Social Media, if you have it, show it!

When I first started the research for this assignment I thought I would compare two Ontario Vacation Destinations that I love, Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, and Hockley Valley Resort in Mono.

I thought for sure Blue Mountains would have a better Social Media plan but I was wrong! The smaller resort, Hockley Valley has an amazing Social Media Strategy, that is modern, consistent, attractive, immediately accessible and customers are interacting and engaging on their pages.  To compare, Hockely Valleys Website design is very clean, portrays attractive pictures of the resort and the beautiful nature surrounding them, easy to navigate and has access to all Social Media links on the first page, on the right hand side bar. http://www.hockley.com/ All of their Social Media Sites are updated regularly, their YouTube site has several videos and updates on what is going on at the resort. Hockley Valley has immediate direct access to Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and their own resort Blog. Perhaps as Blue Mountain is a larger resort, the need for a Social Media Strategy is not a larger focus. Blue Mountains does have many Google Reviews, and they do actively post videos on Google, but as research states Google+ is not a main traffic site. Blue Mountain, I found does have a YouTube site with just over 1000 subscribers, but their main website does not have any links to YouTube. YouTube

No one is watching their videos on Google, and some are watching the videos on YouTube. If they connected the Social Media sites to their webpage, more people would be engaging and watching! Blue Mountain does have a clean and modern webpage, however, the main photo of bikes parked at a Bike Rack really does not entice me to want to come to Blue Mountain.  https://www.bluemountain.ca/ On their first page of their Website there are absolutely no direct links for customers to engage with, no Social Media tabs until you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the last frame. At the very bottom of their webpage frame you find 4 little greyed out boxes that link to Social Media. Once I found the Social Media pages, I discovered they are updated on a regular basis, hence a Social Media Plan is in place, but needs improvement. Blue Mountain Resort Website features, at the bottom of their site, access to their Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ sites. Their Facebook Page has over 62,000 Likes! Their Twitter Page has over 27,000 followers, coming in last their Google+ page has 640 members. So why have their Social Media Links at the bottom of their Webpage? Perhaps as they have been attracting large crowds of Skiers and Hikers for years, the need to paste their Social Media on their Webpage is a mute issue for them. The interesting thing I found, if you contrast, Hockley Valley has fewer likes at just over 8000. However, their customer engagement with their Social Media pages is much higher than it is for Blue Mountains customer engagement.Likes

It’s easy to “like” and forget, but to gather a “like” and keep customers engaging is the key to keeping them interested. Hockley Valley, although a smaller resort, provides more accessible links to their Social Media pages which in turn keeps this smaller resort very popular. Even though Blue Mountain has its history and regular crowd of event followers, I would make several changes to their Webpage Design, and Social Media Links to allow more customer engagement with their Social Media sites. Blue Mountains Resort will still need to attract the millennials and their upcoming future families, linking and engaging their new customers through Social Media will be key!

COM0014: Blog Post 4 B2C Case Study – Vistaprint

I have been following Vistaprint very closely in the past several weeks not only as a result of my own personal dealings with the company itself, as a consumer, but also to see if I could garner any insight as to their social media practice(s) in my role as a student.

Vistaprint is a publishing company managing everything from your personal to business promotional needs…business cards, promotional materials, wedding invitations, signs, clothing and even digital marketing. Their catechism is:

“Rely on Vistaprint

Absolutely Guaranteed

Every time. Any reason. Or we’ll make it right.”

Having used Vistaprint for various Lupus Interrupted and Kubb Canada promotional items (business cards, signage) I encountered my first problem this past January: My business cards for my personal use weren’t shipped and I’d needed them for a social media networking event the following week from the date that I’d put in a telephone call (old school, I know) to the company to enquire as to their whereabouts.

The customer service I received was exemplary so, pondering this day and age where complaints and negativity easily trump compliments and positive feedback, I donned my Super Cape and took to the interwebs (the Vistaprint Facebook page) to let them know of my happiness!

Vistaprint

Consumer engagement is ongoing. Using a name is a personal touch not often utilized by companies.

They responded. Not only did they respond to me, they respond to *everyone*. A quick scan down the “Visitor Posts” highlights not only interactions but actual engagements with customers…and a lot of posts have been due to poor perceived value/experience. An incredible number of engagements have been made daily.

But, that’s not all…their Twitter account not only sees near-daily postings, but a scroll down “Tweets & Replies” highlights their intense engagement with their followers and responses to queries, mentions and the like (both positive and negative)

The nature of not just some standard, automatic responses is what impresses me the most in the company’s efforts to not just actively engage their customers…but to *pro-actively* engage their customers. One can feel that there is a real person behind the post. Case in point, they will often use the customer’s name.

In the ongoing challenge for B2C companies to stand apart, engagement is often lacking to build strong relationships. Regardless of product, Vistaprint continues to put out the effort to their customers and excels in their listening abilities.

 

COM0015 – Blog #4 – Out of the Box

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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.