Personal Touch key to Brand Success in Social Media

gmo_fbshare

One of the brands I feel comes across more human and personable than most in my social media estimation is Chipotle.  I believe a good majority of Chipotle’s popularity is actually based on it’s aura of caring for the customer by offering healthy organic food produce and meats. I especially appreciate their heavy emphasis on procuring from local farmers whenever possible.

I’m definitely not alone in my loyalty. Even though their recent bad press, they managed to reign victorious by not only being unfettered in their in-store customer service, but they seal the deal by being very engaging and interactive in all their social media.

Even though I do believe a brand can come across as human and caring in traditional media, I don’t think the same can be accomplished automatically in the social media arena.  The biggest challenge with any brand seeming “real” and “caring” in traditional media is the one-way communication.  Unless you really are having a conversation with your consumer, how do you really know how they feel or relate to the product, or ideas they have to improve or change a few quirks.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many companies in traditional channels very adept at making it seem like they are human and have your best interests at heart.  There were a couple of brands I recall growing up that came across as more friendly and caring via television.  At least with TV commercials you have two-dimensional motion, audio, and video unlike radio or newspapers.  Coca-cola and McDonald’s always had a very light-hearted, touchy-feel about them.  Coke has always evoked peace, harmony and diversity while McDonald’s seemed to be the first to champion and cater to kids via Ronald McDonald Houses, happy meal toys, mascots, play places, etc.

However, many consumers are wise enough to know that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in businesses.  Just because a company is great about answering your social media posts quickly in a nice tone, doesn’t mean that the company is without faults or seriously lacking in other areas.  But in this landscape, the face of the company is extremely important for building and keeping good impressions and social media is the most cost effective, and convenient way to interface with customers.

Case Study: Free Brand Promotion YouTube Maximized by User-generated Content

1 wordpressI selected International Doritos Taste Test  based on the fact that I really like Doritos and am semi-fascinated on the topic because I’m curious of what flavors of Doritos are only available internationally.

The video was put together and promoted by BuzzFeed Yellow which is branch of BuzzFeed that specializes in finding funny, interesting videos and sending daily to subscribers, of which they have about 6.5 million.

The video is approximately 4.5 minutes in length, published in Aug. 2014 and has a little over 6 million views. I also selected this video because it had a good amount of comments (4,569)

What the video shows is about 5 different pairs of friends that are taste-testing these different international Doritos versions.  The crux of the entertainment value is how each set of people react with each other when taste-testing.  The first flavor was “pickle” with one of the more poignant reactions being, “I’ve had pickles that tasted less like a pickle than these chips.” The next flavor is “mustard and bacon” with a typical response, “the bacon smell is so satisfying that I don’t really even need to try it.”  The next was “gourmet brie cheese” with one of the responders saying, “Well, this looks fancy. I’m going to start serving it at all my dinner parties.”  The next flavor “pizza” had the most negative responses because most thought it didn’t live up to expectations. The last flavor was “Chipotle:Hardcore” which seemed to garner the most positive response based on packaging, flavor, spiciness,  and the only one that was shaped differently. Top of Form

Bottom of Form

 

 

As far as a good cross section of some of the more interesting comments:

  • “mexico’s doritos rules!!!”
  • “I find the name intense pickle to be pretty funny;”
  • “They should’ve tried the Incognita Doritos. They are amazing.”
  • “I’m a canadian and I have never seen dill pickle Doritos”
  • “Yo remember when Doritos made like Hamburger, Taco, Pizza, and other like common fast food flavors in the US?

 

There were also a fair amount of comments that made no sense such as, “I saw you at the car radio concert,”

or “Did anyone else think of Chris Evans while watching this?”

 

All in all, even though this was not a Doritos-sponsored promotional video, it was a good positive piece for Doritos based on the collective reactions among the taste testers and those who made subsequent comments.  In all actuality it is outstanding free advertising for Doritos.  Taste testing different brand food products on YouTube has become a craze over the past several years which is great if you happen to be one of the more beloved products that everyone can relate.  The few negative reactions are far outnumbered by the fun positive ones. This is definitely a great example of how someone else can do a video on your product with generally always good results.  There are certain products that I would imagine would never suffer such as Cheetos, Fritos, Lays Chips, Oreos, Hershey’s, Ben & Jerrys, etc.  They all have one thing in common: snacks that really aren’t healthy but certainly taste good!

 

News Industry ‘Ho-hum’ to Facebook’s Vision

facebook-zuckerberg-qa-063015

Mark Zuckerberg’s rare Facebook Q&A session June 30 garnered 241,000+ likes and 7,000+ shares.  The general consensus among news organizations and citizen chatter on social media during the event and several days afterwards  was fairly lukewarm addressing his responses directed towards a couple of questions on the future of news.  Among the very few individuals that actually had a more opinionated response to his perspective, most questioned his professional motives and continued meddling in the news industry. Surprisingly, responses from news organizations were extremely benign, mostly tagging the story and quickly sending it out the door.

During the event which resembled Reddit’s Ask Me Anything, Huffington Post mastermind Arianna Huffington wrote with the following response:

Mark-Zuckerberg-Arianna-Huffington-Facebook

The other news-related question Zuckerberg answered was from media pundit, professor and BuzzMachine journalist Jeff Jarvis:

zuckerberg-facebook-qa-jeff-jarvis-063015

Reactionary excerpts from the low number of Facebook and Twitter respondents (mainly news/communications professionals):

Here are snippets from just a few PR/news industry insiders that responded…

kiser

(Matt Kiser, product manager at Business Insider)

gillmore

(Dan Gillmor, Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University‘s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication)

boardman

(David Boardman, Dean of Temple University School of Media and Communications)

News Organization Reactions

As previously mentioned, few news organizations followed through by responding to Zuckerberg’s thoughts on the future of news.  Most posted the NeimanLab short recap of what was said, but didn’t lend any robust dialogue to his news industry vision.

Fortune was a little more responsive, “Facebook has always had a somewhat fraught relationship with the news: Many users seem to think of the social network as just a place where they can see a friend’s baby or dog photos, but research shows a growing number of people also get their news there. And CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that he wants news to play a much larger role in Facebook, with features like Instant Articles—the mobile-news partnership where outlets like the New York Times publish entire articles directly to the platform.”

The most detailed response came from SubcriptionInsider:

“Jarvis and Huffington both compliment Zuckerberg for Facebook’s innovation and contribution to publishing platforms for news, and we’ve got to agree that Facebook has changed how we consume and share news. With 1.44 billion active monthly users, Facebook has more eyeballs than virtually every other platform or site. Zuckerberg uses Facebook’s popularity to leverage his company’s impact on news consumption, much like Google has done with its new array of journalism tools.

This cold hard fact will also make it hard for media companies to pass up the opportunity to publish select stories using Instant Articles. So far, media outlets who have been invited by Facebook to participate have been slow to adopt the platform. Once publishers embrace the necessity of strong partnerships with companies like Facebook, we expect more stories to be posted using Instant Articles.

As we noted in a previous post, for publishers to use the Facebook tool successfully, they need to be clear what types of content their Facebook audience wants. Do folks who read Facebook on a mobile app really want in-depth, long-form journalism, or would they prefer shorter stories that are interactive and easy to share?

Hopefully, publishers are taking the time to test the Instant Articles platform and compare it to the other platforms they use (e.g., own website, news app, etc.) to see what content works where before they give the Facebook partnership a hearty thumbs up.”

This “ho-hum” response from news professionals on the surface may seem negative for the Facebook camp, but it’s actually the opposite.  What billionaire business mogul do you know that doesn’t get raked over the social media coals for pretty much anything they do or say that even slightly might rub us the wrong way?  Some might consider Zuckerberg as crazy as “The Donald” to open himself up to an hour-long town hall and the potential-unmerciful scrutiny of us green-eyed town folk wielding our pitchforks and torches.  Sure, what he posted wasn’t earthshattering or nothing to write home, Where the guy who issues himself a $1 a year paycheck “shoots and scores” by walking away unscathed, is having his ducks lined up with good, plausible answers that seemed downright genuine and well-thought out.

“Introducing the all new foursquare which learns what you like and leads you to places you’ll love.”

swarm

Foursquare (Links to an external site.) and Swarm (Links to an external site.) help guide users to the best food, shopping and entertainment venues based on a user’s current location.  Foursquare learns what you like based on your input/searches, and recommends places they think you should try. Much like Urbanspoon, Yelp, and Opentable—recommendations are based on those with similar tastes and ratings from experts, as well as friends.

To make their service different from the pack, Foursquare launched the personalized check-in and real-time location sharing with friends in 2009.  In 2014, they gave the check-in feature its own app, “Swarm,” which is touted to be the fastest and easiest way to notify friends via Foursquare’s (8.0) own proprietary technology called “Pilgrim” which automatically detects location.  Foursquare’s new “Hive” app (Aug. 2014) features current super hotspots.

The Foursquare/Swarm community has more than 55 million users in all working-class age groups worldwide, and approximately 1.9 million businesses connections. The free service includes major international language support.

4 sq

Foursquare helps users find restaurants, coffee shops, nightlife, shopping, outdoor activities, and entertainment based on their location (or a specified location).  The platform allows people to search by “specials,” places they haven’t been before; companies they are “following;” venues by price and hours; a saved favorite location; or a “liked” location.  Each detailed listing is shown on a map, and allows users to read reviews.  Foursquare eschews the traditional concept of long-form reviews, and instead encourages the writing short message “Tips,” users can ‘Like’ tips, and save tips onto their own favorite list. Foursquare 8.0 also allows users to rate venues by answering a series of questions.

The popular “mayorship” feature retired from Foursquare and re-implemented in Swarm, where users compete with friends for “mayorships” of venues, rather than against all other users.

Foursquare has recently implemented a new analytical tool for companies to understand their statistics by using a simple, user-friendly dashboard.  The dashboard allows the businesses to see data such as:  top visitors (the regulars), most recent check-ins, unique visitors, check-ins also sent to Twitter/Facebook, gender comparisons, and a time breakdown when people are checking in.

4 sq metircs

While Foursquare started as a company focused on check-ins and a social network, its business model is starting to change directions.  The company has realized that it can sell its greatest asset – their database of precise locations of restaurants, malls, and shops.  By no means is Foursquare going to abandon their previous business model, but now they will be able to make money by selling their database to keep their platform free for their users.

Foursquare is successful at fulfilling the needs of both consumers and businesses.  The consumers are able to find locations, read reviews, and interact with others, while the business are learning about their target market.  Due to a large number of competitors, Foursquare has been slow to grow.  Foursquare (like their competitors) have to be aware of fake data being supplied by the business owners, which will affect the effectiveness of listings and interaction of the consumers.

Foursquare CEO explains all the new changes (Links to an external site.)

A quick Foursquare promotional video (Links to an external site.)

Foursquare splits apps (Links to an external site.)

Article to ponder:

Popper, B. & Hamburger, E. (May 1, 2014). Meet Swarm: Foursquare’s ambitious plan to split its app in two: To take on Yelp, Foursquare is moving beyond the check-in. (Links to an external site.)