The Beatles knew it all along and wrote a song about it: “All you need is love.” Yes, there can never be enough of it in the world. If only a business could pass that on to their customers. For sure a client whose heart has been touched would remember this treasured moment and will be loyal forever. But wait! There is actually one institution that succeeded in that mission. The Toronto-Dominion Bank, in short TD, North America’s sixth largest bank that serves worldwide more than 25 million customers. You are probably wondering: A bank giving love? How is that even possible? Don’t they normally have calculators instead of hearts, a general lack of compassion and the attitude of a robot? Well, don’t be so quick to judge. TD already knew that great customer service is not fully covered by saying a friendly ‘Hello’ and giving out free coffee, they knew it needs a deeper emotional connection. In 2014 they hired MARU/VCR&C, a research and consulting group, to conduct a survey with nearly 1,100 Canadian adults. They found out three important facts: Canadians are more likely to say thank you when offered unsolicited help (41%) compared to when they receive a compliment (14%). Canadians appreciate the power of personal (90%) versus digital (49%) when it comes to being thanked. For example, they like to be thanked in person (85%) rather than through text or emoji (22%). Canadians thank friends (60%) more than their partner or spouse (50%). They thank customer service professionals (48%) and colleagues (36%) more than children (30%) and parents (29%). With this information in mind, TD started the #TDThanksYou campaign. Valued customers, that just wanted to do some quick banking at the ATM, were surprised with a personalized greeting and a touching thank-you gift. The video capturing customer reactions went viral (24 million views), and gave TD’s social media profile a huge boost.
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!
Chili’s Grill & Bar is an American casual dining restaurant chain that features Tex-Mex-style cuisine. The company was founded by Larry Lavine in Texas in 1975 and is currently owned and operated by Brinker International. It wasn’t long ago that the words used to describe Chili’s was “It’s a place I remember my mom and dad taking me as a kid. There’s no growth and development around the company, and I never hear any buzz surrounding it.” Those were the words that Chili’s Director of Workplace Community Chris Ebbeler heard after surveying employees of other restaurants. They polled the audience to understand how Chili’s Grill & Bar brand was perceived by restaurant workers and whether they’d even consider working for the restaurant. In short, the responses left him and other members of the Chili’s brass disappointed. The company listened to those concerns as well as concerns from their own team members and made the crucial decision to turn their organization around and transform the old-school perception into something powerful, modern and attractive to the next generation workforce.
Is it really necessary in 2018 to teach your staff and colleagues to be more socially engaged in social media? The quick answer is yes it is necessary, but it can also be risky at times. Social media is one of the strongest most powerful tools we have at our fingertips. It is the way that we now do business. 20 years ago it was mostly being used as an internal tool and many didn’t dream that it would become a part of everyday life for business in general.
With well-represented brands like Axe, Dove, and Ben and Jerry’s, each of which has a strong online following, Unilever has proven itself to be a social media veteran. With so many strong sub-brands residing under the Unilever umbrella, a certain level of consistency and organization is necessary to maintain order, eliminate waste, and create a cohesive vision. Unilever uses social media for a variety of purposes across the entire organization to support several important functions.
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.
Blogger, Alice Katter, says it best, “We’re all guilty of it: Snapping a photo of that pizza or ice cream we couldn’t wait to dig into, and Instagramming it. Why? Because, we’re obsessed with #foodporn. We love seeing what others eats and showing off with our own dishes.” With the boom of social media, the food and restaurant industry has forever changed. In order for any business in the food industry to succeed, their engagement on social media is paramount. The industry which once relied heavily on word of mouth, has shifted to social media being the major influencer.
Data collection and artificial intelligence can be very disconcerting to social media users. Regardless of how consumers feel about the common availability of their personal information, it is often unavoidable when one chooses to participate in online activity. There are many well-know negative impacts of the publication of personal information; however, there is an almost endless list of positives available to consumers when their information is made available to technology. Google’s ability to reroute drivers proactively in the case of an upcoming incident helps drivers get from A to B as quickly as possible. how does it work? It relies on Google’s ability to monitor the location, speed, and direction of travel of almost all drivers, anywhere in North America, by tracking drivers’ cell phones in a passive, undetectable manor. This is a great example of how personal information being made public, and it’s combination with powerful artificial intelligence software networks, can provide major benefits to those who can tolerate the risk.
Without doubt, the future of social media is growing, influential and ever-powerful. As the digital divide shrinks worldwide, more and more people are joining the billions of conversations taking place in the realm of social media. Social media is the place to be. Whether you’re looking to keep in touch with friends, find the latest trends, or learn about what someone thinks, social media is where this is happening! The world of social media is highly influential. People are turning to social media to learn about and get information on important topics, such as healthcare. Traditionally, healthcare was something that people relied on healthcare professionals, such as doctors, to learn about. With the advent of the Internet, and more recently social media, people are using social media to learn about healthcare. Social media has evolved beyond a platform used to share pictures and connect with friends. Social media is now a powerful influencer for healthcare and medical advice.
Social media platforms are always looking for new and futuristic ways for their audiences to interact with one and other. Creating a social media platform that is more humanizing, more compelling and lifelike is exactly what Facebook is trying to accomplish. Oculus VR is an American tech company founded in 2012, by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov, Jack McCauley and Nate Mitchell in Irvine, California now based in Menlo Park. It specializes in virtual reality hardware and software products. (Wikipedia, 2017) In March 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to acquireOculus VR for US $2.3 billion in cash and stock. In 2015, Oculus VR acquired Surreal Vision, a British startup focused on 3D reconstruction and mixed reality, stating that it could be possible for Oculus VR to develop products with the concept of telepresence. (Wikipedia, 2017) The company also partnered with Samsung to develop the Samsung Gear VR in November 2015, for the Samsung Galaxy smartphones. (Wikipedia, 2017)
Prior to Social Media one of the earliest types of advertising was through word of mouth followed by engraving or drawing images on a cave wall, those images told a story, and promoted ideas. Early printing in the 15th (1401 to 1500) and 16th (1501 to 1600) centuries created a mark in advertising and companies were able to reach a wider audience. In the 18th (1701 to 1800) and 19th (1801 to 1900) centuries advertising was expanded to newspapers. One of the first advertising agencies was set-up in Philadelphia in 1842 by Volney Palmer, the agency acted as a broker for newspaper space and later on they became a full service by offering ad-placement services and a full production that organized advertising by a target market and population. In the 20th (1901 to 2000) century the radio was born and was part of a new era on advertising it offered a complete new way of reaching potential audiences. Followed by television which introduced a new type of advertising that was more visual than the previous advertising methods, by the end of the 20th century the internet was introduced to the masses and it became a valuable communication tool for businesses to advertise in a complete different way. According to Visually technology and the use of Social Media and Internet has accelerated the pace in which people are able to connect, be engaged and be informed. Below is a list of the time frame it took for various modes of communication to reach 50 million users. Telephone: 75 years Radio: 38 years Television : 13 years Internet: 4 years Facebook: 3.5 years IPOD: 3 years Angry Birds Space app: 35 days Many organizations still depend on word of mouth as the main form of communication mostly used in marketing and advertising initiatives. These companies are considered to be in the stone ages as compared to organizations that are using Social Media in a big way. A good example of a company that is using Social Media very well is FIFA. FIFA was taken by surprise in the last World Cup in Brazil when 1 billion people attended FIFA’s Global Stadium, according to the current Deputy Head of FIFA Digital. Senior Manager – Social Media & Video, Alex Stone they began evaluating the data collected from the 2014 World Cup in 2015. Based on the 2014… Read more »
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.)
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)”.
Building a business starts with a mission, an idea, a desire to bring a product or service to a wanting market. But what if you alone are the product, the marketer, the designer, and the administrator, a one-woman business band? How can you maximize your reach, market yourself, and cultivate your business in an effective, timely way? Luckily, social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google analytics, Twitter) and their measurement systems have provided a relief in this entrepreneurial scenario, giving easy insights into potential target markets, post performance, reach, follower growth, and more. This technological milestone in marketing has allowed small business owners to reach a wider audience, gauge the success or failure of digital campaigns, and have a wide-angle view of potential consumers. The ease and availability of social metrics in these realms have also made it possible for individuals to pursue their areas of interest, making careers out of things they love to do. Nancy Silverman, a Toronto-based yoga instructor and Kombucha expert, did just that.
Worldwide, many people were shocked by the outcome of the U.S. presidential election of 2016. It’s been just over one full year since Trump’s electoral win and, although the race between Trump and Clinton was close, many of the electoral polls forecasted Clinton as the likely winner of the 2016 election (Perez, 2016). While the outcome of said election left many data scientists confused, many social media analytics firms are claiming that their measurements would have been a much better predictor (Perez, 2016).
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.
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.
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”
Ice cream is a perennial favourite dessert or sneaky late night treat for most of us. Four All Ice Cream in Kitchener, Ontario, has taken the universal appeal of ice cream to heart. When Ajoa Mintah decided to pursue her dream of starting an ice cream company, she did this with an awareness of the importance of community. Four All is committed to using locally sourced ingredients which keeps Four All inextricably connected to local farmers and producers. This sense of connectivity plays out in the categories of frozen treats that they produce because there is something for everyone: Childhood, Vegan, Foodie (creative flavours), and Classic.
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.
Were you aware that a small staff of six are working to save the lives of LGBTQI people all over the world? As the name Rainbow Railroad implies they work to discreetly move people out of dangerous circumstances into safe houses, and often on to a safe haven in a new country. Their name is intended to pay homage to the Underground Railroad that began in the 1780s. In April of this year, the abduction, detentions, torture and deaths of 200 plus LGBTQI Chechens were documented by the media. What you may not realize is that this is a global problem. Homosexuality is illegal in over 70 countries, several of which impose a death sentence. Living in a country where homosexuality has been decriminalized does not guarantee one’s safety. Rainbow Railroad has grown to a team of six employees (five in Canada, and one in the United States) and obtained charitable status in 2013. The inspiration to begin Rainbow Railroad came from a homeless Palestinian youth during World Pride in Tel Aviv in 2006. Supported by an active board of directors and countless volunteers, this organization has assisted more than 300 individuals to date.
While Wendy’s might normally be known for their famous sides – fries, chilli, baked potato, salad and the original frosty – their side of sassy social media responses brought them into 2017 as one of the hottest brands on Twitter. Earlier in the year, the fast food chain responded to media requests affirming that their social media accounts had not, in fact, been hacked. This after a series of responses coming from the official Wendy’s Twitter account to followers who engaged with the company on social media.
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.