It’s a Facebook Thing: Connecting Users With The Products They Want

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You’re scrolling through your newsfeed, you see a sweatshirt that has your name or your profession in a catchphrase, and it’s only $30. It feels weird to see something so distinctly “you” pop up. So, how does Facebook do that? If you feel like Facebook has more ads than usual, you aren’t dreaming it up; Facebook has been hitting all of us with more ads that are more relevant to us. Although it may seem unnerving at first, Facebook’s data collection tools are fascinating and can often connect users with products they want.

 

Facebook uses your profile to create personalized ads. If you like Target’s Facebook page, then Target will start delivering ads to you. Facebook will deliver ads to you based on what your friends like. However, it’s not just what you and your friends are doing alone that generates ads; it’s also demographic information. Major life events like getting engaged or married will produce content specifically for you. If you are recently engaged and post it to Facebook, wedding dresses and wedding venues will start to populate your feed. Kind of cool, huh?

When an advertiser creates an on Facebook, it can select all sorts of parameters, so it reaches the right people. For example, if someone is trying to sell a swimsuit: They can target it towards people that live near large bodies of water or has swimming listed in their interests. The more information you put about yourself on Facebook such as your age, where you live, where you graduated college, activities you like and where you work: This all will determine what ads are delivered to you.

If you don’t include all of this information on your profile, Facebook turns to your friends to fill the gaps. Facebook only needs to know one particular thing about you, like where you live, and what your friends provide to create a reasonable demographic that advertisers can use to reach you.

Let’s say you have a Facebook account just for the sake of having a profile. Facebook collects data through companies such as Datalogix, Acxiom, Epsilon, and BlueKai. These companies collect information about you through things like store loyalty cards, mailing lists, public records, browser cookies and more. So, if you are a customer at Starbucks and utilize their rewards program, you will see a Starbucks ad pop up on your Facebook at some point, or even a tee-shirt with a coffee cup on it saying Coffee Addict.

These data collection companies know more than you would think: race, gender, buying habits, economic status and more. If you don’t use loyalty cards or enroll in reward programs when you shop, Facebook still has you pinpointed. If you purchase a car at a dealership, they will more than likely ask you for your email to send you reminders about car servicing and more. That dealership wants to advertise on Facebook, so they upload a list of all of the email addresses they have. That data is then made private, and Facebook pairs the email addresses with the one you registered on Facebook. If these match, you might see an ad from that dealership on Facebook. Your friends might see the same ad from the dealership because they are reaching out to their target audience.

There’s no reason to feel a little spooked by all of this, but all of this information is kept private. Facebook uses a system called hashing to prevent from all of your private information from leaking. When you went to the grocery store last week, and you tried a new brand of yogurt that has just launched and used your discount card at check-out, Facebook might have delivered an ad for that yogurt that you had not seen previously. Don’t worry; it’s not because your phone heard you say how delicious it was at first bite.

Here at Velocity Agency, we pride ourselves in our knowledge of data collection and ad targeting. If you are trying to expand your target audience, we can help you take your brand to new heights. We have the knowledge and experience to make those internet users stop mid-scroll and CLICK the purchase button.

Brands Lead The Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort

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Hurricane Harvey was the first major storm of its kind to make landfall in the US in over a decade and caused mass destruction along the southern border of the nation. Companies from all over the country are offering funds, goods, their employees and offices to help with the relief. At this point, corporate donations have already surpassed $157 million.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have pledged $2 million to the mayor of Houston. They also have plans to match customer donations on a two-to-one basis. These funds will add up to $10 million that will be donated to the relief effort. Dell is a Texas-based company that has been around for decades and has become a global brand of choice in the computer industry. They pledged a whopping $36 million to assist Texas. The Starbucks Foundation has pledged $250,000, and the chain is encouraging its customers to chip in by allowing them to make a direct donation to the organizations aiding Texas in any of its coffee shops across the country. Home Depot is pledging one million to numerous organizations that are helping out with relief efforts and has put together its Team Depot volunteers who are on their way to help with the cleanup effort.

When Hurricane Harvey hit, people tried to prepare for the worst: buying up provisions from grocery stores and stocking up on water. Because of this, companies raised the price of water bottles to make even more profit. Companies such as Best Buy are being scrutinized by the public for their price-gouging during a time when people have lost their cars, homes, and even loved ones. Anheuser-Busch sent over 255,000 cans of emergency drinking water to Corpus Christie, Houston, and Austin to aid Hurricane Harvey response efforts and donated all of the profits to The American Red Cross.

Even fashion companies have stepped in to help. For example, Lime Crime, a trendy makeup company, will be donating 100 % of sales of their Beet it Matte Velvetine lipstick to help Houston. Keep in mind that many animals were affected by Hurricane Harvey too, which is why companies like PetSmart are giving one million dollars to animal welfare agencies that have been working to rescue and relocate homeless pets in the storm-ravaged areas.

It’s amazing that so many companies have been doing everything they can to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. However, it’s important to ensure your business’s disaster relief donations are well received. For smaller companies, your efforts can be coordinated with an accredited organization or the local government to determine whether your donations qualify. Depending on your industry and your business’s size, you may have access to supplies or service that will be useful to victims and aid workers. Media Companies have worked hard to list companies and organizations that will accept certain donations so that the general public can help.

In the corporate world, it’s all about competition. It’s the reason why we see CVS open across the street from Walgreens. It’s the reason why commercials will refer to their competitors and claim they are better. In times of Disaster, these companies come together for one unified reason: to help. Now the incredibly powerful Hurricane Irma is barreling towards Florida, and everyone in America is watching worried that Florida will be in worse shape than Houston was after Harvey. If you missed your opportunity to help after Harvey, here’s your chance for you or your company to employ a plan to help.

The Pets of Velocity Agency

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You’ve met all the humans of Velocity, but now it’s time to meet the Veloci-dogs! In honor of National Dog Day, we thought we’d introduce you to our favorite furballs!

 

Layla Sutton, Social Media Manager

“This is Brother! I named him this because I have a younger brother who lives in VA that I am really close to and when I moved to New Orleans it was hard to not live in the same area as him. I got him in January when he was 6 weeks old so that I would have a walking partner and someone to explore the city with and he has become my best friend. Brother loves food more than I do which says a LOT. His favorite things to do is steal cotton balls from the bathroom, go to the dog park to play with other dogs and he’s actually a really good cuddler. His favorite toy is his giant tennis ball. ”

Beau Runnels, Editor

“I never had a dog, but my dad did raise a wolf. Her name was Feather and she was a sweetheart. She loved children, especially the chewy ones. This is a photo of my dad reading to some school kids, Feather was there to protect him in case one of the little thugs tried to knife him. Feather had a scar on her nose from when she found out porcupines were indeed not made from pork. She called them Needle-Rats from then on… Feather also talked, but cursed a lot. RIP Feather 1995-2011”

 

Linda Nickerson, Office Manager
“This is my dog Abby.  She is 5 years old and was a rescue from the 9th ward in New Orleans.  She has two cat brothers (Coal and Stanley) to protect her!!”

 

Josh Spencer, SEO Manager
“All I have to contribute is my family’s Mini Australian Shepard. His name is Percy, and he cries so incessantly when he has to ride in the car that we have to feed him little doggie valiums to calm him down.”

 

Alex Dufresne, Jr. Editor
“This is my sister’s boxer, Balboa Seabiscuit, but we call him Bo for short. His hobbies include staring at interesting things off camera and relaxing on his private Yacht. He is also the reason I refer to Beau Runnells as “Human Beau” when talking to my family. I know I could just say “Dog Bo” instead, but that would be silly. “

 

Alison Pitre, Account Manager
“Meet Chuy, we rescued her from the streets of New Orleans about 4 years ago and she has had my heart from the first day I saw her. She is the sweetest little Chihuahua in the world! On a fat day, she is 5 lbs. She howls like a wolf and spins like a ballerina when excited. Meet Gidget, she is half Chihuahua and half Corgi. We adopted her from the SPCA 3 years ago. Don’t let her teddy bear good looks fool you…she will tear your face off. Meet Tchoupitoulas, we adopted her from the SPCA about 5 years ago. She is a pit bull mix. Tchoup likes to spend her days laying on the sofa watching Steve Harvey. She also likes to go for short walks on the levee. She loves playing with Chuy.  She is afraid of cats.”

 

Emily Kranz, Media Assistant
“This is Dexter. He’s a 2 1/2-year-old Shih Tzu. His hobbies include indulging on treats, chasing frisbees that are bigger than he his, and pretending he’s from Endor by rocking his Ewok costume.”

 

Danielle Doty, Social Media Manager
“Spooky and Savage were the only two in their litter. They are long haired dachshunds who are inseparable and love to get into trouble. I originally planned only to adopt one, but then I came home with two puppies. Oops! Spooky is full of energy and always up for an adventure, whereas Savage is patient and gentle (except with lizards).”

 

Chase Treadway, Web Developer
“This is Delta, AKA ‘Hot mess’. AKA ‘That’s not your food.’ AKA ‘no ma’am.’ AKA ‘I’m sorry, my child is a con artist, and I’m not responsible for those genes'”

MySpace’s Decline into Facebook’s Uprising

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Move over Tom! Oh, hi, Mark!

Long before you were on Facebook, there was a site that many of us had a space on that was just for us. It was appropriately named MySpace, and everyone quickly jumped on board to have one. In the spring of 2008, MySpace was the top social media site in the world. In April of that same year, Facebook grabbed the lead and never looked back. Over the next three years, Myspace would lose over forty million unique visitors per month, lose both of its co-founders, and lay off most of their staff.

How did this happen so fast?

First things first, it’s important to know why and how MySpace started. In 2003, MySpace was created by people in the entertainment industry, not by technology experts and therefore could not innovate at the pace that they needed to compete.  However, MySpace was greatly influential in the music industry. In late 2003, Fin Leavell encoded his music into a myspace profile, becoming the first MySpace musician. Shortly after MySpace was sold to Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News and 20th Century Fox, they launched a record label: MySpace Records. The record label was made to discover unknown talent on MySpace Music. Some well-known singers such as Lily Allen, Owl City, Hollywood Undead, Sean Kingston, and Arctic Monkeys rose to fame through myspace.

Although Rupert’s idea of incorporating a record label with MySpace was a smart business move, Rupert had an old school way of thought and is said to be a major contributor to the fall of MySpace. Critics claim that MySpace failed to execute the product development by not copying Facebook in design quickly after Facebook launched.

Facebook let third-party developers create apps on the site in 2007 while MySpace held tight to the notion that it would be able to create its own products. This strategy slowed down the process tremendously for MySpace to stay on top of the ever changing market. The former head of MySpace, Mike Jones, has stated that MySpace put up barriers to user enjoyment by forcing members to use anonymous pseudonyms in the place of their real identities, where Facebook encouraged members to use their real names.

Once Facebook took off, MySpace decided to give up on its social media leadership dreams and narrowed its focus to being a social entertainment destination. However, this has not been proven as a successful venture either. Many other websites have followed MySpace’s lead by creating music streaming sites such as Bandcamp which allows musicians to get paid for their music by allowing consumers to buy tracks or albums online.

When it comes to social media and website development, there are six lessons that we can learn from MySpace’s failure.

  • Authenticity is important 
    • The success of Facebook and the corresponding demise of MySpace is partially due to real names adding an aura of legitimacy while removing a layer of anonymous creepiness.

     

  • Standardization is better than free-range 
    • Facebook allows minimal customization regarding overall layout, look and feel. This feature has proven to be successful.

     

  • Mobile is critical
    • MySpace was slow to adopt mobile technology, and the lack of MySpace in your pocket is partly responsible for their decline.

     

  • Think beyond your website 
    • There has never been any significant effort to distribute MySpace broadly across the web by implementing it into other sites. Facebook has made it so that a user can use their Facebook login for a multitude of apps, making registering for new accounts incredibly simple and making Facebook almost a necessity.

     

  • Be business-friendly
    • MySpace has always been user-focused rather than business-focused and has rarely created features specifically for business.

     

  • Don’t sell too early
    •  MySpace made the biggest mistake by selling prematurely in 2006.

Facebook seems to have real staying power for the time being because of their highly adaptive nature and versatility and friendliness in the ever growing internet world. Here at Velocity, we pride ourselves in staying ahead of social media trends and implementing ingredients for success in our marketing strategies. We understand the importance of not only monitoring where social media platforms succeed but also where they fail. If you are in need of social media experts to take your brand to the next level, you know where to go!

What’s in the Box?

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Online shopping started in 1994 and spread like wildfire in 2017. As a result, nearly 79% of Americans shop exclusively online. People have ditched waiting in long lines, driving through traffic, and searching for the best bargain by simply scrolling through the World Wide Web. It doesn’t get much simpler than being able to type in anything that you are looking for and setting filters to narrow it down to your preferred product. Business owners discovered they needed to be innovative and develop a new way to sell their goods online. Thus came the birth of an entirely unique time in online shopping: The Box Pop.

Subscription boxes are everywhere. Chances are if you are on the internet, there’s at least one subscription box beckoning your wallet. Birchbox put the subscription box retail trend in motion with its launch in 2010, with a specialty in beauty, grooming and lifestyle products. Birchbox subscribers pay $10-$20 to receive goodies like skin rejuvenators, fragrances, and makeup. This company has 800,000 active global subscribers which equal a total of $96 million in annual sales.

Just like with any successful business model, the imitators quickly followed suit. There are subscription boxes for everything from razors, tactical gear, video games, clothing, and of course: food.  In 2012, Blue Apron was founded and is now known as the gold standard for food delivery services. Each Blue Apron box contains enough food for you and your family (2-4 people) and offers a very reasonable price range ($59.94 – $69.92).

Subscription boxes have risen to fame because of three different reasons: convenience, personalization, and excitement. Subscription boxes are a perfect example of experiential marketing, a strategy that directly engages consumers and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience. Therefore, creating a consumer-producer relationship with the brand.

Convenience

There’s nothing more convenient than coming home from a long day’s work to see a box on your doorstep full of goodies; meal kits offer a hassle-free way to prepare dinner after work. Some consumers don’t like to get off of work and then face the stress of determining a recipe, shopping for ingredients, and preparing a meal. With meal subscription boxes, all of that is taken care of for you. There are even specialized subscription meal boxes made for those with particularly demanding schedules such as college students.

Personalization

The difference between the average consumer now compared to ten years ago is the value placed on personalization. After all, we live in a time where there’s a space for each of us on the internet that we can personalize and make our own through social media. Upon subscribing to a box, subscribers are asked a series of questions. Some have a list of all of their products with check boxes for the customer to click, while others have text boxes where customers explain their product preferences in detail. Consumers have the chance to put a little of themselves in their ordering and feel special in the process.

Excitement

You’ve already skipped the stress of real-life shopping, and you have defined yourself by making your product preferences known. Now it’s time for the fun part: the excitement of the box on your doorstep. Because the business asks what makes you tick, you know that the box is going to contain products you will love. But, it’s the feeling of it being a gift and a surprise that really has jump-started this marketing trend. This type of excitement isn’t just trending with subscription boxes either. Unboxing videos routinely take a few of the top 10 spots on most-viewed YouTube watch lists, among the music videos from international superstars and the latest viral prank.

Even though the marketing model for subscription boxes seems to have everything that we as consumers want, some recent news has made many of these business owners wary. The subscription box business is not immune to the same dangers of other, more traditional businesses. Many of these companies have been reporting a dramatic slump in sales and must think of ways to increase sales. The subscription box market is severely saturated, with more than 2,000 different types of boxes to offer and steadily growing. Also, big companies such as Starbucks, Sephora, Macy’s, and Adidas are joining in the craze which is making the smaller companies lose steam rapidly.

What do you think the next step will be for these business owners to stay on top?

Juliana Joins Us!

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Here at Velocity Agency, we’re always moving and growing, but we always find time to welcome our newest members. Now we welcome our newest web designer Juliana Katz!

Juliana comes to us from Rio (as in Brazil, yes that Brazil) with a BA degree in Communications with an emphasis in Advertising and Marketing. Even before coming to the United States, she quickly developed plenty of skills in user experience, user interactions, and coding and developing websites. Her love for web design and interacting with customers on social media platforms shine through her work.  Juliana soon earned the title of Art Director with her digital design expertise proven by her skills in designing ads and brand collateral.  Even in an entirely different country, she was clearly perfect for us.

Before working at Velocity Agency, she worked as a digital designer at Interação Inteligente, an in-house agency for a corporate bank in Brazil, and C Comunicação, an advertising agency focused on designing and developing marketing projects for restaurants. After learning all that she could about design and digital marketing, she eventually came to the United States to refine her English at the University of New Orleans. She figured that UNO and New Orleans would be the best places to learn the language properly, and I can’t say that I disagree!

As a web designer with Velocity Agency, Juliana is building intuitive and visually appealing websites for a diverse client portfolio. Her skill with custom CSS code and her knowledge of backend systems further bolsters the strength our expert web design team!

In her downtime, Juliana enjoys plenty of outdoor activities like going to the beach. Although that’s probably the one thing the city New Orleans doesn’t offer, she’s certainly glad to be here. And we are even more pleased to have her work with us at Velocity.

Are Millennials Killing Business?

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If you’ve crossed any business or marketing site you’ve probably heard the news about how millennials are business killers, ruining once proud businesses with their own culture. Things like the golf industry, the wine industry, and even McDonald’s have seen a slight decrease in value in recent reports, leading most market experts to blame these events on the rise in Millennials coming of age. From some headlines (“Are Millennials Killing Credit?”), readers would not be remiss in considering this the end of days. Are 20-30-somethings really single-handedly ruining the country’s economy though? The answer to that is of course not.   

First, the idea of any generation “killing” the industry or culture of another is hardly a new development. Millennials alone have been accused of ruining movies, cruises, department stores, and even vacations to the point where the complaint hardly has any merit. As new technology develops and the culture changes, some systems will undoubtedly change regardless of any time period or group of people. Look no further than the song title “Video Killed The Radio Star” released in 1978.

Likewise, millennials do not destroy industries out of pure spite or disinterest in the public market. The demographic, like plenty of groups before them, simply adapt to the circumstances given to them and choose to spend their money elsewhere. According to reports from both Forbes and Time Magazine, although this younger generation spends less money on wine or vacations, they are still well-represented in items such as technology and organic foods. They also appear highly adept at new technical developments such as Uber or same-day delivery systems compared to other generations. The millennial generation is still a force in the market following the latest trends and causing a boom for some companies. Those businesses that do not keep up with the times are usually the ones millennials leave behind.

Furthermore, the millennial spending habits seem to reflect the spending habits of their parents or the generation before them. Following the recession earlier in the century, many baby boomers were negatively impacted as thrifty spending choices did not serve long-term goals. Millennials ranging from young teens to college-starters often witnessed this effect first-hand from their parents, leading them to change destructive market habits. Also, with seven out of ten millennials saddled with student loan debt, the generation is less apt to make long-term, expensive purchases such as a house or a car compared to their parents. From that impact, many previous staples of life such as the 9-to-5 job or marriage are also altered or postponed as Millennials struggle to earn a debt-free life. While the millennial generation is spearheading this change in the economy and culture, the obvious source is their parents.  

However, just because some businesses have seen a slight regression doesn’t mean the Millennials are a generation of ” business killers ” in the darkest sense. Their gradual rise and general impact on the economy simply prove the need for businesses to adapt to the times and that all companies should practice keeping up with their customers. As the economy improves, more people throughout all generations will be more inclined to spend their money on the things they choose. These are still factors beyond one group’s control and will likely continue to affect people for years to come as the generations and times continue to change. Although there will probably be plenty of factors to influence the market by then, the headlines will be full of just as much doom and gloom. Just remember that these same headlines were written about hippies in the 60’s and that turned out quite alright!

No matter what generation leads the market, one of the best ways to keep a business afloat is up-to-date promotion and a significant social media presence. Contact Velocity Agency to keep your company prepared against any potential ” business killers ” and get ahead of the market trends!