Your participation is required (no duh!)

14 01 2009

In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed the roots of and early influencers of web 2.0 and customer relations (the re-birth of Trust 2.0 , the village Not-So-Fool,  Napster, Gen y…).  More and more, Health 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are taking the stage….. the 2.0 juice is everywhere, are you sick of it yet?

If you’re sick of it – You’re certainly experiencing a culture gap :).  If you’re excited about it, that’s probably the right feeling. It starts to get crunchy when you can claim and act as you are embracing it. Every segment of your company’s value chain should start thinking 2.0 collaboration. As the economy drops, it is essential that more brands engage in conversation.

The economy may be tanking but that’s not the case with all that is 2.0. Let’s talk about growth for a moment: Twitter 343% (users) and grew by 752%  in traffic in 08′, Ning 251% (users), Linkedin 193% (users) (the state of the Economy helping), Facebook 116%.  When was the last time you saw figures like that?? Staggering, isn’t it?

Now all those “sick and tired of this web 2.0 malarkey” would have you believe that this is all just a fad. A wild management fashion that will blow over by the time Spring comes. Just something to keep those geeks and young’uns occupied when they should be doing some “real work”. Right. Call me silly, but I see several major cultural and behavioral shifts here (feel free to add more):

– Numero Uno: This growth is conversation based.  Robots have no place in the hive and the communities are watching. Communities value quality, authenticity and collaboration. Sounds trivial doesn’t it? There you go, arguing that that flashing your sensory advertising 7 times in front of someone’ eyeballs may do the job. Forget that.  It’s just part of the noise.  As a product manager, a brand marketer or simply an employee, your online attitude and your ability to converse are making or breaking your business model.  The economy is just magnifying any cracks already there. Your products, your sales tactics and PR in general can only stay alive if you’re engaging with your consumers. No, it’s not only your engineering team’s job to do so… if you think so, you’ll fail.  Someone somewhere is  conversing about the features or service add-ons they’d like to see.

– Numero Dos: This growth is participation based. Your product, your brand (personal and company), your PR, and your support operations have to be able to engage and sustain conversations if you want to stay relevant. Relevancy has 2 axes:

– your current customers and prospects (do you empower them through conversations? are they getting your brand experiences for the same price they bought you product or services?). Are you in conversation with them before and after they bought your product? Like a good Chef, does your brand walk around Twitter or Facebook and see if what you cooked went beyond expectations?

– and Google of all places 🙂 Your brand digital footprint is constantly analyzed by search engines to create rankings.  Engaging in the conversation is cheaper and more effective than hiring any gizmo PR firm.

I’ve  seen a lot of debate on Chris Brogan’s blog lately about lead generation methods. Guess what, the most viral of us are spreading the word faster than ever before. I knew of the DIA air plane crash before any news coverage, I knew about the earthquake in Thailand and that my friend Neil just bought his new iPhone before he called and told me. Yes, your traditional communication methods are still relevant but engaging in conversation is required. Social networks and social media are not just for kiddos anymore – those of us 25 years of age + are the fastest growing segment on most networks.

So here’s your case for change:

– Your social media engagement should empower your users, especially if you are developing software or any collaborative tools. Sounds trivial, yes, now go listen to the blogosphere or the twitterverse and judge for yourself.

Brand monitoring should be like breathing – people are already talking about you, now listen and engage where necessary. I am always pleased to see brands replying to me when I comments about their product on Twitter or else

– If customers come back, great – if they speak about you on yelp.com, facebook or twitter… it’s better, their friends are listening.

Good blogging is the mothership of social media – it’s like going to a networking event– you’re putting yourself out there.  You may be anxious at first but there are no robots in this room, just human beings, style gets you only so far. Substance rules.

It all sounds very much like a village right?  People using technology have created more human avenues for connection than ever before.

Finally, if you think you don’t have the budget for this, your current marketing budget mix is wrong. Just because you’ve done marketing this way for 10 years doesn’t mean you’re right, that it’s working or that people are not immune to your message. It isn’t. And they probably are.

Let’s go man! It’s exciting.

Yann

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Daring Social Media: Any Online Marketers Out There?

29 08 2008

Do you think social media and social networking is only for finding friends? Um….not quite!

30-40% of our customers’ clients are registered on some form of social network(e.g. facebook), social bookmarking (e.g. stumbleupon) and social media sharing sites (e.g. flickr). Out there. Participating, creating, cooperating together.

Are you with them or are you hibernating/hiding from your customers? It’s the social rejection thing, isn’t it? Maybe they will find out you are not as cool as you hyped yourself to be. Maybe they will talk trash about you behind your back. Maybe they will have a bad experience, and then they will tell all their friends, who will tell all their friends and before you know it, you’re out of business. Every business has that 5% of their customers who are unhappy, but what are the chances they’ll all get on Facebook and tell everyone on the planet how bad you are? Really, the chances are better that your fans will tell all their friends about you and before you know it, you’ll be meeting people you would never normally have the chance to meet.

But what about the bad apples, you ask? You just get out there and confront it. Present your side of the story, respond to your customer – offer an open door – they will be honored that you even engaged with them and responded (sad but true) and then they will spread the word about your response-ability. Businesses and brands need to open up to the very people they are supposed to serve. As far too many authors have written, businesses (especially large ones) have an inherent low trust worthiness in the industrialized world. Now is the perfect opportunity to rise up and engage in social media. Social media marketing is not about using another venue to slam more ads down people’s throats… it’s the wrong place to do that but it is the place to bring useful content to those who already support your enterprise.

If they buy your product or support your enterprise, they care about you. Their friends ought to know about that and you ought create a viral presence….

Marketers, your absence from social media and online engagement brands you as antisocial and uncaring- your so called ‘customer centricity’ is disappearing because you’re NOT where 350 million people already are using Open Social. Yes 350 million! (Washington Post). Can you believe that? Can you believe you aren’t even there?

Time to get busy….

– Define your social media goals – you can’t be everything for everyone but you can represent a ‘larger purpose’. Be a voice for your industry.

– Create and launch yourself properly where your customers are – talk with them.

– Grow your credibility – Feed them content (blogs, podcast, pictures, videocast…) that matters to them and their lives – A larger purpose will help.

– Engage and create an atmosphere of collaboration and co-creation – let your customer rave about your next super cool product or service and how user friendly it is because it was made by them for people like them.

Above all – be open, they’ll buzz you up.

And just in case you thought you were too old for all this or your customer is too old …. check out these stats!

# The fastest growing demographic on the Web are seniors. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is over 25.
# A baby Boomer turns 50 every 8 seconds. As a generation, they are vastly more Web-enabled than their parents.
# 75% of all Internet users watched at least one video last month. A good portion of these are seniors, and its possible that a site like YouTube provided many of those videos.
# Nearly half of those who use the Internet for health purposes (which is 80% of all Web users) are doing so on behalf of somebody else. (Source: Manhattan Research)


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