COMM15 – Blog Post #2 / Strong and Weak Organizations

Getting your business on social media isn’t just something that happens overnight.

Ok, maybe it is – but reaping the the rewards of a social media presence certainly isn’t as simple. Why? Because having a social media presence is much, much different than having a social media strategy. Whereas anyone can make a Facebook page or sign up for an account on Twitter, it takes extra care, effort and planning to execute a content strategy for your profiles. To do it right means you’re taking full advantage of a digital demographic and enhancing your business, but to do it wrong could prove detrimental.

To make things even more complicated, there is no single social media strategy that is applicable to all businesses; a business to consumer model would manage their social media in a completely different way to a business to business model, while a business in the service industry would do it differently from a business selling toys, for example.

When it comes to my two favourite restaurants this side of Toronto, social media is used in two completely different ways – one that is unconventional yet effective, and one that is conventional but ineffective.

the-waterfront-river

The Waterfront River Pub and Terrace is a beautiful gastro pub located just south of the centre of Napanee, Ontario. Opening within a historic limestone building right upon the Napanee River, I had the pleasure of working there as a server for two summers while studying at Queen’s in Kingston.

Their social media approach is… ecclectic – but it works. Jane Adams Roy, the owner of the restaurant, is a vibrant yet to-the-point woman whose years serving in the Canadian Military rubs off only in her management style, but not in her people skills. She’s warm and extremely personable, which reflects in the way she manages her restaurant’s Facebook page.

Napanee is a small city of around 15,000 people and the Facebook page caters primarily to that community. If you’re not part of the Napanee community, their social media presence makes you feel like like a part of it. While The Waterfront is every bit a community pub, the food, craft beers and decor hardly reflect that; with Jane’s social media approach to personal, wacky, and non-corporate engagement with their digital audience, the restaurant simultaneously manages to be up-scale, yet innately rooted in community.

Although The Waterfront doesn’t make use of Twitter or Instagram (where their delicious food could most certainly be photographed and posted) AND they don’t make much use of proper hashtags or tagging in general, the communicative skills they employ on their Facebook page has made the pub a surprising success, growing from 200 likes to nearly 6,000 in just under two years.wooden-heads-exterior

My other favourite restaurant in the Kingston/Napanee area is not quite as effective on social media despite being open for decades longer and with a far more esteemed reputation. Wooden Heads is located in Kingston’s historic downtown area right by the water and has an exceptional modern-Italian cuisine that I’m literally craving at this very second – but that’s only because I’ve been there.

Their Facebook and Twitter pages are practically barren despite being updated frequently. How is that possible, you ask? The only pictures or updates going on either page are the daily specials… and that’s it. Sure, the specials are a fantastic way to get your existing followers keen on coming to the restaurant for something new, but it’s not a way to grow your business’s digital presence.

In contrast with the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace’s social media efforts, which has seen their Facebook following go from 0 to 6,000 in the short three years that they’ve been open, Wooden Heads has around a mere 2,250 following on Facebook and very little engagement – and it’s been open for over 22 years.

B2C Case Study: Vistek

As one of Canada’s larger photography chains, Vistek communicates to its audience online much like as other photography stores, manufacturers and magazines. It’s all about making sales, not engaging with photographers.

Vistek’s social media presence is barely visible on its website. An RSS feed logo beside the word “Blog” and an 180× 80 pixel ad for its YouTube channel are all that exist. Missing are the Facebook and Twitter logos, which many other photography websites leave for the bottom of the page with the sitemap, terms of use and copyright information—must-have pieces of little importance.

vistek-blog-banner-fw_

The blog URL http://prophotoblog.ca does not include “Vistek”, which is a missed branding opportunity. The majority of posts read like advertisements promoting products, complete with bulleted specifications, prices and quotes from the manufactures. Upcoming Events are Vistek seminars and tradeshows it will attend; there is nothing outside of Vistek. The “Tips and Tricks” section includes links to products being sold. None of these engages the community.

Vistek continues its sales pitching on its Twitter and Facebook pages. It has 5,352 Twitter followers (following 1,118) with 1,328 likes and 7,350 Facebook page likes. The only engagement is encouraging followers to visit the Vistek booth at various tradeshows.

Vistek’s YouTube page has a series of how-to, product promotion and speaker videos from a recent tradeshow. Community engagement has resulted in two comments from four years ago and visitors liking 11 of the 74 videos.

There is so much more Vistek could do to communicate with photographers. An “Ask an Expert” call for questions would not only position Vistek as an expert but also encourage followers to answer each other’s questions. Offering a $50 gift card as a prize in a monthly photography contest would not only have followers submitting images but also voting for their favourites. Vistek staff could periodically post photos with common novice errors and ask followers to provide constructive criticism, which could generate discussion and help photographers analyse their own images more critically.

Vistek could probably increase sales if it softened its sales pitch.

COM0015 – Assignment 1 -Blog 4 – Out of the Box

Combining everything that we already knew about SOCIAL MEDIA with all the cases we’ve studied and all the best tools that are to be had: it feels like I’m only ever getting half-way to a solution.  Before starting this program, I thought I had a hunch about a few tools and programs out there in the real world of business meets social media… but.. wait a minute: ‘Things are changing… how will I ever keep up?’

LISTENING + LEARNING + STAYING IN ACTION  = keep to keeping up with trends and generating new ways of looking at the world through the lens of #SocialMediaMeetsBusiness.

OutsideofBox.png

So what do I hope to accomplish with social media?  Is it working? Well, I’m constantly learning new tricks.

From what I gather, I’m using platforms that are suited to my particular field and/or project(s.)  I’m learning from others about the varied style of communication using social media = the ins and outs of sharing your message.  What works for some people is worth a try but it might not quite work for me.  I guess it’s all a question of finding a style and sticking to it..

GOING MOBILE?  Here are a few tools that might come in handy…

I’m always looking for social media inspiration: taking free webinars and online courses.  I have found a whole bunch of useful information about how mobile apps come into play

Instagram can house short videos… Hilary Rushford, of Dean Street Society, hosted a webinar called: ‘Doubling Your Instagram Following.’

Distributing a free workbook, her program talked about free tools for editing and posting images on Instagram.

VSCO CAM = where you add a photo to your library and she talked us through using the editing tools.

@HilaryRushford also talked about the PERISCOPE App = live mobile video streaming; which works really well when you’re sharing content on a road trip, from various locations.

Another useful tool that I’ve grown to love is HOOTSUITE Suggestions...

Right from my iPhone, I am able to call up HOT TOPICS that I can easily share on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

FYI>> It gives you THREE topics to search for and you can assign unlimited accounts… so make sure that you tweak the settings before posting on multiple accounts.  Be #strategic in what you post and where.  Double check your postings on each platform to catch anything that goes wrong.  If in doubt, delete and give it another try.  Skill takes practice.

Puzzled by PINNING?

PINTEREST is a social media platform that would appear to have limited application to business… but Melanie Duncan’s webinar gave me a whole bunch of information about optimizing this platform to steer traffic from PINS back to your company site.

> The type of material you PIN is part of the formula.  Inforgraphics are the most popular format (they spread like wild fire.)

Melanie also suggest the following tools:

PICMonkey =  Protecting your content with a watermark

Easily creating infographics = www.infogr.am

Getting a Pinterest tab for your Facebook Page = www.woobox.com/pinterest

Pinterest stuff = Courtesy of Melanie Duncan (www.powerofpinning.com/course

> The BLOGEME poster thingy I built (featured image)  still lives on scribd.com which I’ve embedded on my personal blog (backdoor access = click expand button on bottom corner) http://ow.ly/MFQx302Y1sy

COM0015 – Blog # 1 – SOCIAL MEDIA Meets Business

Images included from the following sources:

COM0015 Blog Post #2 – Strong/Weak Organizations

CV_Product_Orange

Sharpie? Hello?

While the ultimate goal of any B2C organization is to increase the bottom line, there are a number of ways businesses can establish themselves as the go-to for consumers above the often over-saturated aggregate of similar companies. This is where the better social-media driven B2C’s thrive.

I’ve been following Sharpie for many years as a scrapbooker and mixed media artist (when I have a few moments to spare). Boasting a pretty good 5-10 page rank, Sharpie has endeavoured to connect not just within the artist audience, but parents (labeling, chore charts, etc) and students/teens. Visually represented across multiple social media platforms, their strength comes from images and the ability to engage their customers through submissions and tags. While Sharpie’s Instagram account may boast a relatively modest 128K followers, its hashtag use has well exceed 1.3 million. A community and culture. Their Facebook page boasts over 3.6 million followers. While the blog and direct engagement is still lacking on some forums, it’s the visual representation of the brand that shines not only from the company, but moreso from the #sharpie culture. #sharpietattoo is my personal favourite! It is empowering the creativity of its community and foreshadows continued growth in promotion and practice….

…BUT…

Then, they all but disappeared. Sharpie just…stopped. Dead.

Instagram? Last image uploaded was 115 weeks ago. Blog? Last post was written July 10, 2013! Twitter? Last tweet was February 29th. Not so bad? The one before that was December 21, 2013!

For a company actively engaged with the teens who “tattoo” and the moms that label and the designers who design and the Pinterest winners (and maybe Pinterest failers)…Sharpie seemed to have hit some kind of social media roadblock. What happened? Did they, then, just become the mirror “weak” organization…of themselves??

Arik Hanson had a few speculative points of interest as to why a company with over 4 million fans would suddenly up-and-leave the social media foray in his article: “Why did @Sharpie shut down all its social media accounts?” Change of CMO? Being a company that is owned by a bigger company and got eaten by the bigger proverbial fish?

I think the withdrawal from the social media communities that really found niches within the creative industry is going to leave a lasting impact on the value of engagement, obviously, but more so, though people will continue to purchase Sharpie products based on brand loyalty, Sharpie is really missing out on expansion and growth opportunities as social media continues to evolve and reach further target markets and communities. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be an active contributor to have seen them just up and…who even knows? No explanation. That kind of corporate behaviour risks a lot, that very brand loyalty, especially.

How do you think Sharpie’s withdrawal from social media will eventually affect their bottom line over time, if perhaps the management change felt it more cost-effective to do so? I’d love to have my own “clear view”of what the heck happened!

COM0014 Blog Post #4: B2C Case Study

I decided to do my case study on the teen/tween clothing company, Aeropostale. This popular clothing store uses all forms of social media to reach out to their target consumers, by being an active presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as having an email subscription service.

Their social media presence is strong, with posts being made numerous times a day on all of their platforms. They seem to respond to their consumers over on Twitter more so than any other platform. As a matter of fact, that seems to be the only outlet where I have witnessed any sort of B2C direct response activity from them.

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 4

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 42

Screen capture images courtesy of Aeropostale’s Facebook page

After browsing their Facebook account, and taking a peek at their comment section on their content, as well as the posts left on their page by their visitors, there seems to be numerous consumer complaints on everything from their service online/in stores, to shipping concerns, to quality complains, that have all gone unanswered by Aeropostale. This is worrying as people tend to “jump on the bandwagon,” so to speak, when it comes to complaints about a popular brand. Aeropostale needs to start responding customer concerns on all of their social media outlets, not just Twitter.

Image courtesy of Aeropostale's webpage

Image courtesy of Aeropostale’s webpage

What Aeropostale is doing right, and might I add a little differently than their competitors, is partnering with popular online personalities. Many clothing companies partake in using online personalities to promote their brands by sharing these personalities’ content that features their products. Aeropostale has gone a step further to use the current popularity of online “stars” by partnering with Youtube star Bethany Mota on a clothing line for their business. This partnership drives business and popularity towards both Aeropostale and Bethany Mota’s brands. I have personally yet to see another teen clothing company utilize the blowup popularity of online personalities in this way.

In conclusion, Aeropostale’s online social media communications is doing some things right, but also some things wrong as well. It would not hurt for them to consider expanding their social media department internally perhaps, so that they can cater to the voices of their consumers by improving on their online conversation monitoring, and taking the time to respond to their audience on all of their social media platforms.

COM0015 #2: Strong & Weak Organizations

In looking for organization for a case study on strong and weak social media strategies, it’s easy to become inundated by the worldwide traffic online. After searching at a national level, I opted to look at organizations within Ottawa and it became easy to narrow down two impressive campaigns: Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and the Ottawa Police Service.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Ottawa Community Support Coalition could benefit from an online makeover.

Mayor Jim Watson

Since taking his seat in 2010, Mayor Jim Watson has become known for his seemingly effortless use of social media to engage with citizens. The mayor’s office has virtually opened its door by letting Ottawans in on the daily goings on of the city’s chief executive official. watson

Through his daily use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and monthly chats, Mayor Watson has proven himself to be open, transparent, outspoken and reachable.

He is not above answering questions from citizens in a casual Twitter exchange, and he is also not afraid to let critics know how he really feels. During the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the mayor announced that Ottawa would fly a pride flag in response to a Russian law against the spread of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations.”

Twitter user, @Awesomely11, responded to the Mayor’s tweet, calling it “a stupid waste of time,” adding that the mayor had “lost” his vote. Mayor Watson wasted little time with his brief response: “if you have that point of view, I really don’t want your vote.”

Beyond using the online platforms, Mayor Watson offers tips for social media and has even hosted an AMA on Reddit. Watson can serve as a prime example of what many other elected officials should strive for.

Ottawa Police Service

In an era when the police are often view and/or portrayed in a negative light, the Ottawa Police Service is managing to put out a strong positive message.

This organization utilizes a number of social media tools to serve their needs – from promoting local initiatives to publishing advisories, they are harnessing these tools to get the word out.

For example, the main website features a link to Pinterest where they are posting wanted people, missing persons, safety and crime prevention messages and, for human interest, fallen officers, canines of the force and police cars, among other themes.

The Ottawa Police Facebook page is an array of community announcements and advisories regarding crimes in the city. The Twitter page is chock-full of advice and events, and they even have a YouTube channel with a variety of videos showing footage of robberies, promotion for future recruits and updates on investigations.

12011200_990855067604027_4665990364766621852_n

Whereas a number of these elements would have once only been available to citizens via local news reports, the Ottawa Police Service have essentially taken matters into their own hands and are reporting for themselves which is a positive initiative and a great example for other front line organizations.

The Ottawa Community Support Coalition

The OCSC is struggling in its online messaging. According to the mission statement, the OCSC “works together to strengthen community support services – for the health and independence of older adults and adults with disabilities in the City of Ottawa.”

It is a positive organization for the aging population in Ottawa. Granted, the older generation is not as active on Twitter and Facebook as younger citizens, but there is still a benefit in reaching out online. The fact is, people of all ages are using the internet and they are learning to use social media platforms as means to stay connected. Plus, if the message is communicated to people of all ages, the organization stands a better chance to flourish.

The OCSC has two social media links on the website: Twitter, which has 34 followers, and Facebook with 41 likes. Their most recent updates on both pages were on October 1, 2015.

Beyond social media, they are also in need of a website overhaul to make their page more engaging – simply reducing the use of stock photography and using catchier phrases on their newsletter would likely drive more clicks. That would be the first step, but there are many more steps to take in order to reach a broader following. They could begin their social media strategy by sharing facts and anecdotes, engaging with local organizations and individuals, and sharing tips for that older generation to show that they too can participate on social media.

This organization has a lot of potential to harness the messaging platform and bring Ottawa’s aging population into the social media realm but they need a social media strategist to get them off the ground.

COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study – CLV Group – Now You’re Home!

clv-group-logo

IMG_5873-e1438269023309Based out of Ottawa, Canada CLV Group, Inc. is one of the largest property management companies in Ottawa with properties spanning from East to West, including downtown, Barrhaven and Kanata.  CLV also has properties in Gatineau, Montreal, Belleville, Kingston, Trenton and the GTA.  Their portfolio consists of 8000 suites and ranges from high rise, to low rise to townhomes.  As they proudly announce on their website, “for over 45 years CLV Group has been helping renters and home owners find the perfect place to call home.”  Outside of property management CLV Group, Inc. is also involved in residential and commercial real estate, financial services and construction and development.  They have the market covered on all things real estate.

CD3S2sKWgAAFfQ3CLV has a slogan that says it all, “NOW YOU’RE HOME.”  It is one of the first things you read on their website after seeing beautiful photos of their properties.  As they say it best, “They are just three small words, but together they mean so much. It’s the feeling you get from the moment you start your apartment search to the moment you step foot onto one of our quality properties.”  CLV is aware of the stress that usually surrounds looking for a new place and they want to make a prospect feel at ease immediately when they land on their website.  They want the prospect to feel like the search is over.

boysandgirlsontario

The marketing message that CLV uses through their website and social media aims to create this same feeling of the search being over and the prospect being home.  They provide reassurance to the prospect through a consistent message that creates a community feel and a feeling that they care about each of their residents.  They stress the importance of things like 24 hours a day, every day, service and provide examples through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram of what it is like to live there.  They use their website to also show the upgraded suites they offer for reasonable prices in any area you may want to live.  The goal for CLV is to create a brand that sells itself as the perfect place for anyone to call home and based on what I have monitored they are doing a great job!

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/clvgroup

Twitter https://twitter.com/clvgroup

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/clvgroup/

Instagram https://instagram.com/clvgroup/

Blog http://blog.clvgroup.com/

LIV-Promo233x176-Summer-PromoCanaday-Day-from-CLV-Group-e1435697359198

B2C Case Study, ALG-COM0014 Digital Communication

ALG-COM0014 Digital Communication
Post 4 – B2C Case Study by Karen Cooper
Instructor: Nelly Leonidis

For my fourth blog post in the online course, “Digital Communication,” in Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate part-time online program the assigned topic centers around observing an example of my choice of a B2C business who is engaging with its audience online, how the company is using social media – the quality of their online interactions and whether or not their approach is working.

What is B2C?

“B2C, or business-to-consumer, is the type of commerce transaction in which businesses sell products or services to consumers.”

What is a B2C transaction?

“The nature of the B2C transaction revolves around the need to provide easy access to online accounts. With online retailing, a client will create a customer account with an online store or service, then be free to browse through the product and service offerings, selecting desirable items.”

I chose Skinny Bee Tea as my choice of a B2C business.

Skinny Bee Tea is a top quality detox tea B2C Californian based company that was started in 2014 by a husband and wife team, Matt and Kristin, whose mission is to sell organic tea and to deliver results for customers by promoting educational information for healthy and happy living.

Skinny Bee Tea engages with its audience online through its shop, blog, and website where they provide information on exercise and nutrition plans.

How is Skinny Bee Tea using social media?

Skinny Bee Tea‘s online social media presence includes:

The quality of Skinny Bee Tea‘s online interactions are engaging with their audience and informative about how their detox tea helps the body’s detoxifying organs naturally.

Whether or not Skinny Bee Tea‘s approach is working?

In just under one year, Skinny Bee Tea has grown in volumes that I have no doubt will continue to thrive. Its product and company value their consumer’s health and well-being – it’s a tasty tea!

Sources:

What is B2C by Elaine J. Hom, Business News Daily Contributor

What is a B2C Transaction?

Marketing for B2B vs. B2C – Similar but Different, Posted in Social Media Marketing by Debra Murphy

Skinny Bee Tea

COM0014 #4: B2C Case Study – CanvasPop

It’s hard to believe that a single service can make a company expand like canvas printing has done for CanvasPop, but the proper use of social media has made that happen for the Ottawa-based company.

CanvasPop was established in 2009 and grew quickly; fielding over 300 000 orders in just three years – and has grown extensively since then. The company markets itself to social media users, particularly on Instagram, based on its ability to produce high quality prints from photo sharing sites and photo-based social media sites.

Along with the rise in photography thanks to smart phones, Canvas printing is a niche market that continues to grow in popularity, as we see on numerous home décor websites.

The company overcomes its limitation (that, of being a single-product shop) by being relevant in the social media sphere. Whether the approach is to share photography tricks, decorating ideas or tips in photo editing, the company manages to be diverse, all the while remaining in tune with its niche market.

What works for CanvasPop is that they re-imagine their strategy as often as possible, which is mentioned in an article published in the Ottawa Business Journal discussing how the company tracks and analyzes its social media activities.

I think CanvasPop is succeeding due to one of their principles: “Engaging is more important than broadcasting,” according to the article. The trick is to use social media to engage and thus provide value, rather than promoting oneself.

And, based on the characteristics, Canvas pop is successfully driving a B2C advertising campaign, despite not having an advertising budget:

  • They market in a very product-driven fashion
  • They make an effort to maximize the value of the transaction
  • The target market is generally quite large
  • The buying process is often one-step, and sales cycles are short
  • They use repetition and imagery to create brand identity
  • They employ merchandising and point-of-purchase activities (up-sell, specials, deals)
  • They bank on people making emotional buying decisions based on status, desire, or price

The company is also open to experimenting while closely measuring and monitoring what works and what does not. While most companies are using Twitter and Facebook, CanvasPop has opened itself to Flickr, Pinterest, YouTube and more.

What I have learned from watching CanvasPop for the last year or so, is that it’s imperative to stay fresh and not be afraid to engage and experiment.