Beer & Twitter – An Intriguing Brew (G1)

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 4.55.55 PM.pngHello everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well. As suggested by the title, this post is a short summary of my Individual Project for the semester, which analyses the Twitter strategy of three beer brands – Budweiser, Heineken & Miller Lite.

Introduction:
Beer and Twitter make for an interesting combination that could be considered as two sides of the same coin. On one side, you have beer – the quintessentially ‘social’ drink – good for social gatherings, watching games or even informal business meetings. On the other side, you have the social media world’s primary platform for generating light-hearted buzz and quick fire news updates – Twitter. A large overlap exists in consumers of beer and Twitter users, young adults between ages 18-35, evidenced by related tweets to beer brands primarily coming from the same age group.

The fiercely competitive beer market in North America and Europe has seen all important beer brands take to Twitter to further their brand identity, communicate their values of quality, and position their products as lifestyle concepts to be enjoyed during games and with friends. Heineken and Budweiser are clear market leaders in terms of product sales, while Miller Lite leads the pack on Twitter with its innovative and engaging campaigns.

Research Objective:
Miller Lite has an outstanding Twitter campaign strategy, cited by many as industry-leading, with Heineken not too far behind. However, Budweiser has recently fallen slightly adrift of the mark, particularly with their ‘#UpForWhatever’ campaign, which seemingly encouraged irresponsible social behaviour. This provides us with a window of opportunity to craft meaningful Twitter content strategies to aid with Budweiser’s ailing public image.

Budweiser is not alien to posts which have generated strong brand associations, such as their ‘#FriendsAreWaiting‘ campaign dissuading drunken driving, or their heartwarming ‘#BestBuds’ Superbowl 2015 campaign.  Thus, I have focused on the following research objective: Crafting two short- or medium-term content strategies to reinvigorate Budweiser’s Twitter strategy, by leveraging on industry and platform trends, pushing relevant content, and emphasizing their traditional brand value of companionship.

Twitter Performance Analysis:
I have utilised a combination of objective campaign analysis as well as brand sentiment analysis from Synthesio to construct insights on the Twitter performance of these three brands. Budweiser’s large following (144k globally) enjoys their short, appealing text-and-picture posts that depict Budweiser as a lifestyle concept, particularly centred around the sports genre. However, their posts are not as frequent as the competition, and at times are unable to produce a two-way conversation, resulting in fewer shares and favourites. Synthesio also revealed a short-term brand sentiment crisis with a significant number of negative posts.

Heineken employs a strategy that solely focuses on its huge UEFA Champions League sponsorship – evident through spikes in posts and mentions on matchdays. These posts are often overwhelming and minute-by-minute, resulting in fewer shares, but overall contribute to a positive brand atmosphere. Miller Lite on the other hand, with its witty language and inventive posts, regularly goes beyond the sports genre and offers users food for thought related to social events, festivals and daily life; generating popularity even though the product itself is behind the market in taste.

Three clear insights from this analysis are:
1. Users look for relatable AND shareable content;
2. Sports sponsorships drive content; and
3. Differentiated content is a clear winner

Recommended Content:
The challenge is thus for Budweiser to craft relevant, differentiated content that produces a feel-good factor. There are 2 strategies that can accomplish the same:

  1. #MyBestBudMoment Campaign:
    Users will be encouraged to upload short stories using texts or pictures on funny/emotional moments they shared with their best friends. The participation incentive is twofold: the top 15 screened posts will be featured on Budweiser’s Twitter page, and of these, the top 3 retweeted/favourited posts earn their users an all-expenses paid trip for them and their #BestBud. This campaign would produce a large volume of differentiated UGC, boosting short-term engagement. The subtle association made here is between priceless moments of friendship, and Budweiser
  2. #BudWatch Campaign:
    News and Twitter: a perfect combination, the post popular content vertical. Many people use Twitter as their primary stream of news, particularly sports junkies. Beer and sports: a ubiquitous association. Budweiser has sponsorship rights to several key sporting events: the FIFA World Cup, NFL, MLB and NBA among others. Why not combine the two? This campaign would see Budweiser tweet a series of report-style bites on the most relevant sports news of the day. Sports posts are inherently popular, and would be an extension of Budweiser’s current genre of lifestyle-sports posts.

Conclusion:
 Twitter, remarkably, is still growing by leaps and bounds in its usage – which provides brands with limitless opportunities to create coherent, interesting content campaigns that can generate conversations in the Twitter community. There are several opportunities to leverage on – such as the preeminence of news feeds on Twitter and the strong sense of community among young adult users. These are indeed interesting times for marketing and PR professionals, as the focus turns to retaining and constantly engaging with current viewers.

Thank you for your time and attention!

Best,
Shivin

 

G1, Group 1 – Abercrombie & Fitch Project Summary

Hello everyone,

How you doin’!*

As you may recall from our proposal presentation, our project aims to develop social media strategies for American retail giants Abercrombie & Fitch. Of late, A&F has unfortunately suffered plummeting sales, attributed to several key events surrounding their exclusionary marketing techniques. A&F has  We thus seek to augment A&F’s ongoing global rebranding exercise, specifically in the Singapore market.

Social Media Listening

USA: An initial analysis of A&F’s brand sentiment on various social media platforms in their primary market, found the tone of these mentions to predominantly neutral, skewed towards positive. However, thorough examination of a 500-post representative sample revealed 112 negative, 74 positive, 54 truly neutral, and 260 irrelevant posts. This provides support for the unfavourable brand perception noted across several surveys and op-eds. However, it is encouraging to observe posts acknowledging A&F’s new, inclusive brand identity.

Singapore: A similar analysis of 64 posts in Singapore between Feb 12, 2016 and March 14, 2016 revealed 15 negative, 12 positive, 20 truly neutral and 37 irrelevant posts. The analysis provided three notable insights. First, A&F brand conversations in Singapore are insignificant, allowing for room to meaningfully influence brand perception. Second, current perception, based on the limited results, is neither favourable nor unfavourable. This is further supported by the A&F store being tagged or featured in largely neutral posts generated by users, for example, on Instagram. Lastly, many posts are simply shared from sources in the US.

A&F – Current Social Media Strategy

Upon analysing their current social media strategy, we found that A&F enjoys a large following on their global pages. Thus, potential exists for A&F to leverage on its social media platforms to execute a campaign that could influence a large target audience.

However, the key shortcoming of their overall social media conversation is that the conversation is predominantly one-way. Despite a large following, A&F’s social media pages do not engage meaningfully with their followers by inviting comments, creating alternative content appropriate for generating buzz, or featuring user-generated content. With minimal interaction between the brand and its audience, A&F misses out on an opportunity to communicate its rebranding exercise with its followers.

Additionally, A&F’s social media content is static – simple product visuals and model shoots, which by nature not engaging enough to like or share by its audience. Unsurprisingly, the brand’s global Twitter page regurgitates content from its Facebook and Instagram pages without adjusting for user behaviour on each specific platform. The brand thus does not leverage on its wide following to craft a strong, relatable brand identity through its social media.

Our First Strategy: #AFreshbreath, #TrendyAF

The key objective of our proposed strategies is enabling A&F to leverage on its existing social media capacity to continue their rebranding exercise, positively influence brand image, and capitalize on market opportunities in Singapore, through:

(i) A CSR-style strategy

This campaign focuses on communicating the importance of second chances, and how A&F champions this philosophy, and aims to subtly portray A&F’s efforts to right its past wrongs and adopt an inclusive brand identity moving forward.

(ii) A brand ambassador strategy

An influencer-based campaign would further our objective of community engagement and two-way conversations, by advocating the message of ‘looking good’, which celebrates each individual’s ability to look good – in stark contrast to A&F’s previous cookie-cutter, stereotypical idea of attractiveness.

(iii) Native advertising

Native advertising has proven to be successful at influencing tastes and preferences of shoppers active on social media, particularly teens and millennials.

Our proposed strategies are aimed at stepping up A&F’s rebranding exercise in Singapore, drive home the principle of looking good, and engage and involve the target market across a variety of platforms.

Consequently, we hope that A&F will be able to solidify its brand image as a premium lifestyle retailer in the Singaporean market with its quality offerings and engaging brand atmosphere.

Looking forward to sharing our project with you in greater detail tomorrow!
– Alethea, Ser Yang, Shaurya, Sheena & Shivin

*Fun fact: ‘how you doin’!’ is A&F’s classic in-store greeting.

Native Advertising – Creativity or Compromise?

Sheer lighthearted brilliance from the tenacious, satirical and uber-conscious John Oliver on the negative side of native advertising (an absolute must-watch): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_F5GxCwizc

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There seems to be two sides to the argument here for native advertising.

First – the one we’re aware of – targeting the content-loving, ad-hating, editorial-and-everything-else-related hungry teenage bandwagon of consumers with fresh editorial-style advertising as we have seen on Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. Not only has this refreshed advertising techniques and given a new lease of life to online marketing, it has proven plenty successful in endearing brands to their target segment far more than boring, annoying and obsolete banner ads.

Second – the one that John talks about – how native advertising seems to be, at best, compromising the quality of journalism, and at worst, how it is emblematic of corporations’ interests taking over even the most supposedly independent of press units such as the New York Times. It is a serious question posed to the independence of our press and ‘duping’ of the consumer.

Make sure you enjoy this short video and leave some comments!

Cheers,
Shivin (G1)

Abercrombie & Fitch | Group 1 (G1)

Background

Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) is an American clothes retailer with over 1000 locations worldwide (300+ in the US), that focuses on upscale casual wear for young consumers. The brand name was, at one point, synonymous with quality, desirable clothing emblazoned with the classic ‘A&F’ lettering – an ‘international near-luxury lifestyle concept’. More recently, however, it has been the subject of several controversies including discrimination on the basis of physical appearance, sexually explicit and racist ad campaigns, and promoting an elitist attitude on the basis of looks or social status. The peak of its seemingly terminal decline came when controversial long-term CEO Michael Jeffries brutish ‘exclusionary marketing’ tactic of keeping clothes upto only large (or UK 10 sizes) came under severe criticism from retail analysts. Many believed that he only desired thin, beautiful people to enter his stores and despised the idea of large or obese people wearing his brand.

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Analysis – Rebranding & Opportunities

As sales declined and teens moved away from the kind of ostentatious branding A&F was famous for, the company recently attempted a different approach to its brand message and delivery. The tweaks included:
(i) developing classic product designs devoid of over-the-top logos
(ii) an advertising strategy drawing away from the previously integral “sex appeal” component – “G-rating” its image – removing semi-nude scenes, and
(iii) revamping in-store designs and experience with staff with actual shirts as opposed to the ab-baring brand ambassadors of the past.

The policy change reflects part of Abercrombie’s struggle to become relevant again as the tastes of teenage shoppers change – with more sensitive, reproachful and minimalistic shoppers dominating the market. While the reinvention of A&F continues apace, A&F just this year was ranked by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) as America’s most hated brand, reflecting a negative sentiment and low perception of experience quality. As a result, there is much work left to do in convincing consumers that the brand is now about the product merchandise over the ‘human’ merchandise.

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Fortunately, the market sentiment in terms of sales and stock values seems to be warming towards the reinvented brand, with figures improving from the lows seen in 2011-2013. The key is to improve the consumer experience and strengthen the brand identity.

Additionally, Abercrombie & Fitch is expanding its digital and physical presence across Asia, recently launching 10 new ecommerce sites for its Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister brands serving China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. Nevertheless, their digital and social media presence in Asia remains a marketing strategy with potential to expand, to leveraged on and to mobilize an as yet ‘neutral’ market in terms of brand sentiment. We would look to the Chinese and Singaporean markets as primary drivers of a strong brand community.

Research Question

How can A&F leverage on its social media outlets to capitalize on their rebranding effort and opportunities in Asian markets?

Potential areas of research:

  • Will a change in focus to “looking good” from “good looking people” help A&F’s brand perception and effectively craft a new brand identity?
  • Will using models from markets in question lead to a rehabilitation of the brand image/increase brand perception, for example, in the Chinese or Singaporean market?
  • How integral is social media to A&F’s marketing and PR strategies?
  • How can A&F’s brand community be mobilized through social media?

Value of Study

Objective 1: to step up A&F’s image revamp and rebranding exercise
Objective 2: explore untapped Chinese and Singaporean markets with neutral brand perception
Objective 3: using social media as the vehicle of new PR strategy and build a wider, stronger brand community

Research Method

The following techniques will deliver a good blend of quantitative metrics and qualitative insights to facilitate answering our research question:

  1. Conversation analysis on social media:
    Taking into account posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and blogs and evaluating overall brand image and consumer sentiment.

  2. Evaluation of social media content/strategy:
    Including coherence of marketing strategies across platforms, frequency of posting, activity over past 60 days, strength of followership, brand responsiveness, and more.
    (i) A&F on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter; and
    (ii) Analysis of competitors such as Aeropostale on the same platforms

  3. Secondary research:
    Market trends in upscale casual wear, best practices on social media, and other topics as and when required.

Conclusion

We feel that Abercrombie & Fitch is a company that is determined to fight its way back into the market as a desirable lifestyle brand with a renewed focus on inclusivity of all consumer types into the brand community. Given the platform it has built for itself, and the opportunities still on offer in the Asian market, we hope our proposed content strategies will aid in ramping up the rebranding exercise.
Cheers!
– Alethea, Sheena, Shivin, Shaurya, Ser Yang

A worrying trend

Hi everyone,

Everyone knows how social media has the power to keep you connected with your community of friends and followers. But for individuals unsound of mind and/or psychological state, it can turn into both a source of frustration (seeing their communities portray the happiest part of their lives) and a platform on which to vent their feelings.

All of us are aware of recent gun violence on American campuses caused by teen shooters frustrated with life and thinking they have no way out. San Bernadino, et. al. all had their warning signs – and increasingly, the latest red flags find their source in the attacker’s social media accounts. The latest threat posed was as early as yesterday – when schools in Howell, North Carolina were closed due to a threat emerging out of social media – in this case, via Twitter. (Read all about it: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/02/29/social-media-threat-closes-howell-schools/81099052/)

I’m sure most of us have also heard how the FBI wants in on Apple user’s mobile phone data, all in the name of security. (Read more: http://fortune.com/2016/02/28/apple-fbi-budget-hoover/. Do read further links on this article as well)
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Without dwelling too much on my own opinions, I’d love to see more discussion on this topic on our forum. Please do leave your thoughts on any of the following themes regarding the effects of social media on the psyche of individuals suffering from depression, and their use of social media as an avenue of venting (at best) or forewarning (at worst):

  • Privacy of social media accounts/smartphones
  • Tracking of threats (a digital humanitarians-esque task force to spot danger?)
  • Mobilising gun-control movements or Second Amendment support groups
  • The role of companies and governments

Thanks! Apologies for bringing up such a sobering topic, but given the situation over in the US, I believe it is a relevant topic for us to have some discourse on.

Best,
Shivin (G1)

The billion-dollar tweet: Harnessing the power of social media

 

Hi everyone,

Found a fabulous story earlier this morning that ties in 2 concepts we’ve been following in the last three weeks – social media as a resource and disruptive innovation. Hope you enjoy; it’s a quick, great read!

Best,
Shivin

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Travis Kalanick sent this tweet out in January 2010. The reply from Ryan Graves came 3 minutes later. That tweet was worth over a billion dollars.

January 2010 was the month Travis was doing a test run with 3 cars in New York for a mobile app that he and his friend, Garrett Camp, had just created.

They had decided it was time to start a company around the app and, needing to find a General Manager to run it, Travis took to Craigslist and Twitter looking for the right person.

Ryan’s reply to Travis came as he was looking for something new. He had some experience at GE, and had worked for Foursquare for a while for free after the company turned him down for a job. He was ready for a new opportunity – and took a chance with this tweet.

Travis replied back, they met, they hit it off, and Ryan joined Travis and Garrett on March 1st as their first hire.

With their new company started, the three of them then invited all their friends to demo the product and they officially launched in San Francisco just 3 months later on May 31st.

That was five years ago.

This week, the team that started with that tweet has built their company, Uber, into a company that is currently valued at over $60 billion (they just announced another funding round of $2 billion this week http://bit.ly/ubers-next-2-billion).

Today, Travis and Ryan are worth over $6 billion, and that tweet from Ryan (who today is Uber’s Head of Global Operations) began a journey which has made him a billionaire today as well.

How are you using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube today? As a wall of content? As a broadcasting tool?

Or, like Travis and Ryan, as a way to find the resources, connections and opportunities you need when you need them?