Sarah M. Ryck PR616 Petrausch Final Campaign paper May 10, 2012 Design Within Reach: A Strategic Social Media Plan I originally saw a need for improvement in Design Within Reach’s social media strategy when I applied for an internship some months ago. As I was preparing for the interview, I took a brief look at the social media accounts and found Design Within Reach has a fresh, exciting product, but the company’s social media sites were not utilized to their fullest potential. It was when I was called back to apply for a social media community advocate position that I took a second look. I became very excited as I saw there was great ground work set in place, and knew that, if given the opportunity, I could implement a number of changes that would bring noticeable results ultimately affecting Design Within Reach’s bottom line. Here is a brief outline of some of my strategies and tactics:
Campaign Situation & Background Design Within Reach focuses on bringing “authentic modern design” within reach. According to their “about” section, it is all about bringing products within reach that cannot be found elsewhere, and it means having product in stock. Ultimately, the company began as a direct-to-door catalog, but today has expanded to include contracts in business-to-business deals and studio showrooms throughout the U.S. They strive to bring authentic pieces to everyone, while leaving the elitism at the door. They are proud of never having a do not touch sign in their studios, and welcome pets and kids and all customers to come and linger. In researching for this campaign, I decided to examine Design Within Reach’s online presence
as a whole. This included examining all their social media channels--Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, Instagram, Google+, website, blog, and also take into consideration their ranking and search visibility. When examining their social media accounts, I noticed there were new posts--maybe a couple a day. However, the posts were simply pushing information to publics. In my opinion, I saw no strategy or thought to what content was being pushed. It was informing publics, but in today’s day and age, that is simply not enough. Social media are about being social, which by definition refers to companionship and community. It revolves around give and take. Across the board, I saw a need for Design Within Reach to take on a more versatile role. Not only must they inform their publics through social media, but they must begin and maintain an ongoing conversation with a number of different publics. There must be a focus on dialogue or two way communication at all times. From what I saw, the posts were not getting much attention from their target publics. There were little to no comments on Facebook, zero retweets on Twitter, a few “likes” here and there. I believe this has to do with not understanding their publics, not listening to their publics needs and wants, and not taking advantage of conversational opportunities when there is the possibility of starting or continuing a conversation. Probably the biggest offense of all in regards to Design Within Reach and their online presence was that they had content over 3 years old--an eternity in the cyber universe!--that was out of date, inactive and broken. For example the information on their Facebook page was linked to a page from 2007 that was full of broken links and out of date materials. Ultimately, Design Within Reach’s online presence was existent, but not utilized to its full potential--keeping existing publics interested, gaining new customers and furthering the companies
Target Publics and Why they are important Currently, Design Within Reach doesn’t seem to be focused on understanding their target publics and then actively pursuing and listening to them. In this campaign, my focus is to actively work to get target publics interacting on the web and ultimately purchasing Design Within Reach products in showrooms, catalogs and online--increasing return on investment (ROI). Essentially, we are aim to inform and interact with past, current and future customers. This divided into two main target publics. The first being the older generation ages 35 and older. This public is typically of upper middle to higher income levels. They have a desire and respect for culture and the arts and have an affinity for design. The second target public is 21-35 year olds who have a grasp of social media. These are younger people just establishing careers and homes. Finally, because we are working with a company that is experiencing a period of rapid growth, I’d like to include and utilize Design Within Reach’s own employees and Design Within Reach’s first line of ambassadors into this strategic social media campaign to get the conversation going.
Campaign Objectives and Strategy There are a number of objectives and strategies we will aim to carry out. First objective we will focus on is increasing and improving the online presence of Design within Reach. Though they have a presence online now, it is out of date. They are hidden among the many furniture stores when searched via a search engine and nothing they have done thus far has set them apart from the competition, which is another objective-- determine and set Design Within Reach’s position in the market by strengthening
the brand. My strategy to achieve this is to create clear, consistent, concise messages strategically developed and delivered with the designated target publics in mind. Probably the most important strategy is in developing a consistently human tone when communicating online. It is essential publics see Design Within Reach as a caring and connected company that understands their point of view. Positioning Design Within Reach as the “informed peer” will allow for a freer, less inhibited dialogue between the organization and its various publics previously mentioned. I also aim to establish Design Within Reach as a leader among modern design communities. This will be accomplished by working to be accepted and endorsed by influencers in such communities. We will actively determine, and then seek out, influencers our target publics are already supporting. We also wish to increase traffic to all various social media sites including Design Within Reach website, blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Vimeo etc. We again will do this by delivering strategic messages to our determined publics through the appropriate sites at the appropriate, researched effective times. In delivering the messages we hope to get our target publics interacting. Most importantly, however, is that those that get involved on our soical media sites continue to stay involved. We are pleased with new fans, friends, follows, and connections, but ultimately we will gauge our success on whether we are able to continually engage repeat visitors. Once we have a conversation started on our various social media sites, it will be important to listen to the feedback provided by our target publics. We will have to work to not only carry out our strategic messages, but watch for what is working and what is not, and alter our strategies accordingly.
Themes, Tactics and Calendar
Design Within Reach currently has no universal voice. Some messages released simply inform publics without any sort of authority, purpose or hope for response. So, one of my main themes and tactics for this campaign is to develop a “human” voice when delivering messages. To do this, I will send messages that, “speak as DWR does.” I will be sure the messages focus on saying “we” while being friendly, open and helpful. Ideally, I aim to present DWR as constantly asking what can we do for you, over the outdated approach of asking what others can do for us. Using a personal, human voice when communicating through social media channels leads to higher satisfaction from target publics, whereas impersonal communication does little to grip and actively persuade publics to get involved. Communicating in a human voice will eventually lead to DWR establishing itself as an informed peer among publics. By strategically positioning DWR as an informed peer, we will find publics have a stronger inclination to engage and spread our messages through word-of-mouth. Another tactic I will use to accomplish DWR’s previous mentioned objectives and strategies will be to cross promote from one social media to another. For example, currently the DWR website does not have buttons (links) to the social media sites. The only existing cross promotion is “like” and “follow” buttons on the bottom of the website. So currently, publics push these buttons and they automatically like or follow DWR on Facebook or Twitter without ever seeing these pages. This is counterintuitive as the point of social media is to get publics to the page, but then continue to have them come back and interact. Once we highlight all DWR social media pages, it is important to get messages out that are clear and concise to publics in a consistent manner an on the appropriate site (please see traditional and social media for site specific details). Messages will often be short and sweet providing information, but also leading publics to get involved. Providing lists, points and/or questions are proven techniques when
attempting to get publics to interact. Since, creating messages that get publics to return time and time again is a main objective, we will send messages that require a response after the initial interaction. By keeping publics engaged and curious while providing them with messages that satisfy their needs, I expect them to come back again and again. One initial message DWR will release to achieve this will be a posting regarding the DWR’s founder, Rob Forbes, favorite pieces while furnishing his home and asking customers what their favorite DWR piece is, why and how does it inspire them daily. This is providing a story to an influential person, which will grip the publics to buy in and hopefully get involved. DWR would certainly comment and respond to picture submissions showing publics DWR are here and listening. Sharing stories will forever be an important tactic in public relations. People have been attracted to storytelling since the beginning of time. DWR is currently using a lot of videos to give some background of designers, architects and artisans. However, many of the videos are over 12 minutes long. I suggest continuing to tell the stories of those that inspire, create and design DWR products, and make this tactic synonymous with the DWR brand, but make the videos shorter and more user friendly. This will help us achieve a more human tone and allow us to build relationships with our publics as we entice and maintain involvement by satisfying their informational and entertainment needs. I will also implement a number of contests that will keep target publics involved with DWR social media sites. Contests will run periodically--possibly 1 per quarter. The first contest I will host will be a contest designed specifically for our Pinterest page. It will ask publics to create boards on the popular virtual pinboard site of DWR products creating a room of their choosing to be focused on the DWR blog centered around a new and emerging trend. Contestants will then be asked to submit their boards via email to DWR. Winners will win recognition across all social media channels and a $2,500
gift card. This will get people pinning our products across pinterest so, we will get free visibility across the channel, and it costs next to nothing for us to host this contest. Pinterest, as well as Instagram, will be a focus for DWR’s social media strategy. Both channels are extremely visual, which suits DWR’s beautiful authentic design. On these platforms though DWR will focus on being innovative and creating fresh alternative posts rather than simply sharing photos of the products. DWR will certainly focus on pinning photos and links to sites that capture an authentically designed lifestyle by creating boards of furniture that showcase specific design principles like color or texture or boards that showcase emerging trends like this season green is in. We also see benefit in posting things that our target audience will respond to that goes beyond our products and maybe even beyond furniture, for example we might, post quotes that relate to architecture, design and craftsmanship. In addition to getting publics to consistently interact and return to DWR social media channels, I will also focus on monitoring what is being said about DWR and respond accordingly. During the research phase of this campaign, I saw a number of negative tweets regarding DWR that went unanswered. I will respond to tweets, even the negative ones. When someone has an issue with DWR I will be sure to provide them with the appropriate phone numbers or email addresses to those that will help the issue. The last thing I want is to ignore negative tweets, comments and/or postings and find DWR amidst a crisis. I will listen and monitor to be proactive as best I can. It is also important to monitor, listen and respond accordingly to social media communication so that DWR may see what is working and what is not working. By being aware of this, we are able to alter our tactics at anytime depending on our goals at the moment. For this reason, this campaign does not really have a definite calendar. We will literally be reinventing our social media strategy all the time to
keep it fresh and new. The above tactics will all be concentrated on for a period of three months with the expectation of seeing dramatic results on the social media channels.
Traditional & Social Media The focus for this campaign is to utilize a variety of social media channels to increase DWR’s online presence so, in this case traditional media does not play a role. However, we will use flyers, and memos to encourage employees to get involved in DWR’s social media channels. We will announce our plans and ask for their cooperation in spreading the word about DWR’s innovative authentic culture and products. In using social media it is important to point out that we will not be posting all messages to every single channel. Instead, we will determine which social media channel will be best suited by evaluating which site reaches which public, and which public will be more likely to accept and act from our message. Below are the social media channels DWR will focus on for this campaign. Reddit: DWR will use Reddit to upload stories and articles to drive traffic to DWR’s website and blog. We will submit items often so that we will gain a more loyal following and increase DWR’s online presence. Digg: Digg has a huge following online because of its optimum usability. We will submit and browse articles in categories that are similar or related to design, architecture, craftsmanship, culture and the arts StumbleUpon: We plan to open DWR’s online presence to audiences that may not know they are interested in design.
We will publicise all blog postings by submitting to StumbleUpon and let people stumble our posts. YouTube: We will use YouTube to post our videos and then distribute them across our other social media channels. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a popular networking site where a company’s publics may connect online. We will update our profile here and use LinkedIn to harness the power of our employees. We want to further our brand and employees are certainly seen as DWR’s ambassadors. We want to encourage them to get active on the sites and spread the word that DWR is on the front lines of social media ready to inform and entertain. Facebook: DWR is a business with a bottom line and ultimately our focus is to increase brand awareness and therefore sales. Today, businesses vie for advertising opportunities, event promotion and more on this social-networking site and we will be no different. Wikipedia: Wikipedia sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to business use. But DWR plans to redesign the business reference page on Wikipedia, in addition to connecting with other users on Wikipedia's Community Portal and at the village pump, which is full of conscientious professionals enthusiastic about news, business, research, culture and society. Twitter: Twitter is of course the microblogging service that allows anyone to send short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers." DWR will use this platform to
provide information when asked for it, share news and update publics on contests. Foursquare: Millions of times a day, people use foursquare to check in and share where they are. Many check in as they check out a new restaurant, meeting up with friends, or visiting a favorite boutique, they are chronicling and sharing their adventures. DWR, as a business and brand on foursquare will offer discounts and appreciation when people check in to DWR studios across the U.S. Pinterest: Pinterst in a virtual pinboard service is attracting plenty of attention. It is a visual site, which fits well with DWR’s visual product. Instagram: Instagram is a mobile application now accessible on most smartphones. It allows for fast, beautiful photo sharing. DWR will essentially use instagram in a manner that mixed tactics used for both Pinterest and Foursquare.
Select Measurement Approach As previously mentioned, this strategic social media plan will aim to boost an already existing presence. Because it is a social media campaign measurement is sometimes difficult. We will consistently monitor our efforts, though, and the responses we are getting. We want to be aware of what is working on which social media sites, and what is not. Some posts may be popular on Reddit but fall flat on Pinterest. Simply put, DWR will continuously ask why this is the case and work to figure out what factor made it successful on one site and not another. DWR will then alter the strategies based on what we find. It will be an ever evolving campaign that must expand and grow repeatedly.
Questions DWR will ask to measure success: ○ Have we reached the TA with social media? ○ Are they responding & getting involved? ○ Has brand perception evolved & matured? ○ Are Sales up? We will also monitor click through and link relocation. Any link we put out on the web will be analyzed to see who clicked the link and what was their geographic location. We will be able to see how many people clicked the link and on which page they found the link as well. We will also note the number of post “likes,” comments, retweets, upvotes, tags, mentions, replies, friend requests, follows etc. and determine whether these are superficial one time visits or if we are finding publics are returning and/or staying longer.
Budget Areas The majority of a social media plan budget goes to devoting time and resources in the form of educated and strategic employees. Many businesses do not understand the importance of having a well-strategized social media plan and its influence on the bottom line. For this reason, I would estimate 75 percent of the budget be devoted to recruiting talented people who understand the importance of every post, tweet and article serving a purpose. Ten percent would be devoted to creating professional videos and photos to share. Another ten percent would go towards graphic web design so that the look of our social media sites match that of our website and shows consistently the images that represent our brand--the coloring must match exactly, no pixelated logos etc. The remaining 5 percent of the budget will go towards hosting contests and providing prizes for the winners.