Applebee’s Missed Opportunity with the Waitress Incident

Two key parts of any business are employee retention and brand imaging. Brand imaging is pretty self explanatory I think, you want people to see your companies brand in a certain way that, in the end, generates you revenue. Employee retention plays a massive role in this, and is why it is one of the key parts of any successful business. Once you find someone who fills a role, and fills it well, why waste time tracking down someone else three months later because you let that the pervious employee slip away for some reason? A great example of these two things? The recent Applebee’s waitress incident. 

If you need to catch up on the incident, read the story here, otherwise we’ll keep moving along. 

Let’s look at the incident first and see how it plays into Applebee’s brand imaging. Do you see the company different after hearing the story? I did. Not drastically, but I do think that the article the waitress who was in-fact fired published in The Guardian here, articulates how the incident affects Applebee’s in a very cohesive manner. Letting a dedicated employee go over one customer incident, while sure the incident garnered national attention, is a bad move. Applebee’s President Mike Archer said that the waitress in question violated company privacy policy, but failed to specify which one – a detail that could go a long way in showing Applebee’s is committed to upholding its standards of conduct, rather than trying to brush an embarrassing incident under the table. If Mr. Archer had said rather, “we have talked with the employee in question and addressed the issue of privacy, she assured us that no other incident would happen and was advised that her termination would result in the case of another, similar, incident,” the uproar surrounding the case would be much, much less. 

People like companies who protect their own in a reasonable manner. Organizations that treat their employee’s with a cattle like mentality don’t bode as well in the public eye compared to companies who would have taken a more “parent-child” approach and treated the situation as both a way to reach out to the offended customer and to teach their employee(s) a valuable lesson about conduct. 

This brings us to employee retention. Successful business is built around the people you hire. It’s simple and it’s from the ground-up. You want the best people to stick around as long as you can keep them and you want to replace the one’s that don’t fit as soon as you realize they weren’t the right match. Firing this waitress was a poor move on Applebee’s part for several reasons. First, it shows other waitresses and waiters how fast their employer will trade their job to satisfy one angry customer. Second, they lost a great employee. If you haven’t read the link to her article I posted up above already, scroll back up and give it a quick glance, who wouldn’t want to hire her? I’m surprised she isn’t running for the next Ms. America pageant. My word might not be enough to go on about customer service, I know a lot of people think that the goods you provide out weigh the service you provide at the sametime, but glance over this article and then think it over a bit. 

 

In short, Applebee’s didn’t handle this horribly, they conducted themselves well, but they did handle it wrong. Their image took a ding when it could have shown all their employees that they are behind them and willing to work with them on things and they also lost a great employee. 

Cultivating a Brand: There’s an App for That.

I’m a big fan on brands. Not the “label whore” kind of fan, but on how brands create and cultivate their image. What we think of “brands” now, aren’t what our parents or grandparents thought of them. Your grandpa probably was a Dapper Dan hair pomade kinda guy, because he liked the product and he trusted that brand. Today, when we look at brands, they’re more like living breathing organisms, bringing different things in to our lives everyday. To be a brand with staying power now, you have to do more than just deliver a product or service, you have to cultivate a culture. Music, clothes, events, even politics. 

Sure, a lot of brands don’t do this stuff. Old Navy sure doesn’t, but do we really want to have a brand like Old Navy? Didn’t think so. So let’s keep going. 

So if always cultivating something and being on the forefront of your consumers mind is the goal, what’s one of the most effective ways to get there? Apps. 

Why Apps? Because let’s be honest, you’ve checked your phone at least three times while reading this, and if you haven’t, grab the person you want to buy your product and watch them read something and count how many times they check their phone reading a 500 word paper. Your consumer is always going to have their phone with them. They’re going to check it constantly, and they’re going to want to use it constantly. 

You can make an app for you business no matter how large or small your company is, check out this article asking small business owners about how they feel having an app has impacted their business. You can also have an app no matter what kind of business you are. This is the 21st century, people don’t care if you make just clothes, make an app featuring musical artists who wear your clothes, or an app that, based on the clothes someone is wearing from your company that day picks music for them guessing from their style. The potential is endless, and in a world where first come first serve to the best idea wins, something that is so limitless is a place we should all become more comfortable. 

Here is a website that helps estimate your cost of developing the type of app you want

Be sure to read this article about app pricing as well, the more you know the better, right?

Going Viral – It Takes More Than A FlameThrower and Bad Decisions

Oh viral videos. Blowing your eyebrow off with a flamethrower has never been so easy to see, YouTube it, right now, I’ll wait….

Did you see it?
Magical right?
Right.


So how does something like that have a million views?

Let’s start from the beginning, the very first “viral” video was an all time personal favorite: Lazy Sunday from SNL. This was the first video that broke the million view mark. Now even though there isn’t a set number of views a video needs to hit to go viral, no one is going to listen to you is you say you’re video has 10,000 or even 100,000 views and you say your video is “viral.” We want a million. This is American dangit.

 

Just like there’s a formula to pop music so it is a hit (don’t act surprised – like Carley Ray Jepson isn’t the product of MBA students and a generation raised on MTV), can’t we do the same for a video? The answer: Ya pretty much. Of course there’s no guarantee, but let’s look over a view things that can really help you get that video of yours to reach a million views *dramatically throws glitter*.

 

  1. CONTENT IS KEY. Plain and simple. People want to see good stuff. If you don’t think someone blowing their eyebrow off with a flamethrower is good stuff, well you’re probably right, but still, it works. Eye catching, original, humorous and clever. I know we all think nothing is original these days, but I promise you there’s something you can build on, or take a new approach at that will make everyone think “WHY DIDN’T WE DO THAT.” Check out Red Bull’s “Kluge: The Athlete Machine” video or Pepsi’s “Uncle Drew” video. Brilliant stuff that drove great content. 

  2. TITLE. No one wants to watch “My Cousin Chris Falls On His Face After Jumping On Medicine Ball”, but they sure do want to watch “Fat Kid Falls On His Face.” If Pepsi’s video was (I hope you watched it by now because spoiler is coming) “Pro NBA Player Dresses as Old Man and Schools Young Guys Without Them Knowing While Drinking Pepsi Max.” It would take a whole lot longer for anyone to decided that it was worth clicking on, plus it gives away the whole humor of the video. We like humor, remember?
  3. TAGGING. “Is that like hashtagging” Yes Daniel-son, it is. Use unique hashtags on all of your videos so when people are looking at the “related” tab, your other videos appear. This is a good time to mention that you should release videos in batches. If you have 4 videos stored up and think you’re going to release them over a series of a few days to keep viewers “interested” c’mon, this is the 21st century, like anyone will wait that long; and why should they? Let them keep watching, draw them in, hook them, own them. 

 

There’s some quick tips, with a dash of humor. Check out this article from techcrunch if you want some more great tips.

Here’s another great article on where YouTube started, where they are now and what you can take away from a marketing perspective, because don’t fool yourself, YouTube is as valuable a place to market as any. 

The Black Magic of SEO’s

Search engine optimization, when I look at it, seems like a game of chess. Countless moves to make and ways to counter other opponents boding for the top spots in search results. It’s crucial to have a high placement on search results, in the age of the online shopper and informed consumers who actually want to research products before they buy, if you’re company or shop is buried on the second page of search results – there’s a great chance no one will ever see it.

Your search results are based on how many pages link to your page. If you sell workout clothes and GNC links to your page, then your search results improve, the more pages that have links to your page, the better your results will be. This is CRUCIAL for your companies success. Who doesn’t hop on Google real quick to see where people are buying, what they’re buying or just about anything?

There’s some black magic to the game though, just ask JcPenny, The New York Times looked into why they appeared first for just about everything you can imagine searching on Google from “cocktail dresses” to carry on luggage. Turns out they were cheating the system, at least according to Google’s standards. Check out the story here.

Clearly I’m still learning all about Search Engine Optimization, like chess, it’s never been my game, but something I like to give a shot every once in a while to see how unintelligent I really am. Here’s an article from searchenginewatch.com that really helped me understand the whole idea of optimization.

Know the Tools or the World Might Know the Wrong You.

A professor of mine says it’s impossible to “control” social media, so let’s talk about how we can at least try and manage it.

He’s definitely right, that you can’t control everything going on within social media that pertains to yourself. It’s hard to keep track even of what exactly happens to you. Even more so if you’re a business with multiple handles. How can you keep track of everything going on? Or even know who you’re reaching? Does it sound like I’m hinting towards something? Let’s hope so. First up is aggregators. Aggregators are a really simple concept that can go a long way for anyone or any company who might have more than one social media account – whether that’s multiple accounts on the same site, accounts on multiple sites…or more than likely both. What an aggregator does is pull info from all of your different accounts, over multiple sites, and puts it all into one feed for you. The most well-known app for this is HootSuite. If you don’t particularly vibe with that choice though, check out this article from Social Media Today about the top aggregators out there.

Even though this might not sound like it can be all that useful, especially if you’re like me, with all of one account on twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but if you’re a business, even with just one account per site, it lets you see the entire playing field all at once. Who’s talking about what, what type of engagement you’re getting on different platforms – and compare it side by side. It’s worth the learning curve to be nice and smooth with it.

If aggregators let you see the whole playing field, where’s the data to support your decisions? Thanks to Google, we can use a word we all have heard by now, Analytics. Quick refresher if you aren’t familiar with the term (you heathen) analytics is “the systematic computational analysis of data or statistics,” or in laymen’s terms, it’s the data behind the playing field, helping you make the best decisions of what to post, when, and who your posts are actually reaching. Think of the movie Money Ball, the whole movie was about analytics. They found players who, according to the math, would fit the team the best and left out all the other “worldly” things – for lack of a better term. Tada! Analytics. Many companies use the site Crowdbooster.com. I used to also, until they wanted to charge me for it, and as much as my ego loved to see how many people I reached each week, I wasn’t about to pay 10 dollars a month for that. Not convinced on how I sold analytics? Check out this article by Online-Behavior.com and see what they have to say about analytics, they’re smarter than me so I suggest you give it a shot.

Tracking performance is something we all like to do. See how we’re doing in the short term versus the long term and how things have changed over time. Not surprisingly, there’s a site for that too – and you’re already on it whether you know it or not. Klout.com gives you a score based off of your impact on social media. If you have a Facebook or Twitter you’re already on their site and have a score. The only way to not have a score is to go to the website and take the steps to delete yourself. Klout has recently gone through some improvements to now, rather than giving you a score of anything from 1-100 (I’m a sitting at a pretty solid 62) and telling you subjects you’re influential in like “Red Bull” or “Social Media” it also now gives you suggestions on content to share. You can pick from different articles and stories that Klout provides you and share them out over your various social media sites. The best part of Klout though? The perks. If you’re score reaches the criteria a company who has teamed up with Klout sets and you’re influential in the right things, you can receive anything from early access to a TV show on Hulu, gift cards, new gear to try out or even a new car to drive around for a week. Companies do it because they can look right at you and see if you’re the right person for their product, and then by giving you a hook-up more or less, they hope it will spur you to talk about it and get other people to talk about it. A really cool grass-roots approach to marketing online. The article is a bit old, but I read it a few years back and got really excited about the effect sites like Klout will have on our lives in the future. Check it out here.

So it’s true, you can’t control everything, but you can definitely manage it all. You can see what you’re doing, how people are interacting with you and what you’re perceived to be (and even get a few perks from it if you’re lucky). So pro-tip to anyone out there looking to get into the world of social media and not just be some four year old behind the wheel? Check out these management sites and apps. KNOW THEM. Otherwise the world might get to know the wrong you.

Organizational Uses of Social Media

Social Media is a convenient form of communication for the ever day person, but could it leap over and help businesses with their organization? Interestingly enough I have some personal experience here. I’m a student brand manager for Red Bull. There’s about three hundred others across the country with the job and even more internationally. Red Bull has set up a website for us, much like Facebook, where we can report our activity, hold discussions, tag one another in relevant content and share photos of events and what is happening in our neck of the woods. It’s incredibly useful and helps spur a lot of great conversation and brings up ideas that, without a platform to collaborate on, it would never happen. Forrester Research predicts that corporate spending on enterprise social media reached more than $4.6 billion in 2013 (You can read more about the research here).

In large, using a site for your organization helps “Mass collaboration extend beyond social media to enable your employees, customers, suppliers and all other stakeholders to participate directly in the creation of value.” According to Gartner.com in their article “The Social Organization.” CEO’s and managers can make mass collaboration source of enduring competitive advantage in their enterprise.

I would definitely agree that having an internal social media site for your employees and even distributors can be extremely beneficial. Having a linear line of communication, not separated by office location, can bring about innovative solutions and ideas that before hand  never would have been possible. I’m biased from my own experience already with an internal social media site, but it is something I would expect to see many more corporations hop into.

Class Cloud Look Back

For our social media class this past Tuesday we participated in the “class cloud” assignment. This was, the entire class spent the block of time on twitter carrying on conversations about social media and the like and spurring others to join by using the hashtag “socmeddiscuss.” It took a little bit for the ball to get rolling, the professor said at the beginning of class that “in fifteen minutes you won’t be able to keep up with everything that’s happening,” I kinda scoffed at it. I figured we’d just be tweeting at our classmates the entire time with no real outside engagement. Fifteen minutes later though and I was happily surprised.

Before class began I was required to tweet a question using the #socmeddiscuss hashtag and then tweet at someone using the same hashtag and using another hashtag. Here’s what they were:

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During class, our professor ended up being right about not being able to keep up eventually. Between all the threads students were taking part in, it became a tweeting mad house. The majority of the class became dead set on getting Ellen Degenerous to tweet at us and even went as far to replicate the photo of her’s from The Oscars that “broke twitter.”

 

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You can keep me on the back on the left in a beanie. Not my most flattering photo.

The photo garnished over 10 retweets though, so not bad.

Then of course there was the photo of the photo, just like the one from The Oscars.

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Suddenly I was in a picture mood and realized that I hadn’t taken a picture of myself in a very, very long time. So, what better day than to break the streak of no selfies than the day in social media class that is all about driving content? Shameless.

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Past wanting every day in class to be like this now, I was definitely surprised at how much I learned from the day in class. Having just taken a social media job for the Logan Film Fest, driving content and engaging people is something I’m really looking to learn a lot on right now and this definitely showed me a thing or two. It accentuated what I already knew about targeting opinion leaders on different topics and to get them to engage with you, once people see them engaging, they’ll want to hope on the bandwagon as well.

It also showed me that everything you post doesn’t have to be the first light from heaven, but carrying on a conversation with different people over a platform can be just as valuable and help curate your image just as well.

My School Asked Me to Stalk Someone – I Happily Obliged

Well, I’ve finally “stalked” someone over the internet. Thankfully I can say that it was for a class assignment and not for my own twisted curiosity. Nathan Trujillo, you lucky victim you. In case you don’t know what this great guy looks like here’s a dashing picture

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According to Nathan’s Linkedin (free publicity, you should thank me) he was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado December 10th 1992. He decided to come to Utah State University about the same time I did, and also just like me, switched his major at one point. Nathan started out as an Aviation major and received his private pilots license in 2012. Now, however, Nathan says that he is more interested in Communications and Tourism Management. On his Linkedin profile Nathan seems professionally driven and interested in people. Why else would you want to work in tourism? Nathan’s Facebook tells a very similar story compared to his Linkedin account. 

“Senior Ambassador at Blue Square.” That’s what Nathan’s job title is according to Facebook. So congrats! You’re already getting experience in the are you say you want to work in – hospitality. Throughout Nathan’s Facebook there are also photos of the outdoors and aviation related things (cockpits and the like). So we know he wasn’t lying about what he wants to do with work and his love for aviation.
I think I’m getting ahold of this stalking thing. 

PLOT TWIST: Nathan has a Pinterest.
Really I wish I was comfortable enough with my masculinity to have a Pinterest that I used regularly. Nathan is though – and he deserves some credit for it, because it’s awesome. It also is probably the best proof that he is pretty much “loyal” to his interests and what he says he is into across all platforms. He has a board dedicated to Colorado, another board all about “Life at Altitude” and another all about the places he wants to travel to and things he wants to do. There are a few other boards, one dedicated to his Fraternity, another to good food and even one to interior and exterior designs – which I imagine is important if he hopes to run his own hospitality business one day like his Linkedin says, how else are you going to get people to think you know how to make them comfortable?

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I’m glad I had the chance to stalk Nathan for academic reasons honestly. It’s nice to see someone who carries the same sense of who they are in everything they put out for the world to see. Maybe even restored some of my hope in the world. Maybe.

The First Amendment – If You Didn’t Just Google What That One Is, You’re Ahead of the Curb.

Many moons ago, my parents were terrified of my twin brother and I getting a MySpace. They thought that someone would track us down and kill us (because no one in their right mind would want to take us and keep us). The logical question is, who is dumb enough to put their address on MySpace or now more likely Facebook? Who doesn’t just use the default privacy settings and why would you turn off all privacy settings? 

Well, those people who answers those questions differently then the rest of us and end up on the 9 o’clock news for being killed or kidnapped by some guy who should have been on To Catch A Predator are out there. There numbers may be shrinking, and some might argue that it’s just a case of Darwin’s survival of the fittest, but they’re still out there. 

 

Employers today are now like my parents towards their employees. Worried that if they get online some horrible, horrible things will happen to them – except in this case it isn’t some To Catch A Predator middle-aged man coming to get them, it’s their own employees.

Who hasn’t heard the stories now about boss’ firing people for things they say over Facebook about work sucking or hating their boss. Or employees lashing back at their employers over social media to make their abuses known and public. A recent policy adapted by the Kansas Board of Regents, really in all aspects, laughs at any employee’s first amendment rights. Long story short (read more here if you really, really want to) the decision to do so is based off of the 2006 ruling of Garcetti v. Ceballos which involving a California prosecutor fired over an internal memo critical of the way the police department handled evidence. This precedent has been dubiously applied to many other cases brought before courts. The Supreme Court even has gone to great lengths stating that speech which “concerned the subject matter” of an employee’s work (which remains highly protected) versus speech “pursuant to” official duties, which Garcetti left unprotected. In essence, had Gracetti sent the same message by free will on Facebook his speech would have, in all likelihood, been protected – since he was directed to send the memo for a work purpose and to another employee(s) his speech is not protected.

The Kansas Board of Regents is using this to say that any negative comments posted by faculty in any posting whether personal blog, scientific journal, or anything else you can imagine, could be grounds for punishment or termination.

God bless our education system. 

 

Surely the private world is better right?
The private sector knows how to use social media for good, past blocking Facebook, Twitter and FarmVille for employees so they can still be productive – they haven’t lost all hope right?

Well, thanks to my friend Derek Smart for sharing this visual article with me, you can lose all hope right along side me. Enjoy.

Google+ Hangouts: Saving the World, Your Education and Customer Base

With so many technological updates coming out, it’s inevitable that some things worthwhile are going to be underutilized. There’s a lot out there, just hop on the app store for a second and you’ll see how many new things are pedaled our way every day (yet somehow we get stuck on flappy bird…). We’ve all heard of Google+ Hangout though.  It’s inevitable between the ads everywhere and companies trying to use it. Everything is driving us in the digital-streaming direction.

 

We’ve seen it in music. Streaming is where all of the money is now. Spotify, Beats Music, even iTunes has stepped into the field with it’s new iTunes radio and cloud-play ability. YouTube lets us stream major live events, so we’re making headway in the video world, but what will it take to make it a part of our every day experience? By every day experience, I mean, I have to go to a room on my college campus to “attend” a broadcasted class where the teacher is in some other part of the state teaching and the live-stream is just played in the room I’m required to be in. The technology is there, why do I have to go to a class room to view the lecture? Why should someone have to turn on a room mic for me to be able to ask my teacher a question when the same thing could be accomplished on Google+ Hangout? David Thompson in his blog post (which you can read here) talks about how Google+ Hangout is one of the most underused tools by businesses. Instead of calling customer service and trying to describe a problem with a product they sent me, why don’t get onto their Google+ account and then enter a Hangout with their customer service and talk directly with someone (with a face) and be able to show them first hand what is going on.

So what else can Google+Hangout do to help a business? Since the academic world runs a couple years behind the business world I’m really rooting for some of these things to take hold. One thing that businesses could take from a Google+Hangout is to give customers, or potential customers, demonstrations of their products, key note addresses and Q&A sessions. It could be customer driven in a petition style format. Think of how Whitehouse.gov has a petition portion to it and once a certain petition gets enough attention (100,000 signatures) it requires a response from the President. So say a certain product or question about a product gets 100 “votes” on a companies site, they then set up a Google+ Hangout and address whatever has been brought up by consumers or potential consumers (you can read more about this idea here).

 

So clearly I have a personal investment in this, I really don’t want to sit in a class for just under three hours watching a screen if it isn’t Lord of the Rings playing. Businesses can also create far more personal relationships with consumers and with a potential new consumers and create a lot stronger brand loyalty with these consumers through a more direct relationship with them.

Is it going to happen?
Clearly.
The big question is who is going to be the first to really jump on and use Google+ Hangouts to their full potential.