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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.

Future Shop

 

Future Shop

Future Shop is a consumer electronic retailer company that has 146 stores all around Canada. It is the largest in its category in Canada. It also offers online purchasing through its website futureshop.ca. It is now owned by an American company known as Best buy. Future Shop uses social media to reach into their customers such as Facebook, Twitter, Tech forums, YouTube, and Tech Blogs.

Their blogs always present the newest high tech gadgets, games, or necessary electronics. They usually advertise features of their products and how they make our lives more comfortable and entertained. For example, in its latest blog titled “De-stressing with Tech: 5 Minutes at a Time“, the blogger is presenting 5 different products but explaining why we should use them and making them very attractive through the use of visual media and charts. The way I see it, Future shop uses blogs mainly for advertising their newest products and how to use them.

One of the weaknesses of their blogs is the lack of interaction with the reader. For example, I did not see any reward offerings trough contests or organizing educational events or anything that benefits the reader. Also, the layout of the blog page is very simple and could be more appealing.

Over all, I really liked the content and how Future Shop used the blog to push their products to the consumer. But I think they have more room for improvement especially in engaging the reader.

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