5 Companies Who Lead the Way in Social Media

Social Media…a not so new concept, yet one which can still allude many brands if they do not strategize their content appropriately for each channel in regards to how it fits their brand. But we’re not here to criticize, we’re here to learn from the ones who take advantage of social media and elevate their brand to another level.

Victoria’s Secret converted to the new Timeline ahead of the curve and wow does that timeline grab your attention. With over 18 million fans and over 200 thousand people talking about the brand…you have to take a second glance (not just for the pictures). The brand took advantage of the picturesque platform, made it interactive for fans to engage with the contact, offer coupons, notify consumers of real-time sales, and more. It captivates not only the female audience but the male audience to imagine, dream, and bring to reality what could be. The story has been unfolded, and the brand fully utilized Facebook Timeline to do so.

Social Media Case Study: Victoria Secret was ahead of the curve with Facebook’s timelineTwitter
Zappos may be an obvious win here…but perhaps it’s because they really do take their brand marketing to heart. The brand has been humanized by their CEO, Tony Hsieh, who lets his own personality shine through the brand name. How many CEOs do you know who take the time to do such, especially through social media?

Blendtec, demonstrates with 190 million views and 400 thousand subscribers, that even a blender can be entertaining. Who knew?! The brand took a brave yet awesome take with social content…they leveraged humor and experimentation to make their videos fun to watch and create a viral effect. I am impressed by their leverage of humor, as it is way easier said than done. Would you blend your iPhone? Watch them do it instead!

Early adopters

Burberry, a brand known for evoking desire and lust for fashion, transcends their fashion leadership to the social sphere. They adopt early, and adopt well. While doing research a while back for the Google Plus brand pages, I saw that Burberry was one of the first to take advantage of the channel and demonstrate it could bring style and allure even to a channel that was too new to be adopted by most at that time. My favorite part? The GIFs used for the images…catches your eye before you even get to the heart of the content.

Keeping it local

Four seasons known for its luxury and decadence, takes a simple and relaxed approach to its social endeavor. The brand chose to simplify and localize its Twitter and Facebook channels. There is a fan page and twitter account dedicated to individual hotel locations in order to optimize the care needed for local guests and the language in each region/city. Luxury care simplified for local effort.


It’s about a few things:

1. Listen for the latest greatest ‘shiny toys’

2. Don’t just jump in to all of the social channels; Gauge which channels are going to best fit your overall content strategy and help to amplify it

3. Use social media to augment your marketing efforts in a real-time, community driven effort

4. Humanize the brand

5. Show your consumers you are there for what they need; not what you need

6. Make it fun; see: Blendtec example

Note: This post was originally written for Socialnomics and can also be found here

Additional Information:


5 Ways to Sell Social Media Internally

Unfortunately, not all organizations/offices/companies are ready to jump on the social media bandwagon. There are still places of business which are hesitant to have a social presence on platforms such as Twitter and believe it is a waste of time and not worth the effort for their brand. So how do we get the CMO and other management on board? Is it possible to not have every blog post and/or Tweet reviewed by legal? It is definitely a battle for some offices, but not impossible. Here are some suggestions to help you persuade your office management that social media isn’t something to avoid, but something to embrace…

1. Internal Communication: With some places of business it may be best to ease into social media with an internal social system first. That way the management can see that social media is valuable for engagement and how it is not a threat, but useful. For example, Yammer – an internal communication tool for companies (used at many companies including Groupon, claims to be as simple to use as Facebook and Twitter. It includes microblogging, profiles, direct messaging, and other useful work tools. Thus, Yammer allows the ease of external social media but keeps items private to the company interaction only. Hopefully with an internal start, a push towards external use will be less difficult. For pricing info, view packages here, which include Basic for Free and Enterprise for $5/user/month.

2. Social Media Policy: When easing your company towards external social media a social media policy may help in order to ease the stress factors of upper management and the legal team. Items to consider in this policy include the following:

a) Purpose of using the social media platforms

b) Cite name and sources when relevant/necessary

c) Do not share confidential information about the company and/or clients/consumers

d) Exercise good judgment when sharing content

e) Be respectful

Of course there can be more specifics, but this a good start to ensure that using social media will not mean falling off a cliff. The use of social media would be to benefit the company by demonstrating to their target audience who the brand is, what the brand is capable of, and how the target audience should want to engage and be a part of the community the brand is building.

3. Social Media Plan and Involvement: Putting heads together and coming up with a social media plan/strategy would be helpful in order to ensure that blog content, shared posts, and Tweets are all on topic and relevant to where the company is hoping to be and heading. It will reassure management that there is a purpose and set of goals rather than randomly posting content. And a part of this plan, many companies include higher-up management such as CMOs and CEOs to be involved in the customer engagement such as Tweeting. Consumers have more respect for a brand when a higher-up is taking part in the conversation. For example, Zappos is a great example. The @zappos Twitter account is the CEO who Tweets on a regular basis with a mixture of professionally related items and personal – to show he is in fact just another person (humanizing the brand) and is willing to follow and chat with consumers. Then, of course, there is also @zappos_service which handles all the consumer service issues, questions and comments specifically. I think this is a great technique to show the brand is not just a name, but personable, and cares about each consumer. Higher-Ups and social media teams should use this as a possible model when putting together their social media plan because social media strategy is a part of marketing strategy, which is a part of the business strategy, which is how a business is successful. I think Zappos is showing us how success is more than tangible when you put in the effort.

4. Community Manager: Designating a specific community manager to be in charge would be key. That way this specific person would be the one in charge of ensuring: (1) valuable content is on the blog; (2) posts on Facebook and Twitter are on point; (3) comments (whether negative/positive) regarding the company brand are being “heard” and responded to in a timely manner. Therefore an experienced social media expert would be positioned to assist with the success of marketing for the company, and able to report to the head of marketing with success factors, issues, and potential growth. Just like any other department in a company, a specialized expert is helpful to ensure things run smoothly.

5. Email Marketing: It is helpful to use email marketing as a tool to help the launch of social sites for your company. For example, you want the people who subscribe to your newsletter and/or people in your email list to be aware of your presence – whether on your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other social platform. For example, MailChimp is a great tool to design your emails, and more importantly, track the success of your emails that went out. Did people open it? How many times? When? Etc. It’s a very useful tool for sending out bulk emails to make an announcement, such as your new social platform launch and/or just to spread  other cool news and company updates to your audience. Then you can also track the success of those who opened the email and then went to your Facebook page and “liked” the page, among other things. A great way to show management, that this easy way to spread brand awareness is not an option anymore, it is critical for companies to be involved or fall behind.

Although it may be difficult to get some higher-up management on the social path, it is definitely worth the effort. Whether you start out with an internal social network to show the ease of use, demonstrate the caution that can be used (without restricting or restraining) via a social media policy, explain the plan of attack that will be utilized (hopefully with the CMO/CEO taking part in some way), and/or designate a community manager who knows how to handle social media like he or she knows the back of his/her hand — social media can be implemented in even the most conservative places of business. Just look at law firms, who used to avoid it, and now embrace it. Best of luck implementing social media in your workplace, and when you do, do not forget to promote it, whether via MailChimp or another useful marketing tool.

How to: Use Twitter for Customer Service

Companies today realize (or are realizing) that customer service is more than the in-person and over-the-phone help that it once was. Today, your brand has the free tools available to help  in “real-time” and prove to your current and future consumers that your customer service rocks and you truly care for each consumer on an individual basis. Want to be the next Zappos with their witty and real-time quality customer service via Twitter? Keep reading!

Zappos has shown its consumers that each one will receive the care and service they deserve. As seen from the image above, “@xtraRegularRyan” had a convo with @zappos_service on Twitter after a purchase was received. This conversation after the fact demonstrates that the consumer was not only pumped but ecstatic to share this news. Could that be a loyal consumer? I think so!

As Frank Eliason commented in Social Media Examiner, “Be human about it. Let your team service your customers. Let them do what they do well and allow them to be who they are.” That’s exactly what Zappos does on Twitter– the customer service teams not only assists customers with what they need, but they have an actual conversation with them – whether it’s about “growing a mustache” or whatever suits your fancy — being “human” is key to building a customer relationship with your brand and maintaining it.

What tools can help?

Hootsuite: Keep track of what your consumers are saying on yourcomputer or while you’re running from meeting to meeting via iPad or smartphone.Hootsuite allows your company to manage Twitter and other applications on a simple platform where you can monitor multiple conversations/accounts at once. Afraid of a consumer question or request getting lost — Hootsuite helps you keep keep it organized! (p.s. Also integrated with Zendesk!) Hootsuite has 2 pricing plans: Basic = Free: Pro = $5.99/month

Zendesk: A web-based service to help you engage with your consumers in a simple and effective way. It has Twitter integration which allows you to connect easily with your consumers/tweeps (we really need a Twitter word for consumers….). You would be emailed and can accordingly manage customer service requests in order to respond more efficiently – whether you answer yourself or have another member of your team do so. A great tool to make sure your customers are kept happy because you can respond to each request rather than getting lost in your inbox. Zendesk has a Free Trial with 3 pricing plans: Starter: $9/month; Regular: $24/month; Plus: $49/month.

MarketMeSuite: is more than just a social media marketing dashboard forTwitter and other apps. It allows you to have unlimited accounts, schedule tweets, focus on following and unfollowing the right users, geolocation, among many other fun options.  MarketMeSuite has 3 pricing plans: $5.99/month; $59.99 a year; $99.00 (pay once for lifetime).

CoTweet allows you to focus on specific conversations so you know when is best to respond; track exchanges and assign them to certain departments (like Zappos who has a customer service twitter account, @zappos_service,  separate from the regular zappos account, @zappos) in your company so you can ensure that your brand “humanizes” its engagement and you can even include signatures so you know who’s responding (aka stay organized). CoTweet has a standard version for free and an enterprise offering for $1500/month.

p.s. Both MarketMeSuite and CoTweet integrate with Zendesk too!

Radian6: Known to power the likes of Dell and others in assisting their community listening, engaging and monitoring needs. Radian6 helps companies keep track of what’s being asked and said in an organized manner in order to ease the process of answering and commenting to your consumers on a regular basis. In addition, Radian6‘s Engagement Console allows you to listen more efficiently and has a sweet interface too! Radian6 asks you to Register for a Demo before getting pricing details.

Valuevine: A nifty tool to listen to what consumers are saying about your brand and also share promotions with target consumers. Has helped retailers realize the importance of Twitter and Facebook in social media marketing and the ease and use of both in listening and engaging with their target consumer. Valuevine asks you torequest a demo before receiving pricing information.

Tools such as Radian6, CoTweet, and ValueVine are great Social CRM tools for your company to utilize. What is Social CRM exactly? Many social media experts have their own versions for this definition, but here’s a great simple explanation– It is CRM for the social customer. The customer who is “savvy” and gets his or her information via the social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, your company must be “savvy” as well and be able to engage he or she on those channels by listening, conversing, and monitoring. Tools like the ones above assist with keeping track of conversations so you have a better handle on responding to the customers’ needs and can also get to know each customer more personally by having a record of what social platforms they are on and what they are commenting and questioning.

Here are two more Social CRM tools at your disposal:

BantamLive is a contact management system plus Twitter client that also allows for Social CRM in order to track and engage contacts on social platforms. The tool has many integrations including Twitter, Google Apps, and others. It even includes some light project management features appropriate for small businesses. The best part of this tool though is its ease to keep track of your leads on the social platforms, get details about them and then engage each in a personal manner. And as we know, each consumer wants to be treated in a personal and unique manner.  BantamLive has a Free Trial and 5 Pricing Plans: Personal for $19/month up to $140/month for a deluxe business plan.

Sprout Social: Their tagline is “turning social connections into loyal customers.” What company wouldn’t want “loyal customers?” The tools appears to cater toward the smaller brands and agencies who want a tool that is a bit more affordable. In addition, Sprout Social helps to organize your social networks in one easy to access place, helps organize messages by current and potential customers in order to respond and engage in real-time, and helps you measure your social reach and potential success with your target clients. Awesome!  Sprout Social has a Free Trial and 2 Pricing Plans: $9/month for Personal and $49/month for Business.

As Lars Asbjornsen, VP of Online Marketing of Robert Half International stated: “Social media can alert you to customer-service complaints before you heard them in traditional channels. And that’s how most CFOs are using social media. Ignore the customer complaints on social media at your company’s peril.”

So, “listen up”, “respond well” and in “real-time!”