Toronto’s Furniture Bank is in the business of doing good. As a social enterprise dedicated to providing gently-used furniture to women, children, refugees, and those transitioning out of homelessness and poverty, Furniture Bank has grown steadily since its inception. Over time, it has rallied a series of sponsors, donors, social agencies, and other partners to provide thousands of families in need with dignified furniture in the Greater Toronto Area. And most of this has been accomplished through marketing and outreach strategies outside the realm of social media. But as more people turn to social media and online publishers for their news, and overall exposure to products, trends, and “ways of giving”, over the past year the organization has begun to weave social media into its overall marketing strategies, particularly by creating an online-only silent auction and ramping up its social posts to promote its annual fundraiser, the Chair Affair. The incredible impact of this small change (surpassing previous fundraising targets, growing followers, and increasing brand awareness by leaps and bounds online) has set a course for the organization to follow suit with a more dedicated online strategy. With its goals of growing the organization to a national level, and reaching record-breaking fundraising targets in order to serve the most families it can, it is clear that social media lends itself very well as a marketing tool, not only in relationship to its future events, but for the organization as a whole. Below: Executive Director Dan Kershaw discusses Furniture Bank’s mission and functions.
Without doubt, the future of social media is growing, influential and ever-powerful. As the digital divide shrinks worldwide, more and more people are joining the billions of conversations taking place in the realm of social media. Social media is the place to be. Whether you’re looking to keep in touch with friends, find the latest trends, or learn about what someone thinks, social media is where this is happening! The world of social media is highly influential. People are turning to social media to learn about and get information on important topics, such as healthcare. Traditionally, healthcare was something that people relied on healthcare professionals, such as doctors, to learn about. With the advent of the Internet, and more recently social media, people are using social media to learn about healthcare. Social media has evolved beyond a platform used to share pictures and connect with friends. Social media is now a powerful influencer for healthcare and medical advice.
Glossier originally started off as a beauty blog in 2010 by Emily Weiss called “Into the Gloss”. The blog was drawing a huge audience and created a wonderful beauty community that was generally interested in what Weiss was discussing. The launch of this community became the perfect platform for the brand launch of Glossier. The company is currently only available online which allows the brand to only focus on digital and social channels. “This online following would then rave about her products either through their own blogs, or post photos on Instagram to their own followers. This was a perfect example of word of mouth beauty marketing in action on social media (Chong, N. (2017, June)”.
Most people consider social media to be platforms for dialogue between themselves and their closest friends and favourite social influencers. Of course, marketers and organizations use social media to promote products and brands, communicate with customers, and gather data from their target audience. It’s not surprising that discussions involving the application of social medias rarely focus on supply chain and distribution implications; however, this function within a business and between businesses can benefit almost infinitely from a strong network of social media and communication platforms. Many companies are beginning to look to other areas of their business to either cut costs or earn more income, and their supply chain has become an increasingly popular source for such activity. One company capitalizing on this newfound value centre is SDVI, a resource management company that helps media and entertainment companies organize their data and information supply chain to improve the agility and efficiency of their media infrastructures (Market Wired, 2016).
Papa John’s Pizza has been using social media channels to help educate customers where products and ingredients are coming from, and creating time effective ordering options available on channels. Aside from social channels, the company has also used a collaborative technology solution to help support the efficiency of the supply chain. The company outsourced the supply chain needs to Manhattan Associates, a supply chain software company, to help create more time effective and cost saving inventory management. Eric Hartman, Senior Director of Logistics said, “Manhattan solutions allow us to manage inventory levels accurately, efficiently and more dynamically based on actual need—and that has resulted in our being able to reduce overall inventory levels (Manhattan, 2013)”. Using the collaborative software has also provided better solutions to inventory transportation. The software can optimize routes, improving on-time store deliveries, and the overall performance of their fleet (Trebilcock, B., 2014, October). Customer service relies on the speed of the supply chain to help get their products to customers in an effective way that will save time and money. “Implementation of Manhattan’s solutions has provided unprecedented visibility along with reduced expenses, improved efficiency and productivity in every part of the supply chain (Manhattan, 2013)”. Papa John’s wants to ensure that its “fast food” moves just as quickly throughout every level of the supply chain.
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.
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.
Nowadays online video content is a big part of social media. According to Cisco Forecast video will represent 80% of all consumer-based Internet traffic by 2019. So there is no surprise that businesses spend more money on video advertisement. According to Business Insider video will account for 41% of total desktop display-related spending in 2020. The two top platforms for video advertisement are Youtube and Facebook. In January 2016, Facebook announced that people watch 100 million of hours of video a day. In February 2016, Google’s CEO reminded its investors that Youtube users watch hundreds of millions of hours of video a day. It was indirectly pointed out that Youtube users watch more videos than Facebook users. So what is the difference between Youtube and Facebook?
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).
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.
Nowadays it’s hard to believe that there was time when the most popular webmail service – Google mail, i.e. Gmail, was available to the private “invitation-only” audience. Gmail – free, advertising-supported email service is a product from Google. Users may access Gmail services on the web or via apps on Android and iOS mobile devices. As of February 2016, Gmail has 1 billion active users worldwide. It is also the first app in Google Play Store to hit 1 billion installations on Android devices. In 2014 it was reported that 60% of US mid-sized companies and 92% of US start-up companies were using Gmail.
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 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.
TripAdvisor is a good example of how to build successful business and sustain YoY growth by customers’ usage and engagement. Once a website for hotel reviews, TripAdvisor became an online place where customers can plan and book nearly everything for their trip: starting with accommodation, restaurants, guiding tours etc. Nowadays, TripAdvisor provides both its customers: businesses and travelers, a platform to socialize. Travelers share their experiences via reviews and businesses have an option to respond directly to the traveler. TripAdvisor is one of the largest travel sites that offers advice from millions its users. With 465 million reviews, covering 7 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions in 49 markets worldwide, TripAdvisor is branded the largest travel community in the world. TripAdvisor attracts 390M unique visitors every month, more than 280 reviews are submitted to the website every minute and more than 10 000 businesses are added to the website and apps every week.
Nowadays, social media is part of our daily life. People want to share their everyday experiences with others: they study and work in different cities, they fall in love and relocate to different countries, traveling becomes the normality for leisure and for business, a quiet month in your hometown is an exception. Social media allows us to stay connected with our families and friends; it allows to share our experiences, no matter where we are. Social media also serves as a platform for new opportunities. Businesses advertise new positions and promote their products, employees of the companies re-post and share information with their peers. The best insights for the business of an organization are gained from the inside of that very same organization. Many companies understand this and try to use social media to tap this potential. For global companies with different offices around the world, social media is also an opportunity to connect and engage with current employees. Booking.com is one such international company that uses public Social Media in different ways: it (1) engages with current and future employees by posting the latest news about the company, (2) promotes new positions, (3) engages current employees to share their experiences about the roles, the cities they live and work in, and their experience of relocating to a different country or a new city for a new position, (4) share their passion for traveling.
“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.
ISCAR Tools is an industry leading producer of precision carbide metalworking tools and inserts. Iscar provides a wide range of innovative carbide inserts, carbide endmills and cutting tools to tackle most metal cutting applications. They are also globally renowned for providing top notch engineering and manufacturing solutions for a wide variety of major industries such as automotive, aerospace and die & mold production. To reach this level of success, it takes more than just providing a quality product to the market, you need to to be well rounded in all aspects of business. More importantly, you need to be able to manage and integrate all segments of your organizational hierarchy. When it comes to social media integration on a global scale, this is no easy task.
Brands becoming more Digital Consumer packaged goods companies have started to spend more for digital and social media to better meet changing needs of their consumers who are increasingly looking for education and inspiration on-line. Digital and social media helps companies to craft a more personalized and better targeted message to their consumers and, as such, often achieve higher ROI vs. traditional TV media based on one-size-fits-all approach. Parmalat Canada views Social Media marketing as an essential tool in brand building and promotional plans for its flagship brands President, Galbani, Black Diamond, Balderson and Astro. These brands have on-going digital presence at major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The company seems to having embraced Social Media practices that require more message customization, more personal approach to consumers and faster response time vs. some traditional marketing media like TV and print.
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.
In recent years, the popularity of CrossFit seems to have sky rocketed into orbit. The first time I heard about CrossFit was in 2008. At that time, I assumed that it was just another fitness fade that hardcore gym enthusiasts did to look cool. Undoubtedly the shine would wear off and its popularity would dwindle. I had the same thought process regarding the future of social media in a marketing for business capacity. I was wrong on both accounts. I think it is safe to say that social media has played a pivotal role in the success and growth of the CrossFit brand since day one. In today’s business landscape, staying progressive when it comes to new advancements and technologies in all areas and aspects of business is vital to the future success of your organization. The CrossFit brand does just that. From a marketing perspective, CrossFit has excelled over the years at identifying and incorporating new methods of social media as a way for them to reach the masses with their message. This trend appears will continue into the future as new innovations and technologies continue to develop. From YouTube channels, blogs, podcasts, CrossFit TV and nationally televised CrossFit competitions, they understand the value and importance that mainstream and social media outlets provide to the future growth of their brand.
According to the Instant Pot website, this “intelligent multi-cooker, [is] capable of completely replacing [a] pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker/porridge maker, sauté/browning pan, steamer, yogurt maker and stockpot warmer.” Currently one of Amazon’s best selling items, Instant Pot has a huge online fan base. With an official community site on Facebook boasting more than 434K members and a number of satellite communities (e.g. Instant Pot Recipes with 122K members and Instant Pot Cooks with 60K members), the Instant Pot is an internet sensation. That said, it may be surprising to find out that Instant Pot is not a brand new product . According to Grace Hwang Lynch in her article Not Just a Crock: The Viral Word-Of-Mouth Success of Instant Pot, the electric pressure cooker “has been around since 2010, but really became the buzz during the last six months of 2016.” Let’s take a look at the clever social media strategy that created all that buzz.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to scroll through your Facebook feed without having a video from Tasty pop up. Launched in December of 2015, this Buzzfeed-owned online food channel is garnering attention from across demographics. Tasty’s videos demonstrate how easy it can be to create mouthwatering food. Through simple marketing, Tasty has managed to attract consumer interest by creating a winning formula of customer engagement. Tasty has capitalized on the fact that people are looking to be able to make delicious food without having to watch a long step-by-step video, or follow a deeply detailed recipe. By promoting trendy videos across multiple social media channels, Tasty has managed to ingrain itself into social media culture across the globe.
Patagonia is a hugely succesful company that grew out of humble beginnings. It all started when 14 year old Yvon Chouinard developed a love for the sport of climbing, as a member of the Southern California Falconry Club. As Chouinard became more involved in the sport, he soon realized that the only pitons available for climbing were made of soft iron and were placed in the rock once and left there. He found that this was not ideal. Chouinard then met John Salathé, a Swiss climber who made his own hard iron pitons. Chouinard thought that if John Salathé could do it, so could he! In 1957 Chouinard bought a coal-fired forge, an anvil, tongs and hammers and taught himself how to blacksmith. Chouinard made chrome-molybdenum steel pitons and before he knew it, he was in business. He could forge two pitons an hour, and sold them for $1.50 each. Over the years, this company grew to officially become Patagonia in 1973; a company that’s roots remain in alpinism but have expanded to include clothes for climbing, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running. Patagonia focuses on these silent sports, where “the reward comes in the form of hard-won grace and moments of connection between us and nature.”
From a marketing perspective, being able to distinguish your brand in a sea of competition is a difficult challenge. That being said, if you are the brand, this task takes on a much more strategic and personal dynamic. You are putting your personal interpretations and artistic creativity on display in an open forum for all to see. It can be an extremely daunting and vulnerable process. Your success as a artist/business, relies heavily on your ability to tell your story in a way that allows the consumer to relate to you, and your artwork. Such is the challenge for Joanna Gresik, a Canadian abstract artist by night and corporate interior designer by day, living and working in Toronto, Ontario. Joanna creates paintings that are inspired by the energy and life of towns and cities shown through sharp lines, carefully crafted colour palettes and gestural abstract expressionist marks. Joanna has a unique ability to see architecture and landscape through a different lense , and even more impressive is her ability to express those interpretations onto a canvas. With the emergence of social media as a trusted marketing tool for businesses over the last decade or so, it comes as no surprise that these same social media channels now play an important role for small business owners and artists just like Joanna. By providing a platform and a vehicle for messaging, social media marketers can now reach a wider more specific target audience with their products and services. Joanna understands the importance of creating such relationships and quickly determined that these interactions were essential for her growth, not only as an artist, but also as a business person.