolproof or easy, by any means.
Analysis & Examples
One example of social media marketing that has (and is) being undertaken is the use of "suggestion" posts on Facebook. For example, if someone likes bands like Poison and Cinderella, then the Facebook page for Motley Crue would probably be a suggestion. When speaking of the company behind much of this paper, someone who "likes" Red Bull would probably be marketed to by other drink makers such as Mountain Dew, Amp or Monster energy drinks, among others. In short, Facebook can be harnessed to attract people in targeted rather than random way. Rather than just looking at age, gender, geographical location and so forth, people are much more likely to like something very similar are specifically targeted. This makes the marketing very efficient and very lucrative. Once somebody "likes" a product, like Red Bull, then the company can then usually make posts and suggestions directly to a user's "wall" and this makes selling to them through Facebook much easier. Some are resistant to such advertising, but many others embrace it or at least glance at it.
Another tactic that is common with social media and advertisers is the organization of local events through Facebook. This works much like the aforementioned "Like" pathway in that the people marketed to are usually the same people that did the "Like" but it can also be a suggested post as needed. For example, if Red Bull is a sponsor or a local concert, then Facebook, Twitter and other media can be used to trumpet the show and this advertising can come from any acts that are performing at the show, any local radio stations involved in the show, Red Bull and/or other sponsors of the show and so forth. This sort of advertising can be much more efficient and error-free than using magazines, newspapers or internet sites. If there is a change in venue, date or lineup of the event, it is much easier to change this on the fly and communicate it if and when it happens.
A third method, although more generalized and perhaps less effective, is advertising that is general and non-targeted in nature that appears on the Facebook and other social media pages of users or on Internet sites around the World Wide Web. The efficacy and efficiency of this method is not as nearly as good as using user input and preferences to decipher what products and service would be more attractive to a user, but it can certainly get customers that would not otherwise be garnered. This can be because they don't use Facebook or other social media all that much, they do not "like" a lot of stuff so they are hard to market to or they do not use social media at all but are still users of the internet and thus can still be reached. Again, this method is much less targeted and effective, but can be useful.
Of the three mentioned above, the one thing that gets a company's proverbial hooks into a customer and thus allows for everything else mentioned above to be possible, or at least better, is to get people to "like" a product or service on Facebook. This allows for the company itself (like Red Bull) to get on a customer's radar and this allows for corollary benefits such as promotions...
Indeed, social media allows for advertising and outreach that is difficult to impossible on other methods. Getting on the Facebook or Twitter feed of a loyal or interested customer is really three fourths of the battle, if not more. Companies like Red Bull can certainly overplay their hand and annoy their customers, but striking the right balance has an immeasurable amount of benefit because it makes the marketing targeted, efficient and word of mouth is increased all at the same time because posts on user's Facebook and Twitter accounts can often be visible to other users so the customer can unwittingly (or knowingly) act as a billboard for the company. Indeed, there are sites like Etsy, eBay and Pinterest that people chatter and kibbutz about all of the time and this almost always helps the firms that are the subject of this discourse.
One example of a company using social media to attract consumers and attention was Dunkin Donuts. During a recent ad campaign, Dunkin Donuts made it a point to urge Twitter users to "hashtag" the phrase "mydunkin." Dunkin Donuts also had to shift from its namesake product to coffee as the latter is far and away the "future" when it comes to the products that they offer. They are certainly not on the level of Starbucks in that regard, but they are certainly not doing bad and they are branching out on social media and into the retail sphere much like Starbucks has done, just in their own way and at their own level. The article in which the Dunkin example is cited notes that the customer must be "chased" and it has to be borne in mind that the customer and consumerist landscape is ever-changing and this means that companies must "evolve or die" (Elliott, 2013).
Another case study looked at for this report actually pertains to multiple companies but the same overall tactic and manifestation is going on. This manifestation is the practice of companies speaking the "language" of social media. In other words, they use the terminology and lexicon of social media in a way that is directly blended to the product at hand. One example cited is Budweiser marketing its "Platinum" product by stating that its beer is a "real life social network." In a similar fashion, Toyota was marketing its Venza product when they showed a dichotomy of a grown child having hundreds of Facebook friends but living a remote/virtual life on the computer as compared to her parents that had only 20 or so Facebook friends but made it a point to focus on in-person and out-of-the-house social interactions rather than being glued to a computer. A final example was a Martha White baking mix ad that used social media jargon while saying that you can "double your friends list in fifteen minutes" and that their product is "something worthy of a status update (Elliott, 2013). Indeed, the intentional fusing of consumer products and social media is nothing new and many social media users actively embrace and enjoy using social media to talk about what they baking, where they are going and so forth. Indeed, these marketing departments are taking a real, rather than a created, phenomena and using it to encourage both their product and social media conversing in general. They are simply not trying to create a buzz or a buzz "network," they are simply taking advantage of what is already there.
However, there are some marketing and social media strategies undertaken by companies and people that are not so good to see and are often illegal. One example would be the discourse and sales of guns through social media outlets like Facebook. Much of the back and forth is often innocuous and innocent enough but when illegal gun transactions are started or finished on Facebook, whether it be from a company selling guns or a private user, that can be a problem. There is nothing wrong with Gander Mountain or Cabela's, for example, marketing to adults that have an interest in home protection, law enforcement or hunters. However, if that marketing is knowingly going to kids or these companies (or private sellers) are unwittingly or intentionally getting around laws pertaining to sales of weapons in general, background checks and so forth, that is a very bad and potentially dangerous thing and must be curtailed. Obviously, this is something that no sane corporate marketing department would do, but when speaking of things like guns, alcohol or cigarettes, it is quite easy to cross ethical or even legal lines in the sand. Even company like Red Bulls are ensnared in this because the product they sell, that being energy drinks, are quite controversial to some because high amounts of caffeine and so forth are deemed to be very dangerous. A tangential example of this in real life was the still fairly recent ban on ephedra in pharmaceutical and "energy" products due to people literally dropping dead of heart…
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