The branding evolution encourages communicators to lean heavily on engagement tactics that lead a company to develop a strong relationship with its audience. For some companies, that engagement must start internally with employees to allow it to build up and pour out to consumers, while other companies are putting more focus on their outward facing relationship with consumers. When engagement tactics via social media channels are thoughtful and meaningful, what usually results is an overwhelming following of happy customers. When brands choose to use social media channels as an inappropriate vehicle for lashing out, those companies shouldn’t be surprised by the consuming back lash that ensues.
In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we look at how companies are making engagement a top priority for maintaining a strong pulse on their consumer needs and using the knowledge they gain to improve the consumer-brand relationship.
Groupon sponsored a survey of 300 small/medium enterprise (SME) owners on their marketing priorities. 67 percent of those surveyed will be focusing on direct consumer engagement and face to face time to improve local services in the upcoming financial year. Other statistics from the survey show that 58 percent of respondents want to increase their social media presence, while 28 percent want to boost targeted promotions through other channels. Managing director of Groupon UK Roy Blanga insists on need to find a balance between the instant gratification that digital offers consumer and the face-to-face interaction that offers withstanding engagement with your audience.
HubSpot, an inbound marketing software firm, is investing in employee engagement and the result is a culture code intended to simplify employee life and open channels for free-form discussion. Chief technology officer and co-founder Dharmesh Shah believes that finding employees who are a good fit for the company is more important than creating complicated organizational charts that don’t add value to the corporate fabric. Here are a couple of examples that Shah and chief marketing officer Mike Volpe have put in place at HubSpot:
- A vast wide-ranging wiki. Compared to other wikis, HubSpots’s wiki acts as an ongoing dialogue as opposed to an information repository.
- ‘Hack nights’. HubSpot has special nights where various employees from different department come together to brain storm over issues the company might be facing. Surprisingly, the group manages to solve a number of unique problems during just one of these sessions.
Goya has been serving Latinos in the U.S. market for 77 years. A couple of years ago the company decided to market key products directly to non-Hispanics, resulting in consumers taking notice of the company and a boost in their sales mark. As the Hispanic market started growing in the 1980s, Goya maintained a good pulse on the Latino demographic coming into the U.S. and the products they would be most interested in purchasing. In 2005, President and CEO Bob Unanue and his brother Peter (vice president of the company) hired Grey Group’s Wing agency in New York City to help Goya reach a demographic that years before seemed out of their reach, non-Latinos. Without alienating their traditional consumer Goya managed to engage a new audience and keep their long-standing consumer base happy.
Designer Collective was launched last year by the social style network Polyvore. This mentorship program is aimed at helping indie brands learn to use Polyvore to drive traffic and sales. Brands like Meredith Wendell, shoe designer Madison Harding and shoe brand Alejandro Ingelmo can all attribute increased sales to their interactions on the social style network. The great thing about this launch is that it has allowed Polyvore to beta test new ad products. Co-founder and CEO of Polyvore Jess Lee believes that the true value in Designer Collective comes from the engagement happening between the community and the brand. Building that relationship ultimately drives traffic and sales.
Amy’s Baking Company Unleashes the Social-Media Monster (The Washington Post)
Owners of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Amy’s Baking Company recently took to social media to defend their business after being featured on Gordon Ramsey’s reality show Kitchen Nightmares. After a number of irrational and insolent Facebook posts went out, the couple tried to cover their tracks by claiming that their Facebook account had been hacked. Had the couple read up on Engagement 101 before taking to social media, they would have realized three things:
- Using all caps on Facebook hinders customer engagement by appearing combative.
- Your fans will be completely off-put by exclamation points, foul language or threats on media.
- Do not engage critics on Reddit and Yelp with continued threats of legal action or irrationally angry remarks.
This company provides a textbook lesson in a consumer engagement fail.
Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.