COM0012-521 Blog Post #1: Preparing a Digital Strategy

As I’ve mentioned before, I work for an online store specializing in health and beauty. We are fairly small these days with all of the new online stores that have popped up within the last decade and have created a ton of competition. We failed to keep up, and now we are starting from the bottom. While we were able to keep up with the times when it came to customer service, quickly answering voicemails and emails, and efficiently processing orders, social media moved a bit to fast for us and we gave up on that area. A few of us have tried to maintain our Facebook and Twitter accounts, but we just did not post interesting enough content, and could not keep people engaged. This is exactly why we need a digital strategy. 

While we don’t have one in place yet, I am going to be focusing a lot of my time on enforcing a digital strategy we can all agree on. There are only 3 of us who have the power to post on our social media, and even then we have butted heads with what we think is good content. I would like to sit down with my coworkers and discuss how many times a day we would like to post to each social media channel, what kind of content we should post (pictures, videos, contest,etc) and what goals we are looking to achieve. Since we use Shopify as our ecommerce platform we are able to see where potential sales come from, and the only social media sites to get any activity are Facebook, and interestingly enough, Pinterest. I would like to focus more on these two than anything else at the moment, and I would like to be constantly active on both. I would like for everything we post to be original content and interesting content. I would like to gain likes, but also pay attention to the reach each of our posts is getting. I think a key for achieving these goals is to have a very clear and followed digital strategy that everyone understands. I would like to create a checklist that every post needs to follow before being posted. It wouldn’t be very extreme, but a simple few goals like “check your spelling” and “is this actually interesting” would be two of the main things to consider before posting on our social media pages for the world to see.

It is very busy at work right now with Christmas, but as the season comes to an end and the new year begins I think it is very plausible for us to have a strategy we all can work with, and I think it will make a great difference.

-Alison

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COM0011 – 521 Blog Post #2: Listening to Online Communities

At the beginning of this course I created a Hootsuite account to manage our social media better. I had always heard about the value of Hootsuite to keep your social media accounts all in one place, and figured it would help me update our pages more often. I ended up discovering that it was also a great listening tool.

I instantly found old tweets and mentions from months ago that had never been seen. I struggled with the fact they hadn’t been replied to, months had passed, and wasn’t sure if I should or not so late. I replies to a few direct customers and got good feedback. Thanks Hootsuite.

I also discovered how easy it was to see what other people related to my industry were saying and participating in the conversation had become a lot easier. The more I listen to the trends and conversations around me it has become a lot easier to see what content works and what doesn’t, what gets more likes and shares, and what people are more interested in seeing. It has become a great listening tool for me.

-Alison Colins

COM0011 – 521 Blog Post #4: Unique Ways to Advertise Online for Free

As a company that was once a small business on a tight budget, and now on an even tighter budget once it was bought by a huge corporation (I’m looking at you Shoppers) we had to find ways to advertise our products and store without spending money on pay-per-click ads like Google Adword and Facebook Ads.

One of my favourite sites that I have talked about before is Reddit.com. I was a user long before I started working for Feelbest and knew how the site worked and more importantly how the users worked. They don’t like being blatantly advertised to. It can really hurt your business to create an account solely to try and throw your links inside of the comments. What I have done in the past that worked quite well is browse the health and beauty subreddits and if I see someone mention they are looking for a certain product we carry, I will tell them where I work and that we can ship it to them. I will also offer a coupon code within the comment. There has been a few times I have done this that resulted in multiple sales, and the links are all archived so I still see the occasional sale from them. I have attempted this is other online discussion forums but none have been as successful as Reddit. This also helps us get our name out there, and since our links are on the pages it helps our Google Search Ranking.

Since we are resellers of lots of different brands, I will go to a particular  brands website and see if they have a “where to buy” section. If they do they will often have a “where to buy online” section with various companies logos or site addresses where the products can be purchased. All you have to do is find their contact email and email them requesting that your link and logo be added to the list. A huge portion of are sales are generated from these links which is easy to measure since Shopify tells you where each order came from.

These are just two of the ways we advertise online that you don’t often hear or learn about. Since our social media is no where near as strong as it should be these two methods create way more sales than any of our social media sites have.

-Alison Collins

COM0011 – 521 Blog Post #6: Using Effective Content

Being an online company, we have so many possibilities when it comes to effective content. The internet is our playground which we really need to explore more of and use to the best of its abilities. One thing that we are currently doing effectively is sending out bi-montly email newsletters with coupon codes. They always generate a decent amount of sales, and we often get customers posting on our Facebook page asking when our next coupon code email is going to be.  We put them on coupon sites such as retailmenot, and we’ve found them shared on other coupon based sites. We put them on Facebook as well, but we could probably be doing that better, and reaching more people if we used better pictures and hashtags.

Something we aren’t doing that we really should be is making videos and putting those in our newsletters, social media sites and our own site.  Having learned how important videos are in terms of content and SEO, we have started planning a few videos to use on our site and social media pages, and I am excited to see how effective they are. We hope that they will attract more people to our Facebook and Twitter so that when we put up question posts people will actually start answering. It would be great to but some questions on Facebook and receive feedback from customers and expend our reach.

We have a photographer/graphic designer on site and another thing we do well is product pictures. We should be utilizing Pinterest more and putting a mix of product pictures, videos, and staff pictures up there. Since you can add sales and links to your site on each “pin” it would be another way to advertise our products and coupon codes. Having the name Feelbest we should also try putting up infographics on how our products benefit your health and how to effectively use the product. I think that is content that could really help us gain a following.

-Alison Collins

COM0011-521 Blog Post #5: Studying Case Studies

The two case studies I have decided to analyze are the successful and hilarious Chipotle Twitter Incident, and the hilarious failure that was Amy’s Baking Company.

Lets start off with the good. Back in July Chipotle, the popular Mexican fast-food chain, sent out multiple tweets that made people think the page was either hacked, or accessed by a computer illiterate employee/grandparent. They sent out multiple tweets just saying “twitter” and “twitter Find avocado store in Arv” as if they were using Twitter like Google. People were confused and there was lots of buzz around the tweets that day. They ended up going from the regular 250 followers a day to 4,000 followers on the day the tweets went out, and were retweeted around 12,000 times within the day of the “hack”.  Chipotle ended up releasing a statement a few days later saying that the hack was fake and a planned marketing campaign for their 20th anniversary promotion.  It was a good campaign because the numbers show that it worked and got people talking which is what their goal was.

Dad this is not Google.

Now for the bad, which started off bad, but may make its way into good. Amy’s Baking Company, a locally owned restaurant based out of Scottsdale Arizona, was featured on an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmare. The episode went viral when Gordon Ramsey actually left the restaurant and refused to try and help them anymore because the owners were do difficult to work with. It was a great episode.  After it aired the company’s Facebook page exploded with negative comments. The clip made its way to the top post on the front page of Reddit and  was upvoted by around 15,000 users. The owners Amy and her husband Sammy started responding very aggressive and angrily to the negative Facebook posts, and started posting that all the “haters” are idiots and other forms of name calling. While you’d think this behaviour would ruin a restaurant forever, they ended up gaining thousands of Facebook likes, and their Google ranking is very high. Aside from all the likes and SEO the attention provided, they still do not have any real positive reviews. All of their reviews are negative and they will most likely not be anything aside from a joke company. They will never be taken seriously, and will most likely be forgotten in a few years, so I would still count them as a failed social media case.

Amy's Baking Company

Alison Collins

COM0011–521 Blog Post #3: Using Social Media in my Industry

Running an online store and using social media pretty much go hand in hand these days. People expect you to have at least a Facebook page, and will often visit it before completing their sale on your store. People feel a lot more comfortable buying from you knowing you have an active Facebook page where you communicate with your followers. They know that if something goes wrong with their order, they can bring the problem to Facebook for all to see, and hopefully get a quick reply from you. This is just one reason why using social media is so important. Having a Facebook page is just the beginning of having a social media presence though. If your using multiple forms like Twitter, Pintrest, Instrgram, Google +, etc and keeping up with all of them on the regular you are even better off.

We mainly use Facebook to answer any questions from customers, and to promote any new products or sales that we have going. Compared to a lot of online stores and businesses we are pretty low key when it comes to our online presence, which is what we are looking to change. I follow some of the other Canadian Health and Beauty online stores and have been really impressed with their use of social media. The site Well.ca is a great example of doing social media right. They are our largest competitor and they get tons of likes, reshares, comments and praises on their Facebook every day. They use pictures and videos instead of text, and are great at engaging their followers. I have even found myself liking or commenting on a few of their posts. They call their followers “Wellians” and you can tell from peoples comments they really feel like they are part of the brand.

Our store on the other hand ignored Facebook and other sites for a long time. We made the pages but didn’t post much, and sometimes left questions unanswered for multiple days. We used it for hard-selling rather than trying to attract new followers, and didn’t do much to engage the ones we already had.

I would say since the beginning of this course I have been more active on our Facebook page and Twitter, setting up our Google+ Business page, posting more pictures and we are working on a video right now. I always knew of its importance before but have become more knowledgeable and motivated to use them more often and correctly.

-Alison Collins

COM0011 – 521 Blog Post #1: Social Media Tools & Technologies

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIN, Instagram … I could go on forever. Those are just a few of the main social media tools that are available at our fingertips everywhere we go. Between my smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop there is really no reason why I can’t be updating them constantly.  On a personal side, I really don’t update any of these very often. I check them constantly, but don’t post much about myself. I follow over 100 people on Twitter, but only have a mere 15 followers. On a business side though, I need to keep these updated and active as much as possible for positive results. It’s not hard to update, but it is hard to think of the best thing to say to capture an audience.

We use Facebook the most, as many others have stated. When I look into the analytics of all of our social media the only site that gets any attention is our Facebook, so I would consider that our best social media tool at the moment. In the back of my mind though I really want to focus more on Twitter.  Facebook is important, but Twitter can make your company explode from a single re-tweet from the right person. Being an online pharmacy, if someone with the notoriety of Dr. Oz re-tweeted one of our coupon codes or posts, I bet I would come into work with a lot of unexpected orders. It seems easier for Dr. Oz to recognize us on Twitter than it would be on Facebook. The impact would be much higher from a re-tweet from him than from him liking us on Facebook.

Something interesting that happened to our site back in 2005 was an article in The New York Times. We sell a certain type of sunscreen that has an active ingredient which is not yet FDA approved. New York Times did a piece on this sunscreen, and casually mentioned feelbest.com as an online store to get the sunscreen. The people working for Feelbest at the time (I wasn’t there yet) came into work on a Monday with 5000+ orders. This article really REALLY helped us, as we gained tons of repeat customers, who to this day call me and mention the article. We STILL get sales from that articles landing page. If something like that could happen to us again, and I was responsible for it, I would be beyond thrilled.

Aside from your typical websites like Facebook and Twitter, another tool we use is MailChimp. We send out a weekly newsletter featuring new products, sales and coupon codes. These get more hits and produce more sales than anything else we use. I have noticed a trend in some repeat customers that will buy from us as soon as we send them a coupon code, sometimes so frequently I don’t think they are low on whatever product they normally order, but are stocking up for the savings. We also name our coupon codes different so we can track how many sales each particular code has generated. The information we get from that alone is extremely useful.

So it is safe to say Facebook and Mailchimp are our best, and gives us almost instant results, but we could be doing much much better if we utilized Twitter to the best of its abilities.

-Alison Collins