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.
In his article ao.com: setting an example in social media strategy, Chris Price states that AO.com (formerly Appliances Online) “knows more than most about the power of social media.” The UK based company was founded in 2000 in by CEO John Roberts. According to the their website, the story goes like this: “Following a drink with a friend, CEO John Roberts bets him a pound that he could change the way white goods [aka household appliances] are purchased via the internet. The AO business is born as DRL Limited.” Fast forward to 2016: AO.com expands into the Netherlands with the launch of AO.nl, is named Best UK Retailer of the Year 2016 by Verdict Retail, is awarded the Customer Experience Initiative of the Year at the Retail Week Awards 2016, and is ranked #1 in the Retail Week/Glassdoor Top 15 Retails to work for in 2016. And these are just the latest in a string of awards the company has received. As Andrew Kirkcaldy, who is currently the Group Brand Director at AO.com, admits to Price, “We have to think a little out of the box because white goods aren’t the sexiest of things to create content around.” And at AO.com, thinking out of the box comes to life through an impressive social media strategy that touches virtually all areas of the business.
ISCAR Tools is an industry leading producer of precision carbide metalworking tools and inserts. Iscar provides a wide range of innovative carbide inserts, carbide endmills and cutting tools to tackle most metal cutting applications. They are also globally renowned for providing top notch engineering and manufacturing solutions for a wide variety of major industries such as automotive, aerospace and die & mold production. To reach this level of success, it takes more than just providing a quality product to the market, you need to to be well rounded in all aspects of business. More importantly, you need to be able to manage and integrate all segments of your organizational hierarchy. When it comes to social media integration on a global scale, this is no easy task.
Brands becoming more Digital Consumer packaged goods companies have started to spend more for digital and social media to better meet changing needs of their consumers who are increasingly looking for education and inspiration on-line. Digital and social media helps companies to craft a more personalized and better targeted message to their consumers and, as such, often achieve higher ROI vs. traditional TV media based on one-size-fits-all approach. Parmalat Canada views Social Media marketing as an essential tool in brand building and promotional plans for its flagship brands President, Galbani, Black Diamond, Balderson and Astro. These brands have on-going digital presence at major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The company seems to having embraced Social Media practices that require more message customization, more personal approach to consumers and faster response time vs. some traditional marketing media like TV and print.
If you’re like me and a fan of the television show Big Brother Canada, you were undoubtedly excited when it returned earlier this month for its fifth season. One thing they changed up however, was the live show following the eviction. In the past, the evicted house guest was interviewed on stage by the show’s host Arisa Cox and former house guests Peter Brown and Gary Levy. This year however, the format has changed and viewers are now asked to watch ‘After the Eviction’ live on Facebook. Every day when I scroll through my Facebook feed I notice at least one Facebook Live video posted by someone I follow. Whether it’s an acquaintance who as has begun using the social media platform to try and make a name for them self in the fitness community, or someone who has attended a concert and wanted everyone to get a glimpse into the show by posting their favourite song as it’s being played – live streaming appears to be here to stay.
On February 4, 2005, YouTube started a revolution by giving us a seemingly endless stream of content, on demand. You could watch videos by celebrities, tutorials by up-and-comers, or movie trailers released by studios. Over the years, videos continue to be released, creating new stars and streams of content from global contributors. But no more is YouTube the only major player in the game. With over a billion users generating billions of views and hundreds of thousands of hours of content watched, it is only natural that other players would want to capitalize on this captive and attentive audience. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are getting in on the action by promoting real-time engagement video capability aimed at engaging the attention of global audiences.
In recent years, the popularity of CrossFit seems to have sky rocketed into orbit. The first time I heard about CrossFit was in 2008. At that time, I assumed that it was just another fitness fade that hardcore gym enthusiasts did to look cool. Undoubtedly the shine would wear off and its popularity would dwindle. I had the same thought process regarding the future of social media in a marketing for business capacity. I was wrong on both accounts. I think it is safe to say that social media has played a pivotal role in the success and growth of the CrossFit brand since day one. In today’s business landscape, staying progressive when it comes to new advancements and technologies in all areas and aspects of business is vital to the future success of your organization. The CrossFit brand does just that. From a marketing perspective, CrossFit has excelled over the years at identifying and incorporating new methods of social media as a way for them to reach the masses with their message. This trend appears will continue into the future as new innovations and technologies continue to develop. From YouTube channels, blogs, podcasts, CrossFit TV and nationally televised CrossFit competitions, they understand the value and importance that mainstream and social media outlets provide to the future growth of their brand.
According to the Instant Pot website, this “intelligent multi-cooker, [is] capable of completely replacing [a] pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker/porridge maker, sauté/browning pan, steamer, yogurt maker and stockpot warmer.” Currently one of Amazon’s best selling items, Instant Pot has a huge online fan base. With an official community site on Facebook boasting more than 434K members and a number of satellite communities (e.g. Instant Pot Recipes with 122K members and Instant Pot Cooks with 60K members), the Instant Pot is an internet sensation. That said, it may be surprising to find out that Instant Pot is not a brand new product . According to Grace Hwang Lynch in her article Not Just a Crock: The Viral Word-Of-Mouth Success of Instant Pot, the electric pressure cooker “has been around since 2010, but really became the buzz during the last six months of 2016.” Let’s take a look at the clever social media strategy that created all that buzz.
Victoria’s Secret is a brand known around the world for it’s glamours images of it’s elusive Angels creating a goal that many aspire to. In the fast paced world of today the excitement of receiving their catalogue in the mail has been replaced by a few easy clicks to order a little piece of the magic. Though this provides quick and easy access to the customer, the company has been faced with the question of how to reinvent that same excitement in today’s world? Enter social media.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to scroll through your Facebook feed without having a video from Tasty pop up. Launched in December of 2015, this Buzzfeed-owned online food channel is garnering attention from across demographics. Tasty’s videos demonstrate how easy it can be to create mouthwatering food. Through simple marketing, Tasty has managed to attract consumer interest by creating a winning formula of customer engagement. Tasty has capitalized on the fact that people are looking to be able to make delicious food without having to watch a long step-by-step video, or follow a deeply detailed recipe. By promoting trendy videos across multiple social media channels, Tasty has managed to ingrain itself into social media culture across the globe.
Patagonia is a hugely succesful company that grew out of humble beginnings. It all started when 14 year old Yvon Chouinard developed a love for the sport of climbing, as a member of the Southern California Falconry Club. As Chouinard became more involved in the sport, he soon realized that the only pitons available for climbing were made of soft iron and were placed in the rock once and left there. He found that this was not ideal. Chouinard then met John Salathé, a Swiss climber who made his own hard iron pitons. Chouinard thought that if John Salathé could do it, so could he! In 1957 Chouinard bought a coal-fired forge, an anvil, tongs and hammers and taught himself how to blacksmith. Chouinard made chrome-molybdenum steel pitons and before he knew it, he was in business. He could forge two pitons an hour, and sold them for $1.50 each. Over the years, this company grew to officially become Patagonia in 1973; a company that’s roots remain in alpinism but have expanded to include clothes for climbing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running. Patagonia focuses on these silent sports, where “the reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature.”
In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low, affectionately called Daisy, started a movement. This movement focused on learnings she had gained abroad, in the form of outdoor and educational programs. This became a program of female empowerment and the Girl Scouts became a place where girls could truly participate in life beyond the classroom and home. Girl Scouts served as a community of girls who wanted to change the world, and build lifelong bonds along the way. Many years later, the Girl Scouts organization is synonymous with uniforms and badges, charitable endeavours, and of course, cookies! But in the same way that retailers have had to understand how to engage consumers online, so have the Girl Scouts. Starting in 2015, Girl Scouts USA launched user-generated Facebook, Twitter and Instagram campaigns that created massive upticks in online engagement and product sales.