Step aside Google+, Twitter & Facebook there’s new social media in town…

2012 has already seen the news packed with social media stories. From bald Barbie Facebook campaigns, Ed Milliband’s Blackbusters blunder, McDStories hashtag horror,  Katie Price’s Snickers Stunt to LA Fitness’s Twitter storm.

With social media continuing to be a clear influence on our behaviour and on brands’ marketing strategies  it is no wonder that more sites are popping up with new ways of engaging and interacting with audiences.

Two which we think have great potential this year are Instagram and Pinterest.

So what do these social media tools have that the giants don’t? Is there really room for them in this seemingly saturated market?

Instagram

Instagram has gained popularity over the last year and was named iPhone App of the year. It is now considered the largest mobile social network  with over 15 million users and is recognised as a great choice for brands. This new platform allows consumers to tell their story instantly via shared photos.

Recent brand initiatives using this technology include Levi’s “Be A Levi’s Model” campaign, where individuals were encouraged to strike a pose and upload a photo in the hope of becoming a future model. Another example is Tiffany’s latest campaigntrue love in pictures’, which uses an Instagram gallery to allow followers to share their photos. Other brands such as Burberry, Mango, Starbucks & ASOS have used it as a way of creating content that their followers regularly engage with and talk about.


Pinterest

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard site which allows individuals to pin images to digital boards, link back to other sites, share posts with followers, like and re-pin content. One of the best features of Pinterest is its ease of use – you can share and browse content simply and quickly. Its uptake has been fairly rapid over the last few months and brands are beginning to tap into its potential. It’s also proved to drive more traffic to retailer’s sites than Google+.
As HubSpot point out, “the trick to succeeding on Pinterest isn’t necessarily about showing off your products or services directly. It’s about finding creative ways to show how those products and services fit into the lifestyles of your target audience”.

One brand that has used Pinterest particularly well is Greek yogurt company Chobani. With boards ranging from “Nothing but good” to “Flavour inspiration” it is clearly connecting with followers from a lifestyle perspective and enabling  users to understand its brand, rather than just focusing on the products it sells. Other brands using Pinterest well include Gap, Whole Foods, Etsy and Better Homes and Gardens.

Pinterest is currently only available by invitation, so if you want to join you can either request an invitation or get in contact with us at Limelight – check out our Pinterest boards here: http://pinterest.com/limelightideas/

These two social media initiatives aren’t as big as the giants (yet!), but I’m sure over the next few months more and more brands will use them. They offer a refreshing new platform to share content visually, and I’m already hooked!

 

Danielle Barrett

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Upsetting the evolution in Middle Eastern marketing

Dr. Stephen J. Gould, the late American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist had a theory called ‘punctuated equilibrium’. His theory states that when species undergo change, it’s new and happens as a spurt that occurs at the fringe of the ecosystem.

Whilst Gould was probably referring to Darwin or dinosaurs, his thinking can be applied to so many trends in social, political and commercial society. McDonalds, for example, started life as a little restaurant in San Bernardino just as Wal-Mart was once a small convenience store called Walton’s in Iowa. And, more recently, Facebook went live in a student dormitory.

So by applying the thinking of Gould to Middle East communications, change in a person’s buying habits and authentic brand loyalty will only ever happen if you can deliver something new – something that starts a trend and is a shift away from the status quo. This means breaking away from the ‘equilibrium’ that has come about from balancing Western ideas for a regional audience. It might even mean breaking away from the types of advertising listed on Wikipedia and creating new products or ideas that market a brand by improving a customer’s life. I mean, most other industries offer assistance, help or value – why can’t advertisers!

Breaking the equilibrium might seem a risk too far but as Gould suggests, most social systems exist in an extended period of stasis and are only punctuated by sudden shifts or radical change. So whilst the advertising and PR industry in the Middle East has its valid reasons for being more risk adverse than other geographies, how can it ever expect to have an impact if brands are too afraid to challenge anything that might be outside the status quo?

Referring back to Kroc, Walton and Zuckerberg as examples; they had a vision that was so different and defining, that they were forced to begin on the fringe of society by the naysayers. But they were adamant people would identify with their concepts and had they not rebuffed the sceptics and continued fighting for what they believed in, life would be very different without their respective companies and the trends they created.