Using Social Media to Solidify your Brand: From Small Companies to National Celebrities
By : A l a nna M c B ride
n today’s world, it’s almost unheard of for a company not to have a social media presence. Companies use social to distribute information, whether it’s sales promotions, product releases, or company contact information. Celebrities and politicians are among those entities that find it crucial to have social media impact. They use it to stay connected to fans and to promote
themselves. I have been following several different entities through Twitter and Facebo ok as a way to track and evaluate the effectiveness of social media. This report will examine my findings and highlight ways that different entities use social media to promote themselves.
President Barack Obama
have been following President Obama’s Twitter account. Between February 2013 and March 2013, his Twitter ac count gained over 600,000 followers. Although this account is very active, posting between five and seven posts a day, it feels disconnected from the president because it’s obvious that he doesn’t post any of the tweets himself—his own words appear in quotation marks. President Obama’s tweeting staff regularly posts his quotes and pic tures of the president. They also share links to weekly addresses on YouTube. The State of the Union address to ok place on February 12, 2013. The following day, President Obama’s page was inundated with quotes from the address. In fact, more than 60 tweets were posted to his account that day and several more on February 14 as well. President Obama’s Twitter staff knows its audience and posts relevant information for them. On most occasions, they fall into the standard post guidelines—roughly five tweets per day and less on the weekend. Although the account grows regularly in numbers, they are missing one important part of social media—two-way, open communication.
Picture 1 is a sample of President Obama’s daily posts on Twitter..
lthough President Obama and Mike Huckabee are polar opposites in the political world—Democrat vs. Republican—their approach to social media is very similar. They both post political material and rarely talk about their personal lives. Huckabee’s Twitter account has also increased in followers. He gained a little more than 2,000 over the last month. Huckabee closely follows the “active but not annoying” guidelines set forth in Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself, posting three to four times a day. He tweets about current topics in politics and shares other people’s relevant articles. In fact, that’s about all he does. There are a few instances where Huckabee’s account showed his
Picture 2 is a sample of Mike Huckabee’s regular Twitter activity.
personal side. In his biography, he says that he plays the bass guitar. On February 23, 2013, Huckabee tweeted this about the Oscars: “It's Oscar weekend and if Bradley Co oper wins we will know why.. his appearance on the Huckabee Show. Ask Meryl Streep.Seriously, go od luck!” That was the only personal tweet that wasn’t linked to a political article.
am following Ellen on Facebo ok. Her Facebo ok account perfectly reflects who she is—a comedian. I find it challenging to visit her page and take notes because I become easily distracted by the funny pictures and hilarious video clips from her talk show. One thing that makes her page stand out is the interaction with her fans. Some of my favorite things posted are from them, not her. She has ongoing photograph submissions of tatto os gone wrong and inappropriate pictures drawn by children and submitted by their parents. She is an animal advocate and posts many links to animal rights pages and funny animal pictures. You can see a lot of her personality through her Facebo ok page, even if she has a paid staff that updates it. Ellen’s page has grown over the past month by almost 100,000 fans. She has more than 9 million likes. Her page is funny and engaging, yet professional. It helps to enhance her brand and stay connected with fans.
Picture 3 shows Ellen DeGeneres’ Facebo ok banner.
am following Josh Cribbs, punt returner for the Cleveland Browns, on Twitter. I’m not sure if anyone still admits this or not, but I am a huge Browns fan. Cribbs has always been one of my favorite players since he started playing for the team. A lot of fans like him, but his Twitter account is losing followers. In fact, he lost 200 followers in the last month. Most of Cribb’s posts are pictures of his family tweeted through Instagram. He seems to be a humble athlete who lists being a “Man of God (repenting sinner), Proud Father & Husband” before his professional fo otball career in his biography. His tweets are posted by him and not a paid staff member. One major rule to successful branding through social media is to always be authentic. Cribbs describes himself as a “man of God” but rarely posts spiritual messages; however he does post many , pictures of his family which supports his family-man image. The graphics on his Twitter page are interesting and eye catching. I like his background. It shows his professional fo otball side. He interacts with his followers and retweets messages regularly. He also follows the rules of posting roughly five times a day and less on the weekends. Although many fans already know that his resigning with the Browns is in question, Cribbs continues to be professional in his posts, not drawing any attention to possible tensions within the organization. I am anxiously waiting for the news that he was resigned, as many of his fans are.
Picture 4 shows Josh Cribbs’ Twitter page.
iant Eagle is a large chain grocery store with stores in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and several other east coast states. Their Facebo ok page is usually very fun and interactive. They ask questions several times a week as a way to open up two-way communication with their customers. Some examples are: “What are your favorite chocolate fondue dippables?” and “What fo ods that are normally eaten hot, do you like to eat cold?” Many people respond to these types of posts. It is a clever way of interacting with customers. Although Giant Eagle generally has a calm Facebo ok page featuring attractive pictures of mouth-watering fo od, there was a customer service disaster that unfolded on their page on February 4, 2013. One of Giant Eagle’s customer-incentive programs was being canceled. This program was called Fo odPerks. Simply explained, this program offered customers a percentage off their fo od bill based on fuel purchases made at GetGo gas stations. In a post on their Facebo ok page, Giant Eagle explained that the program was being revamped and changed, but no changes were being made to other incentive programs. In a letter sent out to customers, Giant Eagle explained that the Fo odPerks program was to o difficult for their customers to understand. Facebo ok exploded with angry customers complaining of Giant Eagle’s decision to stop the program. For several weeks, customers voiced their anger on various posts on the grocery store’s page. Giant Eagle seems to have decided to ignore customer complaints publicly on their page regarding this issue. I have no information whether or not private messages were sent to customers in response. Although many customers threatened to stop shopping at Giant Eagle, they have lost only 400 followers on Facebo ok. Three weeks after the announcement, the page seems to have moved on—customers are no longer complaining about the end of Fo odPerks.
Picture 5 shows the Giant Eagle announcement on Facebo ok about the removal of their Fo odPerks program.
Picture 6 shows customer backlash days after the announcement.
itchenAid’s Twitter account is a great example of how to use social media effectively to help grow your brand and company. Although they don’t have a lot of followers (33,294), they have a go od strategy. They tweet recipes from customers that use their products, highlighting what their products can create in the kitchen. They are open and transparent, dealing with customer complaints in a professional way and not deleting them from the feed. They respond to customer complaints in a timely manner and direct them to links that help customers return or service their defective merchandise. They also use Twitter to showcase and promote various products through pictures and product giveaways. KitchenAid also seems to follow the post rule, typically posting five messages a day. Their feed seems busier because they take the time to respond to every customer that has a complaint or posts a recipe. It’s an effective to ol for connecting with customers.
Picture 7 is an example of a customer service incident on KitchenAid’s Twitter page.
am following a local ice cream shop called Bojo’s Creamery. I must admit that I allowed myself to do some hands on research for this company. You can’t go wrong with ice cream taste testing. This company is fairly new to our area, having opened in December 2012. The Facebo ok page is growing steadily and is up to 80 likes, adding 10 since February 2013. They have pictures of their menu and ice cream flavors. They also take pictures of other treats. They actively update specials and new treats, including a frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate on a stick—yes, I researched this to o. They respond to customer feedback on the page as well. Because the following is currently small, I would suggest trying to bo ost the numbers for the page by having a giveaway or contest. They are doing several things well, but there is ro om to grow. As the weather gets better I am sure the following will increase—after all, I , know that the product is go od.
Blazed & Bedazzled
lazed & Bedazzled is another locally owned company that I am following. They are a shop where customers can paint their own pottery and create fused-glass projects. They have been in the area for several years. This local company also uses Facebo ok as a way to interact with customers and showcase projects. The owner posts events and specials, like couples night and ladies night. They use it to promote classes and days where they have group projects. They have gained 31 likes over the last month and continue to have a very active page. The pictures that they post are professional and help to show a variety of projects that are available.
t. Jude is a children’s cancer research hospital. They provide services for children that cannot afford treatment. They are a nonprofit organization that I follow on Twitter.
St. Jude uses Twitter to interact with sponsors and to promote fundraisers. They do not post from their account often, but rather people , and celebrities post about them frequently. St. Jude partners with the National Basketball Association for fundraisers and events. St. Jude shares pictures of their patients that are both joyous and heartbreaking. They are minimalistic in posts, but very appropriate for their purpose, which is to spread awareness and raise operating funds. Sometimes you don’t have to say a lot to get your point across.
Picture 8 is a picture of a St. Jude cancer patient.
Superheroes to Kids in Ohio
uperheroes to Kids in Ohio is a local nonprofit organization that travels to area hospitals and events dressed as various superheroes to help support sick children. I follow this group on Facebo ok. The group posts pictures regularly that are moving and heartwarming; it is awesome to see the faces of the children that they visit. They use Facebo ok to spread awareness and as a way to connect with families who have sick children. They don’t use Facebo ok as a means for fundraising for their organization. They post articles about sick children and news about their upcoming appearances. This group is focused on making sick children’s dreams come true. Over the past month, their Facebo ok page has grown by 30 people—they now have 462 followers.
Picture 9 is a photo of the Superheroes that visit sick children.
here are many different needs that companies and individuals meet through social media. Some of the most important things to keep in mind when launching your social media campaign are: • Know your customer: Keep your posts and tips geared to the needs of the clients you are serving. • Be open and honest: Not everyone who comes to your site is going to gush about how great you are and post happy comments. You are going to have to address concerns in a professional and transparent way. • Be real: Your posts don’t have to be all business. Take some time to try to connect with your followers in a personal way. • Be creative: Try to increase your following in new and creative ways. Include some giveaways and contests as a part of your campaign if it’s appropriate for your business. • Be interactive: Allowing your customers to interact with your company creates a channel for much needed two-way communication. Be available to respond to your customers. There are many different ways to run your social media accounts. As we have read, politicians do it in a less personal way, but their following seems to grow rapidly. Ellen’s Facebo ok page is light and funny; her following increases rapidly as well. Smaller companies and organizations focus on highlighting their products and are more responsive to customer feedback. Some entities that are facing uncertainty (as in the career of Browns’ player Josh Cribbs) or unaddressed customer complaints (Giant Eagle) tend to lose followers. But no matter how you lo ok at it, the need for a well planned and strategic social media presence is growing. Whether you are an individual lo oking for new employment or a large company lo oking to gain market share, social media is a to ol to help you reach your goals.
Deckers, Erik, and Kyle Lacy. Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. Indianapolis: Que Pub., 2013. Print.