COM0015 Blog 4: Out of the Box

I can’t believe that this course is coming to an end!  Looking back, I’ve learned a great deal from my instructors and fellow classmates.  Okay, onto my last post…

person using laptop computer

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Unexpected Applications

For me, what is most unexpected is the use of augmented reality and virtual reality in social media.  Like any other phenomenon, the use of VR will continue to evolve and shake hands with a variety of other technologies as well as continually reinvent itself and transform.  What I also found interesting is the way that brands and companies use AR in their marketing efforts and platform features.  With the spread of VR use and technology, this niche will become more specialized and there will be increased opportunities in this area.   

girl wearing vr box driving bicycle during golden hour

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Personality Goes a Long Way

Also surprising is that social media is actually still quite personal and, well…social!  There are so many amazing communities of people with similar interests and passions.  Being the book nerd that I am, I have found some great apps for book-minded people (Litsy, ReadFeed, and of course, Goodreads) as well as have joined some pretty fantastic groups on Facebook and connected with authors, publishers, and other bloggers on Instagram and Twitter.  My favourite community of all is the #bookstagram one.  I have receive incredible support for my feed as well as my blog, chatted with my favourite authors, and won some cool contests.  

What I mean by my earlier statement is that I have learned that personality goes a long way to set a brand or influencer apart in such a vast arena.  Brands have had to change the way they do business, especially customer service.  People like real, they like authenticity and transparency, and they like products/services/brands that are relatable.  Be yourself!  

sliced of citrus lemons

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Finally, listening was another important theme throughout all of my courses.  Whether it be through monitoring and measurement, listening to conversations, listening to your customers, or listening to your competition, listening is critical to success on social media.

Best of luck, everyone!  

COM0015 Blog 3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

Being what I like to refer to myself as an “extroverted introvert” the idea of networking kind of scares me.  Okay, it does scare me.  A lot.  

This past August, I separated from my company by choice and have taken this opportunity to reinvent myself, reevaluate my goals, and will take the time to find the right opportunity.  I want to not just be employed, but to actually enjoy what I do.  What I quickly learned was that in order to find a new job, I had to get my hustle on.  And by hustle, I mean putting myself out there and networking.  

dont wish for it work for it calligraphy

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Any positions of interest require an online application.  After clicking send, I often feel that my resume and cover letter are going to float out into the abyss that is the internet, never to be looked at…  This is also solidifying that it is networking that is the most important part to be successful in finding a career.      

For my employment, I am relying on personal branding—this means that my strategy is to leverage my experience on sites like LinkedIn and to build my connections both online and in person.    

I also am a blogger and also would consider this a viable option for my future.  My professional networking strategy for this brand (Girl Well Read) utilizes the same tools that I am using for my career goals, but I use them a little more socially and creatively.

Person Using Typewriter

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Here are the tools I’m using—I’d love to get more input in the comments!  

LinkedIn 

Erin — for my professional employment strategy goal, I am relying on personal branding.  This means leveraging my resume and experience and networking on LinkedIn.  I have updated extensively, and made sure that the “summary” section is not too granular/industry specific yet not too broad either.  The summary part has also made its way onto my resume and hopefully encourages a potential employer to read on.   

6-12 months — grow my connections, especially in the social media and communications industry given that this is an area of interest and I will be done all of my courses.  I also need to have a more active presence and engage in posts and discussions.  Another option is to research a company’s recruiter(s) and connect with them.  Networking with connections at the companies would achieve this. 

Girl Well Read — I’m unsure at the moment if I will be adding a LinkedIn profile strictly for my blog brand.  Is it necessary?  (I have alluded to my experience as a blogger/published reviewer on my personal Linkedin profile.)  

6-12 months — if I were to add another profile for my brand, I would need to network to grow my connections to include industry professionals, those with shared interests, and influencers. 

Twitter

Erin — my personal Twitter account is not tied to my professional online persona.  I basically use it to follow celebrities. 

6-12 months — I think that I have underestimated the value of Twitter as a professional networking tool and need to have a more active personally presence.  Do you utilize Twitter for employment opportunities, if so, how are you using it?    

Girl Well Read — I am active on Twitter.  I have a small following, but would like to focus on growth.  Presently I use the account to drive traffic back to my blog, to participate in book giveaways, and to follow authors.  I could definitely be utilizing as a networking tool with publishers and authors.

6-12 months — network, network, network.

Instagram

Erin — again, Erin falls down here and uses Instagram for decorating, Depeche Mode sightings, and of course, dogs.  

6-12 months — I think this is a social media account that I will indeed keep for enjoyment versus employment and only network socially with friends/family.

Girl Well Read — this is my creative outlet for my blog.  I love Instagram and the #bookstagram community.  Instagram is a fantastic way to connect with authors and publishers.  This where I do the most networking for my brand.

6-12 months — besides growing my @girlwellread following, I would like to explore more partnerships and giveaways.  As well, ensuring I am actively listening, responding to mentions/comments, and participating in conversations with publishers, their publicity teams, authors, and other influencers.  

Blog

Erin — not applicable.    

6-12 months — I were to blog/post, I think I should look into using LinkedIn.  Does anyone use LinkedIn to post?  

Girl Well Read — I rely on blogger statistics/analytics to get a feel for what I need to do.  

Organically, I have been regularly attending author events to network with other readers, authors, and publishers with goal of making more connections in the industry.  This is an excellent opportunity for exposure for my blog, as well as for me to showcase my passion for what I do and hopefully this will create more opportunities.    

6-12 months — I’m thinking of switching platforms from Blogger to WordPress.  Has anyone done this?  

Summary 

Networking on social media has become incredibly important not only for the individual, but also for employers to research potential candidates.  Presenting yourself as a brand is one of the strategies that I have adopted for my blog Girl Well Read and I need to take the same approach and brand myself for employers to see the value I would bring to their organization.

Looking forward, my commitment is to expand both my personal professional network to secure employment, as well as my Girl Well Read network through partnerships with the goal of transitioning from a micro influencer to a paid influencer.  

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

COM0015 Blog 2: Strong & Weak Organizations

WestJet airplane flying in the clouds

Photo source: WestJet.com

WestJet

Calgary based no frills Canadian airline, WestJet, was an early adopter of social media. In 2009, WestJet hired its first full-time social media WestJetter who was responsible for managing the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.  By 2015, WestJet had added to its online presence and maintained seven social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the WestJet Blog, and LinkedIn.1      

I chose WestJet because I love their campaigns.  Since 2012, WestJet has been a leader in social media marketing for the holiday season.  In 2015, they upped their social media game with their campaign “Christmas Miracles: 12,000 mini miracles”.  It was extremely successful—thousands of WestJet employees were asked to help perform random acts of kindness that took place within a 24 hour period.2

The campaign was thoroughly documented through videos that were shared over social media.  WestJet wanted to promote these video ads to “in hopes of creating a movement, as opposed to a moment”.3  The good deeds included simple things like buying a coffee for stranger, or deeds of a more voluntary nature like serving lunch at homeless shelters.  Also in typical WestJet style, they gifted plane passengers with items from their Christmas wish lists and gave deserving people free flights and vacations.

In general, WestJet does a great job with visibility during their campaigns, thus increasing their reach and the 2015 Christmas Miracles was no exception.  Their employees all wear blue Santa hats—which are now iconic—making them easily identifiable as they perform their own random acts of kindness in their own communities.  WestJet also gave their employees a budget to do this and many were followed with a camera crew to document the events.  

A YouTube video kicked off the campaign which was also promoted on Facebook, Twitter and Periscope, as well as the WestJet website/blog. 

It was supported through national and regional press releases.  After they launched the YouTube video, their social media campaign exploded with people posting their own good deeds on Twitter and Instagram using the #WestJetChristmas hashtag all in the spirit of the holidays.  During the Christmas season, it is next to impossible to stand out and WestJet did this by providing a heartwarming experience to both guests and employees.  

Not only are their campaigns well planned out, but there are many details and nuances that promoted engagement through emotional reactions on all of their social media platforms. 

kate spade new york

Photo source: Kate Spade Facebook page

Kate Spade

Kate Spade New York (kate spade new york) was launched in 1993 by husband and wife team Kate and Andy Spade who ran the business out of their apartment for three years before opening their first store in the trendy SoHo district in Manhattan.4  Known for iconic structure, function, and style, each bag features the Kate Spade logo (which is a simple spade and the name ‘kate spade’ in lowercase Baskerville font), usually on a license plate attached to the bag.  

Due to their affordable price tag for a designer bag, the brand took off, appealing to women of all ages and demographics.  Crisp colour, graphic prints, and playful sophistication are the hallmarks of kate spade new york.  The company has extended their offerings to include clothing, jewellery, shoes, household items, stationery, eyewear, baby items, fragrances, art, books, and giftware.5  

In 1999, the Neiman Marcus Group purchased 56 percent of the brand and the remaining 44 in 2006—they then sold the label to Liz Claiborne Inc., in 2006.6  Most recently, Coach Inc. purchased the company in May of 2017.7  

The brand is now in every time zone and on every continent.  Their goal is to inspire with their spirited approach, commitment to curiosity, and to live colourfully8 through their handbags, clothing, jewellery, shoes, stationary, household items, fragrance, eyewear, and gifts.  

The company is a major player not only in the designer handbag retail space, but on social media.  With their market-leading presence, kate spade new york is a social media darling with many successful campaigns to their credit.  They always make use of social media for their playful mentions of their famous “big sale” and drive traffic to their website with ease.  Part of their success is because their designs are so eye-catching and Facebook, Pintrest, and Instagram are perfect vehicles for the visual aspect of the brand—because the brand translates so well on these platforms, this results in click throughs to their website and ultimately ending with a sale of an item seen on social media.

As of late, the brand has had incredible attention because of the passing of their namesake Kate Valentine Spade who although had distanced herself from the brand to grow a new business (Frances Valentine), was a legend in the industry.  The new brand launched an iconic namesake bag to commemorate Kate along with a supporting campaign that echoed and compliments the original ksny brand.  Throughout this tragic time, kate spade new york has remained steadfast in their tributes and suicide awareness, yet positive, cheerful, and bright to combat the darkness.  This was a tough hurdle for the brand—if they posted too many posts, this would have been considered flippant, and if there was a black out period, this would have been a detriment in that they were not addressing the more important issue of suicide awareness/prevention.  They hit the right tone and stayed true to their founder and vision.  

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Photo Source: IKEA Facebook page

IKEA

Surprisingly IKEA is not doing very well overall with their engagement on social media.  Their Twitter account for Canada (@IKEACanada) has been active since 2009.  At first glance, it does seem like there is a lot of tweets, however, they refer customers to their other handle for anything customer service related.  I don’t think this is the best strategy in that customers are being asked to go to another page to view the company’s response to their issue.  What is happening instead is that their tweets and replies section is now filled with “To better assist you, we replied from our new @IKEACASupport handle” tweets versus actual assistance.  I can understand them wanting to shift the focus away from complaints, but other brands are meeting these challenges head on and letting customers see them resolving the issue.  

The IKEA catalogue is an icon for the brand as are product lines like the Billy or Hemnes, and as of late, their kitchens.  These are brand staples, and what better form of advertising and engagement than having your customers show their love for these tried-and-true products?  IKEA should take a page from a brand like Starbucks that lets their customers do the work for them by encouraging them to post and participate in their campaigns.  IKEA should adopt this strategy and be more customer-centric.  They should also be promoting their catalogue on social media since they run out of print copies so quickly.      

Pintrest is a site that IKEA is represented heavily on, but a lot of the pins are hacks.  The company should embrace these since the bare bones of the projects are still their products and would result in a sale.  Each of their regional Pintrest pages adopts the same strategy of only pinning images of Ikea products, complete with links back to Ikea ecommerce sites.  But this misses the point of Pinterest where creativity is embraced and your personality as a brand shines through.  Again, the brand should be showing off their customers’ projects versus only product boards or their in-house designer DIY project boards.  Given that most of the furniture you have to build yourself, this is the perfect platform to embrace and empower the DIYer consumer as part of their marketing.

That being said, their Facebook and Instagram engagement is better than their Twitter and Pintrest accounts because they do take the time to respond directly to the customer but again, they are not utilizing their customer’s IKEA experience(s).  Their Facebook pages and  Instagram pages resemble magazine adverts and have surprisingly low likes.  However, when they post videos, the likes increase exponentially (their commercials are genius and the stats on the videos supports this).  These are also the preferred platforms for their campaigns which seem to be hit and miss—they either knock them out of the park, or they are controversial.  

With a solid social media strategy, IKEA could avoid these missteps and instead channel their efforts to what they are good at and leverage their past social media successes.  They simply must increase their engagement—the low number of likes are a reflection of the brand and their perceived reach.  Campaign launches, crisis management, customer service, and generating leads are only possible when you can listen actively and engage through social media and in my opinion, IKEA still has room for improvement.         

Works Cited 

  1. Ivey Publishing (2015).  WestJet: A New Social Media Strategy.  Retrieved from https://www.iveycases.com/News/westjet-a-new-social-media-strategy.
  1. Vankevich, Olessia (2017, February 17).  WestJet: Success through Sympathy.  Retrieved from https://medium.com/rta902/westjet-success-through-sympathy-d37b3cd7c158
  1. Promo Awards.  (2017).  Promo Awards 2016 Bronze: Best Use of Social Media. Retrieved from https://promoawards.strategyonline.ca/Winners/Winner/2016/?w=westjet-christmasmiracle. 
  1. “Kate Spade Biography”. Biography.com. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  1. “Kate Spade Announces the Launch of kate spade Home; Company Signs Licensing Agreements with Scalamandre Lenox, And Springs”.  Business Wire.  June 9, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  1. “Neiman Marcus to Sell Kate Spade”. The Wall Street Journal. New York City. November 8, 2006. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  1. Gensler, Lauren. “Coach Is Buying Kate Spade For $2.4 Billion”. Forbes. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  1. Our history.  Cited from https://www.katespade.com/katespade-about-us/katespade-the-history.html.  Retrieved October 11, 2018.

COM0015 Blog 1: Tools & Sources

Favourite Social Media Trend Listening/Monitoring Tools for my Blog/Brand

I am a published book reviewer/blogger of books and book lifestyle products.  Besides being a voracious reader, I also love to talk about books which is also why I blog about them.  Girl Well Read is my personal brand and books/book lifestyle products are my passion.        

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Being a book blogger not only connects me with my favourite authors, but it also connects me with other passionate readers and reading communities.  There are many fantastic book related apps and websites dedicated to readers, book clubs, and that also unite authors and publishers with communities of readers.  

As a book reviewer, I receive some swag which includes free books, book-themed items, and advanced reading copies (an ARC is essentially an uncorrected proof that is provided by publishers to reviewers, booksellers, and librarians before publication/mass distribution).  What I find especially exciting is when my favourite authors comment, like, tweet, and repost my reviews of their books.

Currently I am trying to grow my personal brand and take my business to the next level where I am actually paid to review, and can participate in sponsored posts and form partnerships with publishers, brands, and authors.  If I am speaking from the perspective of my blog, the most useful and cost effective tool I use would be the actual Blogger provided statistics to determine which posts were the most successful and had the most views:

Overview tab — general overview that ranks the posts with highest number of views, page view statistics (today, yesterday, last month, and all-time history), as well as traffic sources and an audience map.

Statistics tab — the statistics for the actual posts.  It shows you the ten highest ranked posts by page view and then also provides the statistics of your pages (my pages are “About Me” and my “Review Policy”).   

Traffic Sources tab — the referring URLs, referring sites, and searched keywords.  This is helpful to see which keywords my audience are using to reach my site.   

Audience data — breaks down page views by country, browser, and operating system.  Mobile use is steadily increasing and will play into my strategy as I consider how a post will appear (look and feel) on a mobile device, and the changes I will need to make to ensure the reading experience is as enjoyable as on an actual computer.  

I also have set up Social Mention—a social media search and analysis platform to  aggregate user generated content from across social media platforms into a single point of information.  The enables me to track and measure mentions of my blog in real-time to ensure I am responding to comments and mentions in a timely manor.  As we have learned in our courses, listening is powerful and so is engagement.

On Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pintrest, I am relying on their built-in metrics to measure engagement, see what types of posts are performing well, how they trend over time, as well as gain insight as to who my audience are.

Favourite Social Media Trend Listenting/Monitoring Tools for Businesses 

Looking at other tools from the perspective of an established business or corporation that have a budget, I think that Keyhole and Hootsuite would be the best way to monitor and listen.

Keyhole helps you monitor your Twitter and Instagram accounts.  You can drill down and look at keywords, hashtags, URLs, and usernames to view data in real-time, and look at historical information.  

There is also the ability to track and monitor campaigns and events, as well as monitoring your brand and your competition.  Another interesting feature is the ability to measure your influencers.  Many businesses are partnering with influencers and Keyhole enables you to not only find and connect with them, but to monitor their impact and engagement.

Hootsuite is incredibly popular since it can track across a number of social networks and platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, WordPress, etc.  It also has the ability to delegate tasks which is helpful to organizations that would have more than one person responsible for their social media accounts.  There is also the ability to schedule posts across multiple platforms which would timesaving and cost-effective.    

Given my non-existent budget, I’m definitely going to look into the free service which allows one user to manage up to three social profiles with two RSS feeds.  

Sources of News and Updates   

There are many niche book apps and sites but I would use them more for cataloguing, synopsizing, and reviewing purposes because they are more user driven.  I rely on Google Alerts for things like new releases, and author events (things that I consider to be news) as well as to keep updated with what is going on in the publishing industry and to keep tabs on my favourite authors.  I support the arts whenever I can and attending author events are a great way to do this!

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Instagram is where I see what books have a lot of buzz and which books should be on my radar.  I also follow authors and publishers to see what they are working on, what is slated for publishing and when.  This helps me immensely as it drives my selection preferences for the advanced reader copies that primarily make up my reviews.  

Leave a comment below and tell me how you listen and monitor, I’d love to hear from you!

COM0014 – Blog #7: Personal Reflections

One of the most important things I learned in this course was to be a good “listener”, which in turn will make me a better writer and storyteller.  Monitoring what conversations are taking place on social media, and filtering out the noise is important for bloggers, marketers, and companies in order to be proactive and also to know when to engage.    

Social media has provided a unique and different avenue for communication.  It is a vital tool for interaction and relationship building, and storytelling is at the forefront of these connections.  What is important about storytelling is that it helps build communities and also helps bloggers find their authentic voice.  In a sea of information, being a good storyteller will help you stand out.  

Voice is also an important part of storytelling.  After completing all of the assignments, blog posts, and discussions, I can say with confidence, that I have found my voice!  My writing has become more direct and succinct, and I’ve learned in some cases that less is more.  Oftentimes blog posts are too long and they lose the reader early on.  I have found that multiple short paragraphs that chunk the information are the most effective way to blog and increases the likelihood of someone actually reading your whole post.

As a book blogger, I want to continue to get published and recognized by authors, publishers, and the media while growing my community of followers.  I want to tell stories about stories—why you should read certain books.  I also want to tell the story of the Canadian author and the Canadian publisher.  Be sure to check me out here.    

COM0014 – Blog #6: Do People Know Your Story?

What about your childhood shaped you for this moment?

My grandfather was Leslie McFarlane.  Perhaps that name doesn’t ring a bell, but I bet Franklin W. Dixon does, as in the author of The Hardy Boys.  Frank and Joe Hardy were created by my grandfather for the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

McFarlane started his writing career as a reporter, but quickly learned that being a reporter was not for him so he turned to freelance writing.  After publishing articles with the Toronto Star Weekly, he answered an ad to write a mystery novel for the Dave Fearless series under the pen name, Roy Rockwood.  After writing seven novels in the series, he tired of the character and wanted a change.  Stratemeyer pitched an idea for a new mystery series that would appeal to teenagers and the name being thrown around was The Hardy Boys Mysteries.  And as the saying goes, the rest is history.  Millions of copies have been read by tens of millions of kids all over the world.  He worked on the series from 1927 until 1946.

In 1943, he started work with the National Film Board of Canada and in 1953, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Herring Hunt, a documentary film.  He also had a short stint in Hollywood as a writing for the TV show, Bonanza.

Although he died when I was a child, his writing has greatly influenced my life.  Books are my passion and to this day I am a voracious reader.  I was the kid that almost hyperventilated with excitement when the Scholastic book order was delivered to the classroom.  Do you remember those days?  I can’t be the only one that was like that!

Books have also shaped my career path.  I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a post-graduate certificate in publishing.  Presently I work in educational publishing, but would like to transition into trade publishing and am hopeful that my acquired knowledge in social media will help me with this desired career change.  As I wrote about in a previous post, I am a published book reviewer and have a blog Girl Well Read.  Yes, I do book reports for fun!

I’m so proud of my grandfather’s accomplishments.  He received a medal from the Queen of England for his contribution to literature which I now have.  I only wish that he was here to see publishing in the digital age and for us to talk about all things books.

COM0014 – Blog #5: Personal Brand

I am a published book reviewer and book blogger and Girl Well Read is my brand.  Simply put, I think everyone should read.  Rarely am I ever seen without a book, even when I’m cheering from the stands at the rink, the sidelines of the rugby pitch, or from the bleachers at the diamond.

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Photo credit: Pexels.

Being a book blogger has connected me with my favourite authors as well as with other passionate readers and reading communities.  I also get some swag which includes books, book related merchandise, and advanced reading copies (an advanced reading copy is essentially an uncorrected proof that is provided by publishers to reviewers, booksellers, and librarians before publication/mass distribution).

What are some personal qualities or characteristics that set you apart from your competitors?

One of the things I do with my blog to stand out from other book bloggers and influencers is to ensure that I also review and tag Canadian content.  As the granddaughter of a highly successful Canadian author, I realize the impact that  emerging new voices have on Canada’s literary arts scene—they also need as much support as they can get!  Support the arts in Canada, people!

What have you done lately to make yourself stand out? 

My Instagram feed has been gaining a lot of attention as of late and this is due to engagement.  I am now going beyond the “like” and commenting on authors’ posts and ensuring I am publishing to as many apps and sites as I can.  Engagement is huge and has really grown my following organically.

What would your colleagues say is your best trait?

My honesty is my best trait.

In exchange for an advanced reading copy (ARC), I am to provide a review.  Not only do I always provide feedback, but I give an honest and unbiased assessment—I will not give a favourable review so that the publisher will always choose me to to receive an ARC, and I also will not give extremely negative feedback either.  Because a book wasn’t necessarily my taste, doesn’t mean that it won’t resinate with another reader.  Also, there is a person behind that book and their effort deserves respect.

What do you do that you are most proud of?

What I am most proud of is when authors engage with me through comments, tweets, and the reposting of my reviews.  Chrissy Metz, who plays Kate Pearson on This Is Us is on a book tour for her book This Is Me.  One of my favourite authors, Emily Giffin, interviewed Chrissy during one of her tour stops.  I liked and commented on the post and my comment was liked by Emily Giffin.  I took a screenshot and posted it to Instagram, and Chrissy Metz liked it!  I was really touched that she took the time to like my post while on a whirlwind book tour.  A little fangirling going on here.

Under the Influence

Have Influencers Run Their Course?

With many influencers on social media displaying the same content as one another and having the same look and feel, I was wondering if influencers were still relevant in social media marketing.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a risk or expense for a business to engage an influencer; they are providing them with their product or service (and sometimes paying them) and in return, an influencer helps create brand awareness with their audience.

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Photo Source: Pexels.

What is an Influencer and Who Are They?

Basically an influencer is an individual that has the power to persuade and ultimately affect purchasing decisions because of their authority, knowledge, and relationship with their audience.  They are actively engaged with their following and usually specialize in a particular niche, for example lifestyle, fashion, or food.

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Photo Source: Pexels.

Types of Influencers

The majority of influencers fit into four categories:

  1. Bloggers/content creators—have a large reach in niche areas.
  2. Micro influencers—everyday users and regular posters that have a moderate following.  They find a niche market and become an expert.
  3. Industry experts/thought leaders—gain respect and followers because of their qualifications.
  4. Celebrities—the birth of the celebrity influencer was a result of paid endorsements/product placements.  The cost for a company is astronomical and would not feasible or attainable for smaller brands/companies.

Of the above mentioned categories, the focus has shifted from celebrities, to the bloggers and micro influencers.  Audiences can relate more to these groups and feel that their connection is more authentic as is their relatability.

Influencer Marketing

Google searches for 2017, saw the term “influencer marketing” increase by 325%.  I’ve noticed in my own job hunting an influx of social media marketing and social media & communications type positions as departments are increasing their budgets in this area.  Generally speaking, this is money is well spent. For each dollar spent on influencer marketing, marketers see an average of $7.65 in earned media value returned.

The biggest platform for influencer marketing is Instagram. Last year there was over 12 million brand sponsored influencer posts and experts estimate that number to double in 2018.  Those are some crazy numbers!

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Photo Source: Pexels

Why Are They So Popular?

Everyone has their passions and influencers share theirs—they’re people who aren’t afraid to share their enthusiasm which enables them to influence audiences through the power of social media.  They are also authentic and this is probably one of the most important attributes to their success.

What also makes influencers so effective is that people can relate to them on a social level—they are every day people, just like you and me.  They use their personalities and shared interests with their audience, and because of this, people buy in through purchasing or sharing of their content.

Bursting the Bubble

There’s been a boom of influencers, and now the bust.  The technological landscape is changing and many influencers are feeling that their content is getting lost because of new algorithms.  Take Instagram for example, it now shows you what it thinks you will want to see based on past likes as well as images that have received a lot of likes instead of being sequential.  Not very “insta”, is it?  But these likes may or may not be authentic, they could be purchased or from fake accounts.

One of my favourite influencers, Erin Sousa (Sparkle Media), wrote a fantastic blog post all about Instagram and how it has been affected by the new algorithms.  Aside from being super creative, Erin is incredibly knowledgable and real, and believes in the power of community and brand.  She has always remained true to herself and is a fantastic example of authenticity.  (I messaged her for permission to mention and link her blog—she is delightful!)

Others are finding it hard to stand out in a sea of blogs that all look the same and are promoting the same things.  So when they try to change it up, and get sponsored by a new product or service, oftentimes their followers call them out on it because they are no longer being authentic.  Is the payoff worth losing followers over?

Who are some of your favourite influencers?  Comment below.

Sources:

https://influencermarketinghub.com/the-rise-of-influencer-marketing/

https://wordpress.com/post/algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com/74069

http://thesparkle.net/2017/08/05/instagram-then-and-now/

 

Facebook: Are You Under the Influence?  A look a social media marketing.

Twitter: Under the influence of influencers? https://tinyurl.com/y8d48ma2

 

COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study

How Starbucks Uses Social Media to Engage With Its Audience   

Starbucks uses a multi-channel approach when engaging with their customers over social media.

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Photo Credit: Pexels.

App/Rewards Program

Starbucks Rewards has created a loyal following both with an experience-based program and rewards program.

The experience side allows users to manage their card, reload funds, use location service and is enhanced by mobile ordering—a customer can order and pay for any menu item, chose the location, and walk in and pick up their drink without having to wait in line, thus creating loyalty by this enhancement to the customer experience.

Members are given “stars” (points) for their purchases that can be redeemed for any menu item when they reach 125 stars.  Participants can also reach “Gold Level” status which comes with great perks, including an actual gold card.  The elite member status symbol is a strong motivator.

The app also features seasonal drinks and menu items that greet the customer when they first load the app.  Oftentimes a member will receive more stars for trying these recommended offerings.

As a member, I regularly receive triggered emails that mirror my purchasing history with a slight twist.  For example, I frequently buy Caramel Macchiatos and Cool Lime Refeshers.  The company offers me extra stars if I purchase both, plus another menu item of their choosing within a certain time period.  It is a win-win: the customer receives a bonus and tries something new, and the company is upselling by offering extra stars.

Facebook

Besides the usual company-based information that is found on most brand pages (contests, jobs, store locator), Starbucks creates content that focuses on the personal rather than the business so that their page is friendly and engaging.

LinkedIn

Starbucks has a strong presence on LinkedIn that features more than job postings and selling coffee—they highlight their company culture and post interesting articles.

They also emphasize building community and with that, increase loyalty.  The company aligns with other non-profits that serve local communities like Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Instagram

The brand’s posts and customer’s posts alike feature seasonal content—warm and cosy in the winter, and bright, cheery, and refreshing in the summer—with friendly captions.  Starbucks fans also show brand loyalty through their posts.

The platform is also used by the company advertise promotions which increases engagement and brand loyalty.  And they love to regram, especially celebrities drinking Starbucks.

Twitter 

Starbucks’ Twitter communications strategy includes original and retweeted content: information-sharing, emotion-evoking, and action-inducing.  Their replies consist of information, apology/support, and comments which including showing gratitude.

Campaigns

Year-after-year, they creates successful media campaigns—think Pumpkin Spice Latte and their famous red cups.  Of late, one of their more successful campaigns had customers submit their red cup designs through social media.  Thirteen different designs were selected and used that year.  With personalization influencing customers like never before, this campaign was on point.

Where They Miss the Mark

Starbucks is definitely a successful B2C model however, where they succeed in engagement, they fall down in transparency with their rewards program—the parameters for the program change frequently and communication is not great.  Here’s an example of poor communication: did you know that you now have to claim your birthday drink on your actual birthday?  You used to have four days to do so (down from the original seven days).

Sources

https://www.inc.com/rebecca-hinds/5-powerful-lessons-starbucks-red-cup-campaign-can-teach-us.html

https://blog.smile.io/loyalty-case-study-starbucks-rewards

https://www.linkedin.com/company/starbucks/?originalSubdomain=be

 

“Why didn’t you like my post?”

 

Photo credit: Pexels.

It is almost a Pavlovian response to like someone’s post and Facebook has us programmed.  After reading an article about how someone stopped “liking” their friends’ posts, pictures, etc. and how drastically their Facebook newsfeed changed, I decided to give this a try.  Here is what happened:

Time Savings

Have you ever hovered over someone’s post trying to decide whether to like it or not?  Since I have stopped liking people’s photos and posts, I spend significantly less time on Facebook and a have noticed in general that I have more time.

Fewer Ads  

By avoiding liking posts, I am making a conscious effort to not participate in teaching Facebook’s advertising algorithms.  This actually works.  My content is less biased with surprisingly fewer ads.  Although as of late, I have noticed that I am seeing ads for things that I have recently performed a search on.  For now, this is harmless, but I’m curious as to how this is going to play out besides being super creepy that Facebook is spying on me.

Less Chance of Like-Farming 

Here is an interesting article on “like-farming“.  In a nutshell, like-farming is when a scammer posts an attention-grabbing story to gather likes and generate shares.  The post is then changed to scam people out of information, or to distribute harmful downloads.

Because posts that have a lot of likes and shares show up more often in people’s newsfeeds, this gives the scammer the platform they need to promote or sell information in an attempt to obtain data.

So, what kinds of stories are people tricked into liking and sharing?  Emotional ones for starters, and stories that specifically ask for likes.  For example, a photo of a teacher with a sign saying that she is showing her class the reach of social media so please like and share—who doesn’t want to help a teacher?  Or posts that promise a heartwarming outcome like children getting a puppy if they generate enough likes.

I encourage you to go back through your liked posts because you will probably see that you have liked something that you normally would not have because the post has been changed by like farmers.

Here is an article about your activity log with step-by-step instructions on how to look at your past likes.

Friends Stopped Expecting Likes/Asking Why I Didn’t Like Their Posts & Pictures

I always felt guilty over not liking things.  Would I be perceived as not approving of something, or not being accepting?  Am I withholding a form of affection?

If you don’t like anyone’s posts, than the friends/family that rely on this type of validation won’t have hurt feelings when you don’t participate and I’m pretty sure we all know these types of people.  Not feeling this pressure is actually liberating in a way.  I feel less stress not having to comment or react.

Engage Through Comments & Positivity

What I have started to do just recently is to engage by comments only—I still do not hit the like button.  Instead I tell people what it is that I like with a positive comment.  While conversations and debates can be constructive, tone doesn’t come across a lot of the time so I avoid getting sucked into anything argumentative or negative.  So far so good.  I am seeing the positive side of social media and enjoying Facebook again.

Final Thoughts

All-in-all, eliminating, or at the very least minimizing, your likes is more than just a good security measure. It reduces clutter in your friends’ news feeds, and their clutter in yours, so you can spend more time enjoying posts that really matter.

Have you ever been called out for not liking a friend/family member’s post?  Comment below.

Facebook: Why Are You Not Liking My Posts?

Twitter: Less likes, more time. https://tinyurl.com/y9ohovsu