I was asked by a friend and fellow marketer to review an ecommerce business website, CuteGrey.com, and offer my suggestions on how they might enter the world of social media. Additionally, a new assignment in a graduate course which I am taking at SNHU requires that I use Ogilvy’s assessment questions from its (now defunct) Social Media Scorecard to determine how a business can engage consumers in the social landscape. Therefore, in the below article, I am going to utilize three of Ogilvy’s questions as the guiding force to marry my friend’s request and my current assignment. This is not meant to be a comprehensive Integrated Marketing Communications Plan, nor is it intended to be an all-inclusive social media strategy. Therefore, please view this as an open-source case study and, if you’d like, add your own suggestions. @annaseacat
Ogilvy’s Questions & My Related Suggestions
Does anyone within the company already blog in some way about a business-related issue(s)?
The owner of CuteGrey does not currently blog, but doing so could achieve two meaningful marketing results. First, it could generate new sales leads through increased brand awareness. Second, incorporating regular blog posts into an overall marketing communications plan could aid in CuteGrey’s search engine marketing (SEM) strategy. Li and Bernoff, authors of Groundswell (2011), explained a blog adds value to SEM efforts, because “cross-linked blog posts cause these posts to rise in the Google rankings [on search engine results pages] because of the importance Google places on links in its search algorithm” (p. 20). Incorporating a blog as a social media tool designed to increase SEM is critically important for CuteGrey, since it is not currently ranking on Google for strategic keywords.
Since CuteGrey operates within several niche markets, e.g. equestrian products, antiques, show horses, etc., content for a CuteGrey blog would come very natural to the owner and appeal to many different audiences. For instance, the blog could include articles, photos, and videos featuring the author’s adventures in the show ring, as well as inspirational stories and pictures of the equestrian antiques and other treasures she has found at flea markets. CuteGrey’s blog could even feature interviews with and photos of the owners of key flea markets and antique stores, which would surely produce some naturally occurring cross-link action.
Are the principles of earned vs. paid media well understood in the organization?
For our purposes in this discussion, I am only going to cover earned media. Earned media in SEM is accomplished through various SEO tactics that are designed to increase the rank and authority of a website on the first search engine results page (SERP). As mentioned above, incorporating well-written, compelling, and relevant blog posts on a weekly basis (at least) would serve CuteGrey’s SEM effort, especially along the lines of earned media. However, there is an additional aspect of CuteGrey’s website that is undermining its findability by search engines’ web crawlers, hence foiling earned media potential.
CuteGrey’s ecommerce site, although visually appealing due its high quality digital images, lacks advertising copy that can make or break a website’s attempt to earn rank within a search engine’s organic results. Google and other search engines’ web crawlers are unable to “read” these visually appealing photos of CuteGrey’s products. In fact, from what I can tell, Google most likely reads the majority of CuteGrey’s website as “empty.” Consequently, when someone enters the keywords “equestrian antique,” Google would have no reason to return CuteGrey.com as a result on a SERP, since those words are not used to describe any of CuteGrey’s products. To avoid CuteGrey’s current status on Google as invisible, I would recommend the owner not only write keyword-heavy product descriptions, but turn these descriptions into product stories with a corresponding YouTube video (remember, Google owns and loves YouTube). In other words, the owner of CuteGrey should video herself with each product while telling its story: Where did it come from? How old is it? Who would the product appeal to? Then, this oral story via video should be re-written as a beautiful product description.
Has your marcom [Marketing & Communications] team done any of the following in the past 30 days: download a video podcast, started/maintained their Facebook page, commented on a blog, Twitter-ed [tweeted], Digg-ed?
So, after the owner of CuteGrey has committed to dedicating a good chunk of her daily work to the aforementioned content tactics, it is essential that she use popular social media tools to promote the content. The first step in deciding which tools to use can be accomplished by using Forrester Research’s Social Technographics Profile, which can determine how CuteGrey’s target markets are grouped “based on the groundswell activities in which they participate” (Bernoff & Li, 2011). In other words, CuteGrey could use the research tool to determine whether horse owners are classified in social media terms as “creators, conversationalists, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and/ or inactives.” For instance, if it was determined that this segment of CuteGrey’s target market are spectators (consumes blogs, online videos/ pictures, forums, etc. but does not create), it would be imperative for CuteGrey to advertise new blog posts on Pintrest, Twitter, and Google+.
Google+ would be a particularly efficient tool to utilize in a promotional strategy, because it not only allows users to post public messages, but doing so is thought to increase the likelihood that Google will positively rank the website that is being promoted (Brogan, 2013, p. 17). Likewise, the owner of CuteGrey would certainly benefit from investing time on Twitter to promote new content on its blog, because the owner could use her current relationships in the equestrian and antique marketplaces to develop meaningful connections on Twitter. Twitter master and author of The Tao of Twitter, Mark Schaefer (2012) explained that “about seventy percent of people you follow will follow you back.” Therefore the owner of CuteGrey should create a Twitter account, follow her friends and acquaintances within her targeted industries, create compelling content on her blogs, and use Twitter to tell her followers, “Read my latest blog entry about…”
In the above discussion, I used three of Ogilvy’s assessment questions from its Social Media Scorecard as a way to analyze CuteGrey.com’s current position in the social landscape, as well as create suggestions to increase its effectiveness as an ecommerce website. An important note to mention is that CuteGrey.com has loading issues. In other words, it takes too long to load the site and photos. Loading issues frustrate consumers and is the kiss-of-death from an SEM perspective (read: Google’s algorithm penalizes this).
I’d love to hear your professional thoughts on how CuteGrey and other small ecommerce-based businesses can utilize business applications of SEM and SMM.
Anna Seacat – Please follow me on Twiter: @annaseacat
Bernoff, J. & Li, C. (2011). Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social
Technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review.
Brogan, C. (2013). Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes
Everything. (2nd ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing.
Schaefer, M. W. (2012). The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140
Characters at a Time. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.