All of the major social media channels are utilized by the International Spa Association. The ISPA posted a range of content on its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and blog platform prior to the International SPA Association 2013 Conference & Expo, during the event and a bit after the event. I could see the semblance of a strategy being utilized prior to the event to get people excited about attending. Blogs were written and photos were posted that focused on packing, arriving and setting up the event.
During the event, only Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were utilized. This is typical behavior because they are the platforms that can be posted to easily while on the expo floor. After the expo ended, there was little in the way of wrap up content.
Prior to the show, the ISPA made a lot of Facebook posts. It started even prior to the month of October. It was promoting booth numbers, conference guide, expo app etc. Within a week of the event blog posts were being promoted, Instagram photos were being shared, registration information highlighted and of course ticket promotions. There was only one sponsor message that I saw and it was made weeks prior to the event.
The ISPA shared a ton of information during the expo and I almost felt it was too much. A lot of its updates could’ve been consolidated or been used only on Twitter. Facebook isn’t a platform where people want to see a lot of posts in one day and it went overboard. There were 13 posts the first day. I think there was a lack of strategy for Facebook and the ISPA felt it had to post everything on this platform. The type of posts it was making centered on events they were hosting at the expo, silent auction information and award recipients.
After the expo ended, the ISPA used Facebook to post a few wrap up messages. A few different tactics were utilized. One message focused on wishing people safe travels and it received the most comments post event. Another great post encouraged attendees to continue talking about the expo on Instagram using the event hashtag. Asking for engagement usually provides better results. It also thanked its sponsors with a general message.
My biggest complaint would be the lack of images. The only images being used were those fed in through Instagram. All of the other posts were texts and links and that is all very boring. That doesn’t spark engagement or draw attention. Photo galleries could’ve been created from events and booths that were participating in the expo. Those photos would’ve been shared by the companies featured for additional promotion. Hashtags were also only used through half of the posts. It wasn’t very consistent with the messaging.
The messages being pushed out on Twitter were the same as Facebook. ISPA must’ve linked the two. The only addition to Twitter was retweets throughout each day. It did a great job of interacting that way. The posts consisted of event information, asking questions and promoting award winners. The only way a booth was promoted was through a retweet.
Prior to the expo, there were ticket messages, photos from Instagram and a lot of see your soon messages. I think reaching out to attendees was a real strength to get them excited to attend the expo and encourage them to spread the message.
The ISPA kept up the same tactic during the event. It utilized the hashtag consistently and asked questions. I wish there would’ve been more product and booth promotion. I’m not sure the companies that had booths got much out of the ISPA’s promotions, other than a few retweets.
After the event a few tweets were sent out by the ISPA. They were consistent with the messages also going up on Facebook. Hashtags were prominent to help continue to drive impressions around the event as it wrapped up.
The ISPA utilized Instagram well. Prior to the show it focused on event planning, packing and set up. The pre-show photos received a lot more interaction than anything during the show. It was a great way to get attendees excited for what lied ahead. A big positive was it utilized the conference hashtag in each post and set it up so the photos automatically posted to Facebook and Twitter.
I don’t think this platform was utilized very well during the show. Booths and products could’ve been highlighted in a way to send traffic to that booth. Most of what it focused on during the show was the silent auction, exercising and a final night party. Its offerings were slim and the content it had at its fingertips during the conference wasn’t utilized. A big opportunity was missed to urge others to use the same hashtag and share attendee photos. Also nothing has been posted since the show.
I felt the ISPA utilized its blog in a fun way before the show. It created two posts that focused on what to pack for the expo. This was great content that was promoted through most of its other social platforms. A week before the event, no other content was posted. I understand it would be hard to write a blog while busy at the event but posts could’ve been preplanned or it could’ve asked for guest bloggers to contribute.
The ISPA’s Pinterest page hasn’t received much attention in regard to the Expo that was taking place. Two videos and two blogs were pinned to its page prior to the event but that was it. I don’t know that Pinterest is an easy platform to utilize for a live event but there could’ve been a few more ideas utilized. They could’ve pinned images of the resort where the expo was taking place or pinned the products being showcased at the expo. A bit more attention should be paid to this space moving forward.
When it comes to YouTube, ISPA isn’t doing much of anything. There was one video prior to the show that could be considered event promotion. It was a chairman’s update. It would’ve been very hard for ISPA to film videos at the conference, edit them and get them posted to YouTube. Maybe it utilized this year’s expo to gather new video feature content that it can use heading into 2014 and promoting the next expo.
In regard to integrated marketing communications, the ISPA carried consistent images and messaging across its social media platforms, website and blog. I found the magazine it creates called Pulse and an Exposure Guide that was an extension of its expo campaigns, contributing to IMC.
It maintained consistent images and messaging through social media by tying the platforms together. All Instagram images were pushed to Twitter and Facebook. The posts made to Facebook and Twitter were the same and most likely were only being made once but pushed to both platforms.
It also doesn’t do a great job of promoting other social media platforms from each other. The only platform I saw promoted from another area of social media was Instagram.
The highlight for me from all the posts was the way the ISPA promoted its initial planning blog posts throughout its social media platforms. It took its blog content and utilized it on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. It was content that attendees could benefit from.
If I worked on Disney’s Animal Kingdom social media accounts, here are the type of posts I’d plan out for the month of December. My goal would be to continue to grow social media engagement during a time when people are overwhelmed and consumed by the holidays.
(If a photo is present it will be applied to both Facebook and Twitter.)
Facebook – Do you have a case of the Mondays? It would be going a lot better if you were at Animal Kingdom. #NapTime #AnimalKingdom
Twitter – Our lion has a case of the Mondays too. #Rawr
Tuesday, December 3rd
Facebook – It’s time for Trivia Tuesday! What animal do you think Disney Imagineers took to a meeting with executives to reassure them of the up-close excitement that was being designed for Animal Kingdom? #TriviaTuesday
Twitter – What animal was used to bring excitement to a meeting about building Animal Kingdom? Tweet us your answer. #TriviaTuesday #AnimalKingdom
Facebook – Trivia Tuesday! Ever wondered where all of your recycled containers go at Disney? Well, quite a few milk jugs ended up in Animal Kingdom. Through Disney’s “green” efforts, the benches in the park are made of the recycled material. Next time you take a seat at #AnimalKingdom. Think about what you’re sitting on. #TriviaTuesday
Twitter – Benches made out of recycled material. That’s what Disney and Animal Kingdom do best. #GoGreen #TriviaTuesday
In 2011, Time.com listed CafeMom as one of 50 Websites That Make the Web Great and said, “According to CafeMom, the ‘Café’ in its name stands for conversation, advice, friendship and entertainment. That may be (an acronym), but it’s also a good summary of the site’s appeal. Most of what goes on here focuses on the conversation, advice and friendship part: moms helping moms using features such as a Q&A service and thousands of discussion groups on everything from money and finances to religion and spirituality.”
CafeMom is a very diverse social platform that can be categorized in several different ways. It has features which make it a social network because users can create profiles and build a network of friendship similar to Facebook. Dr. Michael Wu said in Content vs. Social Network, “In a social network, people are held together by pre-established interpersonal relationships, such as kinship, friendship, classmates, colleagues, business partners, etc.”
A content community is a platform that has users coming together for a common interest. That interest for CafeMom would be parenting. “Clearly people join the community because they care about this common interest that glues the community members together,” Wu said. “Some stay because they felt the urge to contribute to the cause; others come because they can benefit from being part of the community.” There’s content being created by the network and by the community. It all relates back to the common theme of mom but can be segmented out into many different areas.
This article title on SocialMediaToday.com says it best, ‘Content’ or ‘Community’? People Come For Content And Stay For Community Online. That’s probably how CafeMom pulls in a lot of its users. They find the content being produced on the site and once they get there, the community keeps them coming back. Vanessa DiMauro went on to say in the article, “Content is important because it attracts new users to visit the community and inspires them to join. They see a piece of content they would like to have, they see topics that are of particular interest to them, or they spot a discussion that makes them feel like they have found a peer group.”
CafeMom was formed in 2006 by Michael Sanchez and Andrew Shue. According to HowStuffWorks.com, CafeMom started with blogs, articles and message boards. An affiliate sponsor program for user product reviews has been in place since the beginning. In the past seven years, CafeMom has blossomed into an all-inclusive mom community. Its family of properties now includes MamásLatinas.com, TheStir.com and TheProwl.com.
Who is using CafeMom and how often?
It’s no secret, CafeMom is targeted at mothers and mothers-to-be. Mothers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. CafeMom.com’s About section states that it receives 20MM users every month across all of its properties. The Huffington Post reported in May 2013 that the site receives more than eight million unique visitors a month to CafeMom.com.
The obvious growth has been in the platforms CafeMom continues to launch. In January 2012, CafeMom went after the Latina community by launching MamásLatinas, a bilingual website to serve Hispanic mothers. The most recent addition was The Prowl, a social shopping destination, in August 2013.
Heather Huhman in a Huffington Post article said the following, “It has raised a total of $17 million in venture funding, and is valued at over $150 million. Keep your eye on this startup as it continues to impact the way mothers keep in touch.”
What CafeMom has to offer
The social networking side of CafeMom allows users to create profile pages which are as elaborate as a user would like them to be. There are options to add friends along the way and join specific groups. Private messaging and an instant messaging system can be used to communicate within the platform. A user’s activity is easily tracked so they can quickly return to certain posts and keep up with the conversation.
CafeMom’s community boards are an area where moms post questions and comments and other moms respond. There are topic groups for everything you can imagine: kids, recipes, sex, cleaning, entertaining and a whole lot more. There are communities you can join for the month and year your baby was born. This allows a mom to connect with other moms who have children at the same stage in life.
There’s an events and giveaways area where contests are run by brands to win prizes. An advice area offers up topics which start with pregnancy and go all the way through teens. Along with the content in this area comes real mom advice.
According to Mashable’s article 6 Valuable Social Networks for Parents, there’s a bit of game mechanics in CafeMom. Points are awarded for asking questions, replying to others as well as the option to give points out to those who respond to you. As points are earned, the user’s level increases and badges are earned.
CafeMom Studios is the video portion of the site. There are more than 25 different shows which range from topics of beauty, healthy living, holidays, home and parenting. New videos for each show are added frequently. The hosts have a wide range of talents and include doctors, mommy bloggers and a reality TV celebrity.
CafeMom has added a few other platforms to its family. The Stir is a very active news area where articles are posted daily about hot topics which can range from anything about parenting to celebrities and politics. MamásLatinas was an area developed for Hispanic moms so they can connect in their native language of Spanish as well as consume content specific to them. Brands can specifically target this area, assuming the area fits their market.
An influencer program is offered on CafeMom. The site finds influential moms and recommends them to brands to complete product reviews, which are then featured on CafeMom. There’s no way to specifically sign up. Moms are targeted based on writing ability and being an influencer on the site. The key to getting picked is to be active on the community, write well, show interest in topics related to advertisers and be patient. Moms are not paid for the reviews but they do receive free products to test.
“Moms can sniff bullshit a mile away,” says Sanchez to BusinessInsider.com when explaining why using mom reviews to promote advertisers’ products work. “We tell advertisers what’s going to work with moms. And if a mom writes a bad review, it’s ok. If some of the moms don’t like it, chances are someone else will jump in and defend the product. It all tends to balance out.”
There are 10 areas of the site which large brands sponsor.For instance, Inside the Kitchen is sponsored by Reynolds Wrap. This landing page consists of a branded page for Reynolds Wrap, user generated recipes, discussion boards, aggregated content areas, Reynolds Wrap social media and a Reynolds Wrap discount coupon. Another area similar to this one is First Time Moms and it is sponsored by Baby Orajel.
How CafeMom works
The way this social network works is up to the users and how they want to engage. There’s enough content on the site that users could just browse and consume what they are interested in. If users are compelled by the social aspect of the community, they can post to the message boards and create a network of friends to engage with.
What’s in it for a brand?
CafeMom strives to be a place for both readers and advertisers. “When we started out early on, we thought we could build something symbiotic between brands and content,” says Shue to BusinessInsider.com. “Getting the moms involved was one of the smartest early decisions we made. Just being a media company wouldn’t have been enough. But if you can figure out how to get other moms to spread your message, you’re going to score points. And advertisers will pay for that kind of direct involvement.”
A brand that wants to target moms should place serious consideration on CafeMom. There are several options for brands to get involved. It can sponsor an area of content and have its own landing page. The content would tie directly in the brand for a seamless integration. Within that space advertisements can run, social integration can be in place and promotions can be utilized.
Another area of interest for a brand is the influencer program. This allows a brand to provide a user with its product for free. It in turn gets a review, positive or negative, and it is promoted on the site. Reviews from real moms are why women flock to this site. They want to know what products have been tested and are liked. The site is full of influencers who can steer other users in different product directions.
Advertising is included all over the site. If a brand doesn’t want to fully integrate with the content, it can purchase advertising space. Lastly, a brand should monitor the discussion boards to gather data. Its product could be discussed and the brand has potential to receive real feedback. It could also gain insight into reviews on competitors and in general find out what its target audience of moms wants. The site is full of consumer insights waiting to be utilized by brands. The hard part is figuring out where within the site this information is posted.
Integrating Social Media
CafeMom knows the importance of having a presence on other social channels, even when it’s a social network. It has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest. Conversations happen outside of its platform and CafeMom wouldn’t want to miss out on what is being said. The other social channels provide a way to extend conversation and then drive traffic back to CafeMom.
What CafeMom is lacking is synergy between the platforms. It is not taking full advantage of having an integrated marketing communications plan. Each channel is being used to mostly push messaging. Engagement would increase if CafeMom took a deeper look into how it should be utilizing each social media platform.
Its Facebook page is being used as a website traffic driver. All the posts I saw were links back to its website. CafeMom is picking articles which will grab attention and produce a lot of comment engagement. The positive side to its posts was the headlines. Text was used that made a user want to read the article. The downside to each post was a lackluster visual. Facebook should be about having a conversation and CafeMom is lacking in this area. It generates engagement by posting controversial articles but doesn’t join in on the conversation. I also found it posted way too many times a day and its engagement may suffer because of it.
CafeMom’s Twitter account mirrored its Facebook tactic of driving traffic back to its website. There wasn’t much engagement besides a few retweets. When it comes to Google+, CafeMom has forgotten it has a presence in this space. The last update was in mid-July. My guess is the little engagement it was getting wasn’t worth the time posting to the platform.
Pinterest and YouTube are two social platforms I feel CafeMom is utilizing well. On Pinterest it posts content that will be in popular searched categories. Mashable.com reported in 2012 that the most popular categories on Pinterest are related to home, arts and crafts and fashion. CafeMom put a focus on visuals which is extremely important. The descriptions it uses for each pin could use some work to grab attention and a focus needs to be made on keywords to help with search ability.
CafeMom is fully utilizing YouTube by posting all of its video content on the platform. Its page is very well organized. With YouTube being the second most popular search engine, this is a smart move. TheBlaze.com said in March 2013 that YouTube has one billion people visiting its site each month. Every brand that has video needs to utilize YouTube.
Click photos below to open a photo gallery of social media post examples.
Moms are constantly on the go. CafeMom knows how important it is to have a mobile friendly website. The site can be utilized while waiting in a child’s car pool line or when roaming the grocery store looking for ingredients for that evening’s dinner. When visiting CafeMom on a mobile phone you are taken to its mobile website. There is a full site option in the footer for those users who are more comfortable with the full site. The full site also functions well on a mobile device. I could not find an iPhone app.
A business might cringe at the thought of adding another social network to its already growing list of sites to update. If a business is using the mainstream social media platforms for business purposes, it is going to have to wade through a lot of information each time just to get to the business pieces. Industry specific social networks can be the answer. Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk said on SocialMediaToday.com, “Industry-specific social networking sites allow you to interact with professionals from your industry exclusively and are focused on news and events that affect your business directly.”
Biznik is a social network geared towards independent business owners. I love its tagline, the social network that “doesn’t suck.” Biznik focuses on business owners connecting with other business owners and side stepping the hard sell and self-promotion. It wants users to connect with other users who can show support and give advice, because running a business alone is not easy.
The platform lets the user pick a local community. It will show how many people are in the area and what industry category they fall into. Biznik offers a pretty standard profile page and makes connecting with other members easy. Users can write articles, comment on articles and join and form groups. The special feature I found to Biznik is it offers real events where members can meet and take their online connection into the real world.
I wasn’t able to join Biznik and test it out because it requires a fee. The site does provide plenty of supporting materials to help users make the decision to join. On Biznik.com I found the following reason listed as to why Biznik is unique. “Permeating all public interaction, is the 95/5 Principle that limits blatant self-promotion and sales to 5% of the content on the site and inside events. This is not a place to find customers, it’s a place to pass referrals, and be a source of opportunities, new ideas and support.” It’s important for members to feel they will be joining a quality platform for their money and this promise to limit the sales pitch is great.
TJ McCue reviewed Biznik on Smallbiztrends.com and gave his insight on the platform, since he’s been a member since 2008. Two features McCue really liked are the events that bring the space into the real world and the profile that is optimized for SEO. He claims it has provided a number of sales for his business.
The message being shared for a business on Biznik probably wouldn’t work for the main social media platforms, since this is geared towards business relationships. LinkedIn could tie in well with IMC efforts, as similar messages for business could be shared on both.
Local businesses in general definitely need to be a part of proximity marketing. When it comes to incorporating proximity marketing into Biznik, I think the area to focus on is the events. Users could check-in when attending the real world functions and that would provide promotion to those users’ followers. That promotion could lead to new users signing up.
While I don’t see Biznik becoming one of the main social platforms people use, I do see it being extremely popular with business owners. In 2009 Mashable listed it on their Top 10 Social Networks for Entreprenuers. With it being industry specific, it isn’t going to resonate with the mainstream population enough to compete with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Consumers have a wide range of media channels where they can come in contact with a brand. For brands to be successful they need to utilize each platform based on one strategy called integrated marketing communication. The American Marketing Association stresses that to build brand equity consumers need to be delivered the right message at the right time in the right place. The IMC plan must have consistent messaging across all channels. Follow along as I take a look at three different brands and see if they are utilizing IMC and social media in an effective way.
KIA MOTORS AMERICA
Kia Motors America can be found in all the primary social media spaces. They are certainly putting an integrated marketing communications plan into action through advertising, emails, trade shows, social media etc. These are the social platforms I looked at for Kia: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. They use consistent imagery on all the platforms. The messaging is also consistent but it is tailored to the specific channel as well. The biggest difference I saw with Kia was their Google+ page didn’t utilize their red color scheme. I don’t know the limitations of Google+ to know if changing the color isn’t possible.
Kia does a great job updating content. Posts are published at least once a day on most channels. There weren’t many days that they missed and they kept the content to a minimum to not overload their followers. There’s not a hard rule about how often to post but it is important for each brand to figure out how much content their followers will tolerate. Socialbakers.com suggests that brands only post once a day on Facebook and shows that most top brands stick to that on average.
Kia is very good at incorporating hashtags across all of the social media platforms. Most of the hashtags pertain to specific content. The only consistent hashtags that I could find dealt with their specific car brands. I didn’t find that Kia linked its social channels to each other very well. On Facebook they had a tab for Instagram and Pinterest and that was all I could find.
CHILI’S GRILL & BAR
Chili’s Grill & Bar is a very popular chain restaurant. While I found them in all the main social media spaces, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest, I’m not sure they understand how to utilize a fully integrated marketing communications plan. They lack the consistent messaging and imagery. Colors schemes and logos are consistent but different posts are happening in different places at different times. I wouldn’t say that their tactic is fatal but they should look at being more consistent and building a plan to talks about their brand in the same way.
Chili’s spends a lot of time focusing on Facebook and Twitter and doesn’t put a lot of time and effort into Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. Posts on those last three channels weren’t made consistently. I’m not sure they’ve figured out the right kind of content for Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest. Their imaginative ideas are lacking. Hashtags are only used on their Twitter and Instagram posts and they aren’t being used for tracking purposes. The hashtags I saw were for entertainment instead of a measurement purpose. The only social platform that connected their followers to the other social media channels was Facebook. It had a tab for Twitter. Chili’s has a long way go in harnessing social media in the right way.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARSThe Jacksonville Jaguars might not be having a great season but they are fully utilizing the benefits an IMC plan. They have a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest. I was disappointed to see that they had only switched two of their social media channels to show their pink Breast Cancer Awareness Month logo and the others still were utilizing their normal branding. Besides that all the messaging and imagery are consistent. I was pleasantly surprised by their level of strategy.
The Jaguars do a great job of keeping all of their social media channels up to date and you’ll see a few posts a day on each. Almost all of the posts coordinate so that their follows see a consistency no matter where they are consuming the information. Hashtags are used frequently and in the right ways. I find their content to be very creative and engaging.
Out of all three companies I researched, the Jaguars did the best at connecting their social channels. On Facebook they had a tab for Instagram as well as a Social League tab that held a social feed. Their Twitter background was utilized effectively by listing out their social channels.
If I had to assign a grade to each company Kia would be rated the highest at an A+ but the Jaguars aren’t far behind with a solid A. Unfortunately Chili’s did not impress me and they will get a C for their effort.