This Week in Business and Brands: The (Social) Medium is the Message, Branding Bran, and More

man with linked in shirt and temporary tattoos

Happy Friday!  As this weekend marks the final days of spring, we certainly couldn’t be more excited for summer’s official kick-off.  That said, the coming solstice has us wondering again whether there really is a season to everything, especially when it comes to the growth and decay of businesses and brands alike.  And if this week was any indication, there’s still plenty of room for debate as to who’s in bloom and who’s in doom…

LinkedIn, Bought Out

Linkedin, Social Media, Internet, Network

Perhaps it truly is simply a matter of perspective, particularly in the case of acquisitions – while some see a pickup like Microsoft’s LinkedIn purchase as a big opportunity for growth, others are already sounding the death knell for its fellow social networks.  As Twitter keeps struggling to stay in the game, some are betting it’ll only be another season or two before it becomes the next big platform to get turned into fertilizer.  Of course, it all depends on whom you ask – especially on the marketing side, with executives weighing the buyout’s value from “very little” to a “huge gold mine.”

Then again, if the evolution of these networks is at all correlated to their survival, then the new major players in mobile comms are the predators to be feared most.  As the (social) medium truly becomes the (instant) message, billion-user apps like WeChat are attaining far more value than their once-innovative predecessors.  Now it’s up to marketers to figure out how to engage those chatters and cash in (but not creep out)…

Metrics and Mirrors

We’re willing to bet it’s going to take more than a funny cat video to catch their eye (although Stylus reminds us we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the “Pet Parent” in evolving consumer demands).  So how best to tackle this latest frontier in mobile marketing?  First,remember that context is everything – it’s no longer enough to be creative only with your content.  By tapping into tools like geo-targeting, advertisers can make for even more personalized engagements – and thus harvest bigger yields of new consumer insight and acquisition.

Come to mention it, this week also gave us another insight about that insight – while there’s plenty of use for analytics in planning ahead, let’s not forget its value in staying the course. Utilizing that data to prevent costly mistakes can be worth as much as (or even more than) the next big product’s launch.  For even more value, firms can then take that analysis a step further by turning it in on themselves.  In this age of big data, powerful intel can now come full circle with “people analytics,” allowing companies to both recruit and retain the best personnel for the greatest growth.  In other words, be sure to take the time to measure what you’ve sown – before guessing what you’ll reap.

Cooking Up New Tactics

Of course, tuning back into your customers will always provide real, actionable recon for your next seasonal change.  For some companies, those consumer voices are best heard through an open forum – the online forum, that is – as web research matures “from novelty to necessity.”  But for veteran meatpacker Hormel, there’s no need to spam customers with surveys to understand the modern eater’s evolving diet – by smartly scooping up some smaller healthy-and-humane players in the food business, the brand has enjoyed non-stop growth over the last decade.

Here’s some more food for thought: for the champion-of-breakfasts Kellogg’s, opening the company doors through an open digital channel allowed for greater transparency and consumer engagement, further maintaining their genuine mission of sustainability and social responsibility.  Coming up with innovative, powerful tactics like the above is a must in the surprisingly competitive world of big-brand cereal, where the old formula (sugar + advertising = $) is no longer up to snuff.  With such devoted consumer loyalty on the line, it’s no wonder marketers are so hungry for “the most important meal of the day.”

A Boon in the Jejune

That’s all for this week!  Think there’s no fun in finance?  From health insurance to filing taxes, we’ll leave you with this insightful look at the creative ways boring brands turned common dread into serious bread.