The faculty in the COM department have been incredibly supportive of me and I never felt as if they did not want me to succeed.
In the short amount of time someone spends on YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook, there is a high chance that they have encountered a social media influencer promoting a product. How many times have you scrolled through your Instagram feed and seen someone promoting Care/Of Vitamins? Probably a lot. So, what really is a social media influencer? What qualifies a person to become a social media influencer? How do brands come into contact with the influencer? In Jan-Frederik Grave’s 2019 research article titled, “What KPIs Are Key? Evaluating Performance Metrics for Social Media Influencers” all of these questions are answered.
According to Grave, there are two challenges that companies face when selecting a social media influencer: finding which social media influencer to work with and measuring the outcomes of the campaign. Fashion, health, beauty, entertainment and more are just a few of the various topics that social media influencers cover. Since there is a wide range of influencers for a company to choose from, they must rely on social media metrics to determine which influencer they would like to collaborate with.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are various metrics used by brand marketers and agencies when selecting a social media influencer for their brand, according to Grave. One KPI that might be used is the amount of interactions an influencer recieves on a post (comments, “likes”, “shares”, etc). Another KPI could be the amount of followers, subscribers, friends, etc. the influencer has on their social media channels.
Grave explains that typical paid content on social media is created by the brand marketers themselves, which gives them more control of the overall message. However, social media influencers are given most of the control when it comes to creating the content for the brand. Although brand marketers provide the social media influencer with some tips to follow for the content, it is up to the influencer to create the content. Grave says this is why it is important for companies to choose an influencer whom they believe will create quality content with non-conflicting posts on their channels.
Kate Scott is an undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She will be graduating in May 2020 with a B.A. in Communication Studies with a focus in Integrated Marketing Communication.
Gräve, J.-F. (2019). What KPIs Are Key? Evaluating Performance Metrics for Social Media Influencers. Social Media Society, 5(3), 205630511986547. doi: 10.1177/2056305119865475
IMC seems to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Schools are teaching it and marketers are using it, but some experts are still reluctant to write about it in new media. I was curious as to why, so I chose to reference an article titled “Integrated Marketing Communication- from an instrumental to a customer-centric perspective” by Manfred Bruhn and Stefanie Schnebelen. The purpose is to inform readers about the role of Integrated Marketing Communication in new media. Brunn and Schnebelen attempted to do this through discussion of the changed conditions of the media markets since the development of Integrated Marketing Communication.
This article is based on research done via a literature-based approach. The authors conducted this with consideration of the modern media market and customer behavior. The first step in researching was analyzing the challenges of Integrated Marketing Communication, followed by the principles of customer-centric Integrated Marketing Communication, and lastly the implementation issues in Integrated Marketing Communication. By analyzing these three steps, Brunn and Schnebelen were able to point out the gaps of Integrated Marketing Communication in new media and establish a media-based umbrella framework that searched for common gaps in new media and Integrated Marketing Communication. The authors analyzed various forms of literature that discussed Integrated Marketing Communication in efforts to see the prevalence of Integrated Marketing Communication on new media.
Brunn and Schnebelen didn’t really END the conversation on why IMC isn’t being considered a part of new media yet, but the authors definitely opened the door for it and provided
good insight into the issues of experts in marketing and new media not considering IMC a part of the currently used approach to media and marketing.
As someone who is an avid consumer of things such as Nike shoes and also an IMC student, the marketing campaign they use to get me interested in purchasing their products practically revolves around IMC. First, they promote and share user-generated content all the time for their advertisements. Secondly, they integrate all kinds of different marketing and promotional tactics in order to reach the correct audience effectively. Personally, I do not know researchers and scholars can ignore IMC’s place in new media given the fact that it is in almost every advertisement and marketing campaign that we see in today’s world. The method of encompassing things such as influencer marketing, commercials, and targeted advertisements into one campaign is practically standard in marketing now, and it is time that literature catches up with the times.
The results of the study by Brunn and Schnebelen were that the artifacts about Integrated Marketing Communication that the authors analyzed did not discuss social media as a part of Integrated Marketing Communication in new media to any great extent. The articles that were analyzed were vague and only regarded Integrated Marketing Communication as a new form of media, but did not get into specifics and more information. The literature that the authors analyzed fails to address the foundational change of social media and the impact it has on Integrated Marketing Communication as a whole. The article also discusses the loss of control over advertising content that corporations are currently experiencing. Today, someone can post a viral tweet about your brand and that becomes a part of your brand identity. The corporation has no control over that happening and as a result of the rise in user-generated content, corporations are now more interactive with users on social media and promote UGC, as opposed to strictly
pushing their own content. The authors suggest changing the mindset of the corporate IMC world, rather than changing the process in which communication is done. The results of this study encourage corporations and IMC practitioners, in general, to remember that IMC is an adaptive concept and as new forms of media and communication emerge, IMC must be adapted, rather than made into a black and white, never-changing subject.
One example of this that I see regularly is when Instagram users “tag” the brands they were wearing or using in their posts. Today, more marketing on social media is done by consumers to other potential consumers than ever before, and major corporations are putting more resources consumers to spread the word about their products in hopes that consumers create marketable content for them.
This study has made a great impact on IMC. Firstly, this article forces those in the Integrated Marketing Communication research community to seek a deeper understanding of social media and its impacts on social media. As social media continues to become a mainstream of marketing, the literature not analyzing this information shows that the Integrated Marketing Communication industry is behind where it should be in terms of analyzation and application of Integrated Marketing Communication in new media, specifically the analysis of Integrated Marketing Communication in the customer-centric landscape.
Adam Guttadauro is a student at UNCW, majoring in Communication Studies. He is originally from Boston, Massachusetts. While not in a class, he is working on his various business ventures
or at home watching football. Adam is interested in IMC due to its prevalence in his ventures and hopes to bring an IMC-centered approach to all of those ventures
Based on a research study by Daniela Langaro, Paulo Rita, and Maria de Fa ́tima Salgueiro
It’s no secret that social media has moved mountains, and has created a plethora of new ideas in the world of branding. The correlation between using social media sites and branding has always been an integral factor in utilizing the different communication and marketing skills this generation has to offer. Something so normal and monotonous like scrolling through social media feeds now has more power and value than we as a society of communicators could ever imagine. Branding nowadays cannot be fostered within a company without some sort of media and online presence, and social media happens to be a somewhat “free” platform for building a brand. The article “Do social networking sites contribute for building brands?” clarified a lot of my assumptions as a Communication Studies student on how different areas of social media serve different organizations. While a lot of my discoveries and observations were not new, they have expanded the way I think about social media and branding as a whole, and as two equal parts that help one another in the world of communication.
Before considering the advantages of social media, let’s discuss branding. Branding, by definition, is “the promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design”, and a brand alone is defined as “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name”. So, we can conclude that while a brand is the product or idea being promoted, if the act of branding isn’t successful, the actual brand may not be of as much value as it could be. These two individual elements of branding and an actual brand depend on each other for quite a lot.
From these ideas, companies build the image and vision of their “brand” and formulate ways to continue the branding process in different, creative ways. For example, almost anyone can identify the “target” emblem included in the retail store Target’s logo. People identify with the logo, and immediately think about what the logo means to them by associating it with a time or place they engaged with the Target brand, and then decide if they like it or not. From here, all of these interactions with branding can be broken down into subcategories including brand awareness and brand attitude.
Brand awareness, as defined in the article “Do social networking sites contribute for building brands?” captures the potential availability of a brand in the mind of the consumer (Langaro, Rita, and Salgueiro, 2018). In the same article, brand attitude is defined as the evaluative dimension of brand image. Customers, potential or current, develop their own evaluation and judgements towards a brand by what they see and interact with. Having a presence on social media heavily affects this interaction and can provide a leg up for companies looking to engage more with different audiences. This can make a company or organization more competitive as well. The more a brand image or brand in general is shown in an appropriate way, the more association, knowledge, and popularity the brand will attract. This is why an online or social media presence is so vital today. Because social media is so relevant, why not utilize free promotion and improve the image of a company by establishing an online presence on a social media website?
When it comes to branding, organizations want their personal image to be immediately identified and simple enough for people to remember. This is most often achieved by visuals and resonating cognitively with the organization’s potential or desired audiences. Brand association, brand quality, and brand knowledge are all benefits of using social media to boost any image or brand online (Langaro, Rita, and Salgueiro, 2018). When a company posts regularly on popular social media platforms, it now has individuals associated with and educated in it’s brand based off of the brand’s online presence, which is an essentially free outlet to promote or improve branding. Organizations now see the value and necessity in posting daily on social media sites and looking into analytics because it can show an organization exactly how people are interacting with their brand.
One can realize quickly that branding is a very broad element in the promotion of a company, business, or organization. Branding is not just simply “branding”. Branding is developing a certain image within a brand, connecting other people and things to the brand, showcasing the brand in a way that will connect with others and display the right idea to customers, and the list goes on. When one analyzes the purpose of branding, so many layers can be found within it and its purpose is ever-changing. One thing that isn’t going anywhere, though, is the constant yet rapid growth of the internet and social media. Companies should continue to use social media outlets for brand communication. They should stay current on evolving social media trends, and how the company can adjust and grow with a technologically-charged society. Taking advantage of the online community can work wonders in the world of branding.
Written by Natalie Oldani
Crafting an idea, building a brand, launching it and growing a following all take time and the key factor in making a brand successful is building relationships on social media. Social media has shifted the focus of strategic marketing from informational ads to creating content and having conversations within social groups. According to the 2018 article in The Journal of Media Research Online Brand Awareness. A Case-Study on Creating Associations and Attachment by Alina Nechita “the symbolic dimension built by communicative means ensures the consistency and value of a brand.”
Nechita discusses figuring out how your audience is using social media, she mentions the reach of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, and niche blogs for reaching your audiences. You should be figuring out what platforms your audiences are using, Facebook and Pinterest report the most active users, Instagram is popular with teenagers and young millennials, what are your consumers using?
Once you know where the people are, where do you start? Nechita’s research recommends piggy-backing on influencers; she specifically mentions using influencers who test products, applies personal experience, and share a final verdict. Nechita acknowledges the potential for bias but mentions that these tend to be very successful and apply similarly to general brand awareness. She states that “in the absence of a well-known brand to associate it with, the impact of its message will soon become null.”
Though Nechita recommends building brand awareness through more established brands and influencers, it can be done over time through consistent engagement with social groups online. The process requires analysis of not only sales, but of likes, shares, and comments at six-month intervals.
You should be establishing consistent positive interactions with your consumers online. Nechita mentions looking into all mentions of your brand and having them removed. The text mentions how detrimental to a new brand a negative comment could be and recommends going as far as to look the person up and contact them to discuss having the comment removed as well as frequently removing those who engage negatively online. While a negative comment may be detrimental, I think to contact someone with the goal to remove it seems risky, I would think responding directly would be a better solution. Public criticism deserves a public response.
She goes on to mention that creating a tone or mood to the conversations on social media is also important, she mentions humor working particularly well here in America like Wendy’s use of Twitter. It is essential to create a conversation that your audience wants to be a part of and is relevant.
Another key point that she makes is that the worst possible thing a brand can do is to ignore the customers. Nechita iterates that with well-known brands, our consumption shows who we are, it’s a representation of us so the brand’s personality needs to match up with our own. These brands have to continue to stay relatable to the consumer and she elaborates on this by going over measuring customer satisfaction and that being shared among social communities: if you like it, you tell your friends about it, right? She states that the most successful brands are the ones that “fulfill the needs of community members.”
This doesn’t just mean physical needs but emotional ones as well, she offers the example of Samsungs’ commercial in India in 2018, where they mention a refrigerator taking care of you like your mother does, driving on strong emotions like a mothers’ love, maybe sadness from missing that mother, and so on. Nechita makes the point that “the brand sales goal is no longer obviously profit-oriented, but apparently targets its alignment to certain emotional needs, to bring joy to customers.”
The article goes on to warn of trying to engage online by launching too many social media accounts at once that you cannot create individual content consistently for each or not having a specific communication strategy which creates inconsistency in messaging. It says that “humanizing a brand will ensure the public’s involvement for a longer period of time” and unattended social media profiles that have old posts at the top of the page create the feeling that the brand is doesn’t care about interacting with their consumers.
So what this research boils down to is finding your target audiences and immersing your brand into the conversation in the various social groups in your audience and then having an honest, organic conversation with your consumers and figuring out their needs and trying to fulfill them. Through this process, you create a lasting impression on your audience and an authentic value to your brand that consumers want to take part in and share with others.
NECHITA, V. A. (2018). Online Brand Awareness. A Case-Study on Creating Associations and Attachment. Journal of Media Research, 11(2), 91–111. https://doi-org.liblink.uncw.edu/10.24193/jmr.31.7
Carol Friday is a Communication Studies senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and is the creative director for the community group managing the Communication department’s Twitter page, the IMC Hawks blog, and its respective Twitter and Facebook page.
As I reflect on these past four years at UNCW, so many memories come flooding back to me. I remember my first day of class, when I quickly learned that Physical Anthropology was not for me. I remember my first ever basketball game, and the first time I ever tried Jole Mole. I also remember my first COM class with Dr. Weber, my first exposure to the Communication Studies major here at UNCW. As a Film and Communication Studies double major, I often toggled back and forth with the idea of dropping my COM major, that is, until COM 105. I am forever grateful for the piece of advice Dr. Weber gave us one afternoon: “There’s nothing a COM major isn’t capable of. If you study COM, you will be successful in almost all areas of your life.” I wrote it down, and took it to heart, and I’m forever grateful for that lecture. Without it, I might not be here writing this blog post. So thank you, Dr. Weber.
I’m also taking some time to reflect on another course that significantly changed my life: COM 231-Intro to IMC. While I knew documentary was my passion in film, I had yet to find my Communication Studies passion. Enter Dr. Persuit, who taught me about all things advertising, branding, public relations, and marketing. It was as though something had been unlocked inside me, and suddenly a whole new world of exciting career possibilities opened up before me. Without her support and guidance, there’s no way I would be pursuing the careers I am after now, or interning as a public relations and marketing specialist in Wilmington. My only regret in college is that I wasn’t able to take more of her classes. So, thank you, Dr. Persuit, for pushing me outside of my comfort zone, and always believing in us IMChawks.
Although graduation is a bittersweet time, I remind myself that it’s not “goodbye,” it’s “see you later.” Communication Studies has opened doors for me that allow for a career in the field I love, in the city I love, and I can never express how grateful I am for that. Here’s to the best four years of my life so far, and the even better years to come.
Product placement is nothing new, in fact, it’s a tale as old as time. Whether it be Wilson the volleyball or the countless music video stars and their Beats, we are bombarded with these gentle (or not so gentle) reminders that celebrities are just like us. Here are the products they use, and you should use them too.
It’s pretty easy to spot overt product placement, but what happens when you’re scrolling your Instagram a feed and come across your favorite Bachelor contestant showing off a new pair of “sunnies” or your fitspo follow sharing her favorite smoothie recipe that includes a specific brand of protein powder. In recent years, it has become harder to spot when products are being intentionally marketed towards us. Even with the addition of the trusty sponsored post, there is something about Instagram ads that seems a little sneakier than good old-fashioned product placement.
When a brand pays to be referenced in a film or TV show there is a level of responsibility the platform has to ensure the brand is trustworthy. If a film comes out supporting a faulty product the whole movie is tainted. Yet, when an influencer creates a post supporting a weight loss tea that is said to have very negative side effects, no one bats an eye. Sure, they might get called out here or there but for the most part, they get off scot-free and continue to post disingenuous ads.
Speaking of Scott, celebrity influencer and member of the Kardashian empire Scott Disick, was the first person to (inadvertently) unveil the insincerity of these sponsored posts. In an ad for Bootea, he appeared to have accidentally copy and pasted the intended caption along with the instructions for posting. The caption read “Here you go, at 4pm est, write below. Caption: Keeping up with the summer workout routine with my morning @booteauk protein shake!” That’s a pretty big mistake to make. Of course, we would have known it was a sponsored post regardless of the blunder, however, there is something so underhanded about knowing brands are telling people what and when to post on their personal accounts.
As someone studying IMC, this sort of marketing behavior really becomes a Sophie’s choice. There is no denying the power Instagram ads have in terms of creating brand awareness. We follow people on Instagram because we want to see their lives, the products they’re using, and in turn what products we should be using. But how do we make the informed choice when we don’t truly know it is a product they actually use or just a payout. When Serena Williams signs a contract with Nike we know that without a doubt she will be playing in Nike equipment, there is a level of accountability there. But when Scott Disick posts about protein powder we have no idea if that product ever even got opened.
There isn’t really a clear fix to ensure that brands and influencers are held accountable for the content they post and promote but, as IMC students I urge to be diligent and aware of those sneaky little sponsored posts and as IMC practitioners I urge you to learn from Scott’s mistake.