While Wendy’s might normally be known for their famous sides – fries, chilli, baked potato, salad and the original frosty – their side of sassy social media responses brought them into 2017 as one of the hottest brands on Twitter. Earlier in the year, the fast food chain responded to media requests affirming that their social media accounts had not, in fact, been hacked. This after a series of responses coming from the official Wendy’s Twitter account to followers who engaged with the company on social media.
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.
Health Sciences North (HSN), a Northern Ontario hospital, is shining a light on the human side of healthcare as it reaching patients, hospital visitors, and the community at large. Located in Sudbury, Ontario, HSN has garnered Northern Ontario’s attention after the launch of their blog, Humans of HSN. Humans of HSN is an online blog modelled after the infamous Humans of New York, where pictures, videos and stories of HSN staff, volunteers and patients are shared. Each week, the blog features new stories of the many faces at HSN which are then shared across HSN’s social media networks. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals alike are sharing details of their lives outside of their hospital life. Whether talking about their personal passions, such as curling, or a once-in-a-lifetime family trip, patients and visitors of the hospital are given the opportunity to see beyond the person treating them.
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.
In this day and age, most people are glued to their mobile device and information gets thrown at us from left, right and centre. So when a brand is competing for attention, especially through social media, they need to be eye-catching, useful and trustworthy – and maybe a bit humorous.
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.
We all have a story to tell. It could be one of personal hope, sacrifice, mentorship or despair. Others could be told from numbers or raw data – the stuff that drives work and project results. As social media becomes a more popular medium of communication and an avenue for influence and story telling, it’s the metrics that tell a bigger story and help to validate the hard work of a communications department.
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.
Social Media influencer, Lori Ruff (@loriruff), once said “Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.” She couldn’t be more correct. Social Media is everywhere. Successful companies know this. Successful companies are using social media to communicate with their customers, to engage employees, to research and develop products and services, as well as to market those products and services. Tripcentral.ca is one company that knows the value of social media and is using it to the fullest extent. Tripcentral.ca started as a one store operation in Hamilton, Ontario back in 1989. It has grown to be an industry leader for online and storefront travel purchases, employing over 120 people with agents in 26 locations across Central and Eastern Canada. They use social media to interact with their customers via Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. They are the only major travel agency to leave their Facebook reviews open for public comment, with a 4.8 star approval rating and a social media staff who immediately respond to any negative comments. This feedback helps to retain customers as well as acquire new ones. Getting their customers involved also helps to generate sales by building a bond with the company itself.
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.
Over the past few weeks, I have shared how start-up Flashstock has benefitted from social media to stay engaged with customers, employees, and even improve product development and operations which all contribute to driving business performance across the company. Our marketing team has focused its efforts on using social media as it’s the main platform because of the relative ease of use, low cost, and data-rich insight. Start-ups find social media marketing really efficient. At the beginning, most brands are looking to just create community and brand awareness. With existing networks built into Facebook and Instagram, for example, and almost 2.5 billion active monthly users combined, gives marketers unprecedented access to consumers and data. The platforms are free to join and provide simple to use interfaces that don’t take as much effort as a website to manage. With all of these active users, marketers also get great access to data that tells them everything they need about their target audience.
Few condiments hold a candle to this savory-sweet, palate-pleasing treat enjoyed by adults and children alike. Ketchup, your pairings are endless: eggs, bacon, bologna, hot dogs, fries, burgers, sausages, onion rings, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, fish sticks…alright maybe not endless. That’s getting pretty close to an exhaustive list, as far as any self-respecting person can enumerate. Yes, this powerful condiment possesses an innate ability to make-or-break your summer BBQ. And it recently showed off some of its unique power to rally social media supporters in a very surprising way. Canadian Connoisseurs Speak Up In March 2016, Loblaws decided to pull French’s ketchup from its shelves without warning, inciting a viral backlash demanding Loblaws re-list the item. The sense of importance associated with this particular product most likely stems from its local origins. French’s ketchup is made with tomatoes grown here in Canada; Leamington, Ontario to be geographically precise. Thus it’s a source of national pride, of small-town Canadian jobs and, ultimately, of significance extending well beyond something squeezed from a bottle. This high level of engagement in the supply chain management process led Globe and Mail food columnist Sylvan Charlebois to declare in his Ketchup Wars opinion piece that “the politics of food distribution are alive and well in Canada”. Many speculated that unfair competitive practices among vendors may have had something to do with Loblaws’ decision to de-list the product. Finding evidence to support this theory is challenging. However, the ketchup story illustrates how the complexities of food retailing are increasingly intermingling with unexpected social media uprisings.
Climate change and environmental accountability are both hot topics in the 21st century. More and more people are becoming concerned about the products they buy and what impact on the climate their production has. It has been reported that also more businesses are increasingly taking environmental performance into account when selecting suppliers. In July 2009, Wal-Mart announced its intention to create a global sustainability index system to keep track of products ratings according to the environmental and social impacts of their manufacturing and distribution. The motivation behind the index is to create environmental accountability in Wal-Mart’s supply chain and to encourage other retail companies to do the same. Wal-mart Stores, Inc., doing business as simply Walmart, is an American multinational retailing corporation that operates as a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores. As of January 31, 2017, Walmart has 11,695 stores and clubs in 28 countries. Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue – approximately $480 bln (2016), as well as the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees. Walmart Canada has stores in every province and territory, except for Yukon and Nunavut. Walmart Canada has in total 410 stores (January, 31st, 2017).
Each year we print four billion flyers that are read by 81% of our readers, making them the most used source of local shopping information. For Metroland Media, their competitors and readers, these numbers are astonishing. Supply chain management is now more relevant than ever in terms of any organization succeeding. Products need to be properly designed, developed and distributed, while still being cost effective, easily adaptable to changes in the product or market and remain at a high-quality level for customer satisfaction. Metroland makes it apparent that the products they produce find there way into the customer’s hands with the same quality it left their organization. They know that improving their network of organizations and people involved in these processes enhance a variety of factors within their supply chain. Metroland Media is an excellent example of how an organization should run their supply chain and how it can be managed and improved.
As an International Product Development Specialist with Dempsey Corporation, I know firsthand all of the tiny, painstaking, and highly particular details that go into bringing a product from ideation, to fruition, to the retailer. From the initial RFP (Request for Proposal) to the actual proposals, to working with manufacturers, buyers and marketing teams, developing a single product can take MONTHS. In a world of infinite ideas, how does anyone know what will sell? A buyer’s worst nightmare is backing and investing in a product that flops – wasting value time, effort and resources that didn’t ultimately turn a profit. And, as a product developer, a buyer’s worst nightmare is also my own. If I don’t propose and develop products that stand half a chance of doing well for a particular client, my value as a developer plummets. So how can I (and other product developers) help mitigate some of that seemingly impossible-to-predict burden? Well, before the internet, we had to rely solely on visiting the brick and mortar stores, attending trade shows, setting up brainstorming meetings, and networking with businesses and people who were doing what we ourselves were trying to do – source, develop and buy products that will ultimately mean success for our enterprise. Unfortunately for us, what is currently in the stores won’t necessarily be on trend next year, and word of mouth can only take you so far. However, with the advent of the internet and the introduction of social media, my job just got a whole lot more interesting. Let me tell you some of the ways I use Social Media in my day to day work as a product developer.
“Customer engagement is the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your customer engagement strategy.” – Clarabridge. Customer engagement has always been at the core of any successful business. Making sure that the people your organization is trying to reach feel cared for and connected to your brand keeps you at the forefront of their mind whenever they are in need of a particular good or service. And nowhere is an engaged customer base more important than in the case of a natural disaster. However when you think of emergency services, you may not immediately think of the people they serve as “customers.” After all, we typically refer to “customers” as “a person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.” But, without spending money, people rely on the Red Cross, and the Red Cross relies on people for a very vital and essential service.
Lululemon Athletica is definition of a Canadian grassroots retail success story. From humble beginnings in 1998 starting in Vancouver, British Columbia, they went public in 2007 on the NASDAQ and for a period on the TSE, and now in 2017 they have over 10,000 employees and stores in 12 countries (plus lululemon.com) (Crunchbase, 2017; Reuters, 2017). Lululemon has won a tremendous following of loyal customers and employees. The culture of the company is contagious; the people that work there live and breath it. In turn, this creates an incredibly authentic dialogue between the company and its customer base. Recognizing that lululemon ran for the first 10-12 years on grassroots marketing (and two in-publication ads), the success the company is experiencing is a huge testament to who the brand is – product-wise and culture-wise (Carter, 2013).
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.
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.
In a world where social media can make or break a business, Tripcentral.ca puts it all on the line for their customers. The only major travel agency to leave their Facebook reviews open for public comment (with a 4.8 star approval rating and immediate responses to any negative comments), they put their reputation to task daily to hold themselves accountable to their customers, and to be the best they can be.
Sephora has made a global presence in the last few decades in the cosmetic industry. Founded in France 1970, by Dominique Mandonnaud, which was then sold to LVMH in 1997. The company had quickly evolved with retail stores expansions and a wider variety of products. Sephora offers a large range of products such as fragrance, makeup, skincare, hair products, and accessories. In the last few years Sephora has taken a massive transition into digital retailing as the company uses social media as a main platform to expand the brand.
“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within them.” — Dr. Bob Nelson, Employee Engagement Expert (http://www.egroupengage.com/blog/social-media-to-increase-employee-engagement) It’s no secret – the Vega team is definitely lit from within. With a strong set of internal values and a workforce that lives and breathes those values, it is unsurprising that Vega was named one of the Best Workplaces in Canada for six years running and this year nabbed the prestigious title of #1 Best Workplace in Canada 2017. How does an organization like Vega secure its place at the top? It starts with a connected community of likeminded people.
In his article ao.com: setting an example in social media strategy, Chris Price states that AO.com (formerly Appliances Online) “knows more than most about the power of social media.” The UK based company was founded in 2000 in by CEO John Roberts. According to the their website, the story goes like this: “Following a drink with a friend, CEO John Roberts bets him a pound that he could change the way white goods [aka household appliances] are purchased via the internet. The AO business is born as DRL Limited.” Fast forward to 2016: AO.com expands into the Netherlands with the launch of AO.nl, is named Best UK Retailer of the Year 2016 by Verdict Retail, is awarded the Customer Experience Initiative of the Year at the Retail Week Awards 2016, and is ranked #1 in the Retail Week/Glassdoor Top 15 Retails to work for in 2016. And these are just the latest in a string of awards the company has received. As Andrew Kirkcaldy, who is currently the Group Brand Director at AO.com, admits to Price, “We have to think a little out of the box because white goods aren’t the sexiest of things to create content around.” And at AO.com, thinking out of the box comes to life through an impressive social media strategy that touches virtually all areas of the business.
On February 4, 2005, YouTube started a revolution by giving us a seemingly endless stream of content, on demand. You could watch videos by celebrities, tutorials by up-and-comers, or movie trailers released by studios. Over the years, videos continue to be released, creating new stars and streams of content from global contributors. But no more is YouTube the only major player in the game. With over a billion users generating billions of views and hundreds of thousands of hours of content watched, it is only natural that other players would want to capitalize on this captive and attentive audience. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are getting in on the action by promoting real-time engagement video capability aimed at engaging the attention of global audiences.