You may have heard about the recent Amy’s Baking Company fiasco that’s gone viral over the last week, proving how detrimental social media can be when misused. Owners, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, have become social media celebrities, with their angry comments retaliating against customers on Yelp, Facebook and Reddit. Even worse, this occurred after being featured on the season finale of Kitchen Nightmares and being dubbed “too far gone” by chef, Gordon Ramsey. Ramsey appears as the levelheaded party when juxtaposed with the Bouzaglo duo (which says a lot!), and for the first time on the show, he decided to quit working with the local Arizona business.

Recently, the couple made claims that they were not behind the all-caps, profanity-ridden posts, and that their account was actually hacked. While this is an unlikely story, they’re sticking to their guns on this one, making clear that they need a serious lesson on crisis management. This public relations nightmare makes us wonder, what steps should be taken at this point? How can the situation be rectified? And is the business, in the words of Ramsey, “too far gone?”

It’s apparent that the Bouzaglo’s could have learned a thing or two from our crisis management DOs and DON’Ts, highlighted in our previous blog post.

To recap:

DON’T shift blame

DO fully apologize – “It’s our fault”

DON’T offer excuses

DON’T behave as the victim

We would also like to add a couple more items to the list:

DON’T insult your customers

DON’T POST ANGRY, ALL CAPS, PROFANITY-RIDDEN COMMENTS THAT ARE PUBLIC ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES, THEN ANNOUNCE THAT YOU WEREN’T BEHIND THEM IN THE SAME EXACT ALL CAPS, PROFANITY-RIDDEN LANGUAGE

And how would we rectify the situation, now that most of the damage is done?

1. Apologize, apologize, apologize. Unfortunately, social media users can smell a lie as soon as it’s posted, and public forums, such as Facebook, make for an unforgiving audience. The hacker story was immediately interpreted as such, and they are seeing the consequences. Owning up to the mistake and apologizing won’t be a quick fix. In fact, it will require much patience while shielding off continued angry feedback. However, it’s the honest route and will prepare them for a clean foundation to rebuild off of.

2. Get Quiet. Silence will allow for time to rebuild. It’s never too late to rebrand your company after a disaster like this. It will take some time and restraint, but it is possible. Going under the radar for a little bit, rather than making noise in an effort to prove themselves to the public, will do them well.

3. Training. While “going quiet,” Amy and Samy clearly need to undergo several levels of training – media relations, social media and customer service. If they are open and willing enough to take this on, the couple will be armed and ready to face their infuriated audience head-on when it’s time.

4. Step Back and Hire Out. No matter what intensive training Amy and Samy endure, we have doubts that they’ll be a perfect fit for manning their social media accounts, marketing presence and customer service initiatives. As business owners, they will need to step back, let go, and bring in a manager to take on customer relations on their behalf. Additionally, with their small business budget, it would be wise to bring on an in-house marketing staff member who understands the needs of the company, but also fully grasps the etiquette desired and conversations necessary to have with the Amy’s Bakery audience.

5. Re-launch. Once comprehensive training has occurred and thoughtful hires have been placed, it’s time to re-launch with a new look and feel. We would suggest making a formal announcement — press release and all – about Amy’s honest, brand new start and the large efforts they have made to get there. After all, this negative publicity has certainly made the couple popular, and now with over 94,000 Facebook likes, there will be large audience ready and waiting to see where they all end up.

Recent update: Amy and Samy actually hired PR firm, Rose+Moser+Allyn, in hopes that they could manage the storm of negative publicity and the “grand re-opening” for Amy’s Baking Company on May 21, 2013. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t work out and the PR firm quit just days before the re-opening, citing that there were some differences of opinion. We can only hope that the event was a humble and apologetic affair. Perhaps the best thing the owners could do at this point is stay silent until the dust settles in Scottsdale, Arizona.

It’s no secret that social media is a necessity for any business, regardless of industry. And, furthermore, that staying relevant and in the conversation is crucial to social media success.  However, many companies are lost when it comes to knowing what to post and how to stay relevant across their various social media platforms.

Followers of your social media accounts follow you because you provide value. Keep them engaged and interested with posts that contribute to the conversation of the day. Read on for tips on how to maintain relevancy throughout your social media efforts:

  1. Stay up-to-date on industry news. If you don’t know what’s going on in your industry, don’t expect your followers to maintain interest in what you have to say. Knowledge is power—if you’re well versed in industry happenings and trends, you’ll be better equipped to carry engagement-worthy online conversations. Give yourself thirty minutes to one hour per day monitoring the headlines related to your business.
  2. Consider the needs of your customers. Just as important as they are outside of the interwebs, your customers’ needs should always come first. Ultimately, if you’re speaking your followers’ language and keeping them engaged with valuable content, they will share, retweet or repin posts they think are worthy of being passed on, leading to increased exposure and potentially more followers (and leads). Take the time to listen in on their online conversations to see what topics are important to them. Evaluate which posts they are responding to, and use that to your advantage.
  3. Don’t underestimate. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to stay relevant and truly engage your followers, and don’t underestimate the importance of being proactive about that engagement. It is easy to take a reactive approach with social media – posting only when you have a photo or company news handed to you to share, tweeting back only when being tweeted to. However, the results you will find when you take the time to research relevant topics and to reach out to users who are talking about relevant keywords in your area will be remarkable. We recommend using tools like Sprout Social, Social Mention, Hootsuite and TweetDeck to stay on top of these kinds of conversations.

What are some things you do to stay relevant on social media?

Ask me anything. This statement opens the door for personal stories, intimate conversations, and the potential to sweeten or sour the connection with your audience. What once was a website that was considered a space for self-proclaimed “nerds” to gather the latest news and strive to reach “the front page of the Internet” is now a social networking site that is capturing the attention of marketing and communications professionals across various industries. The newly popular outlet, Reddit, has caught the attention of everyone from celebrities to CEOs who want to engage with their audience and to do it quickly. A subreddit of the platform that many are using is the /r/AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread.

The AMA thread has the potential to turn a local YouTube star into the Most Interesting Man in the World. The concept is simple – a person signs onto Reddit and posts a topic that reads, “I am [insert name, profession, hobby or vice], ask me anything.” Once posted, the Reddit community swarms in and asks anything ranging from questions about one’s personal life to professional critiques – may the odds be ever in your favor.

No one is more honest, borderline blunt, than the Reddit community. What initially started as threads with subject lines such as “I am from Texas, AMA,” eventually grew to better-known names requesting to be asked anything about themselves. In the last several months alone, names such as President Obama, Bill Gates, Tony Hawk, and Dan Rather have tested out the world of AMA.

Reddit’s AMA thread not only appeals to Redditors, but also has an impact on the big-name thread leaders. Don’t believe us? Check out Gerard Butler’s video thank you to the Reddit community:

Because of its growth recently, the Ask Me Anything subreddit has expanded to another similar subreddit called “IAmA,” which has a schedule of upcoming Ask Me Anything content. Like all celebrity-related content on Reddit, proof must be provided that you are who you say you are.

While you explore the potential of the Reddit community, make sure to read the rules set up by the moderator and requests can only be made in threads that clearly state that request can be made.

Have you explored Reddit? What are you doing to use it to its full potential?

Regardless of your industry, marketing is, and always has been, an essential part of building your business. It is constantly adapting, taking on new trends and tools, and slowly moving away from more “traditional” tactics.

To carry out an effective campaign today, however, you must integrate both the more traditional methods, such as print marketing and direct mail, with modern, more digital and mobile-oriented techniques, such as social media marketing. This mindset allows you to obtain the largest reach by touching on all age groups, personality types and communicators within your target audience.

Direct Mail

With a consistent, targeted and eye-catching campaign, direct mail can lead to great results. Not only is it an effective method for keeping your business top-of-mind when supplementing your digital tactics, but also, with creative and informative mail pieces and compelling messages sent to the right people, you will undoubtedly experience successful conversion to sale. 

Promotional Items

Promotional items (“swag”), with company branding and contact info included, provide a personal way to connect with your audience. When a potential client walks away with a meaningful, fun, or useful promotional piece, your company is more likely to be remembered. In addition, when they are out and about and using the item, the company stays top-of-mind and will get those around them to notice the company too!

Email Marketing

The average consumer spends 38.5% of their mobile time on email. Additionally, the average person checks social media and their email when they wake up in the morning. Similar to direct mail, targeted and eye-catching email marketing campaigns aim to engage, inform and invoke action from the receiver. Compelling subject lines, image-focused email bodies and short, direct copy can draw in your audience.

Social Media and Blogging

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest, or any other emerging social media platforms – social media is the most relevant method for targeting your audience and should be viewed as an integral part of the marketing plan. Before you go and sign up for every social media platform, however, take into consideration your audience and where your audience is spending the majority of their time.

Combined with strong and user-friendly web design, as well as thoughtful SEO, PPC or remarketing campaigns, you’re sure to find great success using this integrated approach and comprehensive mindset.

What marketing methods have you found successful?

If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter recently, you’ve probably noticed the overwhelming number of profile pictures that have made the switch over to an image of a red equal sign. The sea of profile pictures with this image represents the overwhelming response to the recent marriage equality cases discussed in the Supreme Court, which the Human Rights Campaign, a LGBT rights lobbying organization, facilitated to encourage social media users to show their avid support for the cause.

Politics aside, the fact that this image (and creative variations of it) went viral overnight represents much more than the cause it’s fighting for – it showcases that major decisions and happenings, whether they be as light as the premiere of a popular TV show, or as heavy as the subject of marriage equality, create significant widespread engagement across all social media platforms.

That being said, can social media actually affect these major real-life decisions? Our answer is yes. It’s been proven that social media impacts TV ratings and company policies and can actually sway political opinions. For example, consider the 2011 Arab uprisings and backlash against the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, as referenced in this NPR podcast. The ripples of the social media effect are evident by the viral spread of opinions and images as simple as a red equal sign. Whether you support a cause or not, the impact of social media on political and social movements (and vice versa) is undeniable.

So, the next time you think that a Facebook post won’t really make a difference, or that no one will read that Tweet anyways, think again.

We now get information through a variety of sources. In addition to television news programs, newspapers and radio talk shows, there are blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media websites generating immediate public opinion. The 2008 election gave us a glimpse of how social media can be integrated into campaigns, but it has been taken to new levels during this year’s election. Here are some key components.

Candidate Strategy

Candidate tweets, consistent social media updates, and constant monitoring of what America is saying are all part of candidates’ strategy. With a strong voting population engaged in social media, election strategists are responding to meeting voters online and making sure they understand the campaign messaging.

Instant Fact Check

During the debates, citizens and media were keen to call out incorrect facts they heard and quickly link followers to the truth. Social media is a real-time medium and by finding and sharing information (articles, etc.) available online, instant fact checks keep voters aware and candidates in check.

Media Engages With Social Media

News anchors cite audience tweets and Facebook posts in their newscasts. Twitter predicts winners through the number of tweets. News websites share opinions and “best Tweets” of the night in their articles and news recaps. The media know that the voice of viewers is important and engaging with them and sharing information is becoming part of their jobs.

Entertainment Through Memes

If you didn’t watch the debates, you might have awakened to funny posts and images relating to Big Bird, binders of women and bayonets. Or maybe you’ve seen pictures of the “O RLY” faces? Could we be subtly educating each other about politics by sharing silly memes?

Interactive Debates

Not only were we engaged in what the candidates were saying on television or live streams online during the debates, but we were sharing our thoughts and repeating what the candidates were saying online. Twitter reports there were 24 million total tweets during the three debates combined.

What’s to come for future elections? Social media is growing in importance and expanding its audience reach daily.  It will continue to play a big part in future election strategy and they will look for ways to grow. Some questions that only time will answer:

  • How will candidates grow their social media platforms even more?
  • How will brands get involved, if they do?
  • Can social media help us become more engaged and involved in politics?
  • Will social media help increase voter turnout by motivating people to get to the polls?

 

To conclude, check out this interesting infographic about how social media has changed politics.

Today’s Election Day! We encourage you to go vote!

 

Pinterest is a rapidly growing social photo-sharing site with the goal of connecting the world through visual representations of people’s interests.

Its pin-board style of sharing photographic ideas, in which people can “re-pin” or “like” pictures from other Pinterest users all across the world, makes it easy to collect and share ideas. While many people think of Pinterest as a highly addictive site full of beautiful luxuries, tempting its users to dump all their savings on the table for a home makeover or the perfect skinny jeans, Pinterest isn’t just about throw pillows and knitting projects. Pinterest has proven itself to be a wonderful medium for personal wellness.

With a huge portion of the internet’s health, fitness, and wellness blogs combined together in one website, Pinterest can help you become healthier, one pin at a time:

1. Healthy food options: A large portion of Pinterest focuses on food. This is a very easy place to find healthy recipes, facts on food, and nutritious food plans that have been tried and reviewed by users. Most of the pictures of food on Pinterest lead to the full websites that provide further nutritional information and recommendations for other health-savvy websites.

2. Workouts: Pinterest is the ultimate go-to for workout boredom. No matter what you’re interested in, there is a workout for you waiting to be utilized. There is everything from yoga, running, and mountain biking to quick workouts for people who only have fifteen minutes to spare for a workout on their living room floor. There are also tips on how to burn more calories during everyday activities such as being at work, driving a car, and cleaning the house.  With the site being highly visual, it is easy to see the accurate formations of workout poses and learn how to correctly use an exercise ball.

3. Recommended gear: Upset your third infomercial ab machine didn’t give you the six-pack promised? Pinterest users dish out their tried and true workout essentials and share what has worked best for them. Users can even comment on other people’s posts inquiring where they bought it or how much it costs.

4. Health support: Whether you have a disease and want to find counsel from other people who are experiencing the same illness, or you’re looking for a weight-loss support group, Pinterest users have posted the websites they have found the most helpful for encouragement and information. You can also find healthy ways of substituting natural remedies for medication for minor illnesses and a list of what to bring for a hospital visit.

5. Inspiration: Sometimes you just need the extra push to tie up your running shoes or drink that extra glass of water. Pinterest is overflowing with inspirational quotes, testimonies, and pictures that will give you the extra “oomph” you need to make your day healthier.

 

This social media outlet has allowed the topic of health to become an entertaining pastime, integrating the importance of wellness into everyday life. Try it out for yourself, and see what Pinterest can help you accomplish.

While you’re at it, check out the Wellington Group Pinterest to learn a little more about what inspires us.

Happy Pinning.

 

 

Have you seen the video about Joseph Kony (Kony 2012) that’s gone viral? If not, it’s time.

Joseph Kony, a Ugandan leader, went from an invisible world criminal to a household name within days. A group called Invisible Children recently released a 30 minute campaign video, calling for the removal of this rebel leader. The video explains the harsh brutality of Joseph Kony, whose crimes include abduction, rape, and murder of children in Ugandan. He has spent years kidnapping children and training them to be in his army, forcing them to kill their own parents and siblings simply to prove his own power. With the new “Stop Kony” video that has gone viral, every social networking site is buzzing about this desperate cry for help. Prominent figures in entertainment, such as Justin Beiber, Kim Kardashian, and Rihanna, have joined in to spread awareness of the #kony2012 campaign. The video not only encourages the removal of this murderous leader, but it also showcases how powerful a simple idea can be. The campaign proves that even a small group of individuals have the power to fight a big cause.

The organization has its critics and people questioning its tactics, what it’s doing with the donations, etc. We question how people can focus on this and not on the issue at hand.

Have you ordered your Action Kit yet?

Click here to watch the full length KONY VIDEO.

Written by Kendall Hanna

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Pinterest has taken the world by storm and has business websites touting it as one of the hottest things in social media right now. This past December, the website hit 7 million unique visitors. According to a study in January, Pinterest drove more traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. The website is an online bulletin board that helps you visually “organize and share things you love.” It can also be described as a visual way to organize your browser bookmarks.

Here’s how Pinterest works:

1. After making an account, you create boards of your interest such as “ Places to visit” to pin your future travel plans or “Gadgets” to pin tech tools you’re interested in. You name your boards what you want and pin what you want.

2. Start pinning. Use the search bar for specific keywords, find and link up with your friends on Twitter and Facebook so their pins show up in your feed or check Pinterest’s general feeds by category, which range from architecture to kids to weddings.

3. Add the “Pin It” Button to your browser bookmark bar to pin on your boards as you roam the Internet. The pin will automatically link to its original destination.

There are many opportunities when it comes to Pinterest. Not only do users use it personally to create boards of products they want, dinner recipes for the next month, ideas for a party, DIY projects they want to accomplish, or the inspiration to design their future home, but businesses have already jumped on Pinterest to promote their brands. For example:

Real Simple, a monthly women’s interest magazine, pins tips and recipes, which links users to articles on their website.

RealSimple
 
Mashable, a news website, pins popular infographics and the latest and greatest in technology, social media and other general Internet greatness.

Mashable
 
Warby Parker, a prescription eyewear company, pins their eyeglasses onto boards, which links back to their website where customers can buy their product.

WarbyParker
 
GSD&M, a local ad agency, created their Pinterest account just in time for SXSW and created boards to help visitors find their way around Austin and discover what the city has to offer.

GSDM
 
Businesses have started using Pinterest for a number of reasons.

1. Pinterest sends new people to your website.

When something is pinned, it has the chance to be re-pinned onto many, many boards among all Pinterest users. That is a lot of people who see the pin and go directly back to your website from the pin.

2. Pinterest builds your brand and gives your brand more personality.

Your boards show your followers what you’re interested in, not just what your company is all about. For example, Milkshake, a free daily email that features goods that give back, not only posts the content of their emails on the “Milkshake” board, but also pins on boards like “Water” to promote clean water around the world and “Amy: CEO and Co-founder” to show things their team member Amy enjoys. Milkshake promotes their company and their brand and mission.

3. Pinterest teaches and inspires people.

From clever tips for around the house to online tools to do your taxes, Pinterest gives users a way to discover new solutions and ideas. Businesses have the opportunity to show users how their products or services can help.

Have more questions about Pinterest? Check out their FAQ.

Are you on Pinterest? How do you use it?