Whole Foods

               As a company, Whole Foods as wholly embraced social media at all levels of their company. Whole Food’s main Twitter account has 1.3 million followers . In addition to this main account, hundreds of independent whole food locations have their own twitter accounts with thousands of followers. One example is Whole Foods Los Angeles that posts about promotions, local events, and recipe ideas. These smaller accounts are run by the managers of these stores and they post about local stories. This helps to form a more personal and personalized connection with the people who shop at these certain locations. It’s important for the main corporate Instagram to exist to provide quality content to the consumers, but these store accounts are equally as important since they are able to interact with their specific consumers in a way that corporate may never be able to do.

               Whole Foods’ CEO also runs a blog in which he writes about responsibly sourced foods, new products, and other topics about the company. This blog was started with the idea that a consumer who is educated about food is more likely to become a Whole Foods Customer and using the CEO as the mouth piece for this shows consumers the dedication to food education at all levels of the company. The blog is also used to address many of the recent scandals Whole Foods has had with their organic produce. Having the top person at a company explain and apologize for problems through a personal blog makes the apology seem more believable and genuine.

               The importance of cross discipline social media action is apparent for a large organization like Whole Foods. Larger companies need to focus on building personal relationships with consumers and a quick way to do this is to involve multiple levels and departments in your company in social media. When marketing and other teams work together to form a social media message, it allows for maximum positive impact on social media.

 

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Conversation Rate

When a brand puts out a TV commercial it is nearly impossible to get instant feedback from those watching it. On social media, it is much easier to do this. Brands can measure what people are saying about them in real time and unlike other channels, social media allows brand to listen and respond to these comments at the same time. The way to measure this is through the conversation rate. Conversation rate is the number of audience comments or replies per post and it can be measured on every social media platform that allows commenting.  

A high conversation rate means that you are getting a low of comments per post and this means that you will need to listen to gain a deeper understanding of your audience. These comments can be useful to figure out what your brand is good at, what it needs to improve on, and the general perception that consumers have.

A low conversation rate means that people are not taking the time to comment on your posts. Since it takes more effort type out a comment than just to press the like button, a brand’s posts have to be worth commenting on.  If you see a low conversation rate, it may be best to start posting content that explicitly asks people to comment to get the conversation started. A low conversation rate could also mean that consumers are not getting responses from the brand on their comments, so they don’t see commenting as worth it.

The conversation rate is good for quantifying active engagement of consumers and providing a relevant social media metric. This metric takes a lot of work to track and maintain, but it gives a brand instant access to a lot of information that could be useful to improving and succeeding. Brands should not create fake accounts to post positive comments on their posts, this adds nothing of value to the conversation and will lose the trust of consumers when they figure out the comments are fake.

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JetBlue

When most people think of airlines they don’t usually think of humor or quick customer’s service. JetBlue is trying to change this with their twitter account. JetBlue joined Twitter a 2007 storm that canceled more than 1,000 flights and delayed others for days. JetBlue has since harnessed the groundswell to show an openness and willingness to take responsibility by the company. Knowing that their customers will post about their negative experiences, JetBlue decided to try and correct problems as they were tweeted out in hopes of turning an angry customer into a word-of-mouth powerhouse.

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JetBlue uses Twitter to respond to customer complaints, give updates on flights, and for promotion of special pricing. JetBlue is highly responsive on Twitter and actually creates a conversation with the consumer. This level of customer service has helped JetBlue build a loyal customer base. JetBlue knows that once they open themselves up to public critique they are obliged to listen and respond to every complaint. When JetBlue added a $50 fee to check unusually shaped luggage (i.e. bikes and guitar cases) one customer was infuriated and took to Twitter to complain. Most companies would have just refunded that single person’s money and moved on but JetBlue decided to use this to show maximum customer service and changed their policy and removed the fee.

When JetBlue isn’t solving customer issues they are using humor to remind customers of improvements they are making to their airline. This is helping to change their company image and make impactful connections with customers who are one of their millions of followers.

JetBlue is committed to being a part of the groundswell and has hired a staff of about 20-25 employees to run their social media and customer service related accounts. JetBlue has also reported that they have at least 3 employees on call at all times to answer customers on Twitter. This further shows JetBlue’s commitment to their customers and shows that they have a clear understanding of how much effort really must go into succeeded in the groundswell.

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Kit Kat Takes a Bite out of Twitter

Twitter has grown a lot since its beginnings in 2006 and users now put out an average of 500 million tweets per day. With this volume of messages being put out, it can be hard for brands using this social media platform to stand out and capture consumer attention. Kit Kat and Snickers, two major competitors in the candy industry, are using Twitter to stay connected with fans and to promote new products. They both have also been nominated as part of the Top 25 Brand Twitter accounts by AdWeek.

Kit Kat’s Twitter has over 330,000 followers and they tend to tweet at once a day. Kit Kat is most famously known for their #mybreak campaign and have run it successfully. Kit Kat is also very good at connecting with consumers and directly responding to tweets about them. In 2013 a fan tweeted that she was now following both Kit Kat’s and Oreo’s twitter accounts. A day later Kit Kat responded by tagging the fan in their tweet and challenging Oreo to a tic-tac-toe fight for the fans “affections”. This was retweeted thousands of times and Oreo declined the challenge with a tweet reading #GiveOreoABreak. This back in forth between two brands over a fan makes their tweets seem more personal and shows that Kit Kat really cares about its fans. The humor in the tweets also helps to encourage people to follow so they can see what other funny tweets the company will put out.

Kit Kat also effectively used trending hashtags and humor to break the record for the most retweeted tweet of all time.  In 2014 when the iPhone 6 was experiencing #bendgate, Kit Kat release a series of tweets saying “We don’t bend, we #break”, referencing the candy’s signature crunch. This tweet went viral with over 20,000 retweets. Kit Kat then released a challenge to its fans asking them to vote on pictures of items that would either bend or break. This quick thinking and ability to capitalize on a trend is why Kit Kat is doing such an incredible job interaction with consumers.

By comparison, Snickers has a singular campaign that they focus on: You’re not you when you’re hungry. This campaign is consistent across all their advertising platforms and they are not as quick witted as Kit Kat is on Twitter. Snickers’ one attempt at twitter humor was when they paid some celebrities in the UK to put out tweets that were seemingly random and disconnected to their personas. The celebrities would then put out a final tweet saying that “you’re not you when you’re hungry” with a picture of them eating a Snickers bar. While this was a funny campaign, it was in violation of UK advertising laws and the Tweets were pulled. Snickers has not tried to interact with fans very much and continue to only use their own campaign hashtag. Unlike Kit Kat, they are not flexible in their twitter advertising. I would recommend that Snickers respond to fan tweets and put more of an effort into interactions rather than focusing solely on an extension of a television ad campaign.  

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People Hate Us on Yelp

Today more than ever, consumers turn to the internet to get information on products and services they are thinking about purchasing. Consumers compare prices from different retailers and look at other consumers’ reviews before buying even the most basic of products. Because of this, it is very important for companies and marketers to monitor their online presence and to respond in the case of bad reviews.           

Consumers are able to post reviews directly onto a company’s website or to post on sites like Amazon, Yelp, or TripAdvisor. Yelp is a crowd-sourced review site for local businesses, restaurants, and service providers. As of 2016, Yelp.com has 135 million monthly visitors and 95 million reviews. Yelp is most commonly used to rate restaurants and bars. Consumers can rate restaurants and comment about the service, food, or any other topics they feel other diners should be aware of. On one hand, Yelp can be really helpful for people who are looking to try something new but reviews can also be really damaging to a restaurant’s business.

The best way for a restaurant to handle bad reviews is to respond to the reviewer in a calm way that explains why the customers’ complain is not typical of that business. A good response by the restaurant may be able to smooth things over and keep the customer from spreading their negative impression of the business. Owners and managers should never fire back at bad reviews and try to engage the reviewer with curses, insults, or threats. Examples of this were shown in an article by the New York Post that highlighted Yelp responses by disgruntled restaurant owners. While these responses may be fun to read and to share online, they will only damage the restaurant’s reputation more by giving some credence to the negative reviews. Even if a bad review is a fake, a bad response by the owner will make it seem real.

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Positive reviews can help a business grow and reach more customers by moving them higher on the search history results as their overall rating increases. While getting a five star rating is great, having a review that has a well written or entertaining comment may do more for the business. One restaurant owner actually encouraged his customers to give him a low rating so his business would become the “worst restaurant in Richmond”.  This man is using the humorous comments left by his customers to fuel his business and to bury any real negative reviews that would only seem to be a part of the joke.

Online review sites like Yelp are extremely influential and marketers should be aware that their business can sink or swim based on the comments of consumers. Business should respond to negative reviews and share their positive ones. Interaction is important because a businesses’ lack of presence on these sites is noted as a negative thing.

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Colgate

I have chosen to look at Colgate brand toothpaste to do my social media marketing plan. I interned with them last summer so I have some familiarity with the brand and I know that their marketing group was looking to increasing their social media presence. In comparison to other personal care brands, like Dove, Colgate has a very weak social media presence. Colgate has an Instagram account with less than 10,00 followers and they don’t post very much original content, instead opting to “regram” pictures from the few people who post about their products. In comparison, Dove’s Instagram account has nearly 150,000 followers and has engaged their consumers through social media with their Real Beauty Campaign. Colgate’s Facebook page has over two million likes but only has about 100,000 people actively talking about their page. While this may seem significant, Colgate could be doing more to engage consumers and increase the number of people who are talking about them.

Since Colgate’s main product is toothpaste and is something that people use every day, I think that social media would be a great way to reach many more consumers than just through traditional marketing. Colgate could start their own hashtag campaign and get consumers involved on Instagram by having them post pictures of their smiles with a hashtag tagging Colgate. This would be an effective and low cost way for Colgate to get consumers to do the advertising for them. Another way that Colgate could make themselves more present on social media is to use the Facebook page to interact with consumers to get more people talking about them.

Colgate should focus its social media efforts on the 18-29 year old demographic since they are the most active on social media. Most of Colgate’s sales come from people who buy the brand because their parents used it or because they have just always used Colgate products. Colgate should try and shake their traditional image and use social media marketing to appeal to younger audiences and stay in constant contact with potential customers.  

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Baby Boomers and Social Media Usage

Since the creation of the Facebook in 2004, social media platforms have played a major role in the lives of millennials. Although at first social media seemed to only appeal to younger users, its mass usage and relevance in today’s society has led to an increasing number of users across all generations. As of April 2016, Facebook is the most popular social media platform and has amassed 1,590 million users worldwide. The generational breakdown of the usage of Facebook is typical of most others, with 84% of internet users ages 18-29 with an account. However, baby boomers are starting to hold a much larger social media presence than they have in the past. Among the online adults, 45% of people aged 65+ use Facebook and 60% of those in 50-64 year old demographic use Facebook. Baby boomers also spend 27 hours per week online. This is two more hours a week than millennials spend online.

Most baby boomers that use Facebook do so to connect with family and old friends. The community involvement aspect of social media highly appeals to the baby boomer generation and they are among the most likely users to share daily updates on life through social media. Baby boomers are also using social media as a way to find jobs and stay relevant in today’s highly competitive job market. 13% of internet users over the age of 65 use LinkedIn which is nearly the same rate as the 18-29 age group (15%).

Baby boomers are less likely to use other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. 5% of 65+ year olds adults online use Twitter as compared to 31% of 18-29 year olds. This could be in part to the lack of “community culture” on Twitter which seems to be a major draw to sites like Facebook. Instagram has the smallest percent of the baby boomers on it, with only 1% of 65+ online users having an Instagram account.

It’s important for companies to understand how different generations use social media so that they can find the most effective platforms to market to those different age groups. If a company wanted to sell to the baby boomer generation, Instagram would be the least effective method, although it would be highly effective for millennials. Even though millennials are the most present group online, the baby boomers still make up a significant portion of users and shouldn’t be ignored by marketers simply because of their age.

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Lime Crime

With its unmistakable hot pink packaging and quirky name, Lime Crime was one of the biggest independently owned makeup launches to come out of the social media age. Lime Crime was launched in 2008 by Doe Deere after she noticed a lack of brightly colored lip products available to consumers. She started to sell her products on smaller sites like Etsy and soon developed a cult following. After some famous Youtubers shared her products on their Instagram accounts, demand for the lipsticks exploded.  To keep up with demand, Deere began to mass produce her products through an outside company. This is where scandal broke out.

Heavy weights in the beauty community began to take note of the fact that Lime Crime’s new products were almost identical to products of a makeup wholesaler. One blogger showed a side by side comparison of makeup and they were exactly the same. It turns out that Lime Crime had been buying whole sale makeup, repackaging it, and selling the wholesale products to consumers at a higher price. Why was this such a big deal to the online makeup community? Courtney, founder of Phyrra said it best “There should be transparency, if it’s repackaged; it’s not a big deal. But let us know because I feel like I’m wasting my money and being lied to.”

From an Instagram star with nearly 2 million followers and 1.5 million youtube subscribers

Losing the trust of the consumers that made your brand famous is something that an indie company like Lime Crime cannot afford. To make matters worse, Deere has sued many bloggers who have spoken out against her brand, causing the online conversation about her products to stop. She may have thought that by silencing those who were being negative about her brand would help her, but in the end, bloggers have stopped talking about her products all together to avoid any sort of legal issues. Sales of their products started to decline and in response to the slowing demand, major beauty retailers began to pull Lime Crime products from their shelves. Deere’s failure to reconnect with consumers and rebuild trust with them is part of the reason why her company is no longer doing well.

The once heavily instagramed company has had their social media presence slow to a small number of mentions. While they still do have a cult following, their once ubiquitous presence online is gone. Lime Crime branded itself as a unique makeup brand with one of kind products, but after the repackaging scandal consumers were unable to continue to see the company as that kind of brand. This negative shift in brand image impacted the sales of Lime Crime and it’s social media presence. Since this company’s marketing strategy was solely reliant on consumer to consumer reviews and social media mentions, the radio silence on their products has severely hurt Lime Crime. The lack of attention being brought to the brand has done more harm than the repackaging scandal did. At least then, people were buying their products just to see if the rumors were true. But now, most of the beauty community has forgotten Lime Crime even exists and that lack of attention is the ultimate reason for the fall of Lime Crime.

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