People who share common interests can join together to form communities. Brands can make use of social media communities to share brand values and messaging to appeal to existing and target customers. These communities allow customers to comment and react to the brand messaging such as leaving comments and visiting the brand’s websites. The ultimate goal these is to drive sales and branding. I pick two social media Pinterest and Flickr for my client The British Council in Hong Kong and both channels allow the brand to target messaging to their customers.
Both Pinterest and Flickr are social media for sharing images. But Flickr clings to high-quality professional photography. The two channels are different in user demographics. In the article ‘The Demographics of Social Media Properties: Looking Beyond Downloads‘, Pinterest has more women users (70%) and middle-class income group (annual income ranges between $50K and $75K. The age group of users is quite evenly spread from 20 to 54 years old. I assume the users of Pinterest are working professionals at middle level job positions. They must have attained post-secondary or tertiary education or above, hence they possess intermediate and advanced level of English. They care about their career development, style of living including families and travelling.
Based on the assumptions, I have created a board ‘Live English Up‘ on Pinterest for my client. The boards aims to help customers improve their English skills. The content covers a broad range of topics such as skills for professionals – email writing, emotional intelligence; women-focused issues such as parenting, shopping and lifestyle – travel, arts and culture, cultural understanding. The layout of the board will be similar to that of Everyday Healthy. Each pin has a headline and a brief description of the content.
The board will offer fun and casual content, originated from the British Council or other sources. The content ranges from jokes, ‘How to accept apologies in English’ to interpretations of the British saying. The board helps deliver the message that English is for daily lives. People can continue to improve their language abilities through reading, listening and watching materials relevant to daily lives.
For Flickr, users are mainly male (over 60%), matured (majority of users are aged 25-29 and 35-39, respectively) and they are high-income groups (annual income ranges between $100K and $150K). These users are interested in journalistic photographs that can tell the stories. My client can use the channel to deliver brand values and persona – cultural exchange, diversity and inclusion by showcasing images of their works including English learning, examinations, education and arts. I create this photostream for The British Council, with reference to the photostream of ‘The White House‘. It shares stories of President Barack Obama and his family. My client can also use the channel to develop personality. I have picked those images of showing people engage, they can be walking, looking into something or working, and some photos of government officials and celebrities. This can help the brand share the values about people and interactions among themselves.
As content communities have their unique user demographics, brands should understand the backgrounds of their customers in the first place. They can then decide which content communities to use and created targeted messaging. This can help brands enhance effectiveness of IMC strategies and efficient use of resources. I think both channels can help The British Council in Hong Kong target women and male customers by offering customized content.
Brands use social media to promote products and services to target customers based on their consumption behaviors. With wireless technologies including Bluetooth, NFC, beacon, brands utilize proximity marketing apps or social media with such function to strengthen their integrated marketing communications (IMC), branding on mobile devices and offer target customers’ unusual shopping experiences.
As part of brand’s IMC, social media allow brands to interact with their target customers and provide them with personalized services or deals by analyzing consumption preferences. With proximity marketing features, social media or apps can help amplify their IMC purpose. In Garrett Mehrguth’s article ‘Hacking Facebook’s Local Awareness Ads: 5 Advanced Tips’, he suggested various ways for brands to strengthen their proximity marketing through local awareness promotions, for example, coupons, white paper download, advertising targeting specific campus. Brands can use these to reach their target customers and build their brands such as thought leaderships. Another example of IMC is a Norway-based company shoe brand Uncast combines proximity marketing with social media. Customers who walks into the shop and looks at a pair of shoes. They will receive a ‘retargeted pre-roll ad’ when they visit YouTube (Tom Wentworth, Mashable Asia, Get phygital: 5 tips for using beacons).
Proximity marketing enables brands to communicate with their customers through mobile devices. Brands can make use of the strategy to tap in the booming of usage in mobile devices. According to the ‘Global Digital Snapshot’, unique mobile users reached 3.79 billion in the world in January 2016. One of the proximity marketing apps Foursquare Swarm is a typical mobile application that ‘makes full use of a cell phone’s GPS’ (Professor Jaclyn Rhoads, Week 9 Social Media: Proximity Marketing, Review Sites, Industry Sites, MMC 5006: Introduction to Multimedia Communication). Brands request for access to current location from customers and they can push their promotional deals, coupons to customers who are ‘nearby’.
Google Maps are another app for brands to show up, not only the location of the shops but also facts about shops, customer reviews, other suggested locations on maps.
Another benefit of proximity marketing is customers can enjoy unusual experiences. In the video ‘Mobile Proximity Marketing, yourBlueZone’ demonstrates brands can push ‘real-time’ call-to-actions such as coupons, discounts, registrations to targeted customers who are within the area where Bluetooth is available to connect. Customers who opt in receiving these promotional items will be able to benefit. This can help brands drive sales. JiWire’s statistics shows that ‘57% of consumers are more likely to engage with location-based advertising’, ‘62% of consumers share local deals with friends’ (Greg Petro, Forbes.com, How Proximity Marketing Is Driving Retail Sales). Brands can gather customers’ data using proximity marketing to help enhance their sales strategies. For example, a boutique ‘STORY’ uses wireless technology in the store to understand customers’ behavior such as locations of the store where customers most visited. The data can help the store to decide the merchandise locations.
I think wearables such as hand bands, smartphone watches can strengthen proximity marketing. Brands can send notifications of latest promotions to their customers through apps and reminders sent to wearables too. The synchronization of push marketing content in wearables, mobile apps and social media can help branding. Starwood Hotels allow guests use wearables to check-in and use them as keys of hotel rooms using proximity marketing technology (Jamie Oetting, Hubspot.com, Beacon, Bluetooth & Mobile: The Future of Content Marketing). The trend is that customers will get brands’ marketing content directly from their wearables, according to the article ‘How Wearable Tech is Changing Proximity Marketing‘.
Proximity marketing in Hong Kong is not as popular as in the United States. Only 49% of smartphone users in Hong Kong use location based services for payment and 24% of them ‘telling others about purchases made’ (Go-Globe, Smartphone usage in Hong Kong – Statistics and Trends). A food chain store Pizza Hut is one of the few retailers that incorporates proximity marketing in their mobile app. The app is for members to keep track of their points and redeem coupons.
Members can also obtain real-time promotional deals in ‘Youpon’ through access of Bluetooth.
The app will notify members about queue tickets of all of the food stores. Customers will then know the time for queuing up on their way to the restaurant and allow them to decide which restaurants to go to.
Customers can choose to opt in location access
The above services give incentives for members and potential customers to visit the restaurant again. My husband and I went to the restaurant last week and we decided to go there again coming week to redeem the coupons and try the ‘Youpon’!
I think my client The British Council in Hong Kong can refer to Boston Children’s Hospital as an example in applying proximity marketing for navigation (Jamie Oetting, Hubspot.com, Beacon, Bluetooth & Mobile: The Future of Content Marketing). The British Council’s building has seven floors. Business operations are spread in different floors. For example, the International Pre-School is on the first floor, customer service center is on the third floor. English courses for children aged 1 to 3 and primary school students are held on the fourth floor while for secondary school students and adult students on the fifth floor. I think my client can have an app to help customers locate themselves using WIFI in the building. Customers can also opt in the app to obtain exclusive discounts of English courses, latest news and events and customer feedback.
Snapchat is a booming social media portal targeting the ‘millennials’ aged between 13 and 25. Some brands move into the portal to tap into the market of young people by creating videos and fun images. But brands have know their existing and potential clients well before they use Snapchat for branding. For example, my client British Council may not use Snapchat as the prime marketing channels for a new course ‘myFoundation’ English course mainly because the course is targeted to adults who are front line workers or those who are aged beyond 25 years old. Nonetheless, the portal can help the brand build awareness and cultivate potential customers.
Brands can use Snapchat to craft brand messaging in line with brand values. I like the example from World Wide Fund’s campaign of distinct animals #LastSelfie. The ‘disappearing’ feature of Snapchat stories resonates the key messaging of the campaign – ‘distinct animals’. Also, audiences can grasp the theme of the campaign within a few seconds of the video because the messaging is direct and easy to understand. Another Way that brands can use Snapchat for is cross promotion. Snapchat allows downloading stories created in form of videos and visuals and also the Snapchat code. These materials can be uploaded in websites, other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Vine. (Rebecca Lee White, TrackMaven, The Snapchat Marketing Guide for Brands) for cross channel promotions. Brands can also leverage the feature of Snapchat – time limited videos and visuals for ‘flash’ promotions such as coupons and engaging with their customers using interactive content.
I have created a Snapchat story for The British Council, myFoundation English course. The story is about a teacher of myFoundation English course Teacher Laura. I can use videos or visuals to talk about her everyday living, for example, planning lessons, traveling, talking to students. The key messaging is use of English in everyday lives. Young people may find the language is not easy to learn well and not intriguing. Audiences can also learn common mistakes in English in each of the stories.
Audiences are encouraged to snap back the answers of questions to Teacher Laura to promote engagement.Videos or images created in Snapchat can also be promoted in the organization’s website and Facebook.
Although the target audience of the course are not in line with the portal, I think the organization can promote in Snapchat for brand awareness. Some audiences can become potential customers when they grow up. By implanting the concept that learning English is fun, these young people will go to British Council and enroll the course for career development.
I have not used the social media for personal and business. I find Snapchat is easy to use in general, though I need a while to figure out the function ‘snap’ and edit the visuals. The portal is easy for young people to use because the generation is familiar with photo or video editing mobile apps. It also promotes the trend of viewing visuals and videos in portrait style, contrary to common use of landscape.
To improve, Snapchat can add in search function in order to help brands reach their customers easily. While the portal continues to grow and develop, the market needs to observe and review the effectiveness of branding in Snapchat.
Rebecca Lee White, TrackMaven, The Snapchat Marketing Guide for Brands
This campaign is to promote the British Council’s ‘myFoundation English course‘ for adults. The course is suitable for beginners and people to make advancements in their lives and careers. The theme of the campaign is ‘Transformation’. Customers who have little or no knowledge of English can improve their language skills and transform to be professionals. The course allows customers to learn with flexibility and help them advance from their current job positions.
People are busy with running errands and their jobs and I want to remind them that they may miss the opportunities of making changes or progresses in their lives. myFoundation course can be the turning point of their transformation.
*Note the Page title should be ‘Program’ instead of ‘Programe’. Apologize for the error.
I want to highlight the theme ‘transformation’ by combining two contrasting visuals into one. The first picture that I use is combining faces of two persons. The left person refers to ‘You’ or customers and the right one is ‘professional’. The faces must look relaxed and positive. The person on the left of the visual should dress causally while the other on the right is in business attire.I want to include both genders in the visuals to follow organization’s vision in equality, diversity and inclusion.
The tag line ‘You can be Professional’ and headline ‘Transform to be Professional’ deliver the message that each one of ‘You’ can be transformed to be a ‘Professional’. I insert a button ‘Apply now’ with a url which links to the website of the course. I choose ‘apply now’ because I want customers to follow the key messages of the carousel ad and ‘apply’ them in their daily lives.
The key message of picture 2 is ‘Learn with flexibility’. The visual contrasts the facial expression of a mom and dad. On the left, they look hectic when taking care of their children but on the right, they attend the class and look relax. One of the features of the course is to allow students to study at their own pace. I choose moms and dads because they are one of target audience of the course.
This visual shows the construction worker (left) can become a project manager (right) when they attend the English course. Construction workers are skillful but they have to demonstrate their language abilities in order to become project managers. The course can help students, like the construction workers, who have little knowledge of English to improve and ‘level up your career’
The last picture is the British Council’s logo and a headline ‘Make transformation happen’. Students can find the way to transform in the British Council in Hong Kong through studying in ‘myFoundation English course’
I think companies can benefit from carousels using images, videos and urls in a single post feed. According to the article ‘Facebook’s carousel ads are 10 times better than its regular ads‘ , carousel ads achieve better click through rate than non-carousel ads. They can select the demographics of their target audience. In the campaign of myFoundation English course, I want to target as many people living and staying in Hong Kong who are 18 years old or above and except those who have received higher education e.g. master’s degree, postgraduate degrees and doctorate degrees.
More people are using mobile devices or smartphones to browse internet and social media. Customers can click urls and read more about products and services whenever they find images and videos intriguing. Companies can gather data about customers’ behavior and preferences through click rates and scheduling to improve their marketing strategies. Companies can reach their target customers at low costs because they are charged by clicks.They can choose to deliver the ads on a daily basis or by weeks or months and schedule the ads in different time of day.
Companies often use push and pull marketing strategies in order to reach their target customers, develop their brands and boost their sales. Push marketing refers to companies ‘push’ their products and services to customers using online or offline advertisements – emails, pay-per-click ads, pop-up ads. Meanwhile, pull marketing is a customer focused strategy in which companies and customers interact with each other on social media platforms or through SEO, blogs or whitepapers in which customers will find them intriguing . My client The British Council in Hong Kong and its competitors The Wall Street English and the TESOL International Association (TESOL) provide English language learning to customers based on demographics such age, English proficiency levels as well as customers’ objectives in learning the language – for work, personal interests, academic use. One point to note is that my client also works on arts, education and society in order to promote the British culture.
Push techniques on websites
The British Council’s customers or interested parties can fill in contact forms and opt in the bilingual corporate e-newsletters which includes all the events and programs of the organization. The tap ‘Newsletter’ is found in the top right corner of the website.
The e-newsletter is available for public. However, the button of the e-newsletter is not conspicuous, at the right side of the ‘Press office’ page.
For specific area of work, for examples Arts will have its e-newsletter targeted their customers.
The Wall Street English provides a bilingual, bi-weekly magazine to its customers or interested parties will subscribe it when filling in their brief contact details. However, customers have to look for the page link of the magazine in the pull-down menu of a tab ‘English tips’. I think a subscription button can be placed in the home page for accessibility.
TESOL’s monthly e-newsletter is found in the pull-down menu of the first tab ‘Read and Publish’ in the home page.
Visitors can find the latest and archives of the e-newsletter in the website as well.
The RSS feed subscription is available in the e-newsletter. I suggest RSS feed also be available in the home page too.
In the British Council’s website, each web banner carousel has a button such as ‘Register now’, ‘Apply now’. Visitors who click through the button will be directed to the event page.
Some promotional buttons are on the home page about events prompting interested parties to click through.
The banner carousels of the English and Chinese websites in the Wall Street English are different. Carousels in both versions are ‘call-to-actions’ of course promotions, discounts, free trial.
Visitors who click on the carousel will be directed to page about course details and registration.
The home page of TESOL has a banner carousel about latest products and event details. A static menu bar is on the right of the carousel. Visitors can choose to subscribe the membership, connect with their staff, visit bookstore or find product or services.
Push Techniques off-sites
Web banners or pay-per click banners
The British Council use pay-per-click ads to promote the English courses.
A banner ad promotes English courses for adults
An ad promotes English courses for secondary school students
Trade shows and conferences
The British Council participated in trade show to promote its International Pre-School.
TESOL organizes branded forums and conferences.
Pull Techniques on official website
SEO on websites
The article ‘A Simple Guide to SEO for Local Businesses [Infographics] ‘mentions that websites with targeted messaging in their meta title tags, URLs, company descriptions and keywords can be easily identified by search engines and hence, SEO. The British Council uses targeted messaging across all sections in the website. For example, in home page, the meta title and the URL are British Council Hong Kong and these will be updated when moving on to different sections. For example, the page about English courses, the meta title and the URL will change to ‘Learn English British Council’ and ‘English’ respectively. The organization’s introduction is also concise (48 words). The tabs use wordings that are targeted to customers ‘Learn English’, ‘Take an exam’ ‘Study in the UK’.
The Wall Street English also uses concise messaging in meta title and the URL ‘Wall Street English’ and change them in different sections e.g. ‘MultiMethod’. However, company’s description is not available in the home page but it is under the tab ‘About WSB’. The messaging in the website is not targeted but promotional messages, for example – ‘Course’, ‘Corporate’, ‘Promotions’ in tabs.
I think TESOL has done a good job in SEO. Although the organization does not have a company’s description on the home page. There’s a tag line which is the organization’s value at the top of the web page ‘Advancing Excellence in English Language Teaching’. The messaging in the website is targeted such as in the tabs – ‘Read & Publish’, ‘Enhance Your Career’.
Blogs/ Whitepapers/ Resources
The British Council put their press releases, annual reports, e-newsletters and blog posts available in the same page under ‘Press office’ but the link of the page is found near the bottom of the home page. Visitors may not be able to locate it easily.
The Wall Street English has a page ‘English tips’ which contain blogs and e-newsletters. Visitors can locate the link of the page in its home page.
TESOL on the contrary provides a variety of publications for visitors including journals, bulletins, e-newsletters for members and non-members, annual reports, white papers. Experts of the organization’s bulletins and blogs are available on the home page.
Visitors can also login the site to submit resources about teaching, planning activities etc.
All three organizations’ names are on the top of the search in Google and Yahoo. The British Council and the Wall Street English place advertisements on search engines.
The British Council in Google search
The British Council in Yahoo search
TESOL in Google search
TESOL in Yahoo search
But for The Wall Street English in Yahoo search, the company’s website is on the top of the search and the rest of the results are irrelevant.
All three organization’s websites are mobile friendly. The British Council and the Wall Street English have tailored sites for mobile devices.
The British Council’s website in Android
The British Council’s website in IOS
The Wall Street English website in Android
The Wall Street English website in IOS
TESOL website in Android
TESOL website in IOS
Sharing/ social share buttons
Web pages of the three organizations are sharable on social media channels.
Improvements of the British Council’s website from branding perspectives
Improving the brand positioning
The British Council is a registered charity organization in the UK to promote English language and culture of the country. However, the messaging of the organization’s Hong Kong site focuses on learning English and taking IELTS exams. Promotional buttons of these segments are conspicuous and constantly updated in the home page while content relevant to UK culture – arts, education and society are only found in static text boxes with no promotional buttons. I think the tab ‘Our works in arts, education and society’ in the header should be placed towards to left side of the page, alongside ‘Learn English’, ‘Take an exam’, ‘Study in the UK’.Visitors will be aware that the organization’s culture works are as important as other segments.
The sections should change static text boxes to promotional buttons of latest events and programs.
Engaging with customers to build brand loyalty
With customers’ voices such as testimonials, comments and feedbacks as well as interactions between companies and customers, companies can build the bonds with customers and cultivate brand loyalty. In British Council’s website, majority of the content in the website is organizational focused. The organization should create more content of customers’ interests. Its competitor TESOL International Association is doing well in this respect through publishing white papers, blogs and creating a forum for members to upload their resources. This will help improve customers’ online search experiences and develop the brand loyalty in the long run.
The British Council in Hong Kong offers myFoundation English course for adults who want to develop their English skills from basic levels upwards. I have developed three profiles of customers from the Royal Hotel, a 5-star hotel in Hong Kong who are interested in the course. They are: Man Keung, a cook who wants to make advancement in his career; Eddy Wong, the executive chef who supports his colleagues in further studies, allowing him to recommend potential and qualified colleagues for promotion and Cherry Leung, Human Resources Director who is keen on developing a sustainable talent management policy in the company such as planning budgets in order to support staff who want to pursue further studies. Through analyzing customers’ profiles based on their demographic, psychographic, behavioral and environment, The British Council in Hong Kong will be able to formulate IMC plans to reach targeted customers.
Demographics of customers from the Royal Hotels
Man Keung Chan is a cook working in a Chinese restaurant of the Royal Hotel, a 5-star hotel in Hong Kong. He is 35 years old and has about 7 years of experience in Cantonese cuisine. He is named as an emerging chef in Cantonese cuisine.
Eddy Wong is the Executive Chef of a Chinese restaurant of the Royal Hotel. He leads a team of 10 people including Man Keung. He is 45 years old and he has been working in the position for 8 years. He is an acclaimed chef with 20 years of experience in Cantonese cuisine.
Cherry Leung is the Human Resources Director of the Royal Hotel. She is 36 years old and she has about 13 years of experience in human resources management.
Customers’ thinking processes
Man Keung decided to become a cook apprentice after he finished junior school. He obtained a certificate in Guangdong cuisine before he worked in the hotel. His English level is basic, which he finds it difficult to compose sentences in English and pronounce English words. He does not have opportunities to practice English at work. He is interested in learning English from the basics in order to get promoted to the post of the Sous Chef. He is a relaxed person who always makes decisions following advices from his senior and peers.
Eddy is a high school graduate and he obtained a Diploma in Chinese Culinary Art. He always told his teams that being an outstanding chef not only has excellent cooking skills, but also communications skills in order to interact with customers. He always talks to VIP customers and senior management who are native English speakers. He is a quick decision maker and he is cost conscious. He encourages his teammates to improve the quality of cuisines within budget. He wants colleagues to follow guidelines of food production to ensure food hygiene and safety working environment.
Cherry evaluates the effectiveness of talent development strategies in the hotel. She will discuss with department heads to understand colleagues’ needs in performing duties so that the company can support colleagues to pursue further studies. She will also talk to the senior management and persuade them to provide adequate support for further studies including subsides. She analyzes the ROI of training programs in relations to colleague’s performance in daily operations.
Behaviors of customers
Man Keung reads news and research cooking related articles and columns online. He is interested in learning new cuisines and cooking techniques from popular chefs such as Jamie Oliver online. Due to his limited knowledge of English, he can barely understand the videos. He also visits restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong to learn about their menu and dishes.
Eddy subscribes a couple of online magazines of culinary and hotel management. He will research for menu and ingredients through talking to other chefs about vendors, discuss with Food & Beverage Director and Marketing Director for trends and development of the market as well as promotion of new menu. He has strong management skills, being able to assign duties of his teammates based on strengths and weaknesses. He also travels to different countries to learn new trends and development of food and hotel industry. He also talks to local food suppliers and visit restaurants and hotels.
Cherryreads daily news and Human Resources magazines both online and print. She also gets information from social media. She has been with the company for over 10 years and she is very familiar with company’s values and culture. She is meticulous and possesses strong negotiation skills. She will discuss with all department heads of the hotel and senior management in order to enhance the hotel’s talent management. She will also talk to other Human Resources professionals in the industry to learn the industry trends and development.
The working environment of Royal Hotel
Man Keung uses Cantonese for daily conversation with colleagues. He does not have confidence in writing and speaking English. He will turn away when he meets foreigners in the hotel area. He does not have buying power at work. He will help source and recommend food products for Sous Chef and Executive Chef and obtain quotations from vendors. He will purchase training materials or courses at his own expense. He may request for education subsidies from the company only upon approval from Executive Chef, Food & Beverage Director and Human Resources Director.
Eddy is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and proficient in English. He is confident in conversational English and he is able to read materials in English. He can approve any purchases up to $8,000 before acquiring approval from Food & Beverage Director. He will evaluate the proposal of menu from cooks and chef together with the quotations and adopt menu which are high-quality and low production costs. He will talk to the vendors for production costs.
Cherry is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and she has native-speaker proficiency of English. She can approve any purchases up to $15,000 before acquiring approval from CFO. She will evaluate the effectiveness of training programs or courses which are enrolled by staff in benefitting the company based on performance KPI and ROI analysis.