Quietly Creating Loyal Brand Ambassadors

Recently, a former co-worker invited me to receive a “free” facial and in-home cosmetics trial with products from her direct sale cosmetics line. I like this coworker and have given her a lot of business in the past, but my immediate response to her latest offer was no way, I’m a Philosophy girl. Wow, did I really just say that? At that moment, the true definition of a brand ambassador hit me square between the eyes because somewhere along the way, hard-nosed, eagle eye Terilyn had unwittingly become one! Philosophy is the skincare line I fell in love with a few years ago while watching an infomercial on late night television. The question that plagued me was how had I become so loyal to this particular brand that I would pass on a free facial and a visit from an old friend? Here are a few of my insights:
The company told a relatable and inspiring story. The storyteller, who happened to be the company founder, wasn’t selling that night. Instead she simply told an inspiring and relatable story about being a working mom who struggled to find time to properly care for herself. She also seemed honest and sincere about offering a high quality product. She was convincing without giving an overt sales pitch and that piqued my interest and planted seeds of trust.
The company acknowledged and actively sought the attention of potential customers. Many skincare and cosmetics companies either ignore or forget about women with dark skin. It was refreshing to see beautiful models with a wide range of skin tones showcasing the products. This inclusion spoke of the company’s appreciation of diversity. This caught and kept my attention because I appreciated being represented as a beautiful consumer instead of an obvious afterthought or not at all.
They actively sought ways to accommodate their customers before, during and after the purchase. There are no hoops that I have to jump through to purchase the product. Things like auto delivery, full money back guarantees, immediate customer response through social media and telephone eliminate the likelihood that I will even think about buying skincare products anywhere else.
Finally, they have a solid product with outstanding customer service. I took a chance purchasing skincare products from an infomercial, but it ended up being a good risk. I like the product and have shared it with family and friends who have also come to love it as much as I do. Nothing takes the place of an outstanding product that is combined with amazing customer service. People want to patronize a business that has that winning combination.
All of these steps can be adopted by any businesses large or small. It just takes creativity and an open mind. Consistently incorporate these steps into an active social media marketing strategy and you just might be amazed by the number of loyal followers who start singing your praises!

Restaurants Use Social Media Platforms to Bring Food Allergy Sufferers Through Their Doors

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The prevalence of food allergies has increased substantially in the US in recent years.  According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, food allergies among children have increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.

Eater.com recently posted a great article titled, “How Restaurant Pros Are Handling the Surge of Food Allergies” which details the efforts of a few restaurants that are committed to accommodating customers who are allergic to everything from seafood to tree nuts.  If you are the proprietor of an establishment that takes the time to create customized menu options for allergy sufferers, bravo for you! Now, make sure the word gets out that you have a true commitment to providing a great culinary experience to everyone who crosses your threshold.

One way to do this is the strategic placement of allergy accommodation statements on all of your business social media pages.  Hungry locals with food allergies can search Yelp for “gluten free restaurants” and if your delicious, gluten free treats are included in your business description, you’ve opened your doors to a new customer base who are likely to become loyal advocates for your business.  Similar searches can also be performed on Foursquare and Facebook.

Next, honor your allergy friendly menu items with high resolution images that will be appealing all of your customers, not just the allergy sufferers.  Customer images that are generated from a smart phone camera are fine but they do not take the place of professional images taken by a photographer who specializes in food shots.

For more ideas on how to celebrate your allergy friendly menu items, and on how to use these items to boost your social media marketing strategy plan, contact me at River City Social Media on Twitter @gorivercity, or send me an email at rivercitysocialmedia@sbcglobal.net, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Should the Grad School Bug be Killed or Honored? Grad School After 50

college boundIt’s happening again.  That secret desire to go to grad school is breaking into my thoughts and working its way through my fingertips, interrupting my online work to guide me (against my will) to grad school review sites and scholarship lists.  This annoying little meme creeps up in my brain every few months but I’m always able to drop kick him out of my mind with the stress of being a single parent and the struggle of making enough money to buy organic kibbles and bits and designer sweaters for my 3, four legged children.  Unfortunately, the act of stifling the grad school meme is getting harder and harder lately, and last night I took the step of beginning the application process.  But at 51, I can’t help but wonder, is enrolling in grad school the right thing to do?

I often think of the incredibly stylish woman I met the day I picked up my graduation package from the University of San Francisco.  Her name escapes me, but I vividly recall her stylish personal presentation and how her appearance completely defied her 62 years of life.  This woman had just completed her PhD, something she’d dreamed of doing for many years.  I couldn’t help but ask her why she would bother undertaking such a huge endeavor at this stage of her life; not to mention, she was retired so the degree wouldn’t serve to further her career.  Her response was this – one should never pursue higher education solely for a raise or a promotion. Higher education should be pursued for the sake of knowledge and the expansion of one’s mind.  Her excitement and wisdom was inspiring, but it didn’t completely satisfy my question.

So as I worked on my application last night, I pondered the following questions:  Do I have the right to pursue a graduate degree when I have a son who is just 2 years away from college?  I’m a single mom with a child who has a dead beat dad – meaning I was married to a man for many years who was able to erase from his memory the fact that he has a child.  We haven’t seen or heard from my ex-husband in more than10 years – in other words, there is no child support and my son’s college expense will be all mine.  Next, how wise is it to incur more debt when I’m still paying off undergrad loans?  True the outstanding balance isn’t huge (especially by today’s standards), but I’m still trying to recover from the great recession and it’s furloughs, wage reductions and of course we can’t forget, the foreclosure and bankruptcy that it left me with.

Putting my grad school concerns on paper illustrates the fact that my concerns are all based on money.  I’m fortunate to possess the confidence to know I can be successful in grad school, I don’t care if I’m the oldest person in class, and my job is laid back enough that I don’t have to worry about having the time to devote to the rigorous demands of the program.  So here I am with a little meme who won’t shut up and leave me alone – or should I say, I just really, really want to go to grad school.  I want to learn more, I want to know what else there is.  I want that thrill of challenging myself to do things I never thought I could do.  I want to meet new and diverse people – some I may not like so much and others I’ll love.  Who knows maybe there will be a promotion in my future, especially since I’ll probably be 90 and still working the 9-5 grind.   So If you know of any scholarships for middle age, single moms let me know.  I’ll be right here, writing my application essay.

 

Letter to Sacramento City Council – A Plea for Humanity for Sacramento’s Homeless

ImageThis is an email that I sent to Steve Hansen, a member of the Sacramento City Council – 4th District. I want to make it clear that I have no issue with the proposed sports arena. I’m not for it, I’m not against it, I really don’t care about it.  I’m simply sick and tired of our society turning a blind eye to the overt suffering and despair of so many humans – our brothers and sisters if you will.  People don’t wake up in the morning and decide it’s a great day to become a homeless drug addict & defecate in front of public buildings.  I’m seeing veterans, women and young twenty somethings out there every day & my heart aches for them. So in my search for solutions, I’ve decided to start small. I’m simply asking for public porta potties to be installed throughout downtown Sacramento.  This would restore a small bit of dignity to those who are living on the streets, and those of us who frequent the downtown area wouldn’t have to worry about stepping in Uncle Jack’s poo at the light rail stop.  As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts.

Greetings, although I do not reside in District 4, I am deeply concerned about an issue that is becoming far too common in the downtown area.  I work for the Employment Development Department in the Labor Market Information Division.  Our office recently relocated from Franklin Blvd to the EDD headquarters on 8th/O Streets in a set of buildings often referred to as “the bunkers”.  When our office moved in September of 2013, we were all taken aback by the number of homeless people who we had to step over to get to our office in the morning.  But the bottles of urine along the walk ways and the human feces in the flower beds is completely appalling and I think brings shame upon our central city.  This afternoon as I walked up the ramp from my building right below the 8th/O light rail stop, I literally walked up on a woman’s bare behind as she was squatting over the ivy doing her business. This was at 1:30 on a Thursday afternoon.  Frankly that woman broke my heart.  I can only imagine the desperation one must feel being homeless, tired, and hungry; not knowing where they’re going to sleep at night and as if that’s not enough, not having any place to humanly relieve one ’s self.   I understand that homelessness is a ubiquitous issue that touches every major city within our great nation.  I also understand that homelessness is not an issue that is likely to be solved at the level of City Council; however providing strategically placed porta potties throughout the area can be done at this level.  I realize this solution comes with a price, however if we can push forward on a mega sports arena for the area, we can provide our tourists and citizens a humane and sanitary environment that doesn’t rival the conditions of a third world country.  I would love to discuss this issue with you further as I would greatly appreciate seeing this become an agenda item for the council.  Thank you for your time in reading this message.  I sincerely appreciate your attention.  Terilyn Jackson @gorivercity (Twitter & Facebook) & RiverCitySocialMedia.com

 

4 Signs It’s Time to Hire an Outsider to Manage Your Company’s Social Media Presence

 

For some business owners, managing the company’s social media presence is just another one of a

I need help with my social media marketing!

I need help with my social media marketing!

million tasks that must be completed during the course of a business day.  They are comfortable with the various social media platforms, they enjoy interacting with their customers online and they are able to carve out enough time to build a strategy and maintain a consistent presence.  This is great for the few who can manage it.  However, managing a company’s online presence requires a lot of time, energy and some pretty tough skin; in other words, it may not be for everyone.  Here are a few points to consider that may indicate it’s time to hand over the laptop.

  1. There is no plan, no strategy, you’re just there.  You set up a Facebook account because, that is the thing to do.  You have some nice pictures on the page, and you even post a few witty comments every so often.  This is a great start, but there’s a lot more work to do.  First, it’s imperative that you know exactly who your customers are.  Identifying your current (and potential) customers is key to developing a targeted marketing strategy. You also need to know which social media platform your customers are most likely to frequent and when is the best time to engage with them.
  2. You can’t take negative feedback.  You’ve created a kick ass business with the best food, service or product this side of the moon and whoa to anyone who dares to say otherwise!   The only way to ensure your business is immune from negative reviews or comments is to close shop. Being able to divorce yourself from the need to have everyone love everything your business produces is a must.   A quick, heartfelt response that attempts to rectify an unpleasant experience, can turn an unhappy customer (with a large social network) into a loyal, happy customer with friends (who also have large social networks).   Ignoring your social reviews and comments is a no, no, that should not even be an available option.  That goes for the positive as well as the negative reviews.
  3. You don’t like social media and think it’s a waste of time.  It amazes me that everyone isn’t as crazy about social media as I am.  For me, it’s right up there with sex and chocolate (not necessarily in that order).  But that is not the case of everyone.  If you don’t enjoy learning about the newest Twitter change, or Google+ update, and you don’t care if you’re among the first chosen to get a new roll out, you may want to find someone who is to manage your online presence.  If you find someone who is knowledgeable and passionate about social media marketing, you probably have someone who will do a great job managing your company’s brand and image.
  4. You don’t have time to be committed to a consistent social media schedule.  I recommend devoting at least 15 minutes a day to monitoring, updating and analyzing your company’s social media presence. Also, at least 30 minutes a week should be devoted to learning about platform updates, trends, and policy revisions.  You want to get optimum results from your social media marketing efforts, so it’s important to know how to effectively utilize all of the tools available on your social media platform(s) of choice.   A good social media strategist is on top of all of the revisions and trends that affect multiple platforms and can effortlessly find ways to work them in your company’s favor.

This is my short list of indicators, I’m sure there are more!  If you think of anything I missed, please let me know.  I welcome your comments!

Social Media Marketing Tips For Reaching the Millennial Consumers Facebook Lost

  If you’re looking for fresh ideas for online marketing geared specifically toward the millennial consumer, check out Weheartit.com. As of December 2013, Weheartit had more than 25 million users a month and more than 80% of those users are 24 and under and use a mobile device to access the site. Those aren’t numbers to sneeze at with Facebook losing more than 11 million of its young users since 2011.

Weheartit is like Pinterest, but funkier, pinker and if you’re a teenager, your mom isn’t on it. It’s an image based network that has none of those nasty comments that can spoil the free flow of creativity and take the fun out of posting unique content.  Weheartit describes its users as “culture-obsessed, fashionistas, media-makers, and digital influencers from around the world, our users are highly-engaged, tech-savvy, and consumption-focused millennials” and I might add, more than 70% female.

Advertising on Weheartit is not expensive. However, developing eye popping content that catches the attention of the young users, and inspires them to share that content with their networks, will require a slight degree of creativity and maybe even photographic expertise.  Designers like Michael Kors, Kate Spade and plus size fashion boutique, Lane Bryant have discovered some of the potential wins of reaching out to their young consumers on Weheartit.

Weheartit is still a relatively new player on the scene and they are not yet integrated onto some of the more popular third party social measuring tools. Meaning that tracking the success of your advertising campaign on Weheartit, may be limited to the use of site analytics. But don’t let that discourage you!  The possibilities of this platform are amazing and I’m willing to bet, well worth the effort!