Social Media Best Practices From Other Industries

So far, our blog has covered a wide range of topics about corporate communication and the web within the hospitality and travel industry. This week we will be looking at several success stories from companies outside the travel industry. These companies might be different from one another, but they all have one thing in common: they effectively utilize the social media to benefit their brand.

The next couple of posts will analyze renowned companies with some helpful tips for brands to take note of. Enjoy learning more about these unique companies.

By: The Hospitality and Travel Team

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Better Homes and Gardens Visually Engages with Consumers through Pinterest

The value of Pinterest as a resource for companies to use as marketing tools was highlighted in the previous blogpost entitled, Making Your Brand Visual Through Pinterest. This post talked about how Pinterest is a useful tool for companies to establish a visual relationship with consumers to market their brand. However, it can sometimes be hard to efficiently use Pinterest to raise brand awareness and engage with consumers.

Better Homes and Gardens has done an exemplary job of using Pinterest to promote themselves. In the article The Pinterest Payoff, Stephanie Botelho and Bill Mickey describe Better Homes and Garden’s efforts and show why companies should partake in similar pinning activities.

In March of 2012, Better Homes and Gardens launched a Pinterest contest called “Pin and Win”. For this cash-prize contest, users were asked to create a “My Better Homes and Gardens Dream Home” board for them to re-pin images from the Better Homes and Gardens page. By creating this contest, they not only drew more users to their page but they had their consumers doing the advertising for them. Today, our peers are the greatest influencers when it comes to disseminating information about products and therefore, things that we see our friends re-pin or like, are things we pay more attention to.

Gayle Butcher, the editor in chief for Better Homes and Gardens says in the article that they recognized the power of Pinterest through the visual aspect and the sharing potential and decided that it was something they needed to take advantage of. Better Homes and Gardens not only launched a successful contest, but they also have over sixty boards in which consumers can look to for inspiration or decorating tips. Some examples of these boards are “Livable Living Rooms” and “Fun Front Doors”.

Butcher explains that their goal is to use Pinterest to drive engagement with consumers. It is pretty clear that Better Homes and Gardens is doing a sufficient job of this engagement when you look at their amount of followers. They have over 2 million total board followers, which speaks volumes to their engagement efforts. The smart thing that Better Homes and Gardens is doing is getting feedback and gathering information from their consumers through looking at other things their target market is pinning or interested in. By looking at styles and visuals that their consumers like, they can design new favorable gardens and home décor that will better appeal to the people they are trying to reach. If that’s not engagement, what is?

Learn more here about how to create sharable Pinterest pictures for your business!

By: Gina Mogavero

IKEA Gets Personal With New YouTube Tool

As I discussed in my September 24 post, one negative video posted to YouTube can completely shatter a company’s reputation, but organizations have learned how to use this medium to their benefit. If sufficient effort is put into it, YouTube can be an effective tool in building your brand. According to Leslie Bressor, assistant account executive at Edelman Worldwide, “YouTube is a great venue for ‘how to’ videos and cause campaigns.”

International home improvement store, IKEA is a great example of how a company has innovatively used YouTube. The purpose of the IKEA USA channel is to inspire customers and future customers using how-to videos and design tips. One playlist included on their channel is “How To Build,” which contains instruction videos like how to assemble a sliding frame.

IKEA also launched a 3D Showroom. The tool uses information from Facebook and creates a virtual IKEA bedroom that can be customized by the user to create their ideal bedroom.

Screen shot of 3D Showroom

In addition to the tips for how to better broadcast yourself that I posted on September 17, here are some additional marketing strategies for YouTube:

The blog Pamorama recommends that you should find unique ways to express your brand. IKEA does this with their 3D Showroom.  The author also advises that you don’t be too promotional, but rather show your audience how to get the most out of your products or services. IKEA uses instructional videos to help their customers assemble their products. She also suggests that your videos be short. For longer videos, you can break them up into series. Then group similar videos in a playlist. To engage your audience, encourage them to submit their own ideas and content to be included in future videos.

By: Gina Cook

The 3-M Framework

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a clear process companies need to follow to have a successful social media presence. In the article, Social Media and Customer Dialog, the authors explain the 3-M framework. The 3 “M’s” stand for the Megaphone, the Magnet, and the Monitor.

The Megaphone is identified as using social media to promote certain things for a company. For example, a company can promote contests or advertisements via social media. It is important to establish a clear message of intent to your consumers.

The Magnet is identified as engaging in the conversation with consumers. The dialog between company and consumer is where loyalty and trust will be gained. The Magnet can act as a way to receive consumer feedback and readjust a company’s strategy. This will also add legitimacy to onlooking consumers. Customers like to see an interaction between companies and their constituents.

The Monitor is identified as a way to keep an eye on what consumers are saying to each other about the company. It is always smart to know what your customers are saying about you to each other.

Once a company has implemented this 3-M Framework, things will run very smoothly. As Stephanie has stated below, Starbucks has become a company with a very successful social media presence. They have created their own company run social media site called MyStarbucks Idea. This site acts as a forum where all 3 “M’s” work hand in hand. Starbucks can make announcements to its customer base as well as hear ideas from other customers that they could possibly use.

Starbucks has always been at the forefront of social media and integrating technologies into stores. For example they integrated iTunes into individual locations to enhance customer experience. Its forward thinking has kept Starbucks a successful company, still taking in around $9 billion a year.

It will be exciting to see how and what the company implements next.

This video below explains Starbucks idea of engaging customers in its marketing campaign by using social media as its primary platform.

By Adam Okimatsu

How Zappos is Corporate Blogging the Right Way

Online retailer Zappos.com has gained a reputation in years past for impeccable customer service.  The site boasts free shipping both ways, a year-long time frame for returns, and according to ChiefExecutive.com’s article “Top Ten CEO Blogs,” ”gives a penetrating look into the shoe marketer’s plans, challenges and insanely customer—focused culture.”

The issue of transparency is one that presents itself often in the world of successful corporate communication.  Consumers like to be able to know what’s going on “behind closed doors” in a company being able to know whether or not the company actually holds true to the values it advertises is important when brand loyalty and trust are concerned.

Zappos’ CEO and COO Blog stays true to its namesake, with posts being made by CEO Tony Hsieh and COO Chris Nielsen, both very recognizable figureheads in the company.  Hsieh takes transparency to a whole new level, sharing full corporate emails written by other C-level executives with readers.  Also, Nielsen used the blog as a medium to announce that the company will no longer ship to Canada and shared the reasons behind the decision, mainly because Zappos’ impeccable U.S. customer services were not up-to-par in Canada.

The blog also includes a live Twitter feed alongside the posted content and also displays keywords and links to popular archived posts.  These additions aid in usability, another highly necessary component of corporate blogs.

By: Claudia Pitarque

Maintaining the Starbucks Brand with the Help of Facebook

As previously mentioned, Facebook serves as a social media tool to positively enhance a company brand. The article, “Converting a social network into a brand network: How brand profile on Facebook is used as an online marketing communication tool” states that Facebook has more than 500 users to date, which gives an incredible marketing opportunity for businesses to promote their brand. Social Media Today lists the 10 most successful brands on Facebook and one particular company that utilizes this social networking website very well is Starbucks.

Starbucks’ Facebook page stands out for their consistent customer engagement by posting at least once a day. The company speaks in a happy-go-lucky and innovative voice, resulting in approximately 15,000 Likes daily.

It’s not just the company’s effective use of Facebook that makes Starbucks successful, Joseph Ruiz lists several other marketing communication factors the company utilizes in the article, “6 Reasons Starbucks Marketing Communications Strategy is so Effective”.

  1. Keeping the brand consistent—Starbucks created their own persona and logo that is recognizable wherever you go. Keeping it consistent has increased their visibility and help the company stand out in a unique way.
  2. Giving viewers a full web experience—Starbucks recognizes customers’ rewards and other ways to access their account and locate different stores. The company even takes advantage of story telling where everyday customers and their experience with the company are documented through video.
  3. Delivering content through numerous channels—Starbucks has many Twitter and Facebook followers and sends out daily emails to subscribers. The company manages to inform their audience, rather than endorsing their products.
  4. Making things mobile—Starbucks has their own app where customers can purchase products, add money to their personal card and locate stores. Email subscribers can also receive their daily emails on their smart phone.
  5. Easy to share content—regardless of what type of communication channel being utilized, Starbucks makes sure customers are able to share whatever messages they are sending to gain an even larger audience.
  6. Create conversation with customers—Starbucks allows consumers to post different ideas on their social networking web sites, where the company provides feedback in return. This not only gives the company more creative ideas, but it also enhances the relationship between the company and customer, which is essential.

There are several lessons other companies can learn from Starbucks regardless of industry. Starbucks has been and will continue to be a leading brand thanks to their obvious visibility on Facebook and their effective marketing strategy.

By: Stephanie Strickland

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