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.
Ten trees planted for every item purchased seems like an unobtainable goal selling clothes, but Tentree has made it their mission. At Tentree, their goal is to become the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet. They don’t want to just reduce the negative impact of the apparel industry, they want to use it as a vehicle for change. Their purpose is to revitalize our environment and inspire a generation to believe that they can do the same. Their current goal is to plant 1 billion trees by 2030. (Tentree.com, 2017) TenTree’s a socially oriented company, that is already on track to have over 17 million trees planted by the end of 2017. This significant achievement showcases the level of success that the company’s current high-cost business model enjoys. As a start-up business that is already making profits in the early stages of its life, TenTree’s is a great example of social entrepreneurs that employed a premium differentiation strategy and succeeded. In addition to this, TenTree’s has accomplished putting their products onto the shelves of 300 Canadian stores; doing so indicates the level of demand for their product in the market despite the high pricing. A last example of this is the company’s ability to garner strong internet sales; proving their marketing strategy’s impact in action is a force that can be relied on throughout its future. (Ho, 2017)
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.
Nostalgia is alive and well among the fashion industry. Consumers who are longing for styles of past generation are influencing organizations to bring back products from the 50s and 60s. In a recent nostalgia-driven feud, Adidas and Nike both brought back retro offerings, Adidas with their Superstar and Nike with their Cortez shoe. Both were wildly popular shoes of the past, yet only one of the two successfully made a comeback. Why did the Superstar win the retro battle and the Cortez fall flat? Adidas understands how to use social media to influence shoe-culture.
Marketing is filled with many tools, concepts and strategies. Although traditional marketing works, it’s no surprise that Social Media has become a dominant force in marketing, with over an estimated 2.3 billion active users in the world. Social media marketing is essential for any organization. What is Social Media Marketing? Social Media Marketing makes use of social media sites to raise visibility on the Internet and to promote products and services. These sites are useful for building social (and business) networks, for exchanging ideas, and knowledge and to reach a larger or targeted audience. Through branding, company engagement, consumer feedback and more, social media has completely altered the way businesses think about marketing. But what happens when your business is social media? Does that change your marketing plan? How can a social company thrive in the vast online marketplace? I personally used to think of Instagram as a mindless channel. With endless scrolling images of rock-hard abs, and 16-year-olds who have more successful businesses than anyone I have ever met. Yet even in this depiction, audiences of all ages and backgrounds are spending the majority of their time on Instagram, and savvy marketers are using this to their advantage. – What started as a hobby, turned into a career – @beautifuldestinations – an Instagram page that filled the void by tapping the online community to come up with the most beautiful collections of landscapes, cities, seascapes and attractions around the world, aiming to inspire people to get out there and see it for themselves. Founded in 2012 by CEO Jeremy Jauncey – Initially, the account started as a passion project, but little did he know the Instagram page he started had gained millions of followers. A renowned hotel reached out to collaborate, in the hopes of increasing its own social media following.
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.
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.
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.
Welcoming employees into your digital content strategy isn’t always easy, especially if your company represents a niche product or service that might not lend itself to community-building on social channels. For Penguin | Random House Canada, however, demonstrating employee engagement appears easy enough. Like many successful shops, Penguin recognizes that the core of their business is a widely-celebrated object, for customers and staff alike: the book. Through its recent content strategy, followers have come to understand that Penguin employees are a fans as well.
Sports brings people together. It moves and inspires people in ways that can sometimes be hard to explain. The sacrifice can never be put into words or understood unless you’ve personally gone through it yourself. But yet, regardless of your participation or not, sports can bring a nation together. It can bring us to our knees and can instil a sense of pride. The raw talent, incredible dedication and sheer passion of watching someone give it their all is a great indicator that sport is much more than the result at the end of a race or a game, it tells the story of the incredible team behind-the-scenes that helps a team or individual propel to greatness.
It’s inevitable. The future of social media is going to be bigger and greater. I can’t say it is coming because it is already here, so if you are a business, company or person who isn’t signed up to one of the many social media platforms, you are already falling behind. So much happens on social media – the good, bad and ugly – but it is up to you on how you are going to use it and the contributions you are going to make to the greater conversations. People give social media a bad rap because there is a lot of negative that goes on with it, but truthfully, it’s how you interact with it, what you share, and who you interact with that makes the platform you choose really amazing. If you look for the bad, you’ll find it. If you look for the good, you’ll find it and hopefully be amazed at the power these channels have.
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.
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.
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.