We all have a story to tell. It could be one of personal hope, sacrifice, mentorship or despair. Others could be told from numbers or raw data – the stuff that drives work and project results. As social media becomes a more popular medium of communication and an avenue for influence and story telling, it’s the metrics that tell a bigger story and help to validate the hard work of a communications department.
There is no better feeling than having your skin hydrated, cared for and clean while using products that support a value, cause or lifestyle you align yourself with – organic, natural, environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, ethically responsible, or all of the above.
Beep. Ding. Swoosh. Those are the sounds that fill our office spaces, coffee shops…or any place that has people for that matter. There is no denying we live in a world where most of us have our eyes buried in our phones, are constantly on the go and can admit that taking our phone to the bathroom has become normal practice – we don’t want to miss a thing! Because of this need to always be connected and have information right at our fingertips, customers have, now more than ever, a stronger, louder voice – and depending on who they are – a big influence. In an effort to keep customers happy or informed, quick response rates have skyrocketed and started to become a vital practice in social media management and an integral part of an overall social media customer service strategy. “In fact, 90% of people surveyed have used social in some way to communicate directly with a brand. What’s more, social surpasses phone and email as the first place most people turn when they have a problem or issue with a product or service.” – Sprout’s consumer survey, 2016. It may sound like a time-consuming task, but it shows customers that their inquiries are important and a company cares about what they have to say or share. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Next, according to freelance writer and Business News Daily Contributor, Danielle Corcione, building real customer relationships, using a hashtag, focus on creating a customer advocate base, and creating an opportunity for referrals are four ways a business can use social media for customer service success. Obviously, the goal of a company should be to increase the bottom line, but it should not be the focus. Building a solid, loyal customer base that will continually come back (maybe even for generations), who will advocate for your product or service, and make them feel like they are part of a ‘brand family’ should be a close second goal. In my own experience, when I shared a post or tweet about my favourite product and tagged the company, and the company interacted with me, I was positively impacted and now inclined to go back or share their information on my social media channels. I felt heard and like I had some influence.
Organizations of all sizes have seen immense success in the use and integration of social media. The tools, data, and many other capabilities that these platforms provide, have shown to deliver significant benefits for any organization’s overall performance. Despite all the known qualities social media platforms have to offer, the true reason these organizations see positive results is because of the proper application, structure, management, overall strategy and its effectiveness when it comes to integrating social media across the whole organization. We have seen how social media can benefit organizations in a variety of areas, but once social media has been integrated across the whole organization and working in unison, we can also see more powerful and substantial results.
We live in a world where we can buy anything, at any time, from anywhere. When you’re sleeping in Canada, your order could be processed in Australia, Africa or Hawaii. Isn’t it great? Thanks to globalization, “the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale,” it has allowed companies to expand into different countries and create jobs for local people. But with growth and opportunity, comes the need for quick, simple and translatable communication. Que social media. Nowadays, the majority of the population has a smartphone and is always connected. Dialogue and networking have also evolved and taken on a new way companies do business and communicate. The need to have instant information at our fingertips is at an all time high and the expectation to respond, share or view something has become a 24-hour, 7 days-a-week responsibility. via GIPHY This is where social media has delivered. It has transformed how we communicate, broken traditional communication channels, and given companies the power to be creative with what they need to say and to whom.
It is safe to say that social media is one of the most talked about topics currently in the world and it doesn’t look to be fizzling out anytime soon. Social media platforms have gone from a place to connect with friends and family, to a regular social tool for organizations to utilize and maximize the many properties and capabilities it holds. Technology is advancing at an astonishing rate, and there is no telling what a social media platform will look like or what the functionality of it will be in the future. For an organization like Metroland Media, they are already behind in terms of implementing any kind of social media, so if they do choose to move forward with it, it’s possible for them to enter the social media world at a very different and confusing time. The real question is, will they?
Social media for business purposes has been a main staple of marketing for many years now. As each new trend and each new platform is released, companies have scrambled to be at the forefront. Over the years we have seen many success stories and many disasters come of social media, but the fact is it isn’t going to go away. Truth be told, social media advertising budgets have doubled over the past 2 years and ad spending has ballooned to roughly $35 billion this year, according to Hootsuite. The future of social media will likely require marketers to rethink their current strategy. The move toward instant, in the moment news feeds, augmented reality, and posts that will disappear after 24 hours are changing the way we view social media. Businesses will have to become adept at following these trends if they want to stay in the game.
Nowadays social media marketing has become incredibly important for businesses all sizes. One reason behind marketers’ attention to social media is technology: new platforms, networks and apps. Another reason are people, who use social media to create, publish and share content. The same people are consumers, who share their thoughts about their experiences and are looking for new ones. So what does the future hold for the world of social media?
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.
Markets are conversations. Trade routes pave the storylines. Across the millennia in between, the human voice is the music we have always listened for, and still best understand. — The Cluetrain Manifesto, 1999 In 2014, Sephora, a world leader in beauty retail, joined the 6 percent of brands on SnapChat, blasting their followers with special deals on new beauty products. In 2015, the beauty powerhouse teamed up with women’s lifestyle publisher, POPSUGAR, to do what no makeup brand had done before: attach a mobile shopping function to customers viewing fleeting photos in Emoticode, an app similar to Snapchat. On June 6, 2016, Sephora was the big winner for small-screen commerce on mobile devices at the Internet Retailer Excellence Awards, dubbed “Digital Innovation”. In M. Penn’s University of Waterloo SMBP case study, Sephora – A Pretty Digital Face, the author explained the essence of digital innovation behind Sephora’s award: how smartphones and tablets contributed half of Sephora’s digital traffic, and how Sephora was one of the first to launch Apple’s expedited mobile checkout platform, Apple Pay, as a payment option in Sephora’s apps and in-store. For years, the retailer had tested beacons, small sensors that track consumers’ smartphones and send personalized messages in its stores A year later, on June 6, 2017, Sephora’s Senior VP of Digital Marketing, Mary Beth Laughton, gave the keynote address at the same Internet Retailer Excellence Awards. Laughton offered insights as to how Sephora, by partnering first with Kik Messenger in Spring 2016, and then Facebook Messenger six months later, introduced its chatbot messaging apps to leverage the power of smartphone mobile by delivering an immersive retail experience that goes beyond mobile commerce and empowers shoppers to learn, be inspired and play through the power of chat. Why the move to chatbots? According to Brian Honigman, a content marketing consultant and the CEO of Honigman Media, a consultancy focused on helping marketers and entrepreneurs see results with content marketing and social media, chatbot apps are mobile’s sleeping giant because they also embrace the power of platforms. That is why the original iPhone succeeded. It was not based on product alone but also leveraged the power of the app-store ecosystem. Messaging apps provide the perfect ecosystem for the next generation of applications. It only makes sense that a chatbot, whose ancestor was exclusively used for communication, and which was dubbed by Steve Jobs in the iPhone keynote as an “internet communicator,” would… Read more »
Nowadays online video content is a big part of social media. According to Cisco Forecast video will represent 80% of all consumer-based Internet traffic by 2019. So there is no surprise that businesses spend more money on video advertisement. According to Business Insider video will account for 41% of total desktop display-related spending in 2020. The two top platforms for video advertisement are Youtube and Facebook. In January 2016, Facebook announced that people watch 100 million of hours of video a day. In February 2016, Google’s CEO reminded its investors that Youtube users watch hundreds of millions of hours of video a day. It was indirectly pointed out that Youtube users watch more videos than Facebook users. So what is the difference between Youtube and Facebook?
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.
Any organization, despite the industry, is tracking metrics day in and day out. These metrics play a significant role in the organizations overall performance, and every organization tracks and monitor some type of performance metric, these areas could include: sales, finance, social media, marketing, lead generation, consumer data, and the list goes on. These metrics are vital for the organization to improve in those areas and their overall performance and can also be used to increase customer satisfaction, customer retention, revenue and employee performance. Without metrics, these organizations would be left without key consumer data, have a challenging time marketing their products or services, understanding their consumers, tracking sales and revenue, and their research and development would slow down tremendously. Metrics support and improve the overall performance of organizations, that is why Metroland Media remains one of the media industry leaders in Canada, due to their strong metric management.
To a child of the ’80s it still seems unbelievable that vacations today are researched and booked almost exclusively online. I remember visiting travel agencies with my parents. I can recall flipping through the glossy pages of snazzy magazines, always trying to sneak that Disney booklet into a place of prominence on the agent’s desk. I can picture how every “Sunshiny Holidays” guide was divided into country-specific sections, and hotels had a single picture depicting what they were all about. One picture. That was all. To help with the limited visuals were 5-7 sentence descriptions written by the proprietors themselves. So you’d thumb through the guide, gaze at the photos and dutifully try to convince your parents to choose the spot with the best-looking pool. All the while the agent typed away on her keyboard, telling you what was available and at what price. It felt like a simpler time, even if it was a comparatively powerless one for consumers. Alas, I won’t be offering the same memories to my kids (hey!…remember when Mom spent 4 hours staring at her cellphone reading reviews for our one-day getaway to Great Wolf Lodge?). The limited technological sophistication available “back then” unfortunately meant very limited access to accurate, reliable information when booking a holiday. Transforming the Industry The transformation of the Tourism & Hospitality industry caused by the influence and upsurge of social media is nothing short of astounding. Approximately one-fifth of leisure travelers worldwide turn to social media platforms for inspiration within different categories of their travel planning including: Hotels (23%) Vacation activities (22%) Attractions (21%) Restaurants (17%). Along with these sweeping changes, the Travel Marketing Industry has had to adapt to the ever-shifting landscape, finding innovative ways for determining how to create desirable experiences, and secure a high number of bookings. As early as 2011, Ryan McElroy, a recognized leader in the travel and hospitality industry, discovered that many travel agencies were still operating from old blueprints. They were missing opportunities to generate bookings because they weren’t harnessing the social media and digital platforms available. As a solution, McElroy created Travel Agency Tribes. Travel Agency Tribes is a SaaS (software as a service) company that creates all the technology required to make a travel agency’s online presence dynamic, easy to update, and adept at crossing all the new channels that today’s savvy travel consumer expects. This Canadian company has its ear firmly glued to the ground. It’s leveraging the very best that social media… Read more »
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).
As an International Product Development Specialist with Dempsey Corporation, I know firsthand all of the tiny, painstaking, and highly particular details that go into bringing a product from ideation, to fruition, to the retailer. From the initial RFP (Request for Proposal) to the actual proposals, to working with manufacturers, buyers and marketing teams, developing a single product can take MONTHS. In a world of infinite ideas, how does anyone know what will sell? A buyer’s worst nightmare is backing and investing in a product that flops – wasting value time, effort and resources that didn’t ultimately turn a profit. And, as a product developer, a buyer’s worst nightmare is also my own. If I don’t propose and develop products that stand half a chance of doing well for a particular client, my value as a developer plummets. So how can I (and other product developers) help mitigate some of that seemingly impossible-to-predict burden? Well, before the internet, we had to rely solely on visiting the brick and mortar stores, attending trade shows, setting up brainstorming meetings, and networking with businesses and people who were doing what we ourselves were trying to do – source, develop and buy products that will ultimately mean success for our enterprise. Unfortunately for us, what is currently in the stores won’t necessarily be on trend next year, and word of mouth can only take you so far. However, with the advent of the internet and the introduction of social media, my job just got a whole lot more interesting. Let me tell you some of the ways I use Social Media in my day to day work as a product developer.
“Customer engagement is the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your customer engagement strategy.” – Clarabridge. Customer engagement has always been at the core of any successful business. Making sure that the people your organization is trying to reach feel cared for and connected to your brand keeps you at the forefront of their mind whenever they are in need of a particular good or service. And nowhere is an engaged customer base more important than in the case of a natural disaster. However when you think of emergency services, you may not immediately think of the people they serve as “customers.” After all, we typically refer to “customers” as “a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.” But, without spending money, people rely on the Red Cross, and the Red Cross relies on people for a very vital and essential service.
In last weeks post, I discussed the benefits of social media being used at FlashStock to engage employees through the use of a social tool/central communications hub for driving improved business performance. This week, I will continue to focus on engagement, however, one form that businesses are consistently familiar with: customer engagement. I question and explore how FlashStock uses social media as a channel to help with brand awareness, creating thought leadership and market penetration to increase business performance. I think it is important to quickly give you a bit of background to FlashStock. Flashstock Inc. is a Toronto-based B2B tech start-up. We are part of a growing sector called CaaS (Content as a Service). FlashStock is a technology platform used by Fortune 1000 global brands to help accelerate the creation of custom images and videos, connecting a global network of creative contributors. We are partners with Instagram and Facebook, helping businesses generate higher engagement through social and digital channels. Since we are B2B, we use the likes or @mentions as ways to learn about what our clients like and understand their buying process better. Data that helps form what compelled a client to engage with us, helps us understand more about our target audience. As we understand more, we can continue to measure valuable and consumable data in the form of knowledge. As a growing B2B organization, our salespeople sell to business executives who are working over and above and often, over communicated to. FlashStock’s use of social media has been to help create brand awareness, position FlashStock as a leader, and operate as a trusted source. Companies seek assistance through Flashstock to rapidly measure their content needs and keep their clients engaged with relevant content. At FlashStock, we have a well-supported and staffed sales organization which is the main driver of revenue for the business today. As we continue to evolve and have more data to analyze, our marketing team is going to be able to understand what our clients and prospects are interested in. They want to learn about and serve up relevant content in the form of future webinars or whitepapers, which our founding leader, Grant Munroe, is a contributor.
Direct Sales has never been a business for the faint of heart or weak-kneed. Stella & Dot creator Jessica Herrin succinctly expressed this sentiment in a 2016 Forbes interview where she noted the huge ‘ick’ factor associated with the industry. Direct Sales may get a bad rap because of its potential for people to feel locked-in by high quotas, awkward customer engagement strategies and defined territorial boundaries. However, by adopting a social selling approach that’s creatively coupled with the most visually engaging social media tools, Stella & Dot has positively re-shaped the image of direct sales in the jewelry and accessories realm. Under Herrin’s leadership, Stella & Dot is an indisputably profitable enterprise with $300 million in revenues. The company has also paid some $300 million in commissions to more than 50,000 stylists, who keep up to 35% of the value of sales they make. Herrin’s successful approach is an example of how to lead with product, be customer-obsessed and leverage technology. How has Stella & Dot managed to bring these three elements together so masterfully, and which technologies are incorporated into its social selling approach?
Emco is a wholesale and retail plumbing supplier with highly sophisticated B2B clients doing multi-million dollar projects, and also has many ordinary B2C folk who just need a new faucet for their bathroom reno. How does a conglomerate like Emco engage their diverse customer base through social media, and, how effective is Emco’s social media customer engagement? There are two types of B2B Emco customers. Let’s consider the “3 bids and a buy” customer who calls late Friday afternoon for a price comparison. Sure, the customer is just price shopping, but Emco’s local branch will gladly fill out the RFP (Request for Proposal) and email it back promptly. They’ll follow-up conscientiously, but they know only the lowest price wins with this particular client, and this time, it may not be in Emco’s best interests to match the competitor’s lowest price as margins, ROI, and the intrinsic cost of time necessary to get this sale may not fall within their sales formula. Emco’s sales professionals know that selling on lowest price isn’t going to create an ongoing sales relationship. Emco wants all their customer’s business, and they are highly motivated to take a lot of time to cultivate multiple personal contacts to develop deep customer engagement, often requiring complicated engineering solutions to alleviate their customer’s pain points along the way. Emco’s mantra is “Get your customer out of pain”, and much like the intimate relationship between a doctor and his patient, Emco works fiercely to foster strong customer relationships based on person-to-person meetings, expertise, collaboration, and transparency formulated on correct customer problem diagnosis and resolution. Emco’s core belief: develop mutual respect and confidence based on providing solutions, and the customer–corporate relationship will have deep roots, based on mutual trust, and will have long-lasting mutual value. Sometimes, that makes their products more expensive than their competitors’, but for a large B2B customer working on a multi-million dollar project, it’s getting the job done on time, and within budget that matters most. Is it even significant then, if the customer pays a few dollars more for Emco’s product if that special valve to finish this vital stage can arrive on-site tomorrow? Suppose there’s a crew of engineers stuck out in the field, ground to a halt in BC’s interior, because they can’t move on without that specialty item. The clock is ticking and time is money – big money. Often, taking the time… Read more »
For Metroland Media, customer engagement is essential for many aspects of their business since there are such large selections of print publications and other media sources available to the public. Although all media channels are equally important to Metroland Media, their community newspapers and print publications are their number one source of revenue. Today we see the Internet evolving into a larger number of social media channels and television alternatives; this puts customer engagement at the top of their priority list. With the amount of choices available, competition amongst companies and brand loyalty becomes a problem.
In a world where social media can make or break a business, Tripcentral.ca puts it all on the line for their customers. The only major travel agency to leave their Facebook reviews open for public comment (with a 4.8 star approval rating and immediate responses to any negative comments), they put their reputation to task daily to hold themselves accountable to their customers, and to be the best they can be.
TripAdvisor is a good example of how to build successful business and sustain YoY growth by customers’ usage and engagement. Once a website for hotel reviews, TripAdvisor became an online place where customers can plan and book nearly everything for their trip: starting with accommodation, restaurants, guiding tours etc. Nowadays, TripAdvisor provides both its customers: businesses and travelers, a platform to socialize. Travelers share their experiences via reviews and businesses have an option to respond directly to the traveler. TripAdvisor is one of the largest travel sites that offers advice from millions its users. With 465 million reviews, covering 7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions in 49 markets worldwide, TripAdvisor is branded the largest travel community in the world. TripAdvisor attracts 390M unique visitors every month, more than 280 reviews are submitted to the website every minute and more than 10 000 businesses are added to the website and apps every week.
Nowadays, social media is part of our daily life. People want to share their everyday experiences with others: they study and work in different cities, they fall in love and relocate to different countries, traveling becomes the normality for leisure and for business, a quiet month in your hometown is an exception. Social media allows us to stay connected with our families and friends; it allows to share our experiences, no matter where we are. Social media also serves as a platform for new opportunities. Businesses advertise new positions and promote their products, employees of the companies re-post and share information with their peers. The best insights for the business of an organization are gained from the inside of that very same organization. Many companies understand this and try to use social media to tap this potential. For global companies with different offices around the world, social media is also an opportunity to connect and engage with current employees. Booking.com is one such international company that uses public Social Media in different ways: it (1) engages with current and future employees by posting the latest news about the company, (2) promotes new positions, (3) engages current employees to share their experiences about the roles, the cities they live and work in, and their experience of relocating to a different country or a new city for a new position, (4) share their passion for traveling.
“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within them.” — Dr. Bob Nelson, Employee Engagement Expert (http://www.egroupengage.com/blog/social-media-to-increase-employee-engagement) It’s no secret – the Vega team is definitely lit from within. With a strong set of internal values and a workforce that lives and breathes those values, it is unsurprising that Vega was named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada for six years running and this year nabbed the prestigious title of #1 Best Workplace in Canada 2017. How does an organization like Vega secure its place at the top? It starts with a connected community of likeminded people.