If your brand is not on Instagram, it should be. Instagram is beautifully simplistic and the most personal of the mobile platforms. It’s full of potential with people eager to connect with a brand on a more intimate and tangible level. Creating content for Instagram can be a challenge, it’s true. The importance of visual imagery is key to tell a brand’s story, any brand. Regardless of the industry, any company can create campaigns to utilize this platform to reach their targeted audience, sharing alluring imagery and creative captions. There are many companies getting it right, using this platform to share their story, their background, and their vision.
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?
If there was a brand that is strikingly representational of the success of the millennial generation, through being an entrepreneur, believing in community, authentic conversation, and utilizing social media to create an industry leading company, Glossier by Emily Weiss fits that bill. The company was cultivated in a very “millennial entrepreneur” manner, and the use of social media metrics has been a critical component in helping to develop and build a successful platform to reach and engage their community across a multitude of platforms (Milnes, 2017). How companies use social media to engage their customers, product users and community in this day and age can be make it or break it; or at any rate, have a huge impact on their relevancy in the market and their industry. It is well discussed by course material for the Social Media for Business Performance at the University of Waterloo, of the use of social media in relation to an organization’s goals: “The starting point for all metrics is the goals of the organization. The metrics that are identified for each area of the organization should stem from these goals. Your social media metrics should be carefully aligned with your organizational goals, driving social media behaviour that will contribute to these goals’ achievement.”
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.
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 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?
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.
Tone It Up was started by Katrina Dawn and Karena Scott with a $3,000 start-up investment in 2009 (Lepore, 2017). They began by self-shooting and editing beach workout videos targeted to women, that they put on YouTube. Fast-forward to 2017, Tone It Up is a multi-billion dollar fitness/nutrition/lifestyle company, boasting a community of over 5 million women (Lepore, 2017). What is in the secret sauce for their success? Tone It Up has tapped into one of the most successful tactics to propel businesses in this highly social and digital age – engagement.
Sephora has made a global presence in the last few decades in the cosmetic industry. Founded in France 1970, by Dominique Mandonnaud, which was then sold to LVMH in 1997. The company had quickly evolved with retail stores expansions and a wider variety of products. Sephora offers a large range of products such as fragrance, makeup, skincare, hair products, and accessories. In the last few years Sephora has taken a massive transition into digital retailing as the company uses social media as a main platform to expand the brand.
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.
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.”
From a marketing perspective, being able to distinguish your brand in a sea of competition is a difficult challenge. That being said, if you are the brand, this task takes on a much more strategic and personal dynamic. You are putting your personal interpretations and artistic creativity on display in an open forum for all to see. It can be an extremely daunting and vulnerable process. Your success as a artist/business, relies heavily on your ability to tell your story in a way that allows the consumer to relate to you, and your artwork. Such is the challenge for Joanna Gresik, a Canadian abstract artist by night and corporate interior designer by day, living and working in Toronto, Ontario. Joanna creates paintings that are inspired by the energy and life of towns and cities shown through sharp lines, carefully crafted colour palettes and gestural abstract expressionist marks. Joanna has a unique ability to see architecture and landscape through a different lense , and even more impressive is her ability to express those interpretations onto a canvas. With the emergence of social media as a trusted marketing tool for businesses over the last decade or so, it comes as no surprise that these same social media channels now play an important role for small business owners and artists just like Joanna. By providing a platform and a vehicle for messaging, social media marketers can now reach a wider more specific target audience with their products and services. Joanna understands the importance of creating such relationships and quickly determined that these interactions were essential for her growth, not only as an artist, but also as a business person.
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.
Social Media and sports are seemingly made to go hand in hand. By just looking at the social media accounts of some of the top sports teams you can see the size of their following and get a feel for the digital conversations they are starting. With millions of sports fans taking to social media to discuss their favourite teams and players, a great deal of analytical data is being created. What organizations do with that data is becoming ever more important in their ability to gain an edge on their competition and becoming a driving force in their digital marketing plans.
According to Wikipedia a supply chain is defined as a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. So what is the supply chain in the sport of synchronized swimming? Specifically for the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club.
We have all stood in front of the closet thinking that you had nothing to wear. Wishing that someone would design clothes that worked with your lifestyle and listened to what you needed. With Titika couture those thoughts are just a hashtag away from becoming a reality.
A powerful component of social media from a business perspective is the ability to listen to what consumers are saying. Social listening technologies are available to track conversations around specific phrases, words or brands. As a result, companies are able to identifying new opportunities that may not have been on their radar, and many are responding with innovative product development or design. Twenty-five years ago, it would have been costly and time consuming to gather focus groups in order to gain feedback. But today, this valuable market information can be gathered in a matter of minutes—assuming of course that people are in fact talking about your brand. The food industry is a specific sector where product development is critical to success. There are a number of reasons why this specific industry is constantly creating new products or innovating existing ones. I chatted with my colleague, Karen Proper, who is a technical manager in the product and process development department at NSF International to gain more insight on this topic. Karen and her team work with clients in the food and beverage industry to help bring a product concept to life, overcome production challenges or to innovate an existing one. When asked why product development is so integral to business, especially in the food industry, Karen replied, “Product development keeps companies competitive in the marketplace, compliant to regulations, able to react to ingredient and manufacturing process changes, and also responsive to trends and consumer demands—all of which are critical to success in the food industry today.”
To be motivated and inspired. That’s all anyone wants when they start a new fitness journey. Often times this can be the biggest struggle of them all. Beachbody has created a winning formula of pairing accessible fitness, nutrition plans and supplements. Complimented by social media inspiration and accountability that not only engages the customer but also empowers the customer to engage others. Beachbody is the online powerhouse that has brought to your home award winning workouts and well known brands like the P90 series, Turbo Abs , The 21day Fix and Shakeology. Started in 1998 with the belief that that the focus should be on progress not perfection. Founders Carl Daikeler and John Congdon continue to live by this philosophy by sharing their own story on social media . Today with their community of 350,000 the idea is that you will “never be alone ” in your journey due to the company support. https://www.beachbody.com/product/about_us/company_overview.do
This season marks the 60th Anniversary of varsity athletics at the University of Waterloo. Sixty years have come and gone, and along with those years, so have the traditional posters and signs around campus advertising games and building team pride. Today, social media marketing makes up approximately 75% of the department’s advertising efforts according to the department’s Social Media and Brand Manager, Steve Brooks.
Paul Sperry hailed from a family that had a longstanding relationship with the sea. As a result, he went on to become an accomplished sailor himself. Sperry was a Seamen, First Class in the United States Navy and in his spare time sailed aboard his own boat ‘Sirocco‘. During a chance encounter with rough seas, poor shoes on a slippery deck nearly cost Paul Sperry his life. It was at that moment that he began searching for a solution to the unfortunate problem of many sailors. After much trial and error, it was eventually Sperry’s dog who would help him come to a solution. After watching his dog run across ice without struggle, Sperry decided to create grooves in a rubber sole, similar to those that were in his dog’s paws. In 1935, the first Sperry deck shoes were made. The sole of the Sperry Top-Sider deck shoe “sticks like a barnacle” and was therefore trusted by the United States Navy as an official shoe during the Second World War, The Kennedy Family during their sailing adventures, and as the official shoe for the America’s Cup. Given the fact that the Sperry brand of deck shoes were, and continue to be the top choice of such customers, it is no wonder that the Sperry brand entrusts their customers to ensure the quality and the longevity of the brand.
Toronto-based Lulu et Elle Photography specializes in stylized newborn imagery. Owner and principal photographer Lana Polashek is at the top of her game on account of her innovative and personalized approach to documenting the arrival of newborns. Her success lies in the ability to produce photography shaped by client-driven narratives and share the studio experience through social media. “Being a newborn photographer allows me to document intense moments of vulnerability. The fragility of the baby, along with the vulnerable state of the parents, are all essential parts of the story. This is where my brand is – excuse the pun – born. Customer engagement starts at the most fundamental level – the photography session – and continues through my social media strategy.” Lana Polashek Customer engagement can be understood as the psychological state emanating from a collaborative customer/brand experience. Engagement reflects a motivational state which occurs through an individual’s interactions with a particular product or service. Engagement differs from satisfaction, as the former is focused on consumers’ cognitive, emotional and behavioural patterns during specific brand interactions, whereas the latter may only develop thereafter.