G2 – Group 6: Wing Zone

Hi Everyone! 🙂 This is Group 6 and here’s a summary of our social media strategies for Wing Zone.

Introducing the mouth-watering Wing Zone…

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Wing Zone is a casual-dining restaurant chain originally founded in 1991 in Atlanta, the United States of America, which later expanded to have franchises in other countries including Singapore.

There are currently 3 outlets in Singapore – Bugis, Buangkok and Paya Lebar.

Wing Zone prides itself in its ABC values:

American Heritage

Branding as “the only place where flavorholics unite”

Customization of flavours from its 15 unique award-winning flavours provided

 

Its current customer segmentation is as following:

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Our recommended target segment for our social media campaigns would be students.

Why?

Students remain to be a highly valued segment as they have a high customer lifetime value, and their purchasing power is expected to increase once they enter the workforce.

It would be highly beneficial for Wing Zone to capture this segment of the market and to secure trial and create loyalty among the students before they graduate.

 

Social Media Situation:

Some statistics…

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Facebook and Instagram are the main platforms leveraged by Wing Zone. Its likes and following may appear to be better than Wing Stop but it is lagging behind Wing Stop in terms of the engagement level on both Facebook and Instagram.

 

Interesting survey findings…

1. Low Relevance of Marketing in the Local Context4

To better understand customers’ current view point of Wing Zone’s social media, we asked customers questions based on the 3 major incentives for following Wing Zone’s social media.

We found that the factor “Relevance of Marketing in the Local Context” scored the lowest and is also very significant in determining customer satisfaction in social media.

Hence, we propose for Wing Zone to differentiate itself from Wing Stop by improving the relevance of its social media marketing. This can be done through creating promotions for local festivities, such as Chinese New Year, Valentine’s’ Day and local football matches.

 

2. Low Brand Awareness and Trial

Wing Zone has the lowest brand awareness and trial among the 3 brands. This is not surprising since it is less established than the other 2 in Singapore and has limited accessibility.

As our recommended target audience is the students, we propose to attract students near the Bugis outlet from SMU, SOTA, NAFA and Lasalle, to try out Wing Zone.

This can be done through the “Zoning out in Class Campaign”, which seeks to generate hype among students.

 

3. Lack of Brand Perception as a “fun” brand

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Comparing between Wing Zone and Wing Stop, Wing Zone is positioned further from the origin on the attributes “Fresh” and “Flavourful”. This reflects that Wing Zone trumps Wing Stop in these aspects.

Since Wing Zone brands itself as the place for “flavorholics”, being “Flavourful” is a potential point of differentiation from Wingstop.

Wing Zone is positioned behind Wing Stop in terms of “Fun”.

In line with the students’ consumer behaviour and Wing Zone’s value proposition, we propose to increase the brand perception of Wing Zone as “Flavourful” and “Fun”.

 

4. Confusion between Wing Zone and Wing Stop

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There is often confusion between Wing Zone and Wing Stop due to the similarity in their brand names and offerings. We found that almost half of these respondents could not differentiate between the 2 brands.

 

5. Lack of Awareness of its 15 Flavours

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More than half of the respindents could not name beyond the 3 popular flavours, which as Honey Q, Liquid Gold and Smokin Q.

As Wing Zone’s large variety of flavours is its unique value proposition, we propose to increase the awareness of Wing Zone’s 15 flavours through the “Guess the Flavour” campaign.

 

Project Goals:

With our primary and secondary findings, we derive the project goals and strategies:

project goals

 

Social Media Strategies:

1. Calendar of Local Events – CNY, Valentines’ Day, Football Matches

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We propose to improve the relevance of Wing Zone’s marketing in the local context through the three widely celebrated local festivities – CNY, Valentines’ Day and Football Matches.

 

CNY…

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Wing Zone has 15 flavors available. During the 15 days of Chinese New Year (CNY), Wing Zone will select a particular flavor as “Flavor of the Day” and create a post on its Instagram page to promote and increase awareness of its 15 flavors.

 

Valentines’ Day…

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Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular events in Singapore, especially among tertiary students. We propose the idea of creating a special “Chicken Bouquet” inspired by viral posts of similar food bouquets that gained popularity on social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter.

This “Chicken Bouquet” or a heart-shaped tin of chicken will be available as a special on the week of Valentine’s Day and can be delivered.

Similar to the Wing Zone menu, the flavour of wings can be chosen from any of Wing Zone’s 15 flavors. This could possibly garner many shares on social media.

Mass emails can also be sent to institutions such as SMU and SOTA to spread awareness about this campaign within tertiary institutions. Customers can order by filling in the Google Form provided:

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Recipients are also strongly encouraged to feature their gifts on Instagram with hashtags like #WingZoneVDay to promote the limited-edition release of such a concept.

 

Football Matches…

match

The “Match-of-the-Week” Campaign will focus on the two most compelling matches each week featuring popular teams (eg. Liverpool and Manchester United).

Customers will be encouraged to vote on Wing Zone’s Insta-story poll about which team will win.

Each week, a customer who correctly predicts the winner of the chosen matches would get a “Party-Pack” (a 6-pax bundle) from Wing Zone.

 

2. “Guess the Flavour” Campaign

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The “Guess the flavor” campaign aims to allow customers to explore the different flavors Wing Zone has got to offer.

As an incentive to drive participation, attractive rewards such as “3-months worth of Wing Zone vouchers” will be offered to winners.

The timeline for this campaign is one month, after which the answer to the question will be revealed and prizes are awarded to the top three winners.

 

3. “Zoning out in Class” Campaign

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As the confusion between Wing Zone and Wing Stop has proven to be a common issue, we propose the “Zoning out in Class” campaign, which aims to generate hype among students, so whenever students see their friends zoning out in class, they think of Wing Zone.

To participate, one simply needs to take a picture of their friends “zoning out” in class or work, upload and tag their friends on Instagram and hashtag “#ZoneOutWingZone”.

Participants can visit any of Wing Zone’s outlets to collect their free chicken wings. Each participant can redeem 2 wings.

 

Goal Metrics:

From the recommendations proposed, our campaigns aim to:

  1. Increase Brand Awareness and trial by 10%
  2. Increase Net Promoter Score by 5%
  3. Shift Wing Zone’s position on the Brand Perception Map upwards and leftwards
  4.  Increase brand perception of Wing Zone as a “fun”, “unique” and “flavourful” brand

 

Wishing everyone all the best! 🙂

 

Cheers,

Group 6

(Nathanael, Jia Wen, Cheryl, Natasha, Emily)

SMS group photo

 

G2 Group 5: The Big Cheese

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For our latest project, we aimed to develop a practical and hands-on social media strategy for the young company The Big Cheese (TBC). The new f&b concept is focused on customizable takeout Mac & Cheese, and located at Sunshine Plaza in Singapore. The company aims to offer a cheap and convenient solution for all the busy students of the surrounding (arts) universities and young workers around town.

Currently, the company does not have a social media strategy in place. Therefore, we developed three strategies that will highlight TBC’s unique selling points (cheap, convenient, and customizable), and engage their target audience.

Social Media Listening: Can you hear me?

To get a better picture of TBC’s current shortcomings on social media, we decided to track their social media performance using an 8-month time frame from February to September of 2017. From this, we obtained the following insights:

  1. There is little activity and presence on social media
  2. There is no clear message strategy in place (content is static and boring)
  3. There is a lack of customer engagement through social media (little to no interactions from customers in terms of likes and comments)

Secondary Research: digging deeper

To better understand TBC’s target audience (millennials 18-34 years old), we conducted secondary research and came to the following insights:

  1. Millennials tend to follow their peers when it comes to making purchase decisions
  2. Millennials value brands that tailor strategies based upon their interest
  3. Millennials are used to convenience and increasingly use food delivery apps and instant messaging to order food (for takeout)

Plan of action!

Based on the social media listening and secondary research conducted, our proposed strategies will carry the overarching theme of customer engagement. This would be done through increasing brand awareness and the brand equity of TBC, while humanizing the brand as well.

Strategy 1: Mac-and-Choose Campaign

Mac ‘N’ Choose is TBC’s primary social media campaign for the year 2018 and our specific objective for the campaign is to increase the brand equity of TBC.  For TBC to improve its brand equity through Mac ‘N’ Choose, the campaign should ensure two things:

  1. The campaign’s central theme should be based on the organization’s unique selling proposition of customization which gives TBC a competitive edge ahead of their rivals.
  2. The campaign should be customer inclusive as that can increase the organisation’s online customer engagement.

 

This strategy consists of revamping TBC content through both offline and online channels. Firstly,  TBC can change the “Make-A-Mac” section of the Menu to “Mac ‘N’ Choose” and include an item called “Mac ‘N’ Choose of the Month – The ___ (Person’s name who makes the best Mac ‘N’ Choose for the month)”. Secondly, TBC can make a poster for the boundary wall outside the restaurant with an aesthetic display of the words “Mac ‘N’ Choose” to leverage on the success of instaworthy walls.

Strategy 2: The Big Cheese x TYC Streetwear T-shirt Design Contest

This strategy involves the collaboration between a Singaporean art collective called Tell Your Children (TYC) studios and TBC. Basically, TBC would host a streetwear t-shirt design competition in between the 3 neighboring arts schools which are School of The Art (SOTA), Lasalle College of the Arts, and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). This contest would enable TBC to engage their target audience and draw a lot of attention. TYC would be invited to be part of the judging panel as well as advisers for students to make their designs into a reality.

Contest

This contest would require students to create a t-shirt with the theme of TBC and top winners will be awarded cash prizes. Students will be given a month to send in their designs and thereafter, TYC Studios would pick the top designs. There would be a workshop for TYC studios to mingle with the selected winners to discuss designs and provide some tips to improve their designs. Lastly, top designs will be posted on the Facebook page where  both students and the general public can vote for their favourite designs.

In order to boost such participation and engagement, a school-specific hashtag for each of the 3 schools (SOTA: SOTAxBigCheese; NAFA: NAFAxBigCheese; Lasalle: LasallexBigCheese) will be created. It would be mentioned in each post on the social media platforms that the more hashtags that is seen from each school in the comment section, the higher the chance for them to win the competition.

Strategy 3: SayCheese Telegram Bot

On examining TBC’s operations, we see that the prospective cheese lover must make his/her way down to the store, queue up, place the order, wait for the Mac N’Cheese to be prepared and then make his way back to the eating destination. Through our third social media strategy of using messaging channels as tools of ordering, we aim to decrease waiting times and optimize operations, increase customer engagement and ultimately, build a strong and unique brand equity. This objective will be achieved by capitalizing on the social media connect of Telegram, a popular messaging platform amongst the students.

The manual process of queuing up for a takeout meal deterred many customers from eating at TBC, as sourced through our conversation with the owner, as well as some existing customers. In accordance with the central theme of Customer Engagement for our social media strategies, we would be using Telegram as a platform for customers to place an order through TBC’s own user-interactive bot.

How does the Bot work?

This Telegram bot (Username- theBigCheese_bot), would be the forum where the customers would get the menu options displayed, select their desired ingredients and then receive an estimated time in which their order would be complete. To lend the process a more personal feel, and associate the brand with some human-like qualities, the Telegram bot would not send out automated messages confirming the order and providing the code number. Instead, we are personalizing the company as a friend.

 

Goals

Our proposed strategies aim to equip TBC with strategies that would ease its navigation through the social media landscape. By identifying the characteristics of the target audience of millennials, and the mistakes in their current social media strategies, the strategies proposed serves as a guide to revamp their messaging strategy and maximize their reach. As the main objective is customer engagement, we believe these strategies serves its purpose and might lead to the development of long-term relationships with their customers.

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(G2) Group 7 – Obsession fuelled by social media

Hello all!

We’re Group 7 from Prof’s G2 class, and we chose to do an academic research for our project instead! The topic in question is “From fans to ‘super-fans’: How does social media encourage the obsessive behaviour of super-fans?”.

We were interested in this topic as celebrity obsession is almost becoming the norm in most countries, as evidenced by the various  television programmes dedicated to celebrity news and the rise in popularity of reality shows. Moreover, the current social media era has introduced a new branch to this celebrity obsession – obsession over well-known online personalities. These individuals are able to gain fame through content creation on online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, and thus have earned themselves a mass following of adoring fans. Some of which are deemed to be super-fans, defined as individuals who have “an extreme or obsessive admiration for a particular person or thing” (Oxford Dictionaries, w.y.), as they have been documented to display obsessive behaviour and go the extra mile to connect with these online celebrities. As such, we wanted to find out why some fans of lifestyle Youtubers tend to go the extra mile in their adoration of the latter, especially when these online personalities are essentially just average people like us.

We chose lifestyle Youtubers – Youtubers whose content revolve around sharing about their lives through video blogs (or ‘vlogs’ as it is more commonly known) – as their viewers would have an in-depth look into their personal lives since it is made for content. In order to get a more comprehensive view, we selected three well-known lifestyle Youtubers in the UK, the US and Europe, which are Zoella, Jake Paul and Enzo Knol respectively. They all have fans who have displayed obsessive behaviour and hence are suitable candidates to be examined in our project.

Case Studies

1. Zoella

Zoe Elizabeth Sugg, best known by her YouTube username Zoella, is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle vlogger and author based in the UK. To date, Zoella has over 12 million YouTube subscribers and has amassed over one billion video views. The majority of her viewers hover at around 18 – 25 years of age. Her debut novel, “Girl Online” broke records of highest first week sales with 78 thousand hard copies sold (Harding, 2016). Zoella also has her own line of beauty products.

As Britain’s most powerful social media celebrity (Baxter-Wright, 2017), Zoella has had her fair share of super-fans. She routinely faced privacy intrusion from fans who showed up at her house after tracking down her home address. As a sufferer of anxiety attacks, Zoella addressed the problem in a YouTube video. Nonetheless, super-fans continued to show up, turning Zoella’s home into an actual tourist stop for tour groups (Brooks, 2016). Zoella and her boyfriend have since moved to a quieter private estate equipped with extensive security measures (Baxter-Wright, 2017). In August 2017, Zoella, her boyfriend and brother launched their merchandise line. The trio made an appearance on the day of the launch of their pop-up store but were forced to leave early when the crowd situation was considered dangerous by local police. The team had to be escorted out (Wood, 2017).

2. Jake Paul

Jake Joseph Paul, most commonly known as Jake Paul, is a 20-year-old YouTuber based in the US. Jake Paul first rose to fame through a now-defunct video application called Vine. Jake Paul had two billion plays on the app and over five million followers, which contributed to his landing of an acting role on Disney Channel (Bizaardvark, 2017). After Vine shut down, Jake Paul moved to YouTube and has since gained nearly 11.5 million subscribers.

Jake Paul has publicly posted his home address online, which inevitably caused his young fans to flock to his house. Fans have been seen loitering outside of the Team 10 house, the residence of which Jake Paul and other YouTubers share. These super-fans loiter in groups outside of the house to compare knowledge of his life, chant his name, take selfies to share on social media and dare each other to go closer towards his property line until they are halted by the security guard (Mic, 2017). The act of ‘pilgriming’ to Jake Paul’s house to get a glimpse of him and his team has somehow become a rite of passage for his fans from all over the US. The ruckus caused by Jake Paul’s stunts and fans waiting outside his house have attracted criticism from his neighbours, to which were met by defensive comments by his fans (Mic, 2017).

3. Enzo Knol

Enzo Erkelens, best known as Enzo Knol, is a famous Dutch lifestyle YouTuber. He first started vlogging in 2011, and since then has consistently uploaded gaming videos and vlogs. Enzo gained national popularity when he uploaded a video of him accidentally breaking his arm while filming (Knol, 2014) as national news media used it as an example to illustrate how dangerous it was to record oneself while doing something. Since then, Enzo has nearly two million subscribers on YouTube and a total of one and a half billion video views. Enzo owns a clothing brand called ‘Knol Power’ and even has his own wax sculpture in Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam (Madame Tussauds, w.y.). With such popularity and a significant fanbase, Enzo has the biggest YouTube channel in the Netherlands (Enzo Knol, w.y.).

There have been multiple cases that show Enzo’s fans displaying obsessive behaviour towards him. In 2014, Enzo held a fan meeting at Utrecht central station which attracted flocks of adoring fans. However, the fan meeting was cut short by the police as it was beginning to get chaotic and dangerous (Duic, 2014). In another case of fan obsession, Enzo was spotted at his friend’s house by a fan and within minutes of the information being shared on social media, the street was swarmed with fans. They were documented to be screaming and crying at the possible sight of Enzo. Again, the police were called to handle the chaos and escort Enzo out of the situation safely (Loo, 2017). The most recent example showing unhealthy fan behaviour would be the period when Enzo and his long-term girlfriend broke up. His girlfriend is a familiar face to Enzo’s viewers as she has been frequently featured in Enzo’s videos over the years. When the news about the break up became public, fans were heartbroken and could be seen commenting their disbelief and sadness over the news on his social media platforms. As Enzo was already considered a national celebrity, the news of the breakup was televised on national media channels and newspapers (Taha, 2017).

Obsession fuelled by social media

Considering the above, it is clear that celebrity obsession does not only entail adoration for traditional celebrities such as those that are established in the entertainment industry. With social media platforms allowing individuals to rise to fame through content creation, these online personalities are able to gain a following of super-fans comparable to that of traditional celebrities. According to several studies among American teenagers, “relatability and attainability are two of the biggest reasons teenagers are impacted by YouTubers” (Westenberg, 2016). As these YouTubers are essentially average individuals like the viewer, this makes them significantly more relatable than traditional mass media celebrities. Thus, the following paragraphs will investigate the contributions of YouTubers’ excessive sharing on social media and celebrity worship of the fans. The section will also examine how the aforementioned factors strengthen the formation of parasocial relationships, all of which have been made possible by social media.

1. Excessive Sharing

With the transparency that social media allows, obsession over online celebrities have been made easier. SNS thrive on information uploaded and shared by users, which cause them to have the tendency to excessively share information online. The reason behind oversharing is psychological, and thus has been exacerbated by social media. Nadkarni and Hoffman (2012) found that many use social media “to satisfy their needs for belonging and self-presentation” and that the content shared “are fulfilling social needs to connect with others, gain acceptance, and present an online version of oneself, either accurate or idealized”. This is especially true for the YouTubers in question, since their living is earned through creating content on SNS and the content has to be relatable enough to keep fans interested. Vlogs that document the YouTubers day-to-day lives are often uploaded as content and enable viewers to keep track of what the YouTuber is doing. Also, it is common to find videos that consist of the YouTubers sharing information that are considered to be private. For example, Zoella and Jake Paul have both uploaded videos of them giving tours of their homes (Deyes, 2016 & Paul, 2017). Moreover, question and answer videos also allow their viewers to know more information about them. Although the information shared may not be of high importance, the combined content uploaded to YouTube and their other SNS accounts provide viewers a more detailed idea of who the YouTuber is.

Consequently, this tendency of YouTubers to excessively share information online provides an avenue for super-fans to fixate over them. Every tweet, picture or video posted on social media regardless of its content removes a layer of privacy for the online personality and allows their fans to feel more connected. This abundance of personal information does more harm than good especially if the YouTubers have fans that tend to go the extra mile in their adoration. This can be particularly seen in the example mentioned above, where fans are seen to be camping outside Zoella’s and Jake Paul’s homes (Cockroft, 2015 & Lorenz, 2017). It is irrefutable that the videos sharing personal information and vlogs containing snippets of the YouTubers’ home environment made it easier for super-fans to track them down. This ties in with the theory of social exchange which emphasizes the “importance to a cost and reward assessment, where a parasocial interaction with a media personality would have a high reward and low-cost exchange” (Ballantine and Martin, 2005). Fans are able to get a lot out of the relationship with minimal effort, as they are constantly being rewarded with the abundance of content that the YouTubers put online. Thus, for super-fans, this over-sharing epidemic feeds their obsessive behaviour and enables them to continue with it.

2. Celebrity Worship

Existing literature on celebrity worship discusses the phenomenon as a spectrum, where on one end the fan is merely passionate and on the other end, the fan’s obsession borders on psychopathological (Sansone & Sansone, 2014). This spectrum can be characterised in three stages (Houran, Lange & McCutcheon, 2002). In the case of YouTube vloggers, fans in the first stage are identified as those who actively seek out information about vloggers, but purely for an entertainment purpose. The majority of YouTube viewers fall into this category. Their interaction with the vloggers are passive and ends when they have finished consuming the content; they recognise the vloggers as a means to satisfy an entertainment need. In the second stage, fans are known to begin to perceive a parasocial relationship with the vlogger, as elaborated in the previous section. An example of such a behaviour can be seen in a fan video addressed to Zoella. In it, a young girl declares that she is not a stalker, but that Zoella is like a sister to her. The fan also believes that Zoella cares about her. Her video closes off with a plea for Zoella to respond by sending her a private video reply. Fans in the third stage are described to have “excessive empathy with the celebrity’s successes and failures, over-identify with the celebrity, and obsessively follow the details of a celebrity’s life” (Houran, Lange & McCutcheon, 2002). This includes stalking the vloggers openly in public as was the case with Enzo, or turning up at Jake Paul’s residence and camping out just to see him (Lorenz, 2017).

With the progression in each stage, the fan feels a greater degree of closeness with the celebrity. This may lead to a sense of entitlement on the fan’s part that he or she should be privy to the celebrity’s private life. This could in part be fuelled by the prevalence of fan pages and teams dedicated to the vloggers. In relevance to fan pages, social platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram enable fans to engage with vlogger-related content endlessly if they want to, due to the platforms’ infinite scroll function. It arguably allows fans to immerse themselves with no indication that they should stop consuming the media, potentially trapping them if they do not have the self-discipline to stop the scrolling on their own. Further, established vloggers have incredibly unified fan bases that refer to themselves by their team names. For instance, Jake Paul’s fans call themselves Jake Paulers and have anthems written by the vlogger himself. Zoella’s fans identify as Sugglets, with multiple quizzes online that people can take to determine how true a fan they are. Enzo’s fans call themselves Knolpowers. These names serve to fuel the fandom as fans are able to connect with one another online and validate each other’s behaviour through social influence, thus potentially escalating fans further up the celebrity worship scale and normalising stage 2 or 3 behaviours.

3. Parasocial Relationship

The combination of the two factors explained above contributes to the formation of relationships formed between the fan and YouTuber through constant interaction. This is known as a parasocial relationship, defined as essentially “imagined relationships that tend to be experienced as real” between a fan and mass media figure (Roberts, 2007). Though parasocial relationships are often used to describe connections that fans form with traditional celebrities, it is unsurprising to see that those relationships are also being created with online personalities given the latter’s rise in popularity. Recent studies have found that “people in digital environments may come to know more people parasocially than directly through interpersonal contact” (Chen, 2014). With social media, it is significantly easier for fans to form relationships with their online idols. Interactions between the YouTubers and their fans can be commonly seen by how YouTubers interact with them through their various SNS, usually by replying fans’ tweets and comments. Furthermore, online personalities are known to organize meet-and-greet events that give their viewers the opportunity to see them up close and personal. All three of the YouTubers have organized fan meetings, which often attract fans in large volumes. Thus, this elucidates how fans are now able to connect with their idols on a more personal scale than before.

Through frequent exposure with these online personalities, the viewers “come to feel that they know [them] from their appearance, gestures, conversations, and conduct, despite having had no direct communication with them” (Sylvia Caryle, w.y.). Social media-based parasocial relationships are more salient as these online personalities consistently share content of themselves on the Internet, which provides fans with an avenue to fixate on. As mentioned earlier through the explanation of the social exchange theory, the content put out by the vloggers serve as rewards to the viewers and hence keeps them interested. This constant provision of content coupled with the frequent interaction that the fans get from the YouTubers strengthens the parasocial relationships formed. Hence, this separates social media-based parasocial relationships from traditional celebrity-fan relationships considering how social media has allowed for the former to appear less one-sided. With the distance between the online personality and the fan becoming seemingly closer due to social media, it is inevitable that some fans start to develop obsessive behaviours towards their subject of obsession.

Implications

1. Influence of Youtubers on fans 

A study conducted by The University of Twente (2016) found that YouTubers do have significant influence on their fans, whether positive or negative. This is especially so for the younger fans. Examples of positive influence are evidenced through the good feedback received on YouTube videos that talk about problems not commonly shared in public. For example, Zoella openly discusses her problem of suffering from panic attacks in videos and shares her experiences with her viewers. After noting the positive reception garnered from such videos, she started a collaboration with Mind, a charity which helps people with mental health problems. Together, they strive to raise awareness on mental health and make the world a safer environment that permits issues of mental health to be a discussable topic (Audley, 2014). Be that as it may, the more impressionable fan base is susceptible to copying the bad behaviour that some YouTubers portray in their videos. YouTubers such as Jake Paul who produce controversial videos involving dangerous stunts promote recklessness and pose as bad examples to their fans. As it has been acknowledged that fans view YouTubers as their role model and attach value to the statements they make, YouTubers thus need to be highly careful of what they share on social media (University of Twente, 2016).

Considering the above, YouTubers can use their SNS to educate their fans on the correct behaviour. For example, YouTuber Julien Solomita uploaded a video telling his fans to not invade his privacy after encountering a fan outside of his house. He discouraged such behaviour and proposed other alternatives to those who want to meet him, such as at organised fan meetings. This approach should also be adopted by other YouTubers so that their fans are able to distinguish between socially appropriate and incorrect behaviour.

Furthermore, YouTubers do have an influence on the opinion of their followers about brands and products. The most used way of ‘advertising’ is through popular YouTubers. The reason for this is because they are seen as authentic when reviewing a product or brand (Influencer Marketing, 2012). Followers do believe that the recommendations or negative opinions of the YouTubers are honest and more credible than marketer-sponsored information provided by the brand itself. YouTubers are viewed as more honest and transparent to their followers. Firstly, they use particular hashtags like #ad or #spon to indicate when the content or product is sponsored.  Secondly, because they perceive YouTubers as equals, followers feel more related to them; YouTubers are seen as people who are only creating unique content on the internet. Their popularity is gained because of their personalities, unique talents and creativity, which followers also strive to achieve (Bentley, Earls & O’Brien, 2011). The intimate stories about their personal lives make them seem even more trustworthy and approachable.

In essence, YouTubers do have significant influence on their followers regarding both behaviour and opinions as detailed above. However, as this influence can be both positive and negative, YouTubers need to display correct behaviour since impressionable followers are prone to follow the behaviour of popular YouTubers. It is therefore essential that YouTubers are aware of the influence they have on their followers and act or produce content responsibly with this in mind.

Remedies

Based on the above, things must be done in order to prevent fans from taking their adoration of these online personalities to unhealthy levels.

Firstly, not all vloggers are positive role models like Zoella who inspire and advocate meaningful causes (Doyle, 2016). Secondly, the physical safety of children may be compromised as well due to the normalisation of over-sharing private information. Excessively revealing personal details such as their home location or daily activities could make them easy targets for online predators (Doyle, 2016). To give an example, 71% of schoolchildren publicly share their school and hometown (Helliwell, 2017) and 17% stated that they have ever been contacted online by a stranger, which made them uncomfortable and scared (KidsHealth, w.y.). Lastly, a staggering 95% of teens have been exposed to cruel behaviour on social media, such as live streaming of violent acts on platforms such as Facebook (Helliwell, 2017).

These exemplify the fact that parents and schools have an integral part to play in teaching children about social media. At the most basic level, parents may choose to restrict the kind of content their children have access to at home through YouTube’s privacy and settings page. This is commonly employed by schools although its effectiveness has been challenged (The Atlantic, 2016). Instead of simply filtering content for their children, parents can opt to educate their children to spur behavioural changes. Websites such as ParentInfo or Internet Safe Training provide tips on how parents can approach abstract concepts as such “positive” and “negative” online behaviour and content to teach their children to be more discerning netizens. By using education in tandem with monitoring, children can be independent in their online activities and understand the risks that come with certain behaviours. Schools are often second homes to children and educators can thus be another channel through which children learn how to use the Internet, and especially SNS, in a more safe and responsible way. Cyber safety courses that are integrated into the curriculum have to be updated to keep in line with the ever-evolving online world as well. Children ought to be taught from a young age how to identify negative behaviours as well as how to respond to them when they encounter the negative behaviours online. For instance, should a child see a violent act being carried out on a live streaming platform, they should be taught to report it immediately instead of being helpless viewers.

Children have to be taught that the online world is merely a part of their real life instead of it being their entire life. With that knowledge, they should be discerning in their actions online as they may have repercussions in real life.

Conclusion

To conclude, the project explains how social media has fuelled the obsessive behaviour of fans towards online celebrities. Social media has allowed average individuals to rise to fame through content creation, and those who rose to fame are able to gain a following of super-fans. The analysis reveals that given how social media has created a glass window into the lives of its users especially for online personalities, fans are able to get a detailed overview of who the latter really is. Social media can be likened to a form of tracking device on their idols due to the YouTubers’ excessive sharing of content and constant updates. In connection with the social exchange theory, the excessive sharing of content by YouTubers gives fans a reward of the interaction with minimal effort, as they are constantly being rewarded with the abundance of content that the YouTubers put online. Fans may form feelings of familiarity and affection towards them and form relationships with these online idols. With social media bridging the gap between the fans and the YouTubers, social media-based parasocial relationships are less one-sided as it has allowed the connection to be closer.

The analysis points out that YouTubers do have an influence on not only the behaviour of the followers, but also on the opinions of them. Followers perceive YouTubers to be more honest and trustworthy than a brand-produced advertisement. Teenagers admire YouTubers, and it is therefore important that the YouTubers are aware of the significant influence they have on the behaviour and opinions of their followers. At the same time, it is important that the parents make the teenagers aware of how to interact on social media platforms. In summary, the project underlines the fact that social networking sites are merely mediums for users. It must thus be acknowledged that because these sites can be used either positively or negatively, online personalities and fans alike must utilise these platforms wisely.

Thank you for reading! Hope you enjoyed our project 🙂

Peace and love,

G2, Group 7 (Myra, Irdina, Sophie, Daphne and Quynh Huong)

(G2) Group 7 – Obsession fuelled by social media

Hello all!

We’re Group 7 from Prof’s G2 class, and we chose to do an academic research for our project instead! The topic in question is “From fans to ‘super-fans’: How does social media encourage the obsessive behaviour of super-fans?”.

We were interested in this topic as celebrity obsession is almost becoming the norm in most countries, as evidenced by the various  television programmes dedicated to celebrity news and the rise in popularity of reality shows. Moreover, the current social media era has introduced a new branch to this celebrity obsession – obsession over well-known online personalities. These individuals are able to gain fame through content creation on online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, and thus have earned themselves a mass following of adoring fans. Some of which are deemed to be super-fans, defined as individuals who have “an extreme or obsessive admiration for a particular person or thing” (Oxford Dictionaries, w.y.), as they have been documented to display obsessive behaviour and go the extra mile to connect with these online celebrities. As such, we wanted to find out why some fans of lifestyle Youtubers tend to go the extra mile in their adoration of the latter, especially when these online personalities are essentially just average people like us.

We chose lifestyle Youtubers – Youtubers whose content revolve around sharing about their lives through video blogs (or ‘vlogs’ as it is more commonly known) – as their viewers would have an in-depth look into their personal lives since it is made for content. In order to get a more comprehensive view, we selected three well-known lifestyle Youtubers in the UK, the US and Europe, which are Zoella, Jake Paul and Enzo Knol respectively. They all have fans who have displayed obsessive behaviour and hence are suitable candidates to be examined in our project.

Case Studies

1. Zoella

Zoe Elizabeth Sugg, best known by her YouTube username Zoella, is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle vlogger and author based in the UK. To date, Zoella has over 12 million YouTube subscribers and has amassed over one billion video views. The majority of her viewers hover at around 18 – 25 years of age. Her debut novel, “Girl Online” broke records of highest first week sales with 78 thousand hard copies sold (Harding, 2016). Zoella also has her own line of beauty products.

As Britain’s most powerful social media celebrity (Baxter-Wright, 2017), Zoella has had her fair share of super-fans. She routinely faced privacy intrusion from fans who showed up at her house after tracking down her home address. As a sufferer of anxiety attacks, Zoella addressed the problem in a YouTube video. Nonetheless, super-fans continued to show up, turning Zoella’s home into an actual tourist stop for tour groups (Brooks, 2016). Zoella and her boyfriend have since moved to a quieter private estate equipped with extensive security measures (Baxter-Wright, 2017). In August 2017, Zoella, her boyfriend and brother launched their merchandise line. The trio made an appearance on the day of the launch of their pop-up store but were forced to leave early when the crowd situation was considered dangerous by local police. The team had to be escorted out (Wood, 2017).

2. Jake Paul

Jake Joseph Paul, most commonly known as Jake Paul, is a 20-year-old YouTuber based in the US. Jake Paul first rose to fame through a now-defunct video application called Vine. Jake Paul had two billion plays on the app and over five million followers, which contributed to his landing of an acting role on Disney Channel (Bizaardvark, 2017). After Vine shut down, Jake Paul moved to YouTube and has since gained nearly 11.5 million subscribers.

Jake Paul has publicly posted his home address online, which inevitably caused his young fans to flock to his house. Fans have been seen loitering outside of the Team 10 house, the residence of which Jake Paul and other YouTubers share. These super-fans loiter in groups outside of the house to compare knowledge of his life, chant his name, take selfies to share on social media and dare each other to go closer towards his property line until they are halted by the security guard (Mic, 2017). The act of ‘pilgriming’ to Jake Paul’s house to get a glimpse of him and his team has somehow become a rite of passage for his fans from all over the US. The ruckus caused by Jake Paul’s stunts and fans waiting outside his house have attracted criticism from his neighbours, to which were met by defensive comments by his fans (Mic, 2017).

3. Enzo Knol

Enzo Erkelens, best known as Enzo Knol, is a famous Dutch lifestyle YouTuber. He first started vlogging in 2011, and since then has consistently uploaded gaming videos and vlogs. Enzo gained national popularity when he uploaded a video of him accidentally breaking his arm while filming (Knol, 2014) as national news media used it as an example to illustrate how dangerous it was to record oneself while doing something. Since then, Enzo has nearly two million subscribers on YouTube and a total of one and a half billion video views. Enzo owns a clothing brand called ‘Knol Power’ and even has his own wax sculpture in Madame Tussauds in Amsterdam (Madame Tussauds, w.y.). With such popularity and a significant fanbase, Enzo has the biggest YouTube channel in the Netherlands (Enzo Knol, w.y.).

There have been multiple cases that show Enzo’s fans displaying obsessive behaviour towards him. In 2014, Enzo held a fan meeting at Utrecht central station which attracted flocks of adoring fans. However, the fan meeting was cut short by the police as it was beginning to get chaotic and dangerous (Duic, 2014). In another case of fan obsession, Enzo was spotted at his friend’s house by a fan and within minutes of the information being shared on social media, the street was swarmed with fans. They were documented to be screaming and crying at the possible sight of Enzo. Again, the police were called to handle the chaos and escort Enzo out of the situation safely (Loo, 2017). The most recent example showing unhealthy fan behaviour would be the period when Enzo and his long-term girlfriend broke up. His girlfriend is a familiar face to Enzo’s viewers as she has been frequently featured in Enzo’s videos over the years. When the news about the break up became public, fans were heartbroken and could be seen commenting their disbelief and sadness over the news on his social media platforms. As Enzo was already considered a national celebrity, the news of the breakup was televised on national media channels and newspapers (Taha, 2017).

Obsession fuelled by social media

Considering the above, it is clear that celebrity obsession does not only entail adoration for traditional celebrities such as those that are established in the entertainment industry. With social media platforms allowing individuals to rise to fame through content creation, these online personalities are able to gain a following of super-fans comparable to that of traditional celebrities. According to several studies among American teenagers, “relatability and attainability are two of the biggest reasons teenagers are impacted by YouTubers” (Westenberg, 2016). As these YouTubers are essentially average individuals like the viewer, this makes them significantly more relatable than traditional mass media celebrities. Thus, the following paragraphs will investigate the contributions of YouTubers’ excessive sharing on social media and celebrity worship of the fans. The section will also examine how the aforementioned factors strengthen the formation of parasocial relationships, all of which have been made possible by social media.

1. Excessive Sharing

With the transparency that social media allows, obsession over online celebrities have been made easier. SNS thrive on information uploaded and shared by users, which cause them to have the tendency to excessively share information online. The reason behind oversharing is psychological, and thus has been exacerbated by social media. Nadkarni and Hoffman (2012) found that many use social media “to satisfy their needs for belonging and self-presentation” and that the content shared “are fulfilling social needs to connect with others, gain acceptance, and present an online version of oneself, either accurate or idealized”. This is especially true for the YouTubers in question, since their living is earned through creating content on SNS and the content has to be relatable enough to keep fans interested. Vlogs that document the YouTubers day-to-day lives are often uploaded as content and enable viewers to keep track of what the YouTuber is doing. Also, it is common to find videos that consist of the YouTubers sharing information that are considered to be private. For example, Zoella and Jake Paul have both uploaded videos of them giving tours of their homes (Deyes, 2016 & Paul, 2017). Moreover, question and answer videos also allow their viewers to know more information about them. Although the information shared may not be of high importance, the combined content uploaded to YouTube and their other SNS accounts provide viewers a more detailed idea of who the YouTuber is.

Consequently, this tendency of YouTubers to excessively share information online provides an avenue for super-fans to fixate over them. Every tweet, picture or video posted on social media regardless of its content removes a layer of privacy for the online personality and allows their fans to feel more connected. This abundance of personal information does more harm than good especially if the YouTubers have fans that tend to go the extra mile in their adoration. This can be particularly seen in the example mentioned above, where fans are seen to be camping outside Zoella’s and Jake Paul’s homes (Cockroft, 2015 & Lorenz, 2017). It is irrefutable that the videos sharing personal information and vlogs containing snippets of the YouTubers’ home environment made it easier for super-fans to track them down. This ties in with the theory of social exchange which emphasizes the “importance to a cost and reward assessment, where a parasocial interaction with a media personality would have a high reward and low-cost exchange” (Ballantine and Martin, 2005). Fans are able to get a lot out of the relationship with minimal effort, as they are constantly being rewarded with the abundance of content that the YouTubers put online. Thus, for super-fans, this over-sharing epidemic feeds their obsessive behaviour and enables them to continue with it.

2. Celebrity Worship

Existing literature on celebrity worship discusses the phenomenon as a spectrum, where on one end the fan is merely passionate and on the other end, the fan’s obsession borders on psychopathological (Sansone & Sansone, 2014). This spectrum can be characterised in three stages (Houran, Lange & McCutcheon, 2002). In the case of YouTube vloggers, fans in the first stage are identified as those who actively seek out information about vloggers, but purely for an entertainment purpose. The majority of YouTube viewers fall into this category. Their interaction with the vloggers are passive and ends when they have finished consuming the content; they recognise the vloggers as a means to satisfy an entertainment need. In the second stage, fans are known to begin to perceive a parasocial relationship with the vlogger, as elaborated in the previous section. An example of such a behaviour can be seen in a fan video addressed to Zoella. In it, a young girl declares that she is not a stalker, but that Zoella is like a sister to her. The fan also believes that Zoella cares about her. Her video closes off with a plea for Zoella to respond by sending her a private video reply. Fans in the third stage are described to have “excessive empathy with the celebrity’s successes and failures, over-identify with the celebrity, and obsessively follow the details of a celebrity’s life” (Houran, Lange & McCutcheon, 2002). This includes stalking the vloggers openly in public as was the case with Enzo, or turning up at Jake Paul’s residence and camping out just to see him (Lorenz, 2017).

With the progression in each stage, the fan feels a greater degree of closeness with the celebrity. This may lead to a sense of entitlement on the fan’s part that he or she should be privy to the celebrity’s private life. This could in part be fuelled by the prevalence of fan pages and teams dedicated to the vloggers. In relevance to fan pages, social platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram enable fans to engage with vlogger-related content endlessly if they want to, due to the platforms’ infinite scroll function. It arguably allows fans to immerse themselves with no indication that they should stop consuming the media, potentially trapping them if they do not have the self-discipline to stop the scrolling on their own. Further, established vloggers have incredibly unified fan bases that refer to themselves by their team names. For instance, Jake Paul’s fans call themselves Jake Paulers and have anthems written by the vlogger himself. Zoella’s fans identify as Sugglets, with multiple quizzes online that people can take to determine how true a fan they are. Enzo’s fans call themselves Knolpowers. These names serve to fuel the fandom as fans are able to connect with one another online and validate each other’s behaviour through social influence, thus potentially escalating fans further up the celebrity worship scale and normalising stage 2 or 3 behaviours.

3. Parasocial Relationship

The combination of the two factors explained above contributes to the formation of relationships formed between the fan and YouTuber through constant interaction. This is known as a parasocial relationship, defined as essentially “imagined relationships that tend to be experienced as real” between a fan and mass media figure (Roberts, 2007). Though parasocial relationships are often used to describe connections that fans form with traditional celebrities, it is unsurprising to see that those relationships are also being created with online personalities given the latter’s rise in popularity. Recent studies have found that “people in digital environments may come to know more people parasocially than directly through interpersonal contact” (Chen, 2014). With social media, it is significantly easier for fans to form relationships with their online idols. Interactions between the YouTubers and their fans can be commonly seen by how YouTubers interact with them through their various SNS, usually by replying fans’ tweets and comments. Furthermore, online personalities are known to organize meet-and-greet events that give their viewers the opportunity to see them up close and personal. All three of the YouTubers have organized fan meetings, which often attract fans in large volumes. Thus, this elucidates how fans are now able to connect with their idols on a more personal scale than before.

Through frequent exposure with these online personalities, the viewers “come to feel that they know [them] from their appearance, gestures, conversations, and conduct, despite having had no direct communication with them” (Sylvia Caryle, w.y.). Social media-based parasocial relationships are more salient as these online personalities consistently share content of themselves on the Internet, which provides fans with an avenue to fixate on. As mentioned earlier through the explanation of the social exchange theory, the content put out by the vloggers serve as rewards to the viewers and hence keeps them interested. This constant provision of content coupled with the frequent interaction that the fans get from the YouTubers strengthens the parasocial relationships formed. Hence, this separates social media-based parasocial relationships from traditional celebrity-fan relationships considering how social media has allowed for the former to appear less one-sided. With the distance between the online personality and the fan becoming seemingly closer due to social media, it is inevitable that some fans start to develop obsessive behaviours towards their subject of obsession.

Implications

1. Influence of Youtubers on fans 

A study conducted by The University of Twente (2016) found that YouTubers do have significant influence on their fans, whether positive or negative. This is especially so for the younger fans. Examples of positive influence are evidenced through the good feedback received on YouTube videos that talk about problems not commonly shared in public. For example, Zoella openly discusses her problem of suffering from panic attacks in videos and shares her experiences with her viewers. After noting the positive reception garnered from such videos, she started a collaboration with Mind, a charity which helps people with mental health problems. Together, they strive to raise awareness on mental health and make the world a safer environment that permits issues of mental health to be a discussable topic (Audley, 2014). Be that as it may, the more impressionable fan base is susceptible to copying the bad behaviour that some YouTubers portray in their videos. YouTubers such as Jake Paul who produce controversial videos involving dangerous stunts promote recklessness and pose as bad examples to their fans. As it has been acknowledged that fans view YouTubers as their role model and attach value to the statements they make, YouTubers thus need to be highly careful of what they share on social media (University of Twente, 2016).

Considering the above, YouTubers can use their SNS to educate their fans on the correct behaviour. For example, YouTuber Julien Solomita uploaded a video telling his fans to not invade his privacy after encountering a fan outside of his house. He discouraged such behaviour and proposed other alternatives to those who want to meet him, such as at organised fan meetings. This approach should also be adopted by other YouTubers so that their fans are able to distinguish between socially appropriate and incorrect behaviour.

Furthermore, YouTubers do have an influence on the opinion of their followers about brands and products. The most used way of ‘advertising’ is through popular YouTubers. The reason for this is because they are seen as authentic when reviewing a product or brand (Influencer Marketing, 2012). Followers do believe that the recommendations or negative opinions of the YouTubers are honest and more credible than marketer-sponsored information provided by the brand itself. YouTubers are viewed as more honest and transparent to their followers. Firstly, they use particular hashtags like #ad or #spon to indicate when the content or product is sponsored.  Secondly, because they perceive YouTubers as equals, followers feel more related to them; YouTubers are seen as people who are only creating unique content on the internet. Their popularity is gained because of their personalities, unique talents and creativity, which followers also strive to achieve (Bentley, Earls & O’Brien, 2011). The intimate stories about their personal lives make them seem even more trustworthy and approachable.

In essence, YouTubers do have significant influence on their followers regarding both behaviour and opinions as detailed above. However, as this influence can be both positive and negative, YouTubers need to display correct behaviour since impressionable followers are prone to follow the behaviour of popular YouTubers. It is therefore essential that YouTubers are aware of the influence they have on their followers and act or produce content responsibly with this in mind.

Remedies

Based on the above, things must be done in order to prevent fans from taking their adoration of these online personalities to unhealthy levels.

Firstly, not all vloggers are positive role models like Zoella who inspire and advocate meaningful causes (Doyle, 2016). Secondly, the physical safety of children may be compromised as well due to the normalisation of over-sharing private information. Excessively revealing personal details such as their home location or daily activities could make them easy targets for online predators (Doyle, 2016). To give an example, 71% of schoolchildren publicly share their school and hometown (Helliwell, 2017) and 17% stated that they have ever been contacted online by a stranger, which made them uncomfortable and scared (KidsHealth, w.y.). Lastly, a staggering 95% of teens have been exposed to cruel behaviour on social media, such as live streaming of violent acts on platforms such as Facebook (Helliwell, 2017).

These exemplify the fact that parents and schools have an integral part to play in teaching children about social media. At the most basic level, parents may choose to restrict the kind of content their children have access to at home through YouTube’s privacy and settings page. This is commonly employed by schools although its effectiveness has been challenged (The Atlantic, 2016). Instead of simply filtering content for their children, parents can opt to educate their children to spur behavioural changes. Websites such as ParentInfo or Internet Safe Training provide tips on how parents can approach abstract concepts as such “positive” and “negative” online behaviour and content to teach their children to be more discerning netizens. By using education in tandem with monitoring, children can be independent in their online activities and understand the risks that come with certain behaviours. Schools are often second homes to children and educators can thus be another channel through which children learn how to use the Internet, and especially SNS, in a more safe and responsible way. Cyber safety courses that are integrated into the curriculum have to be updated to keep in line with the ever-evolving online world as well. Children ought to be taught from a young age how to identify negative behaviours as well as how to respond to them when they encounter the negative behaviours online. For instance, should a child see a violent act being carried out on a live streaming platform, they should be taught to report it immediately instead of being helpless viewers.

Children have to be taught that the online world is merely a part of their real life instead of it being their entire life. With that knowledge, they should be discerning in their actions online as they may have repercussions in real life.

Conclusion

To conclude, the project explains how social media has fuelled the obsessive behaviour of fans towards online celebrities. Social media has allowed average individuals to rise to fame through content creation, and those who rose to fame are able to gain a following of super-fans. The analysis reveals that given how social media has created a glass window into the lives of its users especially for online personalities, fans are able to get a detailed overview of who the latter really is. Social media can be likened to a form of tracking device on their idols due to the YouTubers’ excessive sharing of content and constant updates. In connection with the social exchange theory, the excessive sharing of content by YouTubers gives fans a reward of the interaction with minimal effort, as they are constantly being rewarded with the abundance of content that the YouTubers put online. Fans may form feelings of familiarity and affection towards them and form relationships with these online idols. With social media bridging the gap between the fans and the YouTubers, social media-based parasocial relationships are less one-sided as it has allowed the connection to be closer.

The analysis points out that YouTubers do have an influence on not only the behaviour of the followers, but also on the opinions of them. Followers perceive YouTubers to be more honest and trustworthy than a brand-produced advertisement. Teenagers admire YouTubers, and it is therefore important that the YouTubers are aware of the significant influence they have on the behaviour and opinions of their followers. At the same time, it is important that the parents make the teenagers aware of how to interact on social media platforms. In summary, the project underlines the fact that social networking sites are merely mediums for users. It must thus be acknowledged that because these sites can be used either positively or negatively, online personalities and fans alike must utilise these platforms wisely.

Thank you for reading! Hope you enjoyed our project 🙂

Peace and love,

G2, Group 7 (Myra, Irdina, Sophie, Daphne and Quynh Huong)

(G2) Group 1 – SPCA

Hello Guys,

Group 1 from G2 here! 🙂 We are going to share with you our social media strategy for our selected organization – SPCA.

Introduction of SPCA

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The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was created in the 1800s with the objective of preventing animal abuse and to promote kindness to animals. They provide various animal welfare services to the community such as the 24-hour emergency animal rescue, foster care for young animals and educating of youths in schools. SPCA is a non-governmental organization (NGO) so they rely on donations from the public to continue their role as an animal protector in Singapore.

SPCA’s Current Problems

To further analyze SPCA’s current situation, we conducted an interview with the Deputy Executive Director, Selina Sebastian to find out the current problems that SPCA is currently facing. Some of the issues include overcrowding, insufficient reserves, lack of transparency and underutilization of social media.

Research Question

Based on the above internal and external analyses of SPCA, the research question is: How might SPCA improve its social media presence in order to establish favorable, long-term relationships with its target stakeholders to increase monetary donations?

Critical Analysis of Social Media Strategy

To get an idea of SPCA’s social media engagement, Synthesio was used to search for mentions from 19 September 2016 to 28 September 2017 to maximize the coverage we could analyze. The search returned 2351 results, of which 823 were available for public viewing. From our results, we can see that the biggest share of voice is found on Facebook at 41.98%. This corroborates with the pattern in social media following across SPCA’s social media platforms. It is, however, interesting to note forums such as Hardwarezone had a substantial share of voice of 22.81% in the documented period. Through observation of the forum postings, people mention SPCA most often in discussions on animal abuse or abandonment.

Based on observations on SPCA’s social media it is posited that the biggest pitfall of SPCA’s current social media practices is the existence of cross-posting without consideration for the medium. This has resulted in a waste of resources as SPCA manages a multitude of social media platforms which largely lack engagement with its stakeholders. According to McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message, any medium will introduce a new scale to issues. The various social media platforms were rolled out with the intent to serve different purposes, and thus it would be inefficient and ineffective to not tailor-make content for better interactions online. For example, Twitter is designed as a platform to share short messages in less than 140 characters. SPCA’s Twitter profile, however, automatically shares its Facebook posts instead. The lack of brevity in SPCA’s tweets defies the purpose of Twitter, especially when content is duplicated across platforms. It is thus little wonder that SPCA’s tweets garner on average no more than 6 interactions per tweet.

It is also observed that SPCA does not engage in two-way communication, only responding to queries and apologizing for poor customer service in comments and reviews. As a non-profit organization, it is imperative for SPCA to build rapport with its stakeholders, to ensure continued support and increase funding for its operations. As Deputy Executive Director Selina Sebastian puts it, people are more receptive to giving to an organization when they see the good work that has been done. This means that SPCA needs to increase its social media engagement by inviting its followers to participate in meaningful conversations so as to truly understand what they value and view as ‘good work’.

Due to their limited budget available for communication efforts, SPCA embraces the free internet channels to share its good work. In the face of scarce resources, it is hence critical for the organization to improve its social media strategies and presence in order to be able to achieve its goal of building up fund reserves.

Main Goal and Objectives for SPCA

Our main goal is to help SPCA to increase monetary donations from individuals. This is because SPCA’s financial reserves currently stand at a single year’s operating costs, instead of the recommended 3 years. Despite that, SPCA does not actively seek individual donations on social media. Additionally, it is easier for SPCA to reach out to corporates for large donations. As such, it is key for SPCA to ramp up efforts in attracting individual donors to contribute to the financial resources needed to help the animals under its care. It is also proposed that the individual donations received will be allocated to the animals while corporate donations are used for the organization’s sustenance instead in order to increase individuals’ willingness to donate.

Therefore, we proposed three main objectives for our recommended strategies for SPCA.

1) To increase monetary donations from individuals by 8% that approximates to $28,2402

2) To increase SPCA’s favorability in the public’s eye to increase the sustainability of donations

3) To increase followers by 5,000 on Facebook and 4,000 on Instagram.

Target Audience

Our target audience is Singaporean individuals between 25 to 44 years old and are animal lovers. According to the Digital Influence Lab, Singaporeans between the ages of 25 to 34 are the most active social media users in Singapore with the rate of 96%. However, we are also considering Singaporeans between the ages of 35 to 44 as they have the second highest active social media users rate of 93%. Moreover, according to the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), the latter age group produces the highest donation rate of 85% than other age groups. Additionally, our primary target audiences have to be animal lovers as they are more likely to empathize animals and in turn, are more willing to change their donation behaviors and attitudes.

Proposed Strategies

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Target Audience Framework

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Recommended strategies and tactics

  1. Let’s SPCA (Save, Protect, Cherish Animals)

Let’s SPCA is a peer-to-peer campaign movement that aims to increase SPCA’s social media followers by increasing awareness of SPCA’s mission to stop animal cruelty. Such movements have proven to be effective in garnering public attention. It is envisioned that the potential virility of such a campaign can be leveraged upon to spread a positive framing of SPCA to those unfamiliar with the organization.

Let’s SPCA requires individuals to take a picture with their pets and/or hold a sign that says “I am against animal cruelty” or “I say no to animal cruelty,” as illustrated below. This picture would then be posted to their Instagram or Facebook with the caption “Let’s SPCA” and “Join the against-animal-cruelty community on SPCA’s facebook”. The captions allow the public to recognize SPCA’s involvement in the campaign and increase web traffic to its Facebook page. To spread the campaign, participants will have to tag three friends to participate and join the community. If more people mention or tag SPCA, it makes their account more accessible to the public.

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Let’s SPCA will first collaborate with animal-loving local celebrities and influencers in Singapore for the campaign to gain hype online. This is because according to the Social Network Theory, celebrities have high centrality to help this campaign to reach out to more people. A suggested celebrity to kick off the campaign would be Desmond Tan, who is recognized as a strong animal advocate, as seen from his co-initiated campaign for deserted animals called “Blue Socks”. Secondly, marketing efforts by SPCA are needed to spread awareness of this campaign amongst their followers as well. Additionally, the time frame for this campaign is the entire six months to maximize participation from the target audience in ‘Segment 1’.

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  1. BeLive in SPCA

BeLive in SPCA intends to increase interactivity between the organisation and Segment 2 to increase inclination to donate. It also combats slacktivism – the use of small actions online to show support for causes by making the simple action of sending gifts through BeLive a tangible effort in supporting animal welfare.

Live streaming was identified as a suitable platform as it has risen to be a global phenomenon over the past 2 years, accounting for 66% of online traffic (Mortensen, 2016). In recent months, live streaming has evolved to allow the sending of virtual gifts that can be converted into real currency. The live streaming industry has since become highly profitable, raking in billions annually. In Singapore, companies such as BeLive have jumped on the bandwagon to provide their own platform for local online personalities to interact with their fans. Therefore, this could be an opportunity for SPCA to engage its followers and subtly put forth the donation appeal with original content that shows how donations will be used for the welfare of the animals.

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In collaboration with BeLive Singapore, SPCA will hold fortnightly live streams where viewers will be able to send donations in the form of virtual gifts. The live stream campaign will start off by tasking the hosts to complete a series of activities which will only be considered complete if the specified number of virtual gifts is reached. A benchmark for the desired hosts would once again be Desmond Tan. SPCA will also send a representative of its organization to host the stream together with the personality to remind viewers that the streams are an SPCA initiative. Ideally, the representative should be engaging and a familiar spokesperson of SPCA, such as Suresh Sundramurthi. In subsequent installments, donations from the previous streams will be used to purchase items such as food and shampoo for the animals of SPCA in an effort to increase transparency of fund use. 

  1. Purrfect Friend

Purrfect Friend is an online activity that allows the public to “adopt” a pet virtually and offer real-time help. This increases the responsibility and commitment a Purrfect Friend participant feels towards the animals and cause, increasing their motivation to donate. In addition, funds usage is more transparent through this strategy, assuring donors that their contributions will directly impact their selected animal.

Purrfect Friend requires SPCA to create a page on their website and list the top 20 animals that have been at SPCA for more than 2 years. We chose these animals for this pilot initiative because of these animals, according to Sebastian (2017), have a low likelihood of getting adopted. Therefore, we would like to use the donations garnered from this initiative to first help the animals who are in greater need.

On the page, each listed animal will have a meter at the side as illustrated below. The meter shows the current amount of donations an animal receives and should receive each month based on their individual needs. After each month, any leftover donations will be carried over to the following month’s meter to maintain transparency. In addition, each listed animal will have a profile for potential donors to know them better and increase emotional attachment through the use of ethos.

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To increase the donors’ engagement with their Purrfect pets, these animals will star in the BeLive streams and weekly videos that will be uploaded onto their profile page. As 6 months is a very short period of time, Purrfect Friend is a pilot initiative for the listed animals and if this campaign is successful after 6 months, more animals will be listed up on the web page. 

  1. Woof Got Mail

“Woof got mail!” is the sending of a personalized Electronic card (E-card) to members of Segment 3 in appreciation of their contributions to SPCA. This is done in line with how people are motivated to donate again after receiving recognition. Since SPCA relies heavily on sustainable donations, a strong and positive relationship with donors is vital. This strategy will hence convey SPCA’s sincere gratitude to each contribution, as any amount goes a long way in helping the animals.

Currently, SPCA’s donation platforms only display a simple thank you message after each transaction. To demonstrate sincerity and appreciation, “Woof got mail!” will allow all donors to receive a personalized E-card via email, which can be retrieved from SPCA’s database. The E-card will be addressed personally to these donors within 1 working day and inform them about how the donations will contribute to SPCA’s operations.

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  1. Woof Got Featured

As an extension of “Woof got mail!”, this strategy leverages on the donors’ desire to feel appreciated for their contributions. For “Woof got featured!”, we also make use of SPCA’s social media to feature their current donors by creating a photo mosaic in a public display of gratitude for their contributions.

“Woof got featured!” requires SPCA to create a photo mosaic that features SPCA’s current donors’ photos on Facebook. The mosaic is created by collating all the individual donors’ photos as seen below. The large share of voice of SPCA’s Facebook page allows for wider reach of this initiative. The many mosaic creating tools online allow SPCA to select one that best suits their needs. For instance, SPCA could use Mosaically, which is a platform to create a mosaic with hundreds of photos with a low cost.

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To further increase transparency, the Facebook post can also include the overview of the funds breakdown while directing interested users to SPCA’s annual report for a detailed version. This step is vital for SPCA because transparency is a motivating factor for millennial donors to continue donating.

Limitations

With a social cause centered around social media platforms, slacktivism might still occur. It could serve as a barrier to the campaign objectives as our target audience might remain unmoved and not get involved with the proposed activities. This will, in turn, prohibit the increase in donations and sustenance in donorship in long term.

Secondly, with many strategies and tactics in place, there is a potential lack of manpower in SPCA. As an NGO, they are faced with limited staff, let alone staff with technological expertise. The execution of certain strategies may prove a challenge. Despite this, Sebastian mentioned that SPCA has numerous volunteers available who consist of well-equipped and highly-expertised technological and communications individuals.

Lastly, having tested only 2 of the 5 tactics through a focus group sharing, we are unable to determine the possible effectiveness of the other tactics due to time-constraint and the lack of reach.

Conclusion

While it’s crucial for non-profit organizations such as SPCA to amass donations for the sustenance of its operations, it is critical to communicate SPCA’s commitment to mitigating animal abuse and abandonment. Through the proposed social media strategies, SPCA will be able to convey this message while simultaneously demonstrating an understanding of donor motivations and desires, aiding in its conquest to establish favorable long-term relationships with its donors.

We hope that the proposed use of less conventional social media platforms can generate conversations about SPCA within the animal-loving community. This will help us to spread SPCA’s work through positive word-of-mouth, and create much-needed hype for the strategies to gain traction. If these strategies prove to be useful within the proposed 6 month implementation period, SPCA could consider the continuation of the campaign and cement its position as a leading advocate against animal cruelty.

If you’ve read on despite the post being so long, give yourself a pat on a back. Thank you for reading. 🙂

Our group will also like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Shim and our TA, May, for the past semester of hard work.

All the best for all your finals and may all of you have a great Winter break after this. Take care, everyone!

Signing off,

G2, Group 1 (Daphne, Dora, Lynn, Jiapo and Xin Kai)

G1 – Group 2 – PM Social Media Use and Parasocial Relationship

Parasocial relationship through social media: Assessing the influence of Prime Minister’s (PM) social media presence on Singapore Management University (SMU) students’ confidence in him

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Inspiration for the topic

As a team, we are pretty keen on politics and current affairs. We read the research paper by (Chung and Cho, 2014) during the second week of the curriculum and were pretty impressed by it. In short, the writers studied the relationship between Korean celebrities and their fans. They conducted a survey and found that a parasocial relationship had developed between celebrities and fans through the use of social media. They also found that such a parasitical relationship had serious implications for brand endorsement and credibility.

We were fascinated by the concept of a parasocial relationship and curious to see how powerful its effects really are. We thought that there are compelling reasons for extending the concept to the political context. If it has such strong implications in the commercial setting, then perhaps these effects might be replicated in politics to the benefit of various political actors. The next question for us was which politician should we study? At once, the choice was obvious – the PM in Singapore is popular for habitually posting on his various social media accounts.

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On his Twitter and Facebook accounts, the PM frequently reveals intimate details about his personal life. And if you click on any of these social media posts, you will see that it is filled with positive comments from his many followers. This was extremely conducive for the development of a parasitical relationship between the PM and his followers. Accordingly, we were excited to begin our research. We quickly sought out various SMU students which we employed as our survey and interview subjects. While we understand that confining our sample to such a small group might limit our research findings, we nevertheless hope that they might function as a microcosm of Singaporeans as a whole.

Hypothesis 1: SMU Students’ following of PM on SNS and parasocial relationships with the PM are positively associated. 

First, we posited that SMU students who follow the PM on Twitter and Facebook have a parasocial relationship with the PM. We based this by analogising the findings of previous academic papers on parasocial relationships in the commercial context, as well as on the back of the many positive comments easily found on the PM’s social media posts.

Hypothesis 2: Parasocial relationships and SMU students’ perceptions of the PM’s credibility are positively associated.

Second, we thought that it would be likely that if parasocial relationships were found amongst the followers of the PM, these parasocial relationships would lead to those followers viewing the PM with high levels credibility similar to parasocial relationships in the context of celebrities.

Hypothesis 3: SMU students’ perceptions of the PM’s credibility and SMU students’ confidence in the PM are positively associated. 

Third, we posited that research findings pertaining to brand credibility and perceived product quality are similarly applicable in the political context to measure the effect of perceptions of credibility on political confidence. Approval and support for governments normally increase citizens’ trust and perceived credibility. This is unsurprising given that governments wield great power and the individual is vulnerable to abuses of political power. 

Measuring parasocial relationship with the PM

We employed 3 criteria of parasocial relationships: Understanding, Perceived Friendship and Self-Disclosure. We examined various past studies on parasocial relationships, all of which adopted different indicators in order to measure the existence of parasocial relationships. After much deliberation, we finally decided on these 3 criteria, which we adopted from (Chung and Cho, 2014), because it made the most  sense and were the clearest in illustrating the concept.

In our survey, we made sure to ask questions that most accurately reflect the value of these 3 criteria on the part of our respondents.

Results

After a tedious survey and interview process, coupled with running the data through SPSS software, we present the following results.

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To our astonishment, Hypothesis 1 was rejected. As we had predicted, Hypotheses 2 and 3 were accepted. Our findings are a little confusing at first glance. What this meant was that SMU students had a parasocial relationship with the PM, and such parasocial relationships led to an increase in their perceptions of the PM’s credibility and confidence in him. However, such a parasocial relationship did not arise from the use of Facebook and Twitter. It must have developed from other means beyond the contemplation of our paper.

Discussion

We asked ourselves: how else could SMU students developed a parasocial relationship with the PM, if not through Twitter or Facebook? We postulated several possibilities.

First, respondents may have developed a parasocial relationship through media influences other than SNS such as traditional media. However, this is unlikely as our survey results also show that traditional media did not affect the development of a parasocial relationship with the PM,

Second, a parasocial relationship may have developed through following the PM on SNS platforms not within our survey. While our survey only included SNS of Facebook and Twitter, certain respondents in our post-survey interviews expressed views that they actively follow and receive updates from the PM through Instagram. These interviewees also mentioned that they favour the use of Instagram over other SNS. Therefore, such parasocial relationship amongst respondents could have been developed through following the PM on Instagram.

Third, the significant negative correlation in our findings may be due to the nature of Facebook and Twitter as platforms which facilitate critical political discussions. Facebook and Twitter are channels in which Singaporeans who possess anti-establishment views employ to discuss important and sometimes controversial political matters. In contrast, Singaporeans who desire a more intimate interpersonal relationship with the PM are more likely to “follow” the PM on Instagram. Accordingly, Instagram probably constitutes the SNS platform that is conducive to the development of parasocial relationships. This could be a possible explanation as to why respondents did not have parasocial relationships with the PM through Facebook and Twitter use.

Fourth, the development of a parasocial relationship may be through non-media related factors. The culture in Singapore follows that of Confucianist values with emphasis on respect for elders and persons in authority. As such, many Singaporeans have an inherent respect for people in governmental capacities such as the PM. This is applicable here given the fact that the PM has been the Prime Minister of Singapore for 13 years leading Singapore through a relatively prosperous period of time. The PM’s position as the leader of the People’s Action Party which has been the Singapore’s governing party since independence overseeing Singapore’s transformation from a third world country to a first world country could also lead the respondents having an inherent sense of trust and respect for the PM.

Regarding our findings on Hypotheses 2 and 3, our study mirrors those of previous researches on parasocial relationships in relation to celebrities. Accordingly, it appears that the concept of parasocial relationship and its powerful implications are likely to be similarly applicable for politics.

Conclusion

Our study provides ample evidence that the immense implications of parasocial relationship in the commercial context may likely be replicated for political actors. This represents a new exciting avenue for research. With the advent of web 2.0 technology, the reliance on social media for political communication is only going to increase. Politicians must better understand how to cultivate parasocial relationship with their followers to fully harness the power of social media.

By: CHOO Jun Kai, Fabian DE LA FUENTE OLIVAS, Leonard LEONG Chee Yarn, LIM Kiap Mei Grace, Wayne YEO

Group 5 – Suunto Singapore

Hi everyone!

Here’s a follow up on our project 🙂

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COMPANY INTRODUCTION

Founded in 1936, Suunto is a Finnish manufacturer of sports instruments for adventurers worldwide. Suunto’s product line ranges from premium sports watches to accessories that aid in various sports such as diving, climbing, and triathlons. In Singapore, Suunto’s merchandise are available at sports retailers such as World Sports and Royal Sporting House.

Internationally, Suunto is a highly-recognised brand, with a substantial following of 382,245 fans on its global Facebook page (@Suunto). These fans receive frequent updates regarding Suunto’s partnerships, brand ambassadors, and product information.

Singapore is a promising market for Suunto as tech wearables such as sports watches are becoming increasingly popular, with a 69% increase in retail volume in 2016 (Euromonitor, 2016). However, Suunto has been unable to fulfil its business potential in Singapore, as our conversations with the company reveal that consumer awareness and sales levels remain low.

Suunto Singapore believes that social media can help them achieve their business goals. The trend of sharing fitness tips on social media, coupled with Singaporeans’ high mobile and internet penetration rates have led to increased integration of social media with fitness (Euromonitor, 2016). Additionally, sports and fitness enthusiasts are the main sharers of fitness information on social media (Euromonitor, 2016) thus indicating how social media can raise awareness of sports-related wearable technology.

Thus, our project seeks to answer the following research question: How Suunto can use social media to increase brand awareness among athletes and sports enthusiasts, so as to forge a strong community around the brand and increase sales in the long run.

 

TARGET AUDIENCE

Currently, Suunto Singapore targets male athletes between the ages of 18 to 30-years-old that exercise two to six times a week, for at least three hours each. Based on this information and further research, our group expanded the target audience to include females and water sports enthusiasts. This is because of the growing number of women who have an interest in sports and fitness (Euromonitor, 2015), as well as Suunto’s core competency in dive computers that give it a competitive advantage in manufacturing watches for water sports.

PRIMARY RESEARCH

Our primary research comprised of 19 in-depth interviews and an observational study. For the in-depth interviews, we interviewed individuals who considered themselves as sports enthusiasts for an average of 20 minutes each, guiding them through a structured discussion on their awareness of sports watch brands, current lifestyle, and social media usage. We then conducted an observational study at MacRitchie Reservoir Park to gain insights on the social media usage patterns of sports watch users and non-users. Their opinions assisted us in identifying strengths and weaknesses of Suunto’s current social media strategy.

            In-depth Interviews (IDIs)

We started the interviews by asking broad questions to gain insights from our participants and progressed to more in-depth questions targeting their perceptions on sports watches and their social media habits. To glean a better representative of each segment, participants included male and female users and non-users of sports watch brands, from various income groups.

Most IDI participants had positive perceptions of sports watches and would use one if it can enhance their trainings. However, only 21% of the participants have heard of Suunto, compared to 74% who have heard of Garmin and 26% who have heard of Polar. This suggests that Suunto has very low brand awareness compared to its main competitor, Garmin.

As for social media habits, 94% of the participants use Facebook as their main social media channel, mainly to keep up with the latest news and trends. The high usage rates can be attributed to positive network effects as there are more than 1.23 billion daily active users, thus making Facebook the most popular social network worldwide (Statista, n.d.). Hence, Facebook is an important platform in increasing consumer awareness of Suunto, and our group will utilize a pull strategy to attract users to the page.

Additionally, 84% of participants also mentioned Instagram as one of their most frequently used social media channels. Participants explained that while they use Facebook to gain general information, Instagram is used to share photos and personal milestones with a smaller, more intimate circle of contacts. This helped our group understand how target users’ media habits differ across platforms. We will thus include Instagram in Suunto’s social media campaign as it can help us reach consumers on a more personal level.

Next, 47% of participants also listed Snapchat as one of their most frequently used social media platforms. Participants explained that Snapchat is used to post photos and videos that are less visually aesthetic, such as funny faces or mundane everyday scenes. A small percentage of participants also highlighted that they enjoyed reading listicles in Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ section, which are published by Snapchat’s content partners. As such, we can capitalize on this small but substantial percentage of users by pushing out relevant information on sports and fitness.

Lastly, most participants said they would follow brands online if these brands had engaging stories and attractive giveaways. Therefore, we should capitalize on Suunto’s rich history in manufacturing diving computers to establish trust in their product quality, modernize this story to be more relatable to consumers’ needs, and carry out periodic giveaways to further engage consumers.

            Observational Study

We observed 200 runners at MacRitchie Reservoir Park to find out the percentage of sports enthusiasts who own a sports watch, and among these, who owns a Suunto watch. 61 runners (30%) use a sports watch to track key workout statistics. Out of those 61 runners, only 1.5% had a Suunto watch while others used watches from competitor brands Garmin (64%), Polar (18%), Fitbit (13%), and Timex (3%). In terms of social media habits, out of the 61 people who wore sports watches, 90% of them also engaged with their mobile phone. Out of these 55 mobile phones users, 54 were surfing social media platforms on their phone, with 70% using Facebook and 30% using Instagram.

SECONDARY RESEARCH

Facebook boasts 3.5 million active users every month in Singapore, and is used to keep updated on the latest product and brand offerings (Kantar TNS, 2015). Majority of Singaporeans (60%) used a search engine to aid them in their purchase decisions (Google Barometer, 2014), with Facebook ranked among the top three search engine/social media sites that Singaporeans used to do so (Alexa, 2015).

The number of Instagram users in Singapore has been growing steadily every year, from 51% in 2014 to 63% in 2016. 85% of Instagram users in the APAC region are aged between 16 to 24-years-old. Instagram users cite the appeal of highly-curated, beautifully-edited pictures as the reason for using the platform (Lawrence, 2016).

Meanwhile, Snapchat usage in Singapore has doubled from 19% in 2015 to 37% in 2016 (Lawrence, 2016). An analysis of Snapchat usage found that the platform is best for “raw, in-the-moment, humorous” content (Lawrence, 2016). Furthermore, Snapchat’s user demographics comprise of 70% females (Macmillan, 2013), and 71% of users are under 34-years-old (Reisinger, 2015). More than half (58%) of Snapchat users in the APAC region are aged between 16 to 24-years-old (Lawrence, 2016), thus falling within Suunto’s target audience.

With the increase in Singaporeans’ adoption of these platforms, brands can more easily access and engage with their target audience. However, 22% of consumers in Singapore ignore online content from brands, because they perceive such efforts as invasive (Lawrence, 2016).  Thus, brand content must be integrated naturally into the platform, be tailored specifically to the chosen platform, and offer content that provides value to consumers.

More engaging content can be produced through collaboration with online influencers, with almost half of consumers aged 16 to 24-years-old (40%) saying that they trust what other people say about brands rather than official sources such as brand websites (Lawrence, 2016).

COMPETITOR ANALYSIS

            Premium Sports Watches

Garmin is Suunto’s closest competitor in Singapore due to their similar product offerings and pricing strategies in the field of premium sports watches. Known for its GPS technology in industries such as auto motives and aviation, its venture into wearable technology has greatly increased competition in the sports watch industry (Anderson, 2013).

Although Polar is also considered as a close competitor of Suunto (Hall, 2016), due to their lack of social media presence in Singapore, Polar will not be included in this competitor analysis.

Facebook

Both Suunto and Garmin have a social media presence in Singapore. Both brands have a Facebook page, but only Garmin has a local Instagram account.

Suunto Singapore’s Facebook presence is markedly less established when compared with Garmin. While Suunto has 380,000+ followers on its old Facebook page (@SgSuunto) and 2300+ followers on its current Facebook page (@Singapore.Suunto), both still trail behind Garmin, which has 1,500,000+ followers on its Singapore page (@GarminSG).

Unlike Suunto, Garmin has localised its social media strategy and expanded its content beyond product promotion and general events. Garmin’s more engaging social media strategy has helped the brand achieve top-of-mind-awareness as noted during our IDIs, and a strong social media presence in Singapore (Socialbakers, 2017a).

Comparing Suunto’s content with Garmin’s, the latter shares articles, fitness tips, and their brand ambassadors’ lifestyle and training insights to facilitate interaction and engagement with consumers, resulting in approximately 264 interactions per week compared to Suunto’s 24.

Instagram

As mentioned previously, Suunto does not have a Singapore-based Instagram account. Garmin, however, has a Singapore-based Instagram page (@GarminSG) with 2,466 followers. From December 2016 to March 2017, a total of 77 posts were uploaded, amounting to approximately six posts a week.

Garmin’s page enjoys an average of 440 interactions per week (Socialbakers, 2017b), and publishes targeted, consistent, and localised content in tandem with their Facebook page.

 Not having an Instagram page means that Suunto is not reaching a large swathe of its target audience, especially millennials (19 to 29-year-olds), who are very active on Instagram (Pew Research Center, 2015). As our primary research also finds that Instagram is among the most popular social media platforms for sports-related content, Suunto is clearly forfeiting a significant opportunity to reach and engage with its target audience.

            Activity Tracker Watches

In addition to competing with premium sport watch brands, Suunto also competes with activity tracker watch brands such as Fitbit, Samsung, and Apple. As both Samsung Gear and Apple Watch do not have a social media presence in Singapore, our evaluation will only include Fitbit Singapore.

Facebook

Fitbit has a dedicated local account on Facebook (@FitbitSG), which has garnered over 1,894,018 fans as of March 2017 (Fitbitsg, 2017). The page features regular updates, with at least one post per day. Content ranges from product updates to health, fitness, and nutrition tips. Unlike Garmin, Fitbit appeals to the mass market and does not demonstrate a localised strategy. However, as Suunto is a premium sports watch brand with a niche market, it should develop a localised strategy like Garmin’s to enable its target audience to better identify with the brand (Omuus, 2016).

Similar to Suunto, Fitbit does not have an Instagram account in Singapore. Hence, with respect to its competitor’s social media strategies, Suunto should take necessary actions to stay competitive.

CURRENT SOCIAL MEDIA EFFORTS

Having evaluated Suunto’s social media efforts using the data obtained from Socialbakers (December 2016 to March 2017), these are our findings:

Reach

Facebook is the only social media platform Suunto utilizes in Singapore. In mid-2016, Suunto Singapore moved from its old Facebook page (@SgSuunto) to (@Singapore.Suunto). However, while its active Facebook page has only 2300 fans, the inactive, yet verified page has approximately 165-times more followers (SgSuunto, 2017), which may cause confusion among current and potential fans. Also, by only being present on Facebook, Suunto loses opportunities to build better relations with its target audience, who are active on other platforms.

Frequency of Posts

Suunto only published 14 Facebook posts in the three-month-period, posting approximately once a week. While social media can build brand awareness and foster consumer engagement, Suunto’s limited and irregular posting prevents them from reaping these benefits.

Quality of Posts

Suunto posts two types of content: product promotions and event updates. Posts on product updates comprise of product photos with a lengthy caption and website link, while event updates feature the Suunto Fitness Group (SFG). Currently, these posts only comprise the event date, time, and location, without any follow-up photos or videos to document the session. Although these posts are relevant to the brand, they are not engaging, and instead come across as generic and lacking in variety. Additionally, Suunto has not adopted a localised social media strategy, which could make the brand unappealing to locals.

 Engagement

Over the three-month-period, (@Singapore.Suunto) received an average of only 24 interactions per week. Promoted posts represented 104 of the share of interactions, while organic and undetected amount to 55 and 150 respectively. This shows that Suunto adopts an unappealing one-way social media strategy, without providing opportunities for user interaction. Additionally, the lack of localised or varied content results in poor reach and engagement levels among   Singaporean users.

 EVALUATION OF CURRENT SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

According to Hutter et al. (2013), a brand’s social media presence is important in increasing consumer’s brand awareness, word-of-mouth, and ultimately, drives consumer purchase intentions. However, Suunto’s current level of brand awareness is very poor, with 85% of IDI participants being unaware of the brand. This problem is exacerbated by having two locally-based Facebook pages. The lack of clear communication regarding the transition to the new page may prevent interested users from following Suunto on Facebook. Thus, Suunto needs to clearly designate the page that fans should follow by deleting the old page and getting the new page officially verified, so that users who search for Suunto Singapore will be directed to the new page.

In terms of engagement, Suunto’s current social media strategy does not sufficiently engage its fans as they do not produce content that inspire discussion amongst followers and promote two-way interaction. Also, as Suunto currently does not have local Instagram and Snapchat accounts, they should create both accounts before implementing the following social media strategies, as these are the second and third most popular platforms among their target audience.

PROPOSED SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

            Brand Story

To increase brand awareness and create opportunities for user interaction and engagement, we will use brand storytelling to highlight (1) Suunto’s expertise as a pioneer in its field, (2) how Suunto makes its users ‘stronger together’ and (3) Suunto’s value of inclusivity. These three main facets can create a cohesive brand story for Suunto – a brand that has the expertise to help sports and fitness enthusiasts train better.

As such, we devised three strategies to be organically implemented across Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, the three most popular social media channels used by Suunto’s target audience.

Our first strategy, Suunto Heritage, emphasises Suunto’s rich history of pioneering dive technology before having diversified into premium technologies for other sports such as running and mountaineering. By effectively communicating their heritage, premium brands can improve consumer perception and increase purchase intentions, as consumers of premium goods associate brands with a long, rich history with expertise in producing superior products (Chelminski & DeFanti, 2016). In addition, 42% of IDI participants mentioned that a brand’s history was one of the factors influencing their purchase decisions. Thus, by communicating their rich heritage, Suunto can differentiate itself from competitors and gain awareness amongst target consumers.

Secondly, our Stronger with Suunto strategy aims to convey product benefits that resonate with our target audience, through emotional motivators. Social media influencers will be engaged to push information regarding Suunto’s products and launch conversations regarding the functionality of Suunto watches. This form of native advertising can increase product awareness and the credibility of our marketing message (Gerberich, 2017) by demonstrating how Suunto’s products are crucial in the enhancement of a user’s training experience (Morrison, 2015). This can result in more fully-connected customers, who are 52% more valuable to brands in terms of purchase and usage frequency (Leemon, Magids & Zorfas, 2015). Therefore, highlighting how users can be stronger with Suunto’s products can increase product awareness and opportunities to engage with the target audience.

Lastly, highlighting Suunto’s brand image as inclusive can appeal to all types of individuals, increasing the likelihood of brand patronage. This is in line with Suunto’s defining strength – its wide range of products catering to all kinds of sports. By building on Suunto’s value of inclusivity through targeting users across sports and genders, Suunto’s diverse target audience can better identify with the brand. Once consumers identify with the brand, brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth increases (Han, Kim & Park, 2001). Indeed, 57% of IDI participants mentioned that they were attracted to brand stories that they could identify with. As such, Suunto’s story can centre around inclusivity, and how gender, physical disabilities, and other characteristics are not barriers to greatness, but can be instead seen as a uniting force to conquer new territories with the help of Suunto products. With a greater number of users interested in the brand, Suunto can build an online community who are united and interested to engage with the brand.

Through a cohesive brand story, our target audience will be able to identify Suunto as a brand with the best expertise to help all sports and fitness enthusiasts train better.

STRATEGIES

            Suunto Heritage

Objectives

  1. To increase interest and brand awareness among competitive athletes and sports enthusiasts.
  2. Differentiate Suunto from other sports watch brands such as Garmin and Polar.

Rationale

Suunto Heritage utilizes a pull strategy with a mix of videos, pictures, and infographics to increase current and potential consumers’ understanding of Suunto by featuring Suunto’s rich history of innovation.

 Execution

Time Period: April 2017 – June 2017

 Goals for Facebook are in percentages as it builds on Suunto’s existing fans and views, while goals for Instagram and Snapchat are in numbers as Suunto does not have existing Instagram and Snapchat accounts.

 Facebook

A video providing an overview on the milestones of Suunto’s sports watches over the years will be released to mark the start of the campaign.

Subsequently, text content such as articles and infographics on Suunto’s heritage will be posted weekly to showcase past Suunto watch models and how they were made. This provides consumers with a deeper understanding of the expertise behind Suunto’s product development.

Instagram

High-definition pictures will be posted on Instagram weekly, with each picture featuring a vintage sports watch, a historical figure, or watch-making process, along with an insightful caption. Users will be invited to visit Facebook to read the full article.

Snapchat

As IDIs have shown that consumers enjoy discovering short, interesting titbits of content on Snapchat, snaps will be posted on Suunto’s Snapchat to celebrate the brand’s milestone anniversaries.

            Stronger with Suunto

Objectives

  1. Increase product awareness and interest among current and potential Suunto users
  2. Promote engagement between Suunto and the target audience

Rationale

Stronger with Suunto taps into local influencers’ existing clout in the sporting community to reach out to current and potential of Suunto watches, with the goal of increasing product awareness and engagement.

The influencers for this strategy are chosen based on their betweenness and closeness to our target audience and their embodiment of Suunto’s core values of “Innovation”, “Determination” and “Inclusivity”. The high betweenness quotient will increase the reach of Suunto‘s social media efforts, while high closeness allows Suunto to more effectively call for action and collect feedback from the target audience.

Execution

Time Period: April 2017 – June 2017

Influencer Selection

Yip Pin Xiu embodies Suunto’s spirit of conquering new territories by showing that an indomitable spirit can overcome any obstacle. By partnering with her, Suunto will be making a clear statement that we are inclusive and support athletes of all backgrounds. Pin Xiu is also a good fit for Suunto because Suunto’s aqua watches can significantly improve her training by keeping track of her physiology and training progress.

Timothee Yap’s role as a student-athlete will resonate with a large percentage of Suunto’s target audience and his massive 16.4k reach on Instagram will significantly boost Suunto’s reach on social media. Furthermore, Suunto’s land watches will be helpful in tracking his training variables and in planning his recovery sessions.

 Facebook

Product reviews, blog posts, listicles and media coverage of Suunto’s influencers will be shared on Facebook, with content published thrice weekly.

Paid content such as product features and reviews from tech-focused content portals like TechCrunch and RunnersWorld aim to increase product awareness among users seeking information on Suunto’s products. The links can also promote engagement in the form of shares and comments among Suunto users.

In-house content will mainly be focused on informational articles on Suunto’s products. These articles can be taken from Suunto’s global editorial team, and if necessary, be repackaged for the Singaporean market by localizing the content. Additionally, Suunto can engage in brand journalism and content marketing by publishing content such as posts highlighting the functionality of Suunto watches. Suunto can also exhibit thought leadership by producing original articles such as “How exercise increases happiness”, that are less sales-focused but still introduce Suunto’s business while branding them as a fitness and sports expert. By producing such content, Suunto can increase product awareness and engage with consumers experiencing the zero-moment-of-truth (ZMOT) purchase behaviour (Lecinski, 2011).  This is validated by our primary research, with our IDIs revealing that Suunto’s target audience use social media to collect information before making a purchase. Thus, Suunto must increase their social media reach to build interest amongst consumers and create brand awareness, which can lead to an increase in product sales.

General content includes news articles about general fitness, land, and aqua sports, in addition to local athletes’ achievements that can double as media coverage of Suunto’s influencers. This provides an additional avenue for Suunto to engage with current and potential users, as the inspirational nature of these articles is likely to invite likes and shares beyond Suunto’s current follower base.

 Instagram

Based on IDIs, 78% of participants mentioned that they would be attracted to social media campaigns offering giveaways, and that they will not only be motivated to contribute, but will also tell their friends about the giveaways.

As such, Timothee and Pin Xiu will each promote a single monthly giveaway with two posts per week, using the #strongerwithsuunto hashtag to promote Suunto’s Spartan Ultra watch as the prize.

 This incentive can increase engagement between Suunto and our target audience. According to the Social Exchange Theory (Emerson, 1976), consumers will interact with brands only if the benefits outweigh the costs of doing so. Thus, providing watches as prizes greatly increases the expected benefit of the interaction, while inspiring word-of-mouth around the brand.

 Alongside the giveaways, content detailing the functionalities of products will be posted to increase product awareness and encourage discussion among fans. These posts can also nurture fandomization, where fans who take pride in being part of the Suunto community will not only engage in apprenticeship behaviour to educate new fans, but also be motivated to prove their ownership of the brand by interacting with posts and sharing their thoughts and knowledge (Netzer, 2016).

Snapchat

Snapchat will complement Stronger with Suunto’s Facebook and Instagram content by encouraging the conversion of views into sales. Sunny, Suunto’s Snapchat personality, will helm Suunto’s Snapchat, as IDIs found that consumers usually follow personalities instead of brands on Snapchat. Sunny will share fitness tips every Friday for the Fitness Friday campaign, share promotional codes for the Mega-Sale Monday campaign, and announce new product launches for the Sneak Peek Saturday campaign.

            Suunto Tribe

Objectives

  1. Retain new and existing fans through social media engagement
  2. Build an online community around the Suunto brand

 Rationale

To promote sustainable interest in Suunto after the Suunto Heritage and Stronger with Suunto campaigns, our third strategy builds an online community around sports, fitness, and the Suunto brand. Continual engagement by encouraging community interaction can strengthen loyalty to the Suunto brand.

Pin Xiu and Timothee can initiate the creation of the online community, Suunto Tribe. Suunto’s social media platforms will be a dialog Magnet to increase conversation, grow network effects, increase word-of-mouth, and strengthen brand loyalty by sharing stories of training with their teammates while using Suunto products.

Execution

Time Period: June 2017 – August 2017

As Suunto will be active on all three social media platforms by the start of the Suunto Tribe strategy, all goals are in percentages as they build on existing fans and views.

 Facebook

Monthly live streams in the form of AMA(ask-me-anything) s with Pin Xiu and Timothee will be held on Suunto’s Facebook page, where they will answer questions and share how Suunto watches enhance their training performance.

Suunto can set questions centred around the campaign themes of inclusivity and being stronger together. Additionally, besides asking questions and finding out more about their favourite influencers, Suunto fans can forge community bonds by posting comments and interacting with other users on the page.

Instagram

Picture posts on Instagram with the hashtag #suuntotribe can foster a community spirit among existing Suunto followers, while motivating potential users to switch to Suunto for its positive and inclusive community. Users will be encouraged to share pictures accompanied with captions about how Suunto enhances their trainings and can find like-minded Suunto users by tapping on the hashtag #suuntotribe.

Pin Xiu and Timothee will feature in picture posts on their own as well as Suunto’s Instagram page discussing topics such as “Why I love my #suuntotribe”. Photos of them exercising will be accompanied by anecdotes on why they feel that Suunto nurtures a sense of community and togetherness.

To foster two-way interaction on these posts and to promote Suunto’s complementary accessories, Suunto can tap into the Social Exchange Theory (Emerson, 1976) by hosting weekly giveaways to motivate users to share their own stories in response to the influencers’ posts. Users with especially engaging posts will receive a Suunto accessory to enhance their training.

Snapchat

Snapchat will complement Suunto Tribe’s Facebook and Instagram content and establish a personal relationship with viewers.

Sunny Search will be held weekly, where Suunto’s Snapchat personality, Sunny, will post a snap at an unidentified running route and invite viewers to guess the location of the route by replying to the snap. The answer will be revealed the following Wednesday through an aesthetic picture post on Instagram, thus capitalizing on the different strengths of Suunto’s platforms. This strategy can increase brand identity by humanising the brand, and utilizes the Psychological Ownership Theory (Pierce, Kostova & Dirks, 2001), which states that users enjoy a feeling of validation from providing their opinions to the community, to encourage replies and guesses to Sunny Search despite the lack of extrinsic rewards.

Takeover Tuesday allows prominent sports influencers to take over Suunto’s Snapchat account for one day every fortnight. These takeovers provide viewers with exclusive, personal insights into the influencer’s daily life, and shows them being part of the Suunto Tribe by incorporating Suunto watches in their workout.

To attract participants for the SFGs, Suunto can post snaps of attendees using Suunto watches during training, and emphasise the sense of community and camaraderie. This allows viewers to see the Suunto products at work and witness the #suuntotribe spirit as attendees exercise and bond together. To sustain engagement, Suunto can invite surprise guests, such as the influencers, to take part in the SFGs, and highlight new running routes, diving spots, and fitness tips that emerge in each session.

EVALUATION

All strategies will be evaluated on a whole based on their reach, frequency and quality of posts, as well as engagement at the end of the stipulated campaign period to determine its success.

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CONCLUSION

Based on our research, the proposed strategies will lead to a significant improvement in Suunto’s social media content. An improvement in content quality, frequency, and online interactions can reinforce Suunto’s brand and increase reach and consumer engagement. As the recommended strategies were developed to capitalize on Suunto’s strengths and give Suunto a competitive advantage over its competitors, both in the short-term (through Suunto Heritage and Stronger with Suunto), and the long-term (through Suunto Tribe), our group is confident that the implementation and constant evaluation of our strategies will lead to Suunto’s increased online presence and sales in the Singapore market.

Last but not least, our group would like to thank Prof Shim for the valuable and engaging lessons, Pui Fang for answering our queries so earnestly and writing the weekly summaries that came in very handy in our preparation for finals and everyone else in the class for your insightful questions during class and the friendliness shown whenever we asked for help 🙂

Yours Truly,
Crystal,Jun Yong, Nicole, Samantha, Theodora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(G1) Group 9: Hopscotch Bar

“Craft cocktails for every occasion”

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What, Hopscotch? 

Hopscotch by Mixes from Mars is a craft cocktail bar tucked within the clandestine courtyard of former traffic police headquarters, Red Dot Traffic. Started in September 2014, Hopscotch has gone on to become one of Singapore’s more notable craft cocktail bars, with features in publications such as Travel and Leisure Magazine Southeast Asia.

The concept of Hopscotch is based on a single mantra; To deliver a quality and noteworthy customer experience. The drinks concept is for the delivery of craft cocktails with a local twist. Each drink incorporates some form of local element, be it in substance, form, or both. Their cocktails also tend to utilize forms of molecular mixology techniques, along with their favourite local themed shots.

Drawing inspiration from the game, Hopscotch also has a games corner, which features retro games which locals once enjoyed as kids. Hospcotch seeks to creates a unique experience through cocktails, the nostalgic games area, stir-fried wok food as well as friendly and outgoing staff.

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Current problems faced by Hopscotch 
-Lack of weekday crowd: the venue is packed on Fridays, Hopscotch, however, faces an issue with drawing a decent crowd on any other day (even Saturdays). Some of this is attributed to the rather obscure location in the heart of the Central Business District, and the lack of a working crowd on Saturdays.

-Lack of brand awareness online: With a small following online, most of the customers are referred to the bar by word of mouth.Despite Hopscotch’s poor visibility from a crowd, and it’s rather speakeasy nature, the bar has been rather successful in drawing a good number of regulars. But relying on such archaic methods is unsustainable as the growth of customer base is slow and its name gets lost in the chatter in comparison to its more vocal competitors.

Why Social Media for Hopscotch?

Current customer demographic and target audience

Hopscotch’s current customer demographic is formed mostly of young working professionals between 26 and 40 years old, and have a good mix of both males and females. A sizeable portion of these patrons come from the people working nearby in the CBD area. However, statistics on the bar’s social media page reveals that more than 80% of fans and users engaging its social media platform are from the 18-34 year old age category. This reveals a mismatch between the current crop of customers and the demographic that Hopscotch appeals to. Consequently, this also presents an opportunity to tap on a currently unexplored demographic of late teens and young adults.

Therefore, an ideal Hopscotch customer is an individual aged between 20-40 years old, one who is looking for a unique drinking experience and a no-frills environment to enjoy the company of friends. Its customers are active on social media, so must Hopscotch!

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The Power of Social Media for F&B Outlets

The 2013 Green Hasson Janks Food & Beverage Industry Survey indicate that more than three-quarters (78.9 percent) of respondents report that social media has a significant impact on their company. The difference between social media and traditional websites is the two-directional content. More specifically, business need to allow customers to give their opinions and feedback (Janks, G.H. ,2013).

A Paper Review of Credibility of Media Sources found that for mid to high interest group individuals, as our ideal customer would fall under, peer sources are considered more reliable and effective in creating buyer intent. With every Facebook user a potential peer contributor, the peer source review of Hopscotch can go a long way in creating a reputation for the business, as well as a community of followers.

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How is Hopscotch’s social media doing currently?

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After 2 years, Hopscotch has less than 2000 likes on Facebook, a dismal growth rate of 6% over 2 months and a total of 300 interactions over 30 post, which is an astoundingly poor 10 per post.

Competitor Analysis

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Several key competitors have been narrowed down based on the type of demographics that the bars cater too.

It can be observed clearly that Hopscotch bar is trailing behind on social media marketing with less than 2000 likes. Being a bar that is 2 years old, it is trailing behind competitor TESS bar which was opened just last year. It becomes pertinent that Hopscotch has to improve on its social media platforms to keep up with its competitors.

Current Marketing Strategies

Interview with Founder Takeaways: Hopscotch markets a lot through word of mouth, stemming from the initial networks of the co-owners, and stretching on to include the networks of regular patrons.

Hopscotch also relies strong press coverage on media channels such as “The Straits Times”, “Honey Combers”, and “City Nomads” for their initial crowd. The flow of articles however, have slowed down significantly. And also due to the influx of many newer bars, the word of mouth marketing process however, has been rather slow. People seem to forget that Hopscotch is present.

On social media front, all of Hopscotch’s platforms are personally managed by the owners and only through Facebook and Instagram. Content includes posts about the staff, drinks, games, promotions, and upcoming events and happenings. The owners currently do not use the Facebook boosting function due to cost constraint, and lack of familiarity. On further discussing with the owners, we also found out that they do not have an in house marketing team, which is quite a normal case for many small businesses. 

Here are some of the key areas we have identified where they are lacking:

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How does Hopscotch leverage on social media to overcome its challenges?

Objectives and Goals

Embracing Hopscotch’s unique value proposition of unique craft cocktails presented in interesting ways, meaningful customer service, pleasing vibes, and the fact that the drinks are rather expensive; the team has come to the realization that marketing Hopscotch Bar is akin to marketing a luxury product, where the prices of products and services are high, but promises an experience like no other.  Our team has come up with the slogan of “an experience like no other”.

Goals set the course for any campaign. Our goals align with Hopscotch’s theme of building an organic following based on the experience being sold. We intend to kickstart the campaign with some immediate buzz, followed by a constant stream of good and effective content distribution and long run audience building.

Short-Term Strategies

Strategy 1: Integration of Refined Content Creation

1.1 Canva:

Canva is a free and easy to use graphic design software that can serve its purpose as a content creation tool for Hopscotch. As a bar operating in the nightlife/F&B industry, attractive and visually appealing collateral is key to set any business apart from the myriad of competitors out there. Canva allows a user with little to zero background experience to create beautiful posts to capture the attention of our audiences online. 

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-57-26-pmFig 1. Sample post created for Hopscotch within 5 mins with Canva

1.2 Emphasis on creating good social media posts:

We want to exact very high post standards for Hopscotch to follow in order to keep up with its peers:

Use bright, well-lit and eye catching photos – This allows our followers to have something aesthetically pleasing to the eye when they see our posts so that they can associate positive sentiments towards Hopscotch.

Match and pair fontsAnother method to create visually appealing posts is to do font matching. According to Canva, a suitable font that Hopscotch can consider is Montserrat, as it portrays a contemporary feel that is simple yet effective (Pack, 2015).

Post at relevant timingsIn an interview that was conducted with the editor of Whatsnextsg, a local lifestyle blog, He reported based on his company’s social media statistics, the optimal time for posts on social media in Singapore are meal times. We focused to posting during meal times and have noted an increase in the number of likes.
By posting at consistent meal timings that is tested and proven by an influential media outlet, it allows Hopscotch to be consistent in their social media posts which allows followers to know when to expect content from us. In the long run, this might inculcate a sense of familiarity in them, such that they can look forward to fresh updates from us during meal times on a consistent basis.

Connect captions and pictures/videos After going through Hopscotch’s social media feed, we have identified some posts that mentioned their new and unique cocktails but the post was a shot of their bartender and not the cocktail itself. This is not effective as followers are not able to visualize the new cocktails that Hopscotch wants to market. We recommend that there has to be a link between the subject matter of the post and what is in the pictures/videos so that the followers are able to understand the entirety of the posts instead of feeling confused by the mismatch between the subject matter and image.

Diversify post mediums and content Hopscotch has primarily been utilizing photos and snapshots of their bar, cocktails or people. Hopscotch should consider a   two pronged approach to improve their outreach. Firstly, they should diversify the mediums that they employ to include YouTube/Facebook videos or even snapchat. This would be useful because the followers will get bored of merely looking at static photos of Hopscotch. Secondly, Hopscotch should consider diversifying their content as well. They should explore coming up with creative and novel ways to subtly market themselves, such as interesting videos on how their cocktails are made and so on. This diversification will allow followers to be constantly surprised by our content, and will set Hopscotch apart from its competitors as well.

Create links and call to actions – According to Thomas & Brook-Carter (2011), interaction with customers is a very effective method to market the brand. Therefore, we intend to create posts that will allow customers to like and share our page, and by doing so, they stand a chance to win free cocktails. Letting users be a part of this campaign allows greater interaction, and this will make them become more attached to the brand (Thomas & Brook-Carter, 2011).

Encourage staff to share posts – Currently, content is only shared to fans of the hopscotch Facebook page. By encouraging staff and co-owners to share such content on their personal social media accounts, we can tap onto their existing networks. According to the Social Network Theory , this would be beneficial to us especially if they have high closeness, centrality and betweenness in the social groups that they belong to.

1.3 Establish Partnerships with Media Producers

The third strategy is to establish partnerships with media producers so that Hopscotch bar is able to leverage on additional content such as videos to expand the social media reach of its different platforms. Our group managed to get media production company, Orhsome Productions, to help take a corporate video of Hopscotch’s 2nd year anniversary to test the effectiveness of a good viral video marketing strategy. The reach of this video has since hit the 10k mark, and has 4.8k views. This is indicative that having such videos, on top of the conventional posts, is indeed very effective as a marketing strategy and helps to contribute to our larger aim of promoting ‘an experience like no other’ at Hopscotch Bar.

What we propose is that Hopscotch continue to build such relations with media producers so that from time to time, we can leverage on the effectiveness of such videos online to gain a larger following in our various social media platforms in the long run

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHopscotchByMFM%2Fvideos%2Fvb.1456528131285649%2F1787763871495405%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560“>Link to video

 2. Media Outreach for audience building

Media Networking Event

The last short term strategy is to host a unique media networking event/drinks tasting event to spread awareness that Hopscotch bar actually exists.

In Singapore, the press and media has always been the key channel of distribution to the public. They have a significantly large reach to the general populace. Therefore, on top of just inviting social media influencers like most of the businesses are doing, we intend to invite Tier 1 and Tier 2 media stakeholders as well. This includes people from the traditional press, radio, television and popular lifestyle blogs such as Honeycombers, Nightdowhat, Ieatishootipost Whatsnextsg, Smart Local and the like. We can reach out to hundreds and thousands of followers if the bar can showcase its chops effectively. The brand should engage in conversations with the attendees to build rapport with these media stakeholders, which will only put the bar in an even better light

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-27-35-pmFig 2. Instagram worthy items that may end up on the social media accounts if given the opportunity

Long Term Strategies
Our strategies in long haul for Hopscotch will focus heavily on creating an online presence and audience. A strong online community not only gives the brand credibility, but also allows Hopscotch a platform to interact with its members, creating brand loyalty and awareness and solving the dreaded weekday slum. 

 1. Share for Shots Giveaway
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A proposed weekly contest held on Hopscotch’s relevant social media platforms, “Share for Shots” aims to engage and educate the public using product incentives.

The advantages of having such a simple, yet engaging campaign, is its effectiveness in building and educating the brand’s fan base. Likes from the contest allow us to physically acquire followers, thoughts on which product contestants would like to try prevent contestants to actually do research and educate themselves on the brand and its products; no shot can be consumed online, and winners will have to physically make their way down to the bar, which may lead to sales on site and further exposure when they post their review of the products online.

2. Comprehensive Content Schedule

We assisted the founders overcome some of the challenges they face with social media, we came up with a complete content strategy for Facebook for the entire month of December, 2016. Post schedule will focus a lot on featuring their brand and its product through informative and engaging product posts and events schedule. However, this should be done in tandem with post about staff and customers, in order to perpetrate Hopscotch’s image as a bar for friends and the Singaporean drinking community and create a more relatable online impression for its followers. Timings are in strict adherence to meal times, and mediums varied. 

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3. Press Distribution

We came up with a simple and comprehensive press kit for Hopscotch to engage media outlets with. The straightforward layout aims to allow for key information on drinks and the bar etc. to stand out and eye-catching visuals to entreat journalist to cover Hopscotch due to its unique products. Press distribution is also a cost-efficient method of creating brand awareness and building audiences as media kits are created in house, distributed over email and picked up by interested media outlets at no cost most of the time. The articles generated create substantial outreach for the brand on each outlets extensive follower base and lends credibility to the brand as it is now associated with reputable media outlets.

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Fig 3. Results after 2 short months reveals promise for such a strategy

 

4. Influencer Marketing

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Soh Pei Si (@speishi) hosted her 21st birthday at Hopscotch and talked about on her relevant social media platforms. Multiple enquiries were made to Hopscotch thereafter about using the venue for similar events and for reservations. The reach and pull of these celebrities is definitely something Hopscotch should explore as it has proven to work particularly well for their business in particular.

We recommend they explore reaching out to prominent social media influencers with the opportunity to host their events for free at Hopscotch’s venue, in exchange for the possibility of spontaneous coverage for the brand. Similarly, paid partnerships in the form of bar ambassadors can be looked at to create strong brand associations with such noteworthy influencers like Lady Iron Chef and Seth Lui.

5. Events platform

Hopscotch should look to explore priming its premises as an events venue for weekday corporate events. A stones throw from the corporate businesses in CBD area and other tertiary institutes like Singapore Management University, Hopscotch can use social media to provide awareness of this ideal events venue for the relevant organizations.Using the power of corporate social media like Linkedin to fulfil B2B services as corporate events host instead of relying on typical B2C publicity, which is unlikely to work because theres high resistance towards leisure on typical weekdays. Especially since weekday evening events are usually popular amongst businesses.

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Conclusion

Monitoring the progress since the team started managing Hopscotch’s Facebook page, we have achieved much within this short time span of one and a half months. The page fan base grew tremendously, and we were extremely lucky to be able to capitalize on Hopscotch’s second anniversary to promote much of our content.

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During this period, Hopscotch is also able to garner its three all-time best posts in terms of engagements and reach. The executive team at Hopscotch were extremely happy with our results, and we personally hope that the owners will continue adopting the long term strategies we have charted for Hopscotch Bar.

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See you at Hopscotch soon!

Prepared by:
Lemuel Low, Roger Yip, Peh Jun Jie