Any business can benefit from social media
By Alyssa Lajoie and Shay Sweet
Sole Tan, a local tanning salon just minutes away from Lasell College campus, is a thriving and booming company. Being such a prime company for the young adult and teenage community, social media is a vital way for this organization to reach their key audience. For the two of us, being tanners ourselves, this company caught our interest because we are included as key customers to this business. After learning more about social media in our class and looking at the way that Sole Tan handled their social media, we thought this would be a company we could help improve. Before talking to the owner, Andrea Mancini, we did a little background research on what kind of social media they did have.
We found that Sole Tan did have a Facebook page as well as their own website. We also found that their website was lacking in energy, as well as updates. Looking further we saw that the specials that they offered hadn’t been updated since early 2011. After contacting Sole Tan we gathered more information about the company itself and how it began.
Sole Tan was established in 2005 and has been growing since then. Current owner, Andrea, bought the business in April of 2010. Since she’s taken over the company, she has made many changes which have resulted in an increase in customer traffic, as well as a monthly pick up. Andrea credits the expansion to the variety of their product lines and the new friendly staff, making customers eager to come back. Knowing that she is so close to Lasell and many other schools like Brandeis, Regis, BC, and Mount Ida, Andrea can see an increase in her business when school is in session. Different promotions that Sole Tan offers are also accredited to the increase in customers.
We then asked a little bit about the difficulties a company like a tanning salon comes into contact with. After stating that going tanning is a luxury, Andrea talked about the fact that being in the tanning business is very challenging with the economy the way it is. When Andrea took over the company, she stated that she immediately lowered the prices. She talked about how she would much rather see her business busy than slow because of prices being too high for people. Another difficulty that Andrea and the staff of Sole Tan came into contact with was the 10% tan tax on all services, which started in July of 2010 shortly after Andrea had taken over. This not only upset Sole Tan as a business but also upset its customers. Andrea, however, was very happy to say that it didn’t slow down their business all too much. The final difficulty that Andrea mentioned was that Sole Tan did not have their own parking lot, just street metered parking.
There were some benefits for the company, however. Sole Tan offers events such as “free tan day” or “$5 tan day.” Andrea said that both of these events are very successful for the company and bring in a lot of new customers, as well as returning clients. Two other offers that they have are for new customers to tan free on their first visit and if an existing customer refers a friend, they get a free upgrade to stronger equipment. Andrea stated that they get the word out about these types of events by passing out flyers and using their Facebook page. After mentioning Facebook, we took the time to jump on social media in general and ask Andrea more about how it works for the company.
After taking over the company, there was already a Facebook profile established for Sole Tan. Andrea then went in and made a business page for customers to like, but she has said that the personal page has gotten more feedback and has seen more grown than the business page. The Sole Tan Facebook profile is used to update customers on upcoming promotions and deals that the salon is offering. Andrea was very happy with having Facebook since she knows that her key customers are within the ages of 18 and 30. And by association, they use Facebook a lot. While she has paid for creative marketing, nothing has worked as well as in-person promoting, word-of-mouth, and posting on Facebook. Andrea’s goals are to get customers excited about events and upcoming specials. Bringing in as many new members as possible as well is always a goal for Sole Tan.
Andrea is the social media “expert” for Sole, although she says that it would definitely be helpful if they had someone other than herself or an actual expert to help with the social media of her company. She updates the Facebook herself and also uses the help of her current employees to promote on their two pages. Andrea admits she has had some problems with social media because she doesn’t know the ins-and-outs of each outlet, but she is very confident in the way social media works. She says that social media has been a great tool for her small business because it is free, but reaches a bigger market.
After having our interview with Andrea we got a better grasp of knowledge on what exactly Sole Tan is doing with the social media technologies and how they are contacting their key audience. There were some great things that Sole Tan is doing and then there were many others that we found they could do a lot better. One of the first things that we wanted to recommend to the company was to keep on track with their website. We found that it hadn’t been updated in over a year and that was something we definitely wanted to see change. Another thing that we wanted to change was the Facebook page, but only a little. The first thing that we saw was that the pictures on the Facebook did not pertain to the company at all. We would recommend that the company put pictures of the actual tanning salon itself, the products that they sell and even pictures of the employees to show the friendly staff.
The next thing that we would want to see happen is have Sole create a Twitter page. They could use the page the same way that they use their Facebook page; to promote offers and specials that the tanning salon is offering. We thought that this would be a great idea for them because of the target audience that they are aimed at. Not only could they use the Twitter to reach current consumers, those consumers could help open new doors for Sole by retweeting them and getting the word out about them with just an easy click.
Another form of social media that we would recommend for Sole is to create a Pinterest. With Pinterest becoming such a popular social media we feel that Sole could benefit from having a page on this website. We could picture the company having multiple themed boards with pictures of products they sell, spray tans, or sun-friendly destinations. We could also see the employees having their own boards to help contribute towards the overall Pinterest.
Lastly, we would recommend that Sole create a FourSquare account. FourSquare is a social media where people can check into the places that they go to. By creating this account, again this is a great way for customers to promote for the company, but it could also open doors for other offers that Sole could give. If a customer checks in a certain number of times, Sole could reward them with a free tan, etc.
We were very happy to work with Sole Tan and are looking forward to seeing them grow in the social media world.
Social media advertising, for an advertising company
By Justyn Loguidice and Anthony Liberatore
When looking into social media and its outreach in this country, it is truly phenomenal what power it holds. For this project, we were given the opportunity to act as social media consultants. Through an external interview, we were able to derive valuable information from a company based on its current social media catalog. The company that we chose to look into for this project is a small advertising firm in Boston, MA by the name of Full Contact Advertising.
Full Contact specializes in creating brands to the fullest through a variety of platforms including digital, television, radio and print advertising. Of course, being an advertising agency, Full Contact has spent time in the social media aspect of business as well. Currently, Full Contact operates a fully-functional website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, LinkedIn, and Vimeo account. While fully operational in these facets of social media, the amount of focused attention to their social media outlets isn’t on par with many of its competitors.
We had the opportunity to speak with one of the founding partners of Full Contact, John Young. John has the title of Chief Strategist at Full Contact, and therefore, was the perfect person to provide us some vital information in regards to their social media usage. John has been working in marketing and advertising for his entire working career, holding various creative positions and starting multiple successful marketing communication firms. His catalog of works includes worldwide brands such as Pepsi, McDonald’s, Disney, Sony and Budweiser. Overall John has been a very successful businessman and it was truly an honor for us to be given the opportunity to speak to him.
After getting the personal background of John and the company, we wanted to get a feel for how the company feels about social media and using it to self-promote your business. John mentioned to us that, “Social Media is a valuable tool, but takes time away from our customers”. John felt that while there are tremendous benefits to establishing oneself online through social media, their time is solely focused on their cliental. He then went into more detail on how Full Contact feels social media is effective to an extent, and is tremendously valuable when used for their clients. Internally, however, they are like “the shoemaker’s children” and have “no time to worry about themselves”.
John was able to provide us with some Google analytics in regards to their website activity. Of the company’s web traffic, 51 percent comes through Google, 17 percent is self-directed, and the rest come from referrals (blogs, press, directories). Full Contact averages around 400 unique visitors a month, 30 percent existing as return visitors. About 30 of those customers access their website through a mobile device. Visitors spend an average of 5 minutes on their site, reading an average of about 5 pages.
Their Facebook page has 312 likes. John mentioned that the agency only occasionally posts new content on Facebook and there often isn’t much sharing. A vast majority of the likes are from employees, vendors, and clients.
Their Twitter feed has very little activity. Currently @FullContact is following 29 individuals and has 265 followers. John’s personal feed, which he uses mainly to connect with friends and former co-workers, has 1973 followers.
Although these are healthy numbers, John feels that they can certainly improve their social media catalog; believing that by successfully communicating themselves online they can generate more brand recognition. However, John also believes that “There will always be a human approach to what we do”. With this being said, we then began to converse with John about how they want their social media activity to evolve and what they ultimately hope to get out of it.
First we discussed what things need to be changed in terms of their current social media channels. John stated, “We need to clean it out; some stuff has been around for a while”. That being said, he felt that their Facebook page is probably maintained the most out of all their other channels and stated, “If you want to get a feel for Full Contact, go to Facebook”.
When it came to future plans, John was earnest in his response, saying that he constantly asks himself, “How will social media benefit our brand?” John wants to create an aura surrounding his company’s work and ultimately get the social media community to start socializing about it. This can be difficult though as they don’t have an employee whose job includes updating their internal social media channels. The reason for this, as John stated, “it’s hard to fund…we need to see that it can generate results”.
John then went on to mention that social media itself, “doesn’t drive people in the door”, and that it’s ultimately their work that helps them to stay successful as an agency. That being said, the agency does have interest in improving their social media handles, as John stated, “We’re doing it heavily for our clients, we need to show that we can do it for ourselves.”
To end this section of our project, we want to include something that John said to us that really struck home, and was something that in summation represented his overall thoughts when it came to social media. At a point in the interview John stated, “social media is prevalent, but the most important thing to remember is that people are the ones who will always be social”. With this statement it was clear that the company isn’t looking to use social media just to be social online; they want to utilize it to generate content that will break through the clutter and connect online users.
Upon analyzing all of these elements, we think GoFullContact.com needs to become the agency’s social media hub. The agency’s Facebook and Vimeo accounts have links on the site, but their Twitter account has not yet been added. Twitter can be a useful tool when used correctly, so a link to their Twitter handle should be placed on their website.
The agency’s website is the first online channel that needs to be updated. As of right now a majority of their online connections start at their website, so it’s critical that all the information on the website is updated appropriately, especially the news section. Information hasn’t been added to the news section since October of 2011. The agency has a lot of exciting things going on, so they should update their news feed at least twice a month.
Beyond simply updating their news feed, Full Contact has to update their “Our Agency” page, specifically the “Our Clients” tab. The agency is working with some great clients that are not being represented as part of their client portfolio. There are also some former clients that are listed, which the company hasn’t worked with in a while. Full Contact creates great work for their clients and that work should be represented on their website. The agency should strive to gain permission from their clients, so that they can place more of their recent creative work on their website. The agency should also strive to make the work representative of all the different content that they can create. For example, the agency should add some examples of mobile creative content that they’ve generated for clients, as that’s where companies are really putting a lot of their marketing attention. When it comes to their Facebook and Twitter pages, more updates are needed.
Full Contact’s Facebook page already acts as the social media channel which gives individuals an idea of the company’s workplace culture. Due to personal experience, I know that the agency has a great workplace culture and this is something clients like to know as well. Happy employees are productive employees and Full Contact is full of happy employees, so they should try to illustrate that happiness even more on their Facebook page. This could be done in various ways, adding some new funny agency photos/videos, or sharing interesting and humorous agency/industry related news. The company’s Twitter feed is highly underutilized, as it hasn’t been updated since August.
That being said, Full Contact should not approach Twitter with the mindset that it has to be updated every day. Most advertising agencies update their Twitter multiple times throughout the course of the day, but that can just tend to generate a lot of clutter and wasted payroll. Full Contact should have the mindset of utilizing Twitter to capitalize on a really interesting piece of work that they have just created.
For example, during my time spent at the agency, the one piece of work that stood out the most was the video filmed for Safety 1st’s air protect car seat “Success Story”. This video featured a real family whose new baby girl, Ella, was involved in a terrible car accident, but was left unharmed because she was in a Safety 1st air protect car seat. This video is highly emotional and is still viewable on Safety 1st’s website. This video, even though it’s a bit outdated, is the kind of content that Full Contact needs to get the most out of, because it’s an attention grabber and something people actually want to talk about. It’s work like this that can go viral and attract new potential clients.
As the agency strives to better utilize their website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed to showcase their creative abilities and positive workplace culture, they should make sure that all video content is derived from Vimeo and continues to exist on the website for future views. The agency’s Vimeo account has about eight videos on it, but needs to be updated to show more recent content.
To organize and measure their social media efforts, Full Contact should think about using the social media analytics platform, Klout, which will ultimately help them to measure the amount of influence they have on their overall social media network.
The agency may also want to utilize HootSuite, which exists as a social media organization tool that allows brands and individuals to manage all of their social media activity in one place. This program might make it easier for Full Contact to have more consistency when it comes to updating their social media material.
If the agency does increase their social media activity, then they should keep an even closer eye on their analytics, stemming from platforms such as Google and Facebook. It’s through analytics that Full Contact will have a better idea if their social media efforts are actually paying off, because at the end of the day, they hope that the material they’re posting will generate more awareness for their brand, which translates into increased business.
During this process Full Contact Advertising was a pleasure to work with and as student researchers, we were able to gain a lot from the experience. The main message that we’ve taken from this project and working with Full Contact Advertising is this: social media is so effective because it gets people talking. It’s one of the best ways to start interactions between brands and individuals and can ultimately lead to generating strong and potentially profitable relationships.
Full Contact Advertising is a very successful business, full of highly talented and genuine individuals. If the agency is able to utilize social media to further self-promote themselves and get the most out of all their creative content, then it will only benefit them in the end.
New Management, Same Goals
By Ryan Scerra and Anthony Carnevale
In 2004, Lasell College Radio (LCR) opened up and created a new playground for communications majors to get creative with. LCR has expanded tremendously from when it was just a small unknown college organization. The growth of this group has taken much time and effort from the staff, and it finally seems to be reaching new heights in publicity.
Much of this publicity is coming from the revival of their social media networks and constant on campus events from rappers, metal bands, dances, and contests. However, with time comes change, and LCR has some big changes coming as new station manager, Justin Miller, preps to take control of the club next semester.
Current station manager, Jay Gildea, has already been working tirelessly to create a larger online brand for LCR.
“Our whole social media profiles do need to be updated” stated Gildea, when interviewed by Rebecca Gooch and Kevin Paul last year for the same course Expanding with social media
Now with only a couple weeks left as station manager, Gildea must prep Miller with all of his last advice to help LCR retain its growing legacy. The biggest issue with LCR as of recently is they aren’t using their social media networks effectively. We recently sat down with Justin Miller for an interview to hear his opinion on LCR’s social media profiles.
“I am probably about 50% satisfied and 50% needs improvement. I don’t think the word has gotten out enough in the past about LCR,” Miller said.
Fortunately for LCR, the word has increased tremendously about their organization. Just recently a poll was put up on the LCR facebook page for who the fans wanted to see open for rapper, Mason, at the annual LCR marathon Monday concert series. In a matter of four days the poll received 1,323 votes.
“We expected like 200 votes at the most for this poll” said Gildea, “When we saw the results we were blown away.”
On the Wednesday that the poll went up, the LCR facebook page had only 137 likes. Four days later it reached a new staggering amount of 363 likes. While most don’t find 363 likes a staggering amount, this is an enormous boost in motivation and publicity for the LCR organization.
“Never did we think that this poll would draw in the amount of people that it did” added Miller, “it’s giving us an idea of how we should start changing up our methods of promoting through social networking sites”.
This poll even brought some money in for charity. A random poll voter, Yoseph Elfakahany, stated on the LCR page, “Vote for interstate Flamez. For every vote that Flamez gets, $1 will be donated to the American Cancer Society”. Sure enough Elfakahany posted a picture and he donated $375 to the American Cancer Society.
While the LCR Facebook page seems to be flourishing, the rest of their social media seems to be dying. LCR has a http://www.youtube.com/user/lasellcollegeradio, a blog, a myspaceand a twitter handle. All of these get a minimal amount of attention and use.
We spoke with LCR’s social media manager, Bruce Martin, on the minimal amount of attraction. “It’s hard getting a new Twitter account off the ground and noticed. When we created this account we weren’t sure about how successful it would be.”
Unfortunately, the newly created account only has 74 followers and 86 tweets. How can the Facebook page be so successful and the Twitter account be so unsuccessful?
Perhaps it’s the lack of tweets. Martin thinks it’s the lack of LCR staff involvement as well. “A lot of the DJs get lazy and tend not to promote LCR’s social media pages. Everybody has Facebook which makes sense that the Facebook page is doing so well. Not everybody has a Twitter account though. Even if they do, not all of our DJs go out of their way to tell people to follow us on Twitter.”
Miller agrees with this as well. “I would really like to see more posts on the Facebook page by staff members. It gets neglected quite a bit by a lot of the staff.”
Maybe the reason for the lack of social media success is due to minimal staff promotion. However, things may change when next semester comes around. A brand new, state of the art, radio station is being built in the new renovated cafeteria, slated to open next semester.
“There will be three glass windows and four speakers outside the station in the cafe. People are going to recognize us more. People will be seeing what were doing. People don’t want to take the time now to see what’s happening” said Miller.
This new radio station may open up new windows of promotion for the LCR organization. People will like the new fancy radio station and will be curious of how it works and what it’s all about. They may even be tempted to check out the LCR website. This could be a pivotal moving point in making LCR widely noticed by more than just Lasell students. According to Miller, LCR is also planning on collaborating with the newly created organization, Lasell College TV (LCTV). LCTV and LCR working together effectively could create great opportunities for more promotion and bigger events.
The future is looking quite bright for the expanding LCR. When asked about the use of all LCR’s social media websites in the future, Miller explained, “I would definitely like to utilize the YouTube channel more. We only have one video on there. I want to revive the blog and myspace page but they are a dying media. People wouldn’t check them, it isn’t appealing to people anymore. I don’t really see them being a big part of our promotions in the future. However, I see big things happening with the Facebook page and we’ll definitely work on making the Twitter page more interactive with DJ’s and fans.”
LCR’s mission statement states, “Our programming is chosen and produced by the students and is aimed to serve Lasell College students, employees, families and friends with relevant information and entertainment that reflects the needs of academia and community.”
At the end of the day, this is an organization of extremely talented and hard-working students trying to make a name for themselves through their passion of radio production. While work is still needed with their social media networks, take into consideration that this is still a very young organization.
With time comes change and with change comes improvement. Each year LCR learns more and more about what they can do in order to be successful. Gildea has left a great legacy FOR LCR and is hoping that Miller can take the stage and make things just as good, if not better.
LCR just has to learn from their mistakes and learn utilize their social networking sites to their full potential. Once one can conquer social media, then one can conquer the world… Almost.
You can contact LCR or the manager of the station, Brian Wardyga, at their contact page
A new kind of TV
By Zachary Gray and Will Henry
New TV is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the Newton community with a base to communicate news, opinions, and information through a local platform. Located on 23 Needham St., in Newton, MA, New TV also provides the community training with the latest media technologies.
New TV was established in 1991 to provide Newton with independent public access television. With the station’s growth in size, popularity, and demand, New TV expanded its channels to its current lineup of community, education, and government. In 2006, the station moved from its original location on Lincoln Street to its current, modern facility on Needham Street.
The general purpose of New TV is to provide the town of Newton with news taking place inside and surrounding the town. Another purpose of New TV is to provide entertainment to the station’s viewers via station programming. New TV also films various sporting events taking place in Newton schools and colleges. Both paid staff and interns film the games and provide play-by-play. Other filmed events include Newton school plays and town hall meetings.
Robert Kelly is the executive director of New TV. He handles a majority of the business movements of the company and over sees the staff members that work under him. Andrew Eldridge has been the media specialist for New TV since August of 2007. Whether it’s behind the scenes on set, updating the website, or anything having to do with technology, Andrew is the guy. He’s also involved with some of the marketing for New TV.
Shelly Kamanitz is the marketing director for the Newton-based non-profit. She has been part of New TV for a little over a year. Shelly’s responsibilities include writing press releases, marketing the New TV brand, sending emails to those who subscribe, and putting together newsletters. She was also in charge of redesigning the logo for the company.
Andrew and Shelly work together on nearly every project, thus they share an office. A large amount of their work deals with the website, which was launched on August 3 of 2011. New TV’s previous website wasn’t very functional and was only accessible by one person. Andrew took a majority of the work in creating and updating the current website.
With a new and updated website, New TV looks to expand on its number of online viewers. “We are actually in the process of doing a ‘phase 2’ of our website, which will involve a mobile site,” said Shelly. “The server that currently supplies our video is going from Flash to HTML 5, which will allow us to put it on a mobile site. This would allow viewers to watch video content on their iPhones.”
New TV not only shares videos through its channels and website, but also through Vimeo. The organization’s Vimeo channel has 163 videos, ranging from pilot episodes of its new series “The Folklorist” to town meeting and interviews. New TV currently does not have a YouTube channel, but there are talks about creating one for the organization’s education channel.
The main forms of social media New TV uses are Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook page was created on April 28, 2010. The page has 270 likes, and features stories and videos related to the Newton community. Andrew’s strategy to gain more viewers is to tag businesses and places that are mentioned in different stories. Furthermore, New TV’s Facebook likes many local businesses and pages to keep up to date with current events. New TV’s Facebook is directly linked to its Twitter handle, which has 183 followers. Whatever is posted on the Facebook page is also tweeted. Andrew and Shelly try to limit the number of posts to one a day, so followers don’t feel spammed whenever they log on to their respective social media sites.
Although most of the focus for New TV is on the programming and website, Shelly and Andrew both agree that social media is a necessary tool when it comes to promotion and marketing. “Last year was kind of like a rebirth of New TV with the new equipment, new classes, and new shows,” said Shelly. “As we add all of these features to our organization, we’ll be using social media a lot more to broadcast it. I definitely think it’s important and its something we need to expand upon.” As for expanding New TV’s social media, Shelly and Andrew agree that branding can only go so far; there has to be interesting material to grab people’s attention.
One of New TV’s main goals is to increase viewers. Social media is a fantastic tool to gain the attention of potential followers, and Shelly wants the most possible for the organization. “I don’t want 100, 200 likes,” said Shelly. “I want hundreds of likes, maybe even thousands.”
If there were any suggestions concerning social media and promotion for Andrew, Shelly, and New TV, it would be a couple things. First, the Facebook and Twitter pages could be promoted within programming. For example, the credits after a program could feature the web-address for New TV’s pages with the phrase “Like us on Facebook” after it. This could bring more viewers to the social media pages, thus receiving more likes, followers, shares, etc. Secondly, the Twitter page could feature posts separate from those on Facebook. A person who uses both Facebook and Twitter may only follow one outlet because they both generate the same information. Furthermore, the use of hash-tags would make New TV appear in searches on Twitter, thus gaining more followers.
The suggestions are minor, but would be key in gaining more interest both online and on-air. For the past 20-plus years, New TV has provided a platform to the Newton community for opinions, news, and information. Perhaps in these next 20 years, it can gain many more viewers and followers who can enjoy the benefits of New TV.
More than Food at a College Cafeteria
Sodexo was founded by Pierre Bellon in 1966 in Marseilles, France and is now the world leader in duality of life services. It is located in 80 countries, and employs 391,000 with consistent yearly growth. Sodexo provides services to schools, universities, hospitals, correctional facilities and other remote sites.
The mission of the company states they, “believe that the quality of daily life increases the satisfaction and motivation of individuals, and thus plays an important role in the organizational performance of our strategic partners.”
In terms of continental revenue North America holds the highest percentage with 37 percent, followed by Continental Europe, which holds 36 percent, and finishing up with the United Kingdom and Ireland which accrue about 8 percent. The rest of the world combines to equal 19 percent of Sodexo’s revenue. Among its recent accolades Sodexo Inc. received are being placed both the 2012 Working Mother: Best Companies for Hourly Workers and was featured on 2012 Forbes Most Admired Companies List.
The two social media outlets that Sodexo currently uses at Lasell to get in touch with the community are a Facebook page and a website. The Sodexo at Lasell Facebook page is set up to promote upcoming events, special menu changes, general information regarding the college, as well as posting photographs from past events.
Since the page joined the Lasell college network, all students are invited to events such as the Midnight Breakfast, OXEDOS food truck, etc. In an interview done with Christine Hubbard, whose job title is formally Food Service Manager but she is involved in many aspects of the Sodexo program, we learned that this is the first year that the Facebook page was established and updated daily.
“I receive a promotions kit from corporate in the spring and fall that has major events to choose from,” Christine explained about how she chooses and promotes special engagements. She recently yielded the responsibility of updating the Facebook page daily when a promotion coordinator was hired.
The second way that Sodexo at Lasell is connected to students is through its website. The website is very informative and useful to students. Among the many features are menu details, hours of operation,nutritional facts of the food, upcoming events, and ways to contact to the Sodexo at Lasell staff.
After looking at their existing social media and online accessibility, we had some suggestions that would benefit Sodexo at Lasell, as well as some praises to what has already been done.
Our first critique was to start a Sodexo at Lasell Twitter feed. This would be very useful in updating students about the daily menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It would also help promote upcoming events or the new design for the cafeterias. A Twitter account would be also used to answer questions that students may have regarding the meal or respond to a problem faster to give feedback. Currently the best way they are answering quick questions or suggestions is on a napkin board. Though the answers are promptly responded, if done electronically this could enhance the experience of connecting students and the cafeteria staff. Twitter helps any business stay connected with its clientele within seconds.
We also thought that using the newer types of social media such as a Flickr or a Pinterest account would be effective. Having these newer forms of outreach would give students a lot more ways to connect to the program. Especially services like these which are mainly for image sharing. Both students and staff could submit their photographs and contests could even take place for the best weekly photos, for example.
We had no problems with the Sodexo Lasell dining website and thought it was very effective and easy to use. In fact Christine said that, “several students this year have been hired because of the website employment section.” Also the changing of the meal plan process has gone on seamlessly thanks to the extra communication online.
One new detail we got from our interview was that a second promotions coordinator was being brought on for the new academic year. With this second coordinator on board, proper analytics could be done to see if these new proposed social media ideas are being used effectively and to track how many people are engaging through them.
From this critique of a corporation we can see that no matter how established the company or business, social media is important to relating to a whole new type of audience. Christine said it best, “I notice that students pay more attention to phones and computers than signs in the café.”
“We believe in world-class health care where you live.”
By Molly Clarke and Meghan Crozier
Steward Health Care System is a fully integrated community care program headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Essentially, this means Steward is a network of community hospitals and health care providers that works together to serve the health care needs of the surrounding populations. This includes sharing resources such as their world-class physician group and clinical information technology. As a result Steward is able to offer the highest quality of care to their patients.
Steward Health Care is the second largest health care system in New England and also the second largest private employer in Massachusetts. Steward has approximately 14,000 employees serving more than one million patients annually in 85 communities in Massachusetts. Their network is currently made up of 10 hospitals and quickly growing. Steward’s hospitals include: Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Norwood Hospital, Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill, Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, and Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton. President and CEO of Steward Health Care is Dr. Ralph de la Torre.
Steward Health Care is a very new brand. It was established in 2010 when private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management purchased Caritas Christi Health Care and renamed it Steward Health Care System LLC. Caritas Christi Health Care had been a non-profit, Roman Catholic health care provider consisting of six New England hospitals. After being purchased by Cerberus Capital Management and converted into Steward Health Care System, the network no longer operated as a non-profit and began paying state and local taxes in order to provide established levels of free care to those in need.
Today, Steward Health Care is developing rapidly. They have been selected as one of the 32 health care systems nationwide to participate in the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model, as part of the Affordable Care Act. Steward has also announced that it is looking to expand even further. CEO, Dr. Ralph de la Torre revealed earlier this year at the J.P Morgan Health Care Conference in San Fran Cisco, that the company has future plans to mimic their regional approach to health care on the national level.
Strategically speaking, Steward Health Care System is positioned to thrive in the new health care environment. With talk of further growth and expansion, the Steward marketing team is pulling out all the stops. Coming off a highly successful Super Bowl Ad Campaign, the team has even bigger advertisement efforts in the works. One medium that Steward has yet to tap into, however, is the world of social media. Although the company is often ahead of the curve when employing the latest technologies and marketing strategies, their online brand is surprisingly lacking. Currently in place are the company’s main website and YouTube channel. Other than that Steward Health Care has virtually no other online presence.
When interviewing Chris Murphy, director of media relations, we were able to ask him why the company had not attempted to harness the power of social media. His answer, Steward Health Care has been in a constant state of growth since its establishment in 2010. The marketing team has been focused on larger initiatives in order to effectively support this growth. However, now that the company has become more established, the team is beginning to consider the use of social media as a way to increase their online presence.
For health care providers, using social media constructively has almost become an exact science. Concerns about privacy and liability surround the use of social media in this field causing many to hesitate before jumping on the social media bandwagon. In February however, many logged on to Twitter to witness the world’s first ever live-tweeted open-heart surgery from a hospital in Houston; a sure sign that the hospital industry has begun to welcome social media with open arms.
Our social media plan for Steward Health Care System has been created methodically to ensure that the company is able to learn for themselves how best to leverage social media in a manner that enables them to meet their specific organizational and business goals without violating industry guidelines.
Before embarking on their social media quest, we suggest that in order to have complete control over social media messaging, distribution and interaction, the company should strictly develop an online brand for Steward Health Care rather than dividing social media use by individual hospitals. Steward should also distinguish and set specific goals for themselves as a company regarding what they wish to accomplish through the use of Social Media. More specifically, it will be important to pinpoint the main audiences they wish to target online and even more importantly which social media platforms are best suited to reach this audience. We urge Steward to systematically plan their use of social media in stages rather than rushing into all platforms at once. This will help the company create a more effective and lasting social media presence. Once a specific plan has been laid out, it would be beneficial for Steward to consider what type of branding they will be doing online and how to present consistent messaging across all social media platforms.
Having given these specific instructions and discussing them with Chris Murphy, we suggest that Steward Health Care utilize social media to expand the Steward Brand. This may include emphasizing company news, outlining the new business model, marketing physicians and important medical advances, and lastly gaining and keeping a strong patient following. According to Steward’s specific goals and needs we have recommended that, over time, they create accounts on both Facebook and Twitter. We also suggest that they create a company blog and continue to post all company videos to the Steward Health Care System YouTube channel. These four outlets will provide access to Steward patients across the system and if used effectively each social media platform will be able to drive traffic to each of the others for optimum social media exposure.
We believe that creating a company blog will be the most beneficial platform to begin online branding. Blogging gives companies a great amount of freedom to control and develop content that their consumers, or in Steward’s case patients, will be interested in. Posts on the blog could focus on something as particular as a single physician or even something as broad as the health care industry. Other ideas include posts about company growth, leadership, and the healthcare reform. Local, regional, and even national industry news would also make appropriate blog posts. Posts can take the form of traditional articles, question and answers, professional commentary, links, and relevant videos.
A Steward-branded Twitter account would be useful in directing traffic towards all other social media platforms, particularly the company website and blog. We suggest tweeting about news articles, executive speaking engagements, new initiatives, and new technologies at hospitals within Steward Health Care System. It is important to follow other health care leaders as well as regularly engagE with them. This could take the form of retweeting noteworthy information or quoting an important speaker. This step will help Steward gain a larger following and could result in improving its’ name.
Facebook could be used similarly to cross-promote Steward’s presence. Facebook differs from Twitter in that it is more effective in sharing photographs and we suggest that Steward Health Care use this difference to their advantage. Facebook is also a great tool to get patient feedback. Prompt responses to both complaints and praise will be a valuable step to creating a good reputation for Steward online. Many companies use Facebook to hold contests and offer deals to their online following. Although the health care industry is slightly different and may not be able to do so, we urge Steward to think creatively to engage their Facebook fans.
One thing we asked Steward to keep in mind is that Social Media, unlike almost every other form of marketing and advertising, is interactive. They will receive all types of feedback from their audience- good and bad. A company must be willing to take both constructively and respond in a way that reflects the values and goals of Steward Health Care. Although this poses concerns for many, we choose to see this as an opportunity to remain open and honest with consumers.