Facebook Analytics Exercise: “XYZ Company” and IMC

This week in Intro to Multimedia, we’re examining data derived from Facebook analytics regarding a company we’re calling “XYZ”, which is a heating and cooling company in Western Massachusetts. XYZ provides installations, maintenance, and repair services. The company currently has a Facebook page, a website, a Twitter account, a Yelp page, and Google+ page, and sends emails to recipients within a thirty-mile radius of the business.

Data Insights

Screenshots of data provided by Facebook analytics, which cover both monthly (summer to fall) and recently weekly page activity is rather telling. For example, Facebook ads and paid reach are driving most of XYZ’s likes and other engagement. Summer months tend to drive interest in product and service related posts, likely because of greater need for cooling in hotter months. Judging by the provided data, there’s no particularly advantageous day to run an ad, but between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM is when the company should run ads, as the people they reach are most accessible during the evening hours. Pictures of unit models actually being installed in real locations tend to see lots of post clicks and shares. Also, posts about special offers on services and products appear to drive a lot of clicks and shares.

ads and likes

The most receptive crowd are English speakers in the Springfield, MA area. Those most likely to “like” the page and become followers are younger men age 25-34 and women age 35-44. Depending on marketing goals, posts are being served a little off-target if the company desires more “likes”, as men age 35-44 are being targeted, but are not the most likely to “like” the page. However, if the company desires more shares, the male, 35-44 group is the best target, as that demographic shares more posts than any other.

who is targeted

Posts are being served less efficiently to women. In the past week, ads have heavily targeted women age 18-24, one of the most marginal demographics who historically “like” the page. Women age 45-54, who are most likely to share page content and are fairly likely to “like” the page are not being targeted nearly as much as less reliable groups.

who likes the page

Using Insights and IMC

One of the most important aspects of good IMC is consistency. XYZ Company does appear to practice consistency in its voice and post content, but its consumer targeting would benefit from some fine tuning, and the application of some marketing goals.

XYZ Company would do well to focus on page likes as a first priority. Being a small, local business, whose service and sales reach is currently around thirty miles in radius, XYZ will want to focus on keeping in touch with its past, current, and prospective customers, establishing a loyal customer base. Shares and awareness are important, but their organic reach can’t be controlled or predicted. To be more specific, XYZ would benefit more from word-of-mouth recommendations that reach other locals, rather than organic reach that may extend to people outside of XYZ’s service and sales area. Collecting local followers will support building a repeat customer base, and local word-of-mouth may prove to create awareness in a more optimal service and sales range.

To achieve more likes, and thereby, more loyal, local customers, XYZ should try and create a Facebook ad, on-the-job photo post, or featured product photo / offer post, and fine tune the targeting parameters within Facebook ads. Using the insights gleaned from Facebook analytics, the best way to gain the most page likes would be to target women age 35-54 and men age 25-44. Running the ad during peak hours, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, and manually pausing before and after this block of time may further help to achieve more likes per dollar spent.

follower activity

To lend more strength to such a campaign, XYZ Company should invest some effort on other social media channels where their brand lives. When examining the data and insights provided via Facebook analytics, it appears that XYZ’s Facebook page sees clicks and engagement with its timeline most, but its info tab, reviews, and photos tab also see some engagement. The company website ought to serve as a bank of even more photos, product and service descriptions, contact info, and other company information, should the Facebook page lead a customer to further research and inquiry. This information and imagery should be consistent with the info posted to Facebook.

The company Yelp page is another great resource for past, current, and potential customers to learn more about the business, its products and services, and, most importantly on this channel, customer reviews and company feedback. Yelp, like Facebook, is a great place for the company to gain consumer insight, and it’s also a great channel for responding to publicly posted comments regarding XYZ. Such responses should echo the company’s persona, and strive to be informative, professional, and friendly.

XYZ also has its own Google+ and Twitter accounts. While Google+ can act as a secondary channel on which to post content similar to that on Facebook, Twitter is a great place to both engage quick and simple customer tweets, and a great channel for XYZ to mention special offers or post eye-catching product pictures. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for XYZ to create a short, sweet company slogan–something catchy, easy to remember, and not too long to type, which can be used as a hashtag on Twitter and also on Facebook for duplicate posts, or posts regarding similar content. For example, in the summer months, while running a Facebook ad for cooling units, use the hashtag, “#XYZcooldeals”, and in the winter months, “#XYZhotdeals”.

A few final ideas…

IMC continues offline, and considering the company is targeting a thirty-mile emailing radius, it would be to their advantage to mention their company hashtags, social media pages, and/or website in any relevant special offers they place in emails, local newspapers, on billboards, or in physical handouts (anything from product and service pamphlets to business cards). The same rule applies to local radio ad spots.

Additionally, XYZ should follow companies in related industries on all channels, especially Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Keeping an eye on products, businesses, and services that other companies provide, and examining how they’re successfully engaging customers on social media can help inform XYZ’s social media marketing tactics going forward, and may result in valuable leads, or to professional networking, partnership, or contracting opportunities.

Social Media PR Exercise: Hyatt Regency and The Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Marina

(Note: this post is for educational purposes only. I do not work for, nor am I affiliated with Hyatt Regency or Hilton hotels or resorts.)

This week in Intro to Multimedia, I’ve been asked to imagine that I am the social media manager responding to two different cases of customer response–one positive, one negative. I am to imagine I am responsible for PR for both Hyatt Regency (Orlando) and The Hilton (Ft. Lauderdale Marina).

Case 1: Hyatt Regency Orlando

Below is an example of a positive customer review left for the hotel:

Hyatt-example2015

Although this review is overwhelmingly positive from a score / rating standpoint, and the customer enjoyed their stay and recommended the Hyatt Regency to fellow travelers and vacationers, they clearly ran into some inconveniences during their stay, and didn’t stray from making mention of a few incidents. Even though the customer was able to stay in a high room, they didn’t get the view they had expected. Due to some inclement weather, the pool was not as clean / sightly as usual, and the client’s massage was not as long as they may have liked. Although they had made reservations for the B-Line Diner, they still experienced a wait, and  though they appreciated availability of a shuttle service to nearby theme parks, they were a bit put off by the daily parking fees for their own vehicle.

The customer left a generous review despite the little mishaps and inconveniences marring their stay. This is a good opportunity to respond to the customer, let them know their praise is greatly appreciated, and gives the Hyatt a chance to address their concerns.

As a social media manager / PR manager for Hyatt, I would begin my response via public post, and would want to say something along the lines of:

“Hi ‘Travelwith3kiddos’,

The Hyatt Regency Orlando would like to personally thank you for your recent review of our hotel. We greatly appreciate your comments, and we’re glad you enjoyed your stay with us. We noticed that you experienced a few inconveniences during your stay with us, and we’d like to extend our apologies for anything that may have interrupted your family’s fun…”

First, I’d address the issues that may have been beyond the hotel’s control, and suggest future solutions to inconveniences that could have been avoided this time:

“…We’re sorry to hear that our pool was not in its typical, fine form. As a hotel that accommodates families, we know how important it is to parents that their kids have fun in safe and clean environments. Florida weather can be unpredictable, and we at Hyatt try our best to stay ahead of it.

Next time you visit us, and we hope you will, we recommend staying during the mid to later autumn months. October and November can be especially pleasant, and cooler and sunnier than the warmer parts of the year. Also, if your family enjoys Orlando and its many attractions, the crowds are much lighter during the off season, whether you’re spending the day in a theme park or enjoying the restaurants and facilities here at the Hyatt.

We’re also glad you enjoyed your experience at the B-Line Diner, and we regret your reservation with Fiorenzo was less than satisfactory. When you return, we hope you’ll try one or more of our other restaurants, including Coconuts Poolside Bar & Grill (a good choice for the whole family) and Urban Tide…”

Now, there are a few opportunities to make some conciliatory offers to the customer, particularly regarding parking fees, the massage, and the room reservation, but it’s generally unwise to offer special services, accommodations, or discounts publicly, and this is where I would attempt to continue the conversation via phone or personal email:

“…If you have some time, Hyatt would like to speak with you via email or phone and ask you a few more questions about your stay, and we’d like to ensure that your next visit with us is even better than your last. Please fill out a customer feedback form here and be sure to leave your email and phone number and mention this post, or simply call Hyatt Guest Services at 800.323.7249.”

As a final touch, as was discussed in this week’s lecture, I would sign the post as myself (simply “Chad, Social Media Manager, Hyatt Regency”, or something similarly appropriate). This way, the customer knows that a real person, not an automated response, is replying to their post. This simple touch lets the customer know that their individual experience with Hyatt is important to the hotel.

At this point, if the customer follows through and emails or calls Guest Services, the Hyatt has a chance to remedy some of the customer’s complaints not directly addressed in the public post. For example, Hyatt may offer to reserve the customer a better parking space next time they visit (since there is no other way around the fee other than a special rate, or suggesting cheaper, offsite parking, which may just be more inconvenient). The hotel could also offer a discount on the next room the customer books, making sure the location is precisely as asked for, and, as a last option, the hotel could offer a discount on the customer’s next massage, since the first did not quite meet expectation.

 Case 2: The Hilton, Ft. Lauderdale Marina

Below is an example of a negative customer review left for the hotel:

Hilton-example-2015

This case is quite different from the positive review left in response to a customer’s experience at the Hyatt in Orlando. The post is critical in every regard, and there are no positive comments to fall back on, but that’s okay. In this case, I think I would elect to use a slightly different approach than I used in response to the Hyatt comments. At least to begin with, I’d take some cues from the Red Cross (and they way they handled this PR crisis) and implement a friendly and professional sense of humor:

“Hi ‘Luv2travelwithhubby’,

We wanted to tell you that we’re grateful that you took the time to comment on your experience staying with us, and we want you to know it will definitely not be ten years before you’ll want to stay with us again!…”

Opening with a bit of humor should help the hotel to connect with the customer, who, at this point, may otherwise have little interest in hearing from Hilton, considering the negative experience they’ve had.

“…Although we’re thrilled to hear that your high school chose us to host your reunion, we’re very sorry to hear that your stay with us was below expectation, and unsatisfactory…”

I’d follow up with an immediate apology and concern regarding the customer’s experience staying at the hotel, and then explain that the hotel is now under completely new management. Again, I would address this professionally but lightheartedly.

“…We hope you’ll be glad to hear that since your stay with us in 2008, the hotel is now under new management, and we are taking much greater care of our customers and much greater pride in our hotel. We’ve embraced change, and done away with many of old management’s ideas, including newspapers in the pool (we feel they’re better suited for the dining area during breakfast) and cold showers (this is Florida, not the North Pole), and we’ve made sure that all of our housekeeping staff are wearing watches, or at least know the location of the nearest clock…”

At this point, it would be a good idea to try and move the conversation to phone or email as with the previous case. This will provide the hotel a chance to invite the customer to come and stay at the Hilton again, perhaps at a one-time, discounted rate, so they can see all the positive changes new management has made.

“…If you have ten minutes, we’d like to spare you a ten-year wait, and speak with you a little more and ask you some questions about your stay via phone ( +1-954-463-4000) or email. We at Hilton would like to know what we can do to make sure you give us another chance the next time you visit the Ft. Lauderdale area.”

As in the first case, I would leave my real, first name on the post and disclose that I am the social media / PR manager for The Hilton Ft. Lauderdale, and direct the customer to the contact info on our website.

 

Social Media Planning: Epcot, December 2015

(Note: this post is for educational purposes only and does not reflect official Disney or Epcot social media plans, hashtags, or other content. I do not work for, nor am I affiliated with Disney or Walt Disney Parks & Resorts)

This week in Introduction to Multimedia, I have been tasked to imagine that I am the social media specialist for Epcot. My job is to decide on a major goal for the month of December, 2015, and to plan social media posts for the month accordingly.

Goal and Overview

Our goal at Epcot for the month of December (2015) is to create more awareness about our park’s special seasonal and holiday events, and to drive guests to experience the winter holiday season at Epcot. We will achieve this by promoting special events such as Holidays Around the World, Holiday Storytellers, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, Epcot’s Candlelight Processional, and Epcot’s New Year’s Eve celebration. Daily content themes will be as follows (special content will be added on holidays):

Mondays: Holiday “Humans of Epcot” / Guest Spotlight
Tuesdays: Holiday Storytellers / Christmas Tales From Around the World
Wednesdays: Disney Yuletide Fantasy tour promo series / Behind the Scenes
Thursdays: Throwback Thursday / A Look Back at Celebrations Past
Fridays: Holiday Princess Scavenger Hunt

|WEEK ONE|

Tuesday, December 1:
-Twitter- “Come hear the tale of La Befana, the good Christmas witch!” (include link to Youtube video) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotItaly #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Come to Epcot Italy and hear the tale of La Befana, the good Christmas witch!” (include link to Youtube video) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotItaly #Epcot2015

Wednesday, December 2:
-Twitter- “Come and see what’s happening at Epcot this holiday season!” (include photo of Cast Members of Holiday Services) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Join us on a Disney Yuletide Fantasy tour, and see the magic behind Epcot’s holiday preparations and festivities!” (include photo/video of Cast Members of Holiday Services) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015

Thursday, December 3:
-Twitter- “Remember when…” (post an early photo of staff decorating the Resort hotels in preparation for the holidays) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyHolidays
-Facebook- “Remember when…” (post old photos/an album of staff decorating the park in preparation for the holidays) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyHolidays

Friday, December 4:
-Twitter- “Character spotted! We just saw #Alice in Epcot’s United Kingdom!” (post around time Alice is scheduled to appear in UK w/photo) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Character spotted! Meet Alice today in Epcot’s United Kingdom! (11:30 AM)” (post with photo/video of Alice interacting with guests) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015

character-meet-alice-in-wonderland-uk-00
Example Alice photo. Image copyright The Walt Disney Company (source).

|WEEK TWO|

Monday, December 7:
-Twitter- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday
-Facebook- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday

Tuesday, December 8:
-Twitter- “Come and join in la Fiesta de Navidad!” (include link to Youtube video) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotMexico #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Join us in celebrating the music, dances, and traditions of la Fiesta de Navidad in Epcot’s Mexico!” (include link to Youtube video) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotMexico #Epcot2015

Wednesday, December 9:
-Twitter- “Come and see what’s happening at Epcot this holiday season!” (include photo of Explore World Showcase) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Join us on a Disney Yuletide Fantasy tour, and see the magic behind Epcot’s holiday preparations and festivities!” (include photo/video of Explore World Showcase) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015

Thursday, December 10:
-Twitter- “Remember when…” (post an early photo of guests visiting Epcot during holidays past) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyHolidays
-Facebook- “Remember when…” (post old photos/an album of guests visiting the park during holidays past) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyHolidays

Friday, December 11:
-Twitter- “Character spotted! We just saw #Belle in Epcot’s France!” (post around time Belle is scheduled to appear in France w/photo) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Character spotted! Meet Belle today in Epcot’s France! (11:00 AM)” (post with photo/video of Belle interacting with guests) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015

Example photo Belle. Image copyright The Walt Disney Company (source).
Example photo Belle. Image copyright The Walt Disney Company (source).

|WEEK THREE|

Monday, December 14:
-Twitter- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday
-Facebook- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday

Tuesday, December 15:
-Twitter- “Come and hear the tale of Father Christmas!” (include link to Youtube video) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotUK #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Come and hear the tale of Father Christmas in Epcot’s United Kingdom!” (include link to Youtube video) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotUK #Epcot2015

Wednesday, December 16:
-Twitter- “Come and see what’s happening at Epcot this holiday season!” (include photo of Epcot entrance decorations) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Join us on a Disney Yuletide Fantasy tour, and see the magic behind Epcot’s holiday preparations and festivities!” (include photo/video of Epcot entrance decorations) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015

images
Example photo, Epcot at Christmas (source).

Thursday, December 17:
-Twitter- “Remember when…” (post photo of live actor portraying Mickey from earliest Epcot seasonal celebrations) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyHolidays
-Facebook- “Remember when…” (post photos/album of Cast Members ready for the holiday festivities during some of the earliest Epcot celebrations) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyHolidays

Friday, December 18:
-Twitter- “Character spotted! We just saw #Jasmine in Epcot’s Morocco!” (post around time Jasmine is scheduled to appear in Morocco w/photo) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Character spotted! Meet Jasmine today in Epcot’s Morocco! (11:45 AM)” (post with photo/video of Jasmine interacting with guests) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015

character-meet-aladdin-jasmine-00
Example Jasmine photo. Image copyright The Walt Disney Company (source).

|WEEK FOUR|

Monday, December 21:
-Twitter- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday
-Facebook- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday

Tuesday, December 22:
-Twitter- “Come and learn about Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa!” (include photo) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotUS #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Come join us in celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and listen to the beautiful songs of the Voices of Liberty Dickens Carolers!” (include photo/video of carolers) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotUS #Epcot2015

Wednesday, December 23:
-Twitter- “Come and see what’s happening at Epcot this holiday season!” (include photo of holiday decor in the Resort hotels) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Join us on a Disney Yuletide Fantasy tour, and see the magic behind Epcot’s holiday preparations and festivities!” (include photo/video of the holiday decor in the Resort hotels) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015

Thursday, December 24:
***Christmas Eve posts***
-Twitter- “Remember when…” (post photo of one of the earliest Christmas Eve celebrations at Epcot) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyHolidays
-Twitter- “It’s Christmas Eve!” (include photo of Candlelight Procession) #Epcot2015 #HappyHolidays
-Facebook- “It’s Christmas Eve! Come and join us tonight for our Candlelight Procession and a special holiday edition of IllumiNations!” (post between 11AM-1PM, include photo of previous IllumiNations fireworks display) #Epcot2015 #HappyHolidays
-Facebook- “Remember when…” (post photos/album of some of the earliest Christmas Eve celebrations at Epcot) #Epcot2015 #HappyHolidays #TBT

Friday, December 25:
***Christmas Day posts***
-Twitter- “Character spotted! We just saw #SnowWhite in Epcot’s Germany!” (post around time Snow White is scheduled to appear in Germany w/photo) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015
-Twitter- “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Epcot!” (include photo of Epcot festivities) #Epcot2015 #HappyHolidays
-Facebook- “Character spotted! Meet Snow White today in Epcot’s Germany! (12:30 PM)” (post with photo/video of Snow White interacting with guests) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Epcot! Come and join us for Holidays Around the World all day, and don’t miss the Candlelight Procession and a special holiday edition of IllumiNations this evening!” (post between 11AM-1PM, include photo of previous IllumiNations fireworks display) #Epcot2015 #HappyHolidays

character-meet-snow-white-00
Example Snow White photo. Image copyright The Walt Disney Company (source).
LIGHT THE NIGHT Spectacular fireworks customized to a symphonic score burst above Epcot’s World Showcase Lagoon during IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Lasers, a revolving Earth Globe and leaping flames co-star in this 13-minute spectacle. IllumiNations is the nightly finale at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Computer-generated image). (Copyright 2001. THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY.)
Example photo of IllumiNations. Image copyright 2001 The Walt Disney Company (source).

|WEEK FIVE|

Monday, December 28:
-Twitter- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday
-Facebook- “Happy holidays from the ______ family and Epcot!” (post photo of guest family w/permission) #Epcot2015 #HumansofEpcot #FamilyHoliday

Tuesday, December 29:
-Twitter- “Come and see the colorful Chinese Lion Dance!” (include photo) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotChina #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Come and join us for the colorful Chinese Lion Dance in Epcot’s China!” (include photo/video) #HolidayStorytellers #EpcotChina #Epcot2015

Wednesday, December 30:
-Twitter- “Did you join us for the magic of the Yuletide this year?” (include photo of this year’s special holiday keepsake ) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015
-Facebook- “Thanks to all those who joined us on this year’s Disney Yuletide Fantasy tour! Come and see us again! Happy Holidays to all!” (include photo/video of this year’s special holiday keepsake) #YuletideFantasy #Epcot2015

Thursday, December 31:
***New Year’s Eve posts***
-Twitter- “Remember when…” (post photo from one of Epcot’s first New Year’s fireworks shows) #Epcot2015 #TBT #HappyNewYear
-Twitter (midday)- “It’s New Year’s Eve at Epcot!” (include photo of festivities / ongoing celebration in Future World / World Showcase) #Epcot2015 #HappyNewYear
-Twitter (night)- “2016 has almost arrived in Epcot!” (include photo of celebration / live DJs) #Epcot2015 #HappyNewYear
-Facebook- “2016 is almost here in Epcot! Come and join us in ringing in the new year! There will be live music and DJs all night, and IllumiNations will feature a special holiday finale!” (include photo album/video of daily and nightly festivities) #Epcot2015 #HappyNewYear
-Facebook- “Remember when…” (post photo/album of some of the earliest New Year’s celebrations at Epcot) #Epcot2015 #HappyNewYear #TBT

Friday, January 1:
***New Year’s Day posts***
-Twitter- “Happy New Year from Epcot!” (include photo from previous night’s fireworks) #Epcot2016 #HappyNewYear
-Twitter- “Character spotted! We just saw #Mulan in Epcot’s China!” (post around time Mulan is scheduled to appear in China w/photo) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2016
-Facebook- “Happy New Year from all of us at Epcot!” (include photo from previous night’s fireworks) #Epcot2016 #HappyNewYear
-Facebook- “Character spotted! Meet Mulan today in Epcot’s China! (11:00 AM)” (post with photo/video of Mulan interacting with guests) #HolidayPrincessHunt #Epcot2016

Example photo Mulan. Image copyright The Walt Disney Company (source).
Example photo Mulan. Image copyright The Walt Disney Company (source).

References

2015 Disney / Epcot calendars, events, and schedules:

http://www.wdwinfo.com/holidays/christmas_world.htm#Epcot

http://www.wdwinfo.com/holidays/new-years-eve.htm

http://www.wdwinfo.com/holidays/candlelight_processional.htm

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/yuletide-fantasy/

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/holidays-around-the-world/

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/epcot/illuminations-reflections-of-earth/

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/calendars/

Niche Social Media: Book Publishing and AuthorsInfo.com

So last week was midterm week, and I wrote about the popular, mainstream app, Snapchat (article here). This week’s focus, however, is industry-specific, or “niche”, social media channels. Since I’ve worked in book publishing and editing for some time now, and I have several titles to my own name, I’m actually pretty familiar with a number of niche social media networks, particularly those designed for authors and publishers. This week I want to talk about one of the newer sites, a social channel called Authors Info.

AuthorsInfo home

What is Authors Info?

The simplest way to describe Authors Info is to compare it to a Facebook / Goodreads hybrid platform, only, Authors Info is designed more for authors, publishers, and agents first, and then readers. The site acts as a social network for those in the writing, editing, and publishing industry, and continually curates and manages new author and book information submitted by professionals who sign up to use the site. Its landing page often runs a looping slideshow-style banner that displays new or featured titles, and just below, users will find a “Search Listing” section, where they can browse newly reviewed titles, newly added listings, or search specifically for books or authors.

AuthorsInfo search listing

AuthorsInfo book info
Book info is descriptive, and even includes summaries, teasers, and reviews.

In this regard, Authors Info might look familiar to those similar with the popular social reading platform, Goodreads. I would argue, however, that Authors Info’s design is cleaner and more robust, and its content is much more detailed, setting it apart from other sites that host information about authors and their works. For example, if users look up a title and click the link to its on-site page, they access a detailed page (example left) that tells them everything they could want to know about a book, its author and publisher as well as their Twitter handle(s), its ISBN and ASIN numbers, genre and subject tags, all available formats, publication dates, page count, language editions, editor and user reviews–everything. Plus, these info pages are “favorite-able”, shareable across six other major social networks with the simple click of a button, and provide direct purchase links to sites like Amazon, one of, if not the largest seller of books online. But what makes Authors Info really special?…

AuthorsInfo author profile

Author profile pages! That’s right, Authors Info isn’t merely an information dump for reviews and book info. When it comes to its authors, publishers, and other industry professionals, Authors Info is a living community. It’s a place where readers’ favorite books and authors, as well as those authors, their publishers, and agents, gather to be able to speak to and network with one another.

AuthorsInfo profile feed
The profile feed is easy to use, especially if you’re familiar with similar platforms such as Facebook.

Are you a reader who wants to know more about an author? Are you an agent looking for undiscovered or emerging talent? Maybe you’re a publisher trying to connect your imprints’ professional circles online? On Authors Info, that’s where public profiles come into play. They look and act much like a Facebook profile, and just as with other, similar channels, users can “follow” or “friend” one another, or simply view their bio, posts, links, videos, and other content. Publishing industry professionals, writers, and other users can post to their own feeds (and others, with permission), create calendars, discussions, notes, and track reviews and favorites from profile pages. The possibilities and uses are many. Publishers can create groups for their authors, unpublished authors can engage publishers and agents, and agents can network on behalf of their clients easily within the platform. Additionally, the site offers users the option to link their profile to their accounts to other networks, particularly Facebook and Google+.

Publishing, Social Media, and Proximity Marketing

I think Authors Info is built to work wonderfully alongside its more mainstream social channel fellows, and provides a great outlet for publishing industry professionals and readers to engage away from the noise. There’s also great potential for Authors Info to help its users tie their traditional blogs and Youtube channels into their Authors Info profiles and feeds. Youtube, in my opinion, is especially important, and I think as publishing moves forward, professionals need to find more ways to bolster print entertainment with engaging visual content online. As Penn simply explains, “video search is increasing, and you want to be found,” and “book sales are all about a human connection.” Video content is huge, and book publishing needs to invest effort in it.

What I’d like to see most, however, is the publishing industry employing some creative proximity marketing, and I’m not talking about setting up iBeacons in Barnes & Noble. I’m looking at small or independent publishers who frequent convention center or open-air book festivals representing their authors.

Glimworm
Glimworm Beacons declares that “it’s the end of festivals as we know it”, because Bluetooth is changing the way people are experiencing the arts and the events that host them.

Think about it–festivals are basically temporary shopping malls, and malls are one of the best places to implement proximity marketing, grabbing consumers’ attention at the best possible moment, when they’re looking to buy. I’ve defended the value of selling at book festivals for years, now, and I think in-person booksellers either have neglected the advantages of combining social media and proximity marketing at book fairs and book festivals, or that they just have no idea the tools are available. Imagine the possibilities! Why not promote special offers on books, or tech-engagement with the event itself, like music festivals Coachella and Bonnaroo did in 2014?

Consider a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers that surveyed 1,000 people:

“The study included some information on what people liked that marketers can use when planning proximity ads. For example, 76 percent say they browse in-store because they want to see and touch the item before buying online, and 65 percent say they browse online but purchase in the store because they don’t want to pay shipping costs.”
–Peter Roesler, Bizjournals.com (2015).

Despite the rise of online shopping, there’s most certainly an audience that wants to shop and make purchases in-person. To publishers, that means we’re talking about those readers who swear by “old-fashioned” books, and who just “love the smell, feel, and look of a good ol’ print edition”. Many of these readers are on mobile, and if they’re looking to save on shipping cost, I’m willing to bet they’re open to receiving on-site or in-store offers as well. Don’t rule it out!

Concluding Thoughts

Authors Info has the potential to be an interesting toolkit for publishing as well as a great supplement to small-publisher and indie author proximity marketing. Authors Info itself is a platform that brings familiar social networking functionality to a niche industry by combining the best aspects of already-popular and successful channels. It doesn’t merely act as a professional network for the publishing industry, it also creates an interesting public forum for authors and their readers, a place where readers and writers can pierce the publishing veil a bit. As it’s a fairly new site, I’m excited to see how it grows as well as how it continues to weave itself into other industry-specific networks and general, mainstream channels.

Ref.

Penn, Joanna. (2010, March 8). Thecreativepenn.com – “7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion”

Roesler, Peter. (2015, February 23). Bizjournals.com – “How to use proximity marketing without alienating potential consumers”

Other Sources

https://glimwormbeacons.com/about/festivals/

http://www.ibeacon.com/ibeacon-featured-at-coachella/

http://9to5mac.com/2014/07/14/bonnaroo-festival-used-ibeacons-to-collect-valuable-data-about-concertgoers/

http://www.zdnet.com/article/what-is-apple-ibeacon-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

Social Channel Spotlight: Snapchat

What is Snapchat?

snapchat ghost
The Snapchat icon is actually named “Ghostface Chillah” after “Ghostface Killah” of the Wu-Tang Clan (image and source).

Functionally speaking, it’s a pretty easy question to answer. Snapchat is a mobile app that first launched in 2011. Its design and purpose are simple: it allows users to take photos or videos, edit them with text and freehand doodles, and send them to friends and followers. What makes Snapchat unique is that it provides a solution to the social media problem of “what you post is forever”, meaning, photos and videos sent via Snapchat have a short lifespan. Once they’re viewed for the maximum time specified by the sender, they vanish for good. Users have the option to send their photos and videos to contacts they specifically choose, or they can add photos and videos to their “Story (aka My Story)” which is a collection of media shared over the course of 24 hours. Media in the “Story” gradually vanishes as the 24-hour viewing limit runs out. Snapchat also includes a chat feature. Users can chat one-on-one in a thread and continue to send text messages or “snapbacks” in response to one another.

In 2014, Snapchat launched Snapcash, a feature supported by Square that allows users to send money to one another by entering a chat and typing an amount preceded by “$”, i.e. “$5.00” (Neistat).

Snapchat qualifies as a social media channel and thrives as a mobile app. Though it’s all about imagery and video, it can’t truly be classified as a content community by virtue of its distinguishing “self destruct” feature, or, in other words, because its content is not permanently accessible. Its users don’t necessarily have to know one another personally, but many users do tend to know one another to some degree, as one of the main ways to contact another user via Snapchat is by phone number. Other means of establishing contact with another Snapchat user include searching for a particular username manually or using a Snapcode to find them quickly.

A Little History…

Snapchat’s entire life story is one as steeped in founder tension and legal drama as competitor Facebook’s. It all starts with three main players–Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown–and goes something like this:

Evan_Spiegel_at_TechCrunch_2
Evan Spiegel (image and source).

The original roles were fairly defined: Murphy as CTO, Brown as chief marketing officer, Spiegel as CEO, honing the idea as part of a design class he was taking. The first iteration was a clunky website that required users to upload a photo and set a timer before sending. The eureka moment only came when the idea migrated to mobile. “At some point it was like, ‘Hey, there’s a camera on your phone,’” Spiegel says. “‘Wouldn’t that be easier?’”
–Colao, (2014, January 20). Forbes.com

Pretty soon after its birth, Snapchat and Spiegel drew the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, who had devised a similar app, called “Poke”, which he intended to use to empower Facebook and eliminate Snapchat as competition. Poke initially rose to the top of the iPhone app store at launch in December, 2012, but Snapchat pulled ahead once again within three days (Colao).

The app’s value, reach, and user base has grown ever since, despite the fact that the app itself is free, and, until more recently, advertisers and big influencers weren’t catered to by features such as “Discover”, which highlights large, Snapchat editorial teams that users may be interested in following.

To the surpise and scrutiny of many, when Mark Zuckerberg offered $3 billion cash for the app in fall 2013, Spiegel turned down the offer (Colao, et al).

Audience, Numbers, and Growth

bii_ageincreasesetc_snapchat
Snapchat usage by age (image and source).

So who uses Snapchat? According to press reports, the majority of Snapchat users are female between the ages of 13 to 25, and two-fifths of 18-year-olds in the U.S. use Snapchat daily. It’s also estimated that more than 760 million snaps are sent every day and about 1 billion stories are viewed (Ballve). As of January 2014, Forbes estimated that 50 million people use the app (Colao), but, more recently, others estimate a user base closer to 100 million (Talbot).

Snapchat’s growth and future are somewhat difficult to measure and predict. Some analysts remark that the app’s young, fickle, teen audience may or may not continue to use the app as time passes. On the other hand, even though interest in Snapchat has experienced alternating surges and slumps in the U.S., internationally, it has seen increasing popularity, for example in the U.K. and France (Taylor).

Integration and How It Works

kt-zoolander-snapchat
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson took it a step further and reprised their Zoolander roles as Derek Zoolander and Hansel for a runway walk-off. They even had a “Blue Steel” geofilter at the fashion show (image and source).

Integrating Snapchat with other channels may have been much trickier before users began taking screenshots of snaps and stories. After all, when a platform is designed to destroy its content, how can you be sure your message is reaching anyone or whether it makes a lasting impression?

Even without the ability to capture a screenshot, Snapchat has still proven to be an interesting and effective marketing tool. The app allows an opportunity to create “exclusive” content, and provide real-time or behind-the-scenes looks at a brand or celebrity. In that regard, it takes advantage of consumers’ interest in getting a “sneak peek” of a new product or a company process. Many companies have also employed a “guess” tactic–sending a snap and having users guess what the photo is of or about, and prompting them to tweet their guesses with special hashtags (Ceira). In addition, like Instagram, Snapchat is a great platform for partnering with big influencers (Talbot).

The following are a few Snapchat campaign success stories. See these and more at Slideshare.net and Fastcocreate.com:

  1. Heineken’s “SnapWho?” campaign. At Coachella 2014, Heineken sent users cropped snaps that provided clues about secret shows that would be held during the music festival. Correct guesses about a mystery artist or band were rewarded with early-access info about shows that would take place at the Heineken House (the sponsor’s stage). This was a successful implementation of “exclusive content” and sparked a snap conversation among users and “HeinekenSnapWho”.
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  2. Taco Bell’s Snapchat mini-movie. Taco Bell launched its Spicy Chicken Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos with one of the first Snapchat stories—a six-minute mini-movie directed by Jason Zada that included a scene on the red carpet of the MTV Movie Awards, and was filmed and posted in less than 24 hours. This move highlighted and pushed the boundaries of what could be done on Snapchat while targeting an audience using a great combination–MTV, Taco Bell, and Doritos.
  3. World Wildlife Fund’s “Last Selfie” campaign. Making a clever connection to Snapchat’s signature disappearing content, the World Wildlife Fund began the #LastSelfie campaign to create awareness about disappearing and endangered species. In a week, 40,000 tweets with the hashtag reached 120 million Twitter timelines and in 6 different languages. As a result, 50% of all active Twitter users were exposed to the campaign.
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For more interesting facts and info about Snapchat, check out this Prezi presentation!

References

Ballve, Marcelo. (2014, August 15). Businessinsider.com – “Snapchat’s Explosive Growth Among Teens and Millenials Means It’s Emerging As A Powerful Brand Platform”

Beer, Jeff. (2014, August 12). Fastcocreate.com – “How 12 Brands Used Snapchat”

Ceira, Rochelle. (2015). Jeffbullas.com – “5 Ways to Integrate Snapchat Into Your Marketing Strategy”

Colao, J.J. (2014, January 6). Forbes.com – “The Inside Story of Snapchat: The World’s Hottest App or a $3 Billion Disappearing Act?”

Misener, Jessica. (2014, July 2). Buzzfeed.com – “13 Cool Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Snapchat”

Neistat, Casey. (2015). Pocket-lint.com – “What’s the point of Snapchat, and how does it work?”

Simplify360. (2015, February 1). Slideshare.net – “5 Brilliant Snapchat Campaigns That You Need to See”

Talbot, Kate. (2015, July 28). Socialmediaexaminer.com – “5 Ways to Use Snapchat for Business”

Taylor, Everette. (2015). Growthhackers.com – “Snapchat – How Did Snapchat Reach a Multi-Billion Dollar Valuation?”

Images

Heineken “SnapWho?” — http://chcdigital.com/5-brands-that-use-snapchat/

WWF “Last Selfie” — http://www.clickz.com/clickz/news/2340740/wwf-s-lastselfie-reaches-millennials-underscores-snapchat-constraints