Tranforming With Social Media

This week I will be talking about what I have learnt about how  connecting with Groundswell can really transform a company, and potentially transform your company. I will touch on an example in the book Groundswell on the company Dell, and further dissect what issues arose, and how they effectively managed their mistakes using Groundswell.

To get things started, let’s look into what happened to Dell in 2005.  Dell built a direct sales model that relied on low cost, flexible products that allowed for ordering growth and profitability. Since they didn’t have a traditional brick and motor operation, they relied heavily on phone calls and online customer support methods to deal with problems that customers faced. Dell also had a program where customers could sign up to have a tech member come to the customers home to fix problems they were having with their computers. This is where the main issue started to arise.  Clients like a fellow named Jeff who wrote negative blogs about Dell did not feel satisfied with the products he purchased from Dell. He felt that the company didn’t provide a useful in home service and that the in home tech support service couldn’t resolve any of his computer issues without having to actually send in the physical computer. In essence he felt as though he wasted money in purchasing in home service when in all seriousness he knew that to resolve the issue with his computer he had to send it into Dell. Jeff became frustrated and felt like no one was listening to him at Dell. More and more clients were also experiencing the same issues. There wasn’t a proper system in place by Dell to effectively deal with customer support. This led to Dell not meeting quarterly profits as customers were not satisfied with the service and communication it was receiving through Dell.  The CEO Michael Dell knew there was a lack of social strategy.

So how did Dell fix their social strategy to increase customer satisfaction?

Like most large companies, Dell did not have an effective customer service program that tied in customer complaints. There just wasn’t a way that Dell could monitor and give the appropriate solutions to their customer needs. They knew that to effectively turn around this problem with customer support that they needed to listen to their customers.

Michael Dell decided to take charge and hire individuals to proactively find bloggers who were having hardware problems and connect them with technicians who could help them. He also decided to set up a blog that would allow for customers to connect directly with Dell. Regardless if it was positive or negative, the transparency of communicating with clients on all issues aided them to resolve their customer support problems. Michael Dell wrote his first blog post on what happened with one of their Notebook catching on fire in a conference. As you can see this might not have been the best blog post to start with. It was fairly negative, however, from a company perspective it allowed the customers to see that Dell was taking action in determine what caused this fire and how they plan of resolving it. It shows customers that they were taking actions for their products and services and showed transparency in the company. Feedback from the customers were mixed however now they were also seeing some positive comments which further demonstrated how having interactions with their customer can be powerful. From their CEO Michael Dell encouraged his staff from multiple departments to add blog posts to their company to aid in creating an engaging forum to interact with clients. This in the end would only help Dell in knowing what exactly customers are liking about their products and well as what exactly they should look into fixing about their services. Being able to communicate with fellow customer in the end helped Dell come out with a stronger product by using outside help with the customer who in the end use the final product.

Here is an example of BMO using groundswell to effectively review an employee job description online using a forum.

bmo

Source: http://ca.indeed.com/cmp/Bmo-Financial-Group/reviews

This review was posted on a site that was linked to BMO jobs. It allows the community to comment and post feedback on certain types of jobs BMO is offering. Future employees can look and see what others liked and didn’t like about certain jobs. They can ask questions if they want more information surrounding future jobs.

Reference:

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

Should We Listen Rather Than Talk?

This week I thought I would take a brief look into one of the chapters called listening from the Groundswell book. This chapter led me to think about some questions they posed in the book in a new way than I had before. I think we can all agree how important listening is in everyday life, but yet isn’t it one of the harder things to do at times? Maybe a lot of it revolves on the connotation that we tend to think we are right and that we couldn’t possibly be wrong when it comes to making decisions. Why would we than listen to what others have to say if we already know the answer? I would like to share what I learnt from this chapter about listening and hopefully broaden your perspective on the importance of listening.

First off why is listening important?

Listening is important for many reasons, first off it shows you care. It allows your customers and staff to ask questions, give feedback, and recommendations. This can only strengthen a business. If you want to seek positive changes to product development, wouldn’t you want to ask those customers who have purchased and used it before? Maybe they can give you an outside perspective that you hadn’t thought of before that could help improve your product. Now let’s say you use these recommendations by your customers to create a new version on the product that they like more. This shows the level of respect you have for your customers and that you are willing to cater to the customer’s needs.

Your brand is what your customers say it is.

Although one might think they can control the brand image, its really open to the customers to decide what your brand really is. If they like your brand than your brand becomes one that is gaining popularity, and becoming one with more demand. If they have no reason to use your brand and like that of the competitor, there is now a negative connotation to your brand. You can either choose to think you can control what your brand is or allow your customers to have a say what your brand is, and through listening to what they say, adapt, reform and come out with a better version. At the end of the day these customers are the ones buying your product, and if they don’t like it, they won’t buy it. Listen to what they have to say and improve it.

How to listen?

There are two strategies the book Groundswell has in place to help business listen more effectively. Before your read these two strategies, it is important to note that a business or company must take action after using the strategy. One can gain all the necessary information on how to resolve an issue but until you put together an action plan, you will still have the same problem you had prior to the implementation of these strategies.

  1. Set up your own private community: A private community means having a group designated for just customers and clients who use your products. It could be used like a type of forum where members discuss about the product in an open environment with other members and deal directly with the company. This would give you a more natural interaction with your target market where you can listen in on what they like or don’t like.
  2. Begin brand monitoring: Another strategy you could adopt would be to hire an outside company to listen to your target market. This outside company would be responsible for looking on numerous social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, to see what the consumers are saying about the product. Once this outside company writes up a report on what’s being discussed, it is then shipped back to you to analyze.

Both these strategies I have thought to be effective tools in order to listen to what people say about your brand. In terms of linking it to the financial services, which is where I’d like to find myself, I would use the first strategy more. I want to work for a private firm and I feel like it would be an effective strategy to have a forum built into the private firm’s website so that important questions can be addressed. It would allow for people who work at the private firm to deal with clients more effectively, as you can see what they are discussing, what their needs are, and what they like and don’t like. It also allows for there to be some transparency in the business and shows you aren’t withholding anything from them as you allow all clients to engage and discuss amongst each other.

I will leave you off with an image to look and think about that relates to this blog post.

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 Picture Source: https://image.slidesharecdn.com/bestadvicefebdeck-jz-links3-150202161834-conversion-gate02/95/the-best-advice-linkedin-influencers-ever-got-4-638.jpg?cb=1422986378

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 target your online audience in a more effective way.

After reading chapter 3 from the book Groundswell, I have learned some valuable information on how to effectively target an online audience using social media. Regardless of what industry you may be seeking to engage, a new way of seeing who is actively participating online is through using a tool called Social Technographic Profile. Social Technographic Profiles are a way of categorizing people based on the groundswell activities that they are active in.

The book breaks down 7 key profiles:

Creators: Individuals who have an active online presence, who blog, publish articles, maintain webpages and upload videos and pictures to sites like YouTube.

Conversationalists: Individuals who participate in back and forth discussions on various different social media platforms, like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Critics: Individuals who analyze, comment, and react to forums, blogs and postings.

Collectors: Individuals who acquire a bunch on material on a certain subject, and once acquired use tags, and other bookmarking types to collectively organize a bunch of informational content.

Joiners: Individuals who participate in social media platform such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and twitter.

Spectators: Individuals who consume what is produce online.  Whether that be on Facebook, YouTube or any other social media platform.

Inactives: Individuals who do not participate in social media technologies.

To illustrate how people use Social Technographic Profiles to come up with an appropriate social strategy, I will give an example of an industry I would like to be in. 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 I have put in a range in age in which I feel people are seeking financial services. I will further discuss these illustrations above.

The reason why I chose the 35-44 demographic range was due to the fact that this is when individuals start having a positive net worth. An individual who has acquired school debt and has a mortgage may not have much capital to invest. It may be more beneficial to pay off any debts before seeking financial services such as asset allocation. At the demographic range of 35-44 I feel is where individuals for the most part having a steady income and can start putting aside cash for investing and retirement planning.

pic pic2

As the illustrations above depicts, 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. They aren’t so much creating new information or looking for the products. You have to be the creator by using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook and blogs to get individuals aware about your product and how it could benefit them.  You have to seek out your audience and be active rather than let them find you.

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.

A Few Key Ways To Enhance Your Social Media Presence

In the article “Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media” by Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haelin, they respectively talk about the concept of social media and how it is an ongoing trend in the workforce (2010).  One of the key points made by these authors that I would like to elaborate on would be: the five key points on being social when using social media. I have come across multiple sites that aren’t user friendly or inviting. To me an important factor in generating a functional social media platform revolves around having an engaging site that allows users to interact with one another. Without having an engaging or user friendly site, it limits the sites capabilities and can take away from whatever type of products, services, or ideas you would like to share with others. The Five key points of being social suggested by Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haelin are: Be active, Be interesting, Be humble, Be unprofessional, Be honest. In this blog I would like to address a few of these key points and give my ideas and experiences while using social media.

Be active: “Social Media are all about sharing and interaction, so ensure that your content is always fresh and that you engage in discussions with your customers (Haelin, Kaplan, 2010)”. This point cannot be stressed enough. From my personal experience I follow companies and individuals who are always updating what they are doing and what’s new. A great example of a company that I follow on Twitter that is active and keeps me updated with their products, company news, and relevant topics is Under Armour. I can visually see what new products they have when they release images via Twitter. Also it gave me an opportunity to see what promotions they are having through the year. I have capitalized on their activeness by buying products I most likely would not have found or realized had they not been using social media as a tool to generate business.

Be Interesting: “Let’s face it: nobody is interested in speaking to a boring person (Haelin, Kaplan, 2010)”. This might be the most straight forward way of putting it. Regardless if you share the same hobbies and interests, if you can’t find a way to captivate your target audience, you are just wasting your time. What’s the incentive in following an individual that you don`t find to be interesting. There are so many people and companies who use social media in a refreshing way that if want people to see what you are doing or your business is doing, you must be a bit more creative or unique than a basic platform. One company who I oddly found to be pull me into their site was McDonald’s via their YouTube Videos. McDonald’s isn’t my favorite type of fast food for many reasons, however it`s the only one I found interesting enough to follow. McDonald’s ran an add campaign that focused on addressing concerns in a public forum which allowed them to address frequently asked questions about their food and business practices. Doing so granted users an inside look on how their food is created and debunk some of the myths going on about their food. If you have some time you might want to look and this video: What Are McDonalds Chicken McNuggets Made Of?

Be Unprofessional: “Social Media users are people like you, who understand that things do not always go smoothly (Haelin, Kaplan, 2010)”. When you are marketing yourself or your company you don`t need to spend a lot of money of having the best presentation of yourself. You also don’t need to have someone else monitor your tweets. Although there has been cases where individuals do say some inappropriate comments on social media, for the most part everyone knows what is and isn’t acceptable. Also you are portraying you own identity so by having someone else manage your personal account takes away some of the authenticity and your own personality. One individual who has done an exceptional job of marketing themselves is a 4th line hockey player in the NHL named Paul Bisonnette. He has managed to attract 625 thousand followers on twitter by being very active and interesting. He posts funny pictures, interesting videos on Twitter, and has some pretty funny tweets relevant to his personal life on and off the ice. In comparison Taylor Hall, former NHL first round pick and first line player has only 343 thousand followers. That’s half the amount of Paul Bisonnette. Although Taylor Hall is a better player on the ice, Paul Bisonette social media presence far exceeds Taylor halls. Why? Well here is one video made by Paul Bisonnette that allowed him to gain a viral exposure while promoting a great cause. ALS Ice bucket challenge. This video has over 9 million views!

In summary these few key points are what I believe can really essence you or your companies social media platforms by: being active, interesting and oddly a bit unprofessional. Be active to keep your target audience update and drive you or your company’s presence. Be Interesting to engage your audience and create customer value. No one will follow someone who doesn’t create value to themselves. Be unprofessional in the sense that you can create a real authentic relationship. Having someone else portray who you are on your social media platform loses authenticity and people would rather hear what you have to say, not your assistant.

References

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