Rethinking Skout: 10 rules to create successful marketing strategies on social media.

Skout is a social app created in 2007 in San Francisco by two entrepreneurs, Niklas Lindstrom and Christian Wiklund, for people to meet new friends online and it has been growing to be the most popular dating app with over one million new users each month on IPhone and Android. The company has been using social media as a tool to promote the app but it seems to be not very successful. I’m going to list some pros and cons of its online marketing strategies on Facebook, Twitter and blog, and give 10 golden rules to improve its marketing strategies of social media.

Rule 1 – Hide the negative comments on social media.

Comments: “Skout is Top 10 paid iPhone social networking app”. Although only Skout itself likes the post on Facebook, any negative comments about the app should not be allowed to see by public on the page. On social media, usually three positive comments can offset one negative comment, and every single negative comment can affect the brand image. You’ve probably already noticed this when you check the reviews of restaurants on Yelp.com. It’s the same thing. So after you understand of this, read what Joshua left on the page. He described Skout as a “pathetic” app. It definitely hurts the brand and influences current users or potential users.
Conclusion: Skout needs to hide any negative comments about the app by using the special functions of Facebook. Many companies do this on their Facebook pages.

Rule 2 – Skout is Skout.

Comments: “Fall is here! Pumpkin latte or pumpkin soup?” Oh, please, Skout is not Starbucks. People don’t care about what Skout suggests them drinking; even if they want a pumpkin latte, can Skout offer? So here is the thing: if you open a restaurant, it’s very appropriate for you to ask people if they love organic food but never ask people if they like IPhone5. People like your page on Facebook or follow your blog or tweets because they care about who you are, not who you talk about.
Conclusion: Skout is Skout. When posting information on social media, you need to remind people the things ONLY Skout can offer or be related to. Find a clue to promote things related to your OWN brand.

Well, not always bad postings. Let’s see another example.

Comments: Yes! 44 “likes”! People seemingly like pandas over IPhone5 or pumpkin latte. But why? Because even pandas know to flirt with other pandas on Skout. How about celebrities? Let’s make one to cause buzz before considering getting involved in law suits.

Comments: Bingo! Divorced couples come to Skout to flirt? How do people feel about this? Weird, exciting, or untrue? It doesn’t matter! The point is Skout gets people’s attentions now. Did you get the point? Skout should create buzz on social media related to its own functions – flirting and dating. Posting pictures or words about these functions instead of a cup of Latte or any news that people can get everywhere. Offering things ONLY related to Skout and even something about “sex” in a fun or an artistic way to get people’s attentions. Here are two examples that you can use your imagination to connect with Skout.

Rule 3 – Limit postings about new functions of Skout.

Comments: Don’t suspect the new functions of Skout. But if nobody hit “like” on your Facebook page, what’s the purpose of posting this?

Comments: “Japanese language available on Skout”. 5 people liked it and 7 comments were left, but none of these comments were written in Japanese. Does this posting really want to cause Japanese users’ attentions?

Comments: “More control over your notification settings”. Only 4 out of 15166 people who liked Skout’s Facebook page liked this posting. May these four people also include a few employees working inside the company?

Comments: 18 is a very small number compared with the large number of people who follow Skout’s blog.

So here is what we’ve found out: Skout introduced a lot of new functions to its users on the Facebook page and blog, but do people really care about these new functions? Yes! Of course they do, but probably not on Facebook. People are usually able to notice a new function themselves when they get a chance to use it on Skout or get to know it via system messages.

Let me explain this a little deeply. What do you notice about the new things of IPhone 5? Metal back cover case, longer screen, new headsets, 3D map, blah blah blah. You probably can tell a lot in a few seconds. But if I ask you what new functions of Gmail you’ve noticed about, it probably takes you some time to think about it. So why? The answer is one is tangible and another is intangible. Most people can easily tell the difference of IPhone 5 from its appearance, but they probably aren’t able to tell the difference of an updated Gmail system until they start using the new functions of it.

Skout is an intangible product. People care about what they can experience rather than what they can see from new functions, so any buzz about new functions would lag behind. Before people start using the new functions of Skout and getting to know them, postings on social media usually cannot influence people’s behavior too much because users have no idea to tell their feeling about an intangible thing. This usually causes them to ignore the postings. Once they start using and getting to know a new function, people who dislike it are more likely to talk about it on social media than people who like it.

Conclusion: Postings about new fancy functions of Skout should be limited on social media.

Even so, you might still ask what can attract people’s attentions if we want to publish some information about Skout itself on social media? Let’s see some good examples in the fourth rule.

Rule 4 – Take use of visional attraction.

Comments: 97 people had liked the new logo on Facebook and 580 comments on the blog since Skout changed its logo to a blue target icon. People love creative stuff, and the new logo is a visual attraction they can see or talk about at once compared with a new function that leads to a psychological feeling people can have later on. The new icon is pretty simple and straightforward for people to understand what happens to Skout: it finally dropped that ugly red heart! Very cool!
Conclusion: Posting visional images related to Skout is a good way to promote the brand on social media.
Here let me give you an example to take use of visional attraction. Posting the logos of Skout and Target on Facebook. Ask people a question: do they shopping people more, or shopping goods more? One is a social dating app, and one is a retail store. The common thing we want to convey to the users is they both are great brands.

Rule 5 – Collecting users’ feedback from social media.

Comments: You can see a lot of messages that people posted on Facebook when they met problems of using Skout. Skout usually responds the inquiries just in a few minutes. From this point, Skout can use its Facebook page as an effective way to improve its customer service and collect feedback.

Comments: Skout’s blog is a good place for risk management or PR event management, and people who pay attention to these content are likely to send the link of the blog on their Facebook or Twitter accounts as well.
Conclusion: Skout can take use of social media to get feedback from users to the performance of new functions of its apps, and even can conduct customer research to develop its future products and functions.

Rule 6 – Who doesn’t like “Free”?

Comments: “Winning 1000 free points”. This post has most “likes”, “comments” and “shares” among all the posts on Skout’s Facebook page – 431 likes, 81 comments, and 12 shares. Why? Because people can have free points to win! When people get a chance to win free things, they usually like talking about it with other people, which can lead more people to join. The same situation also happened to Skout’s blog.

Comments: Yes and yes, who doesn’t like free things?

Comments: 983 comments – the second most popular posting on Skout’s blog after the posting “Skout Teen Community Suspension”. You can also find out that winning gift cards sounds more attracting than points for users! Even though less people would pay attention to the final results or think about whether the event is true, “winning for free” always sounds great to customers.

Comments: The posting had 190 comments on the blog, but only 1 person liked it on Facebook and 0 person retweeted it on Twitter. If you cannot find the words like “free” or “win” in this posting, you probably know why they didn’t hit “like” on Facebook or retweet it.
Conclusion: Initiating “winning/gift campaigns” on social media can cause a lot of buzz among users. There is one thing Skout can do better in the future is that Skout should consider how to synchronize all the events on Facebook, Twitter and Blog when promoting the brand. Do once but get triple payback!

Rule 7 – Create topics!

Comments: Skout launched these two topics about “relationship” and “dating tactics” on its blog and let people join the discussions. Both gained a large number of responses.
Conclusion: Skout should continue initiating different topics related to “relationship” or “flirting” to let people come out with their own opinions and lead more postings on its blog.

Rule 8 – Beat your competitors by learning from them!

If you want to win the market, you have to know how to beat your competitors. If you want to beat them, you must learn from them first. Let’s compare Skout with Match.com as an example.

Comments: Skout recently built up a new account @skoutapp on Twitter and has stopped twittering with its old account @singles since Sep. 14, which means it lost all old followers. From its new account, you can see it follows more people rather than being followed by people. Skout must find a way to synchronize two accounts and should never stop continuing twittering on its old account. We can also learn another method from Match.com: it has two versions on Twitter – @Match and @Match.UK.

Conclusion: Don’t throw away the old account on twitter because it means you are losing old customers/users and you have to invest more time and effort to make it up.

If you check all tweets of Match.com and Skout, the content that both tweet are pretty close: it’s always about new service, topics of relationship, winning subscription or points, etc. However, if you look more close to match.com, you can learn something new from it. Here is a good point Skout can learn from match.com: initiating local networking events.

Conclusion: Launching events is another way for Skout to promote its brand, cultivate users’ loyalty, and of course make more money.

Rule 9 – Story telling by videos.

Let’s see some data. From Aug. 14 to Sep. 14, only 39 people re-tweeted the postings of Skout on twitter. It’s a very tiny number compared with the large number of Skout’s users. Match.com doesn’t have too many people to re-tweet its content either. So let’s expand our vision to Facebook’s twitter account and see what techniques it’s using.
All the time, social networks love to use story telling to promote their brands because people love intriguing and romantic stories of relationship and they are into repeating these stories to other people. Skout, Match.com and Facebook all want the users to speak out their own stories, and you can easily find out some examples on twitter that how they encourage people to tell stories. But seemingly only Facebook’s stories are mostly like to be re-tweeted and favored.

If you want to know the answer why Skout and Match.com have few people to share their stories or retweet other people’s stories, just link to the websites and you will find out the reason.

Skout – submit stories online.

Match.com – Long articles to read.

Facebook: Videos, videos, and videos.

Comments: The amazing part of Facebookstories.com is it includes a lot of interesting videos, and more importantly, these videos tell true stories about people using Facebook in different ways. Videos can impress people much more than words, and that’s why many people watched the movies of Harry Potter but never read the books. When people spread their stories via videos, it also indirectly helps to spread the popularity of brand as well, which also brings more business opportunities to the company.
Conclusion: Skout can build up a video website and even can shoot videos for its users to share their “flirting” or “dating” stories. The content can be how Skout influences people’s life and make their life harder, easier, dramatic, funny, ect., or what people learn from flirting or dating. Anything related to “relationship” can be made in videos.

Rule 10 – Buzz on Youtube.

Comments: Nothing is found on Skout’s Youtube channel except one about Skout’s funding boost. Do people working for Skout care? Yes. Do investors of Skout care? Yes. Do users care? Probably not. Users care about nothing besides what they can benefit from the app. If Skout is bankrupted tomorrow, they will choose another app at once with no worry at all. So let’s post some videos that can entertain or benefit them.
If you check videos on the channel of Match.com on Youtube, you can see it published many official ad videos to branding their website. The tones of these videos look very serious because Match.com claims “dating” rather than “flirting”. Skout is a phone app, and it should find its own way to create the tones of videos and it more emphasizes on “flirting” or “fun” rather than “dating”.
Conclusion: Buzz on Youtube in a fun or emotional way.
Examples: If Skout divides the target users into two different groups with the age of 25-year-old as the middle line, we can use a fun way to make videos and promote Skout to people who are younger than 25-year-old. Checking video scripts #1, #2 and #3 as follows.
For people who are older than 25-year-old, it’s better to use an emotional way to marketing Skout because people over this age are usually more selective to watch and retweet the videos. Please check video scripts #4 and #5.

#1. Shoot Skout! (Fun)

#2. Skout is a ring toss game. (Fun)

#3 Skout is a game show. (Fun)

#4. A Business Traveler. (Emotional. This video tries to tell people: we all feel alone today than ever before. Skout is a way to escape from loneliness.)

“I travel 200 days every year,

visit 3 cities each month,

and spend 30 hours talking to strangers every week.

I’m always on the way,

and I’m always alone.

I’m busy, but I never forget to bring one thing.

I can meet a new friend

just in a few minutes,

but probably for the whole life.

Skout. A friend on the way.”

#5. Story of Shy. (Emotional. This video tries to say that some people in reality look very introvert and shy, but Skout make them totally different online.)

“My name is Shy.

I like keeping quiet at work.

I never say No to people.

When I go to a bar,

I like sitting there, and keeping drinking.

People think I’m alone,

but they never know I have a best friend.

She knows I love talking,

without a voice,

but with words.

My name is Shy, but I’m not shy.

Skout. A friend on the way.”

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rethinking Skout: 10 rules to create successful marketing strategies on social media.

  1. June Xue says:

    Great information and insightful comments! I like the way how a lot of facts and theoretical thoughts are combined in this article.

    However, I am not totally on board with one of the points made here. It says Skout should not talk about its new features a lot on Facebook simply because nobody would care, which is corroborated by the small number of followers “liking” the posting. It also mentions that users pay attention to the actual functions rather than the literal descriptions of the actual features.

    As a matter of fact, I do think the posting introducing the new features is necessary. Before using the functions, the users will grasp the whole idea of improvement and might get interested in the new features. Only a few people “liked” this posting probably because they did get interested in the new features and tried them but then didn’t bother to “like” the posting. However, that does not mean the posting wasn’t attractive or failed to deliver meaningful messages. I guess the informative postings might not be “liked” by a lot of users but definitely provided most users with solid information, thus encouraging them to use and enjoy new features.

  2. Qingwei says:

    I like the way you draw universal principles from specific cases and thanks for the insightful points!
    I have different opinion on the first point you made here—— it was necessary to conceal the negative comments from the viewers. It is known that lots of companies would delete negative reviews to protect their image and boost purchases. But implementing this method without principle may backfire and jeopardize the brand image in a long term.
    Although new media platforms have become more and more important in establishing and enhancing the brand image, the core value of a brand still lies in the product and service. Facebook account I Hate Apple and ESPN Sucks seemed to have little influence on the market share of the two brands.
    On the other hand, just as we discussed in class about the Dove case, the negative comments can be used either to improve the service or to launch discussion to increase the media exposure of the brand. Concealing criticism has become an outdated strategy for wise marketers and consumes more time and energy in current situation.