COM0015 – Assignment #5 – Event Participation

The event that I chose to participate  in was an online webinar presented by Outmarket called Beyond the Campaign: Engagement Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations

I chose to attend the event because Not For Profit Marketing is something I’ve been interested in for quite some time, and it’s an area I would like to potentially explore as a career path at some point in the future.
The webinar was audio-based with a dashboard that included a slide presentation, a Twitter feed where one of the moderators was tweeting key points from the presentation, a Q & A box where participants could ask questions, and the bios of the host and the moderator.
1
I have never attended a webinar, and this one was was a bit different than I was expecting. I was expecting it to be video-based where we would be able to see the presenter. The presenters name was Lori Wizdo, and she is a Principal Analyst at Forrester, a research-based consulting company from Cambridge, MA.
2
The presentation was well done and informative, and there were quite a few takeaways from the event. The two key points that stuck with me were:
  •  How to create valuable content cheaply. Normally NPO marketing budgets are extremely low, so they need to be efficient. It was recommended that one person be in charge of curation, to sift through online information and collect information (blogs, news items, legislation etc.) that pertains to a particular topic. Then create a top ten list to work from. There are also curation tools that will do the same thing or assist with the collection, but it is still helpful to have someone filtering the information so it is very specific.
  • The second takeaway related to the information that should be included on an NPO website. Often there is too much information about the organization, and not enough information about the constituents. The reason a person is on the site is to find out about the topic because it is one that is of concern or value to them. They are not there to find out about you. They want to know if their interests, questions, concerns and issues will be addressed, and the online content should reflect this. The other information will become more pertinent once the person decides to engage with the organization.
  •  I also liked the comparison in this slide of the difference between the Campaign Marketing Focus and the Engagement Marketing Focus:

3

The quotable that I took away from the presentation was:
THEN:
Marketing is different in the Not For Profit World. Marketing has earned it’s place in the not-for-profit world. But marketing and development are not the same. Marketing is about exchanging goods and services for money. Development is about relationships – it is not about money.
NOW:
Marketing is different in the Not For Profit World with today’s buyer. Marketing has earned it’s place in the not-for-profit world. But marketing and development are not the same. (Engagement) marketing is about exchanging goods and services for money. Development is about relationships – it is not about money.
I will definitely attend another event like this one. This was my first introduction to webinars, and it’s such an easy way to learn. You can learn about essentially any topic you’re interested in, and it’s interesting to hear what different professionals have to say on the topic.
Advertisements

COM0015 – Blog #4 – Out of the Box

download (1)

When I first started this course, my social media savvy was limited, to say the least. But over the course of this program, I have come to look at social media and it’s capabilities through a different lens.

The possibilities are endless with what social media and it’s various applications can do. It’s fast, it’s constantly changing and evolving, and it can be extremely useful or extremely damaging.

The two biggest takeaways I took from this program are the array of tools that are available, and the importance of using the consumer information provided through online platforms.

I was initially overwhelmed by all of the tools and applications available to maximize a social media platform’s potential. But over the last little while, I have had the opportunity to explore and test some of these tools. Google Alerts and Google Analytics are two that I particularly like. Although Google Analytics is going to take much more exploration to figure out the ins and outs of the program, I can see it being a very useful tool when used to its full potential. I have had the opportunity to experiment with RSS feeds, and creating a dashboard, and while I still feel I have lots to learn, it’s useful to have had the exposure as a jumping off point.

The second takeaway, was just how important a company’s engagement is with its consumers through their social media platforms. And not just because consumers want to feel like they are being listened to; but because often the customer feedback and comments are what drive the direction of the company. For example, I profiled a Canadian lifestyle magazine for one of my assignments. And based on my discussion with someone in their online department, I discovered that they don’t just read and respond to consumer comments on the various blogs and articles available on the website. They actual derive usable information from the posted content. They look for trends, recurring issues that consumers have, topic requests that consumers would like to see, and this information facilitates the content that is ultimately published in the magazine. It seems like a completely obvious tactic, to give your reader what they want, but I didn’t think it was done quite so literally. So when you think you’re “posting on deaf ears”, that’s more than likely not the case.

COM0015 – Blog #3 – Professional Networking

 

download

For me, social networking is an ongoing process both in-person and online. I think in today’s job economy, even if you are happy and secure in your job, you still want to be continuously building and developing relationships with your business associates. And I think that most people do.
I am currently just getting back into the working world after a very long absence from work, so my networking approach right now is slightly different than it might have previously been, because I’m reconnecting not only to the people, but to the environment and the industry.

My strategy for developing my professional network is the same online as it is in person, and that is to cultivate and develop relationships. It should not all be about what I can offer them, or what they can offer me. It’s how we can work together to achieve a common goal.

I can be self conscious if I don’t know people well, so developing online rapport is beneficial to me because it will create a more relaxed face-to-face setting. Most of my clients and colleagues communicate online through email, Facebook and Skype, and it is usually through one of these platforms that our relationship develops prior to meeting.

I believe in developing quality not necessarily quantity. I aim to create solid relationships where there is mutual respect from both parties, and I look to current relationships to network from.

I have also realized the importance that LinkedIn plays in the job market now, and that it is an important tool, not only if you are looking for a job, but also to create and facilitate relationships. I am embarrassed to say that my profile is loooong overdue for an update.

Over the next few months, I have a number of goals:
• Reconnect and reestablish prior relationships
• Arrange face-to-face meetings or dinners with colleagues to reestablish relationships
• Determine if the online and in-person networking strategies have changed while I’ve been away.
• Update my LinkedIn profile and build on my existing network.

COM0015 – Post #2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

When I started thinking about companies with a strong social media presence, there were a few companies that came to mind – Tim Horton’s, McDonalds, Harvey’s, Red Bull and Oreo, to name a few. But two companies that stick out in my mind when I think of successful social media campaigns are Dove and Starbucks.

The key to any successful social media campaign is engagement and interaction between the consumer and the company. If the consumer is not engaging or the company is not responding to the customer, the point of the campaign is lost.

Starbucks has an active online presence with almost 38 million likes on Facebook, 181, 000 followers on Twitter (There are 6.88M followers in the US), and almost 67,000 followers on Instagram. They also have a YouTube channel with 46, 843 subscribers.

Starbucks is extremely well branded, and all of their social media platforms reflect the experience that Starbucks is trying to promote to their customers. I think they do a good job of evoking the senses, and creating the desire to go and enjoy a Starbucks beverage.

But most importantly, there is regular activity on their social media sites, to keep consumers engaged, and maintain two-way communication between Starbucks and the online user. They are on top of all comments; whether they are positive or negative, and responding to what their customers have to say.

Dove also has a very active online campaign, especially with their Campaign For Real Beauty. Dove has over 23.5M likes on Facebook, 134, 000 followers on Twitter, a YouTube channel with 960 followers, 17, 000 followers on Instagram, and 316 followers on Pinterest.

Their social media strategy is very comprehensive, utilizing all of the main platforms. And while some platforms are more successful than others, Dove does a good job of communicating their brand and message across all platforms, and keeping the consumer engaged.

The company that I feel would benefit from a social media strategy, is actually one that previously ran a campaign that comes to mind when I think of successful social media strategies. Unfortunately, once the campaign ended, so did their social media engagement.

The company I’m talking about is Lays. Lays has over 7M likes on Facebook, 287K followers on Twitter, 12K followers on Instagram, and 5,232 followers on their YouTube channel.

Lays Do Us A Flavour contest was brilliant for generating online engagement. People were asked to create new chip flavours, share their creations online and social media voted to determine the winner. People loved the idea, and the possibility that your creation could be the next big chip flavour, generated tons of activity on their social media sites, especially Facebook and Pinterest. But as soon as the contest was over…silence…on all platforms.

Lays was in a position to take advantage of the large number followers they had acquired, and maintain interest in the brand, but there hasn’t been any activity on their Facebook site since May 13th. Their Twitter site is a bit more consistent, and the last activity was October October 22, but that is still too much silence for a social media platform. But Facebook?? They have an audience of over 7M people just sitting there waiting!

I think Lays should maintain their existing platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter, but they need to re-engage their followers. I think they could benefit from a Pinterest account where they post recipe ideas i.e. chip dips, uses for lays chips, food pairing ideas etc. and link these to their Facebook and Twitter accounts so that people are reminded of the brand. And pictures, pictures always make people hungry!

The resources are there, but they need to be properly utilized.

COM0015 – Post #1 – Tools & Sources

social-icon-collage

My involvement in social media was not particularly extensive until I began taking the social media program. Facebook was about the extent of the platforms I used. Since taking this program, I have had exposure and explored numerous new social media platforms. I have a twitter account AND I’m following blogs.

Although I would say for personal use, the social media platform that I use the most is Facebook. I guess you could say it is the listening and monitoring tool for my life and my own personal trends.

There are so many sources of information, and I find it can be overwhelming checking each individual site, so I find Feedly very helpful because it allows me to condense all of the sites I am interested in following, from news media to business sites to recipe sites all in one place.

Twitter is also very useful for the same reason. I rarely post to Twitter, but I like being able to follow the news and activities of specific organizations and people, and having it all in one place to quickly peruse. I use Twitter primarily for work. I work in the pharmaceutical industry, so I follow accounts specific to my needs, and Twitter keeps me constantly in the loop with all the news and updates specific to my industry and what I’m looking for.

I’m also a bit of a Pinterest junky. I use it primarily for recipes, but I also use it for fashion ideas, home décor ideas and party planning ideas. I’m in the middle of planning a baby shower for a close friend, and yes, sometimes I feel like I’m poaching ideas using this site, but I love that you can have an idea in mind and Pinterest will provide you with a way to create and execute that idea. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? 

Efficiency is key for me in a social media platform because A) there is so much to sift through and B) I have a very short attention span online, so if I can get my information at-a-glance, and pick and choose what I want to read through a quick title scan, the happier I am.

COM0014 – Blog #7 – Personal Reflection

self-reflection

When I started this program, the extent of my social media presence was the occasional post on Facebook. Now I have a twitter account and a blog, amazing! If you had asked me a year ago if I was on Twitter or wrote a blog, you would have received a blank stare. I have a completely new outlook on how to approach my social media platform, to ensure that what I’m writing is effective and reaching its intended audience.

The concept of storytelling was not something that I had given any thought to with respect to social media, but it makes perfect sense when you look at the parameters you’re working with. You have limited time to capture the reader’s attention and hold it, so you’d better make it interesting and to the point. I like the inverted pyramid style of writing. It’s a new term for me, but not an entirely new concept. But I like it because it gets the information across quickly and concisely.

My original purpose for taking this program was so I could apply an effective social media strategy to my work. But over the past few weeks, I have started to think that there might be something in this for me on a more personal level as well. A blog perhaps…? I haven’t figured out exactly what my story will be, or who I will tell it to, but I think there might be one in there somewhere that I’d like to share. At least, I’m ready to explore it! It’s a good opportunity for some personal exploration, to find out just what makes me tick. And now I have a starting point to do it effectively.

COM0014 – Blog #6 – My Favorite Customer Story

Remember when you were a kid, and your summer days were filled with playing, climbing the jungle gym at the park, and running until your lungs burned to avoid being “It” in tag? What if you couldn’t do this? What if you had to avoid all of these activities because they put you at risk? I couldn’t imagine my childhood without these things, but for kids with hemophilia, it’s sometimes their reality.

I work for a boutique marketing agency that specializes in pharmaceuticals. We work directly with the pharmaceutical companies to develop patient programs and materials for a variety of different illnesses and conditions. While we are working for the pharmaceutical companies, it is ultimately the patients who are our customers.

My favorite customer story involved a children’s program we developed for kids with hemophilia. The purpose of the program is to provide them with fun learning activities, healthy lifestyle tips and an environment where they could see that they’re not alone in their struggle.

We get letters from the kids involved in the program asking questions, or giving suggestions for issues they would like to see addressed in the newsletter we send out a couple of times a year. And sometimes it’s just to thank us. I received a letter from a 7 year old boy who was suffering from hemophilia, and as a result, was feeling isolated from his friends because he couldn’t participate in all the activity and rough housing that 7 year-old boys are inclined to engage in. He felt he was always watching from the sidelines, and was tired of telling people he couldn’t participate. We published a piece on how to talk to your friends about your illness, and gave tips on trying to engage them in activities that everyone could participate in. Apparently, for this boy, the advice worked. He said that he had explained things to his friends a little more clearly, and that they now understood where he was coming from, and why he couldn’t run around and roughhouse. And they were now making a concerted effort to plan activities that he could be included in. He was much happier, and had a brighter outlook on life. And this is why I like what I do.

COM0014 – Blog #5- My Personal Brand

I have never thought of myself as having a personal brand, at least not in the same way we view corporate brands. But this question made me stop and think. If I were a brand what would I be? What would be the characteristics of my brand? At first I thought that I would have two different personal brands, one for my friends and family, and one for work. But as I look at the characteristics that I think distinguish my brand, I see that they can actually be applied to both groups.

I do not have a diverse online presence, nor do I use social media at work, however, that being said, that is one of the reasons I’m taking this course. I saw a need both within myself and at work to improve our social media know-how, and I signed up for this course. So I guess you could say that taking initiative is part of my personal brand. I am also loyal, both to friends and work. Many people would say that you can’t be loyal to a company in this day in age, because everyone is disposable. I don’t entirely agree. I think if you have the mindset to work for the betterment of your company, it will not only encourage growth and expansion personally through experience, but ideally will help with the growth and success of the company. It’s cyclical.

I asked a friend to list some characteristics that she thought define me. Her response was loyalty, honest and perseverance. So I wasn’t too far off when I put loyalty on my list I guess. I did like her answer of perseverance though, and it was a word that had not come to mind when I did my list. But I have to say I think that it is true, and that it is the brand trait I’m most proud of. I have had a few serious challenges in the past few years, and I am fiercely determined not to let them change my path. Or at the very least, do everything I can to minimize the effect that these challenges have on my original plan.

I think looking at your personal brand is a great exercise. I think it is something  that should be done every so often, so see if your brand has changed, and if it’s still in line with where you ultimately want to be.

COM0014 – Blog #4 – B2C Case Study – Lays

potato-chips-Photoxpress_14277606

One of the best examples that I’ve seen recently, of a B2C business engaging their audience online, is Lays potato chips and their “Do Us A Flavour” contest.  The idea around the contest is to get people to create their own chip flavour, and win $50,000. Who doesn’t want to take the bragging rights for creating the BEST chip ever invented?!? AND winning $50,000, but that’s just a bonus, right?

Their website is eye-catching and easy to navigate. And there is a social media presence both on Facebook and on Twitter, which is the basis for the contest. @layscanada has 4,947 followers, and their Facebook page has 219,000 followers. Not too shabby.

To enter the contest, people are driven to social media in order to cast their suggestion. If you go to the Lays Canada website, you are directed to Facebook, however there is a texting option for those who do not want to enter through Facebook. Personally I think the Facebook option is more fun though, then you get to see what flavours other people have suggested. Lays also seems to be good about engaging participants directly by responding to Facebook comments. I think this is very important for companies with an online presence.  It’s nice to know there is someone “listening” on the other side.

Facebook seems to be the more popular of the two social media platforms Lays is using, but they do a good job of keeping their followers engaged on Twitter by tweeting reminders, and posing questions for followers to respond to.

I think it’s a great idea, and Lays has found a successful approach to engaging their online audience. It drives people to the website with an incentive, and you can enter as many suggestions as you like, so people keep coming back. They have created an interactive platform, and there is a two-way dialogue in place to keep fans engaged. Mmmm…I want chips.

COM0014 – Blog #3 – Target Audience

I work for a small marketing agency that specializes in pharmaceuticals. We are hired by the pharmaceutical companies to create patient materials, materials for physicians and develop and monitor patient programs.

With respect to the target audience, we deal with two separate entities. Our first target audience is the marketing managers of the pharmaceutical companies who hire us. They are predominantly male, between the age of 30 and fifty. They are business minded, but appreciate creativity. They have experience with social media on a personal level, but minimal experience on a professional level, and need to be shown how it can be incorporated into their brand effectively.

Our second target market is the healthcare professional we are trying to reach with our brand. These are both male and female, age 40 – 65, highly educated people whose primary concern is their patients’ wellbeing.  They respond better to direct interaction, like in-person forums and live online forms. Most are reasonably computer-literate, but direct person to person interaction is preferred; although this dynamic is shifting.

In order to ensure that our target audience is reached, and their needs are met, we work very closely with the healthcare practitioners. Their input into where a brand is going and what is needed in terms of patient materials and programs, is of the utmost importance when developing a strategy.

The most effective way to reach our desired target audience is connecting with them directly through focus groups, patient forums, and healthcare practitioner forums; both online and in-person. This allows us to create awareness for the healthcare professionals as to where we are and where we’re going. And we are able to receive direct feedback from our end users that can be implemented in each initiative.