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This report outlines how Ireland Cider Co can harness social communities throughout Australia and apply this information to further the growth of the business. Social community is a zone which encompasses sharing, socialising and conversing. This nexus of this zone is relationships to customers and as such, this report focuses on acquiring and maintaining relationships. The Ireland Cider brand can encourage this participation through conversation and collaboration, which is considered in the scope below.
In forming this report, these elements have been considered;
The projected outcomes of this report are to assist Ireland Cider Co in fully leveraging social communities to promote their business and meet their business objectives. Full utility of social media could assist the company to reach their goal of a national footprint, serving new markets and giving back to the community through community events.
Ireland cider co is an Australian owned and operated business run by a team of four family members: Tiffany, John, Evelyn and Darren Ireland. Their core and only product a 330ml bottled heritage apple cider is available in cases of 24 and packs of 6 and is available to customers directly through the Alcoholic beverage retailer dan murphies along with other independent bottle shops. Ireland Cider is also supplied to numerous bars and restaurants across Sydney and the south coast. In terms of the marketing scope, according to the owners themselves they don’t have a structured marketing strategy, but they do have a small social following on Facebook and Instagram where they share posts from time to time, this can be viewed as marketing activity as it can be used to attract customers and make potential customers aware of their product.
Ireland cider co.’s social media presence exists on two platforms: Facebook and Instagram. On Facebook Ireland Cider has gained around 550 likes since the creation of the page in 2018, due to their tight budget they have not utilized the use of any sort of paid promotion, all their traffic to their Facebook page has been organic. First impressions of the Facebook page seem promising, they have a 5/5 rating which is a positive indication but when you take a further look it is evident that no strategy is being implemented. Posts are not made frequently and do not seem to have a consistent pattern, usually 2-3 posts a month. Considering the amount of likes the page has, engagement with the posts is above decent. People constantly interact with the posts and there are a few shares from time to time as well. When followers post comments and questions on a post they expect a response from the page in a timely manner, although some of the inquiries and comments are answered by Ireland Cider Co, a lot of enquiries by potential customers are being ignored. This can have a negative effect on the follower’s likelihood of further engaging in future posts.
On Instagram Ireland cider co has 424 followers, they are much more active on Instagram as compared to Facebook. Searching the hashtag #Irelandciderco brings up a decent amount of posts from various influencers and bars/ restaurants, this is a good sign that they are making an effort to promote their brand. Engagement rate is decent, each post generally gets anywhere from 20-40 likes along with a few comments on average. Posts are made more often and more consistently on Instagram as compared to Facebook; 4-6 times a month. Responsiveness to comments and inquiries on posts from followers could be increased. Questions are generally answered by Ireland Cider Co, but compliments and general comments are often left unacknowledged, acknowledging these comments by simply either giving them a like or replying back can have a positive effect on engagement. Photos uploaded on Instagram seem to be carefully picked as they share a similar theme, blue colour pallet, usually it is photos of the cider on the beach with a view of the sky, This correlates well with the product and the brand as a whole.
The ‘Social Community’ zone focuses on the relationships between a business and it’s customers. Social media provides a network that Ireland Cider can use to promote social interactions with customers. This zone harks to basic human connection, building trust and rapport with existing and potential customers; the importance of which cannot be overstated. The social media zone can be broken down into three main areas; social presence, earned media and paid media (Lovett, Peres & Xu 2019, pp.215-255).
The social community zone allows a business to create a ‘Social Presence’. This presence can be used to represent Ireland Cider’s ‘persona’ and will personify the brand. Labrecque (2014) explains the way in which personification builds relationships with new and existing customers through associating humanlike characteristics. Conejo (2017) details that this method triggers an ancestral response hardwired into the brain since ancestral times. Osei-Frimpong and McLean (2018, pp. 10-21) findings indicate that social brand presence encourages consumers to use the brands as well as participate in electronic word of mouth.
‘Earned Media’ is another consequence of employing the social community zone. Earned media is organic advertising achieved through positive feedback from customers (Belden 2014, pp. 243-250). This can be achieved by social media users sharing content, mentioning the brand, reposting content and leaving reviews on the business’ social media pages. Leveraging earned media on social platforms has been seen to have a positive impact on sales, further highlighting its importance (Chang et al. 2018, pp. 13-25).
‘Paid Media’ is equally important in the social community. Paid advertising can take the form of still images, videos and advertisements in mobile applications. The benefit of paid advertising allows a business to create hyper-targeted advertisements by selecting geographic, demographic and interest based segmentation (Lovett & Staelin 2016, pp. 142-157). This form of advertisement places the advert in-front of a warm audience whose interests align with the advertisement before them. Whilst it comes at a cost, paid advertising on social media is relatively inexpensive in comparison to traditional forms such as print media, radio and television. Fransden, Ferguson and Throw (2016, p. 161) claim that paid advertising in this sense is more effective than traditional advertising mediums in terms of reach, cost effectiveness and usability.
For Ireland Cider Co, they currently have a presence in two of the top three social media platforms for creating a social community. The frontrunner for the best social community building platform is Facebook. A 2020 study conducted by Market US (Market US, 2020), a company who specializes in industry reports, found that Facebook has around 2.7 billion monthly users, and has grown its user base every quarter since Q1 2018. Of these users, over 93% of users were over the age of eighteen (Market US, 2020), which is critical to know when advertising an alcoholic product. This leaves over 2.5 billion potential customers to advertise to. From Australia, there are over fifteen million users monthly; an important statistic as the company is only present in Australia
The second platform with the best potential to create a social community is Instagram. Instagram has roughly one billion users per month, with over 90% of the audience over the age of eighteen (Market US, 2020). Instagram is the third largest social media platform used in Australia, with over nine million Australian users every month (Civic Web Media, 2019).
The third best social community building platform is Twitter, with 330 million monthly worldwide users (MarketUS, 2020). In Australia, there are roughly 4.7 million users monthly, with gaining popularity in Australia from last year, which only had three million monthly users (Civic Web Media, 2019). The average age of users is a little higher than the other two however, with the average user being in their 30’s.
While there is another social media platform between Facebook and Instagram, YouTube, advertising alcohol on YouTube is much harder due to the unpredictability of the audience advertised to. There are also other social media ‘platforms’ between Instagram (3rd) and Twitter (7th), but they do not relate to social community as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Based on the aforementioned social media audit, three objectives have been identified in order to assist Ireland Cider Co in improving their social media performance in the social community zone. These objectives seek to improve in the areas the client struggles with. These objectives have been specifically tailored to the chosen social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and include:
The key areas of this objective are to build brand recognition, develop new customer leads and educate existing audiences on products. This will be achieved through recommendations around creating and refining an appropriate brand identity. This objective aims to create a strong foundation for Ireland Cider Co to effectively communicate and begin to build relationships with their audience.
The key component of this objective is to increase community engagement which is the overall goal of the social community zone. This will be achieved through recommendations to increase sharing, socialising and conversing within Ireland Cider Co’s audience.
This objective aims to make the most out of the foundations laid in the first two points by using each social media platform correctly. This will be achieved by researching and developing a content plan and repurposing content where necessary. This will allow Ireland Cider Co to maximise their content across the chosen social media platforms and get the most engagement from their audience.
It is recommended that Ireland Cider Co build a trusted, credible and fun brand image / identity (including personality, voice, appearance and key messaging) in order to meet this objective.
Brand identity is described by Sheena and Naresh (2012, p. 32) to be the internal perception of a brand, which includes the features that make it unique and the strategy that guides how the product will be sold. On the other hand, brand image is the perception from an external observer and includes the brand uniqueness or identity in the arrangement of words, ideas and associations (Sheena & Naresh 2012, p. 32).
In today’s choice saturated world, having a great product is not enough as it can become almost irrelevant without the attached brand. Mindrut, Manolica and Roman (2013, p. 394) state that brand identity is what actually determines the success or failure of the product and a better understanding of it and its results is important for brands to consider.
A Sprout Social (2016) study revealed that 34.7% of respondents found it annoying when brands didn’t show any personality on their accounts. This is through lack of ‘voice’ which is developed in the brand identity and image development stage.
Mindrut, Manolica and Roman (2013, p. 401) conclude that brand identity is not dependent on one individual asset and instead should be rolled out across the following elements (in order of importance): products and packaging, marketing collaterals, logo, messages and actions, signage, stationery and apparel.
Ireland Cider Co can commission any outstanding graphic assets through any creative agency or in-house designer / marketer. Once the assets have been produced, a brand manual can be developed to consolidate all information and refine tone of voice, personality and messaging. This will ensure consistency across all posts, will assist the audience in building recognition for the brand and will make it easier for various people to post to social media without losing the authentic ‘family’ aesthetic that is so important to Ireland Cider Co.
Overall, this objective will reduce any confusion around what content to post to Ireland Cider Co’s social media platforms and will reduce the workload as key messaging and guidance on tone will be provided alongside easy to utilise graphic assets.
It is recommended that Ireland Cider Co create regular, valuable posts and activities (i.e. competitions, dedicated hashtags and user generated content) in order to meet this objective.
A Sprout Social (2016) study found that 51.7% of respondents followed brands on social media platforms because they perceived them to be entertaining. This entertainment factor is exactly what encourages audiences to engage with brands. Audience engagement is crucial in order to build a positive brand experience and develop meaningful relationships with new and potential future customers (McLachlan 2020).
McLachlan (2020) defines engagement as the measurement of comments, likes, and shares – therefore, the aim of this objective is to increase those areas. In order for Ireland Cider Co to increase their engagement, it is recommended that they adopt the following recommendations from Hubspot’s (2020):
It is recommended that Ireland Cider Co develop a content plan, repurpose content for each platform and audit current content in order to meet this objective.
Each social media platform is best suited to different types of content. By having an understanding of this and repurposing content where necessary, Ireland Cider Co can increase their audience engagement.
In general, the Rival IQ (2020) report found that alcohol brands saw the most success on Instagram, effectively double what was found on Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, Ireland Cider Co may want to focus more of their social media marketing efforts on this platform.
Developing a content plan and calendar will further assist in reducing workload and generating the correct content for each social media platform. Hubspot (2020) can provide an excellent content planner template, available for download here. This plan should be filled in approximately a month in advance. Whilst this is subject to change, the overall guide and indicative content laid out in the plan will provide direction to the Ireland Cider Co team and reduce the workload of needing to consistently come up with new content ideas. This will also ensure consistency in posts. To further simplify and reduce the workload, a scheduler can be utilised to pre-schedule posts. This can potentially be done whilst generating content in the content planner.
Finally, to increase engagement and make the most out of posts, Ireland Cider Co should be mindful of the times they post and keep a track of what times generate the most engagement.
The major KPIs for measuring the performance of the brand must be set so that the corporate activities of the brand and the promotional activities can be evaluated further. The major analytical business KPIs are such as, sales growth, profitability, cash flows of the business, customer retention rate and consumer retention per social media sites. The KPIs are efficient for the company Ireland Cider to identify the firm’s performance as well as analyse the data for future business strategic planning. Additionally, the company must use certain analytics to measure the performance of the social community zone. These key performance indexes are;
Likes and comments are good indicators of how Ireland Cider’s message is being received by the community. These measurements are often referred to as the level of ‘engagement’. This can then be represented as a percentage when divided by ‘reach’, the total number of impressions made. This reveals the percentage of people who see the post and then decide to engage with a comment or a like.
Sharing and reviews are equally as important, and are the highest level of engagement. For someone to share a post with friends requires more effort than the aforementioned actions and is therefore valued highly. Finally, another great measure of this business’ performance is reviews. Reviews are a direct message to the company expressing their thoughts about it or a product. All of these analytics helps Ireland Cider to measure the performance of the business within the scope of the social community zone.
Ireland cider is a reputed brand in delivering high quality apple cider to the customers and the aim of the organisation is to maximise their competitive advantage by retaining the consumers in near future. Through utilising the social media platform, the business aims to reach the consumers and deliver high quality products with efficient services for increasing community engagement and brand image in the market. The recommended suggestions such as developing creative posts in promoting the brand through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would be the best strategic planning through which Ireland cider will reach the customers and promote their products in the market.
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