There’s no doubt that marketers understand the importance of daily social media engagement, but few utilize Twitter Chats as a way to engage with individuals on a large but still personal level. Not familiar with Twitter Chats? They are a way for people of similar interests from all over the world to participate in a real-time conversation on the social channel. Businesses have started using them to connect with individuals in a more personalized and engaging way regarding topics relevant to their brand audience.

If you’re planning to host your own Twitter Chat, you’ll need to:

Understand the format. The conversation is led by a host (or a panel of hosts), uses a question-and-answer format, requires a specific hashtag and generally lasts about an hour.

Determine your goal. Twitter Chats are great for brand awareness, creating buzz, learning more about your audience and developing relationships with your customers. They can also increase website traffic and possibly lead to conversions. (read more…)

“Convincing a large organization to change what it’s been doing very successfully for decades can be a bit of a struggle,” says Brandon Rhoten, Wendy’s Director of Digital and Social Media in his presentation at our SocialMedia.org Brands-Only Summit.

He explains that with a heavy focus on TV commercials for over 50 years, Wendy’s was very comfortable with traditional advertising — and getting the company on board with social media took three things:

  • Headlines: Use external press — both the good and the bad. Brad says he shares the cringe-worthy stuff to show why Wendy’s should be a part of the conversation and the good coverage (like winning a Silver Cannes Lion, a Shorty award and Facebook Silver) to show where it’s working.
  • A simple plan: Empower a person to build and take responsibility for the channel. Make simple rules for a clear voice and tone. Don’t start with your business objectives — start with your customers’ habits.
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Kraft Foods Group faced several marketing challenges in 2010, and wasn’t set up to solve them, said Julie Fleischer, a Kraft executive, in a presentation at the 4A’s Data Summit on Tuesday.

The company was wedded to a TV-centric model, wasn’t committed to measurement, and thought of media buying as the last step in a marketing plan. It also had a “do what worked last year mentality,” which led Kraft to plan for trends that were likely already outdated in the fast-moving digital world.

When forming a reinvention plan about two years ago, Fleischer said the company told itself internally to expect that change will only get faster — there will never be a lull in which you can catch up.

The Kraft strategy can be expressed by three pillars:

1. Data — Fleischer said first-party data represents Kraft’s “unfair advantage,” that knowledge of the consumer will be the only way to separate your company.

2. Infrastructure — This means having the tools to reach the right customers, and backing that up with analytics to show that marketing is driving attitude as well as behavior. (read more…)

Digital tools offer distributors the potential to improve productivity and sales, offer a better value proposition for customers, and strengthen relationships with suppliers, but success isn’t possible without a smart strategy and some trial and error.

That was the conclusion of Mark Dancer and two industry experts on Wednesday at the NAW 2015 Executive Summit. Those experts — Ellen Holladay of Motion Industries and Brian Nichol of Performance Food Group — offered their experiences in planning, testing, deploying and refining digital tools to drive e-commerce sales at their respective companies.

Digital tools, in this context, include the Web/e-commerce, social media, CRM, marketing automation and more. Dancer surveyed wholesaler-distributors on a number of questions, including:

  • Overall experience with specific digital tools, in terms of “experienced user,” “implementer or shopper,” and “person with understanding of features and benefits.”
  • Leading priorities for improving business results, in terms of distributors and manufacturers.
  • The leading benefits of digital tools for wholesaler-distributors.
  • (read more…)

Everyone goes through what Lulu Gephart, REI’s manager of social and earned media, calls “content deserts.” There aren’t any campaigns or promotions going on, you’ve got nothing from your creative department, and finding something compelling to post is difficult. But, Lulu explains, at REI, they’ve developed a hashtag strategy that’s helped them capture user-generated content to use for the long haul.

For REI’s 1440 Project, they asked fans upload photos to a microsite or Instagram, tagging what outdoor activity they’re doing, where, and what minute of the 1440-minute day they’re doing it using #REI1440Project. And Lulu says, in just a few months, they gathered over 10,000 photos and over a half-million visits to the microsite.

Here are three key points from her presentation at our SocialMedia.org Brands-Only Summit:

  • Your fans show the true side of your brand. The variety and authenticity of user-generated content they received couldn’t have been recreated by REI’s creative team.
  • (read more…)