The art of conversation generation

The art of conversation is a difficult one to master, but as Community Managers at The Co-op, we’re responsible for predicting and evaluating the direction and volume of conversation across social media – in real time. In short, we help turn social conversation around our brand into an asset.

So when it came to Valentine’s Day this year, the objective was clear. Co-op Food were going after breakfast. After all, we are your local convenience store with all you need for the perfect breakfast in bed, from freshly baked croissants to award-winning Prosecco, or even just some (Fairtrade) tea bags for a morning brew! It made sense.

Food Marketing, PR and the commercial teams worked on their above-the-live proposition, looping in the support of Channel 4’s Fred Sirieix from #FirstDates, and we in the Social Media Community Management team set about generating the right conversation, at the right time!

We had two simple objectives: encourage users to share inspiration beforehand and then share in real-time on the big day. We choreographed a strategy in two phases. Firstly we hit key online influencers (who we already know and love) with a surprise through the post – Truly Irresistible croissants, coffee, Valentine’s chocolate and some Hazelnut spread for a truly indulgent breakfast in bed. All this, ahead of the big day, as a taster for them and their audiences. This acted as a catalyst with the influencer community sharing their breakfast ideas in the week running up to Valentine’s Day.

Then we targeted consumers with the next batch ensuring their #LoveAtFirstLight breakfast box arrived on Saturday 13th, just in time for their Sunday morning treat where they gladly shared photos of their breakfast from bed, the beach and with their whole family too!

Co-op's valentine's conversation on 14th February (green) versus the grocery market's campaigns
Co-op’s valentine’s conversation on 14th February (green) versus the grocery market’s campaigns

Together these simple gestures helped Co-op Food become the #1 most talked about Valentine’s campaign within the UK grocery sector on Valentine’s morning. 20% of the day’s conversation was made up of our audiences sharing their breakfast in bed with us too. Our volume peaked at 11am and we then handed over the Valentine’s baton to the likes of Aldi, but our work as your local Co-op was done. We’d served breakfast in bed to the nation and it was delicious.



Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

Going Viral for Christmas: #DoorStepChallenge and The Co-op Food TV Ad

#doorstepchallenge

This Christmas we launched our TV advert campaign for Co-op Food to critical acclaim from customers, colleagues and journalists who warmed to the heartfelt message of the simple adto look out for those in need in your community.

As well as ensuring our TV advert was broadcast across the main video social channels – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – social media had a specific part to play in making the content of the TV advert resonate online. Customers across the nation were inspired by the sentiment of our ad and took to their local streets to partake in the so-called #doorstepchallenge, bringing our TV advert’s treatment to life, and to social, in a way we could have only dreamed of! From this, we spied an opportunity to help kickstart the #doorstepchallenge and to help to demonstrate our Group purpose of “championing a better way of doing business, for you and your communities.”

We agreed to fund a set-amount for each of our 850 Community Pioneers, (store colleagues with hours set-aside in their working week to benefit the local community in which their store is based) in Co-op Food products for them to donate to a customer in-need in their store’s local community. In keeping with the spirit of the #doorstepchallenge, Pioneers were asked to deliver the shopping bag (in a Co-op Bag For Life, of course!) to the customers’ doors and take a snap to share on social media, helping inspire others to do the same!

And inspire they did, many Pioneers taking it upon themselves to donate more than was funded, by raising funds in their local stores and by partnering with other community organisations like British Red Cross, British Legion and local community charities.

Doorstep challenge
A simple idea, paired with the incredible enthusiasm and effort of our store colleagues, made for a wonderful contribution to social media conversation this Christmas, and the best way to bridge the gap between our TV ad and social media communities. What’s more, national conversation about #doorstepchallenge was dominated by Co-op above any other grocer, helping us solidify our place as the community focussed retailer among the pack!

#doorstepchallenge
Top mentioned tweeters and hashtags for Dec 2015

Find me on Twitter @jordanjmcdowell

Or contact me by email

 

Christmas Blogger Event Wrap-up Video

In the run-up to Christmas last year, we held the Co-op’s first event to engage specifically with bloggers. Over the past year, we’ve built on from that first event, collaborating with the bloggers on campaigns and product reviews – working with them to build long-term relationships and turn them into partners and brand advocates.

The 2nd Christmas blogger event was held a few weeks ago. The invited bloggers took to social media to talk about the event, causing it to trend in Manchester. Watch the video to get behind the scenes…

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.

Image 1

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.

Image 2

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.

rsz_1annette_-_image_32

blog - tweets 3

blog - tweets 2

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

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?