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Forget public relations – The real game is social relations

Forget public relations – The real game is social relations

13 January 2015

By Cynthia Unninayar

Whether you are a retailer, designer, or even a blogger, you have a brand. And, if you want to advance that brand, you cannot afford to ignore social media. To learn more about this ever-evolving phenomenon, CIJ TRENDS & COLOURS caught up with the very busy master marketer or, as he is often called “Brand Architect,” Dan Scott. Dan’s marketing experience includes positions with QVC, Chanel, and Verisign, followed by a decade as Chief Marketing Officer at Scott Kay. Two years ago, he became CMO of World Trade Jewelers, where he is responsible for the global growth of billion-dollar iconic brands translated into jewelry, such as Hershey Kiss pendants, the brand’s top rated licensed product, and Hasbro’s Scrabble Jewelry, now Macy’s #1 selling initial pendant. Ranked #15 out of 5,000 CMOs in the USA and elected for the third year to the CMO North American Advisory Board, Dan utilizes social media to create intense brand awareness, build community, and to sell, but not in the way you may think.

Dan Scott, brand architect and marketing consultant.
Dan Scott, brand architect and marketing consultant.

CIJ TRENDS & COLOURS: Let’s start with the basics. What is a brand?

Dan Scott: Simply stated, a brand is a promise. You can count on one hand how many true brands there are in the jewelry industry. That’s sad when compared to fashion or fragrance, but it’s not a lost cause. We too often call something a “brand” because it has a name, logo, slogan, or tagline. To give birth to a baby brand, however, one must carefully nurture a jewelry design or collection. Then, through the proper channels, you stand by your brand promise and deliver on it each and every day to the right audience.

What is social media and how can it help build a brand?

Social media is a 24/7 cocktail party with peer-to-peer conversations that take place via text, images, videos, or audio, or any combination of these. Popular channels of communication include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. The party never stops and the guest list is endless. You may invite your brand to the party, but don’t think for a moment that, because a social platform bears your brand name, you are in control. The consumer has the ultimate say. Before you type, pin, post, or tweet, visit your toughest competition and just observe. Remember, once you hit enter, it’s online forever. A strong brand or a promise never dies and there is magic in instantaneous action and reaction, but what could spread like wildfire to promote and reinvigorate your brand can also shoot to kill with as little as one bad post.

In the ever-evolving world of social media, what’s the difference between a “like,” a “fan,” and “shares?”

Remember the days when people would jump for joy when their website had a million hits? We have since learned that a “hit” is somewhat meaningless. One does not know who “hit” the page. “Fans” or “likes” are, in a way, similar. You don’t know who they are, where they came from, or what, exactly, they are “liking.” Having said that, however, there is great power in numbers for the sheer attention of it all. Human nature proves that people are drawn to crowds, and thousands of Facebook fans make your brand or product look successful.

“Shares” are the digital version of word of mouth. When people share, it’s a peer-to-peer endorsement, but shares can also be negative. If people have a bad experience, they tell the world. When you see those—and you may well get them—do not hit delete or block them (unless it is profane and modern filters take care of most of those). Resist the temptation to be defensive. Rather, communicate with the person, just as any great customer service person would do. The difference here is that the world is watching, and it can turn against you in a moment. Try and right the wrong, even if you are right. People who express discontent are still people who care. But, if the conversation stays negative, try and take it offline. There are ways to do this, and they are specific to each circumstance, which we can talk about offline.

We should also mention “unique visitors” (UVs). They tell us that one specific visitor, on one day, from one IP address came from a completely traceable online location. This makes for a killer marketing dashboard. You can see the visitation time, duration, action taken, and so much more. UVs can produce email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers—and other opt-in information. This is useful once it’s put into action.

Let’s take a concrete example. Can a brand convert traffic to sales, using, for example, Facebook?

No, not really. Nothing that works in the physical world works in cyberspace, not promotion nor incentives nor discounts. With social media, you engage your audience. You speak around your brand and not to it or about it. An example can be seen on the Hershey Kiss Facebook page, which now has nearly 200,000 fans, with over 5,000 active interactions every few hours. One of the most popular posts—it reached 15,000 people in 15 minutes—was an adorable baby sleeping in a bed of Hershey Kiss chocolates. No jewelry. Thousands of people shared the post and the result sold more Kiss pendants than we had ever experienced. But, when we placed a hero shot with the popular kisses, we flat-lined. The baby image spoke around the product and touched a cord with the audience, without ever mentioning the product itself.

What does the term “psychographics” mean and why is it so important?

Let me start by saying that it is extremely important to know your customer. Psychograpics is a marketing term used to identify people’s personalities, aspirations, and desires. To understand psychographics is to understand the “why” of people’s purchases. It is a multi-layered evaluation of "why" someone “needs” a Rolex over a Timex. Yesterday’s marketers used only household income, age, and geography to target their customers. Today, one must get inside consumers’ minds and follow their lead. It’s their voice, their likes and dislikes that control how well a product performs. If you force-feed your brand in social media, people will be turned off. You must allow the conversation to grow organically, while carefully guiding it, and your brand will thrive.

How does one determine which social platforms best address their target audience?

Studies show that Facebook is skewing 30+ with somewhat higher household income. Instagram and Twitter are more tweens, teens, and twenties. Pinterest is varied, but attracts mostly women, aged 25 to 45. Pinterest is also the best platform for click through to buy. Facebook is not—F-commerce tanked—and Instagram won’t allow you to click to buy, at least not yet. Once you identify your brand’s psychographics, you are then half way to finding the right platform to get your message out.

In Social Media, it is necessary to engage your audience and speak around your brand, not about it. A good example of this strategy is the Hershey's Kiss jewellery campaign that featured a baby on a bed of chocolate kisses, but not a single piece of jewellery. The image reached 15,000 people in 15 minutes and resulted in a high volume of jewellery sales.
In Social Media, it is necessary to engage your audience and speak around your brand, not about it. A good example of this strategy is the Hershey’s Kiss jewellery campaign that featured a baby on a bed of chocolate kisses, but not a single piece of jewellery. The image reached 15,000 people in 15 minutes and resulted in a high volume of jewellery sales.

You have had tremendous success with “influencers” in social marketing, so how do you leverage these people to help sell your products or services?

Today’s influencers, or informal “brand ambassadors,” you might say, are the fashionistas and trendsetters you never hear of, but who have millions of active followers. They are people such as Michelle Phan, a hair-and-makeup guru who, with more than seven million subscribers and one billion page views, is a certified YouTube superstar. You can cultivate your own influencer. They are out there. You just need to find them and make them a star for your brand promise.

For more on branding and marketing in today’s digital environment, Dan Scott can be reached at

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