“I’m watching you” – Social Media Monitoring

Social media monitoring has become a huge industry, with many tracking tools popping up to help businesses keep track of their brand performance across the Web. With dozens upon dozens of available options, choosing the right fit for a company can be a daunting task.

Upon doing some research, I believe Sprout Social would be a wonderful choice for Ronald McDonald House Charities Morgantown to monitor the activity set forth by my proposed social media plan. Sprout Social offers a free trial, a $59/month plan, and a $99/month plan. Instantly, these prices show affordability, which is imperative for a small non-profit branch like RMHC Morgantown. The $59/month plan would likely be the wiser choice, offering various tools such as monitoring, content calendar, reports, and more.

I believe Sprout Social an appropriate choice for RMHC Morgantown due to the affordability combined with tools provided for the price. While there are certainly cheaper options available, Sprout Social has built a reputation for quality, which lends credibility to its usage. Moreover, given the scope of the social media plan I have created over time, an affordable (but also quality-) social media monitoring tool would be hugely beneficial for RMHC

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Looking back and reflecting on my social media plan, I am quite proud of my ideas. I’ve no doubt that if I were to look at every proposed action, I would have a burning desire to change many details, being that I am my harshest critic for improvement. That said, I would love the opportunity to present my plan to the appropriate RMHC managers, even if only for general feedback. On the other hand, the opportunity to implement my ideas and test their success is a goal that I look forward to achieving.

Sources:

http://www.myniceprofile.com/funny-48269.html

http://sproutsocial.com/

https://www.g2crowd.com/products/sprout-social/reviews

https://www.linkedin.com/topic/sprout-social

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The Power of Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising has become a powerful new marketing tool. Since the advent of social media, the advertising aspect of using social media has grown to an 8.4 billion dollar business. Any social media site has the capabilities and tools necessary to create an advertisement for a company. Facebook is currently the most popular, with 92% of marketers employing Facebook for ad purposes.

Due to Facebook’s popularity and Ronald McDonald House’s expansive following on the site, I would use Facebook to create an ad for the non-profit. I would want the ad to appear in News Feeds as opposed to the right side of the page (thus appearing on mobile devices too). For the ad itself, I would use the caption, “We are an organization dedicated to giving families everything they need so that they may focus on their loves ones. Find out how you can help,” with the link being to the RMHC Morgantown website. The text under the photo link would say, “Donate and Volunteer.” The photo I would use would be this wonderful picture, taken from the RMHC website.

rmhc photo

Such an ad would be highly beneficial for RMHC’s business, as appearing in News Feed would help in having more people discover the business. For a non-profit, awareness is a key component of the business.

Another aspect of Facebook that is appealing is that the site allows a company to set their own budget for the ad in question. The cost per click for a Facebook ad is $.024. Being a non-profit, RMHC could run the ad during select times for short periods, such as a week. The control afforded by Facebook over ad budgets and runtimes can make advertising on Facebook much more manageable for RMHC.

To reiterate, social media advertising has become a boon for marketers in any industry. For RMHC, Facebook makes sense to reach the much-appreciated volunteers that donate their time to the company. LinkedIn may be a potential avenue for appealing to other business (for donations), but for the purposes of increasing awareness, Facebook is the clear winner amongst the competitors.

 

Sources:

https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/how-much-facebook-ads-cost

https://www.rmhcmorgantown.org/

How Much Does Facebook Advertising Cost?

White Label Networks for RMHC: Are They Worth It?

Full-Branding

White label (aka private) social networks have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Their appeal comes from allowing a company to completely own and control everything regarding the network, ranging from appearance to content. However, this type of ownership comes at a significant price, especially when compared to the available public social networks. White label networks certainly have advantages over public social networks, but weighing the advantages against the incurred costs is paramount when considering building a company’s own private network.

When evaluating private networks in relation to non-profits, like Ronald McDonald House Charities, the situation becomes all the more favorable toward public networks. Most non-profits, RMHC included, simply cannot afford to create  these private social networks when the public networks offer equal benefits, in terms of outreach. However, using a site like Ning (link below) to build the company’s own social network may provide the benefits without the large costs.

That said, a theoretical private social network for RMHC does have strong branding possibilities. The company could make the network available for employees, families, and the general public. There would be no stringent membership requirements, although the sign-up page could encourage providing a location of which the potential member has partaken in. The network could host global company information while providing a comprehensive list (with website links) to every single RMHC branch around the world. Beside the traditional information and pictures readily available elsewhere, the network could feature a sliding display of tweets, pictures, and posts from various RMHCs, with the aforementioned posts coming from employees, families, or volunteers.

In addition, personal experience posts with RMHC would be encouraged, along with comments. Furthermore, the network would have information regarding opportunities to volunteer or donate, alongside finding the nearest RMHC to a person’s location. A mobile app could prove beneficial here, with location services being made available for the app.

In essence, expanding a company like Ronald McDonald House Charities to include white label networking has the potential for benefits. However, those benefits may not be necessarily benefits that are not gained from public social media. If RMHC were to jump on the private network bandwagon, a site like Ning could be used at a much lower cost than other private networks.

It is important to note, however, that this post is referring exclusively to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown, WV. If the global headquarters chose to implement the white label network and make the network available for all RMHCs, then the prospect of white label networks becomes far more enticing (and possible). However, RMHC branches operate independently of one another, making this idea null at the present time.

 

Source:

http://www.ning.com/blog/2007/09/what_does_it_mean_to_be_white.html

Image source:

http://www.adk2.com/

 

 

 

How Nostalgia can Stifle Creativity in Marketing: An Opinion Piece

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. In a mere moment, a strong wave of memories and feelings, brought on by a nostalgic moment, can transport any person to a different time and place in their lives. Nostalgia is capable of providing great joy to a person, reminding them of generally happier and simples eras in their lives. Childhood nostalgia is an especially potent case. That said, marketers can often prey upon nostalgia in lieu of using creativity to market a certain product.

Take the recently released revival series Fuller House. The original series Full House, beloved as it may have been, was hardly a bastion of “must see TV.” Relying heavily on after school special lessons, laugh tracks, and cheesy repetitive jokes with hugs at the end, the series was no critical darling. However, the show was tailored made to appeal to families with kids of all ages. And so a generation grew up on Full House, memorizing every snappy catchphrase (not a difficult task with the number of times every character’s catchphrase was repeated). The show ran for eight years, and its success ensured longevity via syndication, allowing the next generation to have the catchphrases ingrained in their brain (myself included).

And thus Fuller House arrived, the sequel series created by streaming giant Netflix. The show’s premise mirrors the original series, except instead of three men taking care of three girls, the genders have been swapped (plus an additional girl amongst the three boys). Original characters DJ Tanner and Stephanie Tanner, alongside fan favorite Kimmy Gibbler, move in together to help DJ raise her three sons after she becomes a widow. A shred of creativity in the premise is not to be found, nor is the house setting of the show very different (the crew recreated the set).  Laugh tracks, lots of hugs, guest appearances by the other cast members, and repeated catchphrases, both old and new, abound in the show’s thirteen episode first season.

Here is the show’s official trailer.

That trailer exemplifies the idea stated in the title of this blog, which is that appealing to nostalgia is an easy way for marketers to stitch together a marketing campaign devoid of any creative process. The original theme song is used again, except redone by modern pop star Carly Rae Jepsen (a very fitting artist choice). The trailer centers quite a bit on the entire cast from the original, even though the old cast makes sporadic appearances, at best. And, of course, there are catchphrases coming from everywhere and from everyone. While the trailer does show the basic set-up of the new show, the trailer could have focused far more on the stories of the ladies, now grown up, and their children. Instead, half (or more) of the trailer is focused on the old cast and tired catchphrases.

Here is Fuller House’s teaser trailer. This brief trailer shows that creativity and nostalgia can be fused in an effective marketing package. The trailer focuses on the original Full House set, while the accompanying song is a perfect track lyrically to appeal to nostalgic feelings. The trailer closes with the sounds of the familiar voices of the cast. This is a great shame, that this creative trailer was followed by a far less exemplary display.

However, the argument can be made that Fuller House was created as an easy-to-make nostalgic cash grab to begin with. Having watched the show, I found the series entertaining enough, though the fact that the show does little in original scripting cannot be denied (as many critics have pointed out, as well). Furthermore, nostalgia based marketing has gathered more and more popularity, as discussed in this article. Yet, this article proves exactly the point of this post. Nostalgia makes marketing easy, lacking any effort or creativity most of the time. Considering the advent of TV revivals and remakes, marketing to nostalgia is the effortless cop out method to avoid brainstorming sessions and skip right over to the check.

 

 

LinkedIn for the Non-Profit: Ronald McDonald House

LinkedIn is a professional social networking site designed to help both employees and employers further their career goals with various networking tools. Founded in 2003, the social networking site has grown tremendously since then to become the most popular form of professional online networking.

My chosen organization, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown, does have a LinkedIn page. The company page has 135 followers, most of whom are employees, past and current. The page contains information regarding the organization including year founded, size of the company, the website link, and industry type. Furthermore, the “Summary” section has several paragraphs detailing what RMHC does and how the company achieves its goals.

LinkedIn has great potential for appealing to RMHC’s audience. Since LinkedIn is becoming more and more of a required network for college students, RMHC can appeal to volunteers and potential employees. In addition, RMHC can leverage LinkedIn to connect with other companies to create professional, mutually-beneficial relationships.

However, while the current RMHC LinkedIn page does contain adequate information, more could be done. The best way to leverage LinkedIn and appeal to the target audience would be for the company to begin publishing blogs and posts on LinkedIn. These posts could be summaries of events, stories of families the company has helped, or non-profit related posts. Such type of posts are the best way for RMHC to get noticed by either side of the target audience through LinkedIn, showing the audience exactly what the organization does. At least one post per week would be beneficial, with the potential for more posts dependent upon events held.

While the current LinkedIn page is not lackluster in information given, RMHC Morgantown could certainly do with using LinkedIn for more than just a summary section. To revive the page from inactivity, published posts would be the best way to leverage LinkedIn to form potential, long-lasting connections.

 

RMHC Morgantown LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2545618?trk=tyah&trkInfo=clickedVertical%3Acompany%2CclickedEntityId%3A2545618%2Cidx%3A2-1-2%2CtarId%3A1458203013367%2Ctas%3Aronald%20mcdonald%20house%20morgantow

The Future of Marketing: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a service provided by Google that tracks website traffic. First available in 2005, Google Analytics is continously being used by businesses and marketing departments to gather information about customers.

Google provides a website called Analytics Academy dedicated to teaching prospective users how to make use of the program’s features. While challenging, using this academy can tremendously increased the skillset of any marketer, and thus, increase the potential sales. Google Analytics can also be linked with the very useful Google AdWords (Google’s keyword advertising service) to allow the two services to trade information with one another.

The most imperative feature to learn about is the ability to create report. Google Analytics allow the creation of different reports that reveal various, pertinent information. For example, content reports are able to show how much time people actually spend on the many pages of a business website, while a funnel report can show in what order people view pages. Using the report feature is critical in getting the most data available from Google Analytics.

Marketing research is oftentimes imperative to the success of a business, and Google Analytics is one of the most readily available tools for that purpose. Using the program correctly and to its full extent can lead to future planning for a business’ goal, rather than merely looking back to the past. Google Analytics is the future, and every business should be looking forward.

 

Source:

Soat, M., (Feb. 2016). Google Analytics in 2016. Retrieved from https://www.ama.org/publications/MarketingNews/Pages/google-analytics-in-2016.aspx

The Storm is Here: How to Manage Crisis Situations for Non-Profits

scandal olivia

Corporations face unexpected situations that pose significant risk to their reputation, brand, and profits more often than not. In today’s rapid paced and social media obsessed society, news of such PR nightmares will be spread globally in mere hours, even minutes. And while social media can cause numerous headaches for corporations, the same additional problem can instead function as a potential solution for a corporation’s image.

Non-profits can face the same media disasters that for-profit businesses face. In many respects, non-profits have much more to lose with a damaged brand or reputation, as non-profits rely almost solely on outside help to accomplish their mission. For this reason, non-profits are, and perhaps rightfully should be, much more controlling of their disclosure of information and monitoring what is said about the organization.

My chosen organization, Ronald McDonald House Charities, is undoubtedly at risk of such potential situations like any other business. As stated by my sources, the best way to prepare for a disaster is to actually prepare for any given situation beforehand. A few examples that could threaten RMHC’s brand include (but certainly not limited to): employees or volunteers tweeting negative commentary about the organization, families unhappy with various aspects making their displeasure public, and an in-house shake-up being made public. Non-profits are prime targets for exploitative business people, who seek to abuse their position at a non-profit for personal gain. For all these situations, I would try to have a prepared response.

RMHC, as most non-profits and corporations alike, likely try to keep any potential scandal contained and secret. However, such a smooth recovery is not always possible, especially with social media. If I were doing reparative work following a crisis, I would use almost all the social media presence available to the organization, ie. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The most important aspects, I believe, would be honesty and equilibrium across all channels. A hypothetical situation of a family spreading negative comments via Twitter would certainly warrant personal outreach. However, I would also prepare a tweet such as, “We are extremely sorry for your issues with your stay. We promise to take into consideration your worries and address them efficiently.”

Moreover, I would focus on the positive happenings at the moment, rather than the negative. Without ignoring or covering up whatever the crisis may be (if said crisis has already been made public), I would use social media channels to spread the organization’s mission. For example, a Facebook post detailing the success of a recent fundraising event, with pictures and quotes from volunteers, would do much to repair damage and continue upholding RMHC as a beneficiary organization in the eyes of the people.

In essence, I believe the mightiest form of defense for RMHC when using social media to combat possible negative perception would be complete honesty, consistency, and positivity. Ronald McDonald House Charities is a wonderful organization, and I believe people will look past any unwanted negativity in a crisis to continue supporting the organization.

 

Sources:

Be Prepared: 5 Steps to Managing a PR Crisis

https://insurancefornonprofits.org/resources/Booklet-Crisis.pdf

Christmas every month: A look at Subscription Box Services

The subscription box is a spin on the subscription business model that, generally, has subscribers receive a box filled with specific items on a monthly basis. These items are tailored to various niches that these businesses decide to target. The first subscription box, Birchbox, began life in 2010 sending subscribers cosmetics such as perfumes and make-up. This business went on to be valued at $485 million in only four years.

Naturally, more and more subscription boxes sprung to action, targeting more niche markets that had not been catered to. Some popular examples include Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron, Five Four Club, and numerous other businesses that honed in on a target market and capitalized on the potential. The appeal of the subscription box is that any person with an idea can create a business catered directly to the consumer. Sarah Michelle Gellar, an actress known for roles such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, co-founded Foodstirs, a subscription box service aimed at the bakers of the world.

As spoken by Mrs. Gellar herself, businesses do have to be wary of shipping and getting their product to their consumers. A late delivery is undoubtedly high on the list of ways to alienate a consumer with this type of product.

I chose to dive into this rising business model by opting to try out LootCrate. Being that I like video games and various “geek culture” aspects, LootCrate made perfect sense to try out the business model for myself. My first LootCrate arrived on the first day of the estimated arrival dates (2/20-2/28), so delivery was fast and without issues. The box had a design befitting the theme of the month (each month has a unique theme, February’s being the dead), and the items were fitting and interesting. Below are some pictures of what my first LootCrate contained. Overall, I am pleased with the contents and will stay a faithful LootCrate subscriber. I also intend to try out other services, such as a clothing based service.

 

Subscription box services are still in the infancy of their lives, having began life a mere six years ago. However, if there is a market to be found and a good product to be delivered, subscription boxes have a long life ahead.

 

Sources:

Slade, H., (2014, June 2). The Pitch That Launched Birchbox, The $485M  ‘Stuff In A Box’ Business. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/hollieslade/2014/06/02/the-pitch-that-launched-birchbox-the-485m-stuff-in-a-box-business/#243990fb339b

Video Streaming into the Future with Periscope

periscope

Video sharing has become a far more prevalent feature than in the early years of social media. With Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram, making and sharing videos is more popular than ever. One particular app, Periscope, was created with video streaming at the forefront. Created by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein because Beykpour wanted to be able to see the protests in Istanbul (back in 2013) instead of merely reading about them on Twitter, Periscope has only officially been available since March 26, 2015. In a mere four months, the app had amassed ten million accounts who were watching over forty years of video a day. Last December, Periscope was also named the iPhone App of the Year. Periscope seems poised to enter the lives of many more socially conscious consumers in the coming years.

Ronald McDonald House can definitely capitalize on this up-and-coming video streaming app, sort of being “ahead of the game.” RMHC could have employees, volunteers, and guests alike use Periscope to give virtual tours of establishments, show exciting events currently happening, or even to interact with other RMHC people across the globe. Here is an example of a tour being given of the RMHC Family Room, a waiting room at Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Another example of possible Periscope usage would be the upcoming Brunch Around event. This fundraising event consists of RMHC partnering with the various wonderful, local restaurants of Morgantown, such as Table9, Iron Horse Tavern, and Terra Cafe. People attend these restaurants as always, with a small percentage of total earnings being donated to RMHC. The event is fun, beneficial, and a great way to discover some delicious food that is often forgotten amidst the many chain restaurants present in today’s society. People affiliated with RMHC can use Periscope, in conjunction with Twitter, to spread the word of the event, show off the yummy food (everyone loves seeing food), and encourage others to come participate.

Overall, the potential of Periscope is limitless. The app has the ability to truly explode in popularity, and RMHC can benefit from jumping on the video streaming craze early. The benefits of increased exposure, more visibility, and more volunteers and donors are all strong cases for why Ronald McDonald House should use Periscope.

 

Sources:

http://pagenorth.co.uk/introducing-periscope-the-next-generation-of-social-media/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/layla-revis/social-media-trends-2016_b_8914190.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Periscope_(app)#Service (cited info only)