Keeping on top of your digital strategy

I’ll start off easy. For many of you who don’t study anything business or marketing related, you may look at the words ‘Digital Strategy’ and freak out. More haunting words that sound like you’re travelling down the wrong path, but once you come to grips with it you can turn your business into an overnight success. Okay, maybe not overnight, but you get what I mean!

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Having a clear understanding of what Digital Strategy is, allows you to start working on building your reputation and stacking up the dollars on a digital scale. ‘Digital strategy’ can be summarised in seven words – “achieving marketing objectives through applying digital technologies” (Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick, 2012). Analysing a straightforward definition like that makes it feel like we’re reading ‘Digital Strategy for Dummies’ and that it could all be so simple, but we still need to consider our hyper-competitive marketplaces to allow us to take control.

So how powerful is a Digital Strategy?

In a recent study ‘Managing Digital Marketing’ by Smart Insights it concluded 46% of brands don’t have a defined digital strategy. Shocking. We’re now in 2018 and almost half of business leaders don’t realise this is how you let your business grow? You need to start making a plan! And fast.

Thankfully we have progressed since the release of the first website and the digital world continues to get more interesting. Your business can now take to the stage in more than just the newspaper, it can feature on social media sites I’m certain you’re familiar with (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), e-mail marketing, classified ads and the easiest way of-mobile marketing. All inside that device you throw into your back pocket-well that’s if you’ve progressed from the Nokia 3310, also known as ‘The Indestructible’.

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Depending on the aspect you want your business to take and the marketing strategy you have in place, ensuring you’re going to reach the target audience you want, your knowledge of the route you want to lead needs to be concise and creative in order for it to work. Websites that are easy to use are key, keeping up with market trends, your performance as a business-how quickly you respond and the manner that you respond in, also promotional messages. Simple actions will have loyal customers rolling in, forming that purchase and re-purchase behaviour. For example-Domino’s daily texts and e-mails with discount codes and saying that they missed me encourages me to scoff those carbs down with no regret. They don’t shy away from the innovative marketing tactics and neither should you. (Which reminds me my Sizzler should be here by now, brb.)

Snapchat recently have integrated a ‘Website link’ feature which allows brands to attach their website in their snaps and direct consumers straight to their website address and browse it without having to close the app. An innovative way to up sell products, especially for smaller businesses who have just started up, increasing their digital presence and opportunity. Hurts my bank balance though.

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Do I need one?

Y-E-S! Having no direction within a business can be an absolute nightmare. And a strategic plan that is not too complicated will allow for the digital objectives that you want to pursue to be achieved. This will allow for a stronger connection with existing customers whilst developing new relationships as a result of adopting use of those digital tools. The start of your plan should be based on a detailed situational analysis. Summarising this as the process by which the company develops a clear understanding of each individual market and then evaluates its significance for the company and for other markets in which the business operates.

Google Analytics is an easily accessible tool can help to monitor these aspects, giving a stronger indication of how your success can measured. They proliferate your awareness of your target audience, improve engagement and interpret the data you need to continue to create this effective digital strategy.

Following PR Smith’s model; SOSTAC allows for a balanced strategic plan and can be used no matter if your business is big or small. Once you have analysed the situation, your objectives come into practice and you want to start engaging with your customers and ensuring their needs are satisfied. The strategy now in this modern technological world would involve getting your advertisements out on social media sites, making yourselves known, zoning in on the areas you want to target and who. With your focused and efficient tactics, the model will allow you to monitor and control, so if problems arise, they can be easily construed and stopped in their tracks before anything too crazy happens.

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What makes it so effective?

Brand identity. Is your presence known? If it’s not then you won’t be remembered in a hurry! You want to make yourself aware on and off the internet bringing brand promise, this needs to be consistent. Kapferer created a brand identity prism that is a good framework for helping you source the answers to questions like; ‘What makes a brand distinguished?’, ‘What is brand equity?’ Kapferer’s (1997) argument that this new model adheres to, is that brand identity is a richer concept to understand and build brands, than just focusing on positioning. Allowing you to determine possible limits for brand development and variation. Then, you’re on the path to success.

See, it’s simpler than you think. Although I do advise that you always plan for the worst as you cannot control every situation or employee that crosses your path. Feedback from customers can be a heart-breaking or a ‘made my day’ experience, reels in opportunities to boost your business, being inspired to improve. As Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon says; “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” Reputation makes customers.

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Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn –Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty

How ITV’s Love Island led ‘I Saw It First’ to become an e-commerce success

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As cliché as it sounds, watching Love Island is everyone’s guilty pleasure. It was only in the series past that I decided to give in and watch the show and I could now understand why my friends were all so engrossed and didn’t want our evening plans to surpass 9pm. For 8 weeks it was the hottest discussions in social outings, work, the gym and even my mummy tried keeping up to date with the latest goss about the islanders so she could be in the know. Whilst watching these rising celebrities to be and their relationship drama unfold did you ever wonder how and where they got the look? Last year, it was reported that the shows fashion sponsor Missguided achieved an increase in sales of 40% when the show aired. Was it possible for I Saw It First to match or exceed this achievement as they signed an exclusive partnership for series 5 of the show?

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I Saw It First, who were relatively unknown before sponsoring ITV’s Love Island are a fast-fashion brand who provide for the glamorous, fashion obsessed female. Keeping up with the latest trends they never fail to end the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ dilemma and all at an affordable price. Only having been on the market since 2017, I Saw It First have been on one hell of a journey. From obtaining an innovative sponsorship with the lavish Ocean Beach Ibiza to collaborations with Cindy Kimberly, Lolo Wood and Stassie (yeah, just google them) they have managed to put themselves on the fashion map.

The majority of Love Island viewers come from millennials and Gen Z; two of the biggest generations who are the true digital natives. It comes with no shock that social media was going to manifest the experience of the show as viewer’s more than likely sit with their smartphone in hand refreshing Twitter for the latest on what others had to say, like really do we ever put them down anyway? The clothing company used this as part of their strategy to help with the increase of sales. Before the show, islanders were given a nice little allowance to choose any clothes from the summer collection to wear on-screen. Not only did this create a closer relationship between the brand and islanders, perhaps allowing for them to work together in the long run but it also provided organic content to be uploaded rather than the traditional sponsored posts, conveying good old brand personality.

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Wanting to avoid anything Love Island related? Then it was best to avoid Twitter itself if you could. Swamped with memes, spoilers and outfit highlights it was the number one app to keep updated on the goss from the villa. When the first episode of series 5 aired, reports show there were over 400,000 tweets mentioning Love Island. This was I Saw It First’s time to shine as they cleverly included the Love Island hashtag in their tweets to take advantage of the incredible reach. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

The e-tailer also created a hashtag on Twitter; #ISawIsland so users could easily search for those savvy neon dresses and funky bikinis, providing a link straight to the item so it could be purchased there and then. In addition to this, they created a Love Island hub on their website with profiles of each female islander and individual story highlights of each female on Instagram with a swipe-up link so you didn’t have to go through endless pages of clothes, very convenient. They also integrated their product placement onto the show’s click-to-buy app. When using the app to vote, users were surrounded with advertisements that provided a direct link to any of the items featured, giving viewers an easy way to find and shop the outfits seen on screen whilst allowing them to build an association of the two brands. Talk about dedication! Or just really wanting to up those sales.

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I Saw It First really do have their finger on the pulse of the fashion industry. Landing this opportunity with a show that has 6 million viewers tells us that the traditional methods of marketing makes for powerful advertising formula, using reality TV as a vehicle for influencer marketing. As a result of collaborating with the show it led them to an increase of 67% in sales month on month. They continue to be consistent with their methods throughout all their social channels and ensure their content is fresh and engaging, having gained 905k followers which comes with a fantastic opportunity to access their target market even more. The partnership focuses on an audience that have the talent of scrolling miles on their phone and watching the show at the same time.

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With social commerce on the rise, rather than consumers making direct purchases through retailer websites, they’re discovering products on social platforms and perusing their purchases there, a drive to be the new online marketplace. I Saw It First’s Love Island hub, their Instagram profile and the Love Island app provide endless opportunities to do so, a marketing masterpiece.

Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn – Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events ft. Meghan Markle

Words I associate with a Princess;

‘compassionate’, ‘selfless’, ‘humble’

Words associated with Meghan Markle;

fake’, ‘hypocrite’, ‘manipulating monster’

I might be basing my associations off the entire range of Disney princess movies but we all know these malicious words should not define a member of the Royal family. These are only a few of the negative comments that circulate the internet and feature in the news headlines when you come across reports on the Duchess. Meghan Markle has fallen victim to an endless amount of mistreatment since she started dating Prince Harry in 2016. Upon scanning the internet, I even found that a rather infuriated member of the public who quite clearly has it in for Meghan, has taken to Urban Dictionary and coined the term ‘Markled’, defining her as; ‘someone who ghosts you once you have no more benefit’ I mean, come on? This girl doesn’t even know her! And it doesn’t end there.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Meghan%20Markle

As you would expect, becoming a royal family member makes you vulnerable to heightened publicity and speculation. However, Meghan was already used to the fame having left behind her career in acting and being notorious for her role as Rachel Zane on Suits. Watching her go from the fictional role of lawyer to embracing the doors of Kensington Palace holding the title of ‘Princess’ in real life, I have to admit, it was strange but remarkable at the same time.

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It’s no surprise when you pop onto the news you will see Meghan Markle appear under ‘trending’ or latest stories. Whether it is discussing serious recent affairs or that she managed to shut the car door by herself (You’re doing amazing sweetie!) you’ll read it all. Tabloids take advantage of her background, race and personality to relentlessly bully her, sharing inaccurate information and feral commentary, disregarding all human costs. She faces immense scrutiny all the time. Does she deserve this? No human being does. What would the media talk about if Harry and Meghan never met?

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In the latest episode of the Markle dramas, Meghan is in the process of suing the publisher of Mail On Sunday for publishing a handwritten letter she had sent to her estranged father. With the endless propaganda she has faced over the past three years, I don’t blame her. There is only so much a person can deal with when continually being attacked by powerful forces.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/oct/01/meghan-sues-mail-on-sunday-for-publishing-letter-to-her-father

Harry spoke out about the recent actions-sharing on behalf of Meghan and himself; “There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.” The hurt and anger transmit out of Harry’s words, only making you sympathise with their suffering and understanding why they are taking this action. As many of you would probably agree, the media’s main focus should turn to Prince Andrew, but hey that’s a raunchy topic for another day!

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The majority of backlash comes from people who have never known Meghan on a personal level. A recent release of a trailer from 60 minutes Australia features Katie Hopkins who embraces the nickname ‘Biggest B*tch in Britain’ (wouldn’t be wrong there), she is a woman who is unquestionably racist and xenophobic. Katie is someone who is not afraid to share her honest opinions and does not take into consideration feelings, causing quite a lot of controversy. In this documentary she completely degrades Meghan; “Meghan Markle is the biggest hypocrite there is”, “Abdicate. Off you go” and “a nobody” who “wears bad clothes”. Who goes so low as to criticise somebody’s clothing style? Her insensitivity is perhaps what continues to get her work in the industry but anything that escapes from her mouth should be dismissed.

Meghan only tries her best in being a humanitarian, shining an important light on many issues from gender violence to poverty and education. Recent events show the Duke and Duchess’ tour to Africa undertaking a series of public engagements. From meeting female leaders in South Africa, tackling violence against women, visiting Bishop Desmond Tutu and paying tributes to Uyinene Mrwetyana. For years she has been an advocate for women and girls’ rights-an incredibly powerful movement to be a part of and something that should be associated with the Princess opposed to the unpleasant hatred she receives.

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Meghan is the also the subject of frequent conspiracy-led and racist attacks on social media sites. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram host multiple accounts which are dedicated to sharing abusive theories about Meghan, including speculation her pregnancy is faked. Even in times when she is displaying her selflessness and caring nature it only attracts more backlash from the public. On her visit to One25 – a sex worker charity, Meghan used bananas to write thoughtful messages; ‘You are strong’, ‘You are special’. However it was only used as ammunition by internet trolls for racist tweets who devised the term “banana baroness”. One Twitter account in particular uses a photo shopped image of Meghan eating a banana as its icon.

https://news.sky.com/story/trolling-of-meghan-how-duchess-is-abused-over-race-and-pregnancy-11696606

Despite attacks like these Meghan still remains to glow, clearly she is a strong individual. The hatred she receives from trolls hidden behind computer screens is disgusting, something I, personally would not be able to deal with. It is unprecedented to anything that I’ve ever seen before – fuelled by racism and negative media coverage-unfortunately it does not appear to be stopping any time soon. So much for her fairy-tale ending.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Visit South Africa

 

Fionnuala Hegarty is a Bsc Communication Management and PR Student at Ulster University and can be found at: Twitter -@fionnualaheg ; LinkedIn -https://www.linkedin.com/in/fionnuala-hegarty-108127160/ ; and Instagram -https://www.instagram.com/fionnualahegarty/