Toronto’s Furniture Bank is in the business of doing good. As a social enterprise dedicated to providing gently-used furniture to women, children, refugees, and those transitioning out of homelessness and poverty, Furniture Bank has grown steadily since its inception. Over time, it has rallied a series of sponsors, donors, social agencies, and other partners to provide thousands of families in need with dignified furniture in the Greater Toronto Area. And most of this has been accomplished through marketing and outreach strategies outside the realm of social media. But as more people turn to social media and online publishers for their news, and overall exposure to products, trends, and “ways of giving”, over the past year the organization has begun to weave social media into its overall marketing strategies, particularly by creating an online-only silent auction and ramping up its social posts to promote its annual fundraiser, the Chair Affair. The incredible impact of this small change (surpassing previous fundraising targets, growing followers, and increasing brand awareness by leaps and bounds online) has set a course for the organization to follow suit with a more dedicated online strategy. With its goals of growing the organization to a national level, and reaching record-breaking fundraising targets in order to serve the most families it can, it is clear that social media lends itself very well as a marketing tool, not only in relationship to its future events, but for the organization as a whole. Below: Executive Director Dan Kershaw discusses Furniture Bank’s mission and functions.
Private and corporate business models have not ignored the wave of the future of marketing: social media. In theory, it is an ideal, magical marketing tool best used for garnering interest, building followers and customers, and monitoring the successes and failures of digital campaigns via an alarming amount of data. These functions continue to make social media central to the contemporary corporate marketing team. But what about the small business, the entrepreneur, or the industry of community services, charity, or social enterprise, where a multi-person marketing team is not in the cards? How might social media as a marketing tool aid a non-profit organization in reaching goals, building donors, and creating buzz with (sometimes) less resources? For the marketing team at Toronto’s Furniture Bank, social media is a key, cost-efficient, and effective tool in the promotion of the organization and meeting its ongoing goals of building brand awareness, growing donors, and strengthening relationships with its sponsors. (Below: A video giving a glimpse into Furniture Bank‘s daily operations, with a personal touch. The organization has used visual platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram in recent years to up its online content game, and give a more defined face to the brand, and how the Furniture Bank “machine” works.)
Media. Monitoring. No one understands the utility of social media in the development of products better than than those in the thick of the media monitoring industry, the champions of multiple products which, like digital butterfly nets, capture curated data from the far corners of the online world, with the aims to organize, analyze, and report on that data in an impactful way. In effect, social media research in this industry IS the product. In Canada, a competitive set of top industry players, such as Cision Canada, have made the monitoring, organizing, and analysis of traditional and social data their full-time business by developing digital media monitoring/analysis platforms and bringing them to market. And, given the nearly daily shifts in digital technologies and modes of communication, pushing out new user-friendly, contemporary communications products for clients (mostly those in PR, marketing, advertising, and communications across an expansive list of industries), and meeting the demands of the market in a timely and effective way, are vital in staying relevant to the needs of the communications and PR professionals who’s primary need is to keep their fingers on the pulse.
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).
In a digital age, where consumers are less likely to respond to traditional marketing/advertising techniques, organizations are tasked with trying to understand the modern consumer. With so many options to choose from, a well-informed consumer base, and a diverse and ultra competitive landscape where the concept of brand loyalty is a thing of the past, corporate social media strategies now play a vital role in the success of today’s global organizations. One such organization is Maryland based, Phillips Corporation. Phillips Corp is a global supplier of manufacturing technology products and services primarily focused on CNC machine tools. Over the years Phillips Corp have relied on the great marketing efforts of the manufacturer’s they represent for building/growing the brand. They are also globally renowned for providing legendary customer service and an enduring competitive advantage to the end user. Although Social media is somewhat of a new realm for Phillips Corporation, in a highly competitive global product market, they have tried to differentiate themselves by focusing on their people and the service they provide to the customers. Phillips is aware that nothing will substitute the relationships that their sales and service people have with the customers. Conversely they are cognizant that social media has developed a larger role over recent years as an additional avenue for engaging with that same customer base. At first their social media strategy was designed just to be presence on social channels, but it quickly developed into a more streamline avenue for them to have conversations with people in their industry. This is where I believe Phillips have taken a unique approach in an attempt to set themselves apart from the competition. A lot of companies use social media to tell everyone how good they are, and while Phillips do want to promote themselves, they also feel that it is important to recognize, at least from a marketing perspective, that they don’t own their brand, their customers do. Matthew Nardangeli-Marketing Director at Phillips Corporation explains the importance of social media and customer engagement in below audio file:
Full disclosure: I’ve been a ‘BzzAgent’ for a number of months now. How did I find out about it? Someone else told me. In turn, I’ve told others and promoted the site to them. And that, is exactly what BzzAgent is trying to do. BzzAgent is part of dunnhumby, a customer science company that analyzes data and customer insight. According to dunnhumby they, “married science with the most expansive suite of consumer advocacy solutions on the planet to create the next generation of advocacy marketing – one created to build and sustain long-term brand growth. From insights and consumer generated content that optimise your product launch plan to widespread reviews that deliver on your brand promise to the authentic customer conversations across social media that drive product sales, you’ll feel the impact of these programs across your entire enterprise. BzzAgent’s Advocacy Suite is a blend of social and science you won’t find anywhere else – with results you won’t find anywhere else, either.” To the customer, they are marketed as a way to get freebies and sample new products that you can ‘brag’ about to your friends. There are twitter accounts and blogs devoted to ‘free stuff’ and giveaways and BzzAgent fits into that demographic perfectly.
Source Organization Name: Buon Gusto Industry: Restaurant Name of contact if available: Cynthia Dyer, Owner/Manager, Buon Gusto Web references: Buon Gusto Twitter Facebook CNBC Description of how social media is used for business performance: There is no doubt about it that the power of social media will be forever evolving, but what does the future really hold? What is the… Read more »
Pinterest is no longer the new kid on the block in the social media marketing world. Since sky-rocketing to the top of the social media charts in 2011, Pinterest has established itself as a major player, not only in social networking, but also in social media marketing, by presenting brands with a unique way to engage customers. In short, Pinterest… Read more »