Need help tapping into the marketing power of digital platforms?

Crystal DeCnodder of Full Blast Creative talks about how to put social media to work building your business

Crystal DeCnodder is partner and vice-president of digital marketing for Full Blast Creative.

Crystal DeCnodder talks about marketing to digital platforms
Crystal DeCnodder, partner and vice-president of digital marketing for Full Blast Creative

Calgary’s Business: Why is it important for businesses today to adopt social media and social media advertising into their operations?

DeCnodder: Social media marketing has come a long way since 2011 when I started my social media company. When the industry first emerged, social wasn’t considered a serious tool for doing business, particularly with B2B brands. This was because corporate couldn’t connect a return on investment to the money they invested in social media.

That’s since changed. Today, social media is a tech and data game and every action, including your spend, is tracked and accounted for. The public has embraced social media almost to a fault; I recently read that the average Albertan checks Facebook 14 times per day. When you consider that Facebook and Instagram aggregate the largest audience available to advertisers online, it’s clear to me that these platforms are a valuable resource to generate new business and to continue to engage with current customers.

In terms of social advertising, paying to play is essential. Company pages posting organic content receive the lowest priority for placement and reach within Facebook’s content algorithm. When you promote your content through sponsored ads, you gain the ability to target your ideal customers based on their behaviour on your website, their inclusion on your email lists, their connection and engagement with your social accounts, or even by their offline actions through integrations that occur at the point of sale in a retail location.

This allows advertisers the opportunity to introduce your customers to new products and services, to build trust, to educate a consumer on your value propositions and to remind them of merchandise they’ve left in their digital cart. In short, social media connects brands to the customer in a way traditional advertising can’t compete with.

CB: Next week you speak at the KNOWHOW Conference in Vancouver and your topic is Seven Facebook Advertising Tactics Everyone Needs to Know. What are they?

DeCnodder: This could be a lengthy conversation. I’ll try to keep it succinct. Personalize your sponsored content. It’s possible to target customers by name, by birthday, by behaviour on site, and by affinity for similar products and services. It’s worth the pain and effort to create personalized content. When we do, we see an increase in impulse purchases, increases in revenue, less product returns and an increase in customer loyalty.

Despite the growth of e-commerce, 90 per cent of sales still occur in store. There are a variety of techniques to drive customers to your physical store front using social ads, including the ability to show dynamic retail ads. Dynamic retails ads can display your local product inventory. For stores that have multiple locations, it’s a major benefit to share local inventory with customers within a convenient geographic radius.

Upload your offline transactions. There’s a blur between online and offline conversions. I might research a product or service on my mobile device but then drive to the physical store to make the purchase. Savvy businesses can upload this data to Facebook or integrate Facebook’s offline events API for up-to-the-minute updates, which help businesses to understand how their Facebook presence is influencing their offline sales and interactions.

Combine sequence and story. Advertisers can deploy a series of messages in sequence to walk a potential customer down the purchase funnel. We can also use multiple Facebook ad formats to both prime customers with the brand’s story via video ads, and remind customers of the video narrative using display ads. When we share content linked to a strong story line, we connect an emotion to the brand that’s memorable and can highlight multiple value propositions that may resonate with a variety of audiences.

Make better use of evergreen content. Evergreen content is the kind of helpful content that’s useful to your customers year round and helps to establish trust and credibility. Similar to a drip campaign deployed through email, we can set up a drip campaign of quality content through Facebook ads that are triggered based on previous interactions with the brand online or a customer’s interaction (or lack of interaction) with sequential Facebook and Instagram ads. This is a basic funnel every business should have set up and managed 365 days of the year.

You can target Facebook groups using what we call the “Trojan Horse” technique. At this time, brands can’t really join or target Facebook groups; however, individuals can join Facebook groups. The Trojan Horse strategy looks like this. An individual joins a relevant Facebook group using their personal profile. This individual becomes active within the group with the goal of understanding what the group wants and values. Once a connection has been developed, this user can leave a highly relevant, free, helpful resource which links back to a company-owned landing page or website. Once group users click through to the landing page, they enter the re-marketing funnel and the custom audiences set up by the advertiser for that unique page. This helps seed a highly relevant custom audience that has self-selected an interest in or a need for the advertiser’s product or service.

Embrace chatbots and Messenger ads. At this time, Messenger ads are by far the most affordable ad placement and product offered by Facebook, second to video views. Any time a customer connects with a brand through chat, there is an opportunity to engage in a real conversation. Younger generations are growing up on chat apps and soon, What’sApp, which is owned by Facebook, will also support a variety of ad products. If you have a modest budget and want to provide a superior level of customer support, Messenger ads are a great bet.

CB: What is socialbulls.ca?

DeCnodder: SocialBulls is a division of Full Blast Creative, a marketing company I own, along with my partner Michael Wynn, which offers practical digital marketing training through hands-on, guided instruction.

Rather than reading about Google AdWords or Facebook Advertising, come into our studio and we’ll help you set up your account, walk you through a winning strategy, teach you the tools, monitor your campaigns, help to optimize them and show you how to read and analyze the marketing data collected. The training we provide can be set up as a workshop program ranging from three to five days, which is what we’ve done for brands such as ShawTV, Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and SAIT, or a more personal approach where individual students come in for a series of two-hour sessions to work on their marketing needs.

Students take new skills home, put these skills into practise, then book in with SocialBulls down the road to assess the success and to look at what’s next. We see students book in two to three times each month on average, and most stay with us for a five-month window to get to a point where they feel confident within their own capabilities. At this time, our students can fully manage their digital presence or elect to outsource certain aspects they find most challenging or least interesting within their marketing portfolio.

I firmly believe this style of training is the future model for all digital marketing education; the bureaucracy of academia can’t maintain pace with the evolution of the strategies and technologies required for businesses to maintain a competitive advantage online. By the time universities develop programs focused on platforms, the platforms have changed or the audience has moved.

CB: You were co-founder of the Canadian Cannabis Summit. What was that and its purpose?

DeCnodder: The Canadian Cannabis Summit is a three-day conference best described as TedX meets green talks. It’s “higher education” (pun intended) for individuals working within the legal cannabis industry or those interested in establishing connections and a career in this new market.

Thirty-five speakers from across North America shared their knowledge and expertise covering health, agriculture, technology, security, policy, finance, investments, best practices for safe and healthy communities, cannabis in sports, culinary delights, and much more.

The 2018 summit was by every definition a success with extremely positive feedback from attendees; plans for the 2019 summit are underway and the next event is expected to take place in June of 2019.

The purpose of the Canadian Cannabis Summit is to educate, inspire, and to foster communication and collaboration between supporting industries. There hasn’t been an opportunity for people within this sector to meet face to face, in an intimate gathering and to learn from one another. There’s been trade shows but if you think about the format of a trade show, the focus is on sales and self promotion, the Canadian Cannabis Summit is about personal and professional development.

CB: What is your key advice to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

DeCnodder: Try not to get hung up and overwhelmed with how much work starting a business can be. Every day make yourself a to-do list and get your critical tasks done. You’ll be surprised by how much you can accomplish if you break down the steps it will take to accomplish your goals into manageable tasks.

Something I see a lot of new entrepreneurs spend weeks, if not months, doing tasks that don’t really push the business forward – like building a home office or spending days on a business card design. The kitchen table is all you need to set up a post on social and let the world know that you’re available, looking for opportunity and how your product or service can make a positive difference in the lives of your customers.

– Mario Toneguzzi


marketing, digital platformsThe views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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