What Worked Well in This Course and What Could be Improved

What Worked Well.

I think the fact that we wrote two blogs posts per week helped me out a lot. I was extremely hesitant at first about writing so much, but that definitely changed once I understood the benefits of doing so. Not only do I now understand how it can help a social media marketing strategy, but also it helped in my overall writing of this report. This report would have been much harder, and would have taken a much longer time, if I had not already written my outline for it.

I also enjoyed the fact that it was mandatory to connect to several other social media platforms that I typically wouldn’t have been signed up for. The platforms used were a good generalization of the platforms commonly used today, and as a marketer, I need to know the ends and outs of them

What Could be Improved in this Course

Should extend the class to 16 weeks.

I feel that 8 weeks is an extremely short amount of time to do the type of work we did. With all my other classes and the homework that was needing to be done, I felt that 16 weeks would have eased that pain.

Commenting on peers posts

I’m never a fan of commenting on my peers posts in any class. But for a social media marketing class, being forced to comment seems a bit fake and not genuine. I did encounter many posts that were great posts, but I don’t know if I would have commented on them on my own.

Checklist

I understand the benefit of the checklist, but mandating that it be checked was kind of lame. They were easy points to make, but I failed to check a couple of blocks because I stayed up waiting to comment on my fellow peers blogs and fell asleep before I could actually comment on them. The time standard passed, and I lost a small portion of points. Mostly it hurt my feelings.

What I learned about Social Media Marketing

The five things that I learned about Social Media Marketing are:

Provide valuable content to the reader

Readers will not engage with you if they are not interested in the content given. The content is key to providing a way to interact and allow for dialogue to occur. Without it, marketers have nothing in common with their audience, and their audience will overlook them until they find something of value to them.

Pictures grab the attention of the audience

I started experimenting on my own blog posts, and it seemed to grab more attention from my classmates and the rest of my followers on Facebook and Twitter. I think that by giving a visual to the context at hand, helps the readers visualize and understand the content even further.

Be yourself and talk in a way that connects with your audience

By being “human” in your posts, you take the faceless online presence that can so easily occur, and give your content some human traits to it. The audience is more likely to be engaged with someone they think is personable, or has great ideas, as opposed to someone who only uses bullet statements.

Doing research is time consuming

The amount of research and analytics is quite time consuming. If I were a small business owner, I would not have the time nor the energy to commit this much effort into knowing the industry. Granted, I would do my due diligence before going into business, but the constant research can be tough. It is extremely rewarding work, but it seems like it would take up more time than it would be worth.

Build a social media marketing plan

As far as a social media marketing strategy goes, I have begun to see the outline begun to understand the importance of establishing a plan first. It would be easy with all the constant posting and commenting on the various platforms, to get lost and off track if there wasn’t a plan set emplaced in which to guide you. I really believe that a plan is the absolute first step when deciding where you want to go with your social media marketing. If you don’t know who your target audience is, how would you know what type of content to provide? If you don’t provide valueable content, you won’t have followers who are actively seeking you. A solid plan gives you a structure to build upon and guide you to your end goal.

I believe my two companies are on a path, but have different goals in mind. Granted the end goal is definitely to make money, but it should be to build relationships that are lasting and fruitful.

Recommendations to Strengthen Social Media Marketing Strategy

Great advice OCCU and OnPoint…..

kdstuart75

I have been told that social media is simply another form of marketing, but may not be suitable for all companies.  While this is true, it can’t hurt to have some kind of social media presence out there.  Maybe it doesn’t have to be used in a “traditional” advertising way.  Maybe the social media presence can be more for fun than for straight information and advertising. Social media is a way to connect with people on a face-to-face level, and not just with an all business approach.

The following are my recommendations for Oregon Community Credit Union:

  • Identify a clear target market: OCCU needs to clearly define whom they are trying to reach.  They need to hone their messages and content to a particular group of people.  If they don’t know who they are targeting, how will they know what works and what doesn’t work?  I recommend that they start…

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Analyzing My Blog Activity

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The End is Near (and what I learned)

As the term draws to an end, so does my analyses of my two companies.  I’ve been able to delve much deeper than I had originally anticipated, and have learned quite a lot about Industrial Finishes and Territorial Seed Company. Both are terrific companies and have enormous potential to grow even more than they already have. Being able to dissect each one has been a challenge, yet in its own way, extremely rewarding for me.   I’ve definitely been challenged this term in my writing abilities and style, but have learned to appreciate what blogging has to offer.

At first, I was skeptical as to the benefits that blogging had to offer. But as the weeks went along, I realized what blogging can do for a company. By doing the research needed to gather the information, and then presenting it to an audience that I do not necessarily know, made me hone my writing skills even further.

Because we had to update our blog twice per week, this forced me to gather new information, while at the same time become even more familiar with my two companies. By doing the two blogs and answering the questions that were presented to us, made me think outside the box, and look at the two companies from a different perspective than I normally would have. It also allowed me to understand the potential that blogging can do for a social media marketing strategy.

From my own blog source, I can completely understand how blog/content engagement is important, and how a company can broadcast its content to the far reaches of the globe.   From my own experience, I was able to receive comments that helped me develop other ideas for my future blog posts. I was able to communicate directly with each commenter, which resulted in an interactive engagement of my own audience, and helped me gain a better understanding of how content can be influential and used as a useful resource for others.

As far as promoting my site, I only used Facebook and Twitter. I realized that I may have gained more audience member viewership if I were to have posted on LinkedIn, or sent emails to my contacts, but because this was a class, I felt that it would not be professional for me to broadcast to those two platforms. My LinkedIn account is meant for professional connections, not to clutter someone’s newsfeed with something they may or may not be interested in. However, I do realize the potential that was lost by not sharing my content. Right now, I don’t really consider myself to be a “true” thought leader, but more of an aspiring one. I will no doubt one day, use LinkedIn as a resource to post rich and engaging content to, but as of now I’ll refrain from it.

However, comparing promotions of my site to Facebook and Twitter are quite remarkable. Twitter wins hands down in terms of reposting, or “Retweets.” I’m still in awe in the fact that people from across the world are reading what I wrote. Whether that’s because Twitter seems to be a cesspool of creepy people, or people are actually retrieving #content that is relevant to their search.  Either way, content is being pushed out, and an audience is viewing it.

In terms of stats, my Twitter account grew to a total of 52 followers, while my Facebook account grew to 58. (Apparently my friends from my actual Facebook account wanted to be friends on my new account as well.) I did gain a few new friends though that have contributed to my content, and I would like to mention plentz741, bdeatherage, halseykim, mgiron3144, and aprilkburton (all WordPress usernames to keep confidentiality) as my top peer commenters. Some comments were more thoughtful than others, but the commentary was useful none the less!  I would also like to recognize Dr. Robert Vergara for his inspiring words and his commitment to Northwest Christian University’s marketing program.

Boring (or not so boring) statistics

My WordPress site received 44 comments, 314 views, and 112 visitors from across the world. These countries included 91 unique visitors from the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, Greece, Netherlands, Malaysia, and with the greatest amount originating from the United States. The three most interesting countries would have to be South Korea (5 views), Greece (1 view), and Malaysia (1 view).

My best day (March 23) received 196 views, best week (week of March 23) received 240 views, and best month (March) received 268 views.

Th-Th-Th-….

In a total of just under 8 weeks, I’m completely surprised as to the reach of my blog. I can only imagine what that reach would be like if I were to increase my following, and provide enriched and engaging content so that more conversations can happen, and more relationships being developed. I cannot wait to use these same analytical skills that I have learned in the real world!thats all folks

Recommendations to Strengthen Social Media Marketing Strategy

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Constructive criticism is defined by Wikipedia as “the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.” So in my recent attempts to peer further into my companies social media marketing strategies, the next thing I need to do is provide suggestions as to how they can improve what they are currently doing.

I will recommend upon 5 areas that will strengthen their social media marketing strategy and explain each in detail.

Industrial Finishes

1.  Develop a Social Media Marketing Plan

First and foremost, Industrial Finishes needs to reestablish their marketing goals and develop a social media marketing plan. This plan will not only guide them to where they want to end up, but it will give them benchmarks to reach along the way. Each benchmark being Brand-Strategy-And-Social-Mediaaccomplished will then allow Industrial Finishes to readjust their plan if need be. They should be able to see which types of content and the social media platforms that are receiving the most engagement and having the most conversations, allowing them continue or change their strategy.

They should also be asking the question of, “What do we want to see happen once we implement a social media marketing plan?” I think for them, brand recognition and industrial thought leadership are two main things they should be striving for. They do have a strong brand, but the audience who receives it are their current customers. They need to be able to expand their influence throughout the rest of the paint application industry, so that others who do not know them begin to recognize the quality and expertise that they provide.

2.  Eye-Catching Visuals

Again, content is being addressed for Industrial Finishes. Without engaging content, no one is going to want to read it, nor will they participate in the conversation. In order to assure they see it, Industrial Finishes needs to provide a solid mix of content that is visually appealing, yet offers something of use for their audience.

Industrial Finishes’ YouTube channel does have some eye catching video icons, but they could definitely improve upon it by providing more videos that are engaging, and that allows the audience to participate.   This could mean offering more How-To videos, or creating a series of videos that they could release on a weekly basis. For example, they could begin the series by showing the beginning steps of a custom paint job, techniques used, and anything they deem relevant. They could end the video series with the finished project. This video would not only show their expertise and quality work craftsmanship within the industry, but it would allow others to being seeing their brand, creating brand awareness, eventually leading to brand recognition.

However, in order to be successful in their video production, they should invest in better audio equipment. As I stated before, they have made videos in the past that lacked quality audio, which made the video difficult to watch. The results of the poor quality could lead to an instant closing of the video, which automatically disengages their audience, resulting in a loss of a follower. They should improve their audio when producing videos.

3.  More Cross-Platform Company Interaction

Because Industrial Finishes is currently only using Facebook and YouTube to broadcast their content, I believe that if they were to begin utilizing other platforms, such as LinkedIn, they could expand their brand awareness, capturing more of their target audience.socialmedia3

LinkedIn is another great social media tool to use for B2B interactions. Because Industrial Finishes works alongside by partnering with other companies, it only makes sense to be providing content and having a presence on LinkedIn. This platform allows for a professional connection and a demonstration of their knowledge. They could create a company page and have their employees participate by providing a Q & A section, whitepapers describing techniques of paint application, or by simply posting job opportunities and new positions. This would allow them to again, show their knowledge of the industry, while at the same time, creating brand presence.

4.  Get on Twitter

According to the folks at Social Caffeine, Twitter generated $716 million in Auto Sales in 2013. Even though these sales were for cars, their automotive target market is obviously using Twitter. And considering that the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year age bracket, Twitter is obviously where one of their main target markets is hanging out!

In addition to establishing a Twitter account, they should link all of their other platforms from Twitter. This means linking their blog, Facebook posts, and especially their YouTube videos. With YouTube being the most popular brand on Twitter, with 46.5 million followers, it again only makes sense to add this platform to their marketing plan.

5.  Use Google Analytics (if not being used already)

Having a social media marketing strategy is only as good as being able to measure how effective it really is. By utilizing Google Analytics, or some other form of metric performance measurability application, Industrial Finishes will be able to see how effective their content is. By obtaining metrics from their Facebook, YouTube, and newly created Twitter account, they can begin to see where their efforts are being seen, interacted with, and hopefully create some sort of conversion for them.

The types of conversions that Industrial Finishes should be looking at is the ability to create new leads. These new leads need to be taken care of in the form of giving them content rich information that they will continually seek, week after week. And finally, these leads will then hopefully turn into customers, resulting in a profitable conversion.

Territorial Seed Company

1.  Increase Amount of High Quality Visuals

Territorial Seed Company’s Pinterest and Instagram accounts should be one of their primary focus areas in their social media marketing strategy. Besides Facebook and Twitter, both Pinterest and Instagram provide a platform designed specifically for displaying pictures. Considering that Territorial is a vegetable and fruit seed distribution company, it makes sense to show off what the seeds grow in to. Humans are visual beings, so by offering their audience a picture of what seeds look like when they are fully grown is something they should be providing.

This type of content is what the audience is looking for when they are deciding which variety of seed they want. By giving the audience a visual and a full description on these two platforms, and then linking that picture back to their main website, increases their chance for a conversion to happen. It may be that the new lead only looks through their online catalogue, or sign up for a newsletter, but now Territorial Seed has a lead that they can continue providing informational and useful content to.

2.  Increase Frequency of Posts to Facebook and Twitter

By increasing the amount of times they post throughout the day, they should be able to increase viewership, which should allow for more dialogue to happen between them and their audience. (See suggestion 5).

They could easily incorporate current and future video posts from YouTube to help direct conversation, post a new variety of plant and give suggestions or tips as to prepare a dish from the harvest, or simply provide a humorous gardening meme.

Currently, Territorial Seed Company posts on average, about 3-4 times per week on Facebook and Twitter. They have a mix between their newly started blog, informational posts regarding what’s happening at the “Farm,” and posts that recognize some of their customers.

3.  Create New and Interesting Videos

This type of content allows for their target audience to begin thinking immediately towards Territorial Seed Company as a knowledgeable source for ideas and information in the garden.

They currently have a small collection of How-To videos, but by offering short (< 2 mins.) videos, they could quickly gain more audience members attention and create a larger following. These videos could show simple suggestions that their audience could use in the garden, kitchen, or anywhere else they seem fit. They could link gardening ideas from Pinterest, which then shows how to make the suggestion step-by-step.

new-clipartTerritorial Seed’s YouTube channel is definitely one of their marketing strengths. But just like any muscle in one’s body, if you don’t work it out, it gets weak. As of this post, their most recent video was upload nearly five months ago. Territorial should at the very least, produce one video a month per type of content. Not only does this grow their current library of videos, but it keeps fresh content flowing to their subscribers.

4.  Provide More Promotional Offers

By offering a discount or promotion to a particular platform, they could gain the attention of more audience members. By offering this type of exclusivity to one or more platforms, Territorial Seed Company could see a larger amount of followers, subscribers, and likes, which are more engaged with the company, and have more interaction with dialogue that is being generated.

Obviously the benefit here is, the more that people are talking about the company, the more likely they will have audience members that are converting to actual sales.

5.  Improve Ratio of “Likes” to Active Audience Members

With over 86k Facebook “Likes,” Territorial Seed Company should have an Like Thumbenormous amount of dialogue being generated. However, this is not the case. I believe that this is because there is lack of engagement opportunities being provided to them. If Territorial Seed Company provided more opportunities, I think that both their Facebook and Twitter accounts would see more traffic, and have more active participants interacting with the company.

Simple ideas could be:

  • Ask regular questions or advice from followers, so that the audience members can participate in.
  • Run a competition to see who can harvest the most in one week.
  • Offer something of value for free, if they can answer a question.

These are only but a few ideas, but the overall idea, is to get their audience engaged and talking. By doing this, Territorial Seed Company should see an increase in click-through rates (CTR), more exposure to potential new customers, more leads, an increase in brand awareness and web traffic, and lower marketing costs. Again, the key is creating content that can be interacted with.

Company Social Media Marketing Strategy Weaknesses — Part 2

Part Two:  WeaknessesWeaknesses

In order to continue being in a competitive position within the market, a company should perform a SWOT analysis on itself on a fairly routine basis. Just as there are strengths in a company’s social media marketing strategy, there are also weaknesses. Weaknesses could be customer service care, production line issues, or lack of fully trained employees. However, it could also mean weaknesses that are associated with one’s social media marketing strategy.

In this second half of performing a SWOT analysis on both Industrial Finishes and Territorial Seed Company, I discovered five weaknesses in their social media marketing strategy. With each having a different approach on their campaign, they both have varying degrees of what they should work on. However, there is one subtlety amongst both of them, and that again, comes back to the content they are providing.

Industrial Finishes

1.  No Clear Objectives

Industrial Finishes does not seem to have a clear understanding of where they want to go in their social media campaign. I would not say they are just “floating around,” however, with the style of postings on Facebook, and the style of videos they are creating and sharing on YouTube, there does not seem to be any particular reason as to why they are posting and uploading.

2.  Lack of Interactive or Engaging Content

Almost every post that is put on Facebook has a limited ability to be engaging. There should be a mix of content that engages the audience, yet delivers a clear message that should support the overarching goals of the company. Yet, there is still nothing for the audience to really get engaged and comment on, or even better, to share. I believe that Industrial Finishes is losing out on an opportunity to capitalize on one of their biggest assets, their audience.

3.  Videos Lack Valuable Content

I feel like Industrial Finishes is going in the right direction with their videos on YouTube, however they have a lot of room to grow. There are many possibilities and routes that they can take in order to gain new audience members, as well as keeping their current audience engaged.

Currently one of their highlighting videos is their “2014 Partners in Profit” Expo. This type of video has a lot of potential, but it doesn’t seem to get off the ground, nor does it spark much interest. I really feel they have something they could use to create a well-rounded marketing strategy with these videos, but there is a lack of interesting or engaging content being shown.

Also, I think they could capitalize on showing potential customers who they are, and what they do. By using YouTube, they could easily show the processes of what they do, and all the projects they are involved in. To me, this is an easy way to engage current customers, yet offer insight into potential customers who may be looking for services, or possible partners looking to make an alliance.

4.  Audio on Videos is Poor and Distracting

The same videos that are being posted, the ones with commentary, have some major audio quality issues. This is not only distracting for the viewer, but they could easily be brushed off as not being professional. I believe that a company’s image is extremely important when first time viewers are looking at you, and if you give them the wrong impression, you may lose a potential client.

Industrial Finishes could easily acquire better audio devices to make their videos sound great. They are again on the right track with the style of video, but the audio quality is hurting the potential that is there.

5.  Does Not Seem to be Any Conversion Happening

Conversion could mean many things for different companies. However, with Industrial Finishes it’s hard to tell if there is any conversion actually going on with the content being provided.

They do have offer some posts on Facebook that educate the audience of solutions that they are able to provide if a problem occurs, however, there is a very limited amount of these posts.

On YouTube, they offer some examples of products that they use, in which customers can buy as well, but they lack the ability to easily purchase the product through Industrial Finishes’ inventory system. This not only would create an ease of use for the viewer, but it could also create an additional revenue stream for Industrial Finishes.

The end goal of conversion should be to have something happen. Whether that be to sign up for a newsletter, subscribe to a YouTube channel, or have a customer purchase a custom paint job, the marketing strategy should direct the audience towards the goal so that this can occur. Unfortunately for Industrial Finishes, they do not seem to be capitalizing on this in their social media marketing strategy.

Territorial Seed Company

1.  Needs Updated Content on YouTube

Though they have many videos uploaded to YouTube, they do not have a regular occurrence of additional content. Territorial Seed Co. could easily add one or two videos a month showcasing their gardening products, increasing their library of How-To videos, or even showing their audience added or secondary benefits to gardening. The possibilities are really endless, but the fact that they do not offer a continuous flow of educational or informational videos keeps the audience from fully engaging with them.

2.  Need to Add 1-2 More Engagements Per Day

Studies have shown that it is okay to post more than once a day, if done properly. Territorial on average, posts to Facebook or tweets to Twitter, about once every two days. This does not seem to have enough frequency to encourage their audience to engage with them. Not everyone is following tweets or posts on a 24/7 basis, so it is important to reach your audience when they are online. By posting content during certain times throughout the day, they could easily engage more audience members, creating more conversation.

3.  Pinterest and Instagram Lack Visual Content

With Territorial Seed Company’s products being such a visual component for buyers, I would assume they would take Pinterest and Instagram more serious. People would rather see pictures than read. That’s why infographs are such an important feature when proposing an idea or trying to explain something to someone. The same holds true for when customers buy things. Simply put, they like to touch the item before they buy the item. However, when items are sold online, it is a little harder to touch, so the next best thing is to offer a visual of the item.

Territorial Seed Co. does have high quality pictures of some of their products, but they need to include more of their product line. Not everyone is going to go directly to their website. (How is someone going to know where to go, if they don’t know who they are looking for?) So in order to grab the attention of a potential new audience member, they need to broadcast their content further by utilizing platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram. They should provide a greatly detailed posting, and a high quality picture to persuade someone to click on it, which then lands them back to the company website.

4.  Lots of “Likes” on Facebook, Low Ratio of Audience Commenting

Though Territorial Seed Co. has over 86k “Likes,” they do not have this many of their audience members commenting or engaging with them. This is a staggering amount of “Likes,” but the ratio of actual engaged users is much lower. On average, each Facebook post gets 75 “Likes,” with around 10 comments. With 86k “Likes” one would think that there would be many more comments and interactions than what there currently is.

There is obviously some sort of a disconnect in reaching their audience. What it is, I’m not exactly sure, but it would be something that I would look into if I were Territorial.

5.  Not Creating a Connection With New Audience Members

This kind of goes in sequence with having a lot of “Likes” on Facebook, but not being able to fully grasp the full potential of all those interests. It seems that the content that is being pushed on Twitter and Facebook allows for their current audience members to interact, but there is no real engagement across to newer audience members.

They do have wholesale buyers who purchase their seeds and then redistribute them, who talk about Territorial Seed Co., or repost their blog. This may generate some new leads, but overall, from my research, there is very little effort in trying to acquire new audience members outside of their current marketing strategy.

Company Social Media Marketing Strategy Strengths – Part 1

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strengthPart One: Strengths

One focus of a company’s social media marketing strategy is to engage and interact with their audience, while incorporating their brand into the message, which then creates brand recognition. Whether they deliver their content using multiple platforms or simply just one, the act of keeping your audience informed of your brand is what distinguishes a great campaign from a not so great one. If you fail to keep your audience’s attention, brand recognition will fade, resulting in a waste of time and a waste of a marketing budget.

I’ve discussed in previous blogs how Industrial Finishes and Territorial Seed Company involve themselves using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. However, the level of engagement varies amongst the two companies. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and both deliver their content in different manners. I’ll discuss both companies’ social media marketing strategies strengths and weaknesses in two parts for this week’s segment. 

Industrial Finishes

During my analysis of Industrial Finishes, I took a deeper look into their content delivery, and was able to pull from my own perspective, five strengths and five weaknesses. Considering that they mainly deliver content to only Facebook and YouTube, I’m also going to include content from their website as well. So without further ado…

1.  Partner/Customer Appreciation

Industrial Finishes prides itself by showing their gratitude towards their “partners in profit.” This slogan is a large part of their on-going success, and a large part of their marketing strategy is centered towards their partners/customers. (A large majority of their “partners” are their customers, but they’ve put a positive spin on the connotation.) They humbly show that they are only successful because of the overall effort that everyone they work with, puts in.

On Facebook, they show off expo posters with sponsors and partners, as well as various partners’ auto body shops. On YouTube, they’ve created short videos from their annual hosted expos, tradeshows, and car shows that they participate in, interviewing their distributers and other partners.

The simple act of mentioning their partners is such a powerful statement in their campaign strategy because it gives it a more “human brand.” (Discussed on strength #4)

2.  Creating Relevant Content  

One particular bit of content that I just recently discovered, is the company blog. They post it on Facebook, and it links back to their company website. I had overlooked it in the past, but realized that it too offers some great content for their partners. They’ve discussed new products for paint professionals, solutions and answers for distribution problems, as well as standard operating procedures learning modules for industry standards in collision and auto body repair.

Industrial Finishes posts content that is pertinent to their audience. The idea behind the messages is simple, deliver relevant information that followers can use that can also help out their own customers. Like I mentioned on strength 1, Industrial Finishes has many partners that they work with, so by delivering and creating content that is geared toward them, not only offers ideas and solutions for their partners, but the end result is obviously higher revenue for Industrial Finishes.

3.  Deliver Industry Related News to their Followers.

Industrial Finishes realizes that industries are constantly changing and evolving, and know that it’s important to stay on top of information that could affect them as well as their partners. They offer informative posts and videos on Facebook as well as YouTube that relate to either useful products, procedures, or new standards in the auto body repair industry.

4.  Transparent Company that Shows a “Human Brand.” 

By humanizing their content (on Facebook), they are showing the world that they are not a robot. It allows the audience to connect with them, and vice versa. They respond appropriately with comments, which builds their relationships even further. They even offer humorous posts, allowing their audience to see a lighter side that isn’t so business-like.

5.  Linking Blog from Facebook, Back to Website

Once posted to Facebook, followers can click on the post that takes them back to the company website. The company blog is an excellent way in which they push informative reviews, solutions to problems, ways to be more financially successful, and insight into their philosophy of innovation, partnerships, and relationships. They have built a small collection of blogs that allow their audience to read and gain more insight into the collision and auto body industry, while not diving in as deep as a white paper, or a pre-recorded webinar.

The value that is created, from my perspective, is the relational component of marketing, where the audience is being given information that they can actually use. If the content is consistently good, the audience member should return. I think Industrial Finishes knows this, and offers these bits of knowledge to keep their audience coming back for more.

Territorial Seed Company

1.  Visually Appealing High Quality Pictures

Whether the social media platform be Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook, the professional quality of their pictures, are often times, stunning. They offer their audience a sneak-peak into plants that could be grown in their very own backyards.With pictures of the plants of the latest heirloom seed, or a specialized grafted plant, the audience is able to see what the company has to offer, without having to only look at a seed packet. This in itself creates value for the customer, because it allows them to pick and choose what they want in their gardens before they begin to plant.

2.  Company Branding

The Territorial Seed Co. brand is everywhere. Simply put, the more times an audience member sees a logo or brand, the more they become aware, and the more they will learn to trust the company. Territorial Seed Co., places there company logo on all platforms, as the main picture. They also make sure to take pictures of all their packaging, products, and place their logo throughout their various videos.

3.  Videos

Territorial Seed Company’s How-To videos are a gem in themselves. They offer the audience insightful content into growing fruits and vegetables in their very own backyards. They offer tips and ideas to start and maintain a healthy garden, all while showcasing the plethora of plants and seeds they have to offer on their website. Of course, all videos are linked back to the website, where the audience can buy the products they are demonstrating.

Not only do they offer a growing collection of tutorials on gardening tips, they also have a separate segment on YouTube called the Drunken Botanist. It offers a fun side to gardening, in which the presenter shows off the different kinds of plants that you can find in the garden to make adult beverages. These plants, of course, are all varieties in which you can find back on their website.

4.  New Company Blog

After several years being on hiatus, Territorial Seed Company recently started up its weekly blogs. They started with their company owner and president, and have transgressed to different individuals from around the “Farm.” Each author contributes a tidbit of knowledge for the audience to consume and come back for another week’s contribution.

The blog’s link is pushed out to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and of course Twitter, allowing the audience member to read something informational and engaging.

The blog allows for conversations to happen between Territorial Seed Co., and its audience members, which is a phenomenal tool for insight on what customers are interested in knowing. This allows Territorial Seed Co. to keep content flowing to their readers, obviously keeping them engaged.

5.  Mixed Content

Territorial Seed Co. does a great job of mixing up their media content. They offer informative posts, tweets, and videos, while at the same time, they offer insight into the daily operations of the company. They post their audience members pictures, offer tips and techniques, and show new and old products.

They broadcast their strategy across multiple platforms, which helps to spread information to all of their audience members who may only be using select social media platforms. For example, they offer a product demonstration video showing the audience how easy it is to make pureed tomatoes with their electric processor. They then give you a link that lands you back to their website, allowing you to purchase the processor.

Or they give a detailed comparison of open-pollinated, hybrid, or heirloom seeds on a blog, so the audience can choose the ones they prefer.

Territorial Seed Co does not stick to one style of content, but rather change it up on an almost daily basis.

Types of Content by Social Media Outlet

free_social_media_icons_image_ubersocialmediaHow does a company establish a successful media campaign strategy?  Content of course!  But the real question is, what makes good content turn into great content?  Is it the offering of a coupon that can only be found on a particular social media platform?  Or offering friendly advice and a useful tip?  The answer actually depends on the industry and the target market they are trying to reach.  Not all pieces of content are created equal, nor should they be.  Some are more lighthearted, such as a funny quip, or a humorous picture.  While others are intended to inform the company’s followers’ of what is happening, what is going to happen, or what has happened with the company.

Not only is the type of content important, but also how often you’re sending out information. Too many messages, and the people who are following you may get annoyed and decide that your content is not worth the informational clutter, nor the constant notification sounds alerting them of another “useful” message. Too little content, and they may lose interest all together, or even worse, forget about you. The key is to strike a balance amongst type of content, the frequency, and the time you push the information to your platform. The combination of the three will help to foster brand awareness, yet encourage dialogue, and hopefully grow a company’s fan base.

Both companies that I’ve been analyzing have some sort of a fan base, and both have some sort of content that they are pushing out on various platforms. However, each one has a different approach to the matter and most likely different results from their strategy.

Industrial Finishes

Industrial Finishes, as stated in previous posts, utilizes Facebook and YouTube as their main platforms to send content to its followers/subscribers. However, the content is just that, it’s content. It’s nothing great, but a physical social media presence is being obtained. With that being said, at least they are online and trying.

As of this post, there has really only been two posts that seem to be strategic. One of the more recent posts is great. It offers a solution to a possible problem, letting the Facebook follower know who to turn to if they need help. The rest of the content being distributed is more focused towards brand awareness, with not a lot of consistency to it. On Facebook for instance, the majority of posts are random and hold very little availability for conversation to happen. They do post about once a week though, which keeps their page fresh.

As far as YouTube goes, the videos again are random and do not target any one specific group or market. Yes, they do show videos of the car shows that they have attended, and some of the amazing paint jobs they do, but there is no real message being presented to any particular audience. Plus they’ve only posted 13 times in the past year. That may seem like a lot, but with the content that they are uploading, it really isn’t that much.

To me, they are not fully engaging their potential to reach the masses. They don’t seem to have a particular marketing strategy in mind, but rather just keeping a digital presence. They could without a doubt start offering content that is more engaging and that allows for more dialogue. For instance, project videos on YouTube. I’m sure there are both future and current clients that would enjoy watching a start-to-finish project that Industrial Finishes is working on. The ability to interact and offer content that is both intriguing, yet subtle enough to market your services seems like it would be a winning combination. We’ll have to wait and see if future marketing strategies can make a difference.

Territorial Seed Co.

Territorial Seed Co. definitely has more opportunities for engagement with their followers. They push content out through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram almost every other day. They provide a mix of content that mainly includes open ended questions in their product promotion/special deal, the useful gardening tip, and of course the informative tweet or post that lets their followers know what is happening at Territorial Seed Co. This social media strategy not only gives their followers time to consume the content given, but also time to interact with Territorial Seed Co. if they choose to.

Though they may use other social media platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest, their frequency on these sites are not as prevalent as that of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Their last YouTube video may have been done over 4 months ago, but the relativity of the how-to is available whenever someone searches for it. Once someone searches for a video and finds Territorial Seed Co.’s video, they are referred back to Territorial’s website. So even though they don’t post as frequently on YouTube and Pinterest, the content being presented does not expire and holds value to the customer.

To me, Territorial Seed Co. is doing a great job in connecting, interacting, and keeping their followers engaged. They offer plenty of useful content, but at the same time, they do not over promote specials and products directly. They are subtle and let the viewer take the lead in whether they would like to find out more. The one thing that I do find though, is that they (for lack of a better term) regurgitate their content across all their platforms. Granted, I know not everyone will have all the social media accounts that are available to them, but for those that do, the information becomes redundant. Other than that, I applaud Territorial Seed Co. and their efforts toward great content.

Generating Dialog and Interaction

dialog_bubbleTo conclude this weeks discussion on Industrial Finishes (IF) and Territorial Seed Co. (TSCO), I’m going to briefly talk about how each one is generating dialog and creating interaction among their respective target markets.

In some basic research of my own, an article titled 6 Ways Brands Build Trust Through Social Media, written by Brent Gleeson and listed on Forbes.com, I found some great advice as to how companies should be using social media.  This advice is particularly useful when looking at IF and TSCO.  Gleeson states “Trust is the most crucial element of social media.”  Essentially, when a company creates dialog and interacts with their customers, they open themselves up for conversations to happen, and for trust to be created.  Gleeson lists six ways in which brands can begin to trust through social media:

  1. Communicate Thought Leadership

  2. Transparency

  3. Quick & Responsive Customer Communication

  4. Ensures Accountability

  5. Fun & Simple Engagement

  6. Social Responsibility

When scouring through all the bits of social media being posted by both companies, I’ve been able to gather an even better idea as to how they are keeping actively engaged with their customers, and how each one is getting their customers’ to interact back.

Industrial Finishes

The act of being actively engaged does not seem to be a hot topic at IF.  When I first began researching the company, I only knew small bits about the overall marketing strategy.  As I get further along with my research, and get to know the inner workings of the company a little better, I realize that the reason why their social media presence is lagging, is because they are extremely busy with printed media and promotions, as well as big events that include kiosks and trade show booths.  These events keep their current marketing department tached out and not as actively engaged with their target markets as they might like to be.  However, this does not mean they are not completely out of touch either.

Facebook and YouTube, as mentioned in previous blogs, are the main platforms they use.  They are able to generate both dialog and interaction on Facebook by posting the latest car show poster that they are hosting/attending, partnership events they are hosting, as well as, posting day-to-day events in and around their headquarters.

IF is very big on promoting their partnerships with other companies, and showing their gratitude towards customers.  They’ve posted customer projects, industry events, and obviously the many car shows they’ve attended.  In return, they sometimes get customer comments, which is a bit of a disconnect if you think about it.  With only 350 Likes for the page, it’s to be expected for a lower number of responses, but at the same time, with little content being thrown out onto social media, the less likely people are going to become engaged.

I would add though, that following the advice of the six ways brands can build trust, IF is getting it done the right way.  Though they have yet to directly connect their social media platforms to their actual website by means of a call to action, I would say they demonstrate all six just by observing their website.  This to me builds a sense of trust automatically.  They have a proven track record of a successful business, and are transparent in all their ways.  They acknowledge their customers and clients, and I believe that they would without a doubt hold themselves accountable if they needed to.  Their website offers vital information as to who they are, what they do, and how they do it.  They also provide a section that is dedicated to the glory of God, and they are extremely open in their faith and announce what He has done for them.  So what they lack in social media, they make up on their website.

Territorial Seed Co.

Again, TSCO is on top of their game when it comes to social media and engaging/interacting with their customers.  They are constantly seeking input from their customers, mainly by posting and contributing an abundance of great content to their own social media platforms, that their vast amount of customers are bound to post comments or their own pictures.  Once a customer has posted, they are quick to respond with their own comment.  This lets that particular customer know that TSCO believes he or she is important to them.  The simple act creates the dialog needed to interact, and keep actively engaged with all of their customers.

I’ve mentioned previously that their call to action is not always to have a customer buy something, but rather to go to their website so that they can sign up for their newsletter, order a free seed catalog, or browse through the amazing plants they have to offer.  Their call to action often times is the very act of wanting comments and opinions from their customers.  The connection that they have with their customers is shown by the amount of likes, shares, and of course comments they receive on every post they send out.

Again, if following the 6 ways to build trust, TSCO, is actively pursuing and achieving the six ways with ease.  They win hands down with communicating thought leadership, being transparent, responding quickly to customer communication, ensuring accountability of their products, keeping their posts fun, simple, and engaging, and promoting social responsibility.  Their brand awareness strategy is fantastic!

Action Requests

call-to-action-buttonIn this first part of a double-header weekend edition, I’m going to discuss how both Industrial Finishes (IF) and Territorial Seed Co. (TSCO), are attempting to generate dialog and interaction with their target market (TM), and what they are trying to attempt when they present a “call to action (CTA).”

Most companies have an agenda of sorts when they offer the CTA to their TM and it typically entails making a sale or enhancing their marketing efforts even further.  In its simplest form, a call to action is the response you want your target market to complete.  This could mean various things for different marketing strategies.  Typically in e-commerce, it’s the checkout button or the shopping cart that takes you to finalize your order.  However, this is not always the case, nor the only objective for a marketing strategy.  As stated before, a company may want to enhance their marketing efforts, and in doing so they offer a different type of CTA.

In many situations the marketing strategy is simply to build rapport.  When using social media to build rapport, companies are able to get to know their prospects, while at the same time the prospects get to know the company.  Companies can take this information, organize and analyze it, and then put it to use so that they can leverage what they know to build up their customer base.  Both IF and TSCO are utilizing social media, however they are not equal when it comes to their CTAs and what they are trying to accomplish.

Industrial Finishes

Industrial Finishes has begun using YouTube and Facebook as their primary means of reaching out to their TM when using social media.  When browsing through the various videos on YouTube, and scrolling through Facebook, I notice one common theme.  Informative.  There is nothing super technical being presented, but rather a scaled down opportunity to share their videos and thoughts highlighting their people, services, vendors, and clients.  Their CTA, so-to-speak, would have to be wanting people to subscribe to their YouTube channel and “Liking” them on Facebook.  This is so they can continue building their image and their brand awareness. 

The downside to their CTA though, is the lack of content being provided, the infrequency of posts and uploads, and that there is no real consistency as to what content is actually being presented. They are currently missing out on opportunities to provide content that is not only beneficial to their TM, but also a way to present themselves in a manner that gives them commanding brand awareness.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, IF is in their infancy stage of using social media, so it may be that they find that it is not that big of a deal at the moment to fully use it.  However, they are beginning to get their hands dirty, and the possibilities are out there for them.

Territorial Seed Co.

Territorial Seed Co., on the other hand, has been getting their hands dirty for quite some time, and they understand what a good CTA can offer.  For instance, their usage of Twitter and Facebook alone creates a mixture of CTAs.  Not only are they highly informative with ideas and suggestions, but they also showcase what they have to offer almost on a daily basis.  To include into the mix, they also have specials that you can click on that lands you on their homepage, which then allows you to purchase the item on sale, sign up for their newsletter, order a free catalog, and various other actions. 

TSCO definitely has a winning combination and a relatively good understanding of a good CTA.  Customers get to know the company first by following them on Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, which is the beginning of a trusting relationship.  TSCO offers great ideas for the garden, and customers use these great ideas in their own gardens.  When the idea works, the customer is happy, and begins to seek out more information from TSCO.  More information leads to buying supplies, and buying other products that TSCO offers, and thus creates a relationship built from offering a simple tip.

TSCO has a great well-rounded marketing strategy utilizing several social media sources.  They are actively engaged with their customers by communicating with them on a near daily basis, showcasing their products, giving information, and just providing a general brand presence wherever they are.