S.M.R.T Learnings

Looking back on this Social Media Research & Techniques course, I’ve learnt a lot about what it takes to successfully brand your business online.  It has given me a very good understanding of the importance of ethics, brand personalities and subject relevancy when promoting your brand through social media.

Most importantly, the three key takeaways for me have been:

1.       Keeping it simple:

Blogs & social media posts require much simpler language vs. more traditional forms of communication.  Users need to be able to read through things quickly to get the message without putting much thought into them, so clear, concise posts are best.  This has been a critical learning for me since my writing style tends to stay the same, regardless of the platform.  I am now much more conscious of this and am continuously working to get my point across in as few words as possible!

2.       The importance of influencers:

Whether it be through Klout or some other form of measurement tool, finding your brand ambassadors who have the broadest reach & ability to influence is critical to spreading your message online.  This learning has helped me to realize that it’s not just about the quantity or frequency of posts a brand or company spits out, it’s about the quality and how well these posts resonate with users.  Connecting with your brand loyalists in a meaningful way and giving them the opportunity to recruit new users are some of the most useful aspects of social media for your business.

3.       Measuring success in real-time:

Without measurable objectives and monitoring, a company will never know what the ROI is on a social media campaign or the benefits it can provide.  Setting short-term goals is important due to the fast pace and real-time results the internet provides.  In my job, I’m used to setting monthly or yearly objectives and assessing performance basically only at month’s or year’s end.  In recognizing the value of real-time results, it’s clear that there are many more opportunities to re-assess and adjust plans as needed in order to meet or exceed objectives.

Now that I have learnt the fundamentals of building a successful social media presence, I’d like to apply these learnings in my current job.  It’s such an asset to have been able to study this prior to launching our brand into the social sphere so I plan to share as many learnings as possible with colleagues to help make this launch a huge success!

 

Company Profile: E.t.T Communication Strategy

In studying the growing number of food industry sites popping up all over social media, it’s clear that this is a highly engaging platform for chefs and restaurant owners to connect with their customers.  As mentioned in a previous post, it’s so important in this industry to stay top of mind in order to keep consumers wanting to come back for more.  It seems that a genuine and honest approach is most attractive to followers.

In a recent email, Jeff Crump (Executive Chef at E.t.T) said, “My success with twitter has been in relation to my personal opinions, what I am reading and cheffy stuff.”

 

Communication Strategy

While Earth to Table does a very good job connecting with followers on Twitter, there are still some clear opportunities to grow their social media presence.  They have built a strong fanbase so it would be a great time to launch a true social media campaign helping to further promote thier slow food movement.

Facebook

  • Largest of all social media sites with 18.5 million users in Canada alone
  • 55% of the population penetration and 71% of online population penetration (comScore Media Matrix, Oct. 2011)
  • Can be used to measure engagement through ‘likes’, posts and sharing between friends
  • Great platform to advertise special events and allow users to invite their friends

Given this information, Facebook should be the “big tent” of their social media campaign and Twitter should act as the promoter, drawing fans in with snippets of useful content and promotions.  Specific features of Facebook such as the timeline component could help to spread the slow food philosphy by showing the timeline of their food production.  This would really give followers an idea of the journey plants & livestock go through before arriving one a plate at one of their restaurants.

YouTube

  • Platform built to upload and share videos
  • Allows for companies to host their own channels which users can follow

While E.t.T does have a small presence on YouTube, they could be using this platform more effectively by uploading more videos of their farm and CSA partners.  It’s clear through following them on Twitter, that their followers are interested in the E.t.T food journey so this is an obvious platform for sharing videos of the growing, harvesting and menu planning process.  While YouTube doesn’t provide as many tools for measuring results, I believe it can have a big impact on their overall social media strategy by linking to the videos from other social media sites.

Spreading the slow-food philosophy

I think that given the sheer size of Facebook alone, if E.t.T were to launch a social media campaign they could achieve a follower-base of well over 10,000 people within year one.  This would help to attract new customers as well as remain top of mind for their current customers, increasing the frequency of their visits.  In general, I think that the grass-roots nature of social media coincides perfectly with the E.t.T philosophy.  It’s the perfect medium to help grow their business through increased awareness and trial but also help to achieve their biggest objective which is to spread the slow food philosophy.

 

*Please note:  I am not affiliated with E.t.T in any way.  These Company Profile posts are part of an assignment for my SMRT-CCE course at McMaster University.

Company Profile: Earth to Table’s Social Media Presence

Earth to Table has a strong social media presence, focusing mainly on Twitter and YouTube platforms.  Both Jeff Crump (Executive chef) and Bettina  Schormann (Executive Pastry Chef) are the active voices of E.t.T on these platforms.

The duo is very active on Twitter, sometimes tweeting up to several times per day.  They have fewer YouTube videos but the important thing to note is that all content whether it be tweets or videos are relevant to their followers.  Jeff & Bettina tweet about new produce, menu planning, local events and some personal posts as well.  They are well-connected with other food industry professionals, chefs & customers too.  Having followed them both for a little over a year, it’s clear that E.t.T uses Twitter to connect customers with their food in a deeper way.  Twitter is the perfect platform for E.t.T because it coincides their slow food philosophy of bringing people closer to the food they eat.  What could be closer than tweets straight from the farm?

Their customers are very engaged with E.t.T on Twitter and often re-tweet their posts, ask questions about the daily menu offerings and respond to personal or anecdotal tweets too.  On Father’s day this year E.t.T tweeted its followers asking what the best advice their father ever gave them.  Over 25 people responded & re-tweeted the conversation in a matter of hours.  They also took the opportunity to announce a Father’s Day special which undoubtedly drew in some extra business.

Strengths

  • Use of strong, appropriate platforms to engage with their customers
  • Social Media strategy aligns well with their overall business objectives of spreading the slow food philosophy
  • Frequent posts about things that resonate with their followers
  • Nearly 7,000 Twitter followers
  • Thousands of people have also viewed their YouTube videos

Here’s an example of one of their YouTube videos where Jeff & Bettina give tips for shopping at the Farmer’s Market.

Weaknesses

  • Their own E.t.T YouTube channel has minimal content
  • Rely on others to upload & tag videos (no ownership of content)
  • Minimal presence on other platforms like Foodspotting and no presence on Facebook

Opportunities

  • Extend their social media presence beyond Twitter & YouTube
  • Opportunities to use the features of different social media platforms to support different objectives of their business

*Please note:  I’ll be discussing the opportunities further in my next and final post where I will make recommendations on how they could possibly use this medium more effectively.

Threats

  • If a customer has a bad experience or feels like the restaurant is not living up to its food philosophy, they can share a bad review with millions of people in real-time
  • E.t.T is so open about their ingredients and cooking process, they should be prepared on how to handle a situation should a negative story (even if it’s not with E.t.T directly but one of their suppliers) should go viral

*Please note:  I am not affiliated with E.t.T in any way.  These Company Profile posts are part of an assignment for my SMRT-CCE course at McMaster University.

My timbit review

In class tonight we’ve been asked to write about a treat offered to us by our instructor Jared.  I got a glazed chocolate timbit from Tim Hortons. 

I think as Canadians we’ve all had a timbit in our lifetime so hopefully everyone can imagine what this treat tastes like:  a slight crunch of the glazed icing on the outside, followed by a dense, doughy, chocolate-y center.  In all honesty – they’re not that good and probably not worth the calories.  I ate mine rather delicately in 3 bites when I could have just shoved the whole thing in my mouth.

The end.

Do or Don’t: Following restaurants on Social Media

Company Profile: Earth to Table

Who is E.t.T?

Earth to Table is a union of 4 local restaurants that include Breadbar (Locke St., Hamilton), Spencer’s (Burlington), Cambridge Mill (Cambridge) and Ancaster Mill (Ancaster).  They also own a 100 acre farm, a farmer’s market stall & cookbook.

An E.t.T staple, Breadbar, is a fully functioning bake-shop by day and converts into a pizzeria by night featuring delicious, seasonal produce.  What started out as simply a means of supplying the Ancaster Mill with high quality, local produce has now turned into something much larger; a sustainable system that nourishes the community & environment. (E.t.T)

Their main objective is to provide delicious food that is also local, seasonal & sustainable.  They also aim to educate the communities they serve on the importance of sustainable harvesting & eating and to highlight the importance of supporting our local farmers.

What makes them different?

Earth-to-Table doesn’t just preach about how local, sustainable food is better they live and breathe this philosophy in everything they do.  Their love of food and ingredients shines through all consumer touch-points.  These can include face-to-face experiences at one of their restaurants or farmer’s market stall or through their online social media presence which I’ll be discussing in an upcoming post.

In their cookbook they state, “In the end, I hope it becomes clear that what Bettina and I advocate when we encourage people to close the gap from earth to table is not that we all adopt some regimen of food purity, or that we abstain from certain foods.  This is not about sacrifice, it’s about discovery.” (E.t.T)

While the local food movement seems to be a new trend, E.t.T has really pioneered this movement in Canada and when I say that they mean it, I mean they really mean it.  They have been working with CSA farms for years and recently purchased their own 100 acre piece of farmland with the intent to farm as much of their own meat, produce & baking staples as possible

Who eats at E.t.T?

While the four E.t.T restaurants each have their own unique look & feel to them, they all have a similar personality; friendly, uncomplicated & unpretentious. 

Breadbar is the most casual of the group and acts as a hub for locals to meet, relax and catch up.  It has a community feel and you can often find big groups of family & friends meeting for a long weekend breakfasts.  The other restaurants in the group are more upscale and are very common venues for big events like weddings, birthdays & anniversaries.  Although Spencer’s, Ancaster Mill & Cambridge Mill are more upscale, they still have the same vibe as the more casual Breadbar.  This is because they truly believe in the philosophy of slow food and it comes through in everything they do and every restaurant they open.

*Please note:  I am not affiliated with E.t.T in any way.  These Company Profile posts are part of an assignment for my SMRT-CCE course at McMaster University.

The Great Klout Debate

After debating the pros and cons of Klout in class last night, my opinion of Klout has not changed.

As I’ve said before, I believe that Klout is an effective tool to measure online influence when a clear objective is set by a person or brand.  People who are completely fixated on their Klout score and their sole objective is to increase thier number (for no real purpose) are not using the program to its full potential.

However, if someone (or a brand) uses it with the objective to reach a certain group of people, or to test the effectiveness of a social media marketing campaign there are many aspects of Klout that can prove to be quite useful.  Klout can provide extremely targeted reach to influencers who are naturally inclined to talk about your brand.  These groups can be used to test concepts, get feedback from loyal followers and to offer rewards or ‘perks’ to encourage these groups to continue ‘spreading the word’ about your brand.

Klout is still in its infancy and certainly has its flaws but overall, I think it’s an effective measurement tool that can be used in conjunction with other research or information gathered. 

Until next time…

-m.