LiveCA LLP is a virtual CPA firm. Founded in 2012 when Josh Zweig CPA, CA, LPA and Chad Davis CPA, CMA joined forces and created an online accounting firm out of a love of technology and desire to work from anywhere with an internet connection. As Canada’s first online only accounting firm they provide the same professional services as a traditional brick and mortar firm such as tax, accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and technology services however with an emphasis and focus on systems. “Being a virtual practice in itself is not anything special,” says Chad. “But what makes it game-changing is how we have also focussed on building a practice driven by customer needs, not pricing based on a menu and not being closed minded on the services we’ll offer. Through this we spent a lot of time on processes, documenting as much as we can, systematically learning from every failure, and involving everybody in the firm in constantly improving every single aspect of what we do. Because of that we are able to attract the very best people, wherever they are located in the country. It’s really rewarding working next to people who believe the same things you believe and work tirelessly every day to make the lives of our customers better.” Chad Davis, CPA, CMA, Partner at LiveCA LLP, quoted in “LiveCA – how a practice became totally digital” How does LiveCA LLP engage with clients and build strong client relationships?
As one of the biggest international beauty stores, Sephora has managed to surpass retailers by increasing the number of engaged online and instore customers. After winning the 2017 The World Retail Congress’s International Retailer of the Year, the company has been able to enhance the in-store retail experience by letting customers take the in-store experience home with them. “Sephora has more than 20 million customers that shop and interact with the brand with thousands of products and 100 brand partners who bring these products to life (Forte, D. (2017)”. Now all of these customers have the ultimate online shopping experience.
In the midst of this Social/Mobile Marketing Era, business has changed its focus from being all about maximising a company’s financial return, to real-time connections, and social exchanged based on relationships driven by the consumers. An industry that understands and uses customer engagement as a tool is the beauty industry.
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.
“Engaging customers through social media is an important tool for R3. Our Facebook live feeds allows us to build TRUST with our clients and enables them to know who we are” – Coach Crystal Mallari – Owner of R3VOLVELIFE fitness studio and online services. Opening its doors in 2013, R3VOLVELIFE Studio (aka R3) is a Coaching and Weight Loss Studio located in Mississauga. R3 is not a commercial or “big-box” gym. It is a unique boutique fitness studio with a tight knit community of members. At R3 you will experience the benefits of one and one personal training in a class environment, hands on instruction, and encouragement from all their coaches. In the last 2 years, after feedback and comments from its members, Coach Crystal decided to expand its brick and mortar business to an online enterprise by offering a digital library of workout videos and online weight loss challenges. These online services are facilitated through social media platforms in order to engage its customers.
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.
So what is the future for social media? Well, it seems daunting to try to predict the future even more so if you consider the exponential growth of technological innovation so I am going to try to look at the year ahead. In the article “5 Trends That Will Transform Social Media in 2017” it is suggested that 66% of adults globally, log on to Facebook every day. It is clear that social media use continues to advance and using it to advance your business is also critically important. Other things to pay attention to: Not only is social media usage continuing to increase it is doing so across all demographics. Employees are going to increasingly be encouraged to share business updates. People want real-time “real-time” updates. Increasingly there will be an expectation from consumers for even quicker responses to their inquiries. Decisions will be increasingly driven by analytics. Social analytic tools continue to get more powerful and can provide valuable information even to beginning users of social media. On this point, it is important to reflect on the data that is driving decisions. In the article” Are We Mining Data Instead of Answering Questions”, it is suggested that the biggest challenge in the big data world is understanding that data analysis is not the same as answering questions. There are nuances in social data that compliment pure data in understanding what the data is saying. For example counting the number of likes of a particular post is interesting but if the individual responds with a like and also says “because there were easy to follow lessons” that provides added value. Social video content is important and will only get more important going forward. I would add to this list in that I think there is a lot more opportunity to use social media for collaboration particularly between businesses and between organizations. Consumers want to have the full range of services available to them conveniently and are expecting organizations and businesses to be working together to provide that service to them. In the article “From Social Networks to Collaboration Networks: The Next Evolution of Social Media for Business”, the author argues that the biggest opportunity for Social Networks is the opportunity for collaboration. These collaborative networks breed co-creation, and most importantly the culture of collaboration. “The new generation of Millennials and Generation C (connected, computerized and community oriented) have… Read more »
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
In a digital age, where consumers are less likely to respond to traditional marketing/advertising techniques, organizations are tasked with trying to understand the modern consumer. With so many options to choose from, a well-informed consumer base, and a diverse and ultra competitive landscape where the concept of brand loyalty is a thing of the past, corporate social media strategies now play a vital role in the success of today’s global organizations. One such organization is Maryland based, Phillips Corporation. Phillips Corp is a global supplier of manufacturing technology products and services primarily focused on CNC machine tools. Over the years Phillips Corp have relied on the great marketing efforts of the manufacturer’s they represent for building/growing the brand. They are also globally renowned for providing legendary customer service and an enduring competitive advantage to the end user. Although Social media is somewhat of a new realm for Phillips Corporation, in a highly competitive global product market, they have tried to differentiate themselves by focusing on their people and the service they provide to the customers. Phillips is aware that nothing will substitute the relationships that their sales and service people have with the customers. Conversely they are cognizant that social media has developed a larger role over recent years as an additional avenue for engaging with that same customer base. At first their social media strategy was designed just to be presence on social channels, but it quickly developed into a more streamline avenue for them to have conversations with people in their industry. This is where I believe Phillips have taken a unique approach in an attempt to set themselves apart from the competition. A lot of companies use social media to tell everyone how good they are, and while Phillips do want to promote themselves, they also feel that it is important to recognize, at least from a marketing perspective, that they don’t own their brand, their customers do. Matthew Nardangeli-Marketing Director at Phillips Corporation explains the importance of social media and customer engagement in below audio file:
Traditionally, Black Friday is a day for consumers to spend mad amounts of money on discounted wares. More and more in recent years, there are videos and phone captures of in-store fights, parking lot brawls, and general retail unpleasantness. But one company decided that there had to be a better different way. Cards Against Humanity, everyone’s favourite “party game for horrible people,” has spent the past three Black Fridays requesting that their customers pay a price increase or donate their money to the game’s creators. Though this is a clearly unconventional request, their customers passionately and quickly respond, giving their funds freely. Let’s look at how a start-up has not only turned their consumers into passionate product advocates, but also into willing financial contributors who receive little, if not nothing, in return.
When asked to name a business which utilizes Social Media to effectively reach out to new customers and maintain contact with existing ones, I immediately thought of The Furtado Group. Operating under the Rock Star Real Estate umbrella, they are a Real Estate Team based in Oakville, primarily servicing the West GTA. The Furtado Group is not your average Real Estate Brokerage and this is evident across their unique branding efforts. And, they surpass any expectations one may have for effectively using Social Media to interact with their audience. Each of the Team’s members has their own Social Media presence. The Team is led by Ruben Furtado. He is considered “a true expert in his field, a trusted advisor and mentor to many in the real estate community” (The Furtado Group. 2016). They have a dedicated Art Director & Brand Communications Manager and each member of their team contributes to content for all social media platforms. Mary Da Rosa has her own blog in which she writes about her business life and market trends. And, there’s Austin Furtado who shares his personal and business goals on his own You Tube channel, Auzzy TV. Clearly this Team has made Social Media a priority in their communication strategies.
Even if you’re not in the market to buy or sell a home, you’ve likely had your eye caught by a realtor’s face on a bench sign, bus stop ad or other billboard-type promotion. It has been a successful exposure-gaining method used for decades by people in the real estate industry, one that has often been a strong step to gaining contacts for potential deals. But did you know that according to Realtor Social Marketing, 90% of home buyers begin their search online? Nicole Bafaro, Sales Representative with Sutton Group Heritage Realty in Ontario’s Durham Region, has successfully built her real estate career by venturing beyond the goal of simply making contacts; she is building and strengthening relationships through online client engagement within her community through her use of social media.
In a rapidly expanding town that has seen its farm fields disappear under housing developments and many small businesses go under due to the influx of nearby big box stores, Victoria Hunt, owner of Carousel Kids, a children’s second-hand clothes & new toy shop in Waterdown, Ontario, has discovered that utilizing social media to connect with the community can have a profound impact on the success of a business. With a Facebook page and an unapologetically authentic personal social media account, Ms. Hunt has shared the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur with a huge heart and a desire to succeed in what some would say is a difficult sector of the retail industry.
I asked my son to go for #FroYo with me today, “I’d kinda rather hang out with my friends Mom” was the first response. So, I pull up the @menchies_ca twitter feed and pass him my phone. “Ooooh! I do want to go to Menchie’s though!” was his response after one glance at the header photo and a quick scroll down the Twitter feed. The scroll revealed a current promotional event “The Italian Festival” featuring three flavours: Nutella, Sweet Almond Amaretto and Iced Cappucino. The moment we read about this festival of flavours, we were on a mouth watering mission to the nearest Menchie’s location! The first station you come to inside a Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt shop offers little cups to try every flavour. If you wish, you can make a fully informed decision about what taste you want to spend your money and calories on. If you’re like my son, you try every flavour at least twice (shhhhh!) and self serve up a heaping portion of your favourites into the pay-by-weight bowl. At the last station, you can top off your concoction with any kind of candy or fruit you can imagine. My son ended up with a hodgepodge of crunchy, chewy, sour and salty toppings, tasted it and declared it “The bomb!”
If there is one company who knows how to engage their consumers with the use of social media, it’s definitely Nike! From their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube pages, their customer following is in the masses, their hashtags have been used by millions, and their videos have been shared and watched by all! Nike has even created separate product pages and accounts for their different sports categories to cater to each and every type of Nike product user- accounts like Nike Running, NikeWomen , and even Nike Basketball can be followed by all. Whether you run, are looking for inspiration, or just wear their products for comfort or fashion; Nike’s social media pages are for everyone. They have even used their Twitter account to interact with their customers and provide advice and customer service to their followers. How exciting is it when Nike decides to reply to one of your tweets!? Nike has definitely become a huge success in the world of hashtags, sharing, and “going viral”. If you don’t see yourself as a frequent Nike user, I am sure that you have come across a Nike Video once or twice on your favourite social media account…and you’ve probably watched it too! Below is a popular “Snow Day” video that was released on Nike’s social media pages. This 2 minute clip features a number of pro athletes such as pro football players Rob Gronkowski and Ndamukong Suh and has been watched more than 10 million times on Youtube and 8.5 million times on Facebook!
By now, we all know just how powerful social media is. One false move and a company can be in big trouble. On the flip side, if a company comes up with a way to use social media as a way to engage customers, it can mean major success. Whether it’s day-to-day, or for a national campaign, these days, it’s all about customer engagement. And, boy, did Lay’s hit the nail on the head with their Do Us A Flavour Contest.