A powerful component of social media from a business perspective is the ability to listen to what consumers are saying, after all they are the ones contributing to your financial growth. 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 feed back. 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.”
When it comes to credit cards, it’s no longer just a choice between Visa, Mastercard or Amex. Consumers are now tasked with selecting the reward program they want partnered with their cards ( Air Miles, Scene, WestJet, etc.). While the reward programs may be a nice addition, if you’re like me, you aren’t concerned with reward programs and you certainly aren’t willing to pay a yearly fee in order to receive them. You just want a credit card with a low interest rate and no bells and whistles. And this is how Barclaycard Ring Mastercard was created.
Are you familiar with Itty Bitty Ballers? I think they’re hysterical. When I saw the tv commercial last month, I knew I had to have one! I immediately went to www.ittybittyballers.ca and – to my surprise, of the nine original figurines, six were sold out! But what is the story behind this viral internet success? GoDaddy, the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to empowering small, independent business ventures, has just closed out their Itty Bitty Ballers campaign featuring Toronto Raptors center, “big man” Jonas Valančiūnas (JV). The campaign was focused around JV’s mythical business, www.ittybittyballers.ca. The site displays his nine lifelike figurines that capture him in action poses, such as riding a Raptor, dabbing, and giving high fives. GoDaddy positioned our 7’0 centre as spending his spare time creating these miniature works of art. This juxtaposition was amusing and intriguing enough to drive customers to want to adopt the itty bitty JV’s as their own. Two of the nine figurines sold out the day the campaign launched, and then once the campaign went viral on social media, the remainder sold out in less than 24 hours. From the outset, the advertising campaign (seen both on tv and online) seems comical, but through their product promotion, the team at GoDaddy managed to virally promote the ease of their solutions while supporting a small local business… all through the power of one itty bitty baller.
When I was a child, I remember eating my breakfast at the kitchen table each morning as my parents listened to the latest in local news and weather through a little radio on the counter. This is how many people would get their information to start their day, but now, there are other options. Now-a-days, I set my alarm 30 minutes before I need to get up to allow myself time to check personal email as well as scroll through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – and I’m certain I’m not the only one.
In 2006, I remember standing in line of a grocery store and noticing that TIME magazine had named You as the Person of the Year. At the time I was in grade 11 and I likely didn’t fully comprehend the cultural shift that was taking place, but I did understand what TIME was getting at. The Internet, and namely the adoption of Facebook that year, was giving a voice to anyone who wanted to engage and be heard. Individuals were beginning to wield power greater than companies and media outlets, thus requiring organizations to rethink how they talk to their audience. It has been over a decade and savvy businesses have learned that customer and client relationships are built on a two-way street, and traditional means of broadcasting messages in print or through television ads are no longer as effective. Today, customer engagement is not about how customers feel about a brand, rather it is about what they do, or how they act. Leveraging social media tools that cultivate dialogue allows for the opportunity to build positive, loyal relationships.
The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the world’s leading museums in regard to natural history and world cultures. Given this fact, one might assume that an institution such as The ROM would want to keep it’s knowledge within it’s walls; however that is not the case. The ROM is arguably one of the most social and tech savvy learning institutions in the country. This is due by and large to their philosophy on social media and their social media coordinating team. Through online communication, The ROM hopes to build strong community connections and encourages individuals to engage in conversations and debates with their experts and employees directly.
If you rewind seven or eight years ago, many organizations prohibited employees from accessing social websites on company computers viewing this new trend as a distraction and risk to business. However, the rise of smartphones made it nearly impossible to block the use entirely. Fast-forward to today and you’ll notice times have changed as to how social media is perceived in the business world. Instead of frowning upon sharing thoughts and ideas digitally, businesses now invest in social media tools for internal use. After all, the benefits of having a highly engaged workforce far outweighs the risk. EY (formerly Ernst and Young) is one of the largest professional services firm in the world and specializes in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. EY is progressive in their approach to leveraging the power of social media to drive employee engagement. They have published performance reports such as Change 3.0: Using Social Media to Engage Your Workforce that discusses their research and the benefits of going social in the workplace. Currently with over 230,000 employees in over 150 countries, as well as an increasing number of Millennial employees joining the team, social media is a key part to building positive culture, engaging employees and delivering results.
Not long ago, company picnics, water cooler talk, bulletin boards and office memos were the biggest tools in a company’s “employee engagement toolbox”. Although business information eventually made it to every ear in the company, it’s dissemination was slow and arduous. Flash forward to today, where information is in your hands micro-seconds after it is made public by company heads, management and team leaders. As a result, companies have been forced to jump into the digital era or risk losing the opportunity to rally their employees and make them feel, not only part of the team, but part of the business family.
When you’re a global company with employees stationed around the world it’s easy to assume employees in one country know little to nothing about employees or happenings in other offices, but at Unitron, it’s quite the opposite. According to their global LinkedIn profile, it’s “a great thing to be a part of a culture that thrives on making the unexpected happen, and where team members’ work together to go the extra mile for customers.” The “company that designs and manufactures really great hearing instruments” has more than 20 offices around the world with their corporate headquarters located in Kitchener, Ontario.
According to Intercom, “The way businesses talk to people online is broken. Intercom is fixing it. Intercom is the first to bring messaging products for sales, marketing & customer service to one platform, helping businesses avoid the stiff, spammy status quo and have real conversations that build real connections.” Intercom describes its platform as “simple, personal, and fun for everyone”, and a growing number of customers obviously agree. According to Alex Konrad, staff writer for venture capital, startups and enterprise tech at Forbes, “Intercom is now adding 600 paid customers and $1 million in new revenue every 10 days.”
A new approach to employee involvement The L’Oréal Group developed a two prong social media strategy to engage existing employees and compete for top talent. L’Oréal is the world’s largest beauty and cosmetics firm with its head office in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France. Offerings include hair products, skin care, sun protection, make-up, and perfume. With increased employee engagement through social media, L’Oréal has been able to demonstrate the benefits of its corporate culture to a broader audience.
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) is a not-for-profit organization based in Leamington, Ontario. OGVG was formed in 1967, representing approximately 220 members who grow greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers on over 2,500 acres in Ontario, Canada. OGVG works hard to promote and connect its growers with government agencies, consumers, retailers and foodservice operators across North America through various government lobbing events, research, marketing initiatives, trade shows and community activities. As a whole, OGVG strives to support the Ontario greenhouse vegetable sector and its growers, however possible, to ensure success for today, sustainability for tomorrow, and fresh, nutritious, quality produce for all!
Upon embarking on this quest for an organization to represent in this final case study, it was suggested to me that I write about my business Value Vintage Fun (VVF). VVF is a small yet significant business that I have owned and operated in essence since 1991. It all started as a casual dinner comment from a friend visiting from Tokyo who suggested that I sell my collection of Anchor Hocking Fire King coffee mugs from the 1950’s; the Japanese market would be crazy for them, especially in Fire-King Cafes! To that end she connected me with an antique dealer in Tokyo. I used a fax machine as a method of receiving orders. My payments were sent by regular post. I sometimes think back to those days and wonder how social media may have first-handedly impacted the business back then. I have since witnessed many changes in technology and consumer attitudes on items that were once labelled old and dated to now being valued as retro and vintage.
Many churches are finding benefit from promoting their services and events online through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. However, if we look to the education world, we may find ways that social media is being used in the classroom that can be effectively adapted into a Pastors role of teaching, including the weekly sermon and Bible study methods. Jason Tomaszewski, Associate Editor of EducationWorld.com, reminds us in his article “Social Media Has a Place in Classrooms” of the findings of Dr. Richard J. Light (Harvard School of Education) with regards to social learning theory and the learning success of college students, “People learn most effectively when they interact with other learners. According to Light, the strongest determinant of students’ success in college is their ability to form or participate in small study groups. He suggests that this is more important than their instructors’ teaching styles. Student research participants who studied in groups, even only once a week, were more engaged in their studies, were better prepared for class, and learned significantly more than students who worked on their own.” This study underlines the significant learning impact that small group type Bible studies can have, which could include those happening online. It also addresses the lecture-style sermon delivery that is the basis for most traditional church services, which may be better absorbed if given the opportunity to be discussed among those who have listened to it. Social media can provide such opportunities through various means available to pastors and their congregations today.
When actor Chris Hemsworth is not on screen swinging Thor’s hammer, you can usually find him in the gym crushing a weight training workout with Luke Zocchi of Zoco Body Pro. Hemsworth uses Zocchi’s expertise to get in shape for major movie roles, but Zoco Body Pro’s target market is the regular joe. Having A-list clients was enough to attract viewers to the company’s social media, but they have stayed for the incredible content. Zoco body pro has used their social media presence to create a new avenue for a business that started as a personal training, and while they still do that, their new market is global. When training local clients, Luke prefers hands on training. Some people like to be yelled at, that old-school, drill sergeant approach, but I normally train alongside the people I work with and that’s how I like to do it. This strategy is excellent for customers lucky enough to live near Zoco Body Pro, but the company has made a move on social media that will also help potential customers that can’t travel to “The Iron Temple”. They have recently launched a program called Twenty40 training that allows anyone on Earth to try the same workout regimen that has produced world famous results. This is an online venture that provides customers with step by step instructions on how to sculpt their goal physique, as well as giving nutrition tips to help fuel the new body. Zoco Body Pro uses many aspects of social media effectively to run their organization, and this new program will help spread their fitness message world wide.
In recent years the essential oil industry has really taken off. New companies have jumped on the band wagon with great fervor and consumers can now find essential oils at shopping malls and big box stores. In such a booming industry, doTERRA International, a Utah based direct sales essential oil and wellness company, has set itself apart from the competition in large part due to its integrated use of social media to educate and engage consumers about the company, its sourcing practices, product development and philanthropic work. From a grass roots company founded in 2008, it has now surpassed the billion dollar sales mark and expanded its global reach to over 3 million customers spanning 100 countries in less than ten years. While their accomplishments are directly related to developing and sustaining their own product supply chain, it is safe to say the company’s efforts in social media aimed at bringing the supply chain to life, ongoing customer engagement and collaboration, as well as the continual education made available have all had a significant impact on their success.
Our day is populated with up-to-the-second news of what president-elect Trump will do next. This timely case study does raise the question…as powerful as social media is today in our private and business lives, what does the future hold for this platform? Before I look to the future let’s briefly look back. In my youth the word “social” meant going outside to play hide and seek with my friends. In my 20’s “connected” meant you owned a thing called a “Portable Bag Cell Phone” which weighed 8 to 10 lbs and was an affordable alternative (at $1800) to the “flip phone” which retailed for nearly $3,500. For Star Trek fans the flip was almost a must have! Then came the internet as we know it today and the mainstream platforms of digital connection were exemplified by email and blogging. Fast forward to Feb.4, 2004: Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in his Harvard University dorm room. At present the business, marketing and political landscape looks bright. But what does the crystal ball say?
Rolling around on a skateboard is a right of passage for most children growing up in North America, many of them dreaming of becoming the next Tony Hawk, or Nyjah Huston. While many of these people will never attain these goals, they will still have a blast pushing around town on their boards. Skateboarding is a wonderful tool for transportation, but it has a few key limitations. The main problem is hills, and everyone who has ever stepped on a skateboard has a deep fear of the dreaded “speed wobble“. While going down a hill on a skateboard, you don’t have many options for braking and going up hills is also an issue, as it becomes a battle against gravity. Boosted Board is a company that was founded to improve some of the issues that have plagued skaters for years. Boosted Board is an electric skateboard controlled by a small handheld remote. You can adjust your speed and even brake! Skateboarders everywhere now have a solution to some of their problems. Boosted Boards has turned to social media to showcase their product to the skateboarders of the world and get everyone skateboarding again.
In April 2013 Lowe’s launched their extremely successful “Fix in Six” campaign on Vine. With Lowe’s being the second largest home improvement retailer in the world it seems appropriate that their Vine campaign is a variety of six second videos that gives tips for home improvement. Since the campaign began in 2013, Lowe’s has created and shared 115 vines that have generated over 65 million views.
Brandwatch is the world’s leading social intelligence company, they are used throughout large corporations as a tool for analyzing and sharing insights about social media. Brandwatch’s objective is to take regular analytics and share them with their clients in way that is attractive and understandable. The information shared by the company tells their clients about the conversations, trends, and people impacting their business. Their technology spans over 80 million online sources to ensure they, ‘never miss a mention that matters’. Brandwatch is a unique and futuristic company that, “gathers millions of online conversations every day and provides users with the tools to analyze them, empowering the world’s most admired brands and agencies to make insightful, data-driven business decisions.”
Church leaders of all ministry types and sizes will likely agree that the task of numerically measuring progress, although sometimes tedious, can be one important means of gaining insight to a ministry’s health. We measure congregational attendance and engagement to help gauge existing ministry connection and determine future programming, staffing and resource needs. We measure congregational giving both in the monetary sense and by way of volunteer hours, to help with our strategic planning and ongoing ministry mission. Many churches have broadened their mission field to include the online world. This includes utilizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more to connect and network with people who may otherwise never engage with any aspect of the church. According to Church Works, “Social media can be a brilliant way to reach users who may be entirely outside of your community…effective, generous engagement on social media can attract new followers who appreciate your message and identify with your mission.” How then can we best measure our social media and digital reach?
As one of the world’s most renowned supply chain managers most people would not question that Walmart has ‘perfected’ their product management, as they have products made in over 70 countries and manage an average inventory of $32 billion. However, during this Halloween season Walmart seems to have dropped the ball when listing a Halloween costume from supplier, Totally Costumes. This highly controversial costume is named, Razor Blade Suicide Scar Wound Latex Costume, it is a stick on latex scar that looks like a fresh wound from the blade of a razor. The wound is designed to be worn on wrists to look as though the individual has attempted to take their own life. Bloggers, Nicole Lyons & Stephanie Bennett-Henry, recently caught eye of this costume while it was posted on Walmart’s online store and responded to the item on, thelithiumchronicles.org, in a letter titled, “Dear Walmart”. In the letter the two go on to explain how if the company would like to do this costume justice they could go on to make an entire line-up of costumes “to make a buck off of one of the most devastating things that could ever befall a family”. They suggest to go along with the latex scars the individual could wear a sash that says, “I finally did something right”, and even have blood that shoots out of the veins after the razor finally cuts through the right vein. They suggest adding a straightjacket and a pail of meds for the individuals who do not “get the job right” and have to live knowing they could not succeed at that either. They also added the idea of a speaker that repeats a permanent goodbye to haunt those they are leaving behind. The idea of a Grieving Mother Costume was even brought forward to add some cash to the corporations pocket that would include, “ a lifetime of guilt, stigma, and shame … some latex wrinkles for the torment of unanswered questions about what they could have done differently, and why couldn’t they see the signs”. The letter goes on to add a Suicide Survivor Costume saying, “You’d add one of those tacky letters you carry, like an “F” for Failure or “D” for Didn’t do it right, or “W” for Walmart is a disgusting corporation who makes money off of the backs of people who battle every … day with their own… Read more »
As I sit, and write this blog today I am sipping on nothing but Mildmay’s finest alkaline spring water, Flow. If you haven’t experienced Flow water yet you truly are missing out. This naturally alkaline spring water is from owner’s (Nicholas Reichenbach) , own family farm in small town, Mildmay, Ontario. The water is packaged into a recyclable Tetra Pak box that is PET and BPA free. This packaging is the first of it’s kind to be used in North America. Since beginning packaging the water has become recognized across North America, and has even gained Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays as a spokes person for the brand. Flow prides itself on having a package that is ‘as positive as their water’. In Canadian Grocer article, Canadian company gets into the Flow with spring water, Reichenbach quotes, “It appeals to conscious consumers… people who like high-quality, healthful water and really care about what they put into their body. They also equally care about minimizing their carbon footprint and minimizing their impact on the environment”.
If you were using social media for personal or business use in Canada during the summer of 2016, you will have no doubt heard at least something about The Tragically Hip. The favoured Canadian band was touring in what likely would be their last, due to frontman Gord Downie’s onset of brain cancer. Concerts sold out and media of all sorts took note of what was developing into a notable time in our country’s music and lifestyle history. As the final concert came to pass in August – complete with the attendance and interaction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – an influential social media phenomenon was occurring. Ensight Canada reported, “In addition to multiple trending topics throughout the weekend of the concert, social media posts about The Hip and (Gord) Downie’s First Nations comments generated roughly 20 million potential impressions across Canada over the past week. What’s really telling is that Canada has about 14 million daily Facebook users, so when we look at the impressions generated, we can conclude almost everyone in the country who used the internet or social media came in contact with the story in some way.”
A business cannot remain successful without undergoing change through ongoing product development and design. At one point in time, the majority of new products would be developed through brainstorming sessions – likely with key corporate players sitting around a boardroom table and a large flip chart or white board for recording. Today, product development is vastly different. The current use of technology enables individuals to converse and collaborate anywhere in the world. Perhaps what is of particular interest is the inclusion of social media and how it is now common place for companies to rely on their customers to come up with product ideas. In the world of retail sales, this route can be quite successful. Frito-Lay and their “Do Us A Flavor” contest is a perfect example of a company that took incorporating social media for product development to a whole new level and with great success. Not only does a social media based product development campaign engage customers, it enables the company a chance to create a product that hits the shelves with customers already feeling invested and ready to open their wallets. But is it possible to utilize the same social media product development in other industries to develop services, or possibly entertainment?