Why I trust Oprah

I trust Oprah Winfrey, both online and offline. She earned by trust many years ago because, not only she is genuine and transparent, but also she is intimate, helpful, knowledgable, and reliable. I’ll add to this equation that she is one of the most selfless persons I’ve ever known. Yes, she has a huge media empire that makes a lot of money, but she uses that fortune to help others and to touch our lives by handing us the tools that we can use to be better persons; to grow as compassionate human beings. I trust her so much that I think what she says is what’s right. Oprah is committed to making a better world. The first webcast that I ever saw and the one that helped me get through a very rough time when I lost my dad was Oprah and Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth. My relationship with Oprah started when she had the show and now extends to social media networks. I follow Oprah on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

We discussed Steve Rayson’s trust formula, which is as follows:

TRUST= Authority x Helpfulness x Intimacy/Self promotion)

Taking a look at each of these variables, I can say that they are present at Oprah’s social media accounts. Let’s begin with authority, which means someone is knowledgable and demonstrates it, in this case through quality content. For example, on Facebook, Oprah has devoted content during the past month to Selma, a movie she produced about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about his fight against discrimination of black people being able to register to vote during 1960’s. The content we see is meant to create awareness about this situation by educating us. Her knowledge about this, which is important to her because we’ve seen her advocating for equal rights, moved her to launch this campaign on Facebook, which is educational and is how she demonstrates not only how much she knows about it, but how much is her commitment to this cause. She posted this video just this week, Because of Dr. King, in which many people expressed how his fight and achievements influenced their lives:

Oprah has the power to summon and call together a huge number of people so that they can show their gratitude. Judging by the amount of fans Oprah has (10 million+) and most of the responses to this message, we can see how someone with authority moved people:

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In terms of intimacy, I can say that on social platforms, Oprah has opened the doors to her home, the most intimate place. She has also allowed us to see how she spends Christmas, when she picks fruit and what she’s having for dinner. She is warm and friendly enough to make us part of her daily life. Another example, is how committed she is to meditation, which is a great tool that portrays is important to her, thus she shares how it makes her human. Finally, intimacy is also about sharing what’s meaningful to you. Here are come examples of how this intimacy is reflected on her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts:

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In terms of helpfulness, there is no doubt that Oprah’s mission is to help others, and on her social media platform she continues to do that. She shares information about the multiple projects she runs to help others. Some may see this as self promotion, but I see it as a way to ask people to contribute to the lives of those in need. For example, in collaboration with Teavana, she launched the Oprah Chai Tea last year to support educational opportunities for young people. This item is sold at Starbucks, so she has dedicated some efforts on social media to promote this, which has a bigger end result than just making money. Take a look at the post below in which she personally went to Starbucks to enjoy the drink and posted the photo. Because we are talking about help, please note the comments people wrote and how one of Oprah’s community manager took the time to reply. One of them is a question to which they replied.

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I think Oprah actively participates on her Twitter account and engages with people. It’s not a customer service forum, so there is not so much she can help with. Still, she takes time to respond. In the example below, she responds Tallulah to a post about the Chai tea, with a comment about sharing it with a friend. This is a way of helping too!

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I could continue to give examples, but I’m sure by this time, it’s very clear how the reasons I trust her are reflected on how she behaves on the platforms, thus bringing me closer to her. She promotes her meditation sessions with Deepak Chopra, for example, but they are all meant to help us grow as human beings. I say it again, I trust Oprah.

The Rules According to Pinterest

Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing. Its Terms of Service include the Acceptable Use Policy, which follows a different format regarding the rules people must follow when using social networks. We have evaluated Facebook’s, Twitter’s and Ello’s terms and conditions. In these three, the rules consist of a list of what we can’t do.

What’s different with Pinterest is that after each rule, there is both a short and long explanation of what the rule means, as well as examples (in the form of pins) of the types of posts they allow. Below is the first example of one of the sections of this document:

Stuff you can’t post

You aren’t allowed to post anything that…..

  • Is sexually explicit or pornographic, exploits or presents minors in a sexual way, or promotes adult sexual services

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Why did Pinterest feel ethically responsible to elaborate on each one of the rules in such a way that people understand the message more easily? Why did they want to ensure that this message in particular, regarding the rules is clear? I would say their intention is to obtain consensus from users regarding what surrounds each matter (in this case nudity) in order to maintain the sense of community that we clearly see on Pinterest communications. This document is different that the Terms of Service, which has a language and serious/legal tone. Terms of Service was probably written by a lawyer. The Acceptable Use Policy was written by a member of the Pinterest community. Your neighbor is talking to you, not a lawyer.

When you see the title of this section (Stuff you can’t post), you immediately get that Pinterest is talking to a friend. You’re still going to get the don’t do this format of the rules, but in a more informal tone. The short version is for just like me who don’t like to read and the long version is more poetic, honest, and clear. Pinterest’s concern with these types of pins is the well-being of the community. They say they don’t mean to define art (after they mention that artistic nude photographs are ok). The company wants to make it clear where the boundaries are and clarifies that what the want to do what’s good for its community. “We focus on what might make images too explicit for our community.” The implication of this is based on utilitarianism. Lets do things that keep the most people happy. By taking a look at the language, you see they want to protect their relationships (care ethics) with their followers by carefully explaining what they need to avoid. They are using pins, which is the essence of this social networks. In what other possible way could they have explained this better? I’m not sure there is another way! On the other side, going into this amount of detail to explain something may represent more material people have to question the company; more space for interpretation.

Here is another example regarding pins that contain any information or content that’s illegal:

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Big Data and Consumer Experience-Netflix

Netflix is a good example of a company that benefits from leveraging on Big Data and enhances the consumer experience with their product, in this case, the streaming service. For this assignment, I will focus on how they used Big Data to select one of their original series, House of Cards. I will also discuss how they use Big Data to enhance the consumer experience by learning from their behavior while using the product, including pausing, rewinding, abandonment, as well as replaying scenes. In my opinion, they are leveraging on Big Data in as successful way in order to create and personalized and meaningful experience to the consumer. They have been able to make consumers like me think that when I log to my account, the experience will be a really close reflection of my interests.

Before giving the green light for House of Cards, Netflix already know they would have an audience for that show. They were so positive about this that they didn’t ask for the pilot first, which is usually what happens; they went straight to the 13 episodes. How could they be so sure? Based on the data they obtained through their subscribers they knew that many of them watched The Social Network, a movie produced by the show’s producer, David Fincher. Secondly, the British version of the House of Cards was well watched. Finally, subscribers who watched that version of the show had also watched movies with Kevin Spacey or directed by Fincher. I don’t have to say that the show proved to be a success in terms of viewership and the increased number of Netflix subscribers. In this case, they were able to establish this based on Big Data obtained from their own customers. I have to add that they must have also figured out that people love political drama shows. Based on data too, they decided to produce not one, but 10 versions of the trailer, each targeted to different audiences, according to their viewing behavior. By doing so, they were able to talk to viewers based on what they knew they like, so they could draw the series to their attention.

Netflix also uses Big Data to enhance consumer experience. I’m a subscriber and heavy user of the Netflix streaming service. I now wonder I must be driving them crazy. A month ago, I just started to watch Mad Men and immediately got hooked with the show. However, since I watch it on weekdays at night, I tend to only watch 2 episodes before falling asleep with the TV on. Because each time one episodes finishes another one begins automatically, I wonder if as soon as Netflix notices that the next day I watch the shows again, they get that I fall asleep based on the time of they day I usually watch and its relationship with the pattern. They also know that I hit pause at 10:00pm to take my dogs out and then continue to watch the show. The reality is that these patterns give them a lot of information about my usage.

Netflix also uses Big Data collected from their subscribers to give recommendations. According to How Netflix Uses Analytics, they also put tags to shows, like according to level of violence, theme, gender roles, and very specific information, such as the professional career of the main character. They make meaningful usage of this data because it tells them what people like to watch. Since the whole point of this service is to maintain people interested in finding content, they use this data to determine how they can do that. It is no coincidence that I don’t usually have to search for shows using the “search” feature because Netflix effectively predicts what I would like to watch next. Now that I mention this search button, I wonder all the possible information they could obtain from people who use it.

In my promotional products business, I use data from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. The first one provides information about visits to my website, including audience, interests, behavior, and technology, among others. In terms of behavior, there is the possibility to see which users are new and which are returning visitors. This is extremely valuable because that should give me an idea about whether or not my website design is attractive, if it’s user friendly, and if content is relevant. I do have to make some assumptions, but I can establish trends using this data so I can make changes, if necessary. How do you use Big Data?

AT&T’s It Can Wait Campaign

AT&T’s “It Can Wait” is an example of a well-structured public relations campaign (which won The Public Relations Society Best of Silver Anvil Award in 2014) and a nice attempt by the company to create awareness about the danger of texting and driving, particularly among teens. It definitely boosts the company’s corporate image and positions it as a responsible corporate citizen. No doubt. According to It Can Wait Overview, the results of the campaign so far also reflect that it has been successful in terms of impressions, app downloads, pledges, page views, reach, and media integration. However, it has failed to translate those results to reducing the number of people who actually decide to quit texting while driving. In other words, AT&T has not been able to convince people to take action, which in this case means not texting while driving. According to the results presented on the article AT&T’s anti-texting campaign: lots of impressions, zero sucess, conversions have been little or none.

According to Beyond the like: What comes next in social measurement, there are other factors that brands should consider measuring, other than likes and shares. These factors are more specifically related to driving people to take action outside social platforms. Even though AT&T’s efforts for this campaign go beyond social media, the results are still not there. The number of pledges, app downloads, and impressions is not enough. The other problem is that, in measuring these results, AT&T seems to be more worried about the brand’s perception and imagery rather than on what is really important. The survey they did on Twitter clearly shows this. In my opinion, they are presenting these results to show this campaign is a success story. What they have not done, in my opinion, is implementing ROI stories in which people engage, not only by liking, sharing or commenting, but taking action.

Let’s take, for example, the one they are doing right now with Demi Lovato. There is a contest right now on the website in which users upload a photo of them doing a pose, dance or any other thing that might motivate their friends to use #X to let them know they are about to drive and cannot respond. Next, they say how they use #X. Once they submit they have a chance to meet Demi Lovato backstage. Sounds like an incentive, but again, does it really stimulate them to stop? They can measure how many entries they receive, how many people visit the website, but can they rest assured that those contestants actually will not text and drive? No.

 

 

One of my recommendations would be to integrate a calendar to their Drive Mode app, which automatically updates when the customer uses it everyday. Then AT&T can offer incentives to people who use it for more than one month, 3 months and so forth. Here, they can make sure they don’t cheat because everything is updated automatically. Some of the rewards would be in the form of discount on the bill, accessories, or free upgrades after using for 12 months. Another idea is to link information from this app to social media accounts so customers can share this information with their friends. Once their friends see that others are actually taking action, they might be motivated. In order for this to work, this app should also be available for Iphone!

Finally, in order to capitalize on the fact that a large number of respondents said they can stop texting and driving if someone in the car asks them to do so, AT&T can run a contest in which users submit Vine videos showing how the driver turned off his or her phone when he or she was driving others to a party. On a final note, the Marketing department needs to be in touch with other departments, such as Research or Operations to optimize the app and define other types of technology that might help have better results.

Project Runway’s #InstaRunway Challenge

 

Each week, the contestants of Project Runway participate in one challenge, which is usually themed, like the Red Carpet Glam in which they had to design a dress for Heidy Klum to wear at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Now the show is giving viewers the opportunity to become ““fashion ambassadors” by posting a selfie inspired on a particular challenge on Instagram, using the hashtag #InstaRunway. Each week, Tim Gunn will select his favorite photo, which will be featured on-air during an episode of Project Runway. This means a chance for viewers to share what is their appreciation of fashion for a chance to be on television! We normally see the contestants and judges dictating fashion and what fashion is; this is a great way of engaging viewers by giving them the opportunity to do that too!

Hashtags are very effective for creating and categorizing conversations. In this case, I think the show is looking for active participation in something directly related to the theme of the show. This campaign is not asking viewers to cast their votes; it’s asking them to demonstrate their perception of fashion, particularly related to the challenge on the show. This example would need an ROI story to measure both qualitative and quantitative results. Examples of qualitative data would include, in my opinion, how up-to-date are viewers with fashion, and if they know about fashion trends. Also, by taking a look at these photos, the show can determine if the aesthetic profile is in line with the viewer profile in terms of age and weight, men or women.

In terms of quantitative, they can measure if the ratings of the show increase because those who participate must watch the show to find out the winning look, number of posts (which will let them know how motivated people are to participate). They can also find out which themes draw higher participation, which will help determine the theme selection for the show. Finally, because the photos are uploaded to the  contest website, they can determine if traffic to the website increased, as a result of the contest.

One of the issues I have detected is that people are posting non-related photos using the hashtag. Why? Because they know Tim Gunn is watching! These people, some who seem to work in the fashion industry, are maybe aspiring to be spotted by him so they can be contestants of the show, for instance or for any other purpose. I think this distracts the attention from the main idea of the contest. After a couple of weeks, they would have to evaluate the total amount of entries and what percentage is relevant to the contest to determine if maybe some people want to use it for other purposes.

Another issue (that may be related to the first one) is if the hashtag has been used before for other purposes not related to the show. Looking at the Instagram page, I found some posts that are 24-weeks old, clearly not representing the current strategy. If this is a hashtag people have been using for other purposes and long before this story, they can consider changing the hashtag. In my opinion, these are the issues that may arise, all of them having a direct effect on measuring results.

IMC: University of Florida’s Masters Degree in Science with a Major in Entrepreneurship

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The University of Florida’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), a program offered by the Warrington College of Business Administration, provides students with valuable tools to help them develop and sustain entrepreneurial skills in their professional lives. Through workshops, speakers, degrees, and special programs, students are encouraged to explore business opportunities in different areas, including start-up, social, and corporate. Some of the programs offered by CEI are the following:

  • Master of Science with a Major in Entrepreneurship (MSE): A one-year degree program that exposes students to both theoretical information and practical application of business and entrepreneurial practices. It is one of the first programs of its kind. After students complete this program, they are ready launch a venture on their own.
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Global Entrepreneurship Study Program- Ireland (part of the MSE degree)

 

  • Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP): A 3-phase program aimed at disabled veterans looking to start a new business or increase the profits of an existing business. The program is free of cost for participants and sponsors and private donors absorb the costs.
  • Entrepreneurship and Empowerment in South Africa: Open to both graduate and undergraduate students, this six-week long program provides participants with the opportunity to help disadvantaged entrepreneurs in South Africa. Students will work as consultants with two small businesses, while having the opportunity to immerse in a different culture and exchange ideas.

For the purpose of this discussion, I selected the Master of Science with a Major in Entrepreneurship (MSE) and give some recommendations in order for them to increase enrollment to the program using a well-structured integrated marketing communications (IMC) campaign.

Target audience:

  • Men and women who hold a bachelor’s degree (all undergraduate majors) from an accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA or higher in the last 60 credits of course work. This part of the target market includes professionals already working full-time, but looking for opportunities to “be their own boss,” as well as those who just recently graduated.
  • Students from all Florida universities who are about to finish their bachelor’s are a key part of the target market. We acknowledge that there are big opportunities within University of Florida current students.
  • Residents near the Gainesville area will be part of our primary target market.
  • Secondary target market will be comprised of other Florida areas, as well those living out-of-state.
  • Both of these groups have an interest in developing skills and understanding of how an idea or product can be used to create a successful business or to help an existing organization want to grow.
  • Members of the Academic Common Market, which may receive in-state tuition if their home state doesn’t offer an MSE program, which is why they are also part of our target.

SWOT analysis:

Strengths:

  • The MSE at the University of Florida was the recipient of the 2013 National Model Award for Graduate Entrepreneurship Program by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship; the program was also the recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education Award, given by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers.
  • The program includes experiential learning programs like GatorNest, in which students collaborate with area startups and the Mentoring Program, which provides students a relationship with more experienced or more knowledgeable person to guide them in specific areas. This gives the program a practical dimension, rather than only focusing on theory.
  • The program can be completed in just one year.
  • The MSE program is one of the nation’s premier graduate entrepreneurship experiences.
  • CEI sponsors local professional organizations in Gainesville, like GAIN.

 In terms of IMC strength…

  • Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, as well as a blog, email marketing account, and a website have been already created for the CEI program and part of the communication strategy includes promoting the MSE program.

Opportunities:

  • According to the Entrepreneur Resource Center, “the Gainesville region has a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem that provides the tools necessary for the growth of all businesses in any stage of development.” The fact that MSE is on-campus at a university in Gainesville represents an opportunity because it means having presence where that system is located. This represents more networking opportunities, among others.
  • Local events, such as monthly luncheons by GAIN represent opportunities to promote the program, as well as partnerships with other colleges and universities to promote entrepreneurship. One example is San Fe College’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development.
  • CEI’s relationship with the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce may help promote the MSE degree in local events.
  • The Start-up Hour is another networking opportunity for people who might be interested in the MSE degree.
  • Two other schools in the area, University of North Florida and University of Central Florida don’t offer a full master’s degree in entrepreneurship. They offer Entrepreneurship MBA and certificates.

According to Integrated Marketing: What It Is and Why You Should Embrace It – Part 1, integrated marketing communications (IMC) is defined as: “an approach to brand communications where the different modes work together to create a seamless experience for the customer and are presented with a similar tone and style that reinforces the brand’s core message.” This is the part in which brands and companies establish relationships with their current and potential customers by sending messages and encouraging dialogue through media.

Through the implementation of a well-thought, well-balanced integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategy, UF’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation will be able to increase awareness and reach its enrollment objectives to the Master of Science with a Major in Entrepreneurship program. They already have some of the important components in place, including a website, blog, email campaign, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. The next step is to structure those channels and messages so that they are cohesive and consistent across all platforms. In my opinion, this consistency applies, not only to the tone, voice and content of messages, but also to the overall graphic design, including colors, fonts, and use of images, among others. The brand, product or service is right in the middle and all components around it should work together to create that pleasant experience.

 

Reputation management: Hospitality Industry

Note: This is a “sample post” for class (educational) purposes only.

My role as Social Media Manager at the Hyatt Regency Orlando includes monitoring comments posted by our guests on travel review websites, such as Trip Advisor. These comments give us a good idea about the experiences of our guests at the hotel. They also provide us with feedback related to what is important to them. These comments can also reflect how our brand is perceived in the eyes of the consumer; how they describe Hyatt’s corporate image. Because I also handle public relations, tracking and responding to these comments is essential for our organization because we want to build and maintain relationships with our customers. In order to do this, it is very important to listen to them while they voice their opinion about our property; it is equally important to respond to them in order to show them that we care. We don’t have a standardized format that we use for every response. We tailor our response so that it is directly related to the message we receive from them. This means that what we do not answer just for the sake of it. We personalize our feedback because we value each guest’s experience.

We take positive reviews as free promotion, word of mouth marketing. We also value them as an opportunity to engage with our customers beyond their stay. We also treasure the fact that they take time to write these reviews because they want others to know how good was their stay. Finally, we showcase these reviews on our hotel website and social media accounts. After all, we want actual and potential customers to know how others see us! Below is an example of a positive review, followed by our “hypothetical” response:

Sample post (#1) from customer:

Hyatt-example2014

 

Sample answer from our hotel:

Thank you so much for your feedback. We’re glad you came back to stay with us, this time for pleasure! I’m happy to hear we could fulfill your request of a higher floor and I hope next time we can accommodate your family in a room with pool view.

It was also good to learn that your kids enjoyed our zero-entry Grotto Pool with water slide and interactive water feature. We’ve seen families spend a whole day enjoying this pool, as well as our Olympic-size Terrace Pool. I will pass your comments about the pool maintenance to our Operations Manager. We value your opinion and strive to offer our guests a complete and pleasant experience. You also enjoyed your massage at The Spa and wished it were longer. This means you really enjoyed that experience in the harmonious atmosphere at The Spa.

We believe no stay at a hotel is complete without delightful dinning experiences. This is why our new dinning features offer choices that please everyone. This is the case of the 24-hour B-Line Dinner, in which the desserts and display window featuring our homemade cakes and pastries take the leading role! I’m happy you found that dessert scrumptious. Since you visited us during a very busy, the wait at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse was longer than it should have and we apologize for that. However, we’re delighted that your dinning experience was positive and that you feel happy with the service at the table by Ralph. If your next visit is on Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, don’t forget to try our award-winning brunch.

Our shuttle service frees you from the hassle of having to find a parking space at the theme parks, plus we take good care of your car, like you say! Since this was your second stay and we also want to see you come back here or to any other Hyatt hotels, we invite you to join our loyalty program for free, Hyatt Gold Passport, in which you can enjoy exclusive benefits and free nights with no blackout dates at any Hyatt worldwide. Hope to see you back here at the Hyatt Regency Orlando!

Two weeks after the previous post I was offered a work opportunity as Social Media Manager at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. Even though this implied relocation, I was motivated by the opportunity and decided to go for it. Remember, this post is hypothetical and for educational purposes only!

While we love to read positive feedbacks and see our ratings go up, we also consistently track and respond to negative reviews. We are aware that these travel review websites represent an open forum for people to vent about the experiences they had at hotels, positive or negative. In both cases, we respond rapidly to each review. As soon as I started working here, the hotel received this feedback from a customer:

Sample post (#2) from customer:

Hilton-example-2014

Sample answer from our hotel:

Thank you for reviewing the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina hotel and for taking the time to highlight some areas for improvement. We apologize for the inconveniences and maintenance issues you had during your stay with us for your 10-year high school reunion. What you describe its contrary to Hilton standards. Since 1919, the Hilton family of hotels serves thousands of customers a week, and we strive to create the best possible hotel stay for our customers, including ensuring the guest rooms and the common areas are in optimal conditions and that the pool is cleaned everyday. Our guest rooms are designed with comfort and convenience in mind. I will personally follow up on everything that you pointed out with the management team and make sure we address all issues. We hope you give us another opportunity to serve you better in the future.