Final Thoughts-Social Media

Looking back at my first blog with respect to social media, I feel that my understanding of social media has broadened. Prior to taking this course, I have always thought that the main use of social media is to connect with family members and to a lesser extent as a tool for businesses to expand their reach and broaden their customer base. At present, I believe that social media is another tool for businesses to become more profitable. Along with other strategies, a business should always have a social media strategy to widen its customer base and/or receive feedback from its customers on its services or products. Throughout my different assignments, I have seen many examples of businesses growing their customer base or target a new segment of the society to become familiar with their brand and introduce new products.

To be fair, at the beginning of the course, I never thought that there are reliable tools that can measure the success of a social media strategy. However, I now believe that a business can easily quantify its success, using different social media tools, with respect to the amount of “buzz” it is creating among its potential customers. The reaction/feedback of customers or followers to newly introduced business ideas, services, or products is also another area that can benefit a business.

In addition, I really liked the fact that some social media platforms can be used as “free” testing grounds for new business concept designs or ideas prior to launching new products. For example new car models can be tested for design and look prior to actual manufacturing. Now imagine the millions of dollars an automotive company can save knowing a car design is a winner or a looser. At this level, I am a firm believer that multiple platforms should be considered by businesses when using a social media strategy. In the same time these platforms should connect to each other. In addition, businesses should always engage their followers/customers and make their social media tools attractive with respect to design, color, content, message, and mostly creativity.

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Measuring success

Social media platforms are effective and free advertizing tools for businesses. But for the business to insure the success of their social media strategy, it has to invest a lot of time and money. First the business has to develop a social media plan. Within this frame, the business has to establish social media policy. This involves input from multiple departments of the business and hence great effort involving time and money.

As a consequence, the business will be looking for a return on its investment (ROI). To quantify its ROI, the business can use social media measurement tools. Some of these tools are free, while others can be purchased. The main use of these tools is to understand what portion of the population/businesses is influenced by the content, why people/customers are driven to the businesses social media platform, and in general allows the business to analyze its strategy. By analyzing this information, the business can further customize its platform content and message and therefore maximize its ROI. Three social media tools that can help businesses achieve the above are Klout, Twitter Counter, and Google Analytics.

Klout:
Klout is a social media analytical tool that gives “Klout Score” for subscribers ranging from 1-100 with 100 being the highest score. It measures the extent of influence a member has through analyzing data from social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google. For example, a members Twitter account can be followed for tweets, re-tweets, how important people that tweet you are. Similar data from other social media is also added and also accounts for spams that are following the member. All of this information is used to yield the final score. Accordingly, the higher your score is the more “influential” you are.
So prior to starting the social media plan, a business can measure its “Klout Score” and upon starting the plan can for example take monthly measurements. This allows it to understand if it is going in the right path. This tool has also been used by advertisers to approach individuals/businesses of high “Klout Scores” to use their products in social media because of the connection between the high score and influence. However, this measuring tool is found not 100% reliable as some very influential people were found to have low scores. In addition, bloggers in general have high scores because of their extensive use of social media platforms.

Twitter Counter:
This tool is mainly dedicated to twitter statistics for members. It uses cookies to follow members visiting other sites and twitter tweets and re-tweets. Twitter Counter also provides widgets and buttons for businesses to measure traffic to their twitter platforms. Through the use of this tool, a business can measure the traffic to its social media platform and use this measurement to enhance its social media plan. The advantage of this technique is its simplicity. However, it does not give you a rank which can allow you to compare the businesses social platform to its rivals/competitors.

Google Analytics:
This tool is probably the most widely used to measure web traffic into websites. It is aimed for social media platform marketers. The data can be easily displayed in graphical forms (different charts) and numerically. The data provides information about user engagement with the businesses media content, customized reports can be generated, gives real time reporting. This tool has both a free and a premium version. In my opinion, this is the best tool for a business to use to analyze its social media platform and website success or failure. The business can customize its own reports using its tailored key point indicators. Again, this tool does not give the business a ranking and therefore does not allow it to understand its standings with its competitors. It is also found that when users disable cookies in their traffic, this tool becomes obsolete and fails to give accurate information about traffic and interest in the business platform.

With respect to all the above tools, it is worth mentioning that end user consent may be required depending on the country of use. This makes it difficult for simple users to accept. Accordingly, data may not be accurate. However, these tools are essential for businesses to measure their social media plan success or failure.

Social Media Plan

Social Media is a group of free social platforms that connect people and business together such as Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc… Businesses can use these platforms to advertise, promote their services/ goods, connect with their customers, and build their brand. It is very important for businesses to realize that these platforms are tools that can be used as part of their marketing strategy. Therefore, a social media plan has to be developed as part of each business marketing strategy.

For this week’s assignment, I am to plan a social media strategy to grow and expand the reach of a fictional business called “Extreme Promotional Materials”.
Extreme Promotion Material is a company that sells personalized goods for sport teams and businesses. The company deals with small to mid-size businesses and teams from different institutions across south eastern Ontario.

Introduction

Before I start using the social media for Extreme Promotion Material, I will develop a social media plan which will be part of the company marketing strategy. This plan is like a road map which helps the business to see the starting point and which roads should it use to reach its goals. The social media plan will help the business to choose the appropriate platform(s) that can be useful. It also clarifies the target customers, the business goals. In addition this plan will help “Extreme Promotion Materials” develop the key massage that it wants its customers to acknowledge. Developing a social media plan will assure a successful business strategy. It also helps the business to stay focused on its goal. This social media plan will give a chance to the company to grow its sales through expanding geographically. To achieve the above, I have to develop these steps;

Mission, Vision, Goals
Extreme Promotion Material mission is to be the Ontario leader in providing personalized uniforms and promotional materials for sports teams and businesses. Our Vision is to have satisfied customers and expand our reach of products throughout Ontario within five years. In doing so, we need to achieve these goals;

• Connect with our customers at the personal level, solving their immediate problems, engaging them, and getting their feedback about new products.
• Reach new customers from different geographical areas other than south eastern Ontario.
• Build a strong brand for Extreme Promotion Material known for its quality and On-Time delivery.
• Expand on the offered range of products such personalize goods with season themes (Christmas gifts) or social events (Weddings).

Key Messages
Extreme Promotion Material’s key massage is “On-Time”, “Quality”, and “Service”. The company will guarantee that its product arrive at the customer exactly when the customer needs it. It will also focus on the company devotion to their customers needs. “Branding your name is part of our name, Satisfaction guarantee”

Target Audiences
Extreme Promotion Material will be targeting all kind of ages from high school teenagers to moms, dads, coaches, and leaders of intuitions…etc. The thought process is that the more people are aware of our brand, the more sales will follow. The Target ages that we are pursuing are as follows;

• 16-24: These are mainly for athletes/students that will be wearing or using our personalized product. It is important this age group likes our product and if there are issues get their feedback.
• 25 – 60: These are individual entrepreneurs, school/universities, company/business purchasing agents, and sports team coaches. This is the bulk of our customers, it is very important they recognize our brand, use it, and recommend it to others.
• Families throwing events that may require our personalized products.

Social Media Tools
Extreme Promotion Material will be using Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook is chosen because it is used by more than a billion users. It is very popular across the different age groups that we are targeting and easy to use. On the other hand, Pinterest will be very useful because this platform is mainly about visuals which are what our business needs. Pinterest will be our window shopping station. Pinterest is very effective tool for business. In fact, Pinterest users show more shopping habits than twitter or Facebook and are more likely to make a purchase.

Social Media Engagement Strategy

The following is our social media strategy to achieve our goals with respect to Facebook, the marketing department will;
• Build a Facebook page displaying company logo, photos of our range of products, seasonal themes and events and emphasize our key messages of quality and customer satisfaction. Use of predominantly light colors to reflect the company fun attitude.
• Ensure that our customers are aware of our Facebook page through direct mailing of company fliers and post on our customers Facebook. In addition, make links to our Facebook page in our website.
• Engage our followers and respond to their comments and solve their issues promptly. For unhappy customers, we can send them personalized gifts on top of solving their problems.
• Post in Facebook our promotions and update daily.
• Post cultural events and show product related materials.
• Have a section for sports info such as updates on sports events.
• Have a section showing testimonials of happy customers (with their consent)

For Pinterest, our marketing department plan will be as follows;
• Build a Pinterest page with emphasis on new product.
• Check feedback daily and analyze product winners from losers
• Check product trends and update design/portfolio accordingly
• Engage with users by giving personalized gifts for winners of best logo design for different seasons.
• Make sure to Pin pictures from potential customer accounts, in this way, they increase traffic to your account.

To evaluate our overall strategy, quarterly presentations have to be conducted to measure our planned progress. In these meetings, we will re-evaluate or tweak our approach.

Summary
To grow and expand “Extreme Promotion Material” requires a focused social media plan as part of its global Marketing strategy. This plan requires development of two tools namely Facebook and Pinterest. No immediate results will be achieved in the short term as these tools need time, commitment, and continuous analysis of information. However, in the long term, this approach should result in company growth to cover more geographical area with the least amount of resources.

Brand Me

For the past two Months, We have been learning about Social Media and its different platforms. Social Media is a tool that has been used by businesses and individual people to communicate products, services, profiles, and ideas. These tools are very powerful, and therefore should be used carefully and responsibly. Everything that we post to the internet can be visible to other people unless we protect it. For example blogs, Facebook, Linkedin profiles, twitter comments, personnel pictures, and videos are visible footprints that can be accessed by the public. Some of the personnel material may be embarrassing or even may cause problems for future dealings with potential job, friends, and family relationship loss.

digital footprint How To Clean Up Your Digital Footprints

In order to avoid these awkward or potentially harming situations, we need to enhance and improve our digital footprint. Among the steps that we can take to achieve this are the following;

1. First, I need to see my footprint in the different social media using Google or other search engines. In this way, I can find out what others can see about me. It is important to note that my footprint is also affected by what others post about me such as friends, colleagues, and family members. I will run this procedure regularly (may be every month). Also, Google alert can be used so that I receive automatic alerts whenever when ever there is an update.

Once this done, I can remove data about myself that I do not approve to be visible to the public using service providers. In the same time, I will ask my friends and family to remove public accessed information about me that I don’t like.

2. Second, I will build a professional profile about myself in different social media such as Linkedin. In this profile, I will list my skills, professional experience, and capabilities that I would like the public to access. Also I will make professional comments on different blogs and YouTube videos, news articles, and especially areas that deal with my profession. I will make sure that my profile is always up-to-date. In this way I can make good impressions on potential job hunters or good reputation.

3. I will make sure that my personnel profile is only visible to my friends and close relatives have access to it. For example I will use security settings to achieve this. In addition, I will make my close friends aware of the dangers of not making similar security settings in the different platforms.

In the professional side, I will make sure that personnel information is not posted. In addition, when commenting, I will use professional language and avoid using funny or bad nicknames in my E-Mail or usernames.

Following the above steps will lead to an improved/enhanced digital footprint. However, I need to make sure that I regularly check my digital footprint as first impressions with potential job recruiters are very important.

Staying on top of trends

For this week‘s assignment, I am going to summarize and analyze three articles from three web-sites, Mashable, Social Media Explorer and TechCrunch.
The first story is titled “Oprah endorses Microsoft Surface Tablet: It’s like Mercedes” written by Chris Taylor. I retrieved it from http://mashable.com/2012/11/01/oprah-endorses-surface/
This story is discussing the launch of Microsoft’s Surface Tablet that happened last week. Microsoft did not get the response from the public that was hoping for. Microsoft decided to advertise the new Surface Tablet in different way. Oprah Winfrey is the talk show queen of TV. She also has a popular magazine called “O”. In her magazine, she releases a yearly list of her “Favorite Things”. For the year 2012, Oprah declared that Microsoft Surface Tablet is one of her favorite things beside other things like $1,800 Jetson electric bike and a $5,000 Bose TV. She declared her yearly‘s list through the December issue of O magazine and on line November 01, 1012. Oprah said in her O magazine “It feels like a Mercedes-Benz to me, people” comparing the Surface Tablet with the high end car maker Mercedes-Bens. She, then, went on describing the features of the Surface Table that she likes. For example she found that the full-size keyboard and the very smart kickstand very practical and easy to use. In addition, she found that the weight of the Tablet is light compared to a lop top. Oprah did the same thing for Apple, the maker of the iPod in her “Ultimate favorite things” 2010. At last the author is wondering if this move is going to increase the sales of Microsoft Surface Tablet.
Personally, I believe that the Oprah brand became another different tool or platform for advertisement. In the past few years, Oprah has been helping different businesses to launch or advertize their products through her brand (TV shows and Magazines), such as advertising new books through her “Book club”. This has been very effective tool for selling books. For example, after she hosts a new author and introducing his book, the new book sales increases tremendously.
The second story is titled “After U.K. Court’s Handslap, Apple Gets Less Cheeky In Samsung “Apology” Written by Kim-Mai Cutler. I retrieved it from http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/03/apple-samsung-2/
This story is about a patent infringement case against Samsung by Apple. July 09, 2012, the high court of England and Wales ruled in favor of Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy tablet 10.1, Tab. 8.9 and Tab. 7.7 do not Infringe Apple’s patent. Therefore Apple changes its voice tone toward Samsung by issuing an apology through its U.K. website after losing its appeal through the UK court. The judge came to his decision after acknowledging that there are differences between the two product (Apple and Samsung Tablet) designs. The battle of Samsung and Apple issue also was present in Germany and USA court. But this time the German and USA courts rules in favor of Apple.
It looks like the Samsung infringement case raised by Apple will last for several years between courts in different countries. Personally, I believe this will be a waist of money for the two companies. I understand that Apple is ferociously going after its competition, but it should realize that small differences in design or software will have no final rulings between courts. In fact, the UK ruling shows that the case backfired on Apple in England. In addition, these court cases can stop advancement of different technologies pending the final court rulings which a loss-loss situation for both companies and customers.
The third story is titled “The Economics of Bad Outreach, Lazy outreach practices have the potential to erode value” written by Mark Smiciklas. I retrieved it from http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/the-economics-of-bad-outreach/
The third article I have read deals with how a business approaches prospected customers. The author is clarifying good and bad practice in reaching to customers. He warns that bad practice such as SPAM and mass E-Mails may result in lost sales and trust erosion. Among the good practices that the author believes will lead to gaining prospects/customers are;
• researching the prospects blogs or websites,
• reading the prospects comments and commenting to his/her blogs,
• Follow their tweets.
This article shows the importance of researching a prospect/customer’s social media activities before reaching to them. In this manner, the research increases the possibilities of gaining more business and avoids potential losses of trust and client.

Pinterest & FourSquare

This week in class, we explored and discussed different social media platforms. It was very interesting because, before this, I only knew about Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Some of these new platforms that I was not exposed to are, Pinterest, FourSquare, Instagram, and Podcasting. The booming popularity of these platforms is helping businesses to be successful. Businesses are reaching to these social media platforms as a tool for two main reasons:
1. To connect with their customers to satisfy their needs.
2. To advertise their goods and their services and improve their business.

One of the platforms that grabbed my attention is Pinterest. As a social media platform, Pinterest is outgrowing both Facebook and twitter month over month. Pinterest is a visual Pinboard that is basically a collection of photos from each user that can be shared between them. It allows different users that share similar ideas, habits, and hobbies to come together where they can exchange, or share photos of the same interests. The users can pin on the Pinboard their favorite things that inspire them in the form of pictures and images. In addition, users can re-pin images from other Pinboard to theirs, comment on it, or just like it.

Pinterest is very effective tool for business. In fact, Pinterest users show more shopping habits than twitter or Facebook and are more likely to make a purchase. Accordingly, businesses can take advantage of these facts and start to use this new platform. For example, they can advertise their products by pinning the photos of their products on the Pinboard and make promotion on their new products. The businesses can further use this to test popularity/acceptance of new products. For example an automotive company can put visuals of their proto-type idea cars in these platforms and see the reaction of users. This way the automotive company can eliminate bad product before it launches it into market and in the same time can identify winners and pursue them with confidence.

Businesses can use this platform as a magnet for window shopping for woman. Data shows that among the users of Pinterest, women make the largest portion. For example, a retailing store can show their new line up of products before the season starts and can have an immediate feedback on their merchandise.

Another Platform of interest is FourSquare. It is a fast growing business that saw user’s growth in two years 2009-2011, to 7 million. It is an application that helps the user interacts with his/her surrounding. The application basically shows points of interest to the user and allows him/her to comment on his/her experience. The more a subscriber uses this application the more credit he/she has. The makers of this platform divided this service between users and brands. Brands are for companies to update their followers on their news including nearby locations and offered products.

Businesses can take advantage of this platform in different ways. First, it can be used as a feedback from customers (using this platform) on their products/services. The business can then understand the need of its customers and try to improve, eliminate, and/or create new products or services. For example, a fast food company may receive multiple comments on the long wait time through its drive through lanes. The manager in that location can then address this issue.

Another way to take advantage of FourSquare is direct advertisement of the business products and services. Again, this can be made through small one line comments. For example, a coffee shop can advertise its new line of Ice Cappuccino or a return of one of its old products. It may also present promotions such as buy one get one free, etc… In addition, being a part of this platform helps the non-familiar user of the area get directed to the business.

Pet Pawsitive

In this week’s assignment, I will be using YouTube video to promote a business. I will be showing how to use this platform that is been viewed by millions of people? It is clear that any business can use this tool for advertisement for free. Therefore a lot of companies small or big are advertising through YouTube’s video and reaching to their customers by promoting their products and services.

I have been asked to create online video to promote this imaginary business which is called Pet Pawsitive. Pet Pawsitive is a business with two locations in the area and mainly focuses on service which provides behavioral and psychological training for pets and their owners such as animal education, obedience, and rehabilitation classes. The company, also, sells organic pet food and supplies for training pets. Pet Pawsitive gives back to the community by organizing events and fundraising. In addition, the company partners with the humane society at the local and national shelters to connect the pets with their new owners.

In making this video, I will be concentrating on four main points. The first part of the video will show and abused neglected dog. The second part will show the company employee techniques to get the dog both physically and mentally healthy. I also will show in this section the foods and supplies we offer. In, the third section, I will show pet education classes that we offer to pet owners. Finally, I will show the activities that Pet Pawsitive share with the community.

The video will start with an abandoned and abused dog coming to the shelter. I will show how the dog does not answer to different commands and also show the dog’s physical and emotional abuse. These are close up pictures of the dog’s body and its lack of any positive social behavior. For example, I will show how the dog is always running away from people. The below photo, shows an example of a neglected and abused dog.

 

In the second section of the video, I will show scenes of our own Pet Pawsitive employees interacting with the same dog using different techniques and show chronological behavioral improvements of the dog. For example, an employee will be demonstrating an obedience technique to get the dog to answer to simple commands such as sit and come. In this same section of the video, I will also show the different organic and natural foods that we sell and how they help in this transition. This can be shown by feeding it healthy organic foods to speed the process of the dog’s healing. The affect will be shown through close ups of the dogs physical features and weight gain. Our training toys and supplies will be shown throughout this video in every step of the process. The background music for the video will be sad toned in the beginning when I am showing the abused dog and I will end with happy tones in the end as the dog is finally healthy. Below is an example picture showing a company employee interacting with a finally healthy dog.

In the third section of the video, I will show classes we offer to pet owners in the different areas of pet training using the same dog. This will show our employees having a one to one training of a pet owner educating him how to handle and train the dog and how to use our supplies and foods to nourish his pet. And finally the company will connect these pets with their new owners.

The last section of the video will show different events Pet Pawsitive is involved with in the community and its partners (humane society and local, national shelters), such as donations and helping fundraising events organized by the humane society. This will show our employees holding checks with amounts donated to our partners.

In this video, the viewer’s heart will be touched, because it shows the transformation of an abused and neglected dog to a healthy and happy pet. I show through the video how the company cares about pets and their owners by solving their problems and offer them healthy supplies and foods.