Social Monitoring: Not as Creepy as you’d think

It is really important that a company gets involved with it’s customer base. I mention that in every post involving business marketing strategies, and it might be getting old, but I need to express how important it is. The best way to further your reputation is to work with the customers.

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Most of the past examples I’ve mentioned has involved talking to the customers almost directly: asking open questions on a facebook page or even helping out through private messaging. But what if it weren’t so direct? What if there were people complaining about a company’s goods or services on a site where they wouldn’t see it?

Well, that’s where Social Monitoring Tools come in! When you want to keep up with what people are saying about your company/products, finding a good Social Monitoring Tool is a good place to start.

To look into this amazing process, we’ll be monitoring Valve.

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Known for the great games it puts out, Valve is an American based video game development company that strives to improve it’s products and keep the customers satisfied. The majority of it’s client base are digital natives as the main platform is a computer based gaming portal called Steam.

Because of this, any reviews – good or bad – are usually easy to find online. If there are any complaints on a public forum, it would be easy enough to find and help either the person with their problem or improve the product itself. To find these, we’ll be using Topsy.com in order to find tweets and such that relate to the company.

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By simply typing “Valve” into their search, it brings up how often it is mentioned – on public forums like twitter, journal articles, videos, etc. – in different time periods.

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Never has it been easier to find the conversations about your organisation than it is now with social media. In this screenshot, we see the ability to see the most recent posts about the search tag (Past Hour/x Day/s), see all posts in relation to the searched keyword, or even set a time period (Specific Range).

It even allows users to select which form of media they would like to see. From a tweet to a video, there are many different forms of media which the user can specify.

It even has a graph that shows the days they were trending over the past 30 days. The keyword “Valve” seemed to peak a few times recently when they released the Steam OS. Hovering over the points allows the user to see how many tweets were made on that day and also show the most popular tweets of that point.  The top bar also allows two more keywords/phrases as a basic search.

With features such as these, it is worth getting an account for your own business (no personal accounts are allowed) to keep up with trends. It may be useful when creating a new product or a product similar to another. Using this site will be able to track the popularity of products and ideas, and it would be fairly easy to utilise.

So have you heard of Social Monitoring before? Can it help you, and if so how?

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Telstra and You

In my previous blogs, I have mentioned the many incredible uses for Enterprise 2.0 and how  many companies have been utilising it. Products have improved with the input of the company supporters (or customers), communication between the businesses and their clients have been much more informative and personal, and even making and distributing products has improved.

This issue involves another kind of social networking strategy involving services that help the business internally and sells services rather than products.

Their social media platforms show customer services and sales and marketing functions as in the McKinsey model.

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Customer Support

Using twitter provides asynchronous interaction between the company and it’s customer base. Their twitter page @Telstra  is monitored 24×7 so that support questions can be tracked and addressed immediately. By using Twitter as a platform for communication and support, clients are offered the tech support they need in a more simple and easy method of communication.

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This is utilising the technology of Web 2.0 at it’s best. It was once a case where a customer would be on hold for hours to get a simple answer (if they weren’t able to see them in person), which is known to be very irritating. Even sending emails was a hassle as there were issues with getting back to the customer (which some were left with no response).

Using twitter however shows their capability to answer a question that is public as quickly as possible. The quicker they are, the more reliable they seem as a team.

Marketing and Sales

With 6,316 subscribers on YouTube, they use their TelstraCorp channel to advertise and market products to people.  In the spotlight they feature their biggest new products like their newest customer service app, along with movies, entertainment, and culture among others.

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One of the more newer services they have been advertising is Telstra DOT (Digital Office Technology). Of their most recent videos, there have been eight videos explain what the service does, how it is used, and short case studies that demonstrate the benefits in specific contexts (eg. small businesses).

 

When it comes to support functions, how has it been beneficial to you? Does the improvement from phone to online support help you in any way or would you stick to their call services?

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Invisible Children: How to become viral in a week

So far I have been blogging about companies that strongly profit from having an online customer base. Utilising Enterprise 2.0 has helped a lot of businesses get out there and become well known. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, if it weren’t for the online communities, such niche company’s would not have become nearly as successful.

The same goes for non-profit organisations, better known as charities. It is not often that one is able to stop in the street to talk to someone about their cause, and people seem very uncooperative when it comes to a door knocking charity. Both are too personal and it tends to scare people off. Once they implemented Enterprise 2.0, it became the perfect way of letting people know about their organisation and let those give in their own time.

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In 2007 there were over 177,000 non-profit organisations in Australia. There is estimated to be over 3 million all around the world. Of those organisations, how many did you know ten years ago compared to now? With the use of social media, charities have been spread across a wider area, letting anyone, anywhere donate as they please.

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In the March of 2012, a movement was started on youtube, which changed how people looked at charities. With more than 100 million views on a particular video in just one week, the social experiment known as KONY2012 left people in awe as they discovered the terrible things happening in their own world.

A charity called Invisible Children was founded in 2004 where their main goal was to make a war criminal well known around the world in order for him to be stopped. They planned to take down and release the child slaves of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and finally arrest Joseph Kony, bringing justice to the children he kidnapped and the people he made them kill.

Here is the video that started it all.

They had a goal, and they had the technology to get the message around, so in implementing Enterprise 2,0, they were able to use a couple of the functional levers in order to get the message out there. Currently their social media status is as follows:

Facebook: 3, 466, 138 likes

Twitter: 287, 394 followers

Youtube: 265, 125 subscribers

KONY2012 Video: 98, 422, 166 views

I’ll explain some of the value levers from McKinsey Global Institute, 2012 that apply to this company’s Enterprise 2,0 strategy.

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Educate the Public

In order to take down a mans army of children, you need an army of children yourself. Getting Jason Russel to direct a film targeted to inspire today’s youth, Invisible Children were really fighting fire with fire.

Since the target audience was the youth, they were naturally digital natives. Youths seem to be more proactive about causes and movements that relate to them or what they would like the world to be.

In teaching people what Joseph Kony does, that shocked and disgusted people which lead them to sharing and encouraging people to know him. Their marketing strategy is to be relatable with their audience! (A key goal of mine that I am yet to reach)

Even though they haven’t captured the criminal (which they planned to by the end of 2012), they became well known, their cause was spreading faster than wildfire, and they raised millions of dollars that went (mostly) to their cause.

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Rapid Organising

Once the video got around, they were able to organise more campaigns in order to get the word out there to those that aren’t so tech savvy. Using the youth of today in order to get the word out is just what they needed in order to form a group of activists. They are so very passionate with their beliefs and if pushed enough, will make a stand.

Since “the bad guy” was someone who kidnapped children, it was just too easy to hit a chord with those watching the video. At some point in all of our lives, we have at least experienced a childhood (whether it was good or bad) and some of us have even had children of our own, which makes the cause all the more worth fighting for.

The video was sent to their friends, they bought the support packs and they covered the night. Russel started a movement with his video, and even though not all the feedback was positive, it still inspired many to join their cause, donate and rally beside them.

Here are some more links to information about the marketing around KONY 2012:
http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/03/kony_2012_white_saviors.htmlhttp://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-30/kony-2012-guerrilla-marketing

So for my end of post question: Which side were you on when the KONY 2012 video went viral? How involved were you in the campaign, whether it was with it or against it?

References:
http://www.mdgadvertising.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/giving_social_actual.png
http://invisiblechildren.com/kony/
http://www.ourcommunity.com.au/general/general_article.jsp?articleId=103
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Amy’s Baking Company: A social media catastrophe

Getting a business off the ground is a difficult thing to do, but once successful, it can be very rewarding. There will always be problems; the whole journey of owning a business is overcoming any obstacle that you may face in a very polite and professional manner.

Reviewers generally want to advise people on their purchases, so any bad reviews should be taken as criticism which should be looked into and worked on. In doing so, the business should be able to improve. In my last post, I mentioned a company – ThinkGeek – that really listens to their customer base and tries to do what they can to improve their business. In this post, I will be mentioning a company that does the opposite and declines any help from people who aren’t the owners.

In some cases, employees’ have publicly violated the company’s code of conduct.  Many incidents that have gone viral involved cooks messing with food.

There have been examples of terrible work conduct where a Dominoes staff member was spitting in food for laughs, a Taco Bell employee licked a stack of taco shells, and even a cook at KFC was licking a pile of mashed potatoes.

But how often do you hear about the owners sabotaging their own businesses?

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In the case of Amy’s Baking Company, they have tried to burn, over-spice and sabotage the meals of their customers that complain. Not as harsh as putting human saliva on customers food, but that is just the start of it.

It all began with a poor review on Yelp, a local restaurant review site. A small business in Scottsdale, Arizona, was “attacked” by a reviewer because he was a “punk” who apparently didn’t know good food, according to Amy Bouzaglo the head chef and co-owner. From there the husband and wife team, Sammy and Amy Bouzaglo, have worked together to respond to the “haters” and “bullies” online.

Reputation Risks

When dealing with bad comments, they do not simply ignore it. Rather, they speak their minds and go off at any one with a different opinion. Because of the hate towards the business, the owners have been responding with very rude, hateful comments. 

They let their temper get the better of them and responded to many comments with rude language, causing their page to go viral. The more they commented, the more people would band together and respond.

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Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

For a while, the owners claimed that their ingredients were fresh and all the food was made in store. It wasn’t until the whole incident blew up from being featured on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares that the company got into some serious trouble with what they were actually cooking.

People who had previously dined there complained online and it was revealed that they didn’t cook much from scratch, and instead bought cakes and pasta pre-made elsewhere. If they didn’t insist on getting back at their “haters” and showing the world how amazing they thought they were, it wouldn’t have blown this out of proportion.

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I’d like to add some tips that any business owner could follow in order to avoid such a public online catastrophe:

  1. Don’t respond to hate mail: There is no reason to get caught up in a fight online.
  2. Don’t insult people: There is no justifying hateful, rude comments on any site.
  3. Take some advice: Not everyone is out to get you.
      1. Most of the people reviewing the company on Yelp had genuine advice to give the company, let alone Gordon Ramsay himself.

So what advice would you give to business owners going through similar strife? 

Thanks for reading.

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ThinkGeek: Marketing “Nerd” to the Masses

As the technological world develops, everything else must develop with it. So when it comes to e-commerce, the social technology advancement was the biggest thing to affect businesses today.

As stated in the McKinsey report, there are five main organisational functions which will add value to each business: Product DevelopmentOperations and DistributionMarketing and SalesCustomer Service, and Business Support.

In this entry, I’d like to explain how well a company has improved their Marketing and Sales function and how without Web 2.0, they wouldn’t have been so successful.

“ThinkGeek started as an idea. A simple idea to create and sell stuff that would appeal to the thousands of people out there who were on the front line and in the trenches as the Internet was forged.”
About ThinkGeek

Founded in 1999, ThinkGeek is one of the most well known companies selling pop-culture apparel and gadgets. With such a niche audience, it wouldn’t have gotten the popularity they have today if it weren’t for the internet and the development of social technology.

When it comes to their Sales and Marketing techniques, they are very friendly towards their customer base. The staff at ThinkGeek are very on the ball with social technology, using it to really listen to what the people want.

Derive Customer Insights
Each of the products have a feedback section at the bottom which allows customers to share and comment. This enables the company owners to gauge the popularity of each product by a qualitative manner rather than a quantitative one.

Social Technologies for Marketing Communication
Staff have utilised the popularity of facebook pages in order to start discussions about each new product. Using a picture of the product and an opinion sparking caption, they are able to engage users in discussion. They use social media as a platform to display marketing messages to the masses which costs little to no money (depending on whether they purchased ad revenue).

Generate and Foster Sales Leads
Each product has a feedback system that involves using your facebook account, each page also allows users to like, share, tweet, and even pin the product to their personal pages. This system makes the products marketable to new clients and reminds existing customers which generates more leads.

Social Commerce
On their website, they have a recommendation bar to the right that suggests products by using an algorithm that determines which products were also bought by people who purchase this product.

Once any company has a following, it’s easy to get the word out there through social technologies. A revolutionised marketing paradigm to accommodate for the rise of digital media and the shift of communication platforms.

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Wikinomics: A Love Story

Two companies, both alike in strategy,
On the internet, where we lay our scene,
From ancient tactics to new alchemy,
Where their feedback makes their objective seen.

A parody of Shakespeare (The first four lines of “Romeo and Juliet”, rewritten by Amanda Kay)
 

Not too long ago when social media wasn’t fully embraced in the Web 1.0 stage, businesses would have their own plans with not too much consideration for their customers/clients. They would work with what they knew and gather information on what their customers want by supply and demand rather than asking the customer to contribute.

Crowd sourcing isn’t a new idea, and companies have used it in the past when introducing new products; it was inevitable that they would eventually use mass collaboration to not only have suggestions and feedback, but to base the majority of their business strategies on. It’s not about getting to know each customer, it’s about letting each of them have their say.

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In 2006, Don Tapscott (pictured above) released a book about Web 2.0 and the facinating advances businesses have made, called Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything.

It mentions four principals of the Web 2.0 business strategy:

  1. Openness is about collaboration and having open standards. It is a smart attitude of letting any one lend a hand.
  2. Peering is about transparency and the communication of information. Letting anyone view and edit to improve a product (like Linux).
  3. Sharing is giving up major assets (like intellectual property) for a more open and intimate understanding of the business.
  4. Acting Globally is taking advantage of being able to communicate internationally and using it as a business advantage.

So here are some examples of Wikinomics in popular companies.

TeeFury

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A website dedicated to artists and fans of popular cultureTeeFury is a site that allows people do buy a limited edition tee shirt that changes every day for just $11 (shipping isn’t too expensive either). It brings people together that have the same interest in geeky clothing and gives them what they’ve been waiting for; they just have to check the site every day as the designs change every 24 hours.

The clothes they make and sell are for a very specific audience, and if they weren’t online, they wouldn’t have the kind of following they do now. Since there is a strong online community based around popular culture, it brings people together to submit designsbuy, and interact with those involved.

Without being open and allowing global contribution, this site wouldn’t be nearly as popular. The people that design the shirts are artists from around the world, contributing their work in order to improve their portfolio and get their art out there. That factor makes the artists more popular and the people who run the site seem friendly and more relatable.

They also recently released their shirt making process, along with having most of the information about their business in the FAQ.

Steam (Greenlight)

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Steam is a popular online gaming portal used to connect to friends through the games they are playing. It also allows users to buy digital copies of games rather than go into a store and getting a physical copy. Their community page, Steam Greenlight, features a system that allows users to vote for and submit games they would like to see in the Steam Store.

Introduced in 2011, Steam has finally handed over a significant amount of power to it’s community. Users can vote for and decide on the new games that will be launched via Steam. They have a lot more of their business properties online in order to allow users to have more knowledge about upcoming projects and features.

The whole idea of the company is to be able to buy any game (available on the PC), anywhere. The set up tools are all downloadable, the site is safe when it comes to buying things via credit card, and as long as the user has a steady connection, they are able to play what they want, whenever they want.

So now to you: Do you like how businesses have improved their online presence over the last few years? Would you kindly comment below?

References:
whatis.techtarget.com/definition/wikinomics
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfqwHT3u1-8
http://www.teefury.com/about.php
http://steamcommunity.com/workshop/about/?appid=765&section=faq
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Pick a Style, Blog with Class

“Blogging isn’t about publishing as much as you can. It’s about publishing as smart as you can.” – Jon Morrow

From a written form to a visual form, blogging has changed amazingly over the last couple of decades. Used originally as a diary of sorts, it grew and matured into a globally shared experience of human interaction. Whether the blog be about politics, science, or even art, blogs let people share their own experiences with people willing to read it, which could be anyone considering the vastness of the web.

?????????????????????????Some of the most popular bloggers “trending at the moment (textual or visual) seem to be those that have some sort of entertainment factor, whether it be that they add a bit of humor or write/vlog in a way that seems very… human. There are informative blogs and journals that focus on details and facts, produced in a way that leaves little room for personalisation.

This blog in particular will be factual, but like all other blogs of it’s kind, it will have a bit of the writers personality (so it feels more like a conversation rather than a news piece). And above all, blog with confidence!

Another aspect of a successful blog is its linkability.  Is it something that will inspire others to join the conversation or even add to your opinions in their own blog? Does it have any enjoyable aspects that people will want to share with their friends?

Choose some fonts and a colour scheme that will compliment the main topics of your blogAdd a picture or two to each entry, have an eye-catching header, perhaps even have some content in the sidebar; basically, have something for the readers to look at. You have to be appealing with your visuals as you might lose personability of human interaction.

So, how will I blog?

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As a goal, I plan to use the quote by Jon Morrow as a guide to keeping this blog as interesting as possible. As someone who has experienced a specific blogging scene, it will be a challenge, but not something I will back down from so easily.

Some blogging strategies include:

  1. Write thought provoking articles but at the same time, be relatable to your audience.
  2. Be confident with what you say and try to get your point across in the first 200 words.
  3. Have a visually stunning blog in order to compliment the main topics.

As much as I’d like to draw in an audience from all walks of life, I feel that people in their mid to late twenties (the people I relate to most) will be the target audience for this blog. I’ll be the blogger they deserve, but not the one they need right now. I’m a quiet observer, a vigilant writer. A night blogger.

Until next time, thanks for reading.
Would you kindly mention (in the comments below) what blogs inspire you?

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