Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Power of Social Media

The business function most commonly charged with engaging customers through social media has been the marketing department. However, the growing regularity of online communities that allow consumers to exchange information about products or services, and to compare prices among competitors, has also meant that marketers have lost control over how and where their products are presented to potential customers.  An experience I had a couple weeks ago is a perfect example of this.

Every Friday, the Bayard office in Denver orders Chipotle for lunch. Our manager orders online and then someone runs to pick up.  I am still relatively new to the company and as a way to “get some fresh mountain air” I volunteered to pick up a few times.  Every time I picked up I would drive to Chipotle, get everyone’s meal, and then drive back to the office.  Having worked at a restaurant previously, I tend to be pretty picky about my food and any modifications that I request. The first time the orders weren’t correct, I let it go.  The second and third time, I called the store manager AND went back to Chipotle to get the corrected food.  The manager I spoke with over the phone didn’t greet me when I returned to the store, but the employees apologized nevertheless and gave me the correct orders.  The fourth time it happened, I was done.  In less than 5 seconds Google directed me to Chipotle’s corporate website and I filled out an online form describing my unpleasant experiences with the company.  I waited for almost 2 weeks and after no reply, I felt I had no choice but to use the power of social media….and hey, I wasn’t happy so I didn’t leave the nicest post.

As you can see, the social media team responded to me almost immediately and, apparently, corporate had misplaced my original complaint.  What followed after this is what I’d refer to as the power of social media.

I was contacted by an HR rep after messaging my email address to the Social Media Coordinator at Chipotle.  I re-submitted the original complaint and then was contacted by the General Manager of the store that we use on Fridays.  He profusely apologized and even offered to visit our office and personally apologize to our manager!  The service didn’t stop there, however.  Corporate personally mailed me a handful of “Free Burrito” cards and then bought the ENTIRE office lunch last Friday (the total was over $100!).  Talk about service!

Social media has an important role to play in helping companies identify and address unmet customer needs. Companies can engage employees, customers, suppliers and other third parties as active participants in the innovation process, expanding the range of ideas and gathering real-time feedback on their potential take-up.  This provides an early opportunity to identify potential problems and alerts the developers to customer differences across geographic markets that need to be addressed.

With social media, I was able to solve a problem that would probably never have been resolved if I relied on more traditional methods of communication. While my e-mail to Chipotle was lost or ignored, the second I took my complaint to a public forum, it was dealt with in a competent and friendly manner. The prompt response and solutions to our problems guaranteed our return business to Chipotle. This just goes to show that more businesses need to keep in mind the power they hold in their hands when joining the social media grid.

How to Measure ROI of Social Media Marketing

Does anyone else wonder why, in the year 2012, we are still unable to measure ROI of social media? It’s a problem that every marketer wants to solve, but it seems like we never get any closer to an answer. Many businesses today use social media to advertise their products and services to a wider audience than they could otherwise reach. But they find it difficult to track and measure ROI from their social media sites. It’s not like tracking ad campaigns or using PPC advertising; there are no solid metrics to use.

Because of this, many marketers say that social media marketing is predominantly about brand awareness. Though brand awareness is certainly important, it doesn’t make you any money. What you need to track is how that awareness of your brand converts to sales, which is near to impossible, and brings us to our original problem. All is not hopeless, though. Here are several solutions to difficulty measuring ROI of your social media sites:

Set goals that are simple to track

  • Whether it’s increasing the number of interactions on your Facebook, or getting more followers on Twitter, there are many goals you can set that are easy to track. Simply set a timeline in which to achieve your goal, and check back at regular intervals to see if you are any closer to achieving it. These goals are easy ways to measure if your social media influence is stagnant, or increasing like you want it to be.
  • You can also leverage tools that will track incoming links to your site and the activities of your visitors, such as Google Analytics. You can use applications like PostRank or Hootsuite for Twitter and Facebook metrics. Tracking the data back to your site makes it easier to see if your goals are being met. You can also then see if the traffic to your website increased after a special campaign, such as an offer on Facebook, for instance. By tracing the origin of trends, you will be better able to see your ROI.

Don’t forget about the long-term 

  • Your company may want to start a Twitter account, but there’s more to social media sites than simply having a profile. You need to have at least one person devoted to posting and interacting on the site in order to have a real effect. It pays to remember that social media is a communication tool, and consistent actions must be taken to garner a following.
  • The kiss of death for social media campaigns is when the people running it are inconsistent. Though posting regularly may mean working after hours or on the weekends, the easiest way to get more followers and “likes” is to update your sites and post almost every, if not every day of the week.

Find your key topics 

  • It’s important to know what kind of posts your audience responds to, and post more related things. If you see that people are constantly clicking on your posts about increasing engagement on social media sites, post more articles and links to pages about increasing engagement! If you’re posting things that are interesting to your followers, they’re not only going to pay more attention to your site, but they will likely recommend you to their friends and colleagues as well.
  • When you post, see whether it resounds with your audience. Do people comment, “like”, retweet, and share your content? Do they click on your links? Do your posts guide people back to your other social media sites and website? If not, you simply have to reanalyze your social media strategy, because your current one clearly isn’t doing well.

All in all, social media is a marathon, not a sprint. The best thing you can do is to keep plugging away at it, even if it seems to be having no effect. Eventually, you will figure out a social media mix that works best for your company, whether your ROI is measurable or not.


The Denver Office Does it Again!

Recently we completed a Facebook project for St. Joseph Medical Center (SJMC) in Towson, Maryland. We were challenged to make something really awesome (not that our work is ever anything but!). Luckily for us, Facebook had recently introduced the new Timeline format for company pages.  This provides us with much more “real estate” to develop a microsite within a Facebook page.  It also allows us to brand the page a lot more.

Click here to see what we came-up with!

There were, of course, some challenges with our project:

  • St. Joseph Medical Center wanted a social platform that they could utilize and leverage for several years.
  • SJMC has very strict corporate branding guidelines. We had to devise a way work within those constraints while still trying to develop something innovative and useful from a user experience perspective.
  • The client wanted to have all of the same information from their website on the Facebook page, but have it presented it in a more socially interactive way. They did not, however, want the Facebook page to look identical to their website.
  • Staff videos were buried in a YouTube channel, and SJMC wanted to utilize them in the Facebook page in an easy-to-access, interactive format.
  • SJMC wanted the ability for candidates to apply directly from the Facebook page.

And some of our solutions:

  • The page was built to be utilized as a social talent community – a place where candidates could gather and frequently be updated with career opportunities/information.
  • We decided to develop a wireframe and design scheme that matched other campaigns that Bayard had developed for SJMC.
  • In order to keep users and interaction within the Facebook page, we limited the number of outside clicks.  To do this, we essentially developed a microsite within two Facebook tabs, using as much content from their website as possible.
  • Employee videos from YouTube were embedded directly into the microsite using an interactive carousel format.
  • Taking advantage of the added real estate, we were able to embed SJMC’s Taleo ATS right into the microsite.

 The next steps we have in mind for SJMC?

  • To help build a pool of candidates for the talent community, advertise a career fair via Google and Facebook ads and build a Facebook tab highlighting the opportunities.  The tab would have a quick application form with a résumé upload database that recruiters could easily access.  Then send the ads directly to the tab.  Not only will you receive interested candidates, you will also end-up with a bigger fan base that can be frequently engaged via latest job openings, employer culture, industry insights, etc.

 Hats-off to Kyle J. Leigh (Digital Strategist), Shane Simmons (Creative Director) and Mike Albert (Web Developer) for making this happen!

Employment Branding….it’s not too late

After the last post regarding the candidate experience, it seems that everyone is writing about the topic.   Perhaps it is not unlike the experience we might have once we buy a car; you know how it goes… it starts to seem like everyone you see driving around is also in that same car you just purchased.  But on with the story.  Soon after the “Candidate Experience” post, the Talent Board announced the inaugural Candidate Experience (CandE) Awards based on research data gathered over the past year.  And then just last week on an ERE post, the article “Packaging the Candidate Experience” by Balazs Paroczay and Jillyan French-Vitet provided an excellent look at taking the experience even further.

Depending on where you sit in the industry space, the definition of the candidate experience may vary a bit, but it seems that most do agree that this ‘experience’ does in fact begin early in the process of attracting the attention of potential candidates both active and passive.  In my work in recruitment communications and advertising, we call the vehicle in which we begin to capture the candidate’s attention, the Employment Brand.  The belief is that without an organization understanding who they really are (or are not) and expressing that message succinctly and clearly on their career site, much of the hard work done by the HR and TA teams can sometimes be to no avail.  If a new employee is wooed into the organization by a message that does not ring true once they are on board, then things begin to get complicated.

But what is an employment brand anyway? To begin, first, let’s define ‘brand’. The American Marketing Association defines it as:  “a name term, design, symbol or any other features that identified one seller’s good or service distinct from those of other sellers.”  Philip Kotler adds:  “a seller’s promise to deliver a specific set of features, benefits and services…”  But an employment brand is a bit different. We are in essence ‘selling’ our companies as a place to work…so our ‘service/product’ is a little different than what our marketing teams might be working towards promoting.


SHRM defines an employment brand as:

“…the image of the organization as a great place to work in the minds of current employees and key stakeholders in the external market (active and passive candidates, clients, customers and other key stakeholders). The employer brand captures the essence of a company in a way that engages employees and stakeholders. It expresses the firm’s value proposition, reflecting the organization’s culture, systems, attitudes and employee relationships.”

Expressed in another way, Peter Weddle, a leading HR consultant, defines the employment brand in a four pronged approach.

  • Defining the enterprise as an employer of choice
  • Ensuring alignment between brand and business actions
  • Implementing a brand internally
  • Implementing a brand externally

The process of identifying the employment brand of an organization can be approached in many ways and often from the onset appears to be much more laborious than it really is.  Over the years having had the opportunity to work with organizations in different industries with this ‘message discovery’ process I can attest that it can be quite simple and straight forward, or it can be very in depth and detailed.  Regardless, it is always very enlightening for the companies as well as the employees that participate.

Having consulted with driving the discovery process in quick serve restaurant companies, engineering & mining companies, call centers and in  healthcare, I have found generally speaking, that employees want to enjoy their work and therefore be engaged at their place of employment.  When you begin the process with senior leadership on board,  it is amazing how everyone becomes excited.  The time invested to listen to the existing employees and take their stories, experiences, and insights to heart, then incorporating this information as a foundation of the employment brand message, helps to deliver a credible employment brand that lasts for years assisting the organization with both recruiting and retaining employees.

For organizations that have not yet made the move to develop an employment brand message, it is never too late.  Regardless of company size and geographic footprint, an employment brand can work for you.  With our always evolving digital world, there are many places where this message can live…not just on the career site anymore.  Incorporating the employment message on specific social media pages for careers only, increases the employment brand footprint significantly and assists in reaching a much wider audience than ever before.  The message can live boldly a Facebook page, a LinkedIn branded page, on a YouTube channel as well on Twitter and Pinterest.    It is never too late.  Don’t get left behind!


Amanda Shewmake is a veteran in the recruitment communications industry and has been involved in many aspects talent acquisition communication efforts with a focus on employment branding. Her role at Bayard involves new business development.  The May 2012 Employer Branding Conference and Universum Awards Ceremony in NYC is being sponsored by Bayard; look for us there.




Which Sites are Right?: Finding a Social Media Mix for your Company

In an increasingly digital and social media driven world, you can’t afford to be behind the times. When you start looking into what social media might be right for your company, though, it can all seem a bit confusing. To clear that up, I’ve included 5 of the most commonly used social media sites, with reasons why they rock…and why they sometimes don’t.

1. Facebook

Facebook is useful for many reasons, but the biggest may be the real conversations with your customers or clients. It’s easy to have back and forth interaction, which is both a pro and a con. It’s a pro because that means you are able to hear actual opinions that could be vital to the company. Unfortunately, though, if the level of interaction falls, the page will cease to exist in the eyes of your consumers. If your posts aren’t being commented on or “liked,” they quickly fall into the news feed abyss. So if you want a Facebook page for your business, make sure someone has the job of posting regularly, and encouraging interaction on posts.

2. Twitter

In the spirit of Twitter, I’ll keep this short and sweet.
- Connect w/ customers
- Work on ur brand
- Free #advertising
- Up to date news
- Promote loyalty to ur company

- Must update often
- Shallow interactions

(Phew! Only 137 characters – right under the limit!)

3. Google+

You’d be hard pressed to find a tech company more well-known than Google. It’s still the number one search platform by far, and recent changes to their algorithm have made it so Google+ profiles and pages will now be shown as normal search results. This is great news for companies with a Google+ page who are looking for a boost on Google search results. The important thing is to post useful information and posts on your page that are relevant to your market industry, as well as your customers. Engage with others so they add you to their circles. The whole point of your Google+ is to build up a large network, not only for the interaction with potential customers, but also to make it more likely that your content will appear in search results.

4. Blogging

If you’re dedicated to it, blogs can be educational; not just for readers, but for you too. Blogging on a regular basis forces you to stay up to date with every new technology in your industry. You also have to learn how to explain things in a way that every consumer can understand. On the plus side, this leads you to a better understanding of what you’re explaining as well. This can come in handy when you have to field questions from clients about your blog posts. Many of these questions may come because the people visiting your blog aren’t familiar with your company, but rather found your blog through a search engine. Search engine traffic is vital for the success of your blog – and of course it’s always  interesting to see what search terms led to your post!

5. Pinterest

In December alone, Pinterest registered more than 7 million unique visitors, and the numbers keep steadily climbing. Along with this, Pinterest drives more traffic to company websites and blogs than YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn combined! Pinterest works well for companies that are visually based; the whole appeal of the site is pretty pictures with links back to where you can find the product. In fact, posting products with links back to a store website has proven hugely lucrative for some companies such as Instagram, Ideeli, and Tiffany & Co. has actually seen a 446% increase in web traffic due to Pinterest, and sales due to those visits have increased by five times! Of course, not all companies have a particularly “pretty” product or service to sell, and they may want to look elsewhere for their social media needs.


The most important thing to remember is that not all social media sites will work for all companies. In fact, before you start doing any social media, you should first decide what you want to accomplish. Only at that point can you analyze different social media sites to decide which one (or several) could work best for your company. It’s a work in process though; and don’t get frustrated if you aren’t an instant social media success. Some sites take a lot of hard work before they pay off, and building a fan base is certainly a long-term endeavor.

Still confused about social media and how to use it? Keep watching here for more posts on how to utilize social media to promote your company, your products, and your brand!