Building Ultimate Transparency

Social responsibility has become all but a requirement for companies and cause-related marketing has grown into a popular strategic marketing and public relations tool for corporations and charities alike. Studies show that consumers are increasingly social conscious and are looking to support companies that share in the goal of building a better world.

A recent survey from the marketing agency Good.Must.Grow (GMG) found that most Americans care about buying products from companies that do good in the world; 60 percent of people said that buying goods from socially‐responsible companies is important to them and 30 percent of respondents said that they expect to increase the amount of goods and services they buy from socially‐responsible companies over the next year. It’s apparent that consumers are willing to switch brands in order to buy from companies that have positive Corporate Social Responsibility efforts and companies are more than ever aware of this fact.

GMG has done two pieces of research – one on Cause Marketing and the other on Sustainability. While these types of initiatives are fundamentally different, addressing both concepts within the business process can help a company enhance or create new approaches to connect with consumers and even engage a workforce.

Successful sustainable brands demonstrate performance, but also show success against environmental and social criteria. This concern for “people, planet, and profits,” known as the triple bottom line, has increasingly become the standard for any brand that claims to be sustainable.

Think of the great brands that do this already: Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation and LUSH. The ranks of businesses that are certified B Corps are growing quickly! B Corp certified businesses are proving that doing good is good for business.

Transparency has always been a critical component of communications, but as the world becomes ever more connected, it has become increasingly important. Today, consumers heavily rely on the opinions and recommendations of their peers when making purchasing decisions, they extensively research companies before becoming brand loyal and they are more inclined to buy from companies that produce goods and services with real rather than perceived value. This is particularly true of Generation Z, an almost completely social and mobile generation that will seek out social media and peer reviews and demand that companies be more honest and transparent than ever before. They want to put their money where it matters!

 Companies can no longer just claim that their products have positive impact and call it a day.  Consumers want to know that companies:

  • Are honest and transparent about its business practices and manufacturing processes;
  • Make products that do not negatively impact people, animals or the environment;
  • Ensure that its suppliers respect human rights; and
  • Pay employees competitive wages and benefits.

According to GMG, 63 percent of people trust company claims about social responsibility only sometimes – but they verify information, by reading product packaging, checking out the news, and doing independent research. Due to this now crowded environment, companies must work harder to communicate how their products and business processes fit sustainable demands.

Companies must have a conscience and contribute to building a better world. If done and communicated correctly, it will demonstrate impact, connect more deeply with consumers and be a form of transparency at its finest.

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Why Mommy Bloggers are still Relevant

Nearly every brand on the market has tried to crack the code of the Mommy blogger! Recently it seems we’ve moved on to target youth, the millennial, and even older adults, but have no fear, Mommy bloggers are still a force to be reckoned with!

Women command 80 percent of, or $5 trilling in U.S. consumer spending power. By 2020, women are expected to have $22 trillion in global spending power. It’s imperative that brands looking to succeed in today’s market must fit into and help to improve the lives of women.

Sometimes labeled as “Chief Health Officers,” moms are goal‐oriented family health managers that are active information seekers. Moms are known to pay more for food or health products that are backed by research and are perceived to contribute to the health and wellbeing of their families. Once engaged in a product, this group serves as influencers for other moms by passing along their knowledge and recommendations freely.

How do we connect with them?

The key phrase is “engaged correctly.” Like when targeting other audiences, brands need to create campaigns that build friendships with Moms specifically and find ways to integrate products into the lives of these women. Women, and moms, ultimately expect brands to treat them like their friends. They want branded experiences that prove a brands value proposition to be true. Brands that can be in touch while also being sensitive are likely to be the ones that moms and women will buy and be loyal to.

Where are they?

Moms and women in general are very active on social networks. Eight out of ten (80 percent) use social media regularly, with 90 percent of those having visited Facebook in the past 30 days, and just over one‐ third (37 percent) using Twitter in that same period. Mothers are also very open to liaising with brands on social networks. More than 42 percent have made a purchase as a result of a recommendation on a social networking site. If engaged correctly, moms can be fantastic promoters of products and services, with more than half recommending companies and brands via social channels.

social-media-moms

Children have a major influence on consumers’ perspectives on personal health and the environment. When people become parents, particularly moms, they develop an emotional connection to investing in a better future through present‐day choices. Sites like thebump.com have online communities filled with soon-to-be or already are moms. With nearly 4 million births each year and nearly $50 billion being spent annually on babies and toddlers, this network allows moms to connect with like‐minded moms, experts and brands that can help them in their decision making process.

Why should marketers be targeting moms?

Moms specifically are 45 percent more likely to use social media and a whopping 3.9 million moms in the U.S. identify as bloggers. Across all cultures, blogging and the prevalence of “mommy blogs” represent a powerful outlet for moms to share their experiences as well as create a sense of digital community.

By connecting with moms, brands can get a lifetime of loyalty and build brand evangelizers who will share information with others. Check out some of the top mom blogs.

Use it, Lose it, or Over use It: Balancing Social Media Post Frequency

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, all company communications channels need to be continuously updated or refreshed with content on a regular basis. Without a content strategy behind each outreach channel, it’s likely that channels can fall to the wayside and become stagnant or over post an drive away followers. The concept of post frequency is a very important part of every communications plan.

Channels with few or infrequent posts are likely to miss the mark with target audiences, yet too many posts can also annoy consumers and drive them away. How often is too often? While there is no cut and dry answer, here is some data that can serve as a jumping off point for posting frequency across social channels.

Facebook:

Social Bakers studied three months’ worth of Facebook content from major brands and found that top brands average one post per day.

chart-brands Facebook

As a general rule, Socialbakers found that posting once per week on Facebook was too low and posting more than twice per day was too much. The 2011 study found that the sweet spot is five to 10 posts per week. The catch is, this data was published prior to Facebook’s recent algorithm change. According to an Edgerank Checker study posted on the Moz blog one way to counteract the recent change might be to publish more frequently.

Twitter:

Social Bakers also studied Twitter, taking a random sample of 11,000 Tweets from top brands. The study found that three Tweets per day is the point where brands start seeing higher levels of engagement. However, the life of a Tweet is short and as one might expect, each Tweet provides an opportunity to engage with consumers, so by tracking Twitter engagement per Tweet, brands can determine how many tweets are needed to reach the highest levels of interaction between the brand and its consumers. However, Track Social found that response per tweet peaks at five and then drops off – so, for Twitter, the sweet spot is 3-5 tweets per day.

LinkedIn:

LinkedIn published a marketing report claiming that 20 posts per month was the ideal number of posts. As one might expect, there is more research on this topic for Facebook and Twitter than many of the other emerging networks. Here are a few other additional tips for LinkedIn users.

It’s important to remember that the ultimate goal of communications across social channels is to strike a balance between being informative and annoying… engaging and overbearing. The line can be thin, so it’s essential for brands to continue experimenting and measuring. Armed with their own data, brands can continuously tailor post frequency and scheduling in order to improve consumer engagement across all outreach channels.

Need Brand Ambassadors? Start Here: Cultivating Employee Advocates

Employee advocacy is a critical element of any brand’s success. By turning employees into trusted brand ambassadors, companies bring their strongest assets and their most vocal internal advocates into direct contact with their customer base. Having an adoring employee base isn’t just great for word-of-mouth marketing, but it’s also good for the bottom line – impacting everything from brand awareness and online word-of-mouth, down to the recruitment of new employees. Empowered employees can be brand advocates and industry thought leaders who can help to increase a brands positive digital footprint. While there are many ways for companies to cultivate employee brand ambassadors, here are five things to start with:

  1. Encourage social media interaction and advocacy. While many companies have limiting social media policies for employees, Zappos is one company that feels that their employees can (and will) use social media for the good of the company. If employees are online talking about how much they enjoy their work, it is probably a good thing for the company! Which has been proven true by Zappos in terms of business development and new employee recruitment. In an article from Mashable.com, according to Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who often talks about using social media in ways that foster happiness, “We have about 500 Zappos employees on Twitter, and we’ve aggregated all their tweets together. It’s a great way for to help build the company culture and for employees to connect with each other.”
  2. Reward good work. LUSH, a fresh handmade cosmetics company in North America spearheaded a recognition program that builds on the company philosophy of employee interaction and volunteerism. Using a program called Kudos, LUSH encourages employees to reward each other for good work. Each staff member is given 50 points a month that they can use to reward each other with. In addition, LUSH team leaders have a larger pool of points to give out so that they can reward staff for positive things that they see each day. Employees can earn points by exemplifying LUSH values or for great customer feedback, leading by example, learning skills in new areas, perfect attendance, and random acts of kindness. Once received, the employee can exchange Kudos points for chocolate bars, movie tickets, gift cards, and even a big reward: a day off with pay. The goal of the program is to encourage staff to live in LUSH core values, participate in volunteer opportunities and find ways to thank each other each day.Image
  3. Invest in employee wellbeing. A little goes a long way when it comes to showing employees how much they are appreciated. Zappos celebrates with impromptu happy hours, free t-shirts and props emails, and Starbucks employees receive free coffee and are given the opportunity for flexible work schedules that fit around their other commitments. As described above LUSH uses Kudos points and fitness company Lululemon Athletica, offers goal setting and encourages free fitness through local gym partnerships. In each instance, the company takes an interest in its employee wellbeing and encourages them to live company values both in and out of the office.
  4. Engage employees in building the brand mission and company culture. Create a sense of shared ownership in the goals of the company, and focus on using employee experience and feedback to improve products/services and customer service. Seventh Generation, a green cleaning company, included employees in both setting goals and accountability for achieving them. In 2012, a group of Seventh Generation employees came together to help simplify the company mission into four aspirational principles: Nurturing Nature, Transforming Commerce, Enhancing Health and Building Communities. The principles help to provide year-to-year goals and business plans across all company units and is used as the road map for long term company planning. In addition, the company launched an Annual Incentive Program that tied annual bonuses to company sustainability goals. This was done to help to insure that the company could measure and reward employees that stood for the core corporate values. It also created interest, pride and ownership from employees in the core company mission.
  5. Cheer on Volunteerism. There is a recent trend of companies offering volunteer opportunities and incorporating those opportunities into the company mission. LUSH, Seventh Generation and New Belgium Brewing Company are only a few examples of companies who have volunteerism baked into their corporate culture – offering benefits to those employees who volunteer their time within the local community. The outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia has also been successful in building a loyal employee base for not only the laid-back work environment of the company, but also the emphasis the company places on social and environmental causes. Through the Patagonia Employee Internship Program, employees can take paid leave for up to one month to intern with environmental organizations around the world.  

Employees are not only the face of a company, they ARE the company… from internal culture to consumer engagement and brand image. Employees are the most trusted source of information for customers, so it’s vital that a company’s employees are encouraged to participate in nearly every aspect of company communications – just think of all the great employee social content that could be generated via the suggestions above. The return on investment for the positive online buzz generated from employee social media or from being named one of the “Best Places to Work” may not be as clear-cut as measuring ad value, but the benefits can be extraordinary.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

― Confucius

When employees love their job, it shows, and the ripple effect of that honest and organic company love can be greater than any pre-planned marketing campaign.