AmEx Makes It Easy

 By: Jordan Gotfredson & DuBose Ratchford

American Express is all about social media. The global service company utilizes multiple platforms including: *Facebook, *Twitter, *YouTube, Linkedin, Foursquare and Google +. American Express has taken over the band wagon by becoming incredibly successful at reaching customers through its social media, and there are three specific types of social media on which they focus.

The first of these social media groups is Facebook: They use exclusive offers, events and experiences to capture customers attention. Individuals are able to join discussions that other cardmembers are having, share their personal stories and rally for their favorite causes. American Express Facebook page has over 2,391,252 likes with  7,501 talking about AmEx.

Next, American Express uses Twitter:!/americanexpressAccording to, American Express scored an 87.  “American Express has built a very large and engaged network through high quality, trustworthy content.”  Here’s a look at their 90-day activity: ReTweets: 17,000, Mentions: 14,000, Followers: 250,000, Following: 18,000. Their “True Reach”, or the number of people directly influenced, is 350,000. They have three Twitter accounts including: @AmericanExpress – which has access to offers, events, and experiences, @AskAMEX – AMEX customer care, at least five people who work daily to answer all Tweets, and @OPENForum – which offers the latest headlines, ideas, and insights

American Express also uses YouTube: YouTube has exclusive videos and behind-the-scenes footage where individuals can learn more about the programs by which Small Businesses help enrich the lives of their card members. YouTube is updated consistently, but not as frequently as Facebook and Twitter. American Express uses videos on their YouTube channel to cover many things including: Small Business, Music & Film, Travel & Dining, Fashion, & Sports. Here’s a look at some of their statistics: Channel Views: 2,818,426, Total Upload Views: 15,824,774, Joined: Apr 12, 2006, and Subscribers: 6,482.

The best of the best:

  1. Link Like Love
  2. Twitter/AmEx Partner
  3. Go Social
  4. Q&A with the CMO (John Hayes) 16 years with AmEx. He has a committment to using its global scope for service and has helped create multiple partnerships with social media platforms. His and Amex’s goal is to “create customers for life.” Hayes says that it is vital to “keep your finger on the latest trends and technologies. Look for new, changing ways to connect with your customers.” Newest update: making concerts by the hottest artists available through live streaming.

Simply put, American Express engages their customers, cares about the smallest of details, and influences as many individuals as possible. They prove themselves to be trustworthy due to their transparency and open interaction with customers, members, and the general public. Basically, social media has provided the venue through which all of this is possible, putting American Express at the top of customer satisfaction.


Mayo…not just a condiment.

Kelly Ray and I researched The Mayo Clinic and how they are utilizing social media to reach new audiences.  We learned that not only are they skilled in the health care industry, they seem to have a pretty extensive knowledge of the social media world.

Health Care and Social Media?

Mayo Clinic is a vital and increasingly credible example in the health care industry of an organization that is strides away from overlooking the importance of social media. By definition, Mayo Clinic is a non-profit medical practice and research group specializing in treating difficult patients.  Their innovative and effective treatments have awarded them a spot in the top rankings of US News and World Report List of Best Hospitals, as well as America’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Alongside the obvious exceptional services offered at Mayo Clinic, their genius use of social media has proved to be extremely profitable.

Advice from the Master

Their Social Media Chief, Lee Aase, shares that “For more than 100 years, the most important factor responsible for patient preference for Mayo Clinic has been word of mouth; satisfied patients telling their friends and neighbors about their experiences…or in our case it wasn’t a “prove the value in advance” situation. We emphasized that social media are just the way word of mouth happens in the 21st century.”

…And THAT they did. Their social media platforms now encompass (but are not limited to) Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Yammer, YouTube, and Blogger. After research, we can confidently state that Mayo Clinic has maximized their YouTube potential (with no intent of decreasing their efforts.) Videos range from serious, informational and researched-based videos concerning deadly conditions …to your not-so common topics, such as: “Tree Stand Safety.”

As if their obvious presence isn’t evident, social media metrics prove that Mayo Clinic knows what their doing.  With a Klout score of 97, their impact and ability to provide meaningful and applicable content is outstanding.

All for One, One for All

They have successfully combined their different social media platforms to better reach their audiences.  For example, the infamous “Know Your Numbers” Youtube parody is now the home page of their Facebook page, and is trending on Twitter (#knowyournumbers).  Strategically aligning their platforms has allowed them to maximize their promotions and brand awareness.

While most people view hospital systems as stingy with white walls, Mayo Clinic has managed to jump off the page by utilizing social media to engage, increase awareness, and create camaraderie with their current and potential customers.

It’s a Plaid, Plaid World

by Angela Duke & Erin McGuire
Instagram pictures from Burberry taken during and right after the Burberry Prorsum Autumn Winter 2012 show.

Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts is not shy when it comes to discussing the importance of social media. In fact, she, along with Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey, has lead the company into a new world of social enterprise in which Burberry is on top. The company, started in 1856, is a London-based luxury goods empire. The mission, according to Ahrendts, is to be “fully digital end to end.” She says that the goal is to be able to see the same message and get the same feel for the brand no matter what device a customer is on, where they are located, or what site they were visiting from. Burberry was the first luxury goods brand to accomplish this task, and they have done it well. The company states firmly that they are selling their brand first and foremost, but with that comes their products. They are achieving a world of new success by selling that brand in the technology world.

The front row at the Autumn Winter Burberry Prorsum show & the finale. Via Burberry's Facebook page.

According to Marketing Week, Burberry spends 60% of their marketing budget on digital channels. Burberry links social media to a 29% increase in revenue in a 6 month period last year. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Burberry is using the tried and true social media platform tactics that most companies are using today – but they’re taking things a step above the rest. In order to engage customers, Burberry created the Art of the Trench site, in which users can upload images of themselves in their iconic Burberry trench.

Screenshot from the Art of the Trench site.

In order to access the tool, according to Market Week, the user must sign in through a Facebook application, meaning Burberry can gain a better knowledge of their customer. One of the most innovative ways that the company has used social media recently has been so called “Tweetwalks,” in which runway looks are tweeted out seconds before they are even debuted to editors and people in the industry. According to Mashable, during the time of the show during the Tweetwalk for the Spring Summer 2012 collection last fall, #Burberry and Christopher Bailey were both worldwide trending topics, and “conversation about the brand peaked shortly after the show began at 4 p.m. ET, hitting number two on global trending charts and breaking Burberry’s personal mentions-per-minute record.”

Graph by Trendistic, via Mashable.

In addition to Twitter, Burberry also live streams their runway shows on their YouTube channel, a tactic that many other brands have copied. The company has nearly 10 million likes on Facebook, making it the most popular luxury brand on the site.

With a Klout score of 77, Burberry sets the stage for social media utilization. The company is ranked on Klout as a “Thought Leader,” meaning their “followers rely on you, not only to share the relevant news, but to give your opinion on the issues. People look to you to help them understand the day’s developments. You understand what’s important and your audience values that.” Their Klout score is based solely on their Twitter page. They’ve improved their score in all areas, including True Reach, Amplification, and Network Impact.

Burberry has been able to engage customers and increase sales because of their aggressive, powerful, and unique utilization of digital and social platforms.

So Much More Than Organic Groceries: Whole Foods Market

Hailey Rogers and I examined Whole Foods Market to see how the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods is using social media. It is amazing how they use technology to really promote a lifestyle. Who knew a grocery store could be so fun?

Obviously, Whole Foods has the traditional Twitter and Facebook channels. They share photos on Flickr and upload videos to YouTube. Whole Foods is embracing Pinterest like none other, and next time we decided to have class via a Google+ hangout, we can call them up if we’d like. Whole Story, the official Whole Foods Market blog, sets the bar high with organic food information, recipes, and advice concerning anything and everything healthy, organic, and natural living. In addition, Whole Foods Market has two apps for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. One is dedicated to healthy recipes, while the other allows users to connect with others via social networks on their quest to lead healthier lifestyles.

The following link leads to an infographic from Enterprise Social Media (via slideshare) that illustrates how Whole Foods uses individual social media platforms to their full potential to drive traffic to the store and connect with customers. Whole Foods Social Media

Whole Foods is extremely dedicated to communication with customers, and they experimented in social media before many other companies.  According to an article from, that is a large part of what sets Whole Foods apart from the competition.

I also got that part of what has motivated Whole Foods’ efforts in social media — and what can account for much of their success — is a willingness to be bold and take risks. Such boldness can of course have its dangers… yet this has also helped them plow ahead in social media while other businesses their size waited cautiously in the background to see if it was “safe” or if these sites would gain in popularity.

-Soren Gordhamer, Mashable contributor

Whole Foods’ Twitter stands out as particularly exceptional. The company’s headquarters operate two accounts, one for customer service, @WholeFoods, where questions and concerns are addressed immediately from 9-5 daily. The other, @WholeFoodsPR, is used for headlines and breaking news from headquarters, as well as interacting with media partners. On top of those two accounts, individual stores maintain Twitter accounts. These are used for local updates about events and products. This shows the company’s attention to customers as  Birmingham shoppers need different information than those in New York. Whole Foods’ Twitter usage is just one way they tailor content via social media outlets to get the most out of each platform.

Campaign Focus: King of Cheese

Recently, Whole Foods has been using social media to promote “The Crack Heard Around the World.” On Saturday, March 10, at 3 pm EST, Whole Foods Markets across the U.S., Canada and U.K. will simultaneously crack wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano. This annual event is being publicized on Whole Foods blog, YouTube channel, Facebook and Twitter, with Parmigiano Reggiano marketed as the King of Cheese. They even hosted a live stream on February 27, 2012, sharing recipes, storing and handling information and pairing tips. This campaign goes to show how social media can take some of the smallest concepts and make them a phenomenon, while, at the same time, marketing your business and educating your audience.

Whole Foods Market’s success is proof that no matter your industry, social media can play a vital role in your business. Not only is customer service strengthened, but it allows you to create an image, and become a real, relatable entity to your clients.

Images and video courtesy of Whole Foods Market Press Room.

Tully Taylor and I researched for this mini-report.  We looked at Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube to see what Zappos was doing to engage their consumers, and to see what their consumers had to say about it.

Customer Service and Zappos:

Here are some quick facts about Zappos:

  • According to, Zappos is “very popular” on social websites, and is ranked the 160th most visited website in the United States.
  • Their overall woorank score for Internet Marketing Effectiveness is 83.3
  • Impact percentile: 99%
  • Klout score:  67
  • Peerindex score:  54
Zappos Family Core Values:
  1. Deliver Wow Through Service
  2. Embrace and Drive Change
  3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  5. Pursue Growth and Learning
  6. Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  7. Build A Positive Team and Family Spirit
  8. Do More With Less
  9. Be Passionate and Determined
  10. Be Humble
Zappos on Twitter

We found that, although it is not the only social media outlet the company employs, Twitter is definitely the most-talked about.  The company has five Twitter accounts:  @zappos, @ZapposInsights, @zappos_api, @ZapposStyle, and @zapposxperience.  @zappos – which is used by the company’s CEO and is their main account – has the most followers, but @ZapposInsights – a membership site that allows customers a behind-the-scenes view of the company – is their most active account.Zappos also has a TweetWall, which is a collection of all their Twitter accounts and an easy way to see who is mentioning them and their products.

“The most obvious of companies to make Twitter work is Zappos, an online retailer that has really led the way in corporate Twitter use.” – Samir Balwani,

Zappos on Facebook 

Although they have a much stronger Twitter presence, the company has not gone unnoticed on Facebook.  With almost a quarter of a million ‘likes’ on their Facebook page, Zappos has found ways of connecting to their customers outside of “shoe talk.”  They ask questions about current events and holidays (to name a few) and give fun facts and random tidbits of fun information about their store.  They also look for a “Fan of the Week” – a customer who has submitted a fun photo to their Facebook wall – to highlight in their profile picture.

Zappos blogging 

Another way the company is successfully using social media is through blogging.  In addition to the blogging done on their consumer website (which is about products, styling ideas, awards, etc.), they also have a blog on their insights website that talks about the different methods they’ve employed that have helped them reach their success.  (Full access to this website is $39.95/month.)

What Professionals Are Saying:

This video is of a radio interview with Rex Whisman, Principal and Chief Strategist of BrandED Consultants Group.  He talks briefly about how Zappos is using Twitter and other outlets to brand their company in the world of social media.

The following clip is an example of how Zappos is connected with their customers via YouTube.  The purpose of this short video is not necessarily for their own personal gain but for the entertainment and enjoyment of their customers.  It’s little things like this that make Zappos so popular with their buyers.

To Sum It Up:

“Lesson: Take a CEO that twitters, add in a great personality and you have a recipe for social success. Ingraining social media into the culture of a corporation means that every consumer interaction is personal.”  – Samir Balwani,

Zappos is taking a hands-on approach to marketing and connecting in the age of social media.  They have established a name for themselves, and they go above and beyond that of your typical consumer website.

Have you shopped with Zappos?  What was your experience like?

Why Everyone Should Fly Virgin America

Erin Shaw and I researched Virgin America Airlines to see how effectively they were using social media, and, to our surprise, we were completely blown away.

Not only are they dominating the seemingly obvious platforms of social media, including twitter and facebook, they have their own YouTube channel, Pinterest boards, Instagram following, philanthropic efforts, giveaways, and a frequent-flyer program that puts any before it to shame (hint: it incorporates social media and geolocation technology).

So here’s the breakdown:

-Virgin America flies to 17 destinations in the United States and Mexico, making it relatively small in terms of most airlines. So, how is it so popular? Bottom line: Social Media masterminds + knowing their audience like the back of their hand = success and an all around good time for staff and customers.

-Their main goal is, “to make flying good again,” by pairing superior service, the cushiest amenities around, and on-demand entertainment and cuisine, according to their website. How do they accomplish this? By talking to their audience, a collection of tech-savvy individuals and families that know exactly what they want and how to get it.

-They respond quickly to every tweet, both positive and negative ones. They give the phone number and website to allow you to share your experience and tell them how to improve if it wasn’t superior.

-They engage their customers by featuring giveaways (use the #FlyMoreGiveBack hashtag to earn rewards and donate to various charities), contests (example: to name their fleet of planes), philanthropic events ( such as Operation Chihuahua which flew dogs to NYC to be adopted) and much, much more. They also set up their “frequent-flyer mile” program to sync with social media platforms like foursquare (so, for example, if you “check in” anywhere for Virgin America, you receive “bonus” points that add to your “elevate” status). They’ve used this for multiple contests by having customers engage and participate in scavenger hunts and receiving deals based on where they checked in.

*Our favorite contest was the “Awkward Family Photo” contest, in which families submitted their own awkward photos, and the winners won passage aboard Virgin’s inaugural flight to Orlando, FL. (They used the knowledge that Orlando is a huge tourism city, and partnered with to see just how creative their customers could get.)

What’s being said: 

“’One of the things we’ve found is that even though it’s Virgin, we’re still a relatively small company, and our advertising budgets are not that big, so when we go into a new market, we like to do new and interesting things to amplify word of mouth buzz,’ says Abby Lundardini, Virgin America’s director of communications. The promotion was inspired by the Virgin team’s ‘weird sense of humor, but it was really well received, and it was the first time we had ever partnered with a social meme site,’ says Jill Fletcher, the airline’s social media manager.” (quoted from mashable article)

“‘We do feel very strongly that the conversation would happen with or without us, it really just shows that we are a listening and participating brand. I would rather have a two-way conversation with people than just a one-way dialogue happening out there,’ Porter Gale, VP of marketing at Virgin America.” (quoted from huffingtonpost article)

“Jill Fletcher, Virgin’s social media manager, told Mashable ‘70% of our bookings come from our web channels, so our fliers are really social media savvy and tech savvy.’ As a result, Virgin is quick to use new technology or platforms in the daily deals, gelocation or social networking space to reach these consumers.  According to Fletcher, ‘we know that those types of campaigns resonate with our fliers.'” (quoted from The Real Time Report article)

Basically, Virgin America is using social media platforms to show their customers that they’re the new and improved PAN-AM airline, and it’s working. Don’t believe me? check out their safety video to prove they’re relatable, entertaining and knowledgeable.

Nuggets from DG

1. Need a definite strategy and plan.

Gives consistent vision, as well as realistic goals and benchmarks.

Most organizations (like people) that have no plan for what they will do in social media. (Little Debbie #notguilty example — unfortunate.)

2. Posting frequently and keeping audience engaged is very important. You can talk often about the nature of organization, regulation, and corporate culture and brand voice.  Also note that social media is a casual medium and it is okay to use a more relaxed tone.

3. Analyzing your audience is very important. Also, it is important to recognize that people are mainly interested in (1) free stuff, (2) discounts, and (3) exclusive info. Know your audience and constantly adapt to their feedback. Immediate feedback is also very valuable.


Overall, it was a very intriguing, structured, and motivating talk. I’d for sure listen to David again.


Better Late Than Never…Nuggets from David Griner

David Griner of Luckie & Co. spoke to our class awhile back and dropped some major knowledge bombs on us.

1) He talked about the difference between planning and strategy when it comes to social media. Strategizing comes before planning, and while both are important, they are very different. The contrast this way:

Strategy vs. Planning

vision vs. content

system vs. schedule

buy-in vs. goals

accountability vs. optimization

room for growth vs. improvement

open ended and longevity vs. peace of mind

2) He talked a lot about how to use Facebook correctly for business. Several specific examples include: using surveys or anecdotes to highlight different groups within your audience, how to keep each group happy without losing others while leveraging each’s strengths, and finding what works and improving on it.

3) Something I’d like to have written on my wall: “Stay motivated. Stay excited. Stay curious.”

Great talk overall.

Facebook Marketing Success Nuggets

Jennifer Taylor

RIley Westmoreland

Bo Morris

  • Threadless is a company created to showcase artists’ work through Tshirts. Through their Facebook page, followers can become a part of their Tshirt design challenges, like and post about Tshirt designs, and shop for new clothing directly from the page. On Facebook, users become engaged in conversation with both the company and other followers.
  • The IdeaPaint Facebook page is strong because it integrates several of their other social media sites on their page, like their blog and YouTube channel. They also have lots of photo albums, which helps people visualize their product in use, or gives people with really cool drawings or uses of IdeaPaint a chance to share those images with the company and eventually its followers.
  • Banez Insurance Agency is a farmers insurance group agency out of Stockton, GA. Ron Banez uses his Facebook page to promote and advertise the business. He does so in a unique way, however, by asking questions and posting slightly sarcastic jokes to get customers more excited about insurance policies.

Social Media Plan for Lawn-care Co.


a. Variety of demographics

i. Older people ii. Middle-aged women iii. Corporate individuals


a. 10 new accounts

b. Renew 90% of previous year’s accounts.

i. Listen

1. Always tweet back. 2. Respond to facebook comments. ii. Talk 1. Direct messaging. a. Inform of new changes b. Grant coupons c. Ask how we can better serve d. Promotion per every 100 followers on Twitter 2. Direct mail a. “Thank for choosing our service” letters b. Newsletters i. Monthly specials ii. Lawn of the Month iii.


1. Facebook a. Make it possible for enthusiastic customers to engage with old customers (technology and real life) 2. YouTube a. Commercials b. Recorded testimonials c. ‘How To’ videos d. ‘Meet Your Lawn care Provider’ video 3. Website and Direct Mail a. Testimonials b. Referrals 4. Pinterest a. Utilizes images 5. Blog a. Images b. Videos c. Testimonials


1. Google + a. Create forums or advice groups b. Separate people into wants and needs i. This will target their specific interests 2. Facebook groups 3. Pinterets boards a. repinning



Angela Duke – Erin McGuire – Riley Westmoreland – Bo – Kelly Ray  – Courtney Rogers