Liel Leibovitz is a visiting assistant professor at NYU Steinhardt, primarily focusing on video game and interactive media research and theory. His studies in the ontology of electronic game play, ranges from representations of death and violence in video games to human-machine interaction, gaming and the construction of player subjectivity. A founding member of the NYU Faculty Council on Games, he also serves as a member of the advisory board of the New York chapter of the Digital Games Research Association. His latest research, commissioned by Offerpop, a ‘next generation’ social media marketing company, finds that Social media outranks TV, newspaper and online advertising as source for consumers’ holiday buying decisions. The study surveyed a demographically-precise sample size of the American population, to gauge their perceptions of holiday shopping via social media.
Mark Cooper is Co-Founder and CMO of Offerpop, a fan-marketing platform for Facebook and Twitter. Thousands of companies use Offerpop to run promotions, sweepstakes and fan engagement programs – launching campaigns in minutes and tracking performance in real-time.
Mark has helped launch an array of online, mobile and media businesses, including the first TV product placement ratings service (Nielsen IAG) and the wireless industry’s first mobile virtual network operator (ESPN Mobile). He began his career building brand campaigns for leading consumer marketers in the US and Asia / Pacific, including NIKE, General Mills and Apple. Mark holds a BA in History and a BA in International Economics from Brown University.
Lisa Chau speaks with both men on their collaboration:
Why is social media the leading source for consumers’ holiday buying decisions?
MC: Today’s consumers are constantly interacting with social content — in fact, 22% of their time online is spent on social networks. Social media offers consumers a platform for seeking advice about their buying decisions from trusted, influential sources like friends, family, and the brands they follow.
In your study, 90% said that following a brand on social media influences their buying habits, with 32% using social to discover new gift ideas. Please explain this with specific examples.
MC: Social media is a great discovery tool by nature. When fans of a brand redeem a coupon or comment on a brand’s status update, their friends see that action in their news feeds. That’s why it’s important for brands to consistently post about their products and offers via channels like Facebook and Twitter.
Many brands ramp up these activities around the holidays with gift-themed campaigns. For example, last year we saw clients like Barney’s creating holiday look books on Facebook that allowed brands to browse gift ideas and click through to their site to make purchases. Additionally, American Eagle recently ran a successful holiday photo contest using Offerpop’s Photo Contest 3 app. They accepted entries across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — driving brand awareness across the three biggest photo sharing platforms.
How can retailers leverage this knowledge to boost sales even more, especially now that the holiday season is upon us?
MC: Offering fans exclusive coupons and offers is a very effective way to boost sales, particularly around the holidays. Brands can also drive more sales by tracking the content that their fans interact with on social channels — and using that knowledge to target them with offers via other marketing channels like email.
What is the best use of social media for sales that you have seen? Why?
MC: Last year, Bonobos accelerated e-commerce with a successful coupon program on Twitter that gave followers deals on gifts like gloves and scarves. Using Offerpop’s Viral app, they gave followers three hours to unlock three time-sensitive deals by retweeting the offers. It was a smart way to facilitate sharing and drive sales — they exceeded their virality goal by 60%.
LL: I can absolutely say that there is little doubt that those businesses that distinguish themselves in this field believe that social media are not just tools but platforms and that consumers expect to have an dialogue/ongoing relationship that far transcends spot considerations.
What do you foresee as the next big development in social media?
LL: People actually learning how to use it. I think that there what we’ve been seeing with social media is what we’ve been seeing with all other nascent kinds of media. As soon as they appear, people try to assume that it’s just like the previous medium. It’s a completely different medium, with completely different rules, completely different vibes, completely different expectations.
The companies that do it best, are the companies that understand that there is a possibility there for a wholly different relationship that is deep and meaningful and based not just on limited commercial transactions but around shared tastes, passions, and interests.
I think that brands that really try to be category aggregators do really well. These are the brands that don’t just post about their products, but post about things that interest their consumers.
Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Lisa currently works as an Assistant Director in Alumni Relations at Dartmouth College. She has been published in US News and Forbes.