Approaching Social Media Internally

Previously I have shared my thoughts on how you can connect with your customers while using the Groundswell. This time however, I would like to touch on tapping the Groundswell inside your company. I would like to also share an example from the book “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff where they illustrate how Best Buy uses the Groundswell internally (2010). My final objective is to show how you could use the Groundswell internally in the financial industry.

Tapping The Groundswell Internally

Best Buy is a large electronic company with over 1400 stores nationwide. Since they have so many stores and thousands of employees, Best Buy has decided to take advantage of the Groundswell internally. They have sent up an internal community called Blue Shirt Nation where all employees who wish to network and engage with others employees from Best Buy can do so. Blue Shirt Nation is a fitting name as Best Buy employees are known to all wear matching blue corporate uniforms. One of Best Buy’s active Blue Nation bloggers stresses why she is so involved with their internal community. She can share her thoughts on how she feels Best Buy can improve the company but also how her day to day work is going at Best Buy. She gets support from fellow Best Buy employees not just locally but from other store members across the nation. On a day to day basis these Blue Shirt Nation bloggers can relate to each other on their thoughts, concerns and suggestions they have in regards Best Buy. This internal community was created by Best Buy to listen to what employees have to say.

One example of how this community made Best Buy better was through customer support. One of the blogger mentioned that they should implement and IT process that would allow them to follow up with the customers demand more effectively. Rather than the old way where they would write down a note on a piece of paper and leaving it on the cashier desk for an employee to take care of. Obviously the comment stirred some controversy as some thought that this IT process would cost upwards of 1 million dollars. However after an employee from Blue Shirt Nation checked with the IT department, this new process would actually only cost Best Buy $58,000. This was shortly then implemented making Best Buy better from using an internal community.

There are many more ways Best Buy became a better company using the Groundswell internally through: listening, talking, Energizing, Supporting and embracing. I just wanted to give an idea on how a company could approach the Groundswell from an internal point of view.

Do Companies Use The Groundswell Internally In the Financial Industry?

BMO adopts a similar technique that Best Buy uses for tapping the Groundswell internally. As seen from the picture below that have set up numerous employee programs that allow them to engage and interact with their staff. They have set up an internal community for employees so they can share their comments and concerns with other employees as well as share their own accomplishments and skills they have obtained with BMO. Also in the picture you can see how they have volunteering groups set up which is great for BMO’s corporate culture and can give back to their own community through the company they work for.

BMO

Source: https://www.bmo.com/home/about/banking/corporate-responsibility/environment/employee-programs

Reference: Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68.

Approaching Social Media Internally

Previously I have shared my thoughts on how you can connect with your customers while using the Groundswell. This time however, I would like to touch on tapping the Groundswell inside your company. I would like to also share an example from the book “Groundswell” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff where they illustrate how Best Buy uses the Groundswell internally (2010). My final objective is to show how you could use the Groundswell internally in the financial industry.

Tapping The Groundswell Internally

Best Buy is a large electronic company with over 1400 stores nationwide. Since they have so many stores and thousands of employees, Best Buy has decided to take advantage of the Groundswell internally. They have sent up an internal community called Blue Shirt Nation where all employees who wish to network and engage with others employees from Best Buy can do so. Blue Shirt Nation is a fitting name as Best Buy employees are known to all wear matching blue corporate uniforms. One of Best Buy’s active Blue Nation bloggers stresses why she is so involved with their internal community. She can share her thoughts on how she feels Best Buy can improve the company but also how her day to day work is going at Best Buy. She gets support from fellow Best Buy employees not just locally but from other store members across the nation. On a day to day basis these Blue Shirt Nation bloggers can relate to each other on their thoughts, concerns and suggestions they have in regards Best Buy. This internal community was created by Best Buy to listen to what employees have to say.

One example of how this community made Best Buy better was through customer support. One of the blogger mentioned that they should implement and IT process that would allow them to follow up with the customers demand more effectively. Rather than the old way where they would write down a note on a piece of paper and leaving it on the cashier desk for an employee to take care of. Obviously the comment stirred some controversy as some thought that this IT process would cost upwards of 1 million dollars. However after an employee from Blue Shirt Nation checked with the IT department, this new process would actually only cost Best Buy $58,000. This was shortly then implemented making Best Buy better from using an internal community.

There are many more ways Best Buy became a better company using the Groundswell internally through: listening, talking, Energizing, Supporting and embracing. I just wanted to give an idea on how a company could approach the Groundswell from an internal point of view.

Do Companies Use The Groundswell Internally In the Financial Industry?

BMO adopts a similar technique that Best Buy uses for tapping the Groundswell internally. As seen from the picture below that have set up numerous employee programs that allow them to engage and interact with their staff. They have set up an internal community for employees so they can share their comments and concerns with other employees as well as share their own accomplishments and skills they have obtained with BMO. Also in the picture you can see how they have volunteering groups set up which is great for BMO’s corporate culture and can give back to their own community through the company they work for.

BMO

Energized?

This week I will be discussing the impact that energizing the Groundswell has on a company, why individuals choose to use energizing as a mean of boosting business, how a company would go about using energizing as a tool, and lastly followed by an example of a company in the financial industry who uses this tool.

 What Is Energizing The Groundswell And Why Would Individuals Choose To Use It As A Means For Boosting Business?

Energizing is about: “Finding your most enthusiastic customers, and use the Groundswell to supercharger the power of their word of mouth” (Bernoff, Li, 2010). This is a marketer’s ideal situation. Promoting a product or a service that individuals are already buzzing about. For instance, when I go out to eat, or go for a drink and want to change up my location, I ask my friends for advice. When they give their suggestions on where I should go it’s because they most likely enjoy that restaurant and want me to have the same kind of experience they had when they went. For that company they are being talked about using word of mouth. Word of mouth is a powerful way to generate new sales on your product or service you provide at no cost. You aren’t paying these customers to discuss about your product, however your generating business through energizing your loyal customers.

How Word Of Mouth Succeeds:

It’s believable: Having testimonials coming directly from people who use your products and services is far more credible than coming from a media source.

It’s self-reinforcing: Hearing about the product from one person makes the product intriguing. Hearing it from multiple people, even if you hadn’t heard of the product prior and it has to be true (Bernoff, Li, 2010).

It’s self-spreading: If a product is worth using, people will be talking about it. If it’s a really good product, word of mouth generates more word of mouth and now everyone is talking about that product.

A Few Techniques For Energizing Individuals

Tap into customer’s enthusiasm with ratings and reviews: This works best with retail companies and others with direct contact with customers. If you have a bunch of products and a lot of people that are using these products, having them rate and review the product can help you listen to your customers demand. See what people are liking and disliking about your products and make improvement when possible. When people read positive comments and see high ratings they are more likely to also purchase and use your products.

Create a community to energize your customers: “This works best if your customers are truly passionate about your product and have an affinity for each other, especially in business to business settings (Bernoff, Li, 2010)”. This is where you could create a forum or place where members can post and blog about your product that they already have a strong affiliation with. They can talk with other loyal customers and can spread a positive word of mouth.

Participate in and energize online communities of your brand: If you can interact and engage with your customers they will feel strongly about the connection in which you share. They will feel as though the comments and ideas they posted are valued, in turn creating value for both the company and customers.

An Example Of A Company Who Uses Energizing In The Groundswell

bmoo

Source: http://www.glassdoor.ca/Reviews/BMO-Financial-Group-Reviews-E3765.htm

As you have read from my other blogs, I would like to work in the financial industry, so I try to keep my examples relevant to the financial industry. BMO has used one of the techniques above in energizing the Groundswell. They have set up a place where people can rate and comment about BMO. They have ratings and comments on working for BMO, as well as customer’s who suggest pros and cons of using BMO as a financial institution. There is over 600 reviews!

Reference

Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68.

Is Twitter For You?

This week I will talk about the benefits Twitter has to companies. It’s a social media tool that I am very familiar with and feel strongly about. I will first be going through an example from the book called “The Groundswell” where they show a fantastic example of how McDonalds utilizes Twitter, followed by highlighting where I feel companies should focus their attentions on getting started using Twitter, and concluding with how a company in the Financial Industry could capitalize on tapping the Groundswell in using Twitter.

This story I am referring to about McDonald’s comes from a loyal customer. This loyal customer is a mom with young kids. She is an active Twitter user with more than 3500 followers. She is accustomed to tweeting daily about her experiences being a mom in a humorous way. On this day she found sometime to spoil her son to a Happy Meal from McDonald’s. It particularly important to this child as each Happy Meal comes with a toy. He gets to enjoy his Happy Meal alongside a new superhero toy. The only problem this time was McDonalds ran out of superhero toys and replaced this toy with a young girls toy. When this young child brought it to the attention of his mother he was not happy about this and started to cry. Since she is an active Twitter user and its right up her ally in an everyday mom related moment, she spoke out to McDonalds via Twitter. Although we can assume that this may not have been a big issue to McDonalds, the way McDonalds handled the situation spoke volumes on how they used Twitter effectively. They had one of their employees who monitors and responds to customers who tweet about the company answer back to the mom. This member exchanged contact information and in turn wrote a letter of apology to the mom and young child, followed by a desert coupon, as well as the superhero toy of his choice! The mom ended up blogging about her positive story with McDonald’s and ended up getting thousands of positive comments on a photo of her child. It’s hard to measure the amount of ROI that this brought to McDonald’s however I can only assume this didn’t cost the company a whole lot and the amount of positive image brought to McDonalds was well worth it.

I found a picture of the young boy:

DSC_0369

Source: Hey, McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it – All Things Fadra [Web log post]. (n.d.).

Here is the toy McDonalds sent the young boy to add to his collection:

 DSC_0344

Source: Hey, McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it – All Things Fadra [Web log post]. (n.d.).

Where I think companies should focus their attentions in using Twitter:

Lock up your handle: If you don’t use your company name when tweeting you confuse your audience. Make sure you find a way to get your company name as your twitter account. If you don’t lock it up someone else will use your company name and that can be even worse. They can tweet using your company name in anyways they please.

Listen First: Most likely your company is already being discussed about on Twitter. It’s imperative that you find out what people are saying about your products and services.

Be ready to support people: One you have a Twitter account your users expect to get support from you. These customers are usually angry customers and don’t really care about your products. It’s important to diffuse the situation if possible and pass them along with information or to your support team.

Follow others: Following people on twitter is free and you don’t necessarily have to be up to date with what they tweet, however it can mean more to them that you follow them. I can relate to this when Joe Nichols a famous singer followed me on twitter. I told my friend and right there get people talking about your product and services.

Be ready for a crisis: When problems occur in your company people will be looking at Twitter to see what’s going on and what your company is doing about it. Make sure you have appropriate measure to turn your account into an information channel.

Respond, retweet, and link: Although your company will want to broadcast whats new and what you are doing, make sure you engage with your audience by responding to their tweets, retweet positive conversations about your company and add links to where they can find more about your company.

Staff it: Make sure someone or multiple people are delegated to using the company’s Twitter account.  Whether that be marketers, PR members, or support staff someone has to do it. You could even build it into certain job description so people can build Twitter in their daily activities (Li, Bernoff, 2010).

Check with legal and regulatory staff: One must remember Twitter is public and everyone has access to viewing your tweets. Make sure you are not tweeting inappropriately, this could include customer data and sensitive confidential documents.

Having a gathered a following, don’t waste it: Utilize the group of followers you have gained. Whether that is to engage your audience, listen to your audience or talk with your audience. It’s up to you to create a plan that would allow your company to take advantage of Twitter as a business tool. (Li, Bernoff, 2010).

How a company in the financial industry toke advantage of Twitter as a business tool:

RBC TWITTER

Source: RBC – Twitter People Search. (n.d.).

As you can see from the illustration above, RBC is a bank in the financial industry that takes advantage of Twitter users. They have set up a bunch of different twitter accounts set up to aid their customers and to those interested in their products and services. The main RBC account is to keep their customers updated on what they are doing daily. Ask RBC account is meant to be the account customers can seek advice and support in relations to using RBC as a provider. It’s important to also note that all these accounts have verified check marks which mean that these accounts belong to the real RBC company and are not made up from a random individual.  Having multiple company accounts make it easy for the end users to engage with the appropriate account in contacting the right individuals.

References:

Hey, McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it – All Things Fadra [Web log post]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://allthingsfadra.com/2010/08/hey-mcdonalds-im-lovin-it-2/

Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68.

RBC- Twitter People Search. (n.d.) retreieved from: https://twitter.com/search?q=RBC&src=typd&mode=users

Groundswell Support Is Taking Over Traditional Methods

This week I will be talking about ways in which you can use Groundswell support rather then traditional support to save your company time and money, an example on how I feel the private financial industry could use it to their advantage, and lastly ending with a picture that demonstrates how a company uses Groundswell support effectively.

Traditional Support Versus Groundswell Support

For the most part companies don’t like support systems. It can cost a lot of money and it means that people are having difficulties with your products. The traditional support method would be to call the companies call centers or their technical support system. “An average call to a company’s call center cost between 6-7 dollars when including all costs. Technical support calls cost around twice that: $10 to $20 (Bernoff, Li, 2010).” Obviously these costs add up quickly if a bunch of people are calling with problems with your company’s product. So how does one reduce such costs? Using Groundswell support is one way to solve these issues. By diverting these customers to your company websites or forums they can get the same type of help while reducing costs. For instance if there was one common issue that has been occurring with one of your products you could post a FAQ forum. This would be where people who are experiencing this problem can read about how to fix the problem. Your company can reduce costs significantly by people using your Groundswell support rather than calling the support centers asking the same question. In essence by taking 10 minutes and posting the solution online, you can save multiple hours telling these people one at a time on how they can fix the problem that’s occurring. This is where your company will see an ROI from Groundswell support. Also by setting up a forum this will allow for community members to engage with one another where they can help each other fix problems. These member essentially save your company millions of dollars since their advice on fixing the problem comes at no cost, as these community members are answering question solely driven by their passion towards the product and technology offered. The “Groundswell” book refers it as the psychic income.

How A Private Financial Firm Could Use It To Their Advantage

I believe the main way a financial firm could use this to their advantage would be by starting up an online forum. This would be largely made up of a private community of just your clients, however outside individuals would be able to look into what’s being discussed if they had any questions about your company. On the forum you could have FAQ’s about your company on what you do for instance and what type of costs and fees are linked to your products and services. This allows for greater transparency to your clients as there is no hidden fees and you can discuss what each service provides and ultimately save your company money and time from using traditional client support. Also by starting up a forum clients can interact with each other and discuss what services they like or ask questions to other clients who have your products and see if they should get it or not.

Who Does This Effectively?

rbc

RBC is one company who uses Groundswell support effectively to better manage client support. This is a private forum that gives RBC investing members access to a community support site. On this site you can connect with other individuals and seek advice and share your thoughts about investing. It’s a great way to get your clients talking about their finance and to think about your company’s products and services

I have attached the link if you like to know more about RBC’s Direct Investing Community.

Reference:

Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68.

How to create a buzz about your products and services.

I had previously talked about how listening to your clients and customers’ needs may be an effective tool in increasing brand recognitions and reputation. This week I will be discussing how talking can be also used as a primary objective in spreading awareness about your company’s product and services. I am also going to talk about how talking with the Groundswell differs from marketing. From there I will share 4 techniques on talking that I have learned from the “Groundswell” book. I will follow this up with a video on how a company effectively uses one of the talking techniques and how a company from the financial industry might use these techniques to their advantage.

In regards to using talking as a primary objective in targeting your target market, you must find a way to effectively spread messages about your company. What I mean by that is you need to come up with some news using a creative way that engages your customers to talk and discuss with fellow individuals about your products and services. Now this differs a lot from using advertising and public relations, where you come up with commercials and get your brand recognized over television ads. This is a technique called shouting which can be very costly and although does aid in product recognition, it does not create any buzz about your products and services. One of the ways that a company used talking effectively as a primary objective to engage customers was through viral videos. A company called Blendtec started blending ridiculous items in there blenders that were products not normally blended which created conversation about their high end blenders. Although Blendtec charges a high cost for their product, it has proven to be capable of blending up heavy duty products as demonstrated  in this this video below. Blendtec blended an 3 tablets: Nexus 7, Kindle, Ipad!

As you can see this video has generated millions of views and has the YouTube audience speaking about their product. “Blendtec is up 700 percent since Blendtec’s Will it blend videos came out on YouTube” ( Li, Bernoff, Chap. 6, 2010). Now this is just one fascinating way to generate buzz about your company using talking. I will now briefly go over 4 techniques to consider when incorporating talking in the Groundswell.

  1. Post a viral video: Put an online video that allows people to discuss and share your company’s products and services. This was used effectively by Blendtec.
  2. Engage in social media networks and user generated content sites: Create a type of personality with social media sites like Facebook pages, Instagram, etc. to create a message people can share and talk about.
  3. Join the blogosphere: Have your staff write blogs about your company. “Integral to this strategy is listening to and responding to other blogs in the blogosphere. It`s one way of talking with blogs without having to issue press releases” (Li, Bernoff, Chap.6, 2010).
  4. Create a community:  A great way to interact with your customers. They are effective in delivering company messages to those who follow your product already.

How would you use talking in the private finance industry?

I would say the best way in using talking as a primary objective in spreading your companies products and services in the private industry would be through creating a community. What you could do is have a group/blog designated for your customers who use your company’s products and services. These customers would be able to discuss and engage with other customers about your products and have there questions asked and give feedback about where they feel you could do a better job. Having people engage about your product and services in a community can lead to customers using word of mouth and ultimately bringing in more customers to your business.

Reference:

Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68.

One Way To Help Reach Your Target Audience

This week I will be talking about a strategy that I have learned about in chapter four of the book “Groundswell”. Before discussing this strategy called the POST method, it is important, as in any strategy, that one have a clear vision and goal. If one does not know what one wants to achieve from a particular strategy, the chances of obtaining the necessary objectives and outcomes are minimal. It can be particularly risky if one decides to use the POST method without clear questions since this method uses technology like Social Media in order to build its strategy. One must therefore be able to articulate the information being sought.  Secondly, technology goes through on-going change which could further complicate the matter.

I will now go through the POST Method and use the financial industry to follow as an example as to how this method could be used as an effective strategy. The POST method focuses on four main areas: People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology. Each area has a step to contribute to building an overall strategy.

People: This portion of the POST further explains Social Technographic Profiles that were referred to in my previous blog post. Social Technographic Profiles are a way of categorizing people based on the groundswell activities that they are active in. The book identifies and describes 7 major profiles: creators, conversationalist, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and inactives.

As mentioned in my last blog I would like to pursue the financial service industry as a financial planner. First off by going to forester’s webpage you can put in a range in age that are seeking financial services.  From there one can narrow in or what age groups use as a major profile and adapt how one can target them accordingly.   An illustration is below:

picpic2

Middle aged males and females have a higher expectancy to spectate rather than engaging with content. When seeing that 70% of males and 59% of females are spectators, versus 20% male and 15% female’s creator one has to engage the target audience. This is not so much creating new information.  One has to be a creator by using social media platforms to attract them in.

Objective:  This is where one’s company decides what its goals are. Is it to listen to your customer’s needs? Is it to engage with your customers? This is where one or one’s company look at the 5 primary objectives companies can pursue in the Groundswell. The 5 objectives are as follows: Listening, Talking, Energizing, supporting and Embracing. Listening has been touched in a previous blog.  it illustrates how listening is demonstrated as a primary objective for businesses. I will briefly describe the other 4 below:

Talking: Using interactive channels to actively spread messages about your business to your target audience. (Ex: Banner ads)

Energizing: “Finding your most enthusiastic customers and use Groundswell to supercharge the power of their word of mouth” (Groundswell, Chap. 4, 2010).”

Supporting: Set up Groundswell so that your customers can help each other. An example of this would be creating a forum for which individuals can communicate effectively with one another. Also it allows you and your business to give input when needed. For instance FAQs.

Embracing: Integrate your customers into your company’s business if possible. This is hard to do and sometimes may not be beneficial.

Ill now give an example using the financial industry.

Although the financial industry can incorporate more than one primary objective into their strategy, if should be apparent that the financial industry should start with one primary objective to narrow in on the ultimate goal. From what I have found in the private financial industry, a primary objective to attract customers is listening to them. At the end of the day they have certain needs when it comes to their own finances. They are saving for the future and may require several different financial services. My future job is to see how I can help these customers with their future goals. For the most part this is done through listening to what their issues, concerns, questions are and drawing on knowledge to be able to support them. Being able to effectively answer those tough questions would help provide service to the customers.

Strategy:  This is where you answer questions like, “how do you want your customer relationships to change? (Groundswell, 2010). Do you want them to speak about your service, or do you want your target audience to engage with your service. This is where you implement a plan in order to make necessary changes that you wish to see.

For example in the finance industry most companies use advertising to entice individuals to invest their money into a particular companies financial services. Depending on the types of financial services being offered they tend to use different outlets of advertising. For instance a commercial or video may be beneficial when trying to acquire individuals to purchase life insurance. A lot of individuals use this type of coverage so promoting what a company offers it may attract individuals to it.  Maybe one wants to sell mutual funds, in that particular case has one diminished a target market, as not everyone has capital saved up or might want it. In this case it may be better to use a company website to attract customers surfing the web for options.

 

Technology: Now that one has decided who to target, it is time to find which technology will be the most effective. it is important to focus on one platform at a time. It’s better to have one great platform than having 3 mediocre platforms as mediocrity won’t drive in your target audience.

Sticking with the financial industry in particular, private financial companies may benefit from using a company website where they can create a forum. This allows clients to interact and engage with fellow clients, as well as to engage with the particular company. They can also get FAQs answered and register comments or concerns they have. This allows for greater transparency from business to client.

 

 

 

References

Forrester Research. (2009). Forrester Research’s Consumer Technographics Data. Retrieved October 4, 2014, from Forresters Research: http://empowered.forrester.com/tool_consumer.html

Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59-68.