SMRT Lessons Learned Part 2:

I also wanted to share some key points of what I’ve learned from my Social Media and Research Techniques course. I found a great document online outlining 10 Social Media Tips from Kodak’s Chief Blogger and I think it perfectly sums up our course, so I’ve posted them below.

1. Know what you are talking about.
If you are going to work with social media, be involved in social media. Start your own Twitter account, Facebook page, read blogs and get engaged. That is the best way to understand the culture, tone, best practices, and protocol.

2. Always be transparent.
When you are communicating in social media say who you are and who you work for. Don’t try to be sneaky and plant comments, don’t hire people to go out and say nice things about you and stay away from ghost writing. Be genuine and be real.

3. Be yourself.
Readers can see through marketing talk. Be passionate about what you do and let that show through your personality. Let people see you as a person, not a mouthpiece.

4. Post frequently.
It’s a lot of work but don’t post to your blog then leave it for two weeks. Readers won’t have a reason to follow you on Twitter or check your blog if they can’t expect new content regularly.

5. Add value.
Share tips, tricks, and insights. People’s time is precious and they need to get something out of the time they spend with you. Make listening to you worth their time.

6. Respond.
Answer questions, thank people even if it’s just a few words. Make it a two way conversation.

7. Listen to what others have to say.
Appreciate suggestions and feedback, it will make what you do even better.

8. Learn from your mistakes.
Don’t be afraid to say you were wrong and be quick to make changes when you are.

9. Be external.
You don’t have to be 100% internally focused. Link to other blogs, videos, and news articles. Re-tweet what others have to say.

10. Have fun.
If you don’t like what you are doing, others will notice it and won’t enjoy interacting with you.

The full document is available here:

Tagged , , ,

SMRT Lessons Learned Part 1

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know a majority of the content has been devoted to my Social Media and Research Techniques class at McMaster University. As the course comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on what I’ve learned and the work we’ve completed to date.

Personally

Up until the last assignment, Assignment #3, the work we were doing was individual and much broader in its scope. That was what bothered me at first; it was a bit overwhelming to talk on the scale of an organization and begin proposing some kind of plan. I didn’t think I had the right idea with Assignment 1, but I did my best to incorporate whatever useful resources I had come across. I noticed (and appreciated) how the focus of each subsequent assignment narrowed its focus. This made the work much simpler and less daunting of a task.

Additionally, being new to blogging, it was pretty awkward at first. This was mainly due to WordPress.com not being the most “user-friendly” tool initially. It was good that our professor, Jared, gave us a comprehensive introduction to WordPress, but I still think the developers could have made it simpler to use.

When considering my work habits on my own, I know I work well if I sit down once and blast through an assignment. I realize the assignments asked for interval postings for each part of the assignments to mimic conventional blogging and the regularity of posting, but I could not just start something and leave it unfinished. The result involved me doing my work within a word document and editing it until posting it at the last minute. I understand that blog posts can be edited after the initial posting and I should have taken advantage of that feature. This is something I definitely need to work on for future projects, especially in a work environment.

As a Group

I was initially skeptical of working in a group because of how much of a drag it can be from experiences in other courses. However, I think the McCafe Group worked really well together. Neil, Sean and myself got along well during class and we all respect each other. The assignment required working together on the project as a whole, meaning little was left to delegation, but each of us was most certainly willing to help one another. What I noticed was that everyone was very appreciative of each other’s work and that was expressed throughout the assignment (which can be evidenced by our collaborative efforts in our Google Docs document).

Communication within the group was very well done. Knowing that all of us had different schedules, we established a few methods to communicate, including Facebook, Gmail as well as within the Google Doc itself (which sends notifications via Gmail). Google Docs was great for us to remotely brainstorm, share links, and other bits of information to keep everybody informed. Since Neil was out of the country at one point, Google Docs (with Facebook as a backup) really helped us stay connected and still work as a group, even if he did run into some technical difficulties while away.

I think our group started pretty slowly in terms of establishing what we all needed to do in the first few weeks, but that was understandable coming off a relatively big workload. I know Sean expressed concerns early on, but once we really started to get our ideas down in the Google Doc, and he could see the progress, he became more content with how we were progressing. There was still a bit of editing and final touches fairly close to the deadline, but it was much more solid compared to my individual assignments.

All in all, I feel good about the work we accomplished and want to thank Sean and Neil for being great team members.

Tagged , , ,

KONY 2012 Reflection

Kony 2012. It seems like just over a week ago you could not check any social media site without seeing some sort of post about that title. Kony 2012 became one of the most successful viral campaigns thus far. With over 80,000,000 hits on youtube in such a short amount of time, it has spread at an unprecedented rate.

Critics were quick to question the validity of the campaign and of the Invisible Children organization. I myself did not buy into the video. To this day I still have not seen more than a minute or two of the 30-minute video. It bugged me with how highly produced it was and that they could not convey the issue in a more bite-size format.

The main problem I have is that once people shared the video on Facebook or Twitter or thumbed up, liked or even posted ‘Kony 2012’ everywhere they could, they came off as a self-righteous social activist. In reality they are far from that and probably could not even point to Uganda on a map. Yes, there are some out there that could have been motivated to actually become involved, but it is reasonable to assume that a good majority of people will do nothing beyond liking, sharing or tweeting Kony 2012.

I came across an interesting article this past week that further builds upon my opinion that majority of online discussion is fruitless. Here, we can see that it is tough to engage an audience whether it’s a readership or a viewership (in the case of Kony 2012). The article goes on to explain how to improve on that front and I think that will be very helpful to those in my social media research and techniques class.

Recent events that could only serve to further take away from the campaign’s momentum alongside the criticism, is that the video’s creator, Jason Russell was hospitalized after being arrested for vulgar, nude acts in public.

In conclusion, there is a lot to learn and admire from this campaign regardless of some of its drawbacks. The biggest concept to tackle is how to keep something as viral as Kony 2012 in people’s conversations and maintain that momentum.

Tagged , , , ,

#Macpirate

So recently, McMaster held an event for a presentation by the Pirate Group at the Burlington campus. The Pirate Group and its owner, Terry O’Reilly, have a long and successful history in Canadian marketing with some high profile clients. They have donated an impressive archive (the largest in Canada) of marketing materials from the past to McMaster and encompasses campaigns from 1981 to 2007.

The presentation, which coincided with the unveiling of the archive, did sound interesting and something I would have liked to attend, however I had a class the same night and had a presentation. As per usual, I had my laptop with me and was ready to check the twitter feed via the #MacPirate hashtag. My group was first to present, so I was free to check the feed anytime afterwards.

Here’s the thing, Twitter is not my favourite social media tool. I understand its use, but I find the interface and execution messy and cluttered. That seems counterintuitive when you consider that they limit you to 140 characters, but with all the tags and the nature to “spam” when restricted to that character limit, it renders Twitter unreadable and annoying to follow a feed.

So with the intentions of trying to get an idea of what was being said at the event and a sample of the discussion, I quickly got frustrated with having to sift through a relentlessly updating stream of garbled text. I eventually gave up. I did not participate in the discussions because I did not get anything out of it.

With the twitter discussions quickly dying down after the event, there was nothing else really to do to get involved. I found out more by reading a few blogposts than the Twitter feed, which I’m a bit taken aback by since I’m not really a fan of blogging either. The more formal nature of a blog allowed me to easily read and understand what transpired at the event.

I really wished there was at least a video feed or a highlight reel. In my opinion, that would have helped those who could not attend gain insights into the event and in turn help facilitate discussions post-event. Anyways this comic somewhat reveals my sentiment towards Twitter. Sorry for the rant of a post, and excuse the profanity in the image.

Moving Forward and Stuff

Things to consider

Implementing this plan is not a simple task, even for a company as large as McDonalds. They have done some things I consider to be on track, at least with advertising. Here’s a commercial for McCafe that I think speaks towards the demographic I outlined earlier.

How can McDonalds effectively create this online relationship with their target audience? Well, for starters, their Facebook page is awfully weak for what they need to engage. Using http://www.socialbakers.com, I was able to see how far behind McDonald’s Canada is lagging.
Check out these statistics:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is basically the ‘How’ part to bridge the gap, continuing from my previous post.

– Search for your target audience, be specific

– Send them individual, personalized messages/responses

– Offer incentives for becoming a part of the online community and have contests and giveaways.

– Make them feel wanted and welcome, provide a human atmosphere.

– Avoid old school ‘advertising’ or ‘broadcasting’ methods when online. Social media is about having that connection with the audience

Research and Stuff

What

We are looking at how and where to engage McDonald’s Canada’s audience when it comes to McCafe and social media. This is the essence of social media research, or at least the beginnings of it.

Who
The target consumer:

–       Is someone between the ages of 18 and 24

–       Is active on social media websites

–       Likes coffee

–       Likes to hang out away from home (with friends)

–       Prefers an urban, somewhat upscale environment

–       Prefers fresh ingredients

–       Is likely to be price-sensitive

–       Has knowledge of, or even likes McDonald’s

Just by doing a Facebook advertisement, I was able to narrow down this type of audience in Canada with those specific interests. The number of people in Canada that fit within the 18-24 year old male or female demographic is over 6 million. When specifying further for things like ‘lounge’, ‘hang out with friends’, and even ‘McDonald’s Canada’, the estimated reach drops quite a bit and fluctuated around half a million people. The final estimated reach for my described audience, which covers all of Canada, is 596,720 people.

Where

According to Webfuel.ca, about half of Canadians, or over 17 million are on Social Networks. The more interesting bit of information is that even though the number of Canadians using social media has increased by only 4% since 2009, the frequency of usage has seen large increases. Back in 2010, 35% of the Canadians who were online, visited at least one social media site 1 time per week. That number is now over 50%, and in 2011 35% visited a social media site everyday.

The article goes on to say that the 18-34 year old demographic among Canadians is the heaviest user of Social Media, where 86% of that age range is active on Social Networks. With such a huge body of people on social networks sites, it’s important to know where most of them are. The unsurprising fact is that 86% of all Canadians using Social Media are on Facebook. Notable mentions include Twitter, Linkedin and Google+, which when I checked Google+ for McDonald’s Canada, had the weakest attempt at a page, that I can’t tell if it is official or not. It has no posts except for one image, with 2 followers, one of them being myself now😛

Tagged , ,

Plans and Stuff

Basically
McDonald’s Canada needs a plan to determine and find its audience online.


What I think

I think moving away from the concept of McDonald’s Canada just doing product promotions and trying to maintain an image online via social media outlets is the place to begin. There are many examples like the pink ice cream-like meat paste, unhealthy people, and Twitter fails that would detract from customer engagement. Which is why I suggest McDonald’s Canada focuses on doing just that – communicate with consumers, rather than “broadcasting” to them. Find a target audience, at least in one area, since they have a pretty broad consumer-base.
My suggestion is to figure out how and where to engage a typical consumer within my age range, so the 18-24 year olds I guess.

And Why

McDonald’s Canada already has an established Facebook page and Twitter account, however, I don’t think they know “why?” they have these pages. Social Media is about conversation, meaning there are two sides. McDonald’s has many different types of customers, but focusing on the young adult demographic makes a lot of sense with McDonald’s recent introduction of McCafe.

While largely popular, McDonald’s Canada is probably not using Facebook and/or Twitter to their fullest potential, mainly because they may not have selected those social media streams in order to engage with their audience to begin with, but rather just as another advertising method. I think they skipped on the research part of getting to know who their target audience is, which is the foundation for any marketing strategy anyways. McDonald’s Canada needs to know and understand how to facilitate these conversations, recognize trends and what’s influencing them before they can progress with their social media.

Tagged , ,

Research Proposal Part 3

5 Second Pitch:
McDonald’s Canada is a huge corporation, but social media can easily tarnish it’s image unless handled properly.

30 Second Pitch:
McDonald’s Restaurants can each create a presence on social media have the ability to control brand awareness, engage with consumers, recruit employees, and further brand loyalty. They can achieve this with relative ease, as social networking is fairly easy to do and most of the platforms operate with no costs, however, human labour should be noted as a cost.
By keeping an active community online, bogus attempts to damage McDonald’s image can be alleviated quickly and effectively.
Their Twitter presence isn’t nearly as large as their Facebook is, however, the Twitter demographic provides significant opportunity to reach a younger, more urban, multi-cultural audience, which seems to fit with the image McDonald’s Canada is trying to go for.

Research Proposal Part 2

In my previous post, I brought up how McDonald’s is being targeted on social media streams like Facebook. I came across an interesting blog post about the issue and it elaborates on the actual processes. It makes it clear that it is the meat industry as a whole that favours mechanically separated meat (MSM) and it is deemed safe for human consumption in the US.
During my research, I found through the McMaster library database, an article that reported on Social Media & Technology in U.S. Foodservice. It outlined some fast facts such as
Most Americans use social media – 86% of 18-29 year olds, 61% of 30-49 year olds, 47% of 50-64 year olds, and 26% of those aged 65 and older.
86% of Americans have interacted with a company or brand online and 38% use these social networks to do so. Lastly, Buffalo Wild Wings, The Cheesecake Factory, Chick-fil-A and Starbucks each have more than 1,500 friends per restaurant unit on Facebook. Three of these four chains also have more than 1,000 friends per $1MM in revenue.
By checking out McDonald’s Canada’s Facebook page and twitter feed, it seems a little inconsistent. The twitter feed is great and makes a community experience by responding followers and retweeting (alongside their expected broadcasting of deals and menu items). However, the Facebook page is practically all broadcast and no community, aside from one poll for customer feedback on coupons.

SWOT ANALYSIS
Strengths:
– McDonald’s is a huge corporation and is well known.
– Have strong online presence – the Facebook page for McDonald’s Canada currently has over 200,000 likes
– Has a long heritage to back the name up, and has been on the ball on keeping their brand current and relevant (McCafe, and restaurant renovations)

Weaknesses:
– Inconsistent PR effort between online platforms like Facebook and Twitter
– McDonald’s is an easy target for unhealthy eating and questionable food processing uses

Opportunities:
– There are many social media sites and McDonald’s Canada is only using the main ones (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube), they can get a blog for example
– Creativity is now held with the user in web2.0, McDonald’s can utilize user-generated content to help with promotions

Threats:
– As there is a shift in mindset towards food in the last few years, people are looking to healthier, more natural options
– The ease at which damaging claims spread across these social platforms is a big concern for McDonald’s Canada

http://docakilah.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/can-you-guess-what-mcdonald%E2%80%99s-food-item-this-is/
http://www.facebook.com/McDonaldsCanada
https://twitter.com/mcd_canada

Research Proposal part 1

Upon completing my bachelor’s of science at McMaster, I found out about their diploma offerings and decided to take the Business Administration diploma with conc. in marketing.  I am now taking a course on social media research and techniques in which I have an assignment that requires selecting a Canadian industry and researching how social media has had an impact on it.

Ever since I was little, I was a picky eater and was always reading the labels on food packages to see the ingredients. A few months ago it occurred to me that I should be going into this industry, therefore I want to apply to a master’s in Food Science after completing this diploma. Suffice to say; because this topic is interesting to me and is a direction I want to take career-wise, I have decided to cover the food industry for my assignment.

To get some preliminary insights, I visited the Government of Canada’s website to find out more on the Canadian food industry and perhaps find some good links. I also browsed my favourite and most frequently used social media sites – Youtube and Facebook. I managed to find a clip on Youtube from a conference about Food Safety (which is one of the main areas I’m looking at for the master’s degree) and social media, which you can view below. However, on Facebook, I have noticed a trending topic, where people have been posting and reposting this image of a bright, pink paste which asks you to guess which McDonald’s food item it is. It then goes on to explain that this is mechanically separated meat (MSM) and has some outrageous process where ammonia, a toxin is used to kill bacteria and then massive amounts of artificial flavouring are added to mask the taste of ammonia. Needless to say, most people are disgusted by what they see and read and then say they will never eat at McDonald’s again. I wonder how much of an impact this could have on McDonald’s business, and, if it is significant, how can their PR and Marketing team counter this negative social media attack?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y58EvFl342I

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.