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Using Social Media to Connect with Your Most Loyal Customers – Harvard Business Review

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Executive Summary

Many brands are struggling to capture value from their loyalty programs and trying to figure out how to best use social media to communicate with these customers. Some companies have even set up distinct social media accounts for their programs. For these efforts to be successful, companies need to know how to use social media to drive sales from members. Research of one company’s social media posts shows that certain types of communication are more successful. After rating over 3,500 posts on particular dimensions and connecting those posts to sales, the study authors found that relational and intellectual posts were most effective in driving sales for loyalty program customers, while behavioral posts drove more sales from non-loyalty program customers. Sensory and emotional posts weren’t effective with either group in our study. Companies can use these dimensions when deciding on how to best communicate with loyalty program members.

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More and more companies have loyalty programs — and for good reason. A recent industry report showed that loyalty program members not only spend more and remain customers longer but they are also more likely to spread positive word of mouth. This helps explain why we’ve seen a proliferation of programs (we’ve seen new programs popping up across sectors like cosmetics, fast foods, and hotels). Target, for example, launched their Target Circle loyalty program ahead of this year’s holiday shopping period, after extensive test marketing showed increased spending for program members compared to those who were not enrolled.

Given that loyalty program members tend to be a brand’s most valuable customers — and are already several steps into their journey with a brand— companies need to consider how they are communicating with them across different channels. Our research (paper is in progress) shows that social media in particular can make loyalty programs more effective in driving sales, but only if done right.

We analyzed social media messages and the impact on loyalty program and non-loyalty program online sales for one company, a European operator of snow tourism resorts. We started by scoring 3,500 of the company’s Facebook posts using the five dimensions of brand experience. Each post was rated by social media experts on each of the dimensions. Relational posts make a connection beyond the recipient, for instance encouraging the use of product together with others, or as part of a tribe of interested consumers. Intellectual posts prod the recipient to engage in conscious mental processing, perhaps through humor, problem solving, or creativity. Posts that are high on the behavioral dimension include activity or interaction with the product or service. Sensory posts stimulate the senses and could involve breathtaking images or shocking multimedia content. Finally, emotional posts attempt to generate moods or feelings in the recipient. Once the posts were scored, we then analyzed the efficacy of each dimension in driving sales to loyalty program and non-loyalty program customers.

Which Dimensions of Social Media Experience Were More Effective?

We found that relational and intellectual posts were most effective in driving sales for loyalty program customers, while behavioral posts drove more sales from non-loyalty program customers. Interestingly, sensory and emotional posts weren’t effective with either group in our study.

Relational messages connect the recipient to a larger community around the product or service, strengthening a feeling of belongingness. Posts rated high on the relational dimension tend to illustrate inclusiveness or the connections between people. Because loyalty program customers have an ongoing relationship with the brand, they appear to be more open to relational themes, whereas non-loyalty program customers may be less drawn to relational messages from brands which they are not already strongly connected. One particularly effective post from the resort we studied promoted family-focused resort activities, with imagery of cross-generational connections. Loyalty program sales associated with this post were 210% more than expected based on the resort’s typical ratio of loyalty program to non-loyalty program sales.

Intellectual posts were also more effective with loyalty program customers. These customers are more invested in the brand and are therefore more likely to put forward the mental effort to engage mindfully with a detailed, intellectual post. One of the resort’s posts rated high on this dimension included a comprehensive list of festival activities with a stylized map, which requires careful consideration and processing from the recipient. This post resulted in an 85% increase in loyalty program sales compared to expectations. Members-only retailers such as REI and BJ’s Wholesale often take advantage of intellectually demanding posts by including detailed product content (and in REI’s case, outdoor lifestyle content). These posts require investments to both produce and consume the content, but brands see the value, knowing that their curious members are looking to deepen their brand relationship.

Behaviorally-themed posts can be effective with both customer groups, but were most effective in driving non-loyalty program sales in our study. These posts typically require less mental energy to process and encourage non-loyalty customers to visualize how they might interact with a product or service. One specific resort post that was rated high on the behavioral dimension mentioned leaving for the weekend and getting out to the slopes, with imagery showing a familiar behavior: getting off the chair lift. This post led to an 82% spike in non-loyalty program sales compared to expectations. One possible implication of this finding is that newer brands, who don’t yet have a large base of loyal customers, could focus on behaviorally themed messages in their social media with easily relatable messaging around physical interaction with the product or service to drive sales from not-yet-loyal customers.

The resort’s posts that were rated high on sensory and emotional content weren’t effective in driving sales from either customer group. This may be because the social media environment is a metaphorical screaming match, with a variety of posts vying for viewer attention. “Turning up the volume” through striking visuals or multimedia in this already over stimulating setting wasn’t an effective way to reach either group of customers. Similarly, emotional content that appealed to customers’ feelings did not effectively drive sales from either group. This may be because browsing social media can be emotionally exhausting, so further taxing customers’ emotions doesn’t work.

Many brands are struggling to capture value from their loyalty programs and trying to figure out how to best use social media to communicate with these customers. Some companies have set up distinct social media accounts for their programs. For example, Marriott’s newly launched Bonvoy program has very active social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which are run separately from Marriott’s flagship accounts. This allows Bonvoy to focus on content that loyalty program members value.

While our findings are based on the social media activity and financial results from one company (and we haven’t yet proven that they apply to businesses operating in very different domains), they provide digital marketers with some clues on what works and what doesn’t — and gives them a language to consider and communicate desired characteristics for their content. When trying to drive sales from loyalty program customers, think through what might be most effective (relational and intellectually themed content) and what could fall flat (attempting to shock the recipient with sensory or emotional content). And then post accordingly.

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Honey Jam Celebrates Past and Future At Media Event – FYI Music News

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Honey Jam, Canada’s female vocalist discovery showcase, held its media launch July 22 in Toronto at host venue El Mocambo, for the second straight year.

“We’re back!” exclaimed Honey Jam founder Ebonnie Rowe from the stage. “You didn’t think a little pandemic and a zombie apocalypse would stop us, did ya? Hell no.”

The event not only introduced the 17 artists who will be showcasing at the 26th annual event, live-streamed Aug. 12, with CBC Radio’s The Block host Angeline Tetteh-Wayoe as emcee, but announced a number of forthcoming pieces, as well as a recap of some accomplishments in spite of covid.

Rowe, the recent recipient of CIMA’s Trailblazer Award, told everyone how alum Jordan Alexander has a lead in Gossip Girl and landed the cover of Cosmo; Anjulie racked up a 100 million streams; and Savannah Ré won a 2021 Juno Award and got props from Timbaland who listened to her music on Instagram.

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This year’s showcase is funded by Slaight Music, TD Ready Commitment, Ontario Creates, and FACTOR, and will feature artists from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Alberta and, for the first time, the Yukon. The online auditions, both live and submitted, were open to female-identifying talent, ages 14 to 25, in all genres.

CBC will air a Honey Jam radio special on Aug. 9 and a “Honey Jams” playlist, with songs past and current, will air live on CBC Music, starting Aug. 12, coincidentally Rowe’s birthday.

Honey Jam might’ve started 26 years ago as a showcase — Nelly Furtado was famously discovered at it — but it now presents many opportunities throughout the year to help the young women get their foot in the door.

Rowe rattled off many of them, including an upcoming trip to Nashville; a pre-recorded Flow 93.5 concert series from the Phoenix called Flow After Hours to be streamed at a later date; a workshop at Art House; a tour of Doc McKinney’s studio where The Weeknd’s House of Balloons was recorded; and attendance at SOCAN’s inaugural Creative Entrepreneur Summit.

Some of the alum, she said, also got brand deals with Adidas, Holt Renfrew and Ralph Lauren. And through their participating in Indie Week, export-ready Lu Kala and Nefe were invited to perform virtually for Brazil’s Music Pro Awards. The Artists for Social Change competition was also won by Megan De Lima.

“So we kept everybody pretty busy during the time leading up to it,” says Rowe, adding that one of her personal highlights this year was during a Q&A she did with Lennon Stella and JP Saxe for a VIP pre-Juno Awards experience for Honey Jammers.  “He said, ‘I didn’t know you were the lady who does Honey Jam? I love Honey Jam. Honey Jam’s a legend,’” she recounted. “I could barely speak.”

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Former Olympic swimmer brands Japanese media branded as sexist – NBC News

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TOKYO — The Japan Olympics’ new gender equality monitor said Monday she’s been watching her country’s coverage of the Games and doesn’t like what she’s been hearing.

“When it comes to sports, it is really biased when it comes to gender,” said Naoko Imoto, who is also a former Olympic swimmer.

The Japanese media isn’t discriminating against female athletes, it’s just not taking them as seriously as the men.

“Many of the channels look at female athletes as ‘female’ or ‘girls’ or ‘wives’ or ‘mothers’ and not really as pure athletes,” Imoto said at the daily briefing run by the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo Games organizers.

Five of the eight medals Team Japan has won thus far were won by women, including three of the gold medals, according to the latest Olympics medal count.

“You should see female athletes as athletes,” said Imoto Naoko, seen here holding the Olympic torch during the flame handover ceremony on March 19, 2020. Aris Messinis / Pool via Reuters

Imoto, who competed for Japan at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, did not specify which of Japan’s TV stations was using the sexist language. But in earlier interviews, Imoto noted that Japanese media covers golfers Hinako Shibune, who is a woman, and Hideki Matsuyama, who is a man, differently.

“Nobody talks about Mr. Matsuyama’s personal life and appearance,” Imoto said. “But for Ms. Shibuno, there are reports about her eating sweets and snacks and about her smile.”

Imoto also argued that it’s all too common in Japanese news headlines for female athletes to be described as “too beautiful.”

“You should see female athletes as athletes,” Imoto said. “In recent years, the number of gold medals in the Olympics has been higher for women. I want them to be treated equally. I would like to argue that it is strange to focus on things that are not related to competition, such as appearances and personal life.”

Imoto dove back into the sexism issue Monday as Japanese women have already scored significant successes at the Games.

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A quick survey of social media reactions to Imoto’s remarks suggested that support for more equal treatment of women and male athletes by the media was far from universal in Japan.

“I was surprised to hear that women are making noises saying that there was a gender inequality in the coverage of professional sports games,” one Twitter poster wrote. “Where do you think the money is coming from?”

Imoto was tapped to be the gender equality watchdog by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers after the committee’s president, Yoshiro Mori, was forced out in February after he said female sports officials talk too much during meetings.

A month later, the Games’ original creative director, Hiroshi Sasaki, was ousted for comparing Japanese celebrity Naomi Watanabe to a pig.

In an interview with Asahi Shimbun, one of the Japan’s biggest national newspapers, Imoto said she was shocked by Mori’s comments.

“Little has changed since my competition days,” Imoto said. “Things are too backward.”

Imoto, who works for UNICEF as an education specialist, said she hoped to “become a bridge” to the largely male-dominated sports industry.

Mori’s ouster also prompted some soul-searching by Japanese media and renewed calls for gender equality in the news business.

Kasumi Ishikawa of Team Japan during her Women’s Singles Round 3 match. As of Monday, five of the eight medals Team Japan has won were won by women, including three of the gold medals.Steph Chambers / Getty Images

It was Topic A during a symposium in March organized largely by the Japan Mass Media Culture Information Workers’ Union Conference, Kyodo News reported.

“It’s embarrassing to find (mass media) organizations in a situation like this, even though they have been rapping Mr. Yoshiro Mori’s misogynist remarks,” said Mami Yoshinaga, who heads the Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers’ Union.

NBC News has reached out to the union for additional comment.

Kaori Hayashi, a journalism professor at the University of Tokyo’s graduate school, said at the conference the reason why Japanese media persists in promoting sexist stereotypes is because it’s “a man’s world.”

There were no women in the top news production positions at the six Tokyo-based commercial TV broadcasters as of last December, Kyodo News reported, citing a labor union survey.

And just three of the 159 people who sit on the boards of the four industry associations representing newspapers, commercial broadcasters or publishers were women.

“If decision-making positions are occupied by men, news articles, broadcast content and even the way news items are lined up will reflect a male perspective,” Hayashi said.

Japan is one of the world’s most advanced countries, but it consistently ranks low in the World Economic Forum’s gender gap rankings. It ranks 120 out of 156 countries in the 2021 survey, well behind the United States which came in 30th. Iceland was ranked number one.

Corky Siemaszko and Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo, and Christina Ching Yin Chan reported from Hong Kong.

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These adventure cats bring joy to their owners — and social media followers – CBC.ca

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Canadians have embraced the outdoors in droves over the past year-and-a-half due to pandemic-related lockdowns — and their fluffy, tree-climbing, bird-watching feline companions have been tagging along.

These intrepid animals are known as “adventure cats,” as they are put on leashes to explore the outside world with their owners, whether they are hiking, kayaking or even skiing. Many have gained large social media followings in the process; the hashtag #adventurecats on apps like Instagram and TikTok brings up hundreds of thousands of results.

While a cat on a leash is still an uncommon sight, Julie Posluns, who runs an online cat-training school, says she’s seen increased interest in her courses since the start of the pandemic.

“I think the more people realized they were at home, the more they were like, ‘OK, I guess it’s time to just pick up some new home hobbies,'” said the Toronto resident.

Posluns trained her own cat, Jones, to walk on a leash about six years ago and now provides advice to clients on cat backpacks, harnesses and other so-called “adventure cat” essentials.

The Vancouver Island adventure cat

Chelsea Robinson, a longtime hiker, got her Maine Coon kitten last winter. Within days of bringing her home, she put the cat — named Fig — in a harness and headed to the beach.

“She was enthralled,” she said. “Still to this day, no matter where we go, the beach is her favourite place.” 

Fig especially loves to watch the waves crash onto the beach, Robinson says.

Fig and Robinson take walks every day, whether it’s a short walk to pick up Robinson’s children from school, or a several-hour hike through the forest on the weekend.

Fig has been a “bright light” for Robinson throughout the pandemic, she says. 

It’s also something she hears from people who follow Fig’s adventures online; Robinson shares photos and videos of their activities on Instagram and TikTok, where Fig has collectively amassed nearly 150,000 followers.

“She brings people a lot of joy,” Robinson said.

The Ottawa-based Siberian Forest cat who kayaks

Another cat owner, Aleena Fiorotto, says she was “determined to have an adventure cat” when she got her Siberian Forest kitten, Finnegan, last year.

Luckily, Finn’s easygoing temperament made leash-training relatively painless, she said.

“I can take him anywhere, in any situation, with any type of new animal or anything. And he’s just like, ‘This is fine,'” said Fiorotto.

The duo has even gone kayaking — and while Fiorotto says Finn was a little “leery” of the moving dock at first, he was happy once they pushed off.

“He settled right in and just laid down and took in the sights,” she said.

Fiorotto also shares her cat’s exploits on Instagram, where Finn has more than 21,000 followers.

Having an adventure cat has pushed Fiorotto to get out more than she would solo, she said. She loves to see how Finn engages with the world around him and how he interacts with delighted strangers on the trails.

So you want your own adventure cat?

Some experts say that while cats can benefit from leashed walks, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration before you attempt to do so.

Posluns said a sturdy harness and leash need to be tested on your cat inside the home before you think about going outside, as many cats do not initially like the feeling of a harness. A gradual introduction to it is best.

“I think it’s really important to remember that we’re doing this for our cats’ enrichment first,” she said. “Not to take them on some fun adventure for social media to take pictures — but, like, what is going to enrich your cat’s life?”

Dr. Maggie Brown-Bury, a veterinarian and a representative of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association for Newfoundland and Labrador, says that leash-walking our feline friends can be an “an excellent way to give them more activity and adventure in their life.”

But she said you need to be in tune with your cat’s body language as you acclimate them to the leash and to the outdoors. Signs that your cat is unhappy being outside include flattened ears, unwillingness to move, hunched bodies and open-mouth breathing — a sign of stress.

“But if they are walking around and sniffing and exploring, then they’re feeling really great,” said Brown-Bury.

And to those who say cats should never be let outside, due to the dangers to local wildlife and the cats themselves? If the cat is controlled by a leash, Brown-Bury says the risks are minimal.

“Having a cat outside in a controlled manner is no riskier for the cat than it would be for your dog,” she said.

If you do plan to take your cat outside, Brown-Bury says, microchip identification is a must, as are shots for parasites and regular deworming appointments. 

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