MyMacs.ca - Customer Engagement through Social Media
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The Jibe is very pleased to have recently launched the MyMacs.ca web site. The site was produced in conjunction with 612 Creative, who were the lead contractor and provided project management and graphic design, Blackwave Creative, who developed the Flash-based pirate game, and ourselves, who did the back-end web development, implemented the design, and provided the server system administration.
It is still early days for MyMacs.ca, however it has already enjoyed important successes. Most impressively, in the two months since launch over 5500 people have created an account on the site! Attracting an initial critical mass of users is vital to the success of a social media web site and the success of MyMacs.ca provides some important insights into ways that these initial users can be attracted to the site. In follow-up posts we will discuss some of the technical details involved in the site development, however right now we will step back and provide a big-picture overview of the site, its features, and the non-technical strategy used to engage Mac's customers In many ways Mac's is an ideal web development client. As a brand it is very firmly youth oriented and, to put it mildly, edgy. As evidence I submit Bloody Zit, WTF, and STFU; Froster flavours to revolt mom and dad and a matching ad campaigns that went viral. Although tame by comparison, MyMacs.ca is not your typical corporate web site. We built MyMacs.ca on the open source Drupal development framework. Social media is one of Drupal's key strengths. Its out-of-the-box features, coupled with the many community contributed add-on modules, provided much of the required functionality and served as an excellent foundation on which to develop further customizations.
Content Management System (CMS) allows site users to add, edit, and delete content from the areas they have been granted access to and to do so from any network connected computer through an intuitive user interface. Allows site users to publish text, images, and video. The resulting web pages are automatically styled to match the web site Schedule content publishing and removal, in the case of MyMac.ca this is used primarily for contests Moderate posted content depending on the users access type Automatically filter posted content and comments for spam
Create and publish new contests Schedule contest start and stop dates and automatically limit submissions to the valid dates Allow contestants to be organized into teams
Multi-level user access and permission system
Provides the ability to easily classify and control which users are able to access, edit, add, and delete specific content types Allows users to be grouped and for groups of users to be easily managed Each user has a User Profile which they can build-out to include pictures, a buddy list, contributed content, favourite content, their twitter feed, and location information
Users can rate content on a scale of 1 to 5, the average rating is then shown with the content. Independent of the rating system, users can also build out a library of "favourite" content by flagging content contributed by other people. This library becomes available within the user's profile
Users can comment on site content The ability for users to post comments can be controlled by site administrators on a per content type or a per page basis
A dynamic store locator that allows site visitors to search for stores based on address, city, or postal code and plots the results on a map Search results can be filtered based on store features, such as bank machine, whether there is an in-store restaurant, or a gas station Provides step-by-step driving instructions
As much as we would like to say that our technical prowess and the great features we built into the site are responsible for its success, the reality is that building a great web site is only part of the challenge of creating a successful social media site. There is nothing compelling about an empty web site and building the community and critical mass of content and users required for the network effect to take hold is a make-it-or-break-it step. Realising this is absolutely vital and, unfortunately, is often the reason why many social web sites fail. Compelling a critical mass of people to contribute to a web site and form a community that provides value to its members is no small task. Recognizing this need early in the planning process and having a good understanding of the target audience is crucial. It is an area in which MyMacs.ca has excelled and, as an aside, an area of this project in which we played no direct role. To be clear, The Jibe was not involved in creating the strategy behind the initial engagement process, that was 612 Creative's work. We are discussing it here because we believe it has been well done and that the success of MyMacs.ca provides examples that others can benefit from. For a social media web site to be considered successful, it needs to meet a few criteria. This will vary a little from site to site, but in most cases a successful web site can be defined as one which: is being used by its target audience is being contributed to by its users is providing value to its users is providing value to its creators
Leveraging Social Media
As a convenience store chain with 282 stores in Western Canada (and more in other parts of the country), Mac's is already in an enviable position, in that they have regular contact with their customers. By leveraging this existing customer contact Mac's has been able to drive traffic to their web site and to compel its customers to become engaged in the web site. For the most part this has been done through the use of contests - however social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, have also played an important roll. There are three contests being used to drive traffic to the web site and engage people. By far the most important at this point is the Shiver Me Frosters Pirate Battle Game developed by Black Wave Creative. It is similar to the classic battle ship game, with users placing pieces on a map and then trying to discover other people's pieces. Each person who makes a purchase of $5 or more at a Mac's store receives a coupon that entitles them to 5 cannon balls within the game. Each player must sign up for an account on the web site and after they have used their first 5 cannon balls they can get more by redeeming additional coupons. Points are tallied and prizes are awarded on a weekly, monthly and over-all basis, with prizes including a bevy of Sony electronics, a home theatre system, $10,000 towards a dream vacation, and a grand prize of a 2010 Mazda Speed 3. Online video games, electronics, vacations, a car, and a low barrier to entry; clearly this contest was designd with the MyMacs.ca target audience in mind! The other two contests, though lower in profile, serve to compel people to contribute content to the web site in exchange for the chance to win a prize. They include the 101 Ways Mac's Can Help the Environment contest, which asks people to contribute their ideas, in the form of a site blog, on how Mac's can lower its environmental footprint. Contributors have the opportunity to win gift cards or a grand prize of a $1000 Cameleon 4 mountain bike. Again, this contest demonstrates an understanding of the web site's target audience. The final contest, which has already concluded, was the Crazy Froster Photo Contest which offered the opportunity to win free Frosters in exchange for contributing photos of people drinking a Froster in a crazy or unusual way or place. In addition to the contests, Mac's has used Facebook and Twitter to drive traffic to the web site. For instance, contests are announced first in the Mac's Facebook group and pirate game access codes are regularly given away.