Social media tips from Dominos Pizza and Porter Airlines

From planes to pizzas, social media is being used as a marketing and communications tool for just about everything now. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and the whole entourage of new Web 2.0 services that have cropped up over the last several years continue to grow in popularity, and the big brands know it. They want to be there to take part in the conversation with people, thereby creating a closer personal connection and boosting brand awareness.

Porter Airlines, Dominos Pizza and the Vancouver Olympic Committee provide some good examples of how brands can best use social media. Executives from the three companies shared some tips at Toronto-based Mesh Marketing.

Small businesses can take away some lessons from these brands. Porter Airlines for example doesn’t have significant resources to dedicate to social media, says Elizabeth Margles, vice-president of marketing and communications. So it is working on growing its presence organically, but purposefully.

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“Social allows us to interact with our customers in a very instant way,” she says. “The core of what our brand is about is engaging our customers.”

“It was such a small, small thing to do for someone,” Margles says. “But the reverberations were great because she got on social media and thanked us.”

When one customer in Porter’s lounge advertised on Twitter that the fridge temperature was too cold and made the water undrinkable, it was an opportunity to take action. Porter responded on Twitter that they’d address the issue, and did so in the real world as well. A technician went to adjust the fridge temperature in front of the complainant, and she responded by sending Porter a thank you on Twitter.

Ramon De Leon is a managing partner of seven Dominos Pizza stores in the Chicago area. He uses social media to offer customers heavy discounts or giveaways, and feels that it creates value by generating buzz.

On Nov. 11, he used his Twitter account to offer 11 pizzas for $11. When an office worker took him up on the offer, he also threw in 11 desserts for free. The happy customer created an unboxing video of the pizzas on the street in front of her large office building and posted it to Flickr.

“We made our brand fun,” he says. “Don’t be boring. If you’re boring, people won’t talk about your stuff.” Being a night hawk can also be an advantage on social media, De Leon says. He will post pictures of his pizzas as they come out of the oven piping hot. De Leon finds this can generate some sales from late night revelers with a case of the midnight munchies.

“Everyone else has gone to sleep and that engagement time is mine,” he says.

For Graeme Menzies, communications director at the Vancouver Olympic Committee, having a successful social media plan was more about creating the appropriate venue and letting fans take over from there. So they created a Facebook Page and let the fans carry the conversation.

But his team spent a lot of time monitoring the conversation and removing unwanted participation, such as those marketing other services. “You have to get in there and get those people out,” he says.

Menzies’ team also created a mobile application version of the spectator guide for the games. It received over one million downloads, and still gets about 500 downloads a day even though the event is over.

Brian Jackson is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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