Social Media Forums for Angel Square colleagues

Hi, I’m Rebecca, the Co-op’s Social Media Campaign Manager. My job is to reach people on social media channels using owned and paid media.

Sharing knowledge and best practice is one of the main focuses of our Social Media team. For the last three years we’ve been holding forums for colleagues who want to keep up with all things social, and it’s great to see that there’s still real interest in these events.

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All content for the forums is produced in-house and we use them to share what’s going on in the world of social at the Co-op as well as updating on new channels, new advertising options and user trends. At previous events we’ve also had guest speakers from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and have hosted a blogger discussion panel with two mummy bloggers.

Latest learnings

Last week we held a forum in our Manchester Support Centre, 1 Angel Square.

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Gail, our Social Media Lead, was up first. She talked about the reintroduction of Google+, Twitter testing new multi-answer polls and Snapchat launching Story Explorer.

Next it was my area, campaigns. Sometimes we focus on individual campaigns, but this time we played a short film, created by Campaign Executive Ben, to showcase the range of activity since the last forum. Check it out below:

We like to revisit previous forum topics to show progress or share results. This time we looked at community management to show what the new team, headed up by Jordan our Senior Community Manager, has been up to since they joined. It was great to be able to share real results and promote the reasons why it’s good to use social media as an engagement tool, not just for broadcast.

Last but not least we had Fiona, our Content and Planning Manager, up to talk about using social media for thought leadership. We like to share valuable skills with the forum attendees so that they can apply these in their own social world. You’ll be pleased to hear that blogging was a key part of this section.

We always try to leave time at the end for a lively questions and answers session. We get asked some interesting questions which shows that people have really listened. This time we had a question around the use of ad blockers and how we think this might affect social media advertising results. We know that Facebook and Twitter users already have the option to hide individual adverts or hide all adverts from brands and that this negative response can be tracked (on Facebook only). We believe that the introduction of ad blocking technology will drive more of a focus on native advertising (in the newsfeed/ timeline) and as advertisers we have to make sure even more than before that our adverts are targeted well and contain relevant content.

So, that concludes a sneaky peak into the work we do on social at the Co-op. The forum is currently only held in our Manchester Support Centre – our goal for 2016 will be to get more of our colleagues involved. So watch this space!

Blogger Engagement Event – Christmas Showcase

According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust recommendations above all other forms of advertising. In the digital landscape that ‘word of mouth’ role is often played by online influencers.

The strategy to build a network of influencer advocates has been ongoing over the past year. Now, we have a community of highly engaged influencers, opted-in to help us share stories about our products and brand through their networks. During 2015, the Digital team have worked with this community to promote campaigns across Food, Funeralcare, Estore and Legal Services, ranging from large campaigns to smaller product reviews.

The 2nd annual Christmas blogger event – the highlight of the Co-op’s influencer engagement calendar – was held last Friday. Before our very eyes the restaurant in 1 Angel Square (our support centre) transformed into an elegant Winter Wonderland to host 75 bloggers who braved bad weather and worse traffic to attend.

Caption Setting the scene in the 8th floor restaurant
Caption Setting the scene in the 8th floor restaurant

The format was very different to last year. Our guests were seated in tables of 10 and treated to a 4-course tasting menu featuring Co-op own-brand products and award-winning wines. They were taken behind the scenes to gain exclusive insights from product developers, updates on campaigns, a blogger panel Q&A… all nicely rounded off with cheese and some very special cupcakes.

We engaged with the bloggers on a deeper level because, for us, the events provide a unique opportunity to really connect – to get to know the people behind the blogs and from there, decide how best to work together in 2016 and beyond.

Guests tuck in as the starters are served
Guests tuck in as the starters are served

And the bloggers responded – taking to social media before, during, and after the event, reaching over 200k accounts with close to 400k impressions. Over the next two weeks we’ll follow-up with the attendees and reach out to those who couldn’t make it to increase brand noise over the Christmas period.

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I’m currently working on finalising the strategy for Influencer Engagement for 2016. I can’t yet reveal exactly what’s coming up, but expect to see our relationships with our blogger partners grow and become more intertwined – helping us to stay visible and relevant in the digital landscape.

Personalised cupcakes were a special treat
Personalised cupcakes were a special treat

#TasteAndTell and Colleague Advocacy on Social Media

I’m Scott, a Community Manager at the Co-op, and I’ve been working on #TasteAndTell at The Co-operative Food for the last few months, encouraging conversation among our social communities.

We’ve been encouraging our colleagues to become brand advocates on social and to talk openly on their own social channels about the products we sell in our Food stores. #TasteAndTell is one of the ways we do this. The Food business launched the programme to all stores and depots last September and since then we’ve had conversations with colleagues about four products: Loved By Us Sweet and Salty Popcorn, Loved By Us New York Vanilla Cheesecake, Loved By Us Halloween Pumpkin Cake and Truly Irresistible Fairtrade Chocolate.

Every Food store and depot is sent enough of each product for the whole team to try and are encouraged to review the product by posting #Telfie’s (like a selfie, but better!) to their social networks. We capture feedback via surveys too, to feedback into the product development process.

#tasteandtell conversation volume
Social conversation volume spikes around #TasteAndTell product drops

By encouraging colleagues to get talking on social, we’ve seen colleagues more confident about speaking to customers in the aisles too bolstered with more knowledge about, and more experience of, the products we sell. It’s not just talk either with incremental sales on #TasteAndTell lines increasing for both colleague and non-colleague consumers, the colleague advocacy programme is achieving great results for the business.

 

Influencer Engagement: Progressing from the first date

Hi, I’m Annette, the SEO Manager for our Food division. I started at the Co-op last April and attended the annual ‘Christmas in July’ Press Event. I hadn’t met any of the product developers before, but I was blown away by their passion as they explained how and why each product had been carefully crafted.

And so, a few weeks later, I started on my first outreach campaign – eager to share these fabulous stories and products with the blogosphere. I remember sending out carefully constructed emails to chosen bloggers and… absolutely nothing. I couldn’t understand it, I thought that bloggers would be lining up to work with a brand as established as ours, but it turns out that we had never worked specifically with bloggers before.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to build a blogger database for the team. I knew that sending out a couple of products just wasn’t going to cut it, We didn’t just want a couple of random guest blog posts or product reviews. We needed a connection – a new way to work with bloggers that would produce advocates and partners – excited to work with us and enthusiastic about our brand… And so the Christmas blogger event was born.

That 1st event was compared to a first date – an exploratory evening for us to find out more about each other.
1. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Paul-Dempsey

We introduced them to our sumptuous food and drink, and they told us what their challenges were. The feedback from the event was very positive – some even said that it was one of the best blogger events of the year. Not bad for a 1st effort!

Blogger Event

We’ve been building on these relationships for a year – sending updates, hosting smaller events, including bloggers in campaigns and sending out occasional products for review. The invitations for this years Christmas event at 1AS on 27th November, went out last week and the response was amazing – RSVPs increased 300% over last year! Not only is this event bigger and better – there is more involvement from across the business than last year with PR, Food Digital Marketing, Food Product Developers, Taste Team and Sodexo in the trenches along with us in SEO and Social – working to bring it all together.

The panel of bloggers – taking questions from the audience at this year’s event will feature-

rsz_blogger_-_louise Louise Hegarty of birdsandlilies.com
Louise is a Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger from Nottingham. She’s been blogging since 2012, and it has a blossoming readership and a large social following. Lou has an honest and open writing style, and is happy to share her experiences of IVF, Parenting and life in general. She has a 3 year old daughter, and loves making lists, talking too fast and eating lots of cheese.

rsz_blogger_-_janeJane Arschavir of HodgePodgeDays.co.uk
Jane Arschavir has been blogging since June 2013. She stumbled into blogging following a life-changing injury and her blog grew from there. Jane writes about a whole range of topics (hence hodge-podge), and her hobbies include getting brain freeze from eating ice pops too quickly, writer’s block and shouting at the television.

 rsz_blogger_-_sianSian Russell from HelpfulMum.com
Siân’s blog has been established for over four years. She writes about parenting, days out, travel, food, product reviews, lifestyle and the Yorkshire Dales. She has presented at BlogCamp events on video editing techniques and YouTube. In July 2014, she graduated as a mature student in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and now manages a Bed & Breakfast in the Dales

We’re so excited! Keep your eyes open for the post-event round-up!

3. Co-op-Blogger-Event-Masterchef
We even had some extra special guests – Masterchef anyone?