COM0015 – Assignment 5 – Event Participation: BLG Business Solutions

Title ScreenThe event I chose to attend was a free webinar called Social Media on the Go presented by Brandi Good of BLG Business Solutions.

I chose this event because the topic of mobile social media was not explored during the Social Media Certificate program offered at Algonquin College.

Previously, I have had some difficulty in managing social media accounts with my Blackberry and was interested to obtain tips and tricks for the future.

It was hosted using Google Hangouts and organized using Eventbrite.

Even though it was free, there was still a registration and confirmation process. Eventbrite confirmation

It was easy to access and started exactly on time.

The material was presented both in slide deck format with audio as well as streamed video of the host. I enjoyed the webinar and found great value in it.

This time, the only opportunity for interaction was with the facilitator directly, however, Brandi announced that the next webinar will have a true chat function available instead of the Q&A option.

BLG Business Solutions maintains a YouTube account with recordings of their free webinars which helps to augment the in-person workshops that the company offers.

The key take away quote for me was Brandi’s instruction to “create a Google alert even if you aren’t on social media”. This is a valuable tip that I would never have considered. Just because you aren’t listening, doesn’t mean that people aren’t talking, so even if social media is not part of your strategy, it’s still important to track what is being said about your organization and respond accordingly.

During the webcast, I asked two questions. One was concerning a post-broadcast copy of the webinar and the other inquired how to address negative information discovered on Google alerts when you have no social media accounts. Brandi provided a clear response to my question with specific examples of actions to take. I appreciated the fact that she took the time to un-share her screen so that her face was visible as she gave her answer. It felt much more like a conversation that way.

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After the webinar, I left a positive review on the company Google+ account since Hangouts was the medium used for delivery.

Google+

It’s a bonus to be able to refer back to the webinar in the future and I find that this isn’t always a common practice with other presenters. It’s extremely helpful to be able to review the content that may have been missed the first time.

Taking it one step further, Brandi emailed the slides to attendees the same afternoon. This is an added value, in that the slides are only available to participants.

I found that it was refreshing that the company offers this informative service to small businesses at no charge, knowing that many entrepreneurs have limited budgets and little time to self-educate. In the short one-hour time frame, Brandi profiled many applications and concisely explained their features and benefits.

I will definitely tune in to her future broadcasts and look for similar opportunities on the web.

Make sure you take the time to check out BLG Business Solutions’ awesome webinars.

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COM0015 Blog Post 4 – Out of the Box

BubblyOutOfTheBoxMy interesting discovery is Bubbly – a refreshing alternative to the keystroke world.

The social voice network offers members the ability to upload short audio posts reporting on any topic that other users can listen to and respond with sound-clip comments.

This includes celebrities and sports stars.

It brings the words to life with true tone and emotion, making it much easier to receive the message that was intended by the speaker using sensory richness.

Greater contextual clues are transmitted through the use of voice or music and alleviate the stress for those who are camera shy.

There has been more than one occasion where tone, mood and emotion have been lost in my email and text communication which in turn undermines the meaning of the message. Have you experienced this?

Users can either upload a recording directly from their smartphone, or dial a short code from any other phones to post and listen to trending clips.

The maximum length is 90 seconds so it’s the mini-podcast equivalent to a Twitter post.

Photographs and 140 characters are optional add-ons along with the ability to apply voice filters, effects and background music.

Subscriptions are available with premium products and services billed to the users carrier account.

Posts can be shared to other social networks and the Bubbly website.

The website posts are available for anyone to hear and review without logging in.

This is definitely an ‘unexpected but fabulous’ social media application that I plan on using.

I believe this format in its simplicity adds a lot of value.

There’s a great opportunity for businesses to create a series of mini-blogs for easy listening to brand and differentiate themselves making use of the sharing feature to their other pages. Not in the format of a commercial, but rather in interest pieces.BubblyDiscover

It will bring the ‘personal’ feel back into the engagement.

Click the graphic at right to launch the website and experience Bubbly.

What do you think?

COM0015 – Post 3 – Professional Networking: Now and in the Future

I must say I am very excited to be able to actually make a strategy to develop my professional network. With my 2014 accelerated pursuit of 26 online courses, my network (and my life) was on hold for the last year. Now that I am down to my final course, I can finally lift my head and see what is happening around me. The biggest question is where to start…

QuestionPeopleOne priority is to refresh my image on various social media platforms, as well as my website to bring them up to date and align them with my current outlook. The past year has offered me personal success and improvements which need to be incorporated into my online profile. My company needs a fresh face for reintroduction.

An important step is to reconnect with my pre-existing contacts and forums to let them all know that I have completed my studies, what I am up to now, what has changed and where I am headed. I also want to know what has been happening with them, what I have missed, and bring myself up to date on their current circumstance.

Thankfully, I will finally have time to listen to people and respond instead of a rushed apology for not having time. Offline, I will talk at the gym, riding the trails, waiting in lineups, and walking through my neighbourhood. Online will see me connect via LinkedIn, at webinars (I have so many to catch up on), in forums and online with colleagues. Reading and writing blogs by choice has been absent from my life for over a year.

Also, I will start reaching out to make new connections. This I will accomplish through my current network both on and offline. With my new found “time freedom”, I have already started looking for events, seminars and meetings to attend. I serve on two boards of directors for non-profit organizations and I want to immerse myself into the fundraising programs for this year that I missed out on in 2014. These type of events are perfect for expanding networks both for the organizations as well as myself.

Especially, I will once again enjoy the camaraderie of my coworkers and mentors to expand my network through theirs and participate in company events. I really missed the interaction with clients who had to be reassigned during my studies. I look forward to reconnecting with them and enhancing their businesses by implementing my new knowledge and fresh perspective.

Over the past year, I have forged many new connections with classmates and facilitators and while it was very enjoyable to bond with like-minded people it was done briefly and only touched the surface. I don’t want that network to become fleeting and hope to spend some time acquainting myself with those connections and expand my network to include them permanently. Are you ready to join me?

COM0015Please add me to your network if you like: ca.linkedin.com/pub/thornleybay @thornleybay @carveyourmarket

COM0015 Post 2 Strong & Weak Organizations

The company who always hits the mark with me for doing things right in social media is Blendtec.

The amazing dollars to millions YouTube viral-video success story.   Blendtec

Tom Dickson’s accidental invention of the “Will it Blend” series for his Utah blender company launched, then skyrocketed, their online presence which now includes Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

Ranging from advice, customer service assistance and recipes to contests and giveaways, they use the social media platforms individually and cohesively to foster a lifestyle, not just to promote their product.

Their strategy to “be genuine and create original content that people will love to see” is a benchmark for all other retailers to replicate. They monitor the engagement success of each post, fine-tuning the content to meet the demands of their audience to increase exposure and build momentum.

Intuit That being said, I’d prefer to highlight a company who has worked hard to achieve success in the B2B industry, which is no small feat. That social media leader is Intuit.

Not only do they use it successfully themselves, they offer social media articles, tips and infographics to the benefit of the businesses they service in a user-friendly, digestible format.

I was drawn to Intuit through my company, which supports small businesses in Eastern Ontario in a variety of roles. Many of these firms use Quickbooks as their accounting software of choice.

I have made use of the many free services that are offered by Intuit to assist my clients, including the TurboTax AnswerXchange which has more than 15 million users and facilitates the exchange of questions, answers and tips among common users as well as experts. Intuitblogs

Intuit’s fantastic online community branded “Inner Circle” was created as a forum for users to provide feedback and requests to Intuit in order to improve the product(s). This forum played a key role in the product development cycle and led to the suite of Small Business blogs.

Their major 2013 online campaign “Small Business Big Game” led to tens of thousands of businesses enrolling for a chance to win a SuperBowl tv ad and was responsible for more than 8 billion impressions in social and traditional media. This was won by a small Oakland, California toy company called Goldie Blox.

Their 2014 contest, called “Small Business, Local Buzz” awarded 15 small businesses with $5000 in tools for online exposure.LocalBuzzThe customer care team monitors posts for support via multiple Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts, engages a broad audience through a dozen different blogs geared for a variety of audiences, and provides many instructional YouTube videos. They have a strong presence on LinkedIn for recruiting and careers.

One of their most popular forms of engagement is the “Question of the Week” that promotes a buzz feed among users of all platforms. They also offer support through a live chat option on their website.

Social Media, like Accounting is an integral part of every business and paramount to the function and success of the organization. Marrying the two in order to exploit the combined benefits is brilliant. Intuit definitely has an impressive social media strategy.

Their “Connected Services Vision is to meet the needs of an increasingly connected world, by creating products and services that are available how, where and when customers want them”.

They are well on their way to accomplishing that.

On the flip side, the company I feel that needs to greatly improve their social media strategy and capture a greater market share through authenticity is United Airlines. They have still failed to embrace online engagement effectively, in spite of the huge kerfuffle after Dave Carroll’s guitar was broken in 2008, his now-famous video ballad, the ensuing social media frenzy, and his book “United Breaks Guitars”.UnitedBreaksGuitars

While they have succeeded in achieving 591K followers on Twitter, 782K on Facebook, 54K on Instagram and 9K YouTube subscribers, their safety video is the only one to break 100K views. Whereas the United Breaks Guitars complaint video has over 14 million views.

The ‘About’ field on their Facebook page clearly indicates they won’t be responding directly to posts. UnitedFbAbout

To add insult to injury, the link they provide lands on the main page of their website, not the ‘Contact Us’ page. That page is not user friendly in the least, revealing itself as both overly wordy and starting with an FAQ section. It takes digging to uncover the phone and email contact options and any assistance requires several clicks or lengthy form completion, which only serves to magnify the disgruntled mindset of the inquiring passenger. The first two posts on their Facebook page were negative and they failed to respond.UnitedFbComplaintsThis is repeated in the management of the LinkedIn page, except it appears their preferred handling is to just delete complaints from the page:

UnitedLIcomplaintTwitter seems to be the only platform for social media responses in real time and they are all very canned as you can see from this handful sampling of responses:

UnitedCannedResponsesUnited needs to differentiate itself from its competitors as well as distance itself from its own negligent reputation. It could certainly learn from airlines like WestJet that use social media as a focal point in delivering their marketing strategy.

United’s priority should be to listen and respond individually on a person to person basis, (not from a pre-formed dialogue), in order to build a genuine and respected presence. Learning who their clients are, what needs they have, how they spend their days and what’s important to them will help United to identify channels to effectively fill their demands.

If they choose not to respond openly on every platform, they need to at least offer a direct link to their customer service department and ensure that responses are timely and performed by individuals with the authority to act.

They need to develop a proactive, sound social media strategy and not just use social media as a venue to react to customer responses.

Once they have started to build a bridge between themselves and their communities, they can then change the focus from themselves onto their audience. The attention needs to shift from “all about United” to “all about United’s passengers” if they want to be successful with social media and their followers.

 

COM0014 BLOG 7 PERSONAL REFLECTION

HIGHLIGHTINGIn order to properly reflect on the concepts of the course, naturally I flipped back through my notes. There was lots of highlighted content to review. The one recurring theme was to be yourself, be authentic, and know your audience.

emptyaudienceThis is a particularly difficult task, in that when you first start blogging, you don’t have an audience. You are hoping for one, but technically, until someone reads what you wrote, they are non-existent.

To that end, the one thing I found lacking in this course was interaction on each other’s blogs. There was no recommended, imposed or even suggested reading or posting to classmates writing.

This is somewhat counter-intuitive considering this course is the one specifically dedicated to communicating online. The other Social Media courses all had engagement among peers.

That being said, I did read them. I enjoyed them all. I commented on a few. It’s just unfortunate that we were not encouraged to interact with each other. Especially given our remoteness from each other. Unlike classroom settings, where we get to know our fellow students and the professor, we were left with little feedback.

So, while I did learn about: 5 key rules; strategy framework; style-guides; psychographics; demographics; purpose; relevance; conversation; inverted pyramids; and grabbing the reader in the first line, I completely lost out on the opportunity to write to a captive COM0014 audience.

A very frustrating aspect to this course for me was the marks lost to grammar. I have always had a high respect for grammar and a thorough understanding of its proper usage. I have never lost so many marks for grammar, even in the most formal of writings, in the 26 courses I took this year. To me, this course was intended to learn about the art of storytelling and the ability to engage an audience. Not how well my “fragment” would be perceived by the reader.

Stories have been told for eons. The Legend of the Golden Spruce that we read about in lesson 7 was a perfect example of this. That story, it’s moral, essence and generational lesson managed to be passed down without being criticized for having a dangling participle.

In today’s world, storytelling is important to great digital content because there is such a massive amount of competition, all vying for the precious time that is so valuable in our rushed and frenzied lives. Rarely are we listening to stories around a campfire, at our forefather’s knee, or on a stage as in Shakespeare’s era. We have evolved into a culture of skimmers. Hooking-the-ReaderRapidly searching and scanning for that interesting item to pop up and reel us in, to savour and escape momentarily from reality and our hectic day. So if we fail to have the perfect opener to hook the reader, then we have lost our chance at an audience.

Except! Except that there are a lot of fish in the sea to hook and reel, and perhaps we don’t care if everyone reads it. Perhaps, we are happy with that one person who pauses long enough to acknowledge that we went to the trouble to write it.

The end of lesson 7 reads: “No two people tell stories the same way, so your stories have meaning because they are told through your eyes. Your content will speak to people when it presents a full picture, when you understand it intimately, and when you allow people to see the true fabric of what you’ve created.”

That’s what I want to write. First-hand accounts and opinions of my take on life.

Currently, I do exactly that, under a pseudonym, in the sledding industry.

I let people live vicariously through me as I relate my experiences, blazing my own trails rather than following others and my audience is happy with my style.images

Not once have they complained about my overuse of emoticons and ellipsis.

They’re just thrilled to envision themselves sitting on my sled, carving pictures in the fresh clean snow with artistic flair, wide-open throttle and the smell of strawberry exhaust in their imaginations…

Now it’s time for me to delve into new storytelling experiences by expressing myself in the 9-5 world. While not near as exhilarating, definitely word-provoking, and likely with misplaced commas and unnecessary ellipsis. Gasp! How embarrassing for my descendants… Perhaps I should turn to the world of podcasts to avoid that.

Thank you all for sharing your personalities through your blogs. I look forward to encountering your future writings in the digital world.

My takeaway from this course is to not let criticism change my style, but to write with authenticity, flair, enthusiasm and conviction.

Cheers!

😀

COM0014 Assignment 1, Post 6 – Do People Know Your Story?

My greatest achievement has 44 days left to go to reach fruition.LeeAvatar

The year 2014 has been a journey of triumphs. I call it Lee 2.0

I can’t remember exactly what the date was last winter that launched this adventure but I do recall that I woke up with a burning desire to return to college. It didn’t take me long to locate the 2 programs I wanted, and before I knew it, I was enrolled in 26 online courses over a 12-month period through Algonquin College.AC

There is not much I do in life that isn’t at full-speed and this quest was going to be no different. I knew very well that if I didn’t choose an accelerated program, I would become bored and impatient and eventually drop out. Once I set my mind to something, it gets my devoted attention.

I needed to carefully coordinate the courses to integrate efficiently into my career as a business consultant. There was no concern for a personal life, my workaholic tendencies have edited that part of my life down to an almost speed-dating styled format. The people in my circle have previously grown accustomed to inserting themselves into my office, bagged-lunch in hand, in order to catch up.

My first semester was challenging while I learned to balance work and school, but exciting nonetheless. I met so many new and interesting people on the Blackboard discussion boards, it was almost a social life in and of itself. The fact that many of these people were in similar circumstances of returning to school, years after starting a career, made it all the more endearing. It was especially comforting to know that there were people in the world, as equally insane as I am, pursuing this monumental goal.

It was not my intention to overachieve, but I soon discovered that I had attained a 4.0 grade-point average and was placed on the Dean’s list. People in distant lands could hear the booming yeehaa that emanated from me the day I opened that envelope. On the other hand, it was somewhat deflating to find that the grades are in letter format. That meant all of the 100% marks I received were unnecessary. A ninety percent would still have reached the A+ that I needed to achieve the same GPA.

However, once the benchmark was firmly in place, I had a dogged determination in attacking my courses for the second semester. It was less challenging to juggle the scheduling, but more difficult to go through the summer months glued to my computer screen. Every day the phone would ring asking if Lee could come out and play but, alas, the answer was always no. I remember seeing the sun one day, or so it seemed.

Having like-minded classmates in the program was fantastic, we challenged each other enough to keep us enthused and tenacious in our mindset. One of our professors wrote a letter remarking that he had never had a class of such highly motivated students and applauding our efforts.

Throughout the spring and summer months, I had scaled back my workload leaving a good portion of the administrative duties to my team. There were some technical tasks, like grant-writing, which I had to perform myself. I didn’t mind, it’s a task akin to housework to me: it needs to be done; it’s a familiar chore; there’ll be more as soon as you’re finished; and briefly everything is cleaned up long enough to offer a sigh of relief.

Unfortunately for me, this summer had a huge influx of applicants for grants though, so it became extremely time-consuming. The extra effort was worth it. When I least expected it, I learned that the highest dollar-volume grant I had written, to date, was approved with no amendments needed.

My client was overjoyed with the prospect of receiving over a hundred thousand dollars in injected capital to facilitate her entry into new markets. She made me feel like I was a hero. It felt great to be rewarded with gratitude and the overpowering sense of accomplishment.

In the meantime, I received word that I had again been placed on the Dean’s list. Believe it or not, this was disappointing. I really wanted the frenetic pace to end, I was hoping for one A just to lower the bar enough to slow me down.

The three weeks off, between semesters, had me on a whirlwind tour of Eastern Ontario meeting clients and preparing projects for implementation. I longed to sleep in my own bed again and when the first day of semester three arrived, my head was still spinning.

In spite of the light at the end of the tunnel, it was a hard transition back into school. It had started to wear on me and work was definitely the more rewarding pursuit.

13_hour_clockThat brings me here to day 321. It’s 3:30 a.m. and I struggle to finish this blog before I collapse in a heap of exhaustion for 3 hours of sleep. My slogan has become “I will sleep when I’m dead”.

In addition to the pursuit of continued education, I have also managed to go to the gym regularly since the 24th of November last year. I promised myself that if I was going to sit on my behind for an entire year, it wasn’t going to expand while I did it. I’ve never felt healthier.

I moved my oldest son to Boston three weeks ago, in a lightning paced event, to start a new career in software engineering. My middle son is up to his eyebrows in interviews with police services and the youngest, a recent graduate of Algonquin, has moved to Cornwall where he now works as a paramedic.

This entire year has brought accomplishments and joy to my entire family. It is well worth the fatigue that came along with the ride. In 43 more days, I will find out if I managed to retain my average, and ironically, this is the course that will likely be my undoing.

Have you ever had the urge to do something this crazy?

Well if you haven’t, it’s never too late!

COM0015 Blog Post 1 – Tools & Source Preferences

imagesI don’t know about you, but hands down, Hootsuite is my favourite overall tool. They have certainly earned the right to use the tagline “Get the #1 Social Relationship Platform”. From their free mini-package that more than fulfills the needs of the general public, to the modestly priced Pro version that allows up to 50 social profiles (at the lowest price point), all the way up to the Enterprise customized full product suite. Listening, analytics, collaboration and engagement all together in one secure place. The user-friendly website, choice of language, dashboard, and 24/7 support community are the key contribution to their success. Making sure the experience is positive and functional keeps clients happy and talking about the product. There’s no concern for complaints about usage difficulties with Hootsuite because they go out of their way to make sure you know all the ins and outs. There are even university training, education and certification offered through the portal. They are definitely the go-to place to learn about Social Media and put that into practice. Have you checked them out? Their product is a benchmark to the industry. With the wide variety of solutions, it’s the product I most often refer to a client, unless they have an affinity to another. Some companies don’t mind paying for more complex products like Radian6. Would you pay more? Another fantastic tool is the Netvibes Netvibes dashboard we created in COM0013 COM0015, using a combination of: Google Alerts GoogleAlerts, Yahoo Pipes  pipeslogo_whitebg MSExcel Excel. Considering you build this from scratch and completely tailor it to your own preferences and objectives, it’s a viable and economical option that works equally as well as many products out there. It’s a great alternative to keep in your toolbox when providing opportunities to your clients. I continue to use mine on a daily basis and am very pleased with the results. Do you still use yours? My favourite news source is LinkedInLinkedin. Particularly for business, it’s professional and quality news. The feeds you find on LinkedIn are always safe topics in any audience. Not sensitive or offensive in any manner. There is no gossipy drama styled feeds. No sneaky headlines trying to manipulate you into clicking. Just information that is usually both educational and entertaining. Having the ability to join groups that are topic-related is a great benefit to stay on top of different industry discussions. It also keeps me up-to-date on what news my connections find interesting. Do you have a presence for your business? The other news source I use every day is TwitterTwitter. The nice thing about it is it reminds me what is trending and perhaps needs my attention so I don’t have to go in search of the news. I don’t necessarily look for the full story on Twitter, just use it as a heads-up device then usually turn on the TV or search on Google to get a true journalistic account of what is happening. Since Twitter is often the place stories break, it is the most reliable source for news in real time. What are your favourites?

COM0014 Blog Post 5: Personal Brand

The main attribute that sets me apart is my inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to “sell” myself.

In spite of this, people are naturally drawn to me for advice and leadership.

I have built a multitude of trust-based relationships in all aspects of my life, mostly because my ‘cards are always on the table’ and not from branding myself.

In true form, I had great difficulty in completing this blog. It started (and almost ended) with a brief list of descriptive words you would find on an employment assessment.

As was suggested, in the event of difficulty, I consulted with several key people in my inner circle who helped me formulate an overview of Thornley. The result of which appears to be that I am resoundingly known as the one person who will always be there and never let you down: the reliable and trusted colleague, friend, and family member. I won’t bore you with the list of examples they compiled to justify their opinions.

Suffice it to say my dedicated yet doggedly-determined nature places me in high demand among people and businesses needing assistance in reaching new heights. That, along with my extraordinary ability to extract 25 hours out of every 24-hour day.

Before I set out on my college journey, my shortest work-week was 117 hours. Yes, you read that correctly. The shortest one. I worked seventeen years without a sick day or vacation, which was no small feat considering I raised three active sons. On a rare occasion I would take a one-day weekend.

A colleague contributed his belief that I inspire people with the seemingly impossible projects I accomplish such as making the Dean’s list while pursuing 26 courses in a 12-month time frame and running a business at the same time.

The managing partner at one of my former employers referred to my multitasking gift as a “veritable art-form”.

A member of the Board of Directors I serve on tells me that the Board has always been impressed by my composure in times of crisis while displaying a talent for getting to the root of the problem and offering a viable solution almost instantaneously.

Former employees tell me they have never had a better employer and mentor, adding that the example I set was a benchmark to their own success.

Close friends say that the figurative vault in which I secure their personal information represents the depth of my loyalty, which to them is the most valuable trait I possess.

One of my sons claims that it’s my sense of humour and unwavering ability to make anyone smile that differentiates me.

The one point I am willing to express about myself is that I inject passion into everything I do, and by osmosis into everyone and everything around me. I invest all that I am and all that I have into my daily life.

I was brought up with the saying “anything worth doing, is worth doing well” and I live by that adage.

Perhaps I should add I am quite humble. Or at least I was before I wrote this!

COM0014 B2C Case Study: BlendTec

blendtecThe company (and product) that I feel has raised the bar in engaging with its audience online is Blendtec. The blender company whose $50 marketing budget launched a viral YouTube success story and a $65-million-a-year revenue stream.

The bumbling chain of events that led to the success of Blendtec is incredulous. It’s a time-travel marketing theme with its popular “Will it Blend” videos fashioned like a 70s game show, complete with corny brass-section nostalgic music and retro colours. The low-tech set, the geeky safety-goggled host complete with lab-coat all add to the vintage feel in the videos. Now add to that the fact that the nerdy host is none other than the CEO and Chairman of the Board Tom Dickson and you have a comedy of errors sitcom.

Blendtec has accomplished a great deal through social media marketing. Aside from the overpowering success of the 150 YouTube videos, they also maintain current and active Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ accounts. They treat each individually rather than cross-updating. They have outstanding follower interaction and they respond immediately to complaints.

The Facebook page is reaching 171K+ fans through recipes that are mostly shares. If you come across any complaint posts, you will find a company response immediately following with a solution.

The Twitter feed has 26K+ followers and has original Blendtec recipes, announcements and a lot of follower kudos and retweets.

Pinterest has 34 boards from giveaways to news stories and recipes. Their (almost) 1200 pins have 19K+ followers.

Blendtec’s Instagram lifestyle page has over 400 posts and 20K followers.

Google+ has upwards of 5500 followers and is geared toward the food and fitness community and includes a wide assortment of their YouTube videos.

The eCommerce website is clear, concise and user-friendly.

Their warranties are beyond industry standards, announcing recently an increase to 8 years.

They have gained the respect of the consumer on many levels including when Tom announced last year Blendtec’s pledge of two million dollars to The Museum of Natural Curiosity, a children’s museum in Utah.

In spite of their blatant online success, I am still baffled at the ability for the videos to affect the sales. They are not targeted at the correct consumer. The destruction of everyday items with a blender, while entertaining, does nothing to demonstrate its actual use nor does the concept appeal to the proper demographic. Somehow, though, a traditionally male dominant interest has translated into enormous sales. Which in itself is amazing considering the $400+ price tag that goes with the entry level machine. Score one to the influence of men on the buying choice of small kitchen appliances.

Had I been part of the marketing team that ran with this idea, I would have scoffed and prepared a back-up plan for the monumental failure. Fortunately for Blendtec, their accidents were intrinsic to the success they have reaped.

Now that the videos have such a strong cult following, they will have to carry on ad infinitum to keep the consumers happy and eventually will have to up the ante as to what will blend. They’ve already blended lighters, bullets and razor blades. They’re going to have to get more creative to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. Their approach is definitely working and should be used as a model by businesses everywhere.will-it-blend

COM0014 Post 3 – Target Audiences in the World of Strawberry Exhaust

photo 3

When it comes to snowmobiling, there is no untouched demographic. Sledders come in every age, gender, size, family-style, ethnicity, religion, income, and education level. The common denominator is passion and adrenaline. Psychographically it encompasses the love of winter, speed, adrenaline, travel, and noise. To many, it also involves a staunch loyalty and dedication to corporate brands.

Aside from the obvious division by brand, other communities are individually built from the type of participation – such as: racing, recreational touring, trail riding, mountain climbing, or simply as a spectator sport.

There is further division within the usage. Racing, for instance, is separated (or often joined) by snowcross, ice-oval, mountain, lake and drag styles.

The self-proclaimed “sled-heads” are all about performance and modifications. It’s very much about biggest, loudest, and fastest to them.

On the opposite side of that are the families who participate in a lifestyle of spending every weekend at a cottage touring the surrounding area either on groomed trails or blazing through pristine snow in fields and woods.

Then there are the samplers who just rent sleds and gear for one outing a year just to get a taste of the Canadian outdoors and the rush of the loud braaaaaap.

Whether, watching from the edge of the track, clapping mittened hands to keep warm while wiggling numb toes to boost circulation, or sitting in front of a fire watching the action on TV, the spectators are integral to the sport.

If you want your audience to be as diverse as possible you need to support every brand and style. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each while not affiliating with a specific one. A good strategy would be to write pieces addressing specific events. You will find a different blend of enthusiasts follow each segment.

Join (don’t lead) the conversation with as many communities as manageable. No matter your audience, promote the sport, know your topic and the needs of that community. There’s no point talking about ice oval to mountain climbers and vice versa. A show of preference or loyalty to a particular group will risk alienation by all others.

There is no shortage of available research and listening opportunities for snowmobiling. There are a massive number of online communities, but I can tell you first hand, if you build a new one, they will come! They need something to do the other nine months of the year 🙂