JENNIFER KEIRN portraits by ERIC MULL
TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 2,500+ FACEBOOK LIKES: 9,400+
Heinen’s, @heinens Social status
“Start out by listening, … try to help where you can, and you can build up a following by being a subject expert.”
Does the crush of social media options have you ready to fly the coop? Have no fear. We’ll show you how to cut through the clutter, build a loyal following and ... yes, even increase sales.
INSIDE BUSINESS | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011
new line of Two Brothers gelato and sorbet was about to hit stores. The challenge: Get customers to try them, push advance sales with coupons, and figure out the in-demand flavors so buyers would be ready with inventory. And do it quickly. So Heinen’s e-marketing specialist Liz Lewis created a Facebook poll of flavor options — gelato choices such as coconut, Nutella and raspberry with chocolate chips — and encouraged people to head to stores for samples with exclusive coupons. More than 100 fans participated in that first survey, which showed coconut as the favorite. It’s a methodology Heinen’s now uses nearly every time it launches a new product, says marketing director Kathryn Falls, adding that participation numbers have increased with each successive poll. Falls explains it’s as much about allowing devoted customers to be “in the know” as it is about market research. “It’s using the medium to obtain critical information and let them become involved with us,” says Falls, who declined to share sales figures of the gelato line. Early in Heinen’s social media involvement, Lewis says she asked the store’s fans and followers: What can we provide that will be useful to you? They wanted to be the first to know about new products. They wanted to know not only what the stores are carrying, but also how to use it in their home kitchens. They wanted to know the behind-the-scenes stories from their favorite grocery store. “It was early on,” says Lewis, “but [those responses] are the stuff we still use today.” Although Lewis is Heinen’s official voice on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, she’s not the only voice. A produce manager might jump in with a favorite applesauce recipe, a cheese expert to answer a wine pairing question, or a local farmer to tell Heinen’s customers about his latest harvest. Lewis is responsible for educating those who post on Heinen’s behalf, says Falls, with a reminder that what they say and do reflects on the Heinen’s brand. The 82-year-old grocery chain also taps into its rich history to endear fans through social media. Last year, Lewis posted photos of the original Heinen’s from the 1930s and 1940s, and dozens of Facebook fans jumped in with memories from the grocery’s olden days. “This comes under the category of fun,” says Falls. IBMAG.COM
Flo Maxed |
Progressive, @progressive Flo, @itsflo
TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 8,800+/4,700+ FACEBOOK LIKES: 34,000+/3.2 million+
Social status “People used to sit in a coffee shop and tell their friends about you. Now, we have an opportunity we didn’t have before to hear what people are saying about us.”
usan Rouser started picking up on the chatter last fall. People were talking online about dressing like Flo — Progressive’s perky and persistent advertising icon — for Halloween, complete with apron, headband and blue Chuck Taylors. In that run-up to last Halloween, Flo had about 600,000 Facebook fans (yes, she has her own fan page and Twitter feed), according to Rouser, Progressive’s social media manager and the voice of Flo’s social media presence. But after becoming the season’s hot costume choice, Flo’s fans swelled to more than 2 million in just a few months. “It has nothing to do with insurance, but it’s really fun and strongly branded,” Rouser says. So this year, Rouser and her team decided to keep the enjoyment rolling. The Twitter hashtag #DressLikeFlo got the buzz going, with links to a special page at progressive.com with a 10-step guide to dressing like Flo for Halloween. The page even links to a costume on Amazon and has templates for creating Flo’s name tag and “I ❤ Insurance” button. “We didn’t have goals [for this campaign],” Rouser says. “It was about taking that organic interest and seeing what we could do with it.” Flo’s more than 3.2 million Facebook fans far outnumber other advertising icons such as the Geico Gecko (more than 196,000), and the Aflac Duck (more than 287,500). At press time, Rouser couldn’t offer details of how the Halloween campaign might have benefit-
Follow the Leaders @mashable | “It includes news relevant to the digital space and case studies of companies using social and mobile tools effectively,” says Dix & Eaton’s Christina Klenotic. 48
Make these faux pas, and social media might not be right for you. DESPITE THE BUZZ, social media isn’t for everyone. “It doesn’t disguise who you are; it magnifies who you are on a massive scale,” says John Heaney, brand director of Sparkbase, a Cleveland-based gift and loyalty program servicing company. “You can really damage your reputation [by misusing social media].” If you recognize yourself here, put your hands up and step away from your computer. The bad actors. “If you behave badly and aren’t customer-focused, you should not be active in social media,” says Heaney. The 24/7 salesman. Social media interaction is like a Super Bowl party, says author and web consultant Jim Kukral. “You wouldn’t walk around saying, ‘Buy my book,’ ” he says. The socially unresponsive. Heaney points to United Airlines as a well-known example. “There are enormous numbers of complaints, and they go unanswered,” he says. “If you have no intention of dealing with problems, then you shouldn’t be there.” The casual user. “The worst thing you could do is [sign up for] Twitter, get people following you and then post three times,” says Andy Halko, CEO of Insivia. The me-tooers. “Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to,” says Kelly McGlumphy, account supervisor at Roop & Co. “If the audience you’re trying to reach is not on social media, you don’t need to be there.”
Experts pick their favorite feeds for keeping up on social media trends and strategies.
@scottmonty | This head of social media at Ford Motor Co. offers “insight into social media and how it ties into advertising, marketing and PR,” says Kelly McGlumphy of Roop & Co. “It’s a truly integrated approach.”
INSIDE BUSINESS | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011
ed Progressive, but she insists it’s less about strategy and more about fun. Even Rouser admits that talking about insurance all the time can be, well, boring. But when Flo tweets about how much she loves coffee on National Coffee Day, it’s the kind of silliness that can endear people to your brand. “People want to connect with people,” she says. “No one wants to talk to a logo.”
BEST FACE FORWARD [ Four Facebook pages we ‘like.’ ]
@smexaminer | “It’s narrowly focused … [and] good for keeping up-to-date with the world of social media,” says Pamela Achladis of Mongoose Metrics.
@zappos | This online shoe retailer “commits to Twitter as a marketing communications and customer support channel,” says Benjamin Bykowski of Falls Digital.
@btobmagazine | It focuses narrowly on B2Bs, while “other marketing publications focus more on the big consumer brands,” says Achladis. “We can’t expect to achieve the same numbers as a megabrand like Starbucks.”
Melt | facebook.com/meltbarandgrilled Our beloved hometown grilled-cheese joint has 43,000-plus Facebook fans, and Matt Fish estimates that number grows by 100 a week. Melt has developed customer-facing programs that encourage fans to deliver much of its content, including pictures of Melt tattoos (which earn a 25 percent discount for life) and a fresh flow of testimonials and critiques. Akron-Canton Airport | facebook/akroncantonairport Akron-Canton Airport’s Facebook presence is like finding the perfect seatmate for a cross-country flight. The airport posts fun air-travel polls, runs
contests, chats with first-time visitors and even brags about the newest beer on tap in the airport restaurant. “If we leave a warm feeling with our customers, if price is the same and they’re connected to us, we’re going to get that business,” says CAK’s Kristie VanAuken. Cleveland.com | facebook/clevelandcom Cleveland.com allows visitors to control the information they see in their social media feed using automatic feeds for nearly 100 individual pages on topics ranging from high school sports to Hot in Cleveland. “Someone may be interested in the Cavs but not necessarily interested in news from Strongsville,” says social media producer Al-
Social Butterfly Dim & Den Sum, @dimanddensum Hodge Podge Truck, @hodgepodgetruck
ana Munro. It drives traffic back to Cleveland.com, where visitors can read the whole story and continue the conversation. Cleveland Indians | facebook/indians The Tribe makes its pitch to social media devotees with special invitations to the Social Suite, a loge where fans can post or tweet about the game, and discount offers that increase each time a friend forwards it. “Instead of us saying how fun it is to come to the ballpark, now they’re telling their friends how fun it is,” says communications director Curtis Danburg. As a result, the team has seen a 400 percent increase in traffic to its website from Facebook in the past two years. TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 4,900+/3,000+ FACEBOOK LIKES: 9,300+/6,800+
Social status “If you want people to care about your business, then care about them.”
he face of the city’s food truck scene, Chris Hodgson, had a simple method for generating a social media following during the earliest days of Dim & Den Sum: He visited the Facebook page of Cleveland uber-chef Michael Symon and sent scores of friend requests from his personal Facebook account to Symon’s fans. It was a guerilla marketing move, but one that got Hodgson’s name out there and raised the profile of his then-startup food truck. “I wasn’t worried about blowback,” Hodgson says of piggy-backing on Symon’s fans. He knew the chef and realized his supporters were Dim & Den Sum’s target market. Before starting the food truck in early 2010, Hodgson wasn’t much of a social media guy. “I had 100 Facebook friends, and they were my actual friends,” says Hodgson, who added a second truck, Hodge Podge, this year in conjunction with his appearance on the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race. “Now, I know only about 1 percent of my friends on Facebook.” Since Dim & Den Sum hit the streets, people following the truck’s Twitter feed and liking its Facebook fan page have longsince eclipsed Hodgson’s personal Facebook account. The separate feed and fan page for Hodge Podge Truck isn’t far behind.
“We can’t just have a website,” Hodgson says. “We’re a mobile kind of business.” He tweets his menu and locations. He posts photos of tomorrow’s dishes. He updates followers when he hits delays to his scheduled stops, and he even shares what dishes he’s making for family gatherings. “You talk to people, you hand them their food,” Hodgson says. “My company is all about personal relationships.” And where Chris Hodgson goes, people follow. Like the time this fall when Jennifer Ilgauskas, founder of Rebound Physical Therapy and wife of former Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas, wanted to get people to turn out for the grand opening of her new North Olmsted facility. She asked Hodgson to bring his Dim & Den Sum truck to the opening to help boost traffic. Hodgson tweeted out where he would be that day, and the place was swarmed with nearly 600 devoted Dim & Den Sum customers. Just a year and a half and two successful food truck launches later, Hodgson says he
still hasn’t spent a penny on marketing. Now he’s getting ready to launch a new restaurant and expects to rely just as heavily on his strong social media following. “[Without social media,] I don’t think it would have ever happened,” he says. IBMAG.COM
AS WITH ANY MARKETING tactic, your social media planning should start with a single question: Why? “The big problem with a lot of small- and mediumsized companies is they get infatuated with the disco lights of social media tools,” says Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute. “But they don’t necessarily have a goal.” The word on the lips of every social media pro is engagement — developing a relationship, not a sales contract, between friends and followers.
“It’s called social media for a reason,” says Cleveland.com social media producer Alana Munro. “It’s a two-way street.” And you have to be somebody your audience wants to know. “You have one opportunity to get someone to say, ‘[This is] worth coming back to,’ ” says Halko. Here are three tips from our experts for effective engagement: Pay attention. Social media pro Benjamin Bykowski of Falls Digital recently used Foursquare to check in at a local home improvement store and received an immediate coupon in return. “They’re actually
Number Fun Mongoose Metrics, @mongoosemetrics
paying attention,” he says. “[That kind of response] makes it seem like you’re a person, rather than a nameless, faceless corporation.” Keep a balance. Joe Pulizzi advises his clients to follow the 411 rule — of every six tweets, four are others’ content, one is yours, and one is a blatant sales message. “You can’t be the leading expert in your industry by only sharing your own content,” he says. Make ’em feel something. “Emotions create reactions,” says Kukral. Kukral’s favorite example: Blendtec, a blender manufacturer, creates hilarious bits with the company’s CEO, who demonstrates the blenders’ power by grinding up everything from a football to an iPhone at willlitblend.com.
TOOL BOXES TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 13,300+ FACEBOOK LIKES: 230+
Social status “It’s the new buying process. It’s changed for all of us. Customers already know what they want. They don’t want people to reach out to them and try to sell them. A lot of that is due to social media.”
amela Achladis has a hush-hush new product to launch. She’s marketing director of the Independence-based call tracking firm Mongoose Metrics, which provides services that measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns through calls, leads and sales. Most days she’s pitching customers on the value of metrics, but now she’s setting her own marketing goals in preparation for her product launch. Traditional marketing tells her to track results with print media mentions, phone calls, orders and trade show leads. All still important, but Mongoose’s focus on social media brings a bucket of new measurement strategies. “We look at engagement metrics,” she says. “Did we get more followers? If we post tweets to a news release, how many people are looking at that? How many are going to the website, and is that translating into sales?” Mongoose, a growing 4-year-old company, has carved out its niche: call-tracking and metrics. It’s customers and prospects are tech- and marketingsavvy, mostly marketing execs who are pros at social media and expect nothing less from their vendors. The company’s best tweets — often promoting a blog post, case study or sharing market research — might fetch 30 to 50 retweets, Achladis says. It doesn’t seem like that large of a reach, but “the amplification of number quickly expands to thousands and tens of thousands,” she says. 50
INSIDE BUSINESS | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011
TOGGLING BETWEEN social media sites? Searching for mentions of your company? Thankfully, there are tech tools to make managing social media platform easier. Here are our experts’ top picks. CoTweet | Social media dashboards such as TweetDeck and HootSuite are perfect for the individual user, but CoTweet is geared toward the business user. “It allows multiple people to manage multiple accounts and keep track of what’s happening in online conversations,” says Benjamin Bykowski of Falls Digital. cotweet.com Facebook Insights | “It’s Facebook’s way of showing you what’s going on with your fan page,” says author and web consultant Jim Kukral. Check the Facebook Help Center for tips on getting started. facebook.com/insights Monittor | A way of searching Twitter for any keyword, plus narrow by geographic region to find users. “If you are a local business owner, you need to be able to find people in your neighborhood,” says Kukral.
Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are consistently among the top referrers to Mongoose’s website. “The [social media] space is so cluttered now,” Achladis says. “You’re looking for the people who are filtering you based on what they find interesting.”
Klout.com | “It measures how many people are influenced with your message and how you go about influencing them,” says Positively Cleveland’s Lexi Robinson-Hotchkiss. Klout gives you a score on your social media effectiveness; in case you’re wondering, Positively Cleveland’s score is 57 out of 100. klout.com
Ones To Watch
Trade Secrets Mike McKenna Plumbing, @itstheplumber
Three YouTube feeds to channel Pyramyd Air | youtube.com/ pyramydair; 4,500+ subscribers, 3.1 million total views With a YouTube presence since 2007, this distributor of air guns and rifles gets thousands of website visitors each month from its online shows Airgun Academy and Airgun Reporter, filled with product instruction, safety tips and demonstrations. Additionally, 40 percent of those are new visitors — and potential new customers. “We use YouTube to educate new and seasoned shooters,” says Nicole Mendelsohn, Pyramid Air vice president. “We answer [questions] to make sure they get all the facts.” Davey Tree Expert Co. | youtube.com/DaveyTree ExpertCo; 230+ subscribers, 200,000+ total views A Davey Tree field manager in Detroit playing with a Flip Video cam to film landscaping how-tos started it all, prompting marketers at the Kent headquarters to launch the company’s YouTube channel in 2008. Today, that channel hosts Davey’s Talking Trees series, packed with useful landscaping and tree-care facts for home and property owners. “It’s about sharing expertise,” says Sandra Reid, Davey’s director of corporate communications. Positively Cleveland | you tube.com/positivelycleveland; 450+ subscribers, 473,000+ total views When a convention is considering Cleveland, “we use video to engage them beforehand,” says Positively Cleveland’s Lexi Robinson-Hotchkiss. In the videos, Positively Cleveland’s Freddie Coffey leads tours of local hotels, tourist destinations, restaurants, wineries and beaches. For locals, extended coverage of events such as the Medical Mart groundbreaking “give more detail than you’d get from a newscast,” says RobinsonHotchkiss.
TWITTER FOLLOWERS: 3,300+
Social status “Find the platform that works for you, and stick with it. Don’t sell. Strictly engage.”
im McKenna readily admits: “My name’s Tim, and I’m a tweetaholic.” In fact, McKenna has taken a step few tradesman have — he’s emblazoned his Twitter handle on his truck and uses it as his only form of marketing. “A lot of folks who do what we do don’t get it,” says McKenna, who runs the Olmsted Township-based company his father started 40 years ago. McKenna formerly advertised in the Yellow Pages and newspapers, but since the early 2000s, he’s relied solely on word of mouth. “Then, as the economy got worse, I had to find a different way to reach people,” he says. Twitter filled that need. He got started three years ago, gradually getting the knack of building relationships with it. “When I first started, I tried to sell, and that didn’t work,” says McKenna. Although he goes by the no-nonsense handle @itstheplumber, his approach is more subtle now. “I don’t tell people I’m a plumber,” he says. “Now I say, ‘I’m Tim, and I like motorsports.’ ” By taking off his sales hat, McKenna has developed friendly online relationships with people who think of @itstheplumber when they have a plumbing problem. Like his Florida-based follower @McMedia, who came to McKenna on Twitter
Before simply hitting the delete button, consider these ways to deal with negative feedback. IT’S AN UNDERSTANDABLE first response. A negative comment about your company appears on your Facebook page, and your instincts tell you to delete it before anyone else can see it. “I strongly discourage deleting a negative post,” says Susan Rouser, Progressive’s social media manager. “It doesn’t make that angry customer go away.” Instead, think of it as an opportunity, says Kelly McGlumphy of Roop &
when her kitchen sink lost water pressure. He talked through the problem with her by phone, then scored an instant Twitter testimonial. That approach has earned McKenna more than 3,300 followers. He’s picked up 38 new jobs over the past 18 months via Twitter, when normally he sees about 100 new clients in a typical year. “Forget about [the number of] followers,” he says. “It’s most important to connect with the people who do follow you.”
Co. “Social media is part of your crisis plan,” she says. “Re-establish that relationship, and show that your focus is on your customer.” Be direct. The Cleveland Indians face negative comments nearly every day, says communications director Curtis Danburg. So the Tribe constantly monitors its social media looking for ways to improve. “We are direct in responding,” says Danburg. The team often direct messages the poster to make the situation right and even retweets the message along with the response. Have a plan. The possibility of negative comments is exactly why all companies need a written social media policy. For Rouser, that policy includes who is authorized to post on the com-
pany’s behalf and how that initial response should be worded. “I take an apologetic tone, and look into it to see if we can do anything about it,” she says. Rouser has also reached out to individuals by phone or email. Be transparent. Benjamin Bykowski of Falls Digital has been impressed with how directly shoe retailer Zappos deals with negative comments: “Their transparency enhances their brand image.” Let your fans help. “We don’t always necessarily have to respond [to negative comments about Cleveland],” says Positively Cleveland communications manager Lexi Robinson-Hotchkiss. “The Cleveland people right away defend the city. That’s part of the relationships we’ve built.” IBMAG.COM