Tag Archives: Matthew Barnett

Social Business and Giraffe Bread

Posted in Best Practices, Social Media

As I was reading an article on Sainsbury’s Tiger Bread (turned Giraffe Bread), I started to wonder what it truly means to be a social business. Many businesses grapple with this concept. Some believe simply setting up and maintaining social media accounts is enough, but it’s much more than that. Creating a social business starts with your employees and your company culture. Watch this Coffman Organization video on company culture to get a better feel for what I mean.

Take a step back for a second. Realize that social businesses are part of the social revolution. Granted, social networks like Myspace, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter helped spawn the movement, but those networks are just tools. The movement is centered around widespread human-to-human interaction. Humans are connecting with each other all over the world more than ever before, and they are building relationships with the people who matter most to them.

Wikipedia says, “[Social] always refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.” The social revolution is a voluntary movement to reinforce the positive interaction of humans with other humans and to their collective co-existence.

IBM’s Sandy Carter phrases it this way, “A Social Business is a business that embeds ‘social’ in all of its processes, connecting people to people, people to information, and data to insight.” I agree. I also believe a social business creates two-way dialogue with those who matter most using social tools, creating transparency and “sharing expertise beyond [a businesses'] four walls.”

How do you create a social business? Social starts with human-to-human interaction. Your employees are what make you a social business. Their culture and your company culture are what shape and define that interaction. Create a positive company culture and empower your employees to embrace and act on the values of your company culture.

When Morningstar Communication hosted “Sharing a Century of Knowledge,” all six century-old businesses agreed that the secret to their success is company culture. CEO of Saint Luke’s Hospital Julie Quirin said, “We believe culture eats strategy for lunch.”  Senior V.P. of Public Affairs & Communications at Hallmark Steve Doyal said, “In any company, it’s about the people and the passion that they bring to their work.” In a Fast Company article, Shawn Parr wrote about the important role company culture plays in a business’s success.

A social business has employees that are in line with the company culture and who act on its behalf, creating real human-to-human interaction between the company and those who matter most. Chris King, of Sainsbury’s customer service team, and his interaction with three-and-a-half-year-old Lily Robinson is a great example of what it means to be a social business. It’s not strategy. It’s not marketing. It’s not simply using social tools. It’s having an amazing company culture and employees that build relationships. The basis of social business is positive human interaction. It’s not about a product – it’s about connecting with people.

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Creative Messaging: Food for thought

Posted in Integrated Marketing (IMC), Online Marketing, Social Media

Thanksgiving is only two days away. In a matter of hours, relatives will collectively gather in homes across the country for holiday festivities. While Morningstar Communications won’t be hosting an office turkey feast this Thursday, we would still like the opportunity to entertain and give our blog guests some food for thought.

Many businesses and custumers anxiously await holiday season sales, but before these big sales take place, all of the businesses spend money in advertising to draw customers in. These ads all have one thing in common – a message for the consumer.

Here is my personal favorite holiday advertisement I’ve seen this season: Gotta Go to Kohl’s on Black Friday.

Messaging is key for any business. But how are they crafted? In what tone? In what voice? Who is the intended audience? In what creative way are these messages delivered? These are all good questions, but the final product should be made of what Eric Morgenstern calls the anatomy of great messaging.

Within thirty seconds, the Kohl’s ad touches on each of the six elements of great messaging. And it does it in a creative, memorable, entertaining way. Not only do I know who they are, when the sale is, how it benefits me to go (christmas shopping done early, Kohl’s cash, etc.), but it is also simple, recipient-oriented, AND they brought it to us via parody of a notorious, viral song, which is stuck in my head on loop again. You too? You’re welcome. Bottom line – it works.

What else works? How about Ford’s unique approach to releasing the 2013 Escape? Or, how about the creative 404 pages found in this Business Insider article? I love creative messaging. Do you? What creative messages that exemplify the anatomy of great messaging did I miss? Let us know what you think!

Stay Digital.

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Back to Basics

Posted in Best Practices, Social Media

October 13 will mark three months since Netflix’s height and rapid decline of stock price. On July 13, 2011, Netflix stock peaked at $298.73. Today, it fluctuates around $112. This begs the question, what went wrong? As it turns out, using social media can affect a companies’ bottom line.

Photo courtesy of Mashable

In early July, it was smooth sailing for Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. He had just been named to Facebook’s board of directors. Netflix was rolling out to Latin America and stock price was unbelievable. Then came the fallout – a revolt. How could he have avoided it?

Hastings had an invaluable resource at his disposal, and to the best of my judgement, he didn’t even know it. Thousands of loyal brand enthusiasts, customers and advocates were ignored. Enter in social media and the four pillars of strategy: communication, collaboration, education and entertainment.

Communication. Social Media is two-way communication. Want to know who your audience is, what they think about your message and how they perceive your brand? Social Media is the perfect vehicle to provide valuable feedback, statistics and ROI that you can see immediately. For example, each click through from the email link to your e-newsletter is countable.

Collaboration.  Ask your community of loyal customers to be part of a customer advisory board. By creating a mindshare community with your most influential and loyal customers, you will better understand the needs and wants of your customers.

Education. Engage your customers by educating them about your product or service. For example, we may not all be expert florists, but writing a blog on floral design or fresh cut floral care to pair with your website not only establishes your expertise, but engages your audience by sharing why you do what you do.

Entertainment. Entertainment doesn’t always mean funny. Don’t be afraid to try funny, but keep it interesting and compelling. You may miss the mark with the majority of your audience, so test your content with your customer advisory board.

If Hastings would have communicated with consumers about possible company changes, he might have avoided the backlash he received. Being proactive is better than reactive. Instead of upsetting customers by pushing unexplained price hikes and splitting up services, Hastings could have asked his community of customer advisers what they thought about the DVD-to-mail service and its future. Conversely, the only voices he heard were after stock had fallen.

Likewise, Hastings could have used social media forms to educate consumers. He could have provided a company newsletter with customer’s bills explaining why price increases were needed. Increasing transparency and honesty with your consumers gives them a chance to see your side. If he was signing deals for new services, he should have promoted them while explaining the price increase.

Now Hastings is left to react to the complaints of all the companies’ stakeholders, not to mention the commentary found throughout online communities and forums.  He could have been asking customers what they thought, but now he’s stuck saying sorry.

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