The question requiring an answer is what three companies are successfully utilizing social media as a form of marketing. The three companies I have picked are Oreo, Netflix, and GrubHub. The social media they use for marketing that I am going to discuss is Twitter.
My profession is librarian, while I also have an interest in web design, being a student of web design, and I sell Pampered Chef – although very poorly. I am going to use Libraries using social media and offer examples of successful use. My thought would be that the most successful use of social media for libraries would be Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I chose three as I have found an instance of each that I thought the library did a really innovative and engaging manner of using said social media.
Accordingly, a research survey of over 600 librarians and their social media discovered, “A very interesting discovery is the preferred social network highlighted, Facebook, with 58% of librarians stating they used it on a regular basis. Twitter (46% regularly use) and blogging (30% regularly use) were also mentioned as being in significant use, but following on from this other platforms begin to tail off. Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, Academia.edu and ResearchGate were all only used by a very small minority of less than 10% of all those questioned.
This is particularly thought-provoking when contrasted with comments received through the focus groups stating that students were increasingly leaving Facebook, as they saw it as a platform for an older generation and less relevant to their communication needs.
One librarian mentioned that “students are searching by image first, text second”, suggesting that visual channels are becoming a preferred means of communication with younger users. Yet, this possible change in the usage of social media is not yet reflected in how libraries are targeting communications.”1
What does surprise me is the lack of Instagram in this survey, and the use of blogging, which I have found is more successful for librarian to librarian audience communication. “Instagram describes itself as a “simple way to capture and share the world’s moments.” Libraries around the world are using the mobile application to showcase a wide variety of perspectives. Amid an endless sea of snapshots of edible delights and selfies on Instagram, libraries can provide a breath of fresh air with snapshots of literary delights and shelfies. Libraries show their spaces, displays, architecture, collections, events, staff, and users. The images and videos that appear on a library’s Instagram account tell a collective story of the vital role that the library plays in the community. The account, moreover, becomes a powerful marketing tool that has the potential to inspire visitors to view the library as a destination.”2
An example of a public library successfully utilizing Instagram is the Abilene Public Library in Abilene Texas. Their account does a fabulous job of highlighting what is going on at the library. “The Abilene Public Library’s Instagram account is a fun mix of happenings among the system’s three branches and memes. You’ll find pictures of lucky Amazon Kindle winners from this Texas library’s summer reading book challenge alongside Doctor Who/Dr. Seuss mash-ups. They also smartly use hashtags to attract Instagram users that might be outside of the library’s community.3
An example of a public library using Facebook would be the Boston Public Library. Their Facebook is filled with information about library events, historical tid-bits of interesting facts, sign up for classes offered by the library, and much more. They post every day, include library contact information, hours, and links to other relevant social media pages.
An example of a public library using Twitter would be the New York Public Library. The Twitter account is just filled with interesting facts tweeted and meant to inspire. I love it as they have taken the ask a librarian concept to a global level. “Inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, strengthen communities. Got a question? Send us a tweet, text us at 66746, or call 917-ASK-NYPL.”4
To me, these three examples of different social media sites and how each library used it to highlight the library and make it stand out just strengthens the idea that social media is versatile. If the content is engaging AND relevant, the users will come.
The three companies that I decided to highlight are similar in that they have maintained an interesting and brand driven online social media presence. GrubHub, Netflix and Oreo are three distinctive companies that use social media, particularly Twitter. I believe while using each aspect of social media to promote your business is a very good decision; one type of social media tends to resonate with the customer/user. Part of that is the thought and effort that is put into the social media content.
Oreo is a wonderfully delightful cookie with two chocolate wafers that surround a white creamy center. Dipped into milk, and it becomes the center of heaven…in my opinion. While it is a cookie, it also has an amazing online presence. Their marketing team has taken advantage of moments such as when there was a power outage at the Superbowl, and they tweeted, An image of an oreo in a black and white photo stating “You can still dunk in the dark.” Oreo added to the image “Power Out? No problem.5 This innovative tweet is just one of the examples that have made Oreo such a popular social media topic.
“Marketers at Oreo have been generating a lot of buzz about their cookies these days, and they’re using social media to do it. The techniques they’re using are extremely innovative, and they’re not that difficult to replicate.
Although this popular brand of cookie is known for its black-and-white striped appearance and its customers tendency to twist it apart or dunk it in milk, the brand is a social media powerhouse:
Oreo has a strategy, and it is very simple. “1. Be Timely and Topical – The campaigns that Oreo have promoted, such as the Daily Twist Campaign which highlighted an Oreo cookie altered to highlight some relevance to the day. For instance, Elvis week was an Oreo altered to look like Elvis. It generated nearly 5 million likes. 2. Promote Consistently and Frequently – Post on your social media several times a day and generate interest with posts that lead into the other, generating interest. 3. Use Graphics, Simple Concepts – Oreo uses high quality images and simplifies the message. The details in the image should engage the user 4. Have Fun – When KitKat engaged Oreo in a slight Twitter war, Oreo responded in good fun.”7
Oreo keeps its followers engaged by keeping the content fresh, and like the other two examples of social media marketing success, follows a set of rules that roll into a larger strategy.
GrubHub is, according to its website, “…the nation’s leading online and mobile food ordering company dedicated to connecting hungry diners with local takeout restaurants. The company’s online and mobile ordering platforms allow diners to order directly from more than 44,000 takeout restaurants in over 1,000 U.S. cities and London. Every order is supported by the company’s 24/7 customer service teams. Grubhub has offices in Chicago, New York and London.”8
GrubHub is an online resource for anyone who wishes to locate a restaurant and order and pick up or delivery. They have managed to keep viewers engaged on social media by posting pictures of food, posting tidbits of information about food – such as on “Cinco de Mayo orders to Mexican restaurants increase by 57%”. They also asked viewers to share images of their Mom on Mother’s day. Their Tweets and postings on social media are interesting and are meant to draw viewers in.
GrubHub has a social media marketing strategy that includes “five goals: Engagement/Feedback, Brand Identity, Proliferation, Transparency and Link Building”9. They post on their blog on how to use and engage viewers to social media. For example, their blog entitled “Which Social Media Channels are Right for Your Restaurant?” offers insightful advice on how to engage users.
“With more than 316 million monthly active users*, Twitter’s micro-blogging platform limits messages 140-characters or less. Unlike Facebook, you aren’t likely to find many older patrons using Twitter, as the platform’s average user is 50 years old or younger.
For restaurants, Twitter is a medium best used to instantly share updates with followers, have real-time conversations and publicize time-sensitive promotions. If you’re having a slow night, use Twitter to offer an impromptu deal, special or discount. Diners might contact you via Twitter to thank you for a wonderful experience or ask you questions about your menu, hours or location before deciding to visit or place an order. Most Twitter users will contact your restaurant publicly (as opposed to sending a private direct message), so every conversation is an opportunity to showcase your restaurant’s excellent customer service.”10
Their posts are engaging and are meant to draw in the business to which it sells – food to hungry people looking for a restaurant.
Netflix is a business that began as a DVD mailing service in 1997. Sign up and receive a DVD of your choice in the mail, and when you are done watching it send it back, and another will arrive in a red envelope promptly. The thought was revolutionary, and Netflix perfected it.
“Blockbuster and Wal-Mart failed to kill Netflix because this DVD mailing thing was just a hobby for them.
But Netflix remained laser-focused on creating the best DVD mailer service possible, which is harder than it sounds. Shipping centers were set up in every major city and plenty of smaller ones, too. Then they were automated to the hilt, managed by a highly trained skeleton crew of humans, and scaled to handle millions of incoming and outgoing disks every day. Next, Netflix patented its DVD-mailing business model and successfully sued Blockbuster for infringement.
And while many businesses would be tempted to rest on their laurels after developing a success story like the Netflix DVD business, Netflix refused to fall victim to the innovator’s dilemma and started killing its own golden goose.”11
“Given the “Net” in this company’s name, it was no surprise when Netflix launched its first online video-streaming service. After all, management never made a big secret out of its long-term plans. When The Fool interviewed Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in 2005, digital conversion was already on the horizon:
In terms of downloading, we see it evolving slowly but steadily over the next 10 years. We will launch an initial version of Internet delivery of movies this year, 2005, and we will continue to fund and subsidize that work at 1 to 2% of revenues every year. It will grow in significance year over year.
Eventually five or 10 years from now, as there are more and more homes with large-scale broadband, more and more content availability, Internet delivery will be a very substantial business.”12
Its social media marketing strategy is no less planned out. “Instead of spending advertising dollars on paid media, streaming services turn to social media to promote their new additions and original content. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon use social media to let their users know what is newly available to stream, what’s going away soon, and what’s getting a lot of buzz. Netflix in particular has been using social media outlets like Twitter and Instagram to put out memes, clips, and digital video to further boost awareness and even cross-promote their shows.”13
Neflix has some interesting strategies when it comes to social media. They are true innovators and their strategy is well thought out. Some lessons? “Netflix social lesson #1: Big release coming up? Save some content for the after-show. Netflix changed how TV shows are viewed by releasing the entire season all at once. Then in subsequent weeks, the show is mentioned, generating more interest and content. This strategy keeps the topic buzzing, with fresh content, video clips and media outlets posting on content. That, in turn means potential new customers and the retention of current ones.
Netflix social lesson #2: Embrace your inner brand voice. Netflix has a sound, an inner bite, the brand voice that connects with the audience. There is some swagger, some arrogance, but always interesting and fresh. That truly resonates with the users.
Netflix social lesson #3: Leverage the wider social world to get your message out there. Netflix is a monthly subscription based service, but there are no contract fees or need to commit. You can opt out at any time. Due to this, there are patterns that have emerged with the postings on Twitter with the terms “Netflix” and “Next Month”. The pressure to entice viewers to continue to subscribe generated original and entertaining content.”14
While each uses their own brand of innovation, the success of these three very different companies is based on ingenuity and timeliness. Oreo is a cookie, GrubHub is an online resource for those looking for something to eat, and Netflix is a DVD and online streaming service. Each engages its customers by being topical on their product and making sure the content is interesting. Their inherent success is based on originality.