“Many years ago, while at a Jimmy Buffett concert, my good friend Joe and I watched a Parrothead begin to construct his tiki bar. It was breakfast time; the traditional beginning of tailgating for Buffet.
By the time we fired up our grill the third time, for dinner, the guy was finishing up. We were really taken with the idea of serving drinks from our own bar and flabbergasted by the fact someone would spend that much time working at a party.
Joe wouldn’t let it go. His position was clear. He was convinced there was a better way. We both had backgrounds in design, so it made sense to collaborate.
The guidelines were straight forward:
• It had to be portable. • No wasting time when we could be entertaining. • It had to look really good and be strong.
The prototype was developed in a few weeks. Enhancements began almost immediately.
• Wood trim replaced plastic. • Two shelves spaced for large bottle storage. • A strong roof design.
Improvements have continued, directed by user feedback. Some customers found that wheels were desirable and that became an election. The bar had a reed skirt from the beginning, but we found that sewing a vinyl liner behind the reed eliminated shadowing and allowed it to last for years. With the design help of a local firm, bags were developed to allow for easy transport. We still look for ways to enhance our tiki bars.
When Joe first became seriously ill, he made it clear that he wanted his Tiki legacy to continue regardless of whether or not he was able to continue. Sadly, Joe passed away in 2014, but consistent with his wishes we remain dedicated to producing the best bar possible.”
This is the creation story of TikiBarToGo.com, the original portable tiki bar company. They are a small New Jersey-based manufacturing company whose sales are funneled through their website, which was redesigned in 2016.
My goal is to provide them with the advice they need to bolster their social media presence. In preparation, I analyzed their brand using Patrick Hanlon’s advice in his important book, The Social Code.
“Building your strategic brand narrative is foundational to your success, almost a parallel path with your technology, product or service build. This narrative is ‘strategic’ because by carefully designing the seven pieces of social code (creation story, creed, icons, rituals, lexicon, nonbelievers, leader), you can distribute each piece via content in digital and social media to design a holistic communications surround for users and fans that keeps them in touch with your community” (Hanlon, 2016).
You’ve read the creation story; now I’ll walk you through the other six pieces of their social code.
Creed (what they’re about)
A TikiBarToGo bar is simply the best portable bar.
“The old adage of ‘getting what you pay for’ certainly applies here. So does ‘Made in the USA’” (Portable Tiki Bars, 2016).
Icon (how they are identified)
Rituals (how they do things)
10 minute setup.
You do not need any special skills to assemble the bar. Other than perhaps the first time or two, it takes about 10 minutes to fully set up the unit.
Sacred words (specific words understood by their community)
Durability and portability.
“A combination of design and materials makes our bars last for many years of commercial use” (Portable Tiki Bars, 2016).
Non-beliefs (what they’re not and never want to become)
They are the original portable tiki bar.
They never imitate.
Leaders (the persons who created the community)
John Derrico and Joe Roose.
My recommendations are included in the video below.
“The more your brand is in touch with a larger story, the greater your ability for success” (Hanlon, 2016).
Joe was “convinced there was a better way,” and worked together with John to make that vision become a reality. Like Joe, I believe social media provides a better way to share their brand voice, build their community, and market their unique product.
In 2013 BP, the British multinational oil and gas company, became a sponsor for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). BP’s sponsorship makes it possible for 16-25 year olds to get £5 tickets, granting them an affordable way to experience the company’s productions.
But on October 2, 2019, RSC used social media to announce their plan to end their relationship with BP.
The timeline of events leading up to RSC‘s decision began in April 2010, when BP‘s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. It was the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, and the well was not sealed until five months later on September 19, 2010 (Weber, 2010).
EAST GRAND TERRE ISLAND – JUNE 07: A dead sea turtle lies next to a rolling tide of crude oil, released following the sinking of the BPDeepwater Horizon drilling rig, along the shore of East Grand Terre Island on June 7, 2010. (Photo by Benjamin Lowy/Edit by Getty Images)
Understandably, BP suffered criticism regarding the ethics of fossil fuel extraction. BP responded by creating Corporate Social Responsibility departments and inviting non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the RSC to develop partnerships with them (Uldam & Vestergaard, 2015).
BP also sponsors four other NGOs: the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House, and the Tate Britain museum.
” … sponsorships help portray oil companies such as BP as good corporate citizens that make a positive contribution to our society. However, activists contest these initiatives as greenwashing, designed to divert attention from their business operations and their effect on people and the environment” (Uldam & Vestergaard, 2015).
Adding their voice
During the launch of the BP-sponsored World Shakespeare Festival in 2012, twenty-eight individuals involved in the arts published a letter in the Guardian, voicing their distaste for BP’s involvement.
“We, as individuals involved in theatre and the arts, are deeply concerned that the RSC – like other much-cherished cultural institutions – is allowing itself to be used by BP to obscure the destructive reality of its activities. We would like to see an end to oil sponsorship of the arts and are committed to finding more responsible ways to finance this country’s cultural life, for our own and future generations” (Oiling the wheels of the Shakespeare festival, 2012).
Mark Ruffalo, actor and activist, voiced his concerns in 2016.
On September 23, 2019, Greta Thunberg’s impassioned United Nations General Assembly speech caught the attention of the world. The YouTube video currently has 342,255 views, and she has 2,565,106 followers in her Facebook community. To put it in context, BP has 863,433 followers. Her plea for world leaders to wake up to the consequences of inaction are compelling.
Most recently, and perhaps most importantly, a group of students published a letter to the RSC on the UK Student Climate Network webpage. They call out BP’s human rights record, and join with Sir Mark Rylance in his stand against the RSC/BP relationship.
” … BP’s human rights record is an embarrassment. Their close relationship with repressive governments and regimes such as Egypt, Mexico and Russia has led to horrendous human rights violations. BP’s funding of the Indonesian government help them to buy guns which are used for the genocide of the people of West Papua, and they have been accused of being complicit in the kidnapping and torture of Columbian trade unionist Gilberto Torres” (Youth Letter to the Royal Shakespeare Companyy, 2019).
On October 2, 2019 RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran and Executive Director Catherine Mallyon used social media to point readers to their website, which included their full statement regarding their decision to cut ties to BP. Their announcement was carefully worded to show how they valued their youth audience.
“Central to our organisational values, is that we listen to and respond to the views of young people” (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2019).
“Amidst the climate emergency, which we recognise, young people are now saying clearly to us that the BP sponsorship is putting a barrier between them and their wish to engage with the RSC. We cannot ignore that message” (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2019).
But they were also careful to thank BP for their support over the years.
“We would like to thank BP for their generous support of the RSC since 2011. We have issued 80,000 tickets to young people who have been able to experience our work through the BP sponsored scheme” (Royal Shakespeare Company, 2019).
The original complaint made by the artist community during the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012 had little impact. But social media’s exponential growth since that time has proved to be the driving force behind the climate change movement.
Greta Thunberg’s huge social media following, along with the post of her UN speech just two days prior to the posting of the UK Youth Letter to RSC created the perfect storm for RSC. Social media exploded, and RSC was forced to finally take action.
Over the years, different individuals and organizations stepped forward to make their voices heard. When the announcement was made, the response on social media was largely one of relief.
On the same day, BP used Twitter to point readers to their statement, also carefully worded to reinforce their branding as a company that is “beyond petroleum” (Uldam & Vestergaard, 2015).
“We recognize the world is on an unsustainable path and needs to transition rapidly to net-zero in the coming decades. The debate centres around how to deliver this whilst meeting the world’s growing energy demands. BP is focused on this dual challenge; we are in action, have ambitious plans for the future and welcome engagement with all about how to make the energy we produce cleaner and better” (BP statement in response to RSC ending our partnership early, 2019).
Could RSC have responded better?
I believe RSC‘s response was eloquent and sincere, albeit very late. Their choice to avoid expressing any argument as to why they kept their relationship with BP for so long was a wise one. Best to squelch the fire and move forward as a socially responsible organization.
Monitoring is key
It’s still important for RSC to monitor online activity to keep abreast of the situation. They can do that by creating Google Alerts or using a social media search engine like social-searcher.com.
If additional response to social comments are necessary, consider the influence and credibility of the writer and respond appropriately. The response has the potential to be highly scrutinized, so RSC should use empathy and be conversational. Above all, they should not argue their point of view. It’s critical to be transparent and if possible, provide a solution if the situation warrants it.
While it’s important to continue monitoring to make sure the issue doesn’t resurface in some way, it’s equally important to continue posting positive and engaging content. This is essential in RSC‘s case due to the amount of time it took for them to take action regarding their relationship with BP.
Are you really listening?
RSC should be sure to:
Keep their finger on the pulse of the conversation.
Evaluate the credibility and intensity of the message.
Respond empathetically and in a timely fashion.
Continue to post highly engaging content that shows they care about their audience.
” … social media can also act as organizational processes by providing (more or less) coherent allocation of resources, creating divisions of labour, curating and retrieving content, and responding to events and changing ecological conditions” (Uldam & Vestergaard, 2015).
Our youth will continue to make their voices heard, using social media as their bullhorn. It’s RSC‘s job to make sure they are listening … and responding.
“We came to this country with recipes and love in our hearts, to succeed in our American dream. We have fed generations in the Bucks County area, and we still thrive to be the best in all your food and catering needs. Big or small we can handle it all … come on in and bring a bottle, or order takeout and enjoy our cuisine at home. Thank you to all our patrons over the years; now we are truly family …”
(Mannino’s Family Restaurant, 2018).
Mannino’s is a small, family-owned Italian restaurant that has been in business for thirty-two years. I highly recommend it, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s a recent review a customer left on IDine® about their experience:
Rating: 5 out of 5.
“Mannino’s is a BYOB with a nice, neighborhood atmosphere, with a wide selection of excellent Italian dishes at very good prices! The staff is friendly and accommodating” (C.J. from Yardley, PA, IDine®, May 17, 2019).
C.J. is right; the food is excellent. But is excellent food the reason they’ve been around so long? Look closely at the review and you’ll see the secret to their longevity: a neighborhood atmosphere, in addition to afriendly and accommodating staff.
When you eat at Mannino’s, they make you feel like you’re part of their family.
That sense of belonging can also be applied to a business’ social media presence. In the marketing world it’s called community management, and Mannino’s would do well to take their established brand voice and expand it to their social media strategy.
“There’s no doubt that great content is how brands can make themselves stand out on social media, but community management is what will subsequently set them apart – for better or for worse. A solid community management plan will maintain your brand’s reputation, engage and excite your audience, and help keep a pulse on sentiment and future opportunities” (Duffy, 2019).
Responsibilities of a Community Manager
Community management requires more than just creating great posts. A good community manager must:
be the voice of the organization.
engage in real time.
be responsive and problem solve.
More often than not, small businesses have one person (who may also have other duties) to boost the awareness of their brand on social media. Community management is a job that often gets overlooked, but it’s increasingly necessary as more and more people use social media to get answers to everyday questions. It’s digital customer service, and people expect businesses to be responsive.
In addition to posting to Mannino’s existing social media channels (see WHAT’S FOR DINNER?), their social media person should also use a set of FAQs to ensure timely responsiveness. It’s important to monitor their channels for any questions or complaints on a regular basis and respond quickly.
Based on their average work day of twelve hours, I would recommend checking for and responding to any online questions or complaints four times a day: opening time, lunch time, dinner time, and before closing.
If questions arise that cannot be answered by the preexisting FAQs, their social media person should immediately contact a predesignated member of the Mannino family, who can then determine an appropriate response. The same procedure would apply in the unlikely event of any social media crisis that might arise.
“… 67% of consumers have engaged a brand’s social media for customer service needs. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of exposure for a brand! Ultimately, creating a brand with an inclusive and helpful community via social media is the goal of any business” (Gregory, 2019).
Sustaining the Brand by Building a Community
“When businesses invest in community management, they transition from an everyday brand to a human brand — one that cares deeply about the people who support them, work for them, and interact with them” (Baker, 2019).
In his book, Patrick Hanlon defines The Social Code as that which “provides the core that helps create communities that people can believe in, feel they belong to, rave about and prefer above their many options” (2014).
A business’ social code is comprised of seven things:
Creation story (who they are)
Creed(what they’re about)
Icons(how they are identified)
Rituals(how they do things)
Sacred words(specific words understood by their community)
Non-beliefs (what they’re not and never want to become)
Leader(the person or persons who created the community)
The leaders, Tony Mannino and his wife, came to America from Italy with their recipes and a dream and succeeded in opening what has become a food staple in the Bucks County community. Their creed is quality and the respect they have for their customers. And how they do things? Each dish is handmade with love.
Order a handmade cannolli at Mannino’s and you’ll understand that it’s a sacred word for delicious; there’s nothing like them anywhere else. And that’s exactly how they want it to be; no cookie-cutter food here.
They always have and will always be a family restaurant. A place to come to after a hard day of work, or a place to celebrate your daughter’s baby shower. A place to order your custom pizza for take out, or to just tell Tony or Vinnie what you feel like eating on any particular day. They take care of you. You’re family.
“The workings of Earth and the universe can make our place as individuals feel small. But the makings of community help us to feel large again. Communities lift us up with purpose and spirit, and bond us together.”
“Through becoming part of a community, we find ourselves” (Hanlon, 2014).
So if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello. And don’t forget to tell them Holly sent you 🙂
Italian restaurants are everywhere. Everyone loves pizza — and even the fussiest kids will eat it (that even includes my great nephew). Italian food makes dining out with the family easy.
In my neck of the woods there are five Italian restaurants in close proximity to one another. Each has their own personality, but they obviously compete with one another for business. Oddly enough, most don’t use social media; and those that do have a limited presence.
That’s where I come in.
Over the past week I created a social media calendar with a week’s worth of content for one of my favorite local restaurants – Mannino’s in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. It includes suggested content they can use on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to create a greater connection with their community and (hopefully) grow their business.
See see the calendar up close, check out the PDF version.
Five Strategies to Increase Social Engagement
Let’s get into the weeds a bit.
Content marketing consultant Barry Feldman describes five strategies that increase social media engagement, organized into what he calls the AEIOU list: Ask, Express, Incentive, Offer, and Utility.
A is for ASK. “The best way to engage someone is to ask a question” (Feldman, 2019). Questions are a great way to draw your audience in. They make you pause for a moment and consider what your thoughts are on a particular subject.
E is for EXPRESSION. One method is to use hashtags that reflect your product or brand. Here’s a list of hashtags for pizzerias from best-hashtags.com:
Here’s one of my suggested Instagram posts that uses three of the top hashtags:
I is for INCENTIVE.
Mannino’s has been in business for thirty-two years, and they’ve offered this incentive for as long as I can remember. Why not post it on social media as a reminder?
O is for OFFER.
Discounts make great offers. A lot of customers use this paper coupon included in the local MONEY MAILER, but Mannino’s could expand this marketing strategy by posting the image on social media.
It’s likely they could attract a larger audience by offering the same discount if a person follows Mannino’s on social media — the customer simply offers up the proof on their phone when they visit.
U is for UTILITY.
How about including this YouTube video on how to reheat your leftover pizza? I definitely learned something from watching this.
And while we’re on the topic of videos, The Greatest Pizza Order Ever is a great way to further engage and expand Mannino’s younger clientele.
Optimal Times to Post
According to The Rail, a media company focused exclusively on the restaurant world, there are specific times restaurants should post on social media. I used their suggested times as a guideline, but they should monitor their channels going forward to make any necessary changes based on actual usage.
Instagram: Highest engagement on Instagram for restaurants was found to be around 10am-12pm, according to NapoleonCat. Another poll found that more than half of the top social media managers said that evenings from 7-9pm was the best time to post on Instagram.
Facebook: Forbes recommends posting at peak traffic times for Facebook which are around mid-week from 1pm-3pm and at 7pm.
Twitter: The Marketing Analytic company TrackMaven found that the best time to tweet in the restaurant industry is 1pm on Fridays. This is most likely when restaurant goers are making weekend dining plans.
(The Rail, 2017)
I also recommend high quality photos for each of the posts, using the following dimensions:
1080 pixels square for Instagram
1200 pixels by 675 pixels for Facebook and Twitter
You would think that after spending so much time looking at all this delicious food I would be tired of it, right? Just the opposite. Mannino’s is always open late, so …
About a year or so ago, I noticed a new store was opening near my bank. When I read the name of the store that was “coming soon” I realized I’d never heard of it. I then promptly forgot about it.
Fast forward a couple of months later. Even though most of my banking is done online, one day I needed to actually go in person. On my way back home I passed the new store and on a whim decided to venture in. What I found inside was top quality merchandise, great prices, and pleasant customer service. Needless to say I made a few purchases.
The sad part about this story is that I would have checked it out sooner if I had known it was a discount department store. But I didn’t. To be successful today businesses must focus on brand awareness.
Social Media Audit
This week my task was to conduct a social media audit of an organization of my choice. Because I enjoyed my visit, I chose Gabe’s.
Who are they?
“Gabriel Brothers sells designer brands and fashions for up to 70% off department and specialty store prices. Their stores carry designer brand name ladies, juniors, lingerie, men’s and children’s apparel, along with footwear, accessories, handbags, bath and beauty products, home décor, soft home, electronics and housewares.”
My analysis of Gabe’s includes a review of their active social media channels AND the social media channels for two similar stores: Ross and T.J. Maxx. The audit period was July 9th to September 9th.
To evaluate the strength of their social media strategy, I analyzed each of the four channels they currently use to promote their brand:
Overall, Gabe’s is fairly active on social media, but would benefit from posting more often. They should also be a little more creative with their content. It appears they hire models and stage posts ahead of time. The content is laid out well, but a bit generic.
They could also learn a lesson from Ross and include more posts that DO NOT feature humans.
For the full analysis, check out my YouTube video.
And if you come across a Gabe’s during your travels, check them out. It’s definitely worth the time 🙂
Just to get this out of the way, you should know that I think every cat is beautiful. As wonderful as that sounds, it makes me extremely vulnerable to adopting cats in need. Because I believe that all cats are beautiful, inside and out, I have made the choice to share my home with them.
At one point in time I had eight cats. I know … it’s crazy. I don’t think I am your typical crazy cat lady, and it’s definitely something I don’t recommend and wouldn’t repeat. But in retrospect I’m not sorry that I chose to take in each and every one of these wonderful animals.
Until this weekend I had five cats … that is, until one of my beloved rescues passed away. She was an extraordinary cat in so many ways, and I have shed a boatload of tears for her. Anyone who has had the distinct privilege to meet her will confirm that she had the most expressive face of any cat I have ever had, and a personality to match.
This is Meg, who passed away in my arms around 6 a.m. on Saturday, September 7th. As is the case for each and every sweetheart that has graced my home, my heart is broken.
And so, my message is this. If you can, please support the organizations that choose life over death for these extraordinary creatures.
Forgotten Cats is an organization that is near and dear to my heart. This slide show focuses on their social media presence, and includes suggestions to help increase their support among donors, volunteers, and those wishing to adopt. Please support them as you feel you can.
I don’t remember where I was, but I remember getting the Facebook message.
Mom:Are you okay? Me:… yes …? Something wrong?
Then another message and another. Before I knew it, I was busily typing away to all my friends who were also studying with me in Paris. The shooting rocked the city in a way I never could’ve imagined. Seeing all my Paris friends post on social media that they were safe was bizarre in a way. It was a good method to check in but it stood in stark contrast to all the other happy, perky photos and silly quotes posted by the rest of my social circle.
Just when I thought the tragedy couldn’t any get worse, while visiting near Vincennes two days later, heavily armed militia boarded my Metro car. My friends started getting calls and messages and the entire ordeal began again.
This is my daughter’s recollection of the three days of terror that rocked Paris in January of 2015. At that time she was a student at École internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq.
On January 7th, the shootings began at the Charlie Hebdo offices in the 11th arrondissement, or district.
Charlie Hebdo is the French magazine that was targeted for its disrespectful depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.
When I learned of the attack I scrambled to remember where she would likely have been at the time of the shooting. Was her school near the Charlie Hebdo offices in the 11th? Why couldn’t I remember what arrondissement her dorm was in? I frantically used my computer to look at a map of Paris to kick start my memory.
Was she at her dorm? Why wasn’t she texting me back?
Being in class all day she was unaware of the shootings that took place the morning of January 7th, until she read my Facebook messenger text.
I was relieved when I finally received a response back from her. She was fine — nowhere near the 11th. As grateful as I was that she was alright, I was devastated as I continued to follow the news closely.
I mourned as I learned the details of the deaths in the building that housed the Charlie Hebdo offices, which included five cartoonists, a copy editor, two columnists, a building maintenance worker, a bodyguard, a police officer, and a travel editor who was visiting the office.
A 20-minute walk away from Charlie Hebdo’s office, art director Joachim Roncinwas leaving a meeting at his office at Stylist magazine when he learned of the attack. He and his coworkers gathered together to read the reports that were surfacing on Twitter. I can only imagine the emotions I felt were dwarfed by what they felt as they learned the details.
In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, Roncin said “I looked at this, and thought, ‘This is part of me. I am Charlie.'”
“Roncin, who designs Stylist’s weekly covers, felt he wanted to say something that would pay tribute to the dead rather than simply repeat the facts of their killing. “
He tweeted the following:
Two days after the attack, CNN reported that more than 5 million tweets using the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag were posted (Goldman & Pagliery, 2015).
“Within two days of the attack, the slogan had become one of the most popular news hashtags in Twitter history. Je suis Charlie was adopted worldwide, was used in music, displayed in print and animated cartoons (including The Simpsons), and became the new name of a town square in France” (Je suis Charlie, 2019).
When French president François Hollande announced the Republican marches would be held on January 10th, my daughter and I discussed the pros and cons of attending via Skype.
“Should I go?” she asked me.
I was torn.
“As your mom, I should tell you to stay in your dorm and be safe. But honestly, if I were there I would have to go” I replied.
“I wasn’t sure if it was safe to go to the march. Everyone in Paris was afraid that there would be another attack. I called my family and everyone had different opinions.
In the end, I decided that going was more important than anything. Standing up for freedom of speech in person is more powerful than the computer keystroke.”
Although I was worried about the possibility of another attack during the march, I was proud of the decision she made. Her act of solidarity made me very proud of the young woman she had become.
“French government officials estimated that the rallies were attended by up to 3.7 million people nationwide, making them the largest public rallies in France since 1944, when Paris was liberated from the Nazis at the end of World War II” (Republican marches, 2019).
With the help of social media, Paris and the world united together with a single voice to express their grief and reinforce their belief in the right to express their opinions freely.
“If 9/11 made global viewers of us, the massacre in Paris was the moment when online media was where readers gathered” (Martinson, 2015).
On January 7th, 2015 I came to appreciate social media on a whole new level. Up until that time it was a rarity for me to write a post, but that day with a few keystrokes I shared my grief. I was connected to the world community in a way I could never have imagined, and it was a powerful feeling.
“Je Suis Charlie was tweeted at a rate of 6,500 times a minute at its height following Paris massacre” (Whitehead, 2015).
Whether you like it or not, social media has become an essential part of our lives. There simply is no better way to put one’s finger on the pulse of world events. The speed at which we can share news with the world via social media channels greatly surpasses traditional media in any form.
Unlike many of my contemporaries, it took me a long time to warm up to this new way of communicating. But when my daughter moved to Paris, things changed.
In my own small way, my post of #JeSuisCharlie allowed me to stand with others as we showed our support for freedom of expression and the continued fight against terrorism.
Going forward, social media will continue to provide the platform the common man uses to ensure our voices will be heard. Let’s stand together in unity and pledge to use it kindly and wisely.