Social Media Action Plan

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LivingSocial

Social Media Action Plan


Samantha Chickering

March 23, 2012

MKT
-
655





I.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

LivingSocial, one of the world’s leaders in the daily deal market has not utilized social
media marketing to its fullest.
As a five
-
year
-
old company, LivingSocial has a unique advantage
as a company that was founded and developed in the age of social media. The following action
plan demonstrates what steps LivingSocial can take to enhance its current social media strategy
by
using new tools and changing how the company uses current social media tools.

LivingSocial currently utilizes Facebook and Twitter as its primary means of social
media. In the following report, the following tools and their benefits to LivingSocial’s str
ategy
will be presented:



Tumblr and Pinterest



A company blog



Localized Facebook and Twitter accounts



Widgets



Social media management systems

These social media tools will benefit LivingSocial’s business strategy and the action plan
discusses how using thes
e tools will increase the company’s search engine optimization. In
addition, use of these tools will also lead to valuable information for LivingSocial, including the
Wildfire dashboard which track Google Analytics, click
-
throughs, insights, leads, shares
, and
more.


With the addition of new staff members and initial funding of this project, LivingSocial
’s
adoption of this plan will place the company in the fast lane to becoming a worldwide leader in
social media marketing. Introducing this plan in phases will allow the company to weigh the
benefits and assess what works at each and every level of the la
unch.

II.

COMPANY DIRECTION

a.

BACKGROUND

LivingSocial was founded in 2007 as Hungry Machine, Inc. by CEO Tim
O’Shaughnessy, CIO Val Aleksenko, CTO Aaron Batalion and CFO Jake Mass. The company
“offers daily deals on handpicked experiences” that are targeted to
wards local markets and can
be experienced by many people (LivingSocial, 2012).
LivingSocial classifies its deals into five
different categories: Escapes, Families, Adventures, Instant, and Gourmet. Not all
classifications

are offered in every market, but

at least one type of deal is offered in each of the company’s
individual markets.
The company specializes in social
-
buying within the Advertising &
Marketing Services industry and holds approximately 22 percent of market share, shadowed
significantly by i
ts largest competitor, Groupon with 53 percent
(Raice, 2011)
. In 2011,
Groupon posted annual sales of $713.37
million,

while LivingSocial’s annual sales totaled $3.10
million

(Hoovers, 2011)
.
Additionally, the company employs 4,900 people worldwide.

LivingSocial has sold 63 million sale vouchers since it was founded, and notifies
customers of local offers via its website, livingsocial.com, Android and iPhone/iPad mobile
applications, Facebook
, and Twitter

(LivingSocial, 2012)
. Like its major competitor Groupon,
Livingsocial offers a daily deal for free if a customer shares it via social media options and three
or more of the customer’s acquaintances purchase the d
eal through the customized link.

The company is currently active in 22 different countries on five different
continents

including the United States, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ireland, France, United Kingdom,
Portugal, Spain, Italy, Egypt, Lebanon,
UAE
, Mala
ysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Korea,
Australia, and New Zealand.
.

LivingSocial is in 647 smaller markets within the 22 operational
countries

(LivingSocial, 2012)
.

b.

MISSION AND OBJECTIVES

The mission of LivingSocial
is: “We inspire our members to find, share, and enjoy the
best of their neighborhoods by connecting them w
ith handpicked local businesses”
(LivingSocial, 2012)
.
The company looks to fulfill its mission through a series of different types
of deals in different types of markets.
The business o
bjectives of the company are two
-
fold. The
company’s ultimate objective is to
sell deals to local consumers and gain repeat
ed business
within the existing markets. In addition, LivingSocial must also maintain

strong, working
relationships with the small businesses who choose
to run deals through the company, thus
creating another business objective
. Additionally, another Livi
ngSocial objective is to expand
their business both nationally and internationally, with the ultimate
goal

of making the
LivingSocial experience available to all markets

worldwide.

c.

EXISTING SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

The company boasts 1.8 million Facebook ac
tive users and over 100,000 followers on
Twitter but does not utilize any other social media tool. LivingSocial also maintains a unique
“365 Things to do” campaign that encourages customers to explore their local areas more and
shares ideas through its cu
rrent social media tools.

LivingSocial posts deals on Facebook and
Twiter, but the deals currently posted are either based out of the Washington, D.C. area or are
deals that can be enjoyed nationally, such as a
deal through an online vender.
LivingSocial
r
ecently ran a national campaign through its “Families” program that partnered with Kellogg’s.
For every “Families” deal sold during a one
-
week span in March, 2012, LivingSocial donated a
meal to families in need through Kellogg’s. LivingSocial utilized F
acebook and Twitter to
update and thank fans for their purchases, showing that LivingSocial has utilized social media to
to gain non
-
financial return in the form of positive publicity and a positive, transparent image in
the eyes of consumers.
The company
does not maintain a blog or activity in any other form of
social media at this time.

As a relatively new company, LivingSocial has a unique
advantage

in terms of social
media.
However, recent reports have shown that LivingSocial revenues have dropped 1.
8
percent in recent months, leading some analysts to believe that LivingSocial and its major
competition, Groupon, have saturated the markets they are in

(PR Newswire, 2011)
.
The
company relies heavily on social media to release the daily deals and to encourage customers to
share the deals with their friends. LivingSocial uses Facebook and Twitter to accomplish this.


However, in its current capacity, LivingSocial only reach
es people who know about the
company and its deals and the friends of current customers who happen to share that they just
purchased a deal on LivingSocial. LivingSocial does not require customers to share their
purchases, and a limited number of people a
ctually do. The company does offer an incentive that
it a deal is shared via Facebook or Twitter and four friends of the customer purchase the same
deal, the initial person gets their deal free, but relatively few customers achieve this.
The
following se
ctions of this action plan will look at different methods to enhance LivingSocial’s
social media efforts in order to
further support the business objectives of the company.

III.

APPROACH

a.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

Despite diminishing sales last quarter, there are m
any strengths and opportunities
available for LivingSocial to take advantage of. A detailed SWOT analysis of LivingSocial can
be viewed in Appendix A. From here, the company must develop a new strategy and approach
based on their strengths, weaknesses, o
pportunities and threats. These strategies can be viewed
in detail in Appendix B. Internal strengths, paired with external opportunities create the best
strategy for LivingSocial.

In order to launch a successful social media marketing campaign, LivingS
ocial will need
to develop specific goals and achievable objectives
based on the SWOT and TOWS analyses and
their current strategic setting. The goals of LivingSocial’s social media marketing campaign
reflect the overall goals and objectives of the compan
y but utilize social media as a method for
accomplishment. The goals of the social media campaign include:

1.

LivingSocial will increase presence on social media outlets.

2.

LivingSocial will generate interest in available markets through social media.

3.

LivingSocial will connect to small businesses and consumers through social media.

LivingSocial will look to accomplish these goals through the following objectives:

1.

Join Tumblr and Pinterest and cater posts and shares towards the target market on
each spe
cific site in order to increase customer base.

2.


Start a blog

to showcase “365 Things To Do Campaign” and create a bridge between
grassroots marketing efforts and social media marketing efforts while also increasing
search engine optimization for LivingSocial, the daily deals, and the small businesses
LivingSocial p
artners with.

3.

Create individual Facebook and Twitter accounts for specific markets in order to
increase direct financial return
on investment
in specific markets

and track qualitative
and quantitative results through a social media management system
.

4.

Use

widgets and badges to spark viral marketing initiatives.

These business strategies align with the social media because they will help LivingSocial reach
new users in both developed and developing markets while providing a more direct connection to
poten
tial customers.

a.

METHODS

Join Tumblr and Pinterest

The first business objective is for LivingSocial to join two additional social media sites,
Tumblr and Pinterest, in order to grow the customer base by targeting fans on these sites
specifically. Tumblr
is a micro
-
blogging platform similar to Twitter, only posts are not restricted
by character count as they are on Twitter. Posts are typically short and feature images, audio,
and video. The unique feature of Tumblr is reblogging. Other users can reply,
reblog, and like
posts from other users. These tools make Tumblr unique because the ease of access to other
posts and the freedom to reblog posts make it feel like more of a community
(Dolan, 2011)
.

In addition to the commun
ity
-
feeling that Tumblr breeds, the site also has benefits that
are in direct alignment with LivingSocial’s business objectives. Tumblr is free, meaning business
that employee hours spent working on the site and tools such as video editing software are the

only expenses subtracted from sales that are generated from Tumblr use. Additionally, it is
really easy to use, so it can be added as a responsibility to current employees and LivingSocial
does not need to add additional staff members for this project sp
ecifically. Tumblr can also be
customized, so LivingSocial can use it to create any marketing theme. One final benefit is that
Tumblr can be measured with Google Analytics, unlike Facebook and Twitter. Therefore,
LivingSocial can track how the Tumblr pag
e is playing into the “greater web marketing strategy”
at no cost
(Dolan, 2011)
.

Tumblr is a method that will benefit LivingSocial because it can be specifically designed
to create nonfinancial return on investment for the
company in a number of ways. The option for
fans to reblog posts will create viral sharing for LivingSocial’s posts, allowing for daily deals
and unique videos to reach more potential customers than just those who follow LivingSocial.
This can also lead t
o click
-
through purchases that will be easy to track and measure.

Pinterest is also a micro
-
blogging site that allows users to “pin” photos, links, videos, and
creations to categorized boards, resembling a tack board someone may have in their own homes.
According to Shira Levine, a contributing writer and columnist for
Business Insider
, “the
Pinterest platform is a collection of ‘best kept secrets’ and beloved retail items”
(Levine, 2012)
.

Levine, a freelance business, travel, luxury and popular culture writer uses Pinterest to
demonstrate her expertise “by including fun, short informational anecdotes on the site. This
offers readers and potential clients a quick glimpse of my expertise in

these categories”
(Levine,
2012)
. LivingSocial is an expert in the daily deals category. This is a great forum for
LivingSocial to post their deals, as it is much easier for someone to “repost” on this site than it is
to retw
eet, reblog, or share on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, respectively. Additionally, the
categories of Pinterest align perfectly with LivingSocial’s categories. Categories on Pinterest
that would be useful for LivingSocial to post deals to include DIY and

Crafts, Art, Fitness, Food
and Drink, Hair and Beauty, Home Décor, Kids, Women’s Apparel, Men’s Apparel, Outdoors,
People, Pets, Photography, Sports, Technology, Travel and Places, and Weddings and Events. If
LivingSocial is offering an unlimited Yoga pa
ckage in the Boston market, it can pin it on
Pinterest’s fitness board so that it is shared directly with

people interested in fitness.
Additionally, if people in the Boston area subscribed to LivingSocialBoston’s posts, they would
see the unlimited Yoga c
lass post on their own home board.

Pinterest is a method for social media that is simple, yet has a high
nonfinancial return on
investment

in terms of viral
. According to Mashable

author Stephanie Buck
, 8
0 percent of posts
on Pinterest

ar
e repins in com
parison 1.4 percent of retweets on Twitter. Essentially, a unique
post on Pinterest is 80 times more likely to turn viral due to repins

(Buck, 2012)
.

Start a blog

LivingSocial’s second business objective is to create a blog
to showcase the “365 Things
to Do” advertising campaign that is currently already in publication. LivingSocial can amplify
this campaign in a similar fashion to Coca
-
Cola’s expedition
266

campaign
that brought
grassroots and social media marketing to all
of the 266 countries in which Coca
-
Cola products
are sold. For LivingSocial to adapt this idea, an employee from each market needs to experience
a different “thing to do” in within the market for all 365 days of a year. The employee will take
lots of pho
tos and blog about the event, which will be shared on all social media sites to increase
the company’s ability to relate with the audience.

A blog will be a
useful method for LivingSocial because the use of anchor text will help
to increase LivingSocial’s search engine optimization. By hyper linking anchor text such as
partner company names, activities such as bungee jumping or cuisine type and cities will he
lp
LivingSocial appear as a result for a wider variety of searches. For example, someone who
searches for Boston Italian food would have a greater chance to be linked to LivingSocial’s blog
if Boston, Italian Food, and the restaurant name and the deal wer
e all linked within the blog.
Without the capabilities of a blog like this, LivingSocial will be missing out on the opportunity
to optimize how often a content
-
controlled item appears as a result on various search engine
sites.

Create individual Facebook

and Twitter accounts for every market

One of LivingSocial’s strengths is that it caters to the lifestyles of its customers. A
customer in Boston can wake up every morning and experience something new

whether it
is a
fitness class, a new restaurant
, or a m
assage

all within their own neighborhood. At this time,
LivingSocial’s social media efforts do not reflect this luxury. LivingSocial currently has one
Facebook page and one Twitter account. This limits what deal posts can be shared, as sharing a
post th
at caters to the Boston market will not be interesting to people in Kansas. Therefore,
creating a LivingSocialBoston Facebook page and @LivingSocialBoston on Twitter will allow
LivingSocial the opportunity to generate sales daily through these resources,
instead of just
posting online deals or vacations on their current pages.

This method will affect LivingSocial’s financial return on investment. By increasing the
social media efforts within each individual market, the potential for sales to come direct
ly from
Facebook
and Twitter will be increased. In September 2011, LivingSocial and Whole Foods
released a deal where for $10, a customer could get $20 worth of goods from Whole Foods. This
was a national deal, and 1 million vouchers sold out in 14 hours.

“Whole Foods” and
“LivingSocial” were both trending topics on Twitter during that time, and “LivingSocial” was
Google’s top search of the day. Almost all online media content outlet covered the sale.
LivingSocial posted the deal on Facebook, and it was
shared by thousands of followers, creating
a steady flow of positive press for both businesses
(Cherecwich, 2011)
. The success of this
campaign is what utilizing city
-
specific handles can do in local markets

create viral shari
ng by
users that lead to direct sales.

These different handles can be managed regionall
y with a social media management
system, Wildfire, and will allow each region to schedule daily posts, track click
-
throughs
, and
create a click
-
through to direct sales ratio that will allow LivingSocial to analyse the success of
each day’s deal. The Wildfire application will also be used to track qualitative and quantitative
data. Qualitative results include alerts for digita
l mentions, integration with Google Alerts, and
the ability to read fan responses to posts made on social media sites right on the dashboard.
Through this management system, customers can view engagement data on each message or post
page to a page and entr
ant demographics. Wildfire is fully integrated with Facebook insights,
which also provides quantitative data, as well as the option to view metrics on promotions being
run through the Wildfire suite
(Wildfire Interactive, Inc., 20
11)
. A screenshot of the dashboard
and an example of the quantitative data it provides can be seen in Appendix C.

Use a widget to promote “365 Things to do” campaign

According to SEO analyst John Shehata, “the main goal for widgets, so far, is its v
iral
effect in increasing traffic.”
(Shehata, 2007)
. Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, an E
-
Commerce Consultant,
generated a list of the six basic elements for generating a viral marketing campaign in 2000.
Although a lot has changed in
the social media world since 2000, his principles still apply to
today’s marketing. According to Wilson, “an effective viral marketing strategy”:

1.

Gives away products or services

2.

Provides for effortless transfer to others

3.

Scales easily from small to very l
arge

4.

Exploits common motivations and behaviors

5.

Utilizes existing communication networks

6.

Takes advantage of others’ resources

(Wilson, 2000)
.

In order for LivingSocial to use a widget in order to create a viral marketing opport
unity for the
company, the campaign must include these strategies. In addition to offering widgets that
promote deals for LivingSocial

that are easy to share and use existing forms of communication,
such as posting links to them on Facebook or Twitter in
order for followers to find them

LivingSocial can also get creative and combine this technique with other strategies in order to
create a marketing campaign that becomes viral due to user sharing.


In 2010, LivingSocial co
-
founder Aaron Batalion was quot
ed in the
Silicon Prairie News

saying, “We’ve spent a lot of time over the two and a half to three years building applications
virally on platforms like Facebook”
(Schreiber, 2010)
. Since then, the company has launched the
365
Things to Do campaign, which generates some non
-
sales driven traffic to its site
(Saint,
2010)
. However, once on the LivingSocial site for the local market, a list of 365 things to do is
nowhere to be found. LivingSocial cou
ld really make this campaign viral with more video
presence on the site. In line with creating more transparency and a greater relationship with
customers and partner businesses, a video blog showcasing a LivingSocial customer
experiencing a daily deal ha
s the potential to create a viral marketing opportunity for
LivingSocial. Not only could LivingSocial share these videos on its social media outlets, making
it easy for viewers to re
-
share, but they could provide widget links for the featured businesses t
o
showcase it on their own websites, blogs, and social networks. This would further expand the
reach for LivingSocial and collect more followers to the video blog series.


This method will be an easy metric for LivingSocial to monitor, because any outsid
e
companies that use LivingSocial
-
created widgets will gain a unique access code, and sales that
come directly from these outsourced widgets will be tracked through the access code.

b.

RESOURCES

Due to the regionalization of LivingSocial’s social media mark
eting efforts and the inclusion
of a video campaign in order to promote daily deals in each region, two additional staff members
will need to added to each market. One staff member will be the social media coordinator, and
the other staff member will be t
he video coordinator. Additionally, a Director of Social Media
will be added to the team at headquarters, in Washington, D.C. All regional social media
coordinators and video coordinators will report to the Director of Social Media, and will
communicate d
aily through video conferencing and email.

Additional resources include the purchase and partnership with Wildfire in order to
customize a social media management system to LivingSocial’s exact needs. Customized
platforms are priced based on the complex
ity of the system.

IV.

IMPLEMENTATION

The strategy will be deployed with a grand re
-
launch of the “365 Things to do” campaign and
will utilize all
the
metrics and tools discussed above to accomplish the three major LivingSocial
goals: increasing
awareness
, increasing awareness in
new markets and increasing sales in current
markets. LivingSocial will implement this social media strategy in a series of four phases.

Phase One: hire and acclimate the two new employees in eac
h region.

Phase Two: Create indiv
idual Twitter and Facebook handles for each region; begin
production of videos.

Phase Three: Launch Blog, Tumblr, and Pinterest campaigns, and utilize video production.

Phase Four: Market widgets to partner businesses and offer incentives for use.

Each
phase is scheduled in one
-
month increments. This allows for the social media
coordinators to get comfortable with the tools and make adjustments as the individual regions
need. Regional adaptation and individual catering after the launch will help Living
Social to
really connect with the target markets in each region. If one social media tool really takes off in
a market and one is untouched, focusing on the one that is successful will be more beneficial to
the future social media efforts of LivingSocial.


V.

C
ONCLUSION

LivingSocial will
further benefit from increasing its presence on social media outlets. In its
current capacity, LivingSocial’s social media efforts do not have the ability maximize the total
amount of people reached, and the ability to crea
te direct sales through social media is limited.
However, but adopting this social media action plan, LivingSocial will be able to increase sales
and will see a positive financial return on investment. The company will also see return on
investment in no
nfinancial ways, such as through repins, reblogs, shares, and other viral forms of
user
-
controlled sharing. Through the use of the Wildfire application to manage the social media
efforts of LivingSocial, the company will be able to track qualitative and q
uantitative data in
order to determine what deals are working for the company and which methods of social media
are most effective in terms of both methods of data.

Furthermore, LivingSocial will be able to increase search engine optimization through
spe
cific, planned anchor text links in the new blog, which will serve as a tie
-
in point for all of the
company’s new social media efforts.
Through this blog, the company will ensure that they are
presented as a result for a number of topics that relate to th
e company through deal events and
small business association.

Overall, utilizing this social media action plan will benefit the company both financially and
in terms of transparency, visibility, qualitative and qualitative data, and the ability for consu
mers
to reach the company on a local, personal level through a number of social media outlets. In
addition, this action plan gives LivingSocial the foundation to develop, adapt, and change the
plan as the scope of socia
l media changes in the future.

VI.

A
PPE
NDIX

A.

SWOT Analysis




B.

TOWS Analysis







C.

Wildfire Dashboard Screenshot













References


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-
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-
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How LivingSocial delivered Google, Twitter, Facebook
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-
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-
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Who We Are.

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Newspaper Source

.

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Groupon Grabs Market Share From LivingSocial.

Retrieved
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LivingSocial, Groupon's Biggest Competitor, Now Gets More Web
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-
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