COM0015 – Blog Post #4 Out of the Box

I used to use Facebook a lot in my previous job, as for a flower shop visuals are essential.  As a software company, I find that Twitter and blogging are more relevant to our followers. They are looking for news on mobile threats, security solutions for enterprises that want to protect their confidential data, and so on.

I did find some unexpected and extremely useful tools that helped us a lot to stay in touch with our audience, reach out to them, and provide useful information.

For video creation I use a screencast tool (the video screen capturing software) used along with Camtasia, a very easy to use professional screen recording & video editing software. We create “how-to” videos to guide our users into learning how to use our software.

CamCard: a free tool to scan business cards for Android or IOS phones. After a trade show you end up with tons of business cards, therefore a free tool like Camcard is the extremely useful alternative to manually inputting contact details into an excel file. You scan the business cards and the soft is giving you the option to save them into your phone or export into an excel file.

Mailchimp a free email marketing service provider for email blasts. You can stay in touch with your contacts by sending them information regularly about what we are up to.  I used Constant Contact as well and for a monthly fee you get more flexibly with regard to template layouts and usability, vs Mailchimp.

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COM0015 – Professional Networking, Now and in the future

I always thought that by bringing together the online and the offline professional lives you strive for the highest level of success. I also believe that in-person relationships are more powerful, as a person that you know from your real life will be more likely to refer you to his business partners or to a job, than someone you’ve met online.

I’ve always consider that my online “personal” persona should be separate from my online professional persona, as no business SocialBizvPers-300x256partners  would like to see in their feeds my 4 yo daughter’s princess dress that I’ve posted.  Therefore I keep the two completely separated. I found this interesting article about how to keep your personal and professional lives separate.

I’ve recently embraced a marketing position in a completely new industry for me, mobile security. It’s a start-up company eager to bolster its credentials as an expert in mobile security. Having 20-30 years of experience in the industry, it’s easier for them, but way harder for me, to build credentials.

Therefore my present strategy for developing my professional network involves keeping an up-to-date profile on Linkedin with links to my company’s website, blog, and social networks.  I also maintain the relationships built over time in the offline professional life as an active member of OXA and BOMA business networks (with weekly meetings).

I also manage company’s Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook pages and post regularly, as I know users demand consistency with the companies they follow. I try not brag to much about what we do and balance my posts with industry news on mobile threats, malware, statistics, infographics, basically useful information for our readers.

Once our company and product become more mature I will develop contests to engage and increase our fan base (likes, followers, blog readership), build a community of users for peer-to-peer communication and sharing tips, news and questions, generate traffic on our social networks and website, hopefully generate more leads and establish ourselves as security experts.

In the future I will focus on finding local high-tech networking events, participate in more mobile trade shows to build awareness, showcase our product and connect with likeminded peers (I ‘ve recently booked Mobile Asia Expo in Shanghai and CTIA in Las Vegas – both renown high-tech trade shows).

 

COM0015- Post #2 Strong & Weak organizations

Strong organizations

Heineken is one of the leaders in terms of building long tern relationships, engagement and strengthening the bonds with 96f7d66c1454b39881d6525fc784d60btheir brand. No matter the subject, they make the best use of the social media platforms and manage to stay first in class. How? They research their audience, identify the need, come up with innovative and fun ideas, they create engaging concepts and use platforms that enable communication with the brand, user interactions and advocacy. You can find their super creative visuals on http://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=heineken, their consumer’s crazy moments on http://instagram.com/heineken , follow them on Twitter – 82K followers, or find one of their multiple Facebook pages, the main one enjoys over 17.2M likes.

They manage very well to keep their audience engaged and interested, and contests are in top of their social media engagement. Here are just few examples.

Based on a taboo subject like create awareness for alcohol over-consumption, Heineken started a conversation about people who drink too many beers during their nights out with their friends. Results? 5 million targets online, over 1 million site visitors, 150.000 hours of active brand engagement, over 5.000 positive consumer reviews, a lift in prompt awareness and likeability of 11%.

Heineken crowd-sourced the redesign of the trademark bottle for a limited edition to celebrate their 140th anniversary. They’ve got 1700 entries with uber engaged and loyal customers that have unlocked their creativity to come up with fresh and unbiased concepts about the beer bottle.

Create your own ”Serenade” for Valentine’s Day had over 5 million Likes of the Facebook app………. just to name a few campaigns.

Weak Organizations
I wanted to stay within the area of multinational companies with humongous marketing budgets. This is one of the companies I’ve worked for, SAB Miller. Unfortunately the company is not struggling enough to create a community, a base of engaged fans that they could turn to like Heineken does.
The company makes use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest but with unbalanced postings, ignoring the social networks from time to time and giving the impression (on Pinterest especially) that they’ve created a page just for the sake of it.

On Facebook, SABMiller reaches out to their followers with un-personal posts about the organization’s initiatives (they enjoy few likes, vs. the hundreds Heineken receives with its posts). More followers are on Peroni Nastro Azzurro facebook page (one of the company’s beer brands) but less engaged consumers.

Lame Pinterest Peroni presence, especially for a brand that is so voguish and targets fashionable people.

The SABMiller twitter page is a bit better, with regular posts, keeping their followers informed about their activities, news in the industry, environmental issues, etc.

COM0015 Assignment #1 – Post #1 – Tool & Sources

Monitoring tools

I use Hootsuite dashboard for my personal use. Extremely user friendly, it’s the perfect tool for me to have a quick look at what happened on all my social networks. I can schedule my post / tweets whenever I need to. For work I can track the hashtags that I am interested in (I am tracking all keywords relevant to a flower shop). https://hootsuite.com/ is the cheapest options if you don’t have money for a more elaborate program like Radian6.

Google Analytics: it’s also a free and easy to use. I like the statistics that I get about my website: traffic, sources (direct or referring sites), number of visitors, conversion rate etc therefore I can understand where I need to focus my resources.

Sources of News

Facebook is the most important news feed for me. It connects me with all my family and friends who live so far away and in all corners of the world. I get all the necessary information: from how big their kids are, to the latest aviation accident in Romania and the scandal around it, to the Grammy awards 2014 (ended half an hour ago). BTW did you know that Macklemore, Lorde, and Daft Punk are among the winners tonight? 🙂

RSS Feeds: I get easy access to news and topics that interest me the most. For example, for work purposes, I subscribed to different wedding related websites and blogs. I like receiving their content by email opposite to searching every day for what I need.

COM0014 BLOG POST #7 – Personal Reflection

The first thing that I will take away from this course is the need to refocus my content and make storytelling a bigger part of my digital identity. I need to move my content from simply showcasing our products, services and events, to telling fascinating stories about these things. I will need to create stories that are useful and meaningful to my audience, something that captures their attention and entices them to come back to us.

I have also learned that I should always keep in mind the “what is in it for me?” question. Why should they spend their time reading my blog, my facebook posts or my tweets? Am I really adding value to their lives, am I relevant or am I just another disturbing buzz in the online sphere that is trying to sell them something?

I would like to learn more about my audience by asking more questions and when I get an answer, to really listen and take action. We need to hear what our customers and readers have to say, learn from it and turn their thoughts, ideas and suggestions to our best advantage. At the end of the day they are the ones that read our blogs and buy our products so we have to have something to say that is interesting or amusing to them.

What kind of stories do I want to tell? I think now it is more important to find out what it is that makes my audience tick. What interests them, what amuses them, what will get them to come to the shop?  Whatever the subject, my storytelling will be in my own friendly, funny, cheerful, bubbly and energetic tone of voice so that I am still true to myself and hopefully, appealing to my audience

COM0014 BLOG POST #6 – My challenge

In my work for the biggest flower shop in Ottawa, I find that our greatest challenge is time or more precisely, time management. We almost never take the time to ask our customers about their day, or if we do ask, we never really “listen” to what they actually have to say. Sometimes it’s because two phones are ringing at the same time, or we have a lot of orders to be processed, or we have a problem with a last minute funeral piece, or…… well, there is always some excuse.

Meeting your client face to face is a great opportunity to build relationships, and yet we are not doing it or we are not doing it properly anyway. I remember working for a multinational beer company. If we’d wanted to know something about our client, we would have had to conduct researches, focus groups and spend large sums of money finding out what makes our clients happy. We would examine their habits, find out what brings them back to our brand or what is pushing them away.

Now, I have the chance to ask them in person at no cost to us and I am not doing it. And I know it works because every time I have a wedding consultation and I talk about what happened with my own wedding, I always get the sale. A positive client experience should be about sharing your experiences, “communicating” with your clients and not focused solely on the business aspect. It is unfortunate and something I can work harder on

COMM0014 – Blog Post 5 – Personal Brand

While applying for a new job recently, I was asked to create an “about me” page.  The first thing that came into my mind for the headline was, “Extremely fun to work with” !

In looking back, I truly believe this is my strongest asset. My former colleagues might not consider me the best in class when it comes to expertise or skills (I’m on top anyway 🙂 but they certainly know that I am fun to work with. My clients will most certainly recommend me for my skills and expertise, but more so for my friendly persona, my honesty and openness, and for putting my heart into their projects. (More tips about a winning personal brand at http://bit.ly/HGpJrI)

The thing that I’m the most proud of in my current job is managing to bring the social media (Facebook mostly) to a level where we are not just selling anymore, but sharing our ideas, our designs, our partners and gurus in the industry that we admire. We finally acknowledge that we are not the best in the world in floral design and that’s perfectly acceptable. We are human and want to bring that personal touch and sense of fun to each of our clients so they can know us and not just what we can do for them. This will bring them back to us more surely than bragging about being the best.

Also, after dealing with a lot of criticism, I’ve been able to have on our website, a video section with tutorials about floral design (like in Maria’s case). For the first time in 15 years, we are designing our own website with our own pictures and products, not like the ones most florists in town have (same website platform and layout bought from a floral wire service company).

I totally agree with “corporate and personal branding can live independently of one another, but it’s when the two are combined in harmony that the true power of extending a brand comes to life”. That’s me! You may laugh now!!!

COMM0014 – Blog Post #4: B2C Case Study

Four years in marketing research, gave me an eye for competition. I hereby present you one of my favorite companies in terms of social media engagement ! Heineken is one of the leaders in terms of building long term relationships, engagement and strengthening the bonds with their brand. No matter the subject (taboo one like create awareness for alcohol over-consumption, or just crowdsourcing the redesign of the trademark bottle to celebrate their 140th anniversary) Heineken is first in class.

How? By researching their audience, Heineken identifies the need, comes up with innovative and fun ideas, engaging concepts and uses platforms that enable communication with the brand, user interactions and advocacy. Contests, packaging suggestions, or create your own ”Serenade” for Valentine’s Day (over 5 million Likes of the Facebook app) are just few examples.

Example #1: Heineken started a conversation about people who drink too many beers during their nights out with their friends. With an entertaining concept and pages created on Facebook, Netlog and MySpace, 5 crazy archetypes were created and the target audiences had to match their friends with one of the characters. “Know The Signs” reached 5 million targets online, over 1 million site visitors, 150.000 hours of active brand engagement, over 5.000 positive consumer reviews, a lift in prompt awareness and likeability of 11%, within the exposed target audience. http://bit.ly/17BruNF

Example #2: Why sending a project to a research agency when you can use your fan data base to unlock creativity, bring to the surface unbiased and fresh concepts about your packaging, create brand exposure, and make your customers engaged and loyal to your brand. With http://bit.ly/15Tdamd  Heineken got 1700 entries in “Your future bottle” contest for a limited edition bottle to celebrate their 140th anniversary http://bit.ly/1gW3s7i

Useful link: engaging touch points on social media blog http://bit.ly/16n2oSq (Heineken masters some of them)

COM0014 – Blog #3: Target Audiences

When it comes to flower industry the target audience might vary from any individual that needs flowers for a certain occasion, to impulse buying when passing by the store, to brides, event planners, hotels & restaurants, to funeral homes or charity events. To make things even more complicated, add to this equation, artificial flowers and trees. So now we are also targeting old ladies that need some flowers on top of their cabinet, an awful tomb arrangement, or come to us just because their mom used to come to our store for the silks, to brides that are allergic to fresh flowers or they just have a destination wedding in Maui and they don’t know any florist over there, to commercial buildings, property managers or shopping malls that need to spruce up their place.

Focusing just on brides (bridezillas): the internet, social media and the way we inform ourselves, translated into very knowledgeable brides, always looking for deals no matter their income, very hands-on every step of their wedding (from creating email addresses for their wedding info, to teaching our designers how to do the arrangements, cause they’ve seen a tutorial on youtube), to DYO flowers, therefore looking for wholesale price. You have to see the big picture: 2 different brides may have a low income, but one will DYO flowers, while the other one has middle class parents that can afford to pay for the wedding or she can spend more as she has no mortgage. Most of them will be leaders that will share the bad things about your company on their SM!

Obviously our target audiences have different demographics, occasions, lifestyles, hobbies, etc. So the trick in my case is to identify my targets, research them and communicate on their language. From social media for our younger groups (brides: FB, Instagram, Pinterest), email blast for our older data base groups, to networking events for the building owners. I’m using, but not diligently Twitter Search and hashtags, FB Search, Google Alerts, HootSuite (http://www.hootsuite.com).

PS: Did I mention seasonality?

COM0014 – Blog #2 – Have a checklist in mind

In my case, having a checklist in mind helps me structure my thoughts and be as concise as possible. I found some good tips on this article about writing your resume, but  they can be applied when writing a blog or any other  material :http://bit.ly/y71pNL too .

It is about structure, that will help me narrate in logical sequences, about style and content. My style must be familiar, friendly, and casual even when I write for the company’s blog, as I place a human behind the company that I represent.  We are florists and we deal with emotions, even if it is for a wedding, or for somebody’s house or office decor.

I also need to think about my audiences, language knowledge might differ, most of them will prefer  standard language, some will not understand the acronyms (I personally don’t), most of them may not have English as a first language (tips found on http://bit.ly/18NhBBG) as the store is owned by Lebanese, therefore a lot of our clients come from different places.

Still, my worries about our communication styles relates to the wording in the world of social media, all these expressions, the slang, the abbreviations, etc. Will all these make us loose our language skills, will we forget how to write the more complicated words?

PS: “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be”. Mark Twain