Virginia state officials reach out to stranded motorists, the biggest drivers of mobile traffic, and Starbucks adds employee vaccine requirements

Also: Sweetgreen launches salad subscription, Planet Fitness CEO says gym visits are up, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Quick-service salad chain Sweetgreen is launching Sweetpass, a salad subscription program that will give customers up to 40% off each purchase made directly from the restaurant’s app or website.

“It’s an optimal time of year because of New Year’s resolutions and the food that Sweetgreen sells,” Sweetgreen SVP of digital and growth Daniel Shlossman said. “Our ultimate goal is that we really want to make whatever loyalty is at Sweetgreen much more personalized to the individualized customer.”

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The Instagram post is a reminder to make your message visually compelling, while the jargon-laden quote from Sweetgreen’s SVP of digital growth is a warning against press releases that don’t use clear, direct language.

Here are today’s top stories:

Virginia DoT tweets warnings as winter weather traps motorists

A massive winter storm hit the northeast yesterday, leaving more than 400,000 homes without power and stranding motorists in northern Virginia along I-95 for hours. Yesterday morning, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDoT) urged motorists to avoid all nonessential travel and retweeted messages from local DoT branches explaining how the plowing process works:

Motorists nevertheless shared harrowing stories of being stuck on I-95 for several hours:

The VDoT stayed active on its social channels to communicate with stranded motorists, reassure them amid the uncertainty and keep them updated:

Why it matters:

The VDOT’s active, engaged social listening efforts during this emergency demonstrate the continued power of social media to provide minute-to-minute updates and respond to stakeholders in real time. Those efforts included retweeting affiliates closer to the scene and crafting graphics with language that is easy to read quickly for people under duress. They also emphasize how repetition and redundancy, normally the bane of any social media strategy, are crucial during a real-time crisis to ensure your message doesn’t get buried in the onslaught of rapid communications.


A new infographic from Visual Capitalist reports that video streaming accounts for 49% of mobile traffic, with YouTube as the most used app on mobile devices taking up 20% of global streaming bandwidth. In contrast, social networking apps accounted for 19% of mobile traffic and web visits accounted for 13%, while audio accounted for just 0.2% of mobile traffic.


Courtesy of Visual Capitalist

These numbers support the idea that any company hoping to engage mobile users must also have mobile-first video integrated into its digital strategy from the outset.

Check out the full report here.


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Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau went on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to discuss why gym visits and membership growth have continued to grow despite the rise of the omicron variant.

CNBC reports:

“Before there was a vaccine, we did see a pullback on joins and workouts and cancellation spiking,” Rondeau said in an interview Monday. “During the delta variant and omicron, we’re not seeing that pullback. … We’re not seeing members slowing to come in. We’re not seeing joins slowing. We’re not seeing cancelations rising.”

Rondeau’s interview, which aired days after Planet Fitness’ launch of a massive new year’s campaign, demonstrates how you leadership can be called upon to contextualize marketing campaigns and share company trends to keep the buzz going after a new campaign is launched.

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Starbucks’ COO explains new vaccine mandate for workers

Starbucks told all 228,000 U.S. workers that they must be fully vaccinated by Feb. 9 or conduct weekly COVID-19 tests at their own expense. Employees must disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 10, which the company says is in compliance with federal regulations for companies with more than 100 employees.

The Washington Post reports:

“I recognize that partners have a wide spectrum of views on vaccinations, much like the rest of the country,” Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver said in a letter sent to employees in late December. “My responsibility, and that of every leader, is to do whatever we can to help keep you safe and create the safest work environment possible.”

What it means:

As leaders across industries continue to modify their policies in line with shifting federal guidance and requirements, Culver’s words to employees demonstrate how acknowledgement and empathy can be powerful tactics for addressing uncertainty.

When addressing stakeholders with divergent perspectives and opinions, acknowledge the full spectrum of perspectives first before outlining the organizations’ views. While your next steps might remain uncertain, sharing whatever you can about future actions to various scenarios sends an assuring message that leadership has considered multiple scenarios and empowers stakeholders to adapt quicker should a new development occur.


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