Tag Archives: Blog

I don’t know about you, but I do know that I can’t tell the future of anything, let alone social media. Trust me on this one, if I could, I would be super wealthy and be way more advanced. Unfortunately that isn’t the way it is, so your best chance with knowing the future of social media is to search and investigate new products on the market. After I did a lot of searching to determine what I would write about this week, I decided to go with the company that I believe has been a pioneer in e-marketing since the beginning. Constant Contact is an email-marketing program that helps small businesses succeed and excel in the online world. Back in the day when email programs were only used to view emails from friends, the people at Constant Contact knew there could be so much more to it. Constant Contact was founded as “Roving Software” in 1995 and set up shop in Brookline, Massachusetts. Randy Parker was the brains behind this very valuable marketing tool that helps small businesses succeed against the large businesses out there.

Is social media marketing a good fit for promoting your business? Do you understand and know the benefits of being able to market your business through the use of social media marketing? A few weeks ago I spoke about the Stratford Festival on how they engaged with their customers and how they reach out through their social media. For this blog post, I’m going to stay with the theatre but on a much smaller spectrum. The Livery is a small, non-profit community theatre in Goderich, Ontario. It is operated by a Board of Directors and has one staff member. The Livery was built in 1840’s as a harness shop by Samuel Seegmuller. In 1878, there were three businesses in the building, which included a harness shop, a stable and a stone shop. When automobiles were introduced, the three businesses failed to be stainable and the Livery was left vacant for many years. In 1978 the building was being slated for demolition, but the Town of Goderich realized its historical importance and delayed the demolition schedule until private citizens could raise enough money to purchase the building. The Livery was purchased by the citizens and was known as the Goderich Arts Foundation. Many years later, in 1983, a non-profit organization called the Goderich Little Theatre purchased the theatre and opened the Livery as a community arts centre.

When you have the warmth of a beautiful day, the soft sand between your toes and the stunning shores of Lake Huron, you have the perfect location and attraction to promote tourism. There is nothing better than walking on the boardwalk in Goderich, enjoying the beauty of the marina in Bayfield, touring around local food producers purchasing fresh Ontario grown food, eating at the amazing restaurants, and enjoying all the craft breweries and wineries that are scattered around Ontario’s West Coast. The Ontario’s West Coast (OWC) tourism brand represents Huron County, along the shore of Lake Huron. The County of Huron has a population of 60,000, which soars to 800,000 in the summer months. Beautiful cottages, B&B’s, motels, hotels and campgrounds are spread throughout the shores of the West Coast. Luckily for Ontario’s West Coast they knew enough to engage in social media and add metrics to their programming and promotion of tourism many years ago. If they weren’t using social media and tracking their metrics, they would be walking blind through the process of tourism. Huron County is home to approximately 60,000 people and a visitor destination to approximately 800,000 people a year.1 SOURCE: The County Planning and Development Department, “County of Huron Annual Tourism Report” (May 2012), 4.

Whether you feel the draw of healing products or the distinct feeling of energy when encountering healing stones there is no denying that there is a market for these products. Has this product and belief exploded  in the last number of years? Has the power and feeling of stress and anxiety from a world that goes 200 kms an hour caused people to stop and explore other ways to find peace within themselves? Yes it has! Society as a whole has become so unconnected and connected since ironically, social media has taken over our lives. Mentally and spiritually people are realizing that you have to take a step back and find peace within ourselves to be able to continue on with our crazy busy lives.

The Stratford Festival in Stratford Ontario is the king of customer engagement! When you think of the people that flock to Stratford every year to see the theatre it is amazing.  Stratford Ontario has a population of 32,000 people, but in the summer that number will swell to almost a three quarters of a million people, why you ask?  The Stratford Festival of course! Tom Patterson first built the Stratford Festival in October 31,1952. Mr. Patterson saw a need to revitalize the city of Stratford after acknowledging the loss of the steam powered railway. The city of Stratford was facing a horrible ending unless something happened to keep it alive. Mr. Patterson also was an avid theatre goer who cherished Shakespearean plays. Since Stratford had the name of the birthplace of William Shakespeare, it made sense to open a Stratford Festival Theatre in Stratford Ontario. The first performance of Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well took place in July 1953 and the Stratford Festival was born!

Companies have long used social media technology such as Facebook and Twitter to reach more customers – but how are businesses using it internally? While business-to-consumer (B2C) companies are using social media to communicate with customers, less is said of the trend in businesses to use social media platforms to improve internal collaboration. In a technologically savvy company like Nokia, it’s no surprise that they’ve been successfully implementing social media into their internal communications. The company’s motto is connecting people and exploring ways to enhance communication. Nokia’s Social Media Communications team was established in early 2008 with the aim of improving inter-company communications and engaging employees. The objective of the Nokia Social Media Communications team is to: encourage the use of social media internally to bring out the company’s unique authentic voice and to engage in social media externally on behalf of Nokia, and contributing to product and service announcements by opening up a dialogue and driving online engagement. “What is the first thing that Nokia manufactured? Rubber boots.” “When did Nokia sell their billionth mobile phone? 2005 in Kenya.” These are just some of the facts that every Nokia employee knows – not just interesting trivia, but history, facts about where Nokia comes from and where it’s going as a brand. This is one of the things that unifies Nokia as a brand.  

IBM has always stayed ahead of the game. As one of the world’s biggest technological companies, they were forecasting the rise of social media and immediately jumped on the opportunity.  Back in 2007, they foresaw how much of an impact social media was having on the world. They launched Lotus Connections, a product that combined five social networking applications into one package. Since it was aimed at the corporate social and collaborative environment, the apps focused around tools that allowed workers to communicate with each other via blogs, profiles, and common community areas. This was the start of an enterprise-wide integration and employees would have access for more information to collaborate with. IBM LotusLive has become IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. It’s used for business grade file sharing, social networking, communities, online meetings, instant messaging, email and calendar. There is also a productivity center that employees can edit documents in real time. Keeping employees involved has helped with successful organizational strategy.

You’ve likely heard the phrase “Internet of Things” — or IoT — at some point, and you might also be scratching your head figuring out what it is or what it means. IoT – the current ‘buzz’ term for connected or ‘smart’ devices, refers to rapidly growing network of connected objects that are able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors. The IoT is connecting more devices every day, we’re headed for a world that will have 24 billion IoT devices by 2020. According to a recent report from Gartner, Inc., the number of connected IoT devices is forecast to reach 8.4 billion by the end of 2017 – up 31 percent from 2016. Here are some examples: Wearables (Fitbit) – that sends data on your daily activity to online servers, which could then be viewed on your smartphone. Smart Home (Amazon Alexa) – that learn and adapt to your lifestyle, adjusting temperatures in the home for comfort or energy efficiency. Smart TV (Samsung) – that can stream music, videos or photos from online services or other computers in the home. It can also interact with other smart devices, for example, displaying content from baby monitors and security cameras. So chances are, if your using any of these connected devices, you’re already involved with the ‘Internet of Things.’ These devices show how IoT can add convenience to our lives, and ultimately offer us more control over the things we interact with every day. How IoT devices work – Connected devices typically connect to the Internet through a home Wi-Fi network and router. These connected devices can sometimes talk to other related devices on the same home network and act on the information they get from one another. People can interact with the connected devices to set them up, give them instructions or access data, but the devices do most of the work on their own. All of this is made possible by tiny, embedded mobile components that allow almost anything to become ‘connected’. They rely on the always-online nature of our home and business networks, and often process data online via cloud-based software where huge amounts of data from many different users can be analyzed together. Internet of Things devices have an extremely broad range of applications across almost all industries, other benefits across a range of areas include: Engineering – An IoT device in an engineering plant can alert maintenance personnel to an… Read more »

Glossier originally started off as a beauty blog in 2010 by Emily Weiss called “Into the Gloss”. The blog was drawing a huge audience and created a wonderful beauty community that was generally interested in what Weiss was discussing. The launch of this community became the perfect platform for the brand launch of Glossier. The company is currently only available online which allows the brand to only focus on digital and social channels. “This online following would then rave about her products either through their own blogs, or post photos on Instagram to their own followers. This was a perfect example of word of mouth beauty marketing in action on social media (Chong, N. (2017, June)”.

Papa John’s Pizza has been using social media channels to help educate customers where products and ingredients are coming from, and creating time effective ordering options available on channels. Aside from social channels, the company has also used a collaborative technology solution to help support the efficiency of the supply chain. The company outsourced the supply chain needs to Manhattan Associates, a supply chain software company, to help create more time effective and cost saving inventory management. Eric Hartman, Senior Director of Logistics said, “Manhattan solutions allow us to manage inventory levels accurately, efficiently and more dynamically based on actual need—and that has resulted in our being able to reduce overall inventory levels (Manhattan, 2013)”. Using the collaborative software has also provided better solutions to inventory transportation. The software can optimize routes, improving on-time store deliveries, and the overall performance of their fleet (Trebilcock, B., 2014, October). Customer service relies on the speed of the supply chain to help get their products to customers in an effective way that will save time and money.  “Implementation of Manhattan’s solutions has provided unprecedented visibility along with reduced expenses, improved efficiency and productivity in every part of the supply chain (Manhattan, 2013)”. Papa John’s wants to ensure that its “fast food” moves just as quickly throughout every level of the supply chain.

Social supply Chain management is becoming more of a success tool. It seeks to incorporate social network, social interactions and social data with customers, stateholders and business owners in resulting in an improved customer service. In most supply chains, the following factors are important; Cost Quality Speed    

Xero is beautiful accounting software. Founded in 2006 by Rod Drury, Xero is a leading international cloud based accounting software company focused on the needs of small businesses. “It always upset me that big, financial software was so hard to actually extract information from,” he said. “We began to see what was happening in the consumer web—that you could start to build these really neat, engaging web applications and not have to install software. Yet we weren’t seeing that innovation happen in small business. So to me, there was a very obvious opportunity.” Rod Drury, Founder & CEO at Xero, quoted in “How Rod Drury Built Xero From A ‘Small Set Of Rocks In The South Pacific’ Into A Global Player” With a passion for accounting and technology, what product could be developed to help small business owners with accounting? In order to answer this question, according to an article on forbes.com, Drury followed a few hundred small business owners around. “We realized they would all kind of do the same thing: go to the office in the morning and click on the Windows XP computer,” he said. “They knew it would take five minutes to boot up, so they go and pour themselves a coffee. Then they’d get back to their desk, start drinking coffee, read the sports scores, and the first business thing they did in the morning was to go to the Internet banking. And we asked, ‘Well, why do you do that?’ Because they wanna see who paid them overnight so they could see what cash they had and what bills they can pay. And cash is the lifeblood of small business.” Rod Drury, Founder & CEO at Xero, quoted in “How Rod Drury Built Xero From A ‘Small Set Of Rocks In The South Pacific’ Into A Global Player”

Copper Branch: Continuous Improvement Via Social Media

kbarrett   October 31, 2017

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Are you on board with the food revolution? A growing awareness is spreading  and the demand for plant based meal options is growing. Studies confirm the link between eating animals, especially processed meat, and the link to cancer and health conditions such as diabetes. Environmental impacts of a meat based diet have been demonstrated, and the ethics behind factory farming are being scrutinized. People are reading labels and choosing organic, non-GMO and local ingredients more often. Copper Branch, a quick serve plant based restaurant, is fulfilling the gap in the food industry and is well timed with this growing lifestyle to ride the wave of popularity and expand across Canada and internationally with their brand. Social media has played a major role in Copper Branch’s business development and continues to help them evolve and tailor menu items to their customers. Copper Branch opened its first location in Montreal Canada, and has since grown to twelve locations across Quebec and Ontario. By the end of 2017, fifteen locations will be in operation. The first launch outside of Canada will be in the city of Boston, USA. Copper Branch operates under the franchise model, for any curious investors who may be reading this.  I was lucky enough to speak with Andrew Infantino, Director of Marketing, who has been with Copper Branch since the early planning stages. During the initial planning and research phase in developing the concept of Copper Branch, Andrew transitioned over to a vegetarian diet. He could no longer ignore the link to diet and health and he states he will never go back to his flesh eating ways. In his own words Andrew states: To work at Copper Branch it is not a requisite to be vegan per say, because again our mission is more health focused. But I’d say the majority of our team at the very least is very much inspired by the plant based movement and have incorporated  a lot more into their diet or have even transitioned into a vegetarian or vegan diet… And so for myself. It has been a journey or stance that I have taken, have held and I think I will hold for the rest of my life. The founder of Copper Branch is Andrew’s father Rio Infantino. Rio has an extensive 22 year history of work in the fast food industry. He was a multi unit franchise owner before he  liquidated… Read more »

After being listed as number five on Fast Company’s Most innovated social media company of 2017, Taco Bell is making a way for itself by focusing on the customers for product development and research. To reach customers in a more personal sense, Taco Bell has been using social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to review customers complaints, ideas, and creativity. “Instead of sitting behind glass and listening to a focus group, we now have access to 20 million consumers and can be inspired by them and connect with them and have real relationships with them (Lacy, L. (2016, November)”.

Social media (as its name suggests) seems to function best for customer engagement when companies bypass the impersonal and take the customer firmly by the (digital) hand. This courting is difficult to do, yet Lay’s Canada (a PepsiCo company), a brand which largely relies on *actual* consumer consumption of their products, recognized that giving the customer agency, or the feeling of ‘a say’ in the design or production of a product is a highly effective, person-to-person way of engaging consumers, relying on them to buy Lay’s products with the subtle feeling that they have had a personal investment or stake in the brand. As a marketing tool, this kind of consumer-business enmeshment is prime territory for social media, which functions largely (and hopefully successfully) as a means of engagement. By researching a consumer’s stake in the product offering, companies like Lay’s assess which viral topics or trends are meaningful to their customers, and follow suit with an effectively-designed interactive digital campaign to increase daily or ongoing engagement with the public. And the outcome of this kind of campaign can be unprecedented.

Born in 1981, I am an in-betweener, or a Xennial;  I am able to identify with members of both Gen X and Gen Y.  As a Xennial, I have the unique experience of living in both realities of the X’s and Y’s – the advantage is that I have lived, experienced and functioned in a world without internet and instant communication. I understand the need for the occasional digital detox, and often miss life without a smart phone.  Additionally, I have the advantage that I belong to one of the first generations to be taught “computers” in school.  As a result, I am comfortable working on a computer. In this blog post, I will examine the link between Slack, a social media and collaboration tool used in businesses, and higher levels of performance in the workplace.    

Health Sciences North (HSN), a Northern Ontario hospital, is shining a light on the human side of healthcare as it reaching patients, hospital visitors, and the community at large. Located in Sudbury, Ontario, HSN has garnered Northern Ontario’s attention after the launch of their blog, Humans of HSN. Humans of HSN is an online blog modelled after the infamous Humans of New York, where pictures, videos and stories of HSN staff, volunteers and patients are shared. Each week, the blog features new stories of the many faces at HSN which are then shared across HSN’s social media networks. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals alike are sharing details of their lives outside of their hospital life. Whether talking about their personal passions, such as curling, or a once-in-a-lifetime family trip, patients and visitors of the hospital are given the opportunity to see beyond the person treating them.

Traditional marketing isn’t what it used to be.  Most people are no longer as susceptible to, or trusting of what they’re being sold.  According to a recent study, 84% of Millenials do not trust or like traditional advertising.  Yet, everywhere you look, almost any and every little available space tends to be plastered with an advertisement of some kind.   So how do you break through this resistance and connect with your target market in an authentic and lasting way?  Ipsy has found a way. Ipsy is a personalized makeup subscription service available online that sends users monthly bags filled with different and personalized cosmetic products.  Here’s more about what it is and how it started: “Michelle Phan has inspired countless women around the world through her beauty video tutorials on YouTube. Every day, the question Michelle gets asked the most is: “What are the right products for me?”  With infinite beauty product combinations in the marketplace, choosing the best items for your needs can be a challenge! That was why Michelle created ipsy. Michelle and her team of stylists have selected products they love, for you to try.  Each month, subscribers will receive a beautiful Glam Bag with deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products. Members can watch and play along with the stylists with the same products that they are using.” 

Over the past few weeks, I have shared how start-up Flashstock has benefitted from social media to stay engaged with customers, employees, and even improve product development and operations which all contribute to driving business performance across the company. Our marketing team has focused its efforts on using social media as it’s the main platform because of the relative ease of use, low cost, and data-rich insight. Start-ups find social media marketing really efficient. At the beginning, most brands are looking to just create community and brand awareness. With existing networks built into Facebook and Instagram, for example, and almost 2.5 billion active monthly users combined, gives marketers unprecedented access to consumers and data. The platforms are free to join and provide simple to use interfaces that don’t take as much effort as a website to manage. With all of these active users, marketers also get great access to data that tells them everything they need about their target audience.    

Few condiments hold a candle to this savory-sweet, palate-pleasing treat enjoyed by adults and children alike. Ketchup, your pairings are endless: eggs, bacon, bologna, hot dogs, fries, burgers, sausages, onion rings, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, fish sticks…alright maybe not endless. That’s getting pretty close to an exhaustive list, as far as any self-respecting person can enumerate. Yes, this powerful condiment possesses an innate ability to make-or-break your summer BBQ. And it recently showed off some of its unique power to rally social media supporters in a very surprising way. Canadian Connoisseurs Speak Up In March 2016, Loblaws decided to pull French’s ketchup from its shelves without warning, inciting a viral backlash demanding Loblaws re-list the item. The sense of importance associated with this particular product most likely stems from its local origins. French’s ketchup is made with tomatoes grown here in Canada; Leamington, Ontario to be geographically precise. Thus it’s a source of national pride, of small-town Canadian jobs and, ultimately, of significance extending well beyond something squeezed from a bottle. This high level of engagement in the supply chain management process led Globe and Mail food columnist Sylvan Charlebois to declare in his Ketchup Wars opinion piece that “the politics of food distribution are alive and well in Canada”. Many speculated that unfair competitive practices among vendors may have had something to do with Loblaws’ decision to de-list the product. Finding evidence to support this theory is challenging. However, the ketchup story illustrates how the complexities of food retailing are increasingly intermingling with unexpected social media uprisings.  

Social Media has played an important role in the growth of modern businesses. Due to the massive shift in global digitization, companies have been arming themselves with teams of people who monitor social channels, the performance of their brand and ROI of advertising dollars across channels such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinerest and more. With 700 million active daily users, Instagram alone, combined with the exponential growth of other social channels, continues to be a draw for consumers and businesses alike. Since social media channels provide this convergence of consumers and brands, it makes it quite easy for marketers to start to collect data on the habits of consumers and serve up relevant and engaging content. Sometimes referred to as KPI’s or Key Performance Indicators, this data has mostly been used for reactive purposes. This type of data can help marketers and product developers understand what specifically drives customer engagement. Questions frequently ask include, was it a picture that was shared and was it a piece of literature sharing key information that served an audience. Listening to what consumers want and serving them up when they want it is a great way to connect and build brand awareness and ultimately help grow the business. Monitoring the positives does not go without measuring the negatives or the “risks” to achieving business objectives. Social Media KRI’s can also be very helpful in understanding how to quickly adjust based on operational, financial, strategic, and regulatory risks. This significantly can improve how a business weathers a storm as well.  

It is a fact of the internet that every click, every view and every sign-up is recorded somewhere, Depending on your view, this is either very creepy or fantastically interesting,You might be sharing a video here or there to YouTube or some photos to Instagram. And you could be regularly posting to Facebook and Twitter, But if you’re not measuring how those social networks are working for you, And you’re not testing different methods to measure your results, You could be wasting valuable time. “Clear interface, very easy to use. Everything you need to start your social media management and monitoring.” DONATAS BUBINAS,CEO, Velvet. Depending on today’s business, Everyone should take the advantage of using the social media as you need to jump on that bandwagon,So you have to make sure that you are keeping an eye on the social media metrics where you can track and close the loop on your sale.  

Supply chain management (SCM) relies on, at its core, people talking to people.  Working with vendors, coordinating shipments and carriers, buying stock, fulfilling orders, maintaining inventory levels, forecasting what end users may be looking to purchase in the future – every step of the way involves communication between one party and another. “Social networking is not about socializing, but about facilitating people-to-people communication and collaboration, which is at the heart of managing and executing supply chain processes.”  “What is needed [in a dynamic business environment] is a supply chain of rapid response…Many people who work in the materials business [and] talk about supply chains and the speed of supply chains [have historically] thought about systems talking to systems across enterprises and about processes. But in reality, the speed of the chain is not really related to the systems used by the various companies—it’s all about people, and people talking to people”

Damco is one of the world’s leading providers of supply chain management and freight forwarding services. For more than 100 years, They have been providing customers with logistics solutions that support the way they want to do business, wherever they are in the world. Their strategic approach and hands-on services are extensive and tailored; whether it’s a competitive rate for an urgent shipment or a strategic solution to create short-term efficiencies and build up long-term competitiveness.  Damco  is part of the Maersk Group. More information on Damco and Damco services can be found on http://www.damco.com.

The company I work for, FlashStock, exists today because brands are trying to connect with consumers and personalize their connection. This brand to consumer connection is driving the ever-growing demand for visual content across digital channels including social media. Reflecting upon the biology of the human brain and how its magnitude processes images 60,000 times faster than written text, it has been proven that major food brands such as McDonald’s, Nestle, and Blaze Pizza are turning to social media to promote their food on photo specific channels like Instagram and Facebook. The aforementioned brands, as well as many other large-scale global brands, are using social media to test and create new products that social media provides to a large community of consumers. These brands can test to the visual appeal of their products and the hype often surrounding these images has been referred to as “food porn”. Representing the necessity of food, for visual and sensual qualities in these images connects consumers as addicts for viewing it. This new concept of “food porn” is what excites and compels consumers to invest in the products being advertised. When the image represents the qualities desired by consumers and an individual’s network comments about it on social media, there is a higher likelihood that others will buy into its appeal. Many global organizations also use social media to easily learn and listen to the reaction of consumers regardless if the audience is reacting positive or negative sentiment towards their products. In 2017 McDonald’s Canada rolled out its “All Day Breakfast” however, consumers took to social media to attack the to be released Skor McFlurry which goes against an allergy free safe haven that McDonald’s is said to be known for. While McDonald’s learned more about what the public perceives them to be, it wasn’t the launch a new product they were hoping for. One other benefit to using social media for product development and research is the ability to test marketing with minimal cost and be able to pivot quickly to make changes. These types of negative events can cost a company revenue, but when done successfully, can present opportunities for dramatic growth. Overall, companies that are leveraging social media for product development and research are being able to bring products to market for appeal and interest much faster. Therefore, companies are realizing higher business performance or return on investment (ROI).