Retail Brands Have Unique Opportunities For Leveraging Social Media

KEY LARGO, Fla. — Douglas Cohen, manager, digital marketing and SEO at ADT home security in Miami, spoke at MediaPost’s Mobile Insider Summit about “the social commerce opportunity.”

His previous positions include digital marketing director at Infinity Sales Group, performance marketing manager at Media 8 and project manager at Grass Roots America.

Before all that, Cohen spent two years in the Peace Corps based in Honduras in a rural coffee region in the central mountains of the country, where he led the initiative to install a community library that included computers, multimedia equipment, and the first Internet connection to this part of the country.

Q: You’ve been at ADT almost two years. What does your job consist of? Has it changed in the two years you have been there and if so, how?



A: I oversee how the company invests 60% of its digital marketing budget, and own strategy and results for channels including email, paid social ads, mobile display, pay per call, online Yellow Pages, affiliate and paid-search partnerships.  

In 2013, I launched the company’s first Local SEO program through a combination of desktop and mobile pages targeting home security customers in U.S. and Canadian cities where the company supports a local office. The success of the program led to the expansion of my role to oversee the entirety of ADT’s SEO ecosystem.

Q: Can social networks really drive ecommerce and retail sales? How has ADT used social networks to drive sales?  What has worked and what hasn’t worked?

A: We leverage a presence on social networks in a few different ways. First are our active profiles on Facebook and Twitter, which are positioned as communication and retention channels. Second is an ongoing campaign where we invest in ads on Facebook's displaying against target profiles such as home and business owners. The third is leveraging social networks as a retargeting platform to reengage users we’ve touched across the buying journey. This has been the most effective method for acquisition, due to the relevancy of the in-market audience’s interaction with other media touchpoints.

Q: On the topic in general, not necessarily applicable to ADT, how has mobilized social media which is accessible at the point of sale helped or hurt brands?

A: I would say any brand needs to treat the customer feedback in social channels with the utmost delicacy. Social buzz can ultimately be an assist or detriment to point-of-sale customers, who more often than not will consult a product or brand’s social profile to support the buying decision. Most reasonable consumers will not hold one or two bad reviews against them, but if the customer service part of your social presence has not received proper attention, it could mean customers will opt for a competitor.

Q: Is ADT utilizing the location awareness data? How has it been working?

A: Data shows that life events, such as having kids, getting married, etc., are a trigger for a home security purchase. Through one of our agencies, we are able to target users who have entered retailers associated with such transitions, and push lifestyle-themed targeted advertising.

Q: Has ADT had to deal with the phenomenon of online ratings, rants, reviews? How has it done so?

A: As a well-known consumer brand we are prone to a large amount of online reviews. ADT has a pretty broad Web presence including on review boards like Yelp, Google+, Angie’s List, and at least a dozen more. Marketing works in tandem with the customer service, and ensures a there is a conduit between the online reviews and our elite support team. There are anumber of tools available on the market that we use to help us identify reviews as they are posted. These SaaS platforms also provide reporting capabilities to keep a pulse on which direction our online reputation is trending.

Q: Millennials seem to be the age demographic that is most embracing using their mobile device to seek purchase advice on social channels. How is this changing the game? Are other demos likely to follow suit (meaning that the millennials are the early adopters) or is this specific to just them?

A: Word-of-mouth advertising has always been a powerful form of recommendation. Purchase advice on social networks is changing how word of mouth transmits, not so much the fact that it occurs.

There are some attributes making social recommendations unique to their predecessors from the pre-digitally connected era.

First, the entirety of one’s network sees it, not just those engaged in direct conversation. This makes the recommendation that more powerful. Second, the brand also has the ability to track mentions of its products or competitors. This enables a hyper-relevant context within which to evaluate one’s positioning. Third, enablement of this conversation through mobile makes its immediate. If someone is in a retail outlet, they can get product advice right during their visit.

We can expect to see network enabled purchase advice continue to grow across different age groups.

Q: Where is social media advertising heading?

A: Richer ad formats, particularly with images and video.

The Instagram carousel is the first of a few rollouts we’re expecting in the social imagery space, with companies like Pinterest also working to expand their paid offerings for brands. Old Navy, Showtime, Banana Republic and Samsung are currently running campaigns on the Instagram carousel, which is consistent with data showing apparel, entertainment, and electronics are amongst the spending verticals in social.   

I think as these socially integrated industries run pilots on new ad units, and flush out where they opportunities lie, we’ll see other brands and advertisers follow suit and begin adding more social placements into their programmatic campaigns.

Startups will also continue to innovate new ways to capture socially shared UGC and integrate it into a native advertising experience.  For example there’s Olapic, who crawls the social Web and tags photos for its brand advertisers to integrate into paid ads. West Elm and JetBlue are two brands currently using the technology, to gain permission from the poster, and then serve the image within in its advertising to create an organic experience within a paid placement.

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