9 ways your business could be using social media but probably isnt

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Nine ways your business could be using social media, but probably isn’t. © 2009 north venture partners, llc | www.dontgosouth.com | www.northsocial.com

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The team at North social breaks out 9 ways that brands could be using social media, but probably aren't. A good read for anyone wondering how the world of social media might have an impact on their business.

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Page 1: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

Nine ways your business could be using socialmedia, butprobably isn’t.

© 2009 north venture partners, llc | www.dontgosouth.com | www.northsocial.com

Page 2: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

social media isn’t just for interns

The emergence of a powerful new

communication platform that reaches well

over 300 million consumers is nothing short

of remarkable, but it also might not be the

best time to hand over the keys to an intern

to drive the conversation. Sure, these new

platforms are the playground for the young

and connected, but the user profile of most

social networks is older than you might

think, and its climbing quickly.

This just in, consumers are now spending more time on social networks than any other form of website, including porn.

To make the most of this newly emerging

opportunity to connect with your consumer,

to shape your brand, and develop long-term

customer relationships at a fraction of

„above the line‟ media costs, this

opportunity simply can‟t be squandered.

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For companies, resistance to social media is futile.

Millions of people are creating content for the social web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time.

If your business isn't putting itself out there, it ought to be.”

BusinessWeek, 2009

Page 3: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

setting up an account is not a strategy

While the simplicity of social platforms can

enable rapid growth, it can also create a

false sense of accomplishment for those

who don‟t create a focused plan to leverage

the power of these platforms for real

business goals. Now is the time to take a

moment and think about your overall

business strategy and what role social media

might play in hitting your objectives. The

bad news, if you don‟t currently know

where your business is heading, than social

media might just be an express ticket to

nowhere.

Regardless of whether you have one or one million friends, followers, or fans there are multiple ways your business could benefit from a more proactive social media strategy.

Take a quick inventory of how you are

leveraging social media today:

o Public Relationso Customer Supporto Market Researcho Brand Marketingo Promotionso Consumer Educationo Saleso Product Developmento Customer Relationship Management

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Page 4: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

1. public relations

Social media platforms touch well over 350

million people world wide every single day.

These platforms represents one of the most

direct and immediate channels into the

hearts and minds of consumers, voters, and

the public media. For certain brands this

platform can be a direct communication

platform that enables brands to find

supporters and evangelists (by filtering

through organic posts) as well as identify

dissenters, opposing threats and negative

messages about you, your company, your

brand, or your entire industry.

Social media platforms present a completely new opportunity to instantly deliver messages to millions of people. The impact on public relations is simply ground shaking.

How the various platforms are employed to

shape the public perception, and to impact

traditional media channels is part art, part

science. Crafting compelling messages, and

embracing transparency are the foundation

for success.

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Page 5: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

2. customer support

For a huge number of businesses there is a

hidden cost that is rarely discovered until

after it‟s too late in the game. Long after the

sale is made, this hidden problem can grow

into a huge drain on profitability in the form

of customer support costs. Good customer

service is essential to maintaining a positive

brand image, and it is a key strategy to

eliminate product returns.

Where traditionally customer support has been viewed as a cost center, smart brands are starting to use social networks to help offload their support costs on to a community of super users.

The net effect of this strategy is often two

fold. Consumers get the support they need

(at virtually no cost to the brand) and they

also feel more connected to a larger pool of

consumers who also use the same product

or service. It‟s hard to argue with a potential

win/win scenario.

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Page 6: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

3. market research

The value of good information is hard to

measure. Launching new brands,

developing new products, and effectively

targeting a new pool of consumers requires

knowledge that simply doesn‟t exist inside

the four walls of your company.

Traditionally brands seeking market

research have had to rely on expensive

firms who pool consumer opinions,

feedback, and insights into structured

presentations that cost both time and money.

Having access to tens of millions of consumers who are openly talking about their rational and emotional needs is a newly discovered goldmine for market research.

Real time analysis of consumer trends,

virtual focus groups, and other insightful

interactions are all made possible at a

fraction of the cost of traditional methods

for gathering information. Sure, you‟ll still

need some sharp minds and effective tools

to filter through all the garbage, but there is

a reason commercial fisherman use a net

instead of a hook. If you are thinking about

changing directions, launching a new brand

campaign, or just itching to know what

consumers are thinking about your business,

product, or brand, the answers are closer

than you think.

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Page 7: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

4. brand marketing

While this may be one of the most common

ways that brands are currently using social

networks, there are clearly those that „get it‟

and those who don‟t. The key difference

comes from playing a behavior-supporting

role in the life of your consumer. It is your

job to make their day a little better by

enabling a social relationship with your

brand. Want some simple pointers? Take

Starbucks for example. They have launched

a slew of social tools across a variety of

platforms from Facebook to the iPhone.

Each application provides some utility for

the customer, from store locators, to pre-

ordering your specially customized drink

before you even get in line.

Marketers should take notice of what they didn‟t do; drown their fans in an over-caffeinated flood of chest pounding information about their product.

While the sheer size of this new channel

(and half a dozen triple lattes) can often get

brands so excited that they can‟t help but

shout about their product, the real value is in

the meaningful relationship that you can

foster between the consumer and your

brand.

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Page 8: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

5. promotions

With the power of direct communication to

consumer comes the responsibility of

crafting compelling promotions that get

cash registers to ring, put more butts in

seats, and create a contagious pass along

effect. Smart, effective promotions don‟t

require you to have a million fans before

activation. When brainstormed and built

right, these efforts can be the key to

doubling or tripling a smaller social

presence overnight.

Some of the most successful promotions have employed the power of the network itself to create a fan base that didn‟t exist prior to the promotion.

One great example is a Burger King

promotion that asked consumers to sacrifice

10 friends (un-friend them on Facebook) in

order to get a free Whopper. By playing

with the core emotional driver of the user

(number of friends) they created a

memorable promotion that had a powerful

viral effect (for every friend that was

sacrificed they got a message telling them

why; a free Whopper sandwich from Burger

King).

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Page 9: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

6. consumer education

The consumer interaction process as follows

a continuum of excite > educate > motivate

> convert. While there are plenty of great

examples where promotions or marketing

campaigns can execute all of these functions

in one fell swoop, more often than not you

need to think strategically about how you‟re

going to bring your consumer along the path

to a point where they‟re „ready‟ to buy &

that‟s where the education phase often gets

overlooked.

Brands should be leveraging the interactive capabilities within social platforms to educate and motivate their consumers through discussion boards, “ask the expert” buttons, threaded discussions, and other media tools like video, images, and reference quotes.

Unlike 30 second ads, social networks

present a platform where you can share

information over a longer period of time.

Leverage that time effectively and you can

educate consumers about even the most

complex solutions.

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Page 10: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

7. sales

Integrated retail applications can let you

shop at a virtual fashion show, order a pizza,

or download the latest album from your

favorite band from right inside Facebook.

With the ability to integrate transactions and

revenue generating applications into social

media platforms comes all of the challenges

that online retailers face today, only things

are a bit more tricky working inside the four

walls of a social application.

This newly born ability to sell is starting to catch on and more and more retailers are beginning to reap the benefits of enhancing their curb appeal inside the social shopping mall.

The good news is real estate is still cheap,

and you can always be just one click away

from your customer. Plenty of people

compare social networks to high school

where there are cool kids and not so cool

kids. Life comes full circle with the addition

of the shopping mall style checkout

counters. Smoothie anyone?

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Page 11: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

8. new product development

We‟ve already talked about market

research, and what role social media can

play to help streamline and strengthen

customer development. There are several

other ways that social media can be used to

directly impact the product development

process.

Some companies have started to leverage a public pool of collective brainpower to help

their business identify innovative new market opportunities, and even assist with development of new product concepts.

Market leaders like SAP (software) and

Cisco (hardware) have recently completed

programs where they leverage social media

to draw upon the collective wisdom of

crowds to identify new products and

innovative new directions for their

companies. Cisco set up a program that

awarded the winner of their challenge (to

find a $1B opportunity) with a $250,000

cash prize. By leveraging the reach of social

media, these companies have been able to

harness the brain power and innovation

from minds that exist well outside the walls

of their building.

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Page 12: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

9. customer relationship management

One of the most interesting things about

social media is the longitude of the

relationship with the consumer.

While nobody can predict the lifetime membership to the latest social sites, it seems that there is a chance that they could outlast consumer‟s email and street addresses.

Where list building was a major tactic for

building an inexpensive platform for

marketing to consumers over the last few

years, social media presents an equally

powerful long term strategy for keeping

customer relationships in tact tomorrow and

beyond. The impact of the platforms over

time has not been fully realized, but the

projections look interesting. With pop music

stars, authors, and companies building

networks of millions of fans we may see the

proverbial 15 minutes of fame stretched to

15 years or more. One can only imagine

what impact a persistent network of millions

of fans could have. What would it mean if a

pop band like the Back Street Boys had a

persistent social network that represented

even half of the buyers of the 100 million

records they sold? Maybe we‟d still be

listening to Lou Pearlman‟s next big boy

band instead of Blink 182.

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Page 13: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

10. yet to be discovered…

Okay, it‟s true, we told you there were 9

categories of how you can use social media

to impact your business and life.

We lied, there‟s 10. Because of the

rapid evolution in this market, we decided

to nominate a 10th category and have

coined it „yet to be discovered‟. Hopefully

the 9 other examples we pointed out inspire

some ideas around how social media could

impact your business, but if you didn‟t see

any don‟t fret. This market is changing

daily, so stay tuned to what‟s coming next.

The exciting part is that we have yet to uncover even half of the ways that these emerging applications and disruptive technologies will impact both consumer and corporate life.

From emergency contacts (like twitter sites

set up to stream news after an earthquake)

or simple tasks like family management

(”I‟ll pick you up from soccer practice at

6:00″), we‟re just starting to scratch the

surface of what will evolve in the near

future. Nearly every day thousands of new

applications are launched, and thousands

more are being drawn up on white boards

around the globe, so stay tuned…

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Page 14: 9 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media But Probably Isnt

how to get started

Let‟s face it, in the complex and ever-

evolving world of social media, it‟s easy for

even the best of us to take a wrong turn and

get lost. That‟s why it it‟s essential to first

create a highly-targeted social media

strategy with clear, achievable goals;

whether it‟s product development,

consumer awareness, PR, or even offline

foot traffic and purchase. To fully leverage

emerging social media tools and techniques,

it requires that you put together a smart, up-

front strategy before lighting the fuse. In

order to help some of the „not so early‟

adopters out there plot a course of action,

we‟ll offer up our four step process.

The 4 step process:

1. Plan

2. Build

3. Promote

4. Measure

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think like Jane Goodall

The North social team spends quite a bit of

time trying to keep our callused thumbs on

the pulse of what the latest and greatest

campaigns, strategies, customizations, and

integrations. Sure this emerging media

platform is still brand spanking new, but

there are already smart insights that we can

pull from what is happening in this space

today. While your brand might not have the

resources or the will power to blaze new

trails into this digital frontier, you can get a

big helping of inspiration by simply

observing those brands that are currently

making the most of their social presence.

One of the easy ways to get up to speed is to

take a look at what other brands are doing,

and see what works and (more importantly)

what doesn‟t.

We‟d encourage you to check out the Custom Facebook Pagegallery and see what some of the best creative minds and innovative brands in the world have been able to conjure up.

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plan

Our planning process typically takes a few

weeks where we work to clearly define the

business goals, and unfold a crystal clear

map of how we plan to get to the finish line

leveraging the best tools and resources

available. This „strategy immersion‟ process

breaks down into two main components.

Evaluate

Evaluating your brand and business

objectives, your business assets, your

consumer, and your overall brand

positioning to help guide and structure each

social media engagement so that is can be

tied back to a business goal.

Identify

Indentifying the right strategic opportunities

for best leveraging your assets and

resources, so you can focus on building

meaningful customer relationships, increase

organization effectiveness, and grow your

social platform effectively.

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build

From custom pages & content to

promotions & contests, you‟ll probably

need a team of talented creative types to put

together all of the essential ingredients you

need to create memorable and meaningful

social brand experiences. But whatever you

do, don‟t confuse social media as another

opportunity to shout about your product.

Really take the time to dial in your creative

communications; as the images, words, and

content that you choose have a massive

influence on what consumers feel (and say)

about your brand.

Build great stuff

Tap a team of designers and developers to

build custom Facebook and Twitter pages,

applications, and promotions that

seamlessly integrate with the look, tone, and

feel of your brand while inspiring

meaningful social interaction.

Work on it 24/7

Building up a social media presence is

great, but it‟s only one half of the equation.

Momentum is generated by dedicated

headcount that maximizes and manages all

of your brand‟s activity, which includes both

inbound and outbound messages.

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promote

If you‟re going to take the time to concept

and deploy an interactive promotion, take

full advantage of the social web and watch

it spread. If you want to be a hit at the party,

don‟t shuffle around the room handing out

brochures explaining the features and

functions of your product. The way to

develop a large and loyal following is by

first inspiring people so they‟ll want to

connect with your brand. A major

component of the project planning that we

work on is the overarching content strategy

that will be employed to help position your

brand for success. Skip this step in the

process and you can quickly find yourself

on the outside looking in. Remember, in

social media, content is king.

Create compelling content

Deploy a wide range of engaging

promotional campaigns, including:

exclusive branded content, sweepstakes,

events, user-generated content contests, e-

couponing campaigns, and product

giveaways. These promotional efforts

should center around great content, but

ultimately leverage integrated sharing and

promotion technologies that give your

message the best shot to grow organically.

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measure

One of the core components to creating

value through social media is your ability to

measure the impact. We leverage real time

API‟s and the latest reporting tools to pull in

and analyze millions of daily updates, blog

posts, and mentions about your brand. Each

is tracked for both volume, sentiment (good

or bad context) and changes in volume or

sentiment. With robust measurement in

place you can clearly see the impact your

brand has across the social platform.

Regardless of the focus of your social

strategy, the ability to track, measure, and

listen to millions of consumers in real time

presents a strategic opportunity that has

never existed before now. Hint: If you

aren‟t tuning into what consumers are

saying about your brand, your industry, your

product, and your competitors, you‟re

missing the point.

Real time reports

By listening in you‟re able to 1) mine

insights for new opportunities; 2) identify

key influencers; and 3) understand how our

promotional campaigns are fairing.

Identifying the tone of what‟s being talked

about online (positive, negative, neutral), to

uncover timely truths which enable you to

build better products, promotions, and

customer relationships.

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let’s talk shop

Don‟t be afraid to ask

Our clients range from start up ventures to

global brands. If you think that you might

benefit from a conversation with a Partner at

our firm, please don‟t be afraid to drop us a

line, we‟d be happy to talk shop.

Please feel free to follow North on Twitter,

join us on Facebook, drop us an email, or

just give us an old fashioned phone call.

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