Are you a social networker or one of those who “don’t get it”?
There is no going back after technology has a breakthrough, so whether you love it or hate it, Web 2.0, social networking, Twitter, Facebook – and all that – are here to stay.
As marketing and customer retention professionals we need to do more than just accept the concept. We need to use it. In order to do this, you have to understand it. In fact you probably have to live it.
Take trends. Did you know that Jessica Lange is the number one trend (while this article was being written), followed by Ron Silver, Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback and his wife (due to wedding) then Little Dorrit, Michael Crichton and Cherry Jones, (who had just won an Emmy). Now these all come from the Google Trends list, and can change by the minute, but isn’t it fascinating to know just what people are interested in, at a certain moment in time? How can we take advantage of that?
Example of Garanti
Making use of social media doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, but it does have to be immediate and it has to connect with the consumer.
Take the example of Garanti Bank of Turkey, one of the most innovative banks in the world that has used the concept of loyalty to drive its card business. Right now it is introducing prepaid cards to its customers as “incentive or campaign cards”. In one scheme with Coca Cola, awards can be uploaded onto the card either online or by mobile, and similarly with their “event cards”, which contain the ticket number for entry at the terminal, plus cashload to be spend in the arena.
For Garanti Bank, it is tying its young customers into the bank brand by identifying with something that matters to them, such as a rock concert, or a bottle of their favourite drink. It uses the social network sites to set up complete chatrooms, so that people can share their experiences and photos of an event, reinforcing the link to Garanti.
Example of Numura
And then there is the example of Nomura, and how it found the ex-graduate trainees from Lehmans.
It was a major challenge. Nomura bought the European and Asian arms of Lehman equities and investment banking operation in September last year, taking with it 2,500 of the staff. But the company realised very soon afterwards that the Lehmans graduate hiring and training supply chain was a key part of the business. It had let go the latest batch, and now it wanted to find them.
But how do you find young people that have been made redundant, and have probably had to give up their apartments in London?
On Facebook, Twitter, and the other social networking sites of course, 60 of the graduate trainees have already been contacted – and the story has gained so much publicity, many more will undoubtedly be contacting Nomura’s HR department.
Social networking can work just as well business to business. Talkbiz.now and Linked-in work by putting business people in contact with each other, either individually or through forums and discussion groups. Networks can grow very rapidly for those prepared to put in the time, offering unlimited possibilities to grow a business, circulate one’s CV, promote one’s products and services, or just stay informed.
Example of Francis Anderson
And take a look at the site of Francis Anderson, to see what an individual can achieve. francisanderson.wordpress.com. He uses all of the social networking sites, and some pretty intelligent, interesting content to promote himself as a marketing communications professionals. And take a look at his links, not to mention his mates. This is evidence of how the network community of tomorrow will function. Everyone will link to those they like and trust, recommending those feel will provide a good service. Conventional advertising? Forget it. What the people living in the world of social media will want is endorsement.
The new network economy is about communities, collaboration, peer production and user-generated content. It is a place where business reputations are defined by customer opinions and ratings, where press is delivered by independent bloggers, and product development and insight is driven by customers. For those who have grown up with the internet, it seems commonplace to be part of the social Web, both inside work and out, and most will expect social networking sites to play a major part in marketing campaigns.
Companies who take social media seriously are reaping tremendous benefits for their brand. Coca-Cola, for instance, recently featured a prominent call to action on their homepage to direct visitors to their Facebook page. Now, they have almost 3.7 million fans on Facebook. So instead of relying on users’ infrequent visits to Cocacola.com to communicate their brand message, now they can expose a huge audience to it with whatever frequency they like.
CocaCola already uses SMS as a key part of its special promotion offers and deals. You can download Coca Cola ringtones onto your phone for example, and in India, it has launched the ‘Coca-Cola Khushiyan Replay’ consumer promotion campaign nationally. As part of this initiative a computer generated lucky draw provides consumers a chance to win ‘Samsung Camcorder’ every hour for the next 40 days. This is a campaign design specifically around its audience, provided a gift of massive appeal to the audience.
Consumers just need to SMS ‘COKE’ followed by the 9 digit unique code to 58558 from their GSM / CDMA mobile phones for a change to win.
And Coke doesn’t stop communicating once the promotion is over. Through Face Book, Coke customers gain SMS alerts from Face Book when content is added on one of their elected pages.
Social technologies can turn many corporate policies upside down but be warned. Participating in FaceBook is not going to turn an ailing company into a successful one, and it is not going to transform your marketing and brand awareness either. But it could enhance it, if done properly.
Consistent and direct customer service is what makes a company great, so if there is a bad consumer experience, it doesn’t matter how much your CEO twitters, it won’t change anyone’s opinion of the company.
How to “get” Twitter
Thomas E. Vass, Market Economist and Business Capital Advisor www.BusinessCapitalAdvice.com Heather O’Sullivan Canney, Community / Niche Marketer and Social Media Specialist www.HeatherO.com in a very interesting paper on the emergence of social networking say that people who don’t use twitter don’t “get it” because they have not invested time to do so.
They explain that the first task for a new user on Twitter is to designate who they want to follow, and then to elicit other users to “follow” them by “tweeting” valuable content. The term following is a Twitter euphemism for relationships. Other social media platforms call this idea “friends” or “fans.”
“Any one on Twitter can follow anyone else. There are no barriers. It is an open and diverse social network where relationships are based on the value and individual merit of the information exchanged between users. If the value of the information is low, then very few followers will be gained.
“Twitter creates a new equal opportunity for individual success based upon the idea of equal access to knowledge and information. The older market was based primarily on unequal access and control over knowledge and capital. This is the difference between a market based on unequal power relationships and open markets based upon equal opportunity for all
The authors say that critics of Twitter often note that many twitter users rarely use the medium after they first open an account. Others state that they “don’t get Twitter”. This is because the social capital is in the content. You can’t open an investment account and then expect to make a withdrawal, or even earn interest without first making a deposit! Of those who would claim that the information posted to Twitter is of “low value”, the proof is in the marketplace. Millions of users visit twitter daily, and those who provide valuable content, and actually engage with other users show measurable results in the increased value of their social capital.
They give a strong warning: “In the newer economic theory, new markets evolve and there is never a return to the prior equilibrium.”
A recent study by Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group shows that companies that are “engaging” with users via social media experience as much as a 24% higher bottom line than those trying to use traditional “push marketing” approaches in the same medium. Clearly, connection is as critical as the content. Or, in the words of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, “Marketing spend might start at awareness, but in the Trust Economy, communities are king, and ROI stands for Return on Influence.”
In summary, the market has shifted. The market platform of “the old way” has cracked. As more and more consumers embrace the new medium and technology, and become more aware of the availability of consumer driven alternatives, the chasm will simply increase. The only question is, what side of the gulf will you be on?
Will you be a social networker, or one of those who don’t get it?