Assignment #4 – Social Media Marketing Analysis

BioWare’s “Mass Effect” – by Dorothy Ginger Tu

http://www.facebook.com/masseffect

The Mass Effect trilogy is one of many games published by the Canadian video game developer company, BioWare. Having released the trilogy’s last game in March 2012 and announced their plans for a new but separate Mass Effect 4, it is important to see how the company has upheld hype and interest in this series that has been around since 2007.

The Mass Effect Facebook page is one of many platforms the gaming company utilizes to market their product and maintain an active fanbase. The page regularly posts up new content, such as gradually releasing teaser images for future content related to the games – this creates a steady interest and hype among fans. They also post up fanart and cosplays in order to encourage user generated content and proliferate Mass Effect’s name – they will even go as far as to collaborate with such artists to sell their product on the Mass Effect store. This encourages other fans to continue submitting fanart, all the while keeping the brand active on newsfeeds and fans’ minds. Yet as a video game, the farthest it engages in premiums is by offering free in-game items for anyone who has completed the weekly challenge in the game’s multiplayer function. This was only recently implemented and has been relatively effective in both maintaining an active fanbase and pushing for player-to-player interaction. Merchandise, such as t-shirts, posters, etc., are rarely given away for free but will be advertised on sale through the Facebook page. The product and brand itself would also benefit from having the Facebook page link to its other social media presences, like its store, Twitter, YouTube, etc.; currently, it doesn’t do this.

Mass Effect’s page has also been a hub for encouraging player participation. It frequently updates on when and where BioWare will be at conventions, posts up recordings of their panels and gaming streams related to future game content, and releases surveys asking fans to vote on future tshirt designs or give their input on the game. These postings create spaces for conversation between all fans and the product: for example, fans who might have missed a panel because they are across the globe still have a chance to view and respond to these talks. One of the ways they could have fully capitalized on being on Facebook is having a Facebook game for Mass Effect by linking those games together through having the browser game affect Mass Effect’s in-game progress. This would both increase Facebook activity and attract new users who frequent Facebook.

A good example of their creating events to encourage player participation was their celebration of “N7 Day,” a Mass Effect-related anniversary. The page asked for fan submissions showcasing their love for the game by making images of their favorite moments or displaying their Mass Effect-related apparel. These submissions were then shared on the page, Twitter, and on the game’s Pinterest, thus engaging fans and encouraging users to create their own fan content. Prizes, like a free Xbox, were given. The page even released an accessible “fan media kit” that had things such as Facebook banner images and Twitter profile photos. This engaging celebration effectively promoted the game and the company’s image by utilizing the fans and their love for the game to create sincere “buzz” about the product.

As for customer service, the page is hardly utilized as an efficient means for voicing customer service problems; in this failure, the page and the product both maintain their positive image but are also susceptible to losing it when these concerns go unanswered. Questions concerning, say, glitches in the game are not often posted by fans in the page but to the game’s less popular social media platforms, such as Twitter.  The page itself doesn’t direct fans to where they can ask such questions. By answering these concerns through less popular outlets, the page loses opportunities to bolster the company’s expressed dedication to customer service and its fans. The page was nonetheless utilized to address overwhelming concerns over the game’s ending back in March 2012. At that time, it frequently posted surveys or released statements concerning the ending in order to let the fans know they were being heard, as well as encourage more feedback.

Overall, I feel that the Facebook page is a relatively good example of effective social media marketing. While it is lacking in customer service support and doesn’t incentivize fans through physical give-aways, it performs strongly in maintaining an active and loyal userbase. By focusing on creating a stronger community of users, the product and the company rely on the fans’ word-of-mouth and their sincere love for the game to help improve their marketing. However, it is hard to say how this model of social media marketing would work for newer, less popular companies.

Urban Outfitters-  by Tien Chang

Urban Outfitters is a trend-setting company that sells not only clothing items, but also books and interior decor. I believe that the Facebook page for Urban Outfitters provides an effective means of social media marketing. As someone who has liked their Facebook page, I often see posts on product marketing, giveaways and event gatherings numerous times throughout the day.

While Urban Outfitters does not usually give away free items, there are promotional items, such as Lisa Frank stickers or contests for shopping sprees. If a customer chooses to go to Urban Outfitters for free stickers, there is a high possibility that customer would browse the store or have good feelings toward Urban Outfitters. Another special feature of Urban Outfitters is their free music downloads every Monday. This marketing strategy allows customers to view Urban Outfitters as a company that is not only a trendsetter in the fashion industry but also an influence in the music industry. Customers will see Urban Outfitters’ tastes in apparel and music as a way of life and will, thus, increase their inclination towards their products. Urban Outfitters also creates events that are posted on their Facebook page and are open to the public. These events include film screenings or bake sales, in which proceeds were donated to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This marketing strategy promotes Urban Outfitters’ company image as a caring and aware company. Urban Outfitters is very efficient at providing new materials on a regular basis. Their Facebook page is updated two to three times a day, while their website is updated every few weeks. They post photos of their newest lookbooks and new articles on their blog. Because customers see these updates and improvements so often, this maintains customer engagement with their products and promotions.

However, despite maintaining a solid customer base, Urban Outfitters does not have much customer service action on their social media sites. After scrolling through the Facebook page for Urban Outfitters, I did not find comments in which Urban Outfitters respond to their customers, although the page does not address personal complaints. Checking the Twitter page for Urban Outfitters produced a similar result, although there was slightly more customer interaction with retweets. Also, while Urban Outfitters occasionally have blog articles promoting their employees, Urban Outfitters rarely has user-generated content on their social sites. I believe it would benefit the company if there was more customer interaction and feedback on products, events, and such. Overall, Urban Outfitters has efficient marketing strategies and continues to grow its customer base.

Riot’s “League of Legends” – by Benjamin Le

For this assignment I will be evaluating League of Legends use of social media marketing. League of Legends is a video game developed by Riot Games which has gotten very big over the past couple of months and is now one of the most popular games in the world surpassing Starcraft II. I believe Riot is doing an exceptional job of using social media marketing to sell their product to users. One thing that Riot does well is generating new content on a regular basis. Riot is continually releasing new characters to play in their game, new character skins, and releasing new videos on youtube spotlighting characters in the game that keeps the players coming back to check to see if there are new updates. Riot is also good at keeping a portal where they can communicate with their users. They use facebook as a medium to release their updates to the community and the community can post comments regarding the updates. They are also very good at responding to their forum as well. Moderators and game developers continually interact with the community and listen to the communities ideas on how they want the game to be.

Other things that Riot also does well is to create user participation in their events. They do this by supporting e-sports through giving people money to host LAN events and tournaments where some of the best players play against each other. Many players of the game go to the events to see their favorite players duke it out or they watch it on a live stream supported by Riot. They also strongly feature user-generated content as well. Often on their facebook page, they will feature a cosplay of the week and a League of Legends comic of the week as well. They also host a weekly show called “Summoner Showcase” where they feature material from the League of Legends community. One thing that Riot does not do as well is by giving away free things to their users. This is probably because their game is already free to begin with (unless you buy the extras) so that already gives people enough incentive to play the game.

Victoria Secret – by Cherry Hong

Looking at the commercial website of Victoria Secret, I think this commercial page is doing an average job of social media marketing. Its official website offers many premiums such as “free slippers”, “free scarfs” and “free reward cards”. Although these huge headings do attract new users and customers, there are always other requirements that the customers have to meet in order to receive the free items. For example, in order to get a pair of free slippers, you have to purchase pajamas first; you can only get free scarf is you purchase a sweater first, and there are only three color choices. As a result, people may be attracted at first, but after reading the requirements people may not be as enthusiastic as the company expects. There are pages dedicated to “News & Events” and profiles of Victoria Secrets’ supermodels. However, the content just describes what the events are going to be about but not really inviting or calling customers to get involved. There is also a page that lists out all the social media websites that are related to Victoria Secret like “Facebook”, “Twitter” and “YouTube” etc…However, there are no galleries that showcase user-submitted materials on the official website.

On Facebook, Victoria Secret is responsible for posting the photos, not by fans who liked the page. The Customer Service on Victoria Secret’s official page provides a phone number and an email address. It allows people to contact a representative if customers have any problems or concerns. Furthermore, the websites lists out any options that could allow people to receive instant messages and alerts on their mobile devices such as cellphones, iPads or computers. However, besides that function, customers cannot really communicate with representatives or the models of Victoria Secrets. There is active content flow on Victoria Secret’s page. The clothes they sell are constantly being updated and the sale items are being renewed regularly. The websites also posts news about Victoria Secret’s fashion show, which is a festival that attracts millions of viewers each year. Overall, the website is very appealing and engaging; it provides customers a clear view of what they could purchase online and how they could follow updates about the brand. However, the website does not offer a communicative platform.

Club Monaco – by Fung Siu Ting

Club Monaco is a United States Brand founded in 1985 and owned by Polo Ralph Lauren, selling mid-priced, high-end casual clothing. It has a Facebook commercial page allows general public to know the newest company’s information and current trend. According to Club Monaco’s Facebook commercial page, the page is aimed for Club Monaco fans to get advance access to special events, exclusive content, and promotions, besides, wishing them to join the conversation to get inspired.

Club Monaco active participle on Facebook commercial page. Their customer service updates its page everyday. Its Facebook page has lots of information and trend,including photos for new stores and clothings, modeling, and anything special that inspired the designing team.

Club Monaco Facebook page frequently offer free things to customers, at least once a week. It also offers lots of discount code recently for thanksgiving and winter season. To increase public participation, it gives two style of dressing every week for customers to vote, telling the company which one they are more preferred. In the Facebook page, Club Monaco’s customers can freely upload their style with Club Monaco’s clothes and leaving comment, no matter compliments or complaints. Usually, Club Monaco customer service would reply on every photos or comment that people left very fast.

Club Monaco did what it aimed, doing an excellent job in its commercial Facebook page to interact with valued customers, offer give a way and discount code, hold polls, give inspiring ideas and photos frequently.

The Cheese Cake Factory – by Yfenne Lee

I think that the commercial facebook page of The Cheesecake Factory is doing an effective job of social media marketing because it utilizes both mass media communication channel and interpersonal channel efficiently. The page effectively spread knowledge about The Cheesecake Factory with their well organized basic information, company overview, history by year, mission statement, contact info, such as its twitter account and official website. It communicates with a large audience every day with interesting info and irresistible photos of new flavors of cheesecakes, beverages, and more. Interpersonal channels are utilized effectively by allowing users to leave a comment or opinion on their experience dining at The Cheesecake Factory. It makes the page a two-way interactive communication platform for users from all over the world.

Premiums such as Holiday Cheesecakes Sweepstakes were introduced with great prizes of a home entertainment system and a cheesecake a month for a year. The prizes are irresistible and the way to enter the sweepstake is just in few easy steps. Besides that, a bonus entry to the sweepstake is given if participants play the Photo Hunt Game. This is like killing two birds with a stone and it is a win-win situation, as the photos captured with wonderful, broad smiles dining at the restaurant will aid in promoting The Cheesecake Factory, while the participants can increase their chances of winning. Users participation is enhanced by creating events such as Fan of the Month. To be entitled to enter this contest, user first needs to like the page. Then, users have to write a statement of what makes them the fan of the month. I think this is a brilliant idea as to win the title of fan of the month, users will bring the best out of them, writing the best statement related to their love for cheesecake or The Cheesecake Factory. The chosen fan of the month will be featured on their page with information of his or her favorite cheesecake, favorite menu item, and why he or she or their family love cheesecake. The detail descriptions given, adjectives used and the way the fan of the month described their experiences and why certain cheesecake or menu item is their favorite definitely aid in convincing or attracting other users to try out the certain menu item in the future. This idea is great because the marketing itself is done by the consumer, and it is more effective than when the page or the company itself is trying to market themselves or their products by telling the users about their wonderful cheesecakes or menu. I think people tend to lower their skepticism reading information or comments written by other users just like them instead of marketing comments from the company itself, in this case, the indirect marketing strategy of compliments from the fan of the month about their cheesecakes or menu items is accomplished. By generating the contest for fan of the month, the likes by facebook users increase in accordance as liking the page is the first step to enter for the contest. By liking the page, users will receive updates from the page, and thereby increases the size of their audiences.

Another part of user-generated content is generated where they created a user-submitted photo gallery. Once you clicked into the gallery, most of what you will see are photos of families, couples, individuals with happy, priceless expressions, and broad smiles on their faces. The photos submitted make one feel that every diner is enjoying their time at The Cheesecake Factory. User-submitted photos of the menu items or cheesecakes look tempting, besides having positive captions that go together with the photos. Most of the comments complimented the food, thanked the company for those wonderful cheesecakes, and described the awesome time users had in their celebration in the restaurant. Friends of the users or other users liked, commented, and even shared the various photos. This further enhances the positive atmosphere for the company. In addition, there is a platform where users or consumers of the restaurant leave comments or opinions about their experience in relation to the restaurant. There are positive and negative feedbacks generated by the consumers. In my opinion, although there are negative feedbacks, they can still do an effective job of marketing if they solve the problems or face the complaints by consumers straight up in a professional way, as negative feedbacks are unavoidable. By solving the problem or replying to the comments or complaints from the customers after a thorough investigation of the matter, this will even aid in boosting their reputation and image depending on how they handle the negative feedbacks. Proactive problem solving skills are needed because not only you will be able to satisfy the consumers who complained, the comments of how you encounter the matter will be seen by other users too.

They update their page every day, with upcoming or new flavors of cheesecakes, upcoming events like National Cheesecake Day, and other interesting subjects. They also educate the users about frauds on websites that offer discounted gift cards of The Cheesecake Factory. In the mean time of educating users about the fraudulent offers, they market their seasonal “ Slice of Joy” Gift Card offer at the same time in the same post too. The part that I like about their updates is that they post meaningful sayings such as “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” by John F. Kennedy on their page. Another post that I will give my compliment is a post that writes “ No matter who wins today, one thing is clear, -cheesecake is a uniter, not a divider” by The Cheesecake Factory in parallel to the election.

Skittles – by Dominique Francine Martinez

The Skittles Facebook page is generally strong in broadcasting their own content and user generated content, but they are weak in actual interaction with its audience. The page’s strongest points are its content flow and participation. As part of content flow, the page generates a new post at least once a day. There is great variation in their posts which range from questions, facts, quotes, or pictures of items covered in skittles. As part of participation, some of the pages post contain questions and competitions (with no clear prize incentive)such as a “who will be the last to comment” competition that lasted over a year. The page also does a fair job with user-generated content. The page features user-submitted pictures in its profile pictures gallery. These photos are part of either their “greatest fan in the world” or “rainbro of the week” series.

Although the page currently has 23,837,963 likes as of November 11, 2012, it can still improve on developing premiums and participation to keep people coming back to the page. Over the last 2 months, there has not been any signs of freebies being given away to users on the page. However, they do post pictures of Skittles covered items that they give to celebrities like Trey Songs and Cody Simpson. The page’s weakest point is its function as a customer service “portal.” The page does not respond at all to any comments or posts from its users. Despite how many likes the page has, it is not strongly effective because it lacks the interaction and person to person communication that works together with broadcasting in social media marketing.

Red Bull – by Yee Tung Hui

Red Bull,an Australian company, has become a well known energy drink in the past few year. One of their big success in advertising their product could be credited to the social media page they created on the internet, the Facebook page for Red Bull. They certainly did a fantastic job on this website because they accumulated around 33 millions Facebook users to like, or to make association, with their product. Although the company did not give out any premiums to the users, they furnished their webpage with interesting, exciting and up-to-date content. They would generally made two postings on their Facebook page on a daily basis. In order to get more attention from the public, they usually post pictures about different sport events, like skateboard competitions or extreme mountain bike contest that were sponsored by the company.

In addition, their success could be coming from the nice customer service ‘portal’ which they allowed people to interact with their Facebook page. Not only they would challenge the users to comment about a question like ‘Does Red Bull make you bounce off the wall?’ and attached a picture of a professional sport player, who was sponsored by Red Bull, doing different tricks to illustrate the effectiveness of drinking Red Bull. But they would also provide different links to the users and lead them to different channels that get the users involved while the company is commercializing their product unintentionally. For example, they would put up some links that encourage the users to play games, to listen to music channels or to watch sport channels that are sponsored by Red Bull.

Moreover, they managed to make their Facebook page that could only be customized by the administrator of Red Bull company. It means the users can not post any negative comments on the Red Bull Facebook page wall, unless he or she is replying to the post that were generated by the staff member. To conclude, I believe they did a wonderful job in utilizing the social media to sell their product since they minimize the risk for having people to write bad remarks and maximize the possibility for people to discover interesting contents that are associated with their product.

*All photos taken from Facebook

Starbucks – by Jenny Tran

Starbucks has always been known to provide consumers with delicious warm drinks during the cold winter days, and refreshing iced coffees during the warm summer days. While some companies fail to market their company and its products with social media marketing, Starbucks is one of those companies that manage to do it right. The most recent example of Starbucks’ ability to attract customers is by providing a premium. On Thursday, November 15, 2012, Starbucks updated their Facebook feed with the following message: “Share a holiday drink, on us. Buy 1, get 1 today thru Sunday 2-5PM.” Premiums such as these incentivize consumers to take a trip to a local Starbucks where they can receive the benefit of having one free drink. There are several photos on the Starbucks timeline that have been discovered by the Starbucks management via instagram tags or tumblr tags. These photos are then taken with the permission from the owner and published on the Starbucks newsfeed for other customers to see. It is interesting to note that many of these photos have wonderful color schemes consisting of the same colors: red, black, white, and dark brown. By publishing photos taken by customers, it helps Starbucks improve their relationship with customers as it shows that they are appreciative.

Additionally, by allowing customers to post on their page, it opens the door for many comments and concerns, both good and bad. When looking at the comments section on the Facebook page, it is noticeable that Starbucks is not particularly engaging with their customers. Nearly all questions are left unanswered and Starbucks does not take the time to address complaints or concerns. Granted, it may be impossible to answer all questions or criticisms, especially for a company that has received nearly 33 million likes on Facebook. It is disappointing that Starbucks does not attempt to retain their customers by improving their personal relationships and that the only way they are keeping interest in the company is by providing limited “bogo” sales. Furthermore, the Facebook page for Starbucks is continually updated nearly every day. Whether it is uploading a new picture of their drinks, writing statements supporting troops, or raising awareness of national disasters/missing persons, their content flow is both regular and unique. Overall, although there could be some improvements made by the marketing department, Starbucks utilizes social media marketing very well and is quite effective in providing customers with incentives.

Aerie – by Lee Leung

An outstanding social media marketing should attract people to visit its website regularly and draw more viewers through interesting contents. Considering the data from Aerie’s Facebook page, Aerie, as an U.S. underclothing and apparel store chain, targeting young female adults, accomplishes to maintain content flow and cover premiums to update new products’ photos, sales information and discounts. Particularly, with the posts of online special offers, it flourishes the circulation of their official online shopping website.

However, there are several drawbacks of Aerie’s site in terms of participation, user-generated content and customer service “portal.” Only few participatory events are found in the site, like surveys and campaigns. Yet, they either are irrelevant to Aerie’s products or lack of user-generated content. For example, the recent survey, which asks its fans about their thanksgiving plan, absents any core relation of their consumer goods. For stimulating the total participatory rate, it can ask “what are their favorite Aerie’s outfits for thanksgiving”, etc., and require fans to send the picture of it to win the free gifts instead. Moreover, most online campaigns are plain communication, such as choosing their favorite Aerie’s apparels, difficulty maintaining a long dialogue for users to engage in. Once the users answer the questions posted online, they don’t continue to contribute more content on the site. No games or other open discussion forums are created.

Overall, Aerie satisfies users on providing online discounts and free gifts on its Facebook page. Nevertheless, in order to maximize the profit and brand awareness, Aerie can improve the current communicational pattern by generating more opportunities for users to express their ideas and creativity of their products.

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