Social Media And Holiday Marketing: Creating A Star-Spangled Social Media Community

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Social Media Holiday Marketing

Social Media Holiday Marketing for the 4th of July

What’s more American than parades, barbecues, fireworks and apple pie on the Fourth of July?

Why, the sharing of pictures and comments on social media about parades, barbecues, fireworks and apple pie on the Fourth of July, of course.

Personal Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds will soon be filling up with montages of pics, videos and thoughts from friends and family all over U.S., illustrating one of the more positive attributes of social media – the creation of a real-time virtual community.

So why can’t all that be translated to the business side of things via social media holiday marketing?

A recent Splash Media blog post highlighted the occasional off-message status update/tweet/post as a way to humanize businesses and keep a level of fun/spontaneity in the marketing mix. Holidays offer a similar opportunity to learn more about customers while letting them view a business as something more than a logo.

I’m not just talking about the obvious discounts tied to Independence Day, which are of course valid. Last time we checked, there’s no law against offering consumer deals for those who may be out and about on Wednesday; if recent history is any indication, Foursquare will also soon get busy with such check-in incentives. Hey, the freedom to make money off of holidays – that was one of FDR’s “Four Freedoms,” right?

(Insert Jeopardy-style buzzer noise here.)

Okay, maybe it was freedom from fear (of going out of business). But in any event, what we’re really talking about is taking advantage of July 4th to enhance the customer experience on a company’s social media platform.

Social media marketers talk a lot about “engagement.” It’s a $10 word for allowing full, meaningful conversations/interactivity between customers and companies. It’s about providing content that’s interesting enough to merit a response, even if it’s just a Facebook “like” or a retweet. That content doesn’t ask people to purchase – it asks them to participate.

It’s open-ended questions. It’s asking them to share pics and thoughts. It’s pop quizzes about American history. It’s memories of the best fireworks display they ever saw.

It’s a chance to extend the customer community all the way from your businesses’ front door to their actual real-world communities, where all the parades and barbecues and fireworks and apple pie are happening on July 4th.

Here’s our July 4th question for you: have you seen any great examples of holiday-themed engagement by companies using social media? Please share in our Comments section, and have a happy Fourth of July!

Renay San Miguel is the Chief Content Officer at Splash Media and On-Air Talent and Host with Spark360.tv. You can find him on Twitter @PrimoMedia. Click here to see all of Renay’s blog posts.

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Social Media and Healthcare: The Supreme Court and the ACA Ruling

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At this point, it doesn’t really matter what your political views are on the Affordable Care Act; this week’s Supreme Court ruling lifts any uncertainty about the immediate future for healthcare in this country. The direction is now set, and everyone involved in the industry has to move forward.

That also makes it an opportune time – for those who haven’t already done so – to reconsider the benefits of social media and healthcare. Splash Media has blogged about this already, bringing you some recent survey information showing more hospitals are indeed prescribing regular doses of Facebook and Twitter for educating patients. And we’ve chatted with a doctor and mommy blogger who has sung the praises of social media.

But now one of the biggest news stories of the year gives those in the healthcare industry a chance to get closer to customers – whether they are payors, patients or companies in the healthcare business-to-business chain:

social media and healthcare

Social Media and Healthcare

* Insurance Companies – This industry impacted the most by this week’s ruling should get busy on blogs and social networks educating customers about what the ACA will mean for premiums.  If these companies have an opinion on ACA, that’s fine; a strong point-of-view is a good thing in a blog post. But never forget about the customers. Their priority is answers. They deserve up-to-date, accurate information.

* Hospitals/Clinics/Private Physicians -  Speaking of accurate information…those served by this group are already conducting more research online regarding health issues, consumer reviews of doctors, etc. There is more power in current and prospective patients’ hands than ever. Social media allows for a two-way connection via doctor/hospital blogs and social media platforms. Healthcare providers should seize upon that opportunity to talk about the ACA’s impact on the quality of healthcare and what’s ahead after 2014.

* B2B Providers - There was a reason that the business-related cable networks were keeping a close eye on the stocks of publicly-traded companies that sell within the healthcare space: software businesses, medical device manufacturers, etc. Vendors and current/potential partners need the latest information on ACA’s impact, just like those in the physician/patient chain.

From a social media marketing prospective, original content with strong, organic search engine optimization can push these businesses to the top of Google search results – especially when it’s all tied to current events.

Granted, the healthcare industry comes with its own set of regulatory and compliance challenges. But that should never shut the door on social media usage within that industry. The Supreme Court’s ACA ruling offers a way to “use the news,” with a potentially positive side effect: stronger trust and credibility.

 

 

SplashCast: Google+ Hangouts And Your Local News

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Its user numbers are still far below Facebook and Twitter. Yet Google+ is slowly gathering steam as a viable social network, largely due to one of its more interesting features: Google+ Hangouts, which enables live video chats with several people at once.

Sarah Hill, a reporter and interactive anchor at KOMU-TV in Columbia, Missouri, immediately saw a use for Hangouts in local broadcast journalism. She was one of the first to use Hangouts during a newscast and has been recognized in the media blogosphere  for her efforts.

In this SplashCast, Hill talks to host Renay San Miguel about Google+’s value in newsgathering, cites examples of viewers assisting her TV station during coverage of a developing story and gives her thoughts about social media’s overall impact on journalism.

Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketing; subscribe to our award-winning blog!

Google Plus Hangouts in Local News Journalism

Whole Foods’ Lessons In Organic Social Media Marketing For Small Businesses

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Whole Foods' Social Media Marketing Strategy

Whole Foods' Social Media Marketing Strategy

Anyone who lived in Austin, Texas in the early 1980s would probably remember how Whole Foods planted the seeds of success for what is now a worldwide grocery store business; it built strong ties with a community that supported its idea for natural/organic products and sustainable agriculture. Whole Foods listened to its customers and wasn’t afraid to enter into conversations with them.

More than 300 stores and 64,000 employees later, an aggressive social media strategy has resulted in Whole Foods building out a global community of customers. Yet in many ways it blogs and tweets as if it were still residing in one small store on Lamar Boulevard in downtown Austin, and that offers lessons for any small/midsize business striving for their own natural approach to marketing via social media:

  • A CEO Who Blogs And Grows His/Her Own OpinionsWhole Foods CEO John Mackey doesn’t contribute blog posts all the time. But when he does, he candidly expresses his thoughts on job creation, healthcare reform and other matters of economic import. Mackey makes it clear his opinions are his own and not necessarily those of his company, yet he’s contributing thought-leadership on his industry and also setting the standard for other CEO wannabe bloggers.
  • Water Your Social Media Garden Constantly – The official Whole Foods company blog, the Whole Story, is updated regularly and includes everything from recipes to official company policy on controversial agriculture issues to fun/holiday-related posts.
  • Know Your Audience #1: Harvest Their Thoughts - Yes, Whole Foods’ Twitter and Facebook feeds have the latest on discounts and bargains, when new or requested food items are available, etc. But the company is also active in responding to questions/complaints and solicits comments and suggestions for better service.
  • Know Your Audience #2: Serve Up Specific Content – Just like a well-stocked grocery store, Whole Foods’ Twitter feeds offer up a diverse sampling of content. There are feeds for wine enthusiasts, cheese lovers, recipes, the PR department, a charitable foundation. Many cities served by the company, as well as specific stores, have their own Twitter feeds.

In each of these instances, Whole Foods makes it clear that an actual human being – not a brand or trademark – is providing content to its community. You can’t get much more organic/natural/homegrown than that, and it’s an approach that should be copied by any small business looking to cultivate its customer base.

Whole Foods has been recognized for its use of social media. What do you think? Are there other Whole Foods examples for small/midsize businesses? Do you see room for improvement? Please share with us in our Comments section.

Renay San Miguel is the Chief Content Officer at Splash Media and On-Air Talent and Host with Spark360.tv. You can find him on Twitter @PrimoMedia. Click here to see all of Renay’s blog posts.

Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketing; subscribe to our award-winning blog!

The Week In Social Media News: Yammer Chatter, Twitter Talk

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Social Media News: Yammer Might Buy Microsoft & Twitter Evolves

Social Media News: Yammer Might Buy Microsoft & Twitter Evolves

Did we all somehow stumble into Mr. Peabody”s Wayback Machine? The backstabbing Ewing clan is on TV again thanks to TNT”s revival of “Dallas,” and hair metal is making a comeback – at least in your local theater – with the release of “Rock Of Ages,” a musical about having nothin” but a good time.

The 1980s may be re-invading our pop culture,  but don”t worry; social media news keeps us grounded in the present while speculating on the future of branding and marketing.

Microsoft To Buy Yammer? – Sometime very soon, the question mark may be removed from that phrase. The software giant and maker of the ubiquitous Office software is supposedly talking to the social intranet company Yammer about acquiring them for a  $1.2 billion so they can insert Yammer”s “Facebook for businesses” application into the Office suite.

The move is certainly something that Microsoft needs to do to keep up with Salesforce and Oracle, which have recently announced acquisitions of their own to build out social customer relationship management offerings. But we”re more interested in this item offering further proof of the “social-fication” of traditional business services. Yammer allows companies to build internal social networks for work collaboration and messaging in a way that are more responsive and interactive than company emails and newsletters. The Yammer interface is even compared to Facebook”s. So just as consumers are now more accustomed to engaging in two-way communications via social media with their favorite brands and businesses, those businesses are also adapting to social media”s impact on their employees and customers.

Twitter”s Even-More-Expanded Tweets – The big question everybody seems to be asking here: is Twitter”s new service that gives users more of a preview of select content a problem for traditional media companies? After all, some big media names like CNN, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Der Spiegel are Twitter”s partners in this effort, and putting more content in their tweets may mean less referrals to the original websites.

We have a different question: do businesses that provide compelling content also get to play in this digital sandbox? Some businesses like John Deere, Intel, the aforementiond Microsoft and others do a pretty good job of tracking their own industries, interviewing key players within their companies and offer up cool videos and slideshows. Does all that media content also count when it comes to these expanded tweets? More businesses and brands are getting into the media publishing/broadcasting arena. Twitter will hopefully recognize that and include them in this effort.

What about you? Are you seeing more examples of social media being integrated with internal business procedures at your workplace? And would you follow content from businesses in Twitter”s expanded tweets. Please share with us in our Comments section.

Renay San Miguel is the Chief Content Officer at Splash Media and On-Air Talent and Host with Spark360.tv. You can find him on Twitter @PrimoMedia. Click here to see all of Renay’s blog posts.

For more social media marketing news, watch this week”s episode of SMTV:

http://youtu.be/7keQYfvywjA

Stay up-to-date on the latest in social media marketing; subscribe to our award-winning blog!