WestJet Thinks Outside the Box to Drive Social Success

By Mark Evans - December 16th, 2013

westjet christmas miracleWith many brands firmly on the social media bandwagon, it’s increasingly difficult to rise above the crowd.

It wasn’t that long ago that simply being on social media was enough to provide a brand with differentiate. That first-mover advantage has quickly disappeared as having a social media presence has become table stakes for many brands.

So, now what? How do brand enjoy social media success when everyone else is battling for the spotlight?

The most straightforward approach is simply being super-engaged to attract and nurture a large community. By throwing in some interesting content, interactivity and some free goodies along the way, brands can have various degrees of success.

But if brands really, really want to stand out, they need to be creative and think out of the box. At the same time, they have to be willing to experiment and leverage social media as part of an overall marketing plan.

A great case study is WestJet Airlines, which recently set up a video terminals at airports in Toronto and Hamilton that gave flyers the opportunity to tell Santa want they wanted for Christmas.

When these people got off the place in Calgary, their requests – big-screen televisions, cameras, etc. – were waiting for them in the baggage area.

To capture the reaction, WestJet set up 18 cameras in Calgary’s airport. It then posted the videos on YouTube, and purchased ads on Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic.

The videos went viral and has attracted more 18 million views, providing WestJet with a huge social media and marketing win at a much lower cost than what it would have cost to advertise on television.

“In a social media environment, the sharing of it almost becomes the point itself: ‘Look what this company did, I find it engaging, I want to tell you about it,’” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet’s vice-president of communications and community relations, told the Globe & Mail. “It goes exponentially from there. It’s very alluring to marketers to say how can I engage in that?”

The key lesson for brands looking for social media success is exploring different ways to attract the spotlight. Not every brand has the budget or creativity to match WestJet but it should not stop brands from trying to be distinct or, at least, interesting when it comes to social media activity.

At the end of the day, brands are battling for attention on the social media stage. It’s a noisy, distracting and competitive marketplace so the ability to somehow capture the spotlight is becoming more important.

The New Social ROI

By Mark Evans - December 13th, 2013

socialmedia-roiIn this blog, we’ve focused on the ROI ((return on investment) of social media, which makes sense given it is a topic that continues to attract a lot of attention.

Once again, it’s time to look into the ROI of social media once , and see how it’s evolved and where perceptions lie.

ROI matters and to think social media provides little or no return on the investment is flat out wrong.

Much of what social media has changed in the advertising, marketing and communications landscape is evident every day. What isn’t evident is how social media has evolved the ROI.

ROI has historically been a very straightforward equation. What the bottom line is in regards to the amount you invest. Sounds simple, right?

Social media changed the game by proving the value of conversation, communication and eventually leveraging the power of your audience to have a positive affect on your bottom line. Sounds less simple now, right?

The ROI is there, and organizations who use social media properly feel a pronounced return. It’s how we perceive the return that needs to change.

Audience building, conversation, insight, and of course, profits is the return you will receive. The first three are what lead to the last one, and the return just takes a bit more time.

It’s a new return on investment with social media, but it still pays great dividends. Digital marketers need to be selling the new ROI to their organizations, and keeping expectations intact.

Most can’t make the connections on their own, because it is such a radical change. It exists but is just a different road to get from point A to point B.

The problem lies in the perception of social media for those who haven’t bought in. Maybe the recent activities of social networks going public have helped quell that negative perception somewhat.

If not, the onus is on the digital marketers or digital marketing teams to prove ROI and show how the data, insight and connection to your audience does matter and will affect the bottom line.

Does Social Media Struggle to Grow with Audience?

By Mark Evans - December 11th, 2013

facebook_twitter-e1383624551877More than ever, it appears social networks are running into problems with specific age groups who are outgrowing their platforms.

Many believe, for example, Facebook faces a crisis when it came to teenage users, while a recent article by All Things D, suggests Twitter might be facing the same demographic challenges.

What does Twitter do as a big part of its user base gets older, and moves on to other social networks?

This is also a problem for digital marketers, who invest time and money in Twitter and other social networks. It doesn’t lower Twitter’s value if you are seeking this age group, but it can be limiting.

Brands don’t necessarily have to grow with their audiences but they do need to invest in the right social networks to get the best results.

The question might also be, do you know what social networks appeal to what ages? Or do you just make assumptions without any research?

We have the habit of thinking that social media is just for “kids” (other than LinkedIn) but that has never really been the reality. Research is key as is removing any pre-conceived notions about users when it comes to social media.

Digital marketers need to understand the sandbox in which they are playing in, and who the users are. You can’t just target Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest if the demographic group you want to reach aren’t engaged there.

The key lessons are staying on top of user trends to see how your audience adapts as they get older. This can be a Pandora’s Box because as users become potential new customers for your organization, they then have to be targeted.

It’s not an easy task but nothing in social media is if you want to do it right.

If you do want to grow with your audience,  your digital strategy has to reflect the data that shows  users grow out of certain networks and into new ones.

Honouring Nelson Mandela Through Social Media

By Sheldon Levine - December 10th, 2013

Nelson MandelaLast week the world lost a true hero. A man that stood for human equality and justice for all. A man who brought democracy to everyone in South Africa. Nelson Mandela.

Mandela’s life story is quite incredible. He spent the majority of it fighting to make sure that everyone in his home of South Africa got a fair say in politics and fair chance in life. Some of his actions to help make this happen were not taken lightly by the government and led to his imprisonment for 27 years. But that never stopped his campaign for equality. After being released from jail, Mandela went on to become the President of South Africa in the first ever multiracial election that allowed blacks and whites to vote evenly. This triumph also made him the first black man to hold office in South Africa. After stepping down as President he devoted the rest of his life to philanthropy and awareness to further human rights for everyone around the world.

He continued this revolution almost right up until he passed away at the age of 95 on Thursday.

Since the world learned of Mandela’s death there has been an astounding 14.9 million mentions of his name or tribute hashtags such as #RIPNelsonMandela across social channels. We found these mentions in 90,465 blog posts, 179,827 online news articles, 50,353 forum postings and 14,678,311 tweets. There has also been incredible 18,064 videos that have mentioned Mandela in their title or description since Thursday.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Activity Summary

Looking at these mentions plotted out over the past five days we can see that there was a collective of mourning tweets on Thursday when the news broke. These Twitter mentions continued at a high level over the following days overshadowing all other social channels.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Popularity Chart

When we remove Twitter from the popularity chart though, we can see that Mandela was being mentioned quite a lot through other channels. The difference here being that while Twitter was able to spread the news in real-time on Thursday, most news sites and blogs took the time to write lengthy pieces about the man that got published the following day.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Popularity Chart for Blogs, Forums and Online News

Mandela’s fame and influence had spread across the world throughout his lifetime, and this shows when we explored where mentions of him were coming from. The pie chart below shows where mentions about Nelson Mandela were coming from with all social media channels combined.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Country Distribution

However, to get a better sense of how Mandela’s influence spread across the globe, a look at the geo location heat map of tweets shows that no corner of the Earth was not saddened by the news of his passing.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Twitter Geo Location Heat Map

And people across all channels had nothing but fantastic things to say about Mandela’s incredible life. The most retweeted tweets about Nelson Mandela come from a range of sources from One Direction’s Harry Styles and Justin Bieber to Barack Obama to trusted news sources like ABC News and the BBC to The Nelson Mandela Foundation.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Most Retweeted Tweets

Key conversations from blogs show that people were telling the story of his life and mentioning his many accomplishments in furthering a just society for everyone.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Key Conversations from Blogs

These same of conversations were also coming from online news sources.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Key Conversations for Online News

Now that all of these stories of a great man’s life through struggle and triumph have been brought to major attention, let us hope that the world never forgets what Nelson Mandela stood for and what he taught us all.

Rest in peace Nelson Mandela.

2014: The Year of Social Media Optimization?

By Mark Evans - December 9th, 2013

optimizationThe challenging part of social media is how it continues to evolve and move forward.

The stakes keep getting higher, the creative bar continues to be raised, the landscape become noisier, and the toolbox gets more crowded.

As brands navigate the always turbulent waters, one of the key issues is how they can drive social media optimization.

How can brands operate social media programs that are efficient, effective and, at the same time, meet business goals while delivering a return on investment?

It’s not enough to simply throw more people and tools at social media to drive success.

At some point, a brand’s ability to leverage social media to boost sales and profits comes down to how it can perform.

This is where the idea of optimization comes into play. It’s based on the idea that doing things better or differently is an important way to achieve a ROI.

It means structuring social media activity so it is better aligned with business objectives.

It means running social media programs that are flexible and agile to deal with strategic, tactical and competitive issues.

So let’s peel back the proverbial onion to illustrate the new optimized reality.

When a brand launches a social media campaign to drive awareness, engagement, leads, sales, etc., it has to closely monitor activity. This is table stakes.

Then, what?

What happens, for example, if a campaign is generating more engagement and click-throughs on Twitter as opposed to Facebook? How does a brand quickly optimize the campaign to reallocate tactical resources (people, money) to get better business results.

The answer is optimization, which is all about being able to tweak the strategic and tactical dials to deliver the results that brands need to justify social media activity.

In 2014, do not be surprised if optimization becomes a key theme in everything a brand does with social media – be it monitoring, engagement, lead-generation, advertising or sharing content.

As social media evolves, brands are constantly looking for ways to achieve a higher ROI. By focusing on optimization, brands can start to embrace quality over quantity.

For some on thoughts on social media optimization, check out:

- 10 Killer Tips for Social Media Optimization by Ron Johnson

- SEO is Dead. Long Live Social Media Optimization by The Guardian’s Time Anderson.

Predicting the Future is Key to Social Media Success

By Mark Evans - December 4th, 2013

social_media-crystal_ballCompanies all over the world are either deep into their digital strategies and social media executions, or are at least starting to test the waters to see what all the fuss is about.

While both of these approaches are necessary and commendable to varying degrees, the problem lies in the fact that you need to recognize the landscape changes often and those who adapt succeed.

Social media is a world where nothing is static and you need to predict the future of the technology, industry and  what your competitors are doing to stay relevant and receive that much needed return on investment.

If you’re a digital marketer, try thinking about where social media was two or three years ago. Did you know about Pinterest or Vine, and  they would burst onto the scene as another digital marketing tactic?

Did you anticipate the changes Google would implement putting even more emphasis on social media? It’s okay if the answer is no, but going forward there’s real value in knowing what is coming around the bend.

It’s a medium constantly in flux. Organizations who were part of the first wave of Vine enthusiasts were rewarded. The onus is on you to be the first to jump on the next wave.

Remember you also need to predict what will drop in popularity going forward. Will Pinterest lose some of its steam or perhaps Google+ becomes the most popular social network in North America?

Strategically, you can’t surround yourself with psychics and fortune tellers. Instead, you have to monitor the industry and get your feet wet in different networks and technologies. Standing on the sidelines will not suffice.

Ask yourself this, the organizations that were the first to succeed on a new network that is grossly popular today…what drove them there first?

Nothing is outside the realm of possibility when it comes to social media. Drive the bandwagon and try to get off before the other passengers do.

MOvember: A Month Of Moustaches and Social Media

By Sheldon Levine - December 3rd, 2013

MOvember 2013Well, MOvember is officially in the books for another year. That’s right, the magical month of moustaches is now behind us and men all over the world can go back to their regular handsome face configurations. But of course it was all for a great cause.

MOvember raises money for research in prostate cancer and other men’s health issues by creating awareness through the use of people’s faces. Men are urged to grow moustaches and collect donations for the charity throughout the month of November. Not only do people use their faces to create awareness, but social media also plays a huge role in spreading the word of MOvember.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of sitting down with Adam Garone, the founder and CEO of MOvember, who told us a bit more about how MOvember got started and what kind of a role social media plays in helping to spread the word.

Movember from Marketwired on Vimeo.

Now that MOvember is done for 2013, we decided to use MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, to see how much of an impact MOvember had on the social media world.

Over the month of November this year, we found that MOvember was mentioned in social channels over 1.1 million times. Mentions of MOvember came up in 13,266 blog posts, 11,076 online news articles, 11,278 forum postings and 1.161,236 tweets.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Activity Summary

Spreading out those mentions over time we see something very interesting. The first day of the month, when MOvember officially started, saw a gigantic spike in mentions to kick off the month long charity event. The first day of a new venture always seems to be most exciting. After that though, the mentions settle down, but remain pretty steady throughout the rest of the month as people talk about MOvember and use social to sollicite donations.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Popularity Chart

Since Twitter seemed to be the main driver of MOvember conversation, we focused in a little more on the network. On average, we found that MOvember was being mentioned on Twitter almost 39,000 times a day for the month. That also averages out to about 1,600 MOvember tweets per hour over the entire month.

We also found by looking deeper into the mentions on Twitter that most of the MOvember talk was coming for males. Men accounted for 70% of all the MOvember mentions we found on Twitter, which makes sense as men were the ones who sacrificed their upper lips for the cause and were likely using social media to get people to donate to their campaigns.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Twitter Activity Summary

We also plotted out where tweets about MOvember were originating from on our geo location heat map. It’s actually incredible to see how people all over the world were getting involved in the fundraising event and tweeting about it. While MOvember was originally started in Australia, we can see that over the years it has managed to make it’s way to all corners of our globe. People all over the world have come together to unite in a single charity event.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Twitter Geo Location Heat Map

And let’s not forget the pictures that people were sharing. What’s the point of growing an awesome moustache if you can’t show it off to the world? Looking specifically at Instagram, we found 914,014 pictures were tagged with #MOvember. And another 5,441 used the more specific hashatg of #MOvmeber2013.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Instagram Activity

Lastly, we pulled up the sentiment around MOvember for the month across all social channels. We found that MOvember had an outstanding 90% favourable rating for the month. 36% of the mentions we found were positive, while only 10% were negative. However, most of the negative mentions were women complaining about all the moustaches they weren’t enjoying, which actually helped in it’s own way to bring attention to the great cause.

MAP, Powered by Sysomos - Overall Sentiment

Did you participate in MOvember in some way this year? We want to hear about it in the comments section. Especially if you used social media in some way to do it.

Also, while MOvember is officially over, the charity is still accepting donations. So, if you feel inclined to give a last minute donation to a worthy cause feel free to sponor one of our Marketwired teams from around the globe which can all be found on our Marketwired MOvember network page.

The Marriage of Social Media and Content Niches

By Mark Evans - December 2nd, 2013

social mediaIn many ways, content and social media are perfect partners.

Social media is a great way for content to be distributed, and provides an easy way to encourage engagement and conversations.

Content is the fuel that drive social media activity. It provides brands and individuals with a way to capitalize on the power of social media while providing value-added information.

As social media and content marketing continue to expand and evolve, it has been interesting to see the rise of niche communities that leverage the marriage of social media and content.

Here are a few examples of how niche communities are emerging to serve the interests of content makers and consumers:

Inbound.org: A partnership between Rand Fishkin, CEO and cofounder of Moz, and and Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot’s CTO and co-founder, it is a place for inbound marketers to share content.

- Growthhackers: Started by Sean Ellis, Growthhackers is a community for the “growth obsessed to connect and get inspired”.

- ShareBloc, which is building a community of professionals to “share, curate and discuss business content that matters”.

So why are these niche social/content communities being created?

In some respects, it represents the creation of communities around relevant, specific topics. At the same time, they can be seen as the fragmentation of communities into narrow, focused entities.

What do these communities represent?

As the social and content marketing world become noisier and more difficult to navigate, the development of niche communities is a way to provide people with places that meet their specific needs and interests.

They are not designed for everyone but, rather, people looking for communities to improve and inspire what they are doing professionally and personally.

Going forward, you can expect to see even more of these communities pop up as people look for efficient and effective ways to share and consume content, as well as share it socially.

‘Tis the Time for Retailers to Get Social

By Mark Evans - November 29th, 2013

kmart-jingle-bells-hed-2013The holiday season is when retailers really need to exploit social media to separate themselves from rivals.

The reality is retailers need to have a good head start so they don’t fall behind. It’s a game that starts near the end of summer.

JC Penny and Kmart appear to have gotten into the action early. Kmart had a huge hit on its hands with a viral video that shows men playing jingle bells (you can watch the video below) on their private parts. This caused JC Penny to tweet them with a coupon for pants.

While it was a smart move by JC Penny, Kmart wasn’t shy about reciprocating the jabs. The exchange is a lot of fun similar to what Tesco Mobile did recently, even though this was geared towards holiday shopping and the targeted approach could pay off in spades.

The big lesson for digital marketers is you don’t have to just play off your own success in social media. You can play off others and even off competitors.

The  exchange between JC Penny and Kmart is giving both them a lot of mileage in social media. And there’s a good chance it will convert into sales during the holidays.

If you work in digital marketing for a retailer, this is a great story to follow and, hopefully, you have something in the pipeline. If you don’t, then it needs to be your primary objective before it’s too late.

Social media is a great way for retailers to drum up extra business during this important time of the year. In fact, it might be the best approach as you can get a feel for buying habits, what’s popular, and communicate directly with potential customers.

The best bet for something to go viral is either a video campaign (which would most likely have to be produced already), a strategic hashtag or an exchange that will catch users’ attention.

Now is the time for retailers to not just use social media, but to find a tactic that will knock it out of the park.

Black Friday Fever [Infographic]

By Sheldon Levine - November 28th, 2013

Black Friday is widely known as the busiest shopping day of the year. So much so that not just retailers, but also shoppers start preparing for it weeks in advance. And what better way is there to find and share the best Black Friday deals in the modern age than on Twitter?

We took to Twitter to find all the chatter leading up to Black Friday between November 1 – 27th and put together the following infographic. See who’s talking about Black Friday and what products and brands are being talked about the most.

Black Friday has been mentioned well over 2 million times through the month of November world-wide. While we expected to see that the most Black Friday mentions were coming from retailers’ accounts tweeting about the great deals they’ll have going on, it turns out only one retailer showed up in our top 5; WalMart. The other four accounts are actually aggregators who have found some of the best Black Friday deals and are sharing them with anyone following. So, if you’re looking for some good deals this Black Friday, try checking out these accounts to see where to go.

 Black Friday Fever - Infographic, Powered by Sysomos