Final Project: PacaNaturals + An Improved IMC Strategy

Company Analysis:

Nestled in the heart of Portland’s Old Port district, PacaNaturals is one of Maine’s only retailers of premium alpaca products. Owned by husband/wife team Stacey and Tom Munroe, the store sells only products made in the United States, with a large emphasis on Maine-made and local items. One of the more popular items at PacaNaturals, a beautiful throw blanket that retails for over $100, is even made with alpaca fiber from Stacey and Tom’s own animals. The live on Abbott Farm, a large colonial-style farm where they keep their 35+ alpacas, as well as chickens, turkeys, pigs and two barn cats.

maine alpaca products

Speaking honestly, PacaNaturals has a very specific demographic. While we will open our doors to anyone and everyone, of course, there is a certain type of person to whom PacaNaturals has a great appeal. As mentioned above, our premium alpaca blanket retails for over $100. This should give you an idea of the price range of our products. Generally, a pair of alpaca socks sells for between $20 and $30, while scarves can be over $50. Alpaca sweaters and vests retail for $100-$200. As you might gather, alpaca wear lends itself to a high middle class/upper class demographic, and tends to draw women more than men. (Specifically, women middle-aged and older.) However, late fall and winter draw more people into the store, and broaden our audience a little bit more, as the demand for warm clothes is very high from November to April in Maine.

maine alpaca products

At PacaNaturals, we do have a very firm grasp on who our demographic is, and have made them the target audience for our social media and blog posts, as well as for our print and radio ads. We post blogs that relate to women’s fashion, things to do around Maine with kids and families, etc. Additionally, when we run print ads, we do so in local magazines and newspapers with largely female audiences (i.e. – Maine Magazine, Downeast Magazine, The Old Port Magazine).

Below is a Strengths and Opportunities Analysis on PacaNaturals, which will help us determine how we should use digital and traditional marketing in 2015.

Strengths:

  • Premium products
  • Niche market
  • Loyal customer base established
  • Commitment to excellence
  • All employees have extensive knowledge about products/alpacas
  • Owners are respected in alpaca community

Opportunities:

  • Christmas With Alpacas
  • Portland Buy Local & GreenFest events
  • Looking into new locations

With all of this in mind, we can begin to build our marketing plan for the last quarter of 2015 (September through December). It is very important that PacaNaturals embraces an Integrated Marketing Communications philosophy when planning our outreach and advertising for this time period. While all companies could benefit from an IMC strategy, it is especially important that PacaNaturals takes an integrated approach to marketing. This is largely because of who our target audience is. While most people have embraced social media and digital communications, there are still people who don’t enjoy using Facebook or who are reluctant to join email lists, etc. This is especially true for those in our demographic. Since middle-aged and older women vary in their affinity for technology, we simply cannot rely on social media and email to sell our products. It is very important that we meet our demographic where they are by also running ads in magazines and on the radio.

christmas with alpacas

I would propose that PacaNaturals amplifies our social media advertising by using boosted and paid ads on both Facebook and Twitter, and that we put a strong focus on optimizing Pinterest for SEO as 2015 wraps up. I would also propose that engaging and informative advertisements are run on WCLZ and Frank FM, local radio stations in Portland who have an overwhelmingly middle aged audience. Additionally, while print ads in local magazines are expensive, they are seen by thousands, which we know based on the readership of such publications as Maine Magazine, Downeast Magazine, the Portland Press Herald and more. Finally, I’d like to take advantage of proximity marketing, especially around the holidays, and of the various Portland-based websites that encourage consumers to “buy local.”

Conclusions Drawn:

So, now that we’ve discussed a lot of ways to improve our Integrated Marketing Communications strategy, is there anything we missed? While I delved a lot into social media marketing, print ads in magazines and newspapers, and advertising on the radio, I did not discuss direct mail or email marketing at length. I will do so now.

Direct Mail

Benefits:

  • Reach potential customers directly at their door.
  • Provide coupons/discounts exclusively to those who redeem their direct mail at our store or with an online code.
  • Increase brand awareness throughout Southern Maine.

Drawbacks:

  • Expensive.
  • Could be perceived as “annoying” by those who are receiving the mail.
  • Might get simply thrown into the trash.

Email Marketing

Benefits:

  • Sent right to potential and returning customers in their inbox.
  • Perceived as minimally invasive marketing.
  • Clickable links/high resolution photos/SEO optimization.
  • Provide coupons/discounts exclusively to those who receive our newsletter.
  • Drive consumers to our online store with links.

Drawbacks:

  • Spam filters/blacklist risks.
  • Could get expensive, depending on amount we wish to send.
  • Might get un-opened/sent to trash.

Overall, I think that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in each scenario. I think direct mail would take a significant amount of planning and coordination, but could be effective in reaching those who are not as “internet-savvy” as others. Email marketing is something that we do do already, but not as well as we could be. Sending weekly or bi-weekly newsletters is something that we need to be in the habit of, rather than sending them sporadically. These are a great way to drive people to our site via links and embedded pictures.

Analytics and social media planning tools are two things that we need to think deeply about as we try and approach a more efficient and effective marketing strategy in 2015. Currently, we are not using paid services for either of these things, though I think we could justify the expenditures – especially with analytics. For one thing, we are interested in driving traffic to our online store, yet we are relying solely on Google Analytics to tell us if our efforts are working. While Google Analytics does provide a suite of important information for no cost, there are other tools that could help us better understand the effectiveness of our e-commerce efforts, as well as the sites and landing pages from which people are arriving at our online store.

In addition to paying for an analytics service, I think that we could benefit from using an all-in-one social media and digital marketing scheduling tool. What we need is likely more powerful that Sprout Social, though HootSuite looks like it could be a solid option. However, HubSpot does provide a nice suite of products, though we would need to do extensive research on this option, as the costs can be astronomical.

It would be even better if our analytics tool and digital planning/auto-posting platforms were the same thing. HubSpot is a way to achieve this, as well. Tools like the aforementioned HootSuite do provide a decent look at analytics, as does Buffer, another social media scheduling tool. It would probably be necessary to set ROI and KPI benchmarks before we invested our time and money into learning a powerful tool such as these, but there will certainly be a need for these tools in the future as a more robust IMC plan comes together.

Overall, there are a lot of areas where we need improvement in our marketing strategy at PacaNaturals. While I truly believe that we do a good job with the resources that we have (both time and money), we could do better. Where we do place a heavy emphasis on social media right now, we could be taking some of the weight off of sites like Facebook and Pinterest by developing an engaging and regular email newsletter, optimizing our website for SEO and broadening our social media horizons.

It will take some time to get to where we want to be – at a fully integrated marketing approach that takes advantage of all forms of multimedia and traditional marketing tactics. However, having a strong commitment to this goal, which we do, is the first step in reaching it, and I believe that everyone involved with PacaNaturals believes in the business enough to want to spend this time and money on marketing.

PacaNaturals is the little store that could, and we are all prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure it keeps on thriving in one of Maine’s most popular destinations: the Portland Old Port.

Week 12: Using Analytics to Improve IMC

This week, I’m going to take a look at how analytics can be helpful in determining where to go with your IMC strategy. For the purposes of this post, I’ll be using XYZ Company, a mom-and-pop run heating and cooling (HVAC) company located in Western Massachusetts. In addition to the Facebook account that the company runs – data from which will be used in this post, XYZ Company has a website, a Twitter account, a Yelp page and a claimed Google+ account. Since the company is fairly new at digital marketing, and the husband/wife team is in charge of all efforts, the Facebook page is how they do the majority of their advertising. In my opinion, XYZ Company could benefit from a dive into their analytics (Facebook and otherwise), and would likely find a lot of ways to adjust their marketing by taking an IMC approach, thus driving more business.

I will be using a set of recent Facebook analytics to make recommendations about XYZ Company’s marketing strategy.

Why IMC Marketing Is Important

First, what is IMC? IMC, or Integrated Marketing Communications, is a form of marketing that involves coordinating digital and social media efforts with more traditional forms of marketing like direct mail or television/radio advertisements. As social media becomes more of a marketing powerhouse, IMC is becoming more and more important. Large corporations like Apple, Target and Hewlett-Packard have jumped on the IMC bandwagon, knowing that this developing marketing strategy is the key to capturing the attention of consumers all over the world.

IMC is important because it represents the modern thinking of marketing professionals who know how important social media is in marketing and embrace “Web 2.0” as a legitimate way to interact with the general public. Where 30% of the global population is connected to the internet, and 890 million active users per day on Facebook, IMC has become so important to the success of marketing campaigns, no matter what size the company. Whether a large company like those previously mentioned (Apple, Target, Hewlett-Packard) or a small, local brand like XYZ Company, IMC is integral to drawing attention to your company, and to running a successful business.

Analyzing XYZ Company’s Facebook

Now that we’ve established the importance of IMC, it’s time to take a look at the Facebook Insights provided by XYZ Company. Why should we look at these numbers? Simple. By spending time analyzing the successes and failures of XYZ’s Facebook presence, we can better determine how to move forward with the IMC marketing campaign that the company needs to employ. Facebook Insights can show us a great deal about what the husband and wife team have been doing, and will let us know what direction they need to go in in the future.

2015-03-29_2045The first thing I noticed about XYZ Company’s Facebook page is that they only have 2015-03-29_2047167 Likes. This being said, they have gained 19 of these likes in just one week (3/11/15 – 3/17/15). This is an excellent spike in Likes. Additionally, for having a smaller number of Likes, XYZ Company’s posts have a total reach of 3,689 people. This is a very high number. XYZ Company also managed to land 207 engagements on just five posts.

Let’s first discuss the spike in these numbers from March 11 to March 17. This seems to be a result of XYZ Company’s paid posts. These statistics indicate that the company “boosted” all five of the posts they sent out during this time period. This is one case in which paying for Facebook to run your post more often has paid off. It is obvious that the boosted posts would receive a larger number where engagements are concerned. However, it’s interesting to see that this paid effort did also net the company 19 likes in six days. Considering the fact that, before the week in question, they had only 149 Likes, this is a significant jump. The graph shows us that these 19 Likes did occur on ads exponentially more than they did on the page itself.

We can also see in this analysis that the spike in engagement on XYZ Company’s posts happened in March, when these paid advertisements were sent out, where the numbers in January and February were far lower.

Improving XYZ Company’s Facebook Strategy

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Given the success of XYZ’s boosted Facebook posts, I would say that this strategy should be continued and built upon. Since both Likes and engagements were up as a result of the ads, it is important to keep them running. This should continue to boost the page’s Likes. Of these boosted posts, it’ll be important for XYZ Company to keep track of which posts are doing the best. While all boosted posts are likely to show increased engagement from those that aren’t paid, there will be some that perform better than others. It will be imperative for XYZ to keep track of the boosted posts that are yielding higher engagement rates so that they know what is working the best, and are spending their money as wisely as possible. All of XYZ Company’s boosted posts feature a photo, which is a strategy I would continue with.

2015-03-29_2048

I would also suggest that XYZ Company take advantage of Facebook’s newly released ‘Call to Action Buttons.’ These give them several options for engagement, as they prompt Facebook users to engage with the page. XYZ could use the ‘Contact Us’ call to action to drive potential customers to their email or phone lines. Additionally, they could create informative videos about their services and use the ‘Watch Video’ button. Finally, as I will be suggesting an email list in the next portion of this post, I would expect that XYZ Company use the ‘Sign Up’ call to action button to gain additions to their list. This post is a great example of how to use these new buttons.

Improving the Company’s Overall IMC Strategy

In addition to the Facebook strategy that XYZ Company needs to employ, they will need to take advantage of a more broad IMC strategy to drive traffic to their website and, in turn, increase business. Below, I will outline the ways in which XYZ Company should pursue such a strategy:

  • Yelp – Since XYZ Company is a local business with an actual, physical location, they need to take full advantage of what Yelp and other networks have to offer. Yelp is a great way for consumers to find quality restaurants and services in their area, and they rely on the app to lead them to high quality businesses. Similar apps include Angie’s List, which is a great website for finding local services.
  • Email – It is important that XYZ Company starts a monthly newsletter. While it may seem difficult to get a lot of people to sign up for an HVAC company’s email list, it will be helpful in driving people to the website. By offering coupons and discounts via this newsletter, as well as tips and tricks about how to keep your home as heat/air efficient as possible, XYZ Company should not have too much difficulty building a formidable list.
  • Google+ and SEO – As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Google+ has a significant role in determining the search engine ranking of websites. XYZ Company needs to make sure that its Google+ page is informative and engaging, and oft-updated. In addition, XYZ Company needs to make sure that they are optimizing their entire website for SEO and using Google Analytics to track how users are being referred to their site.
  • Twitter – At this point, I think it would be okay for XYZ Company to be linking their Twitter to their Facebook. That is, posting the same posts on Twitter as are going out on Facebook via a social media management tool. Since they still need to build their Facebook presence, Twitter should not be priority. However, it is important to establish a presence on Twitter, as well, as it is the second largest social network.
  • Direct Mail – For a service like HVAC, direct mail has the potential to be extremely effective. By sending out postcard sized pieces of mail to all of those within a 30 mile radius of their business’s location, XYZ will increase brand awareness. I would recommend that XYZ include specials and direct-mail-only coupons to be redeemed by potential customers.
  • Television/Radio Ads – Depending on the company’s budget, television or radio ads could be helpful to boost XYZ Company’s brand awareness. I would suggest either, as their audience is likely engaging with both mediums. Any ads sent out on television or radio should be engaging, succinct and informative.

Potential Posts and Campaigns for XYZ Company’s Strategy

As we get closer to summer, XYZ Company should really consider running advertisement campaigns surrounding air conditioner installation and maintenance. Since XYZ Company deals with heating and cooling, they should have plenty of opportunities to capitalize on the unpredictable New England weather throughout the year. At this moment in time, I would suggest sending air condition installation coupons via direct mail, as well as promoting the company’s email list via these same discounts. XYZ Company should bolster these efforts with a significant push via Facebook ads. They could also run radio ads if their budget allowed.

I would suggest that these ads continue through the summer, with varying discounts and coupons available via different mediums.

By August, XYZ Company should consider sending out similar ads and promotions surrounding heating services as the winter approaches.

Week 11: Taking On Good & Bad Reviews In the Hospitality Industry

*Please note that this is a sample post and is being used for academic purposes only. I am not a representative of either company discussed in this post.*

In this week’s lesson, we learned about handling positive and negative comments as they are posted online. As part of the social media manager’s job, at any given company, they need to think about dealing with feedback that is communicated by customers (or potential customers) via social media, website and blog comments, industry-specific sites, and online review platforms like Yelp and Foursquare. Of course, the latter is more important when your brand has a brick and mortar location, but these websites should be monitored even if you have an online shop, as someone might have posted about your brand without your knowledge.

On this week’s blog, we’ll take a look at two reviews posted to TripAdvisor about two different hotels, and I will craft a response that directly addresses these reviewers in a personal and meaningful way. It is, after all, extremely important to make sure that any reviews answered by social media and/or PR managers are answered in a way that makes the customer feel heard and valued, even if they posted a negative review.

Let’s first look at a positive review, left on TripAdvisor for a Hyatt location. Below it, I will write (in italics) my response, just as if I were the Hyatt’s social media manager.

Hyatt-example2015

Dear TravelWith3Kiddos,

Thank you so much for this kind review! We are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your stay at the Hyatt Regency. We take an immense amount of pride in the detail that the architects put into the design of our new location, and it means so much to hear that our customers appreciate it, too!

Most of all, we’re happy to hear that you had a wonderful customer service experience. We value Ralph and all of the staff at our hotel and our restaurants, and we know that they are dedicated to providing the best customer experience possible to each person that visits the Hyatt Regency.

Next time you visit, bring the kiddos to our Mermaid Academy! The larger of our pool areas is a beachside paradise that is often more immune to the Florida storms. At Mermaid Academy, the kids will learn to swim with a mermaid tail or shark fin. It’s a popular activity. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to review your stay at the Hyatt!

– Olivia

You’ll notice that I took the time to address the reviewer directly in an attempt to personalize my response right off the bat. I immediately thanked the customer for the positive review and commented on the fact that she noticed the architecture in our hotel’s new location. I then lifted their server’s name (Ralph) from her review to show attentiveness and let her know that it is extremely important to the Hyatt that we provide excellent customer service. Finally, I provided a personalized suggestion to the reviewer about something that her family would likely enjoy very much. In closing, I thanked the customer again and signed my name, letting her know that I am a human person responding to her review.

Next, we’re going to tackle a negative review, left on the TripAdvisor page for a Hilton in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Here, I’ll use the same tactics I used in the previous respond to give this customer a meaningful reply to their disappointed review.

Hilton-example-2015

Dear Luv2TravelWithHubby,

Oh no! We are so sorry to hear about the multiple issues that you had throughout your stay at our Hilton in Fort Lauderdale. I would like to let you know that we do not find any of this acceptable in any way and we do hope that your reunion was not ruined because of the poor service you received.

I’d like to let you know that our hotel is now under new management and that we have taken great care to remedy all of the issues that you experienced. While there is absolutely no excuse for the problems you experienced during your stay, we hope you’ll consider returning to the Hilton Fort Lauderdale in the future.

During your next stay, you and your hubby should indulge in a day at Spa Q, our peaceful haven of relaxation. We have highly trained professionals who are ready to help you find your nirvana. We’ve also redone our pool area, which is now a refreshing oasis, even amidst high Florida temperatures.

Once again, we apologize for the inconveniences you experienced during your last stay with us. We appreciate your review and will certainly take all of your comments into consideration. We hope to see you again.

– Olivia

This response was a little more difficult to write than the first one. It is far harder to craft the perfect response to a clearly dissatisfied customer, but it is important to try anyway. You’ll notice that I retained a lot of the same format that I used in my first response. I addressed the reviewer by their username and immediately apologized for her poor experience. I felt that it was important to immediately establish that we do not, under any circumstances, tolerate the level of customer service (or lack thereof) that she received.

Next, I debated telling the customer that the hotel is under new management because I did not want this to be construed as a cop out. However, I felt that it was important to convey that our hotel has made several changes to remedy the issues that she experienced, and that she should feel that she has an exceptional place to stay the next time she is in Fort Lauderdale.

Finally, I suggested that she and her husband, whom she mentioned in her username, visit our Spa Q should they choose to come back and visit the hotel again. I also explained that our pool area is now an oasis in the midst of Florida heat, and that this would be another great thing to do should they return. I apologized again for the issues that the reviewer experienced, and mentioned that I appreciated her review and valued the things she said in her comment. Again, I signed the response with my name to let the reviewer know that I am a real person who cares about her insight.

It is important to understand where the customer is coming from when they leave a review for your brand online. It is generally true that people will either leave very positive or very negative reviews. Typically, if someone doesn’t have an exceptional or terrible experience with your brand, they don’t feel compelled to let others know about it. That said, positive and negative reviews are important to read and understand, and to respond to. Both are an opportunity to generate more business, as you can further a customer’s positive experience by directly addressing their comment. On the other side of the coin, you can turn around a bad interaction with your brand by letting a negative reviewer know that you value their opinion and that you are seriously considering what they’ve said.

Additionally, publicly addressing reviews online can help potential customers feel more positive about your brand. Even when you’re responding to a negative commenter, an unbiased third party may see your response, feel that you’ve done a nice job placating the customer, and form a positive opinion about your brand. Similarly, if someone sees reviewers raving about your brand online, and sees that you appreciate their praise, they are likely to feel positively about your brand, as well.

Week 10: Taking A Look At Catersource’s Annual Conference Marketing Strategy

*Please note that this blog post is part of my Master’s coursework and for educational purposes only.*

March 8th through 11th marked Catersource’s annual conference event for those in the catering industry. The four day conference, which took place at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas featured keynote presentations from industry leaders, breakout sessions and classes, as well as several “just for fun” activities. The Event Solutions conference and trade show joined professionals from the events communities as well as caterers to create an environment of mutual education. The purpose of this blog post is to discuss the marketing tactics used by Catersource to promote the conference, before during and after the event. I’ll take a look at Catersource’s (very good) social media strategy, it’s website updates and posts, as well as any additional content present in the company’s integrated marketing plan.

catersource cses2015

Catersource’s Impressive Social Media Campaign

catersource cses2015First, let’s look at how Catersource leveraged today’s most popular marketing medium: social media. While the company does have accounts set up on sites like Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube, it did not take advantage of these websites during its promotion of the Catersource Event Solutions Conference. Instead, the marketing team stuck to the three “top dogs” of today’s internet: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In my opinion, Catersource did a great job using these platforms to build buzz for the conference and to keep people informed throughout the four days.

Let’s first look at Facebook. The first post that implored folks to learn more and/or register for CSES 2015 appeared on October 2 of last year. On October 10, Catersource linked to this sneak peek of the education schedule for the conference, and introduced the hashtag #CSES2015 for the trade show. The company debuted this hashtag on Twitter just a few days before. As 2014 ended and we moved into 2015, Catersource posted using the #CSES2015 hashtag about once a week on Facebook, with this number climbing steadily as the conference grew closer. The company’s marketing team did an exceptional job posting a variety of content surrounding the conference, including posts about:

  • Registering for the conference/trade-show
  • Signing up for individual classes and breakout sessions
  • Sneak previews of educational content
  • Registration discounts
  • Awards finalists
  • Caesar’s Palace
  • Speakers and speaker profiles/tips and hints from speakers
  • Contests taking place at the conference
  • The CSES mobile app
  • …and so much more!

As you can see, there was a lot of variety in what Catersource was posting about their conference. In all of these posts, there was some form of media. No post was simply text. Whether it was a single photo, a photo album, a link or something else, Catersource did a great job creating engaging posts without being too redundant. (I think you have to be mildly redundant to get people registering for the conference as a whole, and to sign up for breakout sessions.) Also present in a lot of the CSES posts were links to the Facebook pages of sponsors, speakers and participants; quite a few of Catersource’s posts surrounding the trade show tagged at least one page.

Over on Twitter, the marketing team was promoting its #CSES2015 hashtag and generating buzz about the trade show. catersource cses2015Catersource was posting a few times per week about the conference in late 2014, so a little bit more frequently than on their Facebook page.. As we approached February and March, however, post frequency reached about once per day. Similar to its Facebook strategy, the Catersource team posted a link or form of media with just about every #CSES2015 tweet. Photos and videos showed up within Catersource’s timeline, and links went directly to the pages they were related to, not simply to the event homepage; these types of landing pages are definitely important in all types of marketing.

Another thing that Catersource did really well on Twitter was engage its followers and the people that were showing their excitement for #CSES2015 in the hashtag. Several times per week, the company would retweet those who referenced #CSES2015, and would, occasionally, favorite tweets referencing the hashtag. In addition to this activity on Twitter, Catersource also updated their cover photo (on Facebook, too) to be the CSES promotional banner ad which included the dates and location of the conference, as well as high quality photos and bright colors.

On a slightly different note, it appeared to me that Catersource did most of its sponsor recruiting via Twitter and off of social media. There was not a large emphasis on attracting sponsors within the company’s other social networks (and not a lot on Twitter, either) leading up to CSES.

In addition to the Facebooking and Tweeting, Catersource Instagrammed A LOT during the conference. Interestingly, the company had not been active on Instagram between December 23rd and March 4th. Why Catersource dropped off the face of the Instagram world for a while is curious, but not unheard of. After spending some time on the Catersource profile, I see that they have taken quite a few long breaks between posts on Instagram.

catersource cses2015

While there isn’t much to say about Catersource’s Instagram efforts before March, they did do a great job posting about arriving in Las Vegas, their new cookbook (which made its debut at CSES 2015), and the general setup for the trade show. All of the company’s posts during this time and throughout the conference featured the #CSES2015 hashtag.

The Catering World Responds to #CSES2015

In the lead up to the conference, Catersource’s fans and followers were fairly dormant, given the 5,485 Likes the company has on Facebook and the 3,765 followers they have on Twitter. On Facebook, posts surrounding the trade show gathered, on (a very non-mathematical) average, 5-6 likes. I could have easily averaged the engagement level on these posts mathematically, but it would have been severely skewed by the handful of Facebook posts that performed really well for Catersource. For instance, a January 12 post that announced the last day of the “early bird” registration pricing was given 117 Likes, while posts made during the conference also put up high numbers.

catersource cses2015

Catersource’s Twitter posts averaged (again, not very scientifically) 1 or 2 retweets and 4-5 favorites, while their Instagram photos fared a lot better with anywhere between 30 and 60 likes per post during the conference.

catersource cses2015Despite this surprisingly low engagement rate, there was a lot of action within the hashtags on each social network. While Facebook certainly isn’t known for its hashtags, there has been quite a bit of activity in the #CSES2015 hashtag as conference attendees post pictures from their trip. As you might guess, Twitter was really the place for real-time updates from the conference and the hashtag garnered quite a lot of posts. On Instagram, people enjoyed posting their photos from the conference, as well. At the time of this posting, the #CSES2015 hashtag has been posted to 4,229 times and, after a quick scan, I have determined that almost all, if not all, of the posts are related to the Catersource event.

So, What Else Did Catersource Do to Promote #CSES2015?

Aside from their significant social media presence, Catersource has done a lot to market their annual conference/trade show. First and foremost, the company’s website has an entire section dedicated to the four-day event. Within this tab is everything an attendee, sponsor or interested onlooker needs to know about the conference. There are large buttons on the page that attract attendees and sponsors, directing them to the appropriate section of the site, while an easily-navigable column sits on the left, ready to answer all questions a site visitor might have. The website advertises a contest to win attendance and lodging, has links to past events, links to sponsors and an entire section for members of the media.

catersource cses2015

The CSES mobile app is another thing that Catersource used to promote the conference. The app was designed to allow CSES attendees to create their schedules for the conference – that is, which speakers they’re seeing and which special events and sessions they’re attending – and to navigate Caesar’s Palace, and the areas of Las Vegas where conference events would be taking place. The app also highlighted speakers and promoted sponsors in addition to giving attendees access to educational content.

catersource cses2015Smartly, Catersource has an archive of its e-newsletters. It’s easy to see upon a quick scan that all of the newsletters from September to the most recent, January of 2015, feature something about #CSES2015. The September newsletter featured a sneak peek of the CSES speakers, while December offered a CSES-related giveaway, and January provided a way to get involved at the conference. Each newsletter put out by Catersource is colorful, easy to navigate, and simply offers bite-sized (pun very much intended) catering news features with the option to keep reading. Also present is an “Upcoming Events” widget that, since the scheduling of the CSES last year, has featured the event.

catersource cses2015

A Google News search has confirmed my hunch that #CSES2015 would be featured in several press releases and catering-related news pieces. It appears that Catersource takes advantage of PR Newswire, a firm that specializes in “distributing and amplifying” clients’ events and news items. My Google search revealed several pieces of news surrounding the event, including an announcement of the Lifetime Achievement Award to be given out at CSES, as well as profiles of keynote speakers.

Highs and Lows of Catersource’s #CSES2015 Promotion Strategy

Overall, I think that Catersource did an excellent job with the promotion of its annual conference. From their early and often social media strategy to the release of an accompanying mobile app, the company gave #CSES2015 a large chance at success, and it seems that the event reached its full potential. Here are the things I like best about Catersource’s strategy and the things that I would change if I were in charge.

First, Catersource deserves a great deal of credit for introducing the #CSES2015 hashtag as early as it did, and for using it consistently in its social media efforts. In fact, my favorite thing about the promotional strategy for the CSES was the consistency in Catersource’s voice and brand throughout. It was apparent on each handle – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – that the Catersource team was excited for their event and that they were having fun promoting it and setting up. It was also apparent that the company had all of their ducks in a row as far as keynote speakers, awards ceremonies and events. They were able to be informative and engaging in all of their social media posts, and kept the brand’s voice the same on all channels. Similarly, they used the same images, logos and event banners in all of their advertising. On the Catersource website, Facebook page and Twitter page, the same cover photos appear, as well as the significant presence of the company’s logo.

catersource cses2015

I also really liked that Catersource managed to incorporate all of the interests of the CSES’s attendees. The trade show prides itself on being the intersection of catering communities and events management professionals, and their social media campaign really made this apparent. Catersource’s team did not simply focus on food and catering. Instead, they highlighted special events like weddings, seminars and, well, conferences. While all of these events surely include food, the marketing team chose to focus on other things, as well, like flowers, design and location.

On the other side of the coin, I would have liked to see more engagement from Catersource on Instagram leading up to the conference. While they certainly did a great job during the event, I think it would have helped them to post more about the contests and promotions that they were holding on Facebook and Twitter, especially since Instagram put up, far and away, the best engagement metrics. I understand the qualitative portion of this statistic and the fact that Catersource saw large engagement numbers on Instagram likely because they were posting photos of people and things seen at the conference. They took advantage of the “you had to be there” mentality that so often accompanies industry events like this. However, I think that these numbers bode well for what could have been, had Catersource posted more frequently on Instagram beforehand.

Additionally, I would have enjoyed reading a blog on the Catersource website. In general, I think that the company should consider implementing a regularly updated blog section on their site. However, I think that timely blog posts could have boosted the promotion of CSES and could, if carefully and effectively written, take the place of the (likely very costly) PR Newswire.

Overall, Catersource did a great job with their conference and it seems that they are on the right track when it comes to promoting next year’s event.

Week 8: Houzz

For this week’s assignment, I will review Houzz, a social media platform for homeowners and home improvement specialists. I first became aware of Houzz while working at a real estate company, for which I used the site frequently. I still use Houzz when in need of a quick DIY apartment fix, or if I’m feeling particularly nostalgic for a house that I don’t even have yet. In any case, Houzz is aimed at homeowners and also exists as a platform to connect them with professionals who can help them achieve their home improvement goals. Essentially, it acts as a cross between Pinterest and LinkedIn.

houzz

Why Would You Use Houzz, Anyway?

houzz ideabooksHouzz is useful for a few different reasons. First, the platform will connect you to a network of interior designers and contractors ready to help your home remodeling dreams come true. In fact, on each photograph (which you save to your “Ideabooks”) there is an option that asks you if you’re “ready to remodel” and whether you’d like to find professionals in your area who might specialize in the very thing you just saved.

Next, Houzz lets you save ideas to your Ideabooks, just like a board on Pinterest, so that you can come back to them later and use them for inspiration. On these saved posts, people can comment such things as, “Where do I find that lamp?” or “Is that granite or limestone?” and get answers. Unlike Pinterest, there is not a broad swath of categories to choose from. Instead, as the name suggests, Houzz lives solely in the home decor and home construction world. In short, if you’re trying to find out what to have for dinner tonight or plan a baby shower, Houzz isn’t the place you want to be.

Finally, if you’re searching in Houzz, you’ll start out the same way you would on Pinterest. You would look at an overall topic. However, as you go, you can narrow these design topics down, from kitchen to kitchen counters to granite kitchen counters and so on. It’s here that Houzz starts to feel like Amazon or any major online retailer. Not because they’re selling products, but because you can easily narrow your search by criteria; for example, Style, Budget, Size, Layout, etc. As you check the boxes on the left, you’ll be presented with more posts tailored to your ideal end product. Once you’ve done this, you can connect to a contractor or designer a la LinkedIn, but you don’t have to. You can simply save to your Ideabooks and move on if you so choose.

How Did Houzz Come to Be?

Houzz was started when its founders, Adi and Alon, were remodeling their home. According to the story presented on the houzz interiorwebsite’s About Houzz section, the two were dissatisfied with what they were finding in magazines and couldn’t find the professionals they needed to execute their dream. As most startup stories go, the founders said to themselves, “There has to be a better way to do this,” and Houzz was born.

In 2010, when Houzz launched its first app, TechCrunch published an excellent article on the company. By then, there were 60,000 high quality interior and home design photos on the website, contributed by some 10,000 professionals. This made Houzz the largest collection of such photos on the web. Thus, it received 2 million dollars from angel investors who believed in Adi and Alon’s site. Good thing they did. Today, Houzz boasts around 25 million monthly page views and has well over a million Facebook likes. Now, Houzz is valued at around $2 billion.

Can Houzz Keep Its Momentum Moving Forward, Or Is It Bound to Fail?

houzz growthSince its launch in 2009, Houzz has continued to make steady gains in both the home improvement industry and in the vast world of social media platforms. Though, if we’re getting technical, Houzz seems to me to be more of a content community within this world. By mid-2013, roughly 90% of Houzz’s user base were homeowners who were, presumably, using Houzz for remodeling and redecoration purposes. Due to these high numbers, Houzz has asserted itself as a very relevant community within the home design sphere.

Many attribute the success of Houzz to its successful digitization of such a concrete process. Though Houzz can largely thank the internet’s version of word-of-mouth for its rocket to the top, but they should give a lot of credit to their business model and marketing team, who managed to attract investors in venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and beyond.

At the rate that Houzz is currently moving, they will continue to move forward, keeping momentum going in the direction of growth and improvement. As of last year, Houzz launched in the UK and now has offices in Sydney and Berlin.

In my personal opinion, Houzz can and will make it. Given the high rate of homeowners present in the Houzz community, the site is offering extremely relevant information to a specific group of people. Where users could get lost in the depths of Pinterest or, even worse, not find experts to get their projects done, Houzz allows for no distractions. Its user-friendly interface allows users to quickly and easily connect with professionals and, provided it continues like this, its market will only expand. Finally, Houzz’s easy interaction with Facebook (it gives you the option to connect to your profile and share Houzz posts on your Facebook wall each time you save an image), it has built an important bridge between itself and the second largest site on the internet – after Google.

How Should Businesses Take Advantage of Houzz In Marketing?

A quick Google search of Houzz will yield results like, ‘Should My Business Be On Houzz?‘ and ‘How to Make the Most of houzz5Houzz for Your Company.’ It’s true. Houzz’s growth numbers should be enough to convince you that, if you’re in the home design or remodeling business, you should be on Houzz. Even real estate professionals, like the one I worked for, can make Houzz work for their brands, too. Since Houzz works to connect users directly with home professionals, there is no reason not to get your brand’s name out around the website. The ‘Find A Pro‘ section of the website will help you do this best.

Proximity marketing might have to be slightly rethought to work seamlessly alongside Houzz. The website will store the information you give it, according to their Privacy Policy, and may hand it over to professionals who may benefit from it. Once you’ve given your location to Houzz, it will provide you with professionals who are local to you. While businesses might not be able to use ALL of the information given to Houzz, such as your phone number or email address – unless you’ve made it public, they might use the ‘Contact Me’ button to reach out to users who have been on their business’s profile. While this doesn’t make use of users’ exact locations, it is a good example of proximity marketing online. For a concrete example, suppose I am a homeowner and I’ve spent some time searching for general contractors to remodel my kitchen in Brookline; maybe I’ve checked out a few business pages but haven’t contacted any of them. Well, a business could see that I’ve been on their page a few times and then choose to contact me. I’ve spent time in their digital space, so they should pursue me as a potential customer.

Brands with Houzz profiles should make sure to link to Houzz via their other social media channels. If they are venturing into the highly concentrated world of a home renovation social website, they very likely already have a Facebook and/or Twitter page. Houzz makes it decently simple to install a Houzz App for your business’s Facebook page. See this video for details:

All in all, brands can certainly make the most of Houzz by linking to their Houzz profile on other social media sites, by linking to Houzz blog posts, and by actively participating within the Houzz interface.

MMC5006 Midterm: Why Google+ is the Underrated Social Network Your Business Should Be Perfecting

At this link, you’ll find a quick Prezi about Google+, which serves as an overview for this post.

You’re a social media savvy marketer, right? You’ve got the digital sphere humming with information about your company’s latest product? Your Facebook page is informative and eye-catching, you’re witty on Twitter, you’ve even got some great boards on Pinterest showcasing your stuff. But is your brand taking advantage of the social network that does the most for your SEO? Chances are, you have a Google+ page; chances are, you don’t know how it got generated. Here’s some background on Google+ and a few reasons why you should claim that stray page and optimize it. ASAP.

The History of +

google+-rich-snippetsGoogle+ is a peculiar story. Launched in 2011, Google’s social network launched to make social networks feel more like “real life.” The basis of Google+ (circles) was a concept developed to make it easier to share content with a certain group of people, whether it be school friends, coworkers, or family. Conversely, this allows people to protect content from those who they don’t want to see it. The people at Google felt that this was a significant feature that Facebook was lacking.

Below is the video, shot by Google, that introduced Google+ back in 2011:

Looks pretty promising, doesn’t it? A month after its initial launch, Google+ had racked up 25 million new accounts. People clamored to be a part of Google’s new endeavor – largely considered to be its fourth endeavor into social networking (after Google Buzz, Google People Connect, and Orkut). By the end of 2011, Google+ had 150 million users. As is normal for Silicon Valley, 71% of early users were male, and Google+ still sees a majority in male accounts (60%).

By the Spring of 2012, those in the tech world were declaring the end of Google+. Statistics from April of that year show that, while users were spending 400 minutes per month on Facebook, the average person with a Google+ account was spending on 3 minutes per month using it. A Wall Street Journal article stated that users didn’t find enough to differentiate Google+ from Facebook that would compel them to take advantage of Google+. Google told a different story, saying, “Not only is Google+ not a ghost town, we have never seen anything grow this fast. Ever.”

Despite the naysayers, Google was and is determined to make Google+ work.

So, What Does Google+ Do, Anyway?

google plus circlesUnsurprisingly, Google+ functions very similarly to Facebook. It is a social network, of course, so it’s bound to have a lot of the same features as the others who were in the game before it. Like Facebook, and MySpace before that, users can add their friends, family and acquaintances on Google+; users can upload photos and tag friends; users can make statuses and share links. Anything you share on Google+ can be shared with all of your ‘circles’ or with specific ‘circles.’

circle is, essentially, a collection of people with whom you share a common interest. In Facebook’s world, a circle is a Group. It’s a place to share with specific people and, if you choose, no one else.

In an effort to differentiate itself from Facebook even more so than with its circles, Google+ incorporates Google Hangouts, a video-chatting interface that allows users to share their screens, presentations, and of course, their faces. Within a Google Hangout, groups can play games and chat, as well as make their Hangout live for the world to join via Hangouts On Air.

Other Google+ features include the +1 Button, which is the equivalent of a Facebook like or a Twitter favorite. This can be embedded on websites and blog posts, just the same as the former two options. Google Communitiesis similar to Circles in that it contains a group of people with something in common. However, Communities allows users to connect with others from all across the globe who share a common interest. Watch a video on Communities below:

Google+ aims to compete with Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks by creating a better mobile experience, and by influencing SEO factors. But, more on that in a moment.

Who Was Google+ Made For, And Who Uses It Now?google hangouts

Google+ was designed as a competitor to Facebook and Twitter, but also as a platform for all of Google’s products, including Hangouts and YouTube. Your Google+ profile becomes your identifier throughout Google’s entire interface, linked to you by your email address. In this sense, it was designed for everyone. But, as you might have guessed for the “unique” features that Google infused into + , they hoped to attract those who were sick of the lack of control over who saw their posts, and those who wanted to segment their social audiences.

Whether or not this is what Google+ got is up for debate. What’s known, though, is that Google+ largely managed to attract male users – as previously mentioned, 60% of Google+’s users, as of late last year, were men – between the ages of 25 and 34. According to a study done in late 2013, one third of Google+ users fell into the professional field of “IT, internet or computer services.” High-level executives and “decision makers” also make up a significant portion of Google+ users, coming in at around 25% of users.

Here are a few statistics, according to Business Insider, that explain exactly what is going on in Google+ land:

  • There are 2.2 billion user profiles on Google+
  • 9% of these have publicly posted content
  • All in all, only about 4-6 million users had posted in 2015, as of January

But, like I said…

Your Business Should Be On Google+

I’m sure you’re a little bit confused, especially in light of the numbers I just shared. But, hear me out. First and foremost, Google+ impacts SEO in a few different ways. As you likely know, SEO is the name of the game right now, and will be as long as Google continues to process an average of 3.5 billion searches per day. How exactly does your business’s Google+ profile impact the way that your webpage shows up in search results? Let me explain:

  • “…the relationship between +1’s and higher rankings goes beyond correlation into the territory of actual causation.” A 2013 article by Moz highlighted the fact that posting to Google+ is a far better way to increase your page’s SEO than Facebook, because Google+ is, intentionally or not, designed for SEO. This lies in the fact that Google+ posts are not protected from Google itself, the way that Facebook and Twitter privacy settings are, so Google+ posts crawl much faster than posts from other social networks, which may not get crawled at all.
  • Google+ posts look and feel like blog posts. According to the same article by Moz, every Google+ post gets its own URL and the first 45-60 characters of the post appear in its title tag. As most SEO and SEM marketers know, blog posts (read: longer posts) get much more attention from search engines than shorter, one-off posts such as a Facebook status or a Tweet.
  • Better Google+ pages will make the Google Search page. In order to have a fighting chance at a high SEO ranking, your google plus profile google searchbusiness needs to have optimized pages on all social networks. This, of course, includes Google+. If you make sure that you’ve claimed your business’s page – remember the randomly generated + page I referred to at the beginning of this post? – and you’ve added informative and high quality pictures and information, as well as a current location, you’ll see that information displayed on the Google Search page when someone searches for you or your product. That way, consumers are seeing everything they need – phone number, location, directions, website, description – all from the Google Search page. You want the consumer to be turned on by this information, not turned off because it lacks completion or looks unprofessional.
  • Google will always favor Google. It’s just smart business. There are dozens on reasons why Google+ affects your SEO rankings, a lot of which are listed here. However, one of the most important but less ‘scientific’ reasons that Google+ has an effect on your page’s SEO rankings is that Google will always favor itself. Why shouldn’t it? Google +1’s are the most important ranking factors for Google Search, which makes perfect sense.

Okay, Okay. I’ll Take Your Advice. Can You Tell Me HOW to Optimize My Google+ Page?

Sure! The good news is, it’s not that hard. If you’ve created a Facebook or Twitter profile for yourself, or even a Pinterest or Instagram, you can make a great Google+ page, too. To make it easy for everyone, here are some steps to take when making your Google+ business page:

  1. Accurately categorize your business/product. You want to make sure that, from the beginning, you’re setting yourself up for success. The most important part of this is making sure that people can find you when they look for you. Select the appropriate category for your brand, whether it be local business, company or institution, product, and so on.
  2. Choose strong pictures. As with Facebook and Twitter, and with your website, a grainy picture doesn’t look good and it won’t attract customers. The same goes for unrelated pictures, pictures that are even mildly risque or inappropriate, and auto-generated pictures that indicate you haven’t uploaded your own yet. Like Facebook and, now, Twitter, Google+ gives you the opportunity to add a cover photo. Do this. And make sure you use something that indicates a sale or a new product, or something else compelling. Just like the profile picture, this needs to be directly related to your product. When you upload product photos or other pictures to Google+, make sure that they are high quality, too.
  3. Don’t leave things blank (if you can help it). There certainly might be a portion of the Google+ business page that isn’t
    applicable to you. Fine, leave it blank and it won’t show up on the public-facing page. But, if you can help it, fill in as many blanks as you can, if not all. The more information you provide to Google, the more information a potential customer will see when searching for your business or product. If you’re a brick and mortar business, surely you have hours. Include them. Similarly, if you sell a physical product or a service, you have a price range. Indicate what it is. Finally, tell your story. People search your page to understand your origins and history. Give them what they want!
  4. Post and interact with “your people” (see video below). Even though, at times, it might feel like no one is listening when you post to your Google+ page, you can always count on at least one important follower: Google itself. Posting relevant content will boost your SEO rankings and it will classify you as a quality contributor. So, post the same things you’re posting to Facebook and Twitter to Google+. Make sure you’re optimizing it for +, too. And, if someone interacts with your page, interact back. Add customers to a special circle; if you have a VIP program or a subscriber program, make a circle for those people. Anyone with a Google email address “has” a Google+ profile and will be notified via that email that you’ve “circled” them. This will draw their attention and they’ll probably feel special.

If you’re still unsure how to proceed, find some inspiration from brands using Google+ very well. For instance, the Starbucks page, which is as gorgeous as a Google+ page can be. Also visit The Economist’s page for a sleek and effective example.

Hopefully, after this not-so-brief overview and analysis of Google+, you understand why embracing this mysterious, surprisingly complex social network is imperative to your business’s online success. Google+ does, believe it or not, exist to help you with your digital presence. Google wants your page to look nice on Search, it wants to help you promote your business. You know why? Because if you look good, Google looks good.

So, claim your page; add pictures and information; circle any users who engage with your page; post relevant content. Google will reward you, and Google+ will continue to grow. Which, I hope you’ve realized, is necessary to all of us in an era where the digital giant remains the #1 most visited site in the world. Every single day.

ages-of-internet-empire-5

Week 7: The Good, The Better and The Ugly – Evaluating Brands’ Social Media Strategy

The Good

The first brand I’d like to evaluate this week is, a personal favorite, Chipotle. I trust I don’t have to give much background as to what Chipotle is; but if you haven’t had it, go get some before you read any further. I’ll wait.

Got it? Good, isn’t it?

chipotle burrito

Anyway, Chipotle maintains a pretty good social media presence. For the purposes of this post, here are the links to Chipotle’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube. Take a second to peruse each profile while you digest your burrito. Chipotle is exceptional at social media marketing, and at taking an IMC approach in all of their communications. The biggest examples of Chipotle’s IMC strategy come when the brand offers free or discounted burritos, or when it’s promoting a special event like their Cultivate Fest. Not only do the social media managers of Chipotle’s accounts post early and often about these events, they post an array of different content about each (photos, videos, customer stories, employee profiles, etc.), and they advertise offline, as well. When you walk into a Chipotle restaurant around the time of any special Chipotle event, there are bound to be cardboard cutouts and stands informing customers about the upcoming event. Chipotle also takes special advantage of text messaging, sending timely but not annoying messages to anyone who has opted into their service. Finally, Chipotle has a decent, no-frills mobile app through which customers can order online for swift pickup, see nutrition facts or locate their nearest restaurant. This app will also alert users of upcoming events.

chipotle tweets salsa

Chipotle is always consistent in their branding, promoting appropriate hashtags across all channels, and maintaining brand recognition throughout all of their marketing content. One of the thing Chipotle prides itself on is the freshness of its ingredients, great culture for staff, and commitment to quality, sustainable farming. The brand always uses social media as a vehicle for promoting these messages, and maintains a consistent social media content calendar. In addition, Chipotle is great about promoting customers to join their text club, sending them over to YouTube to watch informative and compelling videos, and about responding to feedback via all platforms. Overall, Chipotle does a really, really great job with its social media efforts, and ties them in fairly seamlessly with their offline branding.

Sidenote: Chipotle made headlines with this excellent video ad set to Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ in 2011. It’s really an excellently produced piece of branded content…

The Better

A brand that does social media and marketing even better than Chipotle? The television show Parks and Recreation. Here are parks and recreation galentines daythe links to their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest profiles. Why is Parks and Rec’s social media team a great asset to its overall marketing strategy? They’re funny, consistent, maintain the same dry, witty tone as the show, and showcase fan reactions and fan-made content. They post frequently, feature content from diverse mediums, and keep fans hooked on the show even on its breaks. I hope they’ll keep it up after the show’s end, which is next week. (I’m going to take a minute to go cry in the corner now.)

Okay, I’ve recovered. For now. Anyway, Parks and Recreation (and, really, NBC) use social media to really further the advertising that they already do in the form of television promos, print ads and billboards. Extremely consistent in branding, the show’s marketing team goes one step further, and maintains consistency with the tone of the show itself. Anyone who has seen Parks and Rec can attest to the witty, intelligent, heartfelt humor that Amy Poehler and the rest of the cast have delivered for the past seven seasons. They are incredibly talented and the show’s social media accounts don’t let you forget it. This is brand consistency at its finest.

parks and rec treat yo selfParks and Rec’s social media accounts and website promote one another by running contests, advertising merchandise, and presenting exclusive content to fans. In addition, they update frequently and are hip to all of the hashtags that Parks and Rec viewers have adopted. In addition, the marketing team promotes slogans and throwaway lines that have become popular within the show’s fan base, and uses them to get the audience excited for airings. For example, Treat Yo Self, I Know What I’m About Son, and Galentine’s Day.

All in all, Parks and Rec has, what I think is, the most effective and best social presence of any television show currently airing. Netflix does a lot to promote its own shows, but the Parks-and-Rec-specific channels count for more since they only deal with their show. In the lead up to the show’s series finale on February 24th, the Parks and Rec handles have stepped up their game even more, making sure that anyone and everyone who loved, once loved, was curious about, kind of liked Parks and Rec will be tuned in.

The guide to the left is very important, FYI.

The Ugly

Now, let’s talk about a brand that’s not doing so hot on social media. Facebook. Here are the links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn. Let me preface this by saying that Facebook doesn’t do a lot of advertising, in the first place. It doesn’t really have to. With well over 500 million active users each month – 50% of which log on each DAY – Facebook can rest assured that it’s leading its competition. However, I don’t think that this makes the social media giant exempt from marketing itself. Let me explain why before I get into the specifics of what Facebook is doing on social media and in marketing.

facebook on instagram

Facebook is a social media platform and the entirety of its business, including the things it owns, lives online. Facebook is not a tangible product, it is a cloud-based service. It is completely at the mercy of its users and, in the ever-changing online world, I think it’s important that Facebook continually reinforce why it is such an important part of people’s lives. What better way to do that than on social media? The very thing it helped invent? Late last year, the news erupted upon the arrival of Ello, which was billed as “The Anti-Facebook.” While the new social network hasn’t taken off, it still looms in the background as a potential threat to Zuckerberg. The rise and fall of MySpace is an excellent example of why Facebook can’t shrug competitors off. The former was once a giant, dominating the social world of teenagers and college students. Then Facebook happened and it was all over. I don’t think that Facebook can quite consider itself immune to that type of spectacular fizzling. That’s why they need to market themselves!

Facebook doesn’t do much marketing. If it does, most people don’t know about it, which pretty much defeats the purpose. news for facebookWhat Facebook does do, that doesn’t live on social media, is let other people do its marketing for it. News articles and long-form stories about the social giant are all the publicity that Facebook needs to remain as big as it is. When a new feature is added, people report. When Facebook acquires another service, news is written. That’s its marketing strategy. But as I said, I don’t think it’s wise for Facebook to be putting all its eggs in one basket. It would be a great strategy for Zuckerberg’s team to invest in some serious social media strategies (yes, even on its competitor’s sites) to maintain its status (pun very much intended) as the world’s top social media dog.

facebook on linkedinAs of right now, Facebook does have a bare bones presence on most major social media platforms. As I linked to above, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts exist. Of course, it makes sense that Facebook would engage on Instagram, since it owns it now! However, just having the profiles isn’t enough. Brands need to maintain the profiles to stay relevant. On Twitter, Facebook last posted on Valentine’s Day. Before that, it was February 4 and January 20 before that. Not very consistent, to say the least. Throughout the month of February, Facebook has only posted on Instagram once. This hardly makes sense to me, since it follows that Facebook should be a main contributor to Instagram’s community. On their own page on Facebook, the social site posts, on average, every five days. Again, a head scratcher. Unsurprisingly, Google+ and LinkedIn contributions are even lower.

Hashtags only appear in Facebook’s social posts very occasionally, and there really aren’t any spectacular posts to make note of. All in all, it seems like Facebook is counting on the fact that you’re doing your updating within its fiefdom, and that’s about it. Some might call me crazy for calling out one of the largest companies in the world, especially given its user statistics, but when you’re a social media giant, it makes sense that you should act like one, too.