Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Final thoughts

After reviewing my blog, I've developed some of my own social media tips from what I've learned

• Social media can complement other communications campaigns (see Volkwagon, Vegemite, Virgin)

• Use social media to engage with publics who are already online (see Starbucks, Banff, TapIt, Vegemite, Virgin)

• Social media can be used as a tool to build support for a cause (see Starbucks, Rugby, TapIt)

• Organisations should monitor what is being said about them on social media sites and respond quickly to potential issues or opportunities (see Starbucks, Banff, Vegemite, Virgin)

• Social media is effective to promote contests or short term campaigns (Starbucks, Banff, Rubgy, Vegemite, Virgin)

• Finally, don’t ignore the power of social media! It should be part of the communications plan for every organisation!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Travelling with social media

The semester is almost over and travel is something I've been doing a lot of research about!

With so many vacations being booked online these days its becoming more and more important for the travel industry to use social media to promote themselves as well as monitor what other people are saying about them.

Here's a great example of a disgruntled passenger on a Virgin Atlantic flight who wrote an open letter to Sir Richard Branson about his distaste of the airline's food.

Virgin acted almost immediately and in fact offered the passenger a job as Virgin's food and wine critic (no joke!)

Virgin has since started using social media as a promotional tool. This summer Virgin Blue offered $9 twitter fares to 1000 people who followed Virgin Blue on Twitter.

This strategy of using social media to promote special travel deals is a great way for Virgin Blue to get there message out directly to their audiences. I think this is something we will see more companies start to adopt. Would you follow Virgin Blue on Twitter?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New vegemite goes sour with customers

The iconic Australian brand Vegemite recently launched an online contest to name the "new vegemite." Vegemite created a campaign using You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and traditional advertising to launch the product and the Name Me contest.

After receiving over 35,000 suggestions the name "iSnack 2.0" was announced as the winner. Immediately negative feedback began to appear on blogs, Facebook groups and Twitter posts with customers expressing their extreme dislike of the name of one of their favourite brands.

In response to the backlash, Vegemite has decided to lose the name and will establish a second contest where customers will be able to help choose the new name.

This case demonstrates the importance of pre-testing a new brand image. Vegemite has built brand equity and consumers have a strong identification with the product.

Vegemite had the right idea in asking customers to come up with a name but they weren't involved in the final decision process. The company's decision to act so quickly to respond to the issue demonstrates Vegemite's willingness to adapt and listen to their customers as well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Would you TapIt?

I recently read about a new social initiative called TapIt in New York City - its a water bottle refilling network that gives people free access to clean water on the go. By going on the TapIt website, or downloading the iphone application, New Yorkers can find a local TapIt cafe partner location to fill their re-usable water bottle.

TapIt is meant to provide an alternative to buying expensive environmentally-unfriendly bottled water and promoting sustainable and green public behaviour.

The TapIt site also has a blog, as well as a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts where you can read about other environmental programs and how you can make a difference.

What I like about this program is that a problem was identified and they invented a solution that people could easily get involved in. This is much more effective than just telling people not to drink bottled water or just banning it outright as some other cities have done.

The program seems to be catching on and the idea is spreading across the USA and to other countries.

What do you think of TapIt? Is this something you would do if it was available near you? Do you think their campaign is effective?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Social media as a social cause support tool

I recently came across this photo posted on the celebrity gossip site, Perez Hilton. It sparked my interest because of all the negative press we hear about rugby players here in Australia. The national rugby team, the Wallabies, has teamed up with the Sydney Convicts, a gay rugby club, to promote an anti-homophobia campaign.

The photo initially appeared on the This is Oz, an anti-discrimination photo gallery site, and has since been posted on gay and lesbian sites as well as sports sites around the world. This campaign definetely breaks the stereotype of the typical macho rugby player who you wouldn't picture supporting gay rights.

While this campaign sets a positive example for rugby fans, what might happen if a player who didn't share these views made a homophobic slur? Certainly, this has happened before in sport. Would it ruin the campaign? Or do you think this would have made enough of an impact to outweigh the controversy?

Hopefully, these players will continue to use their celebrity and role model status to promote good causes and make headlines for positive reasons.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Have you seen this squirrel?

The "crasher squirrel" as he's known is one of the biggest news stories around the world this week. The squirrel, who hails from my home country Canada, became an internet sensation after he curiously jumped into a photo with a couple of tourists at the Banff resort in Calgary, Alberta.

After the photo was posted on National Geographic photoshopped images began circulating of the squirrel at famous world events or posing with celebrities. Check out the gallery on the Daily Telegraph.

The Banff Tourism Board took notice and created a Twitter and Facebook account for their unofficial mascot and have launched a campaign asking people to send in other photos of squirrels seen at Banff.

Smart marketing move for Banff to jump on the free publicity. Their strategy reminds me of the Chicken of the Sea campaign with Jessica Simpson, only the cost of using the squirrel is much less expensive!

So the question is, have you seen the squirrel? Why do you think this is newsworthy anyways?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Starbucks burned by Twitter

Here's an example of good social media gone bad - a few months ago Starbucks launched a new ad campaign that promoted the quality of Starbucks coffee in an effort to take back sales from the "cheaper" coffee chains. To increase awareness of the campaign, Starbucks created a contest asking the public to find their ad posters and post a photo on Twitter.

The New York Times wrote a story about the Starbucks campaign which caught the attention of filmmaker, Robert Greenwald, who had been shooting an anti-Starbucks film about their labor practices and union busting.

On the website Stop Starbucks, Robert Greenwald put out a call asking people to enter the contest and post pictures on Twitter with messages about Starbucks' labor practices. Faster than you can order a Venti-double long-extra hot-skinny-latte the Starbucks campaign was hijacked by anti-Starbucks tweets like "Wake up and smell the union abuse."

The question is, could Starbucks have done anything to prevent the misuse of their campaign? Or does this mean that large high profile (and often controversial) organisations should shy away from using social media to promote themselves? What do you think?