September 21, 2017

Social Media: A Case Study

Today I attended another presentation, this one from Bob Evans, a regional family restaurant chain, which is based here in Columbus. Entitled, "Digital Marketing Down on the Farm," the presentation highlighted the work Bob Evans has been doing in the social media channel.

Let me tell you a little about Bob Evans, first. As they mentioned today, the average age of the Bob Evans customer is 65. My parents ate there frequently and enjoyed the down-home style food. But through social media channels, Bob Evans is reaching a new generation of customers. 

Highlights to share:
Senior leadership needs to be on board before the investment in staffing a social media effort can be successful.

Build the business case first, because we should not be doing this just because it is fun.

Digital marketing helps to keep your brand relevant.

Everyone needs to start somewhere; Bob Evans began with blogging by their CEO.

Marketing Strategies they shared:
Engaging with other bloggers: they showed campaigns launched through active engagement with selected bloggers who then engaged with their own followers to talk about Bob Evans products.

Twitter campaign: Bob Evans has an active Twitter presence, and they use Tweet Chat to interact with customers.

Steal This Idea: we have a series where we invite customers to submit questions to our executive director via our website, the answers to which we publish on our website for all to see. Today, I realized I want to do the same thing via a Tweet Chat, getting our executive into this space and giving him closer interaction with our Twitter followers.

BEmail: they talked about the power of their email lists; currently they have 150,000 subscribers whom they geotarget by zip to ensure that the message is relevant and localized.

Facebook: they are actively engaged on Facebook with lots of promotional campaigns. They have custom tabs just for contests.

Digital Trends 
They were quick to say that it isn’t about the technology; it is about whether the target audience embraces those technologies. But trends they are considering getting into:

1. Mobile apps
2. Texting
3. On line gaming: apparently digital moms are big into gaming
4. Augmented reality browsing: Yelp has a product called Monocle, which helps locate Bob Evans locations

Importantly, they concluded with reminding that it is critical to have a strong business case for why you are investing resources into social media. Other important factors: discipline, metrics, and integration into other marketing plans. Social media is not a separate strategy. Your marketing strategy should be one, unified strategy. Social media is just another available channel. — to see this in action, look how on their Facebook page they have integrated their BEmail right into the page.

I know our library is really getting deep into social media as part of our marketing strategy. I plan to report out in this space some of the cool things we are up to. Right now I have a hankering for eggs and grits!

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.