Posts by Black Star Content Team

Brand Netnographers Need To Look As Well As Listen

Posted on Jun 9, 2014

In February 2007, with insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan at their peak, the American military sent a special squad of experts into the warzones. The teams of the Human Terrain System were made up of anthropologists and their job was to understand the environment in which the military was working and help the allied forces to win over the locals. In using anthropological tools to conquer ground, the US army was late. Large brands have been doing the same thing online since the days of bulletin boards and listservs. With the growth of social media and the emergence of virtual communities large enough to be studied meaningfully, that “netnography,” as one of the discipline’s biggest evangelists has called it, is now more important than ever. According to Robert Kozinets, professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business and the anthropologist whose 1995 doctoral dissertation was the first piece of research to mine online communities for marketing information, netnography has a clear definition. It’s a set of techniques that adapt anthropological research to the world of the Internet. It uses ethnography, the study of populations, and applies it to online communities. For his dissertation, Kozinets was looking at the conversations surrounding Campbell’s, the soup-makers. He found that customers were...

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Design and CSR based Initiatives by Big Brands

Posted on May 21, 2014

Every company would like to be like Apple. Not just because those giant revenues and profit margins would satisfy any shareholder but because the company has produced the right results in the right way: by using design to charge a premium for beautiful products. That focus on design has led to an entirely new way of thinking spreading through the business world over the last few years. Companies as large as Proctor & Gamble and GE have turned to “design thinking” as a solution for producing more efficient processes, products better suited to customers and greater innovation. BusinessWeek has described how GE’s “best and brightest” managers start their Technical Leadership Development Course by reading comics and describing their toughest problems in haikus. In 2012, Mauro Porcini was nabbed from his position as 3M’s first chief design officer to take on the same role at PepsiCo. “They want to bring design thinking to every brand touch point–packaging, communications, online experiences,” Porcini told Fast Company at the time. They may now be regretting that decision. Even some of design thinking’s biggest advocates are rowing back. In an article in Fast Company, Bruce Nussbaum, one of the idea’s pioneers, has said that the concept has ossified and may even be doing harm....

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Big Brands Serve Similar Dishes On Facebook

Posted on May 6, 2014

For a restaurant chain, social media is an unforgiving place. The company might have a workforce that stretches to six figures but it only takes the poor service of one surly teenaged burger-flipper for a public complaint to be posted on Facebook for millions of people to see. Thousands of outlets staffed by hundreds of thousands of minimum wage workers serving millions of customers a year make those grumbles inevitable. The “Recent posts by others” box on Pizza Hut’s Facebook page, for example, shows four posts all of which are currently complaints. One customer is unhappy that his pizza came eight minutes late; another says the bowl was too small; a third didn’t receive his midnight meal; a fourth posted a picture of a badly-packed take-out box. They’re the sort of problems that should be solved by a quiet chat and an apology from the manager; on Facebook they’re blown into brand-damaging proportions and they drown out the majority of satisfied customers. And the company has no control over that content. Brands are aware that the only thing worse than allowing customers to post complaints on their pages is the complaints that they would receive if they tried to censor them. The best they can do is to offset...

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For Fortune 500 Retailers Selected Product Posts Win Engagement

Posted on Apr 29, 2014

Harley Davidson has it easy. The motorbike company is known for producing a single product. That product is photogenic so it’s not surprising that the company’s Facebook page looks like a photo album of beautiful motorbikes. A Photo of the Day shows a rare model every 24 hours. In between those posts are pictures of other models and when the page’s 5.6 million followers add their own comments, which they do in their hundreds (“likes” typically range from 15,000 to 30,000 per post,) they often include pictures of their own bikes. It’s a content strategy that’s simple to apply and obvious to choose. While the page might sometimes advertise the company’s own riding courses or show events at which the bikes have been featured, nowhere do we see branded accessories like jackets or helmets offered for sale. This is a page that’s all about the bikes, and it works. Posts win engagement, deepen the relationship with customers and give the brand the viral reach it expects from social media. Companies with a broader range of products have to make some harder decisions. B2C retail firms of the Fortune 500 are among the most enthusiastic users of social media. They use Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram and Pinterest,...

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The Facebook Strategies Of Fortune 500 Finance Firms

Posted on Apr 21, 2014

Retail  companies can have an easy time on Facebook. Companies like Walmart and J C Penney are able to fill their timelines with pictures of their products, reward followers with special offers and show pictures of happy employees. But for service companies, the challenge is much greater. Loans and life insurance policies aren’t physical products that can be photographed and shown in a timeline. Financial advice isn’t easy to communicate in a short post and the self-identity that leads followers to like and share is missing in a picture of a credit card or a photo of banker. And yet financial firms are using Facebook to promote their brands and win customers. Some are doing better than others. In this post, we look at the Facebook content strategies of four financial firms in the Fortune 500 and the different results that their strategies are producing. Visa Shows Life As It Should Be Lived With nearly 14 million likes, Visa’s Facebook timeline is both one of the largest commercial page on the platform and one of the most effective. Its strategy is also among the simplest. The company posts a regular stream of photos showing the products that people can buy with the Visa card. The card itself doesn’t appear...

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