Coffee, Donuts and a ½ Dozen Savvy Marketing Practitioner Panelists Talk Social Media

Uncategorized Posted Jul 1, 2015 by Jennifer Torode

Yesterday marked the sixth year anniversary of Mashable’s Social Media Day, which recognizes social media’s impact on global communication.

To celebrate Social Media Day, General Assembly, an educational institution that transforms thinkers into creators through education in technology, business and design, and Allen + Gerritsen, an advertising agency, brought together a mix of extremely interesting and (likable) panelists from a variety of businesses to share their social media experiences, insights and best practices. Myself, along with CHEN’s Founding Partner Chris Carlton and my super smart and stylish colleague Liza Vilnits attended the event held in the epicenter of Boston’s Innovation District, which happens to be a hop, skip and a jump from our office.

Social Media Event June 30 2015

Left to Right: Steph Parker, Erica Ayotte, Kara Hendrick, Jay Acunzo & Josh Danoff

The Social-Studded Panelist Line Up Included:

  • Allen & Gerritsen: Steph Parker,  activation strategist @stephparker
  • Hootsuite: Erica Ayotte, customer success executive @inthekisser
  • Velcro Companies: Kara Hendrick, digital marketing strategist @VelcroBrand
  • NextView Ventures: Jay Acunzo, vice president of platform @Jay_zo
  • Union Square Donuts: Josh Danoff, owner @UnionSqDonuts


Steph Parker moderated the panel discussion and she asked some really great questions. Although I wish I had remembered to bring a notepad so I could recall more of the discussion, here were some of my personal highlights…

Moderator: Steph Parker, Allen & Gerritsen | Twitter Profile Picture

Moderator: Steph Parker, Allen & Gerritsen | Twitter Profile Picture

Ms. Parker asked each panelist how they go about measuring the success of a social media program. She jokingly said that the word “metrics” usually tops the list as the most dreaded topic for social marketers, but Erica from Hoosuite, who built Constant Contact’s social media marketing program, perked up as this was a topic she was quite passionate about.  The one thing stressed to the audience was that in order for a social media program to be measured appropriately, it must align with the company’s business model.

Kara from Velcro Companies (yes, the Velcro® brand product that we see and likely use every day) works in both the B2B and B2C markets for the company. She said that she taps different social media platforms for each market as they are quite different. For the B2B market, LinkedIn works better than Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook. Kara playfully asked the audience who heard what happened with Taylor Swift and Apple’s iTunes promotion last week and most raised their hands. For background, iTunes had a promotion for a three month free trial, which for users is great, but the downside was songwriters, producers and artists  would not receive payment during that trial period. When Taylor got wind of this, she took to Tumblr in an open letter saying that her album, “1989” would no longer stream on iTunes because of this promotion and low and behold, iTunes changed that policy.  If this had happened 20 years ago, artists would have been gypped out of millions of dollars.  Kara noted how the power of one person on social media can make a significant impact.

Union Sq. Donuts has more of a local following given they make and sell donuts from scratch in Somerville, MA. They do not pay for advertising, so word of mouth marketing and social media serve as major tools for generating awareness and business. Josh and his team have built quite a local social media following that has even reached international travelers. He told a great story. One day, he went to open the store and saw a few people standing outside with empty suitcases. Apparently, someone recommended that they must stop at Union Sq. Donuts while in Boston so before even making it to their hotel, Union served as their first stop!  How cool is that?


Union Sq. Donuts

Josh, who once upon a time owned a masonry company, one day raised a donut to a brick wall backdrop and took a picture; this sparked followers to post snapshots of their donut against all sorts of cool backdrops, which engaged Union Sq. Donuts’ followers in a fun, creative way.  It reminded me of the “Improper Sightings,” a section in The Improper Bostonian Magazine where readers take photos of themselves holding a hard copy issue on their adventures away from Boston. The best type of content for marketers is from the customer, which all panelists agreed. Oh, and Joe was kind enough to bring donuts from his store for all attendees!

Jay from NextView Ventures, a venture capital firm specialized in investments in seed, startup, and early-stage companies, told a funny story from his childhood. He’d ask his mom a series of random questions such as, “why is the sky blue?” She’d answer the best she could (likely making up a few things along the way as all parents do in this situation) and he’d ask, “why?” for each response. He suggested that the audience try asking “why?” (in a respectful way) when someone is rolling out a marketing plan, or any plan actually. He noted that if the person on the other end gets stumped and cannot answer “why?” then perhaps the plan should be re-evaluated.

From Don't Forget Your Jacket Blog

From Don’t Forget Your Jacket Blog

He also told another great story about a New York City restaurant that made social marketing easier for its patrons. Apparently, the restaurant saw a massive uptick in diners taking pictures of their food before eating and they’d post on social media. Seeing this trend, the clever restaurant started to arrange the food on the plates in a way that naturally served as an Instagram backdrop, no rearranging or cropping necessary. #Brilliant!

When time flies during a Tuesday morning educational session, you know it was a great event—and Mashable’s Social Media Day Breakfast certainly was!