Thinking about the future of social media is incredibly mind boggling to me. The pace of change and learning is moving at light speed. I mean, people can now chase down animated characters in their towns and cities by using their smart phones? Truly though, not everyone is adopting social media elements at the same speed. Some companies rely solely on social media for their marketing while others use a combination of traditional and social media techniques to get their word out. All agree however, that in the future, social media will continue to grow and change to become the primary marketing tool for all business. I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct a case interview with Captain Marc Ackert, Co-Owner of Ontario Waterway Cruises of Orillia, Ontario. He is also Captain of the Kawartha Voyageur, a 120’, 45 passenger and 13 crew cruise ship that takes guests on 5-day trips on the Rideau Canal and Trent Severn Waterway in Ontario. This family business started 35 years ago and with the average age of his passengers being 72, Marc had a lot to say about the marketing of his business. Marc agrees that “his future is now” as a new marketing strategy began last year with the updating of the website and creation of a series of online vignettes. Although many of his guests still rely on traditional marketing techniques, Marc’s new strategy for now and the immediate future will be to market to the family members and friends who have the computers, lap tops and smart phones. These will be the people who will share the information to potential cruise guests.
If everything around running a small business or non-profit organization (NP) isn’t tough enough, try adding social media performance metrics to your list of tasks. Metrics for social media can be scary and confusing for small businesses and non-profits when they have no time, no extra staff and no budget. But not all social media metrics need to be relegated to the doghouse. Some easily taken metrics are important and can measure a level of success. As I was driving on highway 11 through North Bay, Ontario, the fun looking storefront of Lisa’s Doghouse caught my eye. So, I went in and talked social media metrics with the owner of this upscale healthy pet food store, Lisa Rousseau. The business is only four years old and she has relied primarily on Facebook and her website for staying in touch with her customers. On the success of their social media efforts on their business, store associate Brendan Vandermeulen says, “ It’s a hard one to gauge. It does not bring in new people as much as engage those who are already keeping an eye on us.”. And about translating their social media efforts to sales Brendan explains, “Again, it is a hard one to gauge because the other advertising overlaps.” Right now, Lisa and her team are comfortable with their current social media strategy and look forward to when there is more time to improve and measure the success of what they are doing.
Hear ye, hear ye! It was in 1670 that Prince Rupert, cousin of King Charles II, and friends acquired the Royal Charter which granted the lands of the Hudson Bay watershed to “the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay.” It was the start of the Hudson’s Bay Company – the oldest continuous running company in North America. It was once the largest landowner in the world owning 15% of North America. For the first century of operation, natives travelled by canoe to trade animal skins for manufactured items. The supply chain was basic relative to today. By the end of 19th century people had cash and not fur to trade, fashion tastes were changing too and so did the HBC supply chain. They have outlived many of their major competitors and have battled social and economic change. But, social media has put the pressure on many retailers including HBC to change.
Most of us who went to McDonald’s as kids remember our first taste of their delicious French fries and that special sauce packed Big Mac. We also likely remember as we became adults, just how bad their coffee was (as was the coffee at many other restaurants). Well, McDonald’s listened to its customers over the years and introduced a new coffee and most recently a new McCafe restaurant concept. A winner for customers, the McDonald’s business and for social media.