Best Practices for regional divisions and franchises working under a corporate brand in social media

Best Practices for regional divisions and franchises working under a corporate brand in social media

Whether you are a franchisee of a global brand or run a marketing for a regionally segmented business, there are no guarantees that every post, contest and engagement will move your shoppers along the social path to purchase. What I can tell you is that an honest, consistent and personal relationship with your social communities will enhance your brand, increase engagement and provide insights to your audience--and ultimately play an integral role in driving the sales of the products or services featured on social media.  

So now let’s say you also have a corporate headquarters that provides a foundation of social media support but does not dictate individual division/franchisee social media strategy. In this case the likely role for the corporate entity is protecting the brand and providing guidance and/or tools to the divisions/franchisees.

Corporate support can be invaluable, but the question we frequently get from marketing managers of regional divisions and franchisees is: How do I tailor our corporate social media marketing strategy to speak authentically to and reach my local customers?

Here are a few of the recommendations Social Forces makes for increasing brand engagement and influence purchase behavior at the regional level:  

  • Partner with Corporate to understand the strategy behind their social media tools. They may be providing more resources for reaching your local audiences than first seems apparent. Working within their guidelines will always be more warmly received than working around them.

  • Develop custom content that focuses on the specifics of the culture and personality of your regional geography while finding a way to supplement the use of the corporate highlights.

  • Promote both events and in-store offers with content created specially for your local target audiences: Experiential and lifestyle photography featuring people that your real customers can relate to versus stock/generic images--always taking care to make sure the corporate brand standards are still met.

  • Understand your local audience and choose the right platform/channel for each piece of content. The adoption and use of social media channels can vary geographically.   

  • Maximize targeting to boost posts and optimize for all content so that it may engage your community who values the consistent experience of your Pages.

  • Embrace social listening and feedback to continually improve relationships with your local community. This may be one of your strongest opportunities to shine at the regional level.

Shoppers of all types are looking for is a transparent place to vent, be heard and have the opportunity for the relationship to continue with your brand. Sometimes that means a true corporate response and lots of times it’s the people on the front lines that need to have those conversations. Localized creative content helps your customers understand and value them as individuals and can often help prompt positive conversations. If this sounds daunting know that you don’t have to go at it alone for a localized strategy to be effective. An experienced social media agency like Social Forces can partner with your to manage all of the above without losing any of the regional authenticity.


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Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700

Maximizing Social Media for Regional Retail

Maximizing Social Media for Regional Retail

At Social Forces, we’re often approached by a franchisee, a regional operations/marketing leader or a small, local chain that is asking for help in social media. They want to know how we can support their business without compromising their relationship with a corporate HQ and align on social media without ever really having a conversation with the marketing, ops or sales leadership.  

You’re probably not surprised this is a common occurrence and a challenge for retailers, restaurant groups, and other businesses that still rely on actual foot traffic but feel like they’re not receiving the support from the home office. Understandably, these organizations are looking to maximize their social communities and engagement to influence purchase behavior and are even willing to get a slap on the wrist for aggressively spending their own budget to drive new business.  

So how do you, a regional retailer, make this happen without getting called to the office by the principal (in most cases, the marketing team)?

From my experience there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. But through working collaboratively with world class brands since the inception of social media on these challenges, we have compiled some best practices on the topic:

  • Set realistic expectations for what can and can not be effectively done in the field  

  • Understand the internal audiences and follow established Brand Standards

  • Always include a “Call to Action” to allow for measurable results

  • Align measurements that can be shared with your corporate marketing team

If you can do much of the above right, you can probably receive praise from the brand/marketing teams, gain alignment from the sales or leadership team and maybe even get to the head of the class. If you are still feeling like you need some help on the sorting out of the details, like baselines for social engagements and interactions or the right copy on the proper channel, feel free to give me a call at 813-523-0111 or reach out to Ari@SocialForces.com.   


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Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700

The Evolution of Fun Fridays

The Evolution of Fun Fridays

As the new calendar year rolls in and vacation time begins anew, I always harken back to my pre-professional life.  In those days, “Fun Fridays” were a staple of my collegiate youth where we challenged each other to athletic feats (think golf, beach volleyball, biking, etc) then finished the day with the beverages of your choice.  Now, in case you are wondering, Fun Fridays are meant to be exactly like what they sound to be: A part of a day to do something fun at the end of a work week with the people you’re in the grind with every day.

As my place in the corporate culture grew over the years and I became established in corporate workplace scenarios, these days slowly disappeared. Before I made the switch from corporate America to a customer marketing agency, as an outsider looking in I assumed agency life still felt more relaxed and casually-paced with plenty of time for foosball and craft beer sampling….but not so fast.

I am amazed daily by the dedication to our craft, the time and focus it takes to service our accounts at the level I expected when I was a client. I’m amazed by the time and talent it takes to produce a high-quality creative product, to effectively optimize digital media buys, and to gain a true understanding of our clients’ businesses. I can’t begin to tell you what a big and pleasant surprise it is to work with a group of young, hungry and professional folks who provide our clients with truly outstanding social/digital advertising campaigns.

Yes, there’s still time to enjoy every day. But most of the fun we do is from the creation, execution and delivering the work to our clients. There is no slow time in a small business, or even a boutique shopper marketing agency anymore. We have, during the course of this past year, celebrated more than an occasional Fun Friday holiday with a game of “What’s Your Meme”, rented a large sport utility vehicle and went tubing, enjoyed a Guinness toast, watched some classic YouTube videos (for inspiration, of course), learned about the origins of some craft beers and went to the beach for cookout. But those times are more of an occasional treat than a cultural expectation.  

So yes, there is still time for a Fun Friday now and again--which is good thing remember as we move forward into a new year full of social shopper marketing activations. But this is what I now call “Fun Everyday.”


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Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700

The Shopper Marketer Goes To A Holiday Party

The Shopper Marketer Goes To A Holiday Party

It’s the holidays. Marketing calendars are complete and office parties rule the day (or night). So, when you’re outside the marketing bubble you work in and try to explain in friendly conversation that you work at a Social Shopper Marketing Agency, you often get blank stares followed by the question “What does a Shopper Marketer do exactly?”

I’m married to another “marketer” and she gets it--but really would rather talk about anything other than work at parties. In fact, most folks will nod their head, ask a few questions and generally start talking about really cool TV commercials. They may even be excited about seeing new and better ones during the Super Bowl--but that’s about it. Which is understandable--I get that what we do is under the radar. Our type of niche advertising is all around you and it’s better received by consumers when you don’t know it’s happening.   

But still, what is it? Shopper marketing is understanding how a brand’s target consumers behave as shoppers, in different channels and formats, and leveraging this intelligence to the benefit of all stakeholders, defined as brands, consumers, retailers and shoppers.

Each shopper marketer has their own way of describing to people what they do and our agency is even more focused on the maximizing the digital reach in the path to a purchase.   

So here is what I would say to a fellow partygoer…

At the agency, we work with both brand and digital folks to provide content and ads that are both relevant and compelling messages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pandora and other hyper-targeted platforms telling consumers about a product and where to find the item and offer. I leverage data whenever possible to identify consumers interest and increase loyalty with prizes or incentives--then marry these ads to your overall shopping habits to influence purchase decisions.  

So the next time you ask the question at a holiday party or elsewhere, “What do you do?” and the person responds “Social Shopper Marketing”--you’ll at least be able to pretend you know exactly what they’re talking about, right?


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Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700

Judging the 2018 Shopper Marketing Effies

Judging the 2018 Shopper Marketing Effies

Heading to Chicago in early December was not really on my wish list this year (or any other year, really) as I enjoy the more moderate winter climate of Tampa. However, when I received a note that asked if I was interested in being a judge for the prestigious Effie Awards, I threw caution to the wind, went looking for as many layers of clothes that I can find and booked a flight.

In the world of shopper marketing, the Effies are a partnership with the Path to Purchase Institute, the global association that supports the needs of brand manufacturers, retailers, agencies and all types of solution providers along the path to purchase and annually recognize the year’s most effective shopper marketing activities across multiple categories. They’re not a big deal, they’re the big deal in our industry.  

Consumer packaged goods companies spent more than $12 billion on traditional TV ads but just over $6 billion spent on digital ads during the same period. Overall advertising dollars from CPG companies are somewhere in the $225 billion range. I was now being asked to compare the creativity, execution and effectiveness of these campaigns in a session of advertising/marketing professionals with discerning eyes.  

The old advertising or philosophical adage about using big ideas and not just big budgets, well, I got to review a little bit of both. In the ten submissions I was tasked with reviewing for further inclusion to the next round (already screened by the organization to narrow down), I found some wonderful marketing campaigns that drove sales exponentially and sometimes even provided some unexpectedly unique results.  

The truly exceptional programs seemed to have one fairly obvious tactic to me. Each targeted a specific insight to drive the message and focused on the retailer specific audience with components custom designed for the grocer. This is the true essence of shopper marketing and by solving a problem for the consumer, perceived or real, that’s where the value of a campaign is shown. Yes, sales effectiveness is a measurable statistic and there are always others but in one case, a brand new sub-category was created and the retailer received the initial benefit to a large segment of their consumers.

My take away: Whether it’s a Hershey’s, Coke, P&G or Purina activation--big ideas and budgets are certainly helpful to drive sales--but no matter the retailer, every CPG campaign should try to strive for KISS - Keep It Simple for Shoppers (and Effies judges).


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Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700

Three Things I Learned at a Social Shopper Marketing Agency After 20 Years in Retail/CPG

Being asked to relocate mid career for a lateral move now seems like a distant past decision that I was happy to ignore. A year ago I contemplated my next career opportunity and came to the conclusion that I liked my life and my next position should support the philosophies of my daily routine and the passion for shopper or customer marketing.

So as timing would have it, a boutique shopper marketing agency in town, Social Forces--whom I had intimately come to know in previous roles--provided me with just such a landing spot. We’re a nimble, social media-driven agency that focuses on creative content, hyper-targeted digital media with the goal to influence customer behavior while helping to improve the shoppers’ day. It’s been a truly amazing experience that has been rewarding professionally (being named Who’s Who in Shopper Marketing by the Path 2 Purchase Institute) and personally, as I am still able to head home if there’s an issue with my bungalow, as there always is, or a problem with my Jeep, two Portuguese Water Dogs or mother in law. 

Now, during this past year I have both led by example with wisdom and experience but certainly have learned more than a few things from this high performing team.   

First, social media is not just a young person’s opportunity.  The combination of new trends and older ideas, possibly from previous advertising campaigns before some of the “millenials” were born, has injected a wrinkle into the brainstorm process for client creative.  There is value in not reinventing the wheel and yes, pun intended…

Next, not every client is a good fit.  As a true partner to your account, there are just inherently things your agency does well and lots of times you want to help but it’s just better sometimes to recommend a better service provider in the area of expertise.  It is worth it to NOT play in someone else’s sandbox.

Finally, social media strategy is more complex than it looks. When an agency is doing their job the client (my former role) has no idea how elaborate and nuanced every aspect of social shopper marketing truly is. Everything from targeting to hyper-niche customer profiles to what to say to contest winners on the phone must be considered to create a positive consumer experience. The truth is the client education process for an agency providing specialized niche services is longer than expected, but the payoff is you truly understand your client’s business--making you a trusted partner, and your client truly understands the value of what the agency is providing.


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Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700

Social Forces named in 2017 Who's Who In Shopper Marketing Agencies

Social Forces named in 2017 Who's Who In Shopper Marketing Agencies

Social Forces has been recognized by the Path to Purchase Institute as an industry leader alongside shopper marketing industry giants including Catapult, The Integer Group, The Mars Agency, and TracyLocke.

In the sixth annual “Who’s Who in Shopper Marketing Agencies”, Social Forces was selected for having a strategic vision that leverages social media-derived shopper insights to tailor activations toward bottom line sales results through engaging social media content and hyper-targeted ad buying.

“As the only millennial and woman-owned boutique firm named, it’s an honor to be recognized among our large, publicly held agency peers in the shopper marketing space.” commented Kate Whatley, Social Forces’ CEO. She went on to say “Our clients are seeing value in our ‘social first’ approach to media and creative strategy. But additionally, they appreciate our ability to be nimble and the direct access they have to agency leadership within a firm that has international corporate retail and CPG brand experience.”

As part of the agency’s inclusion, the annual report highlights the dedicated, passionate team whose innovative media strategies and creative work are not only helping brand and retail clients, but pushing the discipline of social media shopper marketing to new heights.

To find out how Social Forces can handle your next customer marketing effort, contact us today.

Social Forces is a social-forward customer marketing agency using the power of digital media to integrate brands in consumer lifestyles and improve your shopper’s day. Our boutique team produces engaging social media content and online experiences that drive awareness, preference, and sales for some of the world’s largest retail and consumer brands — all from our headquarters in Tampa, Florida.

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Summer Digital Media Assistant

Summer Digital Media Assistant

Social Forces seeks summer Digital Media Assistant

Social Forces is a social-forward Customer Marketing Agency using the power of digital media to integrate brands in consumer lifestyles and improve a shopper’s day. Our boutique team produces engaging social media content and online experiences that drive awareness, preference, and sales for some of the world’s largest retail and consumer brands. We reach over 100,000,000 online browsers a year through hyper-targeted social and digital media for a “who's who” of retail and on-the-go food brands.

We are currently looking to add a Digital Media Assistant to the team for June, July and August 2017. 

Do you have what it takes?

The Digital Media Assistant will be responsible for assisting the Account Service and Media team in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:

- Daily monitoring of media buys on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube) 
- Daily social media monitoring and listening
- Compiling reports on media results and effectiveness
- Compiling customer service reports
- Managing customer service resolutions on social media channels  

Summer Digital Media Assistant will need to be extremely detail-oriented, have a natural sense of urgency and a graceful, friendly customer-service communication style. 

This is an entry-level position. No specific experience is required, but a love for advertising, consumer brands and social media is! Team members who have done best in this role in the past have majored in Marketing or Advertising (with a focus on media). 

We're a young team. We don't have a stuffy corporate office. We joke around a lot. But we don't forget why we're here. Our job is to do the work that influences customer purchase decisions and makes our clients love us. 

Apply today. Interviews will start the week of June 5th. 

Growing Production Team Seeks New Recruits

Growing Production Team Seeks New Recruits

Full time contract-to-hire and freelance opportunities available.

Photographers / Videographers / Editors / Aspiring Art Directors – We're looking at you.

Social Forces turns traditional advertising production on its head, one shoot at a time, and we're looking to add to the ranks of our quick-thinking, fast-learning, energetic creative team.

Our run-and-gun production squad turns advertising concepts into eye-catching photos and videos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social channels. We reach over 100,000,000 web browsers a year with custom visuals for a who's who of retail and on-the-go food brands. We shoot 5 days a week, we post more often than that, and we take a social-first approach to everything we do.

Do you have what it takes?

  • Mile-a-minute creative problem solving — You might call yourself an "idea factory".
  • Visual intelligence — Whether it's an outfit, a room, or a resume, you have "the eye" to make it work.
  • A passion for turning business objectives into visuals — Advertising is about selling things, and you think that's cool.
  • Client service mentality — If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. And our Mama is a roster of Fortune 500 brands. 
  • Work ethic — You pride yourself on hard work. You're known to show up on time and stay late when needed.

All applicants must be comfortable with:

  • Brainstorming — Developing and pitching executable photo and video ideas based on client products and sales goals
  • Planning and Organizing — Pulling together props, models, location ideas, and schedules for successful shoots
  • Production — Hands-on assistance of teammates during in-studio and on-location shoots. Ready to build, craft, position, place, hold, or pose for the camera at a moment's notice.
  • Post-Production — Downloading, editing, cropping, and uploading files as directed.

Bonus round! Demonstration of the following will be highly regarded:

  • Photographic equipment mastery/Ownership
  • Professional photography-based art direction experience
  • College/trade school education in conceptual advertising or marketing
  • Photo-manipulation expertise
  • Video editing skills
  • Nunchuck skills

If it's not clear yet, here's the thing: We're a young team. We don't have a stuffy corporate office. We joke around a lot. But we don't forget why we're here. Our job is to do the work that makes our clients love us and our audiences buy things, and that takes dedication. We've got it, and if you do too, everything's gonna go gangbusters.

 

Social Forces Readies for Continued Growth

Social Forces Readies for Continued Growth

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Now more than ever, the team at Social Forces is primed to meet the needs of the world's largest brands. As part of the team's dedication to ongoing growth and education to best serve their clients, this fall saw the successful completion by CEO and Co-Founder Kate Whatley of the Executive Learning Series for Diverse Suppliers sponsored by CVS Health. This training program is an exclusive opportunity offered in conjunction with the Professional Education Center at the Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies.

From a pool of more than 100 applicants, Social Forces was one of just 15 businesses selected to take part in the program. Throughout the intensive 16-week course, Whatley worked with the team at RWU to add rigor and shape strategic vision of agency processes to better serve Social Forces' roster of multinational clients. Areas of focus included supply chain management, production planning, strategic planning, and purchasing and contracting.

Moving forward, the Social Forces team plans to put these critical capacity building skills into action. In 2017, the team seeks to apply their innovative social marketing efforts to additional consumer-facing businesses, offering both a unique ability to engage consumers and a certified woman-owned business status.

To find out how Social Forces can handle your next marketing effort, contact us today.

For more information about the Executive Learning Series program, visit https://scs.rwu.edu/partnerships/partners/cvs-health/executive-learning-series

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Social Forces is a social-forward customer marketing agency using the power of digital media to integrate brands in consumer lifestyles and improve your shopper’s day. Our boutique team produces engaging social media content and online experiences that drive awareness, preference, and sales for some of the world’s largest retail and consumer brands — all from our headquarters in Tampa, Florida.