Become Transparent

As many of us have mentioned in previous posts, transparency is essential to a company’s successful use of social media. With many people trusting companies less and less, being transparent with your publics develops a positive image. The article “Multi-method analysis of transparency in social media practices: survey, interviews and content analysis” looked at the best ways to use social media and become a transparent company.

The article explains that there are three key factors that affect transparency. The first element of transparency is providing truthful and useful information. Obviously if a company puts out lies, the public will eventually lose trust in them. Also, withholding information from publics is not being transparent. Even if information might hurt the company’s image, it is better to put it out there rather than try to hide it, and it end up being leaked. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, Dominos’ quickly realized that holding back information could backfire and create a even worse situation.

The second element is developing interactivity, and encouraging the publics to participate. If you create a way for publics to interact with your company, but don’t promote it, it’s pointless. The first step to gaining customer participation is actually engaging them. After you have their engagement, you keep their attention by the interactive features. Public participation helps transparency because it leads the customers to feel like they are a part of the company. Interacting with customers also leads to better relationships, creating more trust.

The third element is disseminating information that is objective and accountable. Putting out biased information may not support the values of some of your customers, which could result in losing your audience. Also, by sending out messages that are not objective, companies can cause customers to be defensive and question their character. This somewhat goes back to the first element, because in order to provide information that is accountable, it has to be truthful.

Transparency is achieved when companies use social media to let their audiences know what they are doing and report news. Not only do they tell publics recent decisions they have made, but they can also use the outlets to explain why they make certain decisions. By letting the publics know the rationale behind decisions, companies because more transparent because they are giving the whole process of making a decision, not just the outcome. Transparency allows for a company to help customers understand new information, company policies and their values.

This video has the CEO of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream talking about how that company is transparent. He explains that it starts internally, having corporate transparency and top management acting as role models for employees.

The article “Why Extreme Transparency Requires Extreme Trust” explains how transparency and trust go hand in hand together. Transparency affects many other aspects of a company, such as reputation and image, which is why it is so important to focus on. Social media provides many outlets to become a transparent company.

By: Lauren Metz

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Citigroup Improving Customer Satisfaction Through Twitter

As I mentioned in my first post, Twitter has provided companies another outlet for branding, building relationships and providing their latest news. The article “Citi Won’t Sleep on Customer Tweets” explains how Citigroup is using Twitter as a part of a larger effort to improve customer satisfaction. Citigroup created a special team that is trained specifically for social media use. They have a personal Twitter account, which is @askCiti, that allows customers to tweet direct questions and problems to them.

Using Twitter develops a more personal relationship with the customers. Citigroup realized that by using social media, they also increase their profits. Seeing the customer response to Twitter led the company to understand just how technologically savvy potential users are.

Giving customers the @askCiti outlet to voice their opinions, also allows promotion of Citigroup. Followers who tag @askCiti to ask a question, are indirectly promoting the company. All of the followers of the customer will see the account name, and have the ability to go look at the account. Customers can also tag @askCiti anytime to let people know about their experience.

Research has shown that large banks are having trouble establishing a presence in the social world, and are not easy for customers to contact. Citigroup has had better results with customer satisfaction since developing @askCiti. The forum simplifies the process of asking questions, and is much more direct than being transferred from person to person over a phone call.

Using Twitter has the potential to both hurt and help your company. Citigroup is using the outlet to improve customer satisfaction, but with specific techniques and strategies, various positive outcomes can be achieved. The article “5 Ways Your Business Should Use Twitter Hashtags” discusses how a company can benefit by using hastags. Depending on the goal of your Twitter account, hashtags can be used to create conversations, generate new ideas and develop a unique association to your company.

By: Lauren Metz

Domino’s Turning a Crisis into Company Success

Domino’s Pizza had quite the crisis on their hands after two employees filmed a video of them contaminating the ingredients while making a pizza and posted it on YouTube. The video eventually had over one million views and was being talked about on multiple mediums. In the article “Hoaxes and the Paradoxical Challenges of Restoring Legitimacy: Dominos’ Response to Its YouTube Crisis” Domino’s crisis response strategy is discussed and praised for turning their bad situation into a good one.

At first Domino’s didn’t want to publicly make a statement because they didn’t want to draw attention to the video, but quickly realized that was not an option. The president of the company filmed his own YouTube video, addressing the issue. They realized that in order to reach the same public that viewed the employee made video, it was necessary to respond through the same outlet.

Domino’s took this terrible situation, and made it into something positive. They reevaluated their hiring process and food safety practices. Although the video was filmed in only one store, Domino’s inspected every pizza place and made sure they were sanitized. This showed to the public that they really do care about food safety. Also, they immediately fired the employees and took legal action against them.

They created a special twitter account that was strictly for answering questions about the incident. From this, Domino’s learned that a web presence was essential to their company as a whole, aside from the crisis. This online presence ended up boosting their revenue and created interactions with current and potential customers.

By creating this outlet for customers to give feedback, Domino’s learned how valuable consumer criticism is to the company. They created a new type of pizza that was all based off of customer feedback.

Domino’s made this crisis into a learning experience. They ended up having increased revenue and bettering their company as a whole. Domino’s realized it’s better to not try to avoid the issue, but address it, take action, and start over.

Not all companies have such a good outcome from a crisis, and Chick-Fil-A might be one of them. In the article “5 Lessons To Learn From Chick-Fil-A’s Social Media Crisis” there are some criticisms of how Chick-Fil-A handled their recent crisis. The crisis happened in July 2012 and started over the religious values Chick-Fil-A is associated with.

Domino’s was lucky to have such a good situation come out of their crisis, but just remember, it’s possible to make happen!

By: Lauren Metz

“My Marriott Hotel” – Branding through a Social Media Game

Marriott International Incorporated was the first company to launch a social media game that targets employees and potential candidates. The article “Social media gaming – a recipe for employer brand success” discusses how the company uses its employees to brand their image through the social media game.

Marriott International Incorporated uses employees as their brand. They do not try to just brand a message through their employees, but want them to actually be their brand. “My Marriott Hotel” is a game that is played on Facebook that allows players to run their own kitchen. Players get to make choices on how the kitchen operates, who is on staff, ingredients, main dishes offered, etc.

“My Marriott Hotel” was developed from employee feedback, sending out the message that Marriott International Incorporated, as a company, is essentially its employees. This social media game gives current and future employees a better sense of what it takes to run the hotel. This promotes working for their company, specifically the hospitality department, as a career rather than just a little job.

The game balances having fun, and interacting with the audience, along with educating people about the company. It is internally and externally branding because players develop a certain feeling towards the company after committing to the game and experiencing what it is, or would be, like to work for Marriott International Incorporated. The company is also promoting itself globally by making the game available in 101 countries.

When creating a social media game there are many things your company should consider. The article “26 Elements of a Gamification Marketing Strategy” explains some techniques to make your game a success.

By: Lauren Metz

Hotels actively using Social Media

Being an active user in the world of social media will increase your company’s success, as long as you do it in the right way. Hotels are already figuring out how to maximize the benefits that come with using social media. In the article, “An Investigation of Hoteliers’ Attitudes toward the Use of Social Media as a Branding Tool”  Mohamed A. Nassar explains how hotels are making decisions about what social media platforms to engage in, and what’s working best for them.

Branding a hotel through social media makes the company to refer back to its core values. This forces a hotel to make sure it is grounded in its values, and creates a time to reevaluate what it stands for and wants to present to the public. Just this can make a hotel stronger from the beginning.

The hotel should decide what platforms would work best for their targeted audience, and what type of messages will be sent out through each one. You need to make sure you can integrate each medium into the other platforms to create more traffic. For example, you might use Twitter to post a message that has a link to your facebook page which then takes you to your company website.

If you are an active user in social media, your hotel will have the opportunity to build a stronger relationship with customers. Before social media, the customer would interact with the hotel only until the booking was complete. Now, hotels can communicate with customers even after their stay. They are able to receive higher feedback and work to solve any complaints. Hotels can also customize a guest’s stay by gathering pillow preference, what type of drinks they like, and offering different room designs. This allows for conversation to last longer, ultimately bringing customers back and creating loyalty to your hotel.

You can make your audiences feel privileged by offering discounts and special packages exclusively through social media. This keeps your audience engaged and brings business back to your hotel. Hotels are also using social media to test new services, decide on new locations, and create events by sending the message out and then analyzing the feedback. The two-way communication setup allows for a hotel to send out a message and then receive customer feedback, which eliminates the need for the hotel to keep checking back.

By actively engaging in social media hotels are expanding their customers and improving their reputation. Hotels must take advantage of this if they want to keep loyal guests, because otherwise someone could just find the closest hotel through a search engine, not caring which one it is. Trump Hotels have a presence in many social media platforms and work daily to keep everything updated, and customers engaged. In the article, “How Trump Hotels Use Social Media” Lisa Lavian explains how Trump Hotels are utilizing this new media.

By: Lauren Metz

Branding through Twitter

Twitter is a social media site that you can use to brand a company and promote products. Twitter allows conversations to happen between multiple users, builds a network, and is constantly being updated with newsworthy items. It also allows users to be directly connected with their consumers, no matter where they are located geographically.

Twitter can be used on a personal or business level. When using the micro-blogging site for a brand certain guidelines should be followed, which are explained in the article “The early bird catches the news: Nine things you should know about micro-blogging,” to achieve success for your company. Once you are comfortable using Twitter you will be able to push many messages to multiple audiences.

Research should always be done before creating an account and communicating to customers. You should look to see what consumers are saying about your product or service. If there aren’t any conversations happening about your company, then you have an opportunity to start with a clean slate and get the customers talking. Also, you need to figure out exactly why your company is entering the Twitter environment. It could be to sell a product, get customer feedback, or give product support. Organizational skills must be clearly defined before you start tweeting away. Next, you want to decide whether your company will use a profile representing the business as a whole, or if you will have personal profiles of employees within the organization. If you are going to use personal profiles, it should be obvious to followers that a certain person updates the account. Go back to your organizational goals and see which type of profile will help achieve your mission.

While creating your twitter presence, you want to make sure to appear credible and equable. Your account will not benefit the company if you are not trusted by your followers and don’t have open lines of communication. After you have started tweeting you should always track the success of your twitter to your company’s goals. Look at the amount of money your business has lost or gained because of tweeting. Twitter is a simple site so you do not want to make anything too complicated or structured. Think of your account as a personal relationship with each and every one of your followers. If you are too formal or limited to what you tweet, people will not be interested in reading your timeline. The next thing you want to pay attention to goes back to a few of the previous points. Make sure you are listening to how people are talking about your company. When you see something you want to respond to, tweet directly to them but make sure you have observed the whole situation.

You need to find something that makes your brand stand out. You have to be authentic and relatable. If people don’t believe you, your twitter account will do nothing positive for your company. This comes with being accepted by customers. The last tip for establishing a successful site should be obvious, don’t only plan what you are going to do, but put it in action! You can come up with a strategy but what good will that be if you don’t actually execute it? Branding through Twitter is the whole point for jumping in this type of social media!

After you have developed your Twitter account, people will go to your page to read past posts, creating pull communication for your company. You should continuously be searching for ways to improve your Twitter presence and you can find many other tips in the article “Twitter Best Practices: How to Use Twitter Effectively ~ Making Twitter work for YOU”.

By: Lauren Metz