Organization Name: Mabel’s Labels
Industry: Online retail
Name of Contact: Julie Cole, VP and co-founder via interview with Robert Gold & Andrew Brown for PROFITguide.com. Audio interview available on iTunes: (Interview with Julie Cole).
Web Reference: www.mableslables.com
Not too long ago, the strategy for effective social media marketing simply involved coming up with creative ideas to leverage a variety of social media platforms – if you build it, they will come. Gradually, however, we’ve seen that strategy struggle to produce tangible results for businesses. Organizations may be getting visits to those social media networks but to what extent are consumers engaging? To what extent are they becoming customers? If organizations want customer loyalty and devotion, they have to reach the hearts and minds of their audiences.
What drives consumers to engage with a brand via social networks? In the social media world of the consumer, identification with a brand sends a message to the consumer’s social network about how that consumer wants to be seen or about how they see themselves. Their online affiliations create perceptions about them and about the image they want to project. So, for organizations, it’s important to identify with your audience and show that their opinions are heard and valued. By asking questions, inviting input and listening to customers, organizations can help customers feel connected. Says Tony Chapman, CEO of Capital C, in an interview with PROFITguide:
“Rule number one: tell a story customers can connect to. Find out what it is that your customer or consumer wants or needs and then play the role of enabling them to get it. If you play that role, not only will customers be loyal to you, they will promote you and talk about you in their social media, because you helped them get from point A to point B, versus just selling stuff.” (Watch the full video below*).
Case in point, the founders of Mable’s Labels knew their labels were practical, fun, and beautiful, and that parents would love them – but they needed to get the word out. They turned to social media to engage customers and have never looked back.
The four co-founders of Mable’s Labels, a company that produces personalized name labels, were their own target market. They knew the types of labels their customers would want because they knew what kind of product they wanted. More important, they knew the ‘mom culture’. They knew that moms get together and talk and that a frequent topic of conversation is their kids and products for kids.
“We had to go beyond 10 moms talking at a hockey game. Our reach had to be much, much larger,” states VP and co-founder Julie Cole. (Becky Reuber, The Globe and Mail Friday, May. 13 2011)
Moms want to trust their brands, they want recommendations and they engage with their communities. This realization and the knowledge that moms value ‘word of mouth’ led to a social media program becoming the basis of the company’s marketing strategy. Mable’s Labels social media strategy involved building an online profile so that customers would see the faces behind the brand and get to know the product, and it meant reaching out to those already engaged in online communities and social networks.
Mable’s ‘blogger outreach program’ takes credit for much of their social media success. The blogging words of many connected moms became the new online ‘word of mouth’. As a result, customers feel connected to the brand and the product. They feel their children have grown up with Mable and are they are invested in the success of the company.
At Mable’s, the 80/20 rule prevails. 80 percent of the content communicated through social media is about “nothing to do with labels”. It’s about moms and kids, their communities and their lives. 20 percent of the content might be about a new product or a promotion. Online audiences are particularly wary of thinly veiled advertising posted as “content.” And, at Mable’s, close attention is paid to each comment posted about the company online.
Says Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This, “Pushing out content that is strong, conversational, and that especially evokes an emotional response will build stronger engagement and audience growth. People are more likely to comment, retweet or share feel-good content that elicits memories or positive associations. You’re marketing to humans, not robots,”
Building trust builds customer communities. With a comfortable level of trust, it is unlikely that customers will go somewhere else where they will have to establish new relationships and new communities, and start all over again. However, if that trust is violated, customers may not be willing to give second chances.
To summarize Mable’s Labels business performance, Becky Reuber in a Special to The Globe and Mail (May. 13 2011) reports,
“The company [Mable’s Labels] has grown from four founders making labels in someone’s basement to 40 employees working in a 14,000-square-foot facility. The founders received the 2009 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award in the “momentum “category, in recognition of the business’s growth.”
Adds Julie Cole,
“We’ve created more than a business. We’ve created a community.”
Lessons for Others:
In an increasingly social web, information from many sources is available to consumers about products that capture their attention. Consumers want to feel connected to their products and services and feel that association with these are a part of their identities. Consequently, strategies to engage consumers, provide information and build trust are important to organizations. If organizations take care of the consumer’s preference to engage and become part of a dialogue, if consumers feel like they are part of a community, those consumers will reciprocate and spread the organization’s message throughout their own social media networks. With the proliferation of social networking, online communities, and blogs, customers are going to find the information they’re looking for—it is time for organizations to step up and be a part of the process. However, to be an effective part of the process means: taking time to interact with customers, fans and followers, responding to comments, complaints and suggestions, and posting ‘content’ not ‘advertising’. Building trust by providing open and honest content may build customer loyalty but dishonesty will demolish it.
Creating content rich social media communities for customer conversations and engaging existing social media influencers are smart initiatives for organizations. Their greatest risks lie in failure to engage now and being left without a voice in an arena where your voice must be heard.
*(Tony Chapman, CEO of Capital C – How to Tell Your Company’s Story:Tony Chapman)
Keeping Informed, The Secret to Customer Engagement in Social Media is “ME”
By Angelo Ponzi
The Globe and Mail.com
Submitted by: Denise Tighe, University of Waterloo, Social Media for Business Performance student.
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