Is Your Business a Big Wheel?

“What people in the world think of you is really none of your business.”
―Martha Graham

Agreed! But what the people in the world think of your business IS your business. There are people discussing your business online right now. Good, bad, ugly or totally untrue you need to be aware of the conversations and decide whether you should take part as well.

The interweb is a big place, so first you need to track down the chin wags that affect your business specifically and your industry in general. Fortunately there are free tools at the ready:

  • Google Alerts – email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your queries.
  • Monitter– a real time search tool that monitors a set of keywords on twitter. Able to search a geographic location.
  • Addictomatic – searches for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images.
  • How Sociable – measures the magnitude of your brand.
  • Twitalyzer – Twitter’s most powerful and popular analytics application. (free for first 7 days)

OK, so you’ve tracked down the Chatty Cathys, now what are they saying about your business and what do you do with it? Using Big Wheel Burger in Victoria, BC as an example we’ll see if the chatter is positive (+1), negative (-1) or neutral (0).

Let’s take a look at what Monitter pulled out of the Twitterverse:

(+1)

(0)

(0)

(0)

(+1)

(+1)

http://twitter.com/LittleLeagueYYJ/status/213832901446479873

(+1)

(0)

(+1)

(0)

The final tally for 10 tweets:

5 neutral

5 positive

0 negative

According to this quick survey, Big Wheel Burger is a pretty big deal in Victoria with a loyal fan base. You can see that they are actively monitoring and participating in Twitter conversations about their brand, which they do on their Facebook page as well. They also have a feedback form on Facebook as well, great idea!

What are you doing to make your business a Big Wheel? Are you listening? Are you replying? Are you asking for feedback?

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Social Media Takes the Cake

Can Social Media take the cupcake to another level? Cupcakes have been a food trend ever since the Magnolia Bakery in New York was featured on Sex and the City and this hilarious SNL video. Since then cupcake specific bakeries have been popping up all over the world. Some have disappeared and others have managed to outlast the fad. I have tried to sample as many as the cupcake offerings in British Columbia as possible, it’s only fair to the cupcakes. While all were very attractive, there is only one bakery that has cupcakes so good that I think about them daily and will pay a bridge toll just to taste them again: Frostings Cupcakery in Langley. Part of the reasonI think about them every day, besides their sumptuous cupcakes, is their presence on social media.

I shared the photo below on Twitter and Facebook through Instagram last week and it was retweeted by @frostingcupcake with the comment “Hey, we recognize those :-)”. While I did pay for the regular size ones, the little mini red velvet cupcake at the bottom was a freebie I earned by checking in at their store using FourSquare. They have three specials set up through FourSquare, including 10% off for the mayor (it pays to be important). On Frostings’ Facebook Page they share their daily line up of flavours, so because I’ve “liked” their page, it pops up in my home feed tempting me every day.

Using Social Media to engage, reward and remind their customers, Frostings has created a loyal following. Let’s compare the stats for Frostings to another more established cupcake bakery in Vancouver: Original Cupcakes on Denman.

Frostings Cupcakery Vs. Original Cupcakes

2009 – year established – 2002

1449 – Facebook Page Likes – 527

98 – people talking about them on Facebook – 21

2736 – number of Tweets – 602

1355 – Twitter Followers – 3702

618 – Following on Twitter – 46

233 – FourSquare Checkins – 338

40 – Klout Score – 37

Though Original Cupcakes has been around seven years longer and has more than double the amount of Twitter followers than Frostings Cupcakery, Frostings’ followers and fans are much more engaged with their more active and interactive Social Media presence. If you think that’s impressive, wait until you taste their cupcakes!

Update: June 13, 2012

When I tweeted this post I included Frostings’ Twitter handle @frostingcupake and got the nicest reply:

Video: Hootsuite: Owl You Really Need?

I’ve used HootSuite to manage my social media profiles for a while and I recently upgraded to the Pro Plan, going from free to $5.99 USD per month. The limit of 5 social profiles was feeling constricting and I was becoming more interested in the custom analytics available. I love that HootSuite is a local tech company in downtown Vancouver and that they seem to be committed  to staying here. Not to mention that the owl mascot is adorable! Go ahead and “like” the Meat of the Message Facebook page and you’ll be in the loop with my latest scoop (I promise they won’t all rhyme).

Do you use HootSuite? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what’s holding you back?

Can Social Media Be a Piece of Pie?

 
Peachy Keen
Peach pie may not seem that scary to you, but it was a pastry that I regarded with fear. Just as many have fears about using Twitter or Google+. I love pie and I have very high standards when it comes to the crust. I would buy frozen tart shells or make a graham cracker crust to avoid trying my hand at creating a perfect flaky crust. Until one day, laden with a bushel of perfectly ripe peaches, I knew it was time to master a lattice crust. Grabbing a few trusted cookbooks, I researched what the pros said about pie. Armed with a scale for precise measurements and a can-do attitude, I rolled up my sleeves and got flour and fat under my fingernails. The resulting pie was better than I hoped it would be and I know it tasted that much sweeter because I’d faced my fear and come out on top with a pie!
Social media can seem daunting from a distance, but once you do your preparation and get some hands on experience you’ll see it’s just a matter of getting comfortable. Plus, the rewards can be rich. With traditional advertising losing people’s attention and respect, companies need to find new ways to engage consumers and expose them to their product or service.
Break It Down
The first step is to figure out your target market and find the networks that they like to engage in. Facebook is pretty much a no brainer at this point. Everybody and their grandmother is on Facebook and a business page is free and fairly low maintenance. Linked In is another low maintenance site that connects more with the business crowd, great for business to business services!  Twitter is becoming the method of choice for connecting with brands by individuals for expertise or customer service. If you’re targeting a female audience and your product or service has a visual appeal, Pinterest is the place to be. For bricks and mortar business, Foursquare is a great way to see who your most loyal customers are and what they are sharing about your business. Now, Google+ had a lot of buzz that hasn’t converted into a whole lotta love, but maybe it’s time to take a second look at some of their new features.
 Digg It
If you’ve read the linked articles about some of the top networks and want to get more info on Social Media options check out Digg, a site that compiles articles submitted by users. The more people who “Digg” an article, the more exposure it gets. Once your research is done, and you’ve picked the best place to start, embrace the experience and get the most out of it.
Even better than a piece of cake, Social Media can be a piece of pie: Worth the effort! So, where are you going to put your peaches?

Mama Meter

Social Media can seem like a limitless void that we toss useful information into and apparently get very little back. That is why it is so important to set goals for each media campaign and measure the results. Also, with the ever quickening pace at which new social networks are appearing great care must be taken when selecting the best channels to use when sharing the chosen message.

In honour of Mothers’ Day’s fast approach Meat of the Message will conduct a test of Facebook compared to Twitter at spreading the word about Campagnolo Restaurant’s brunch, Mothers’ Day being the biggest brunching day of the year. Campagnolo’s Facebook Page has 600 fans and the Twitter account has 2013 followers. I’ll be comparing Facebook “likes” vs. Twitter retweets (1 point each) and Facebook “shares” & comments vs. Twitter tweets and mentions (2 points each as these show greater engagement). I’ll update this post on Monday with the results.

Let the games begin and don’t forget to do something thoughtful for the Mothers in your life!

Update: Monday, May 14 2012

Well, we have a clear winner. Using Tweet Reach to assess the audience that received the tweet sent by @campagnolomain at 4:50 pm on May 10th : “Show your mama a little Itailan love for brunch, Sunday May 13, 11:30am – 2:30pm. Single stem flowers & Bar… http://fb.me/1QltmUrEW” it showed that there were no retweets, so the reach was 2017 accounts, which is the number of followers of Campagnolo’s Twitter handle. I also searched “@Campagnolomain”, “Campagnolo brunch” and “Campagnolo” on Twitter and couldn’t find any mentions.

Facebook Insights provided a few options to measure the interaction with the status update posted on Campagnolo’s Facebook Page May 10, 2012: “Show your mama a little Itailan love for brunch, Sunday May 13, 11:30am – 2:30pm. Single stem flowers & Bar Director Giovanni’s cocktails go a long way.” Right underneath the update, it’s clear that 6 people “liked” the update and one person shared it. Insights calculates that the reach as 208 unique people who have seen the update, the number of engaged users as 12 (number of unique people who have clicked on the post, so 6 who clicked “like” and 6 who clicked elsewhere), and the virality (percentage of people who created a story from the post) at 2.88%.

To calculate points for interactions: Twitter scored a big fat zero and Facebook scored 8 points. The conclusion I would make is that bigger is not always better, with more than three times the number of followers to fans, the Facebook post garnered much more attention and interaction. Also, Facebook posts have a longer shelf life of 22-24 hours, while tweets go stale after 1 hour! So, tweet, tweet again.

Interestingly, I found out that Campagnolo’s Mothers’ Day Brunch was not nearly as successful as last years. Though looking back, a very similar Facebook update (no likes or shares) and tweet (no retweets) were sent out. There are obviously other factors affecting the popularity of Mama’s brunching at Campagnolo than social media coverage. I definitely believe that by using social media channels more effectively that the brunch could have been more successful. It’s encouraging that the Facebook fans are becoming more engaged and if only a bit more effort is spent on social media it seems that Facebook would be the place to start as Twitter needs to hear things over and over. Most Mamas can relate to that!

Reflected Glory

Helping my husband realize his dream of opening his own restaurant was one of the most gratifying achievements of my life. For years we talked, imagined and sketched out what our restaurant would be like. The food, the room, the staff, the menus, we discussed and detailed every little item. Eating at restaurants became an exercise in what we would and wouldn’t do. But once the restaurant was a reality, it was his day-to-day place of employment and I was still at my credit union job. I realized that I didn’t want to work in a restaurant, I just wanted to create them and make them successful.

I found my new role was helping him imagine new restaurant concepts and turning those into bricks and mortar. As I took Communications and Public Relations courses through BCIT’s Marketing Management program, I discovered another way that I could support him and his ventures. Rather than spending money on traditional restaurant advertising, my husband and his business partner invested in a Public Relations Manager. She brought food writers into the restaurants and found opportunities for editorial promotions. I pushed the restaurants into the world of social media by setting up Facebook pages and helping the managers to generate content.

One of the most exciting challenges I set up for myself was a confectionary tasting for Vancouver’s premiere food bloggers. I invited, organized, hosted and live Tweeted the event and met some fascinating food lovers in the process. I created the website, set up and ran the Facebook and Twitter pages and did all the photography for the company. Unfortunately, the pastry chef moved back to his home province and the confections are no more.

But what I took away from these experiences was the understanding that I am not really meant to be the star in the spotlight, I’ll be the one directing the spotlight on the deserving talent and enjoy the occasional flash of their reflected glory.

Twitter Sitters and Facebook Fiends

I’ve been talking a lot about Twitter lately. Not on Twitter, but In Real Life. The people I’ve been talking to are Facebook Fiends (and friends), but Twitter Sitters. Meaning they are constantly interacting on Facebook and they have a Twitter account, but just sit on it rather than participate.

I’ve been trying to explain the draw of Twitter and what they can get out of it. It wasn’t until I got around to reading an article by Jacob Weisberg on Twitter in the March issue of Vogue (with a sultry Adele on the cover) called FAST COMPANY that I finally understood what I wanted to really say: Facebook is an extension of your real life social circle, while Twitter can actually extend your online and real life social circle.

I first joined Facebook when I was leaving my previous place of employment and everyone kept asking how we would keep in touch, which was followed by, “Are you on Facebook?” So to keep a social circle that would have otherwise fallen by the wayside, I signed up and collected friends both past and present. But, I keep my privacy settings on high alert and I don’t friend anyone that I haven’t actually met face to face. I message through Facebook and have organized events and groups, all with people that I have personal connections with in the real world.

Twitter, ironically, is more of an open book than Facebook. It is a public forum where anyone can follow you and you can follow anyone, it doesn’t have to be a reciprocal relationship like Facebook friends (of course, I’m leaving out people who have protected tweets, they don’t count). The trick with Twitter is you need to be following the right people, many of whom you do not yet know and may never know. By following tweeps you are not asking to be their friend, you just want them to share something of interest.

At first, I had some trouble decoding tweets, I was confused by all the @’s, RT’s, MT’s #FF’s and all the other hashtags (funny, I thought it was a number sign). What did they mean? How did they work? I did my research, stuck with it and one day it became a second language. As I got comfortable and started interacting more I began to feel at home. I understood the humour in fake hashtags and enjoyed engaged in two way conversations with people known and unknown. But, I had to step outside my comfort zone and try some new things. I’ve certainly made mistakes and missteps on Twitter, but the tide of tweets just washes them away and I continue to learn and improve.

The Vogue article compared Facebook to a walled garden where anonymity and parody are not allowed by the powers that be, while “Twitter prides itself on openness and egalitarianism – innovation percolates up from users rather than being pushed out from headquarters.” In the world of Social Media, Facebook leans to the Social and Twitter smacks more of Media. While Facebook has been keeping me up to date on my friends and family, Twitter has been feeding me news about my community and interests at an amazing speed. Twitter users have filled me in on earthquakes, police investigations, fires, sales, community events and celebrity deaths (some prematurely announced) before traditional news sources can grab their press pass.

So, if you have all the friends and business connections you’ll ever need and you like getting your news a day late then be a Twitter Sitter and a Facebook Fiend, but if you want to expand your online world and be connected to your community then tweet away! As I look forward to my first Tweet Up (a meet up of local Twitter users) I’m excited to increase my social circle and maybe make a few more friends.