Tag Archives: facebook

Social media can destroy your brand – a case study in how not to do it

Companies who have a social media pages or fan groups need to rethink their service policies. You might get away with poor service in the real world, but in the social media space it could go viral. Even worse someone could pretend to be managing your media for you.

Recently my Mum went to Dubai to visit my sister for Christmas. While she was there she bought an expensive walky talky set from Hamleys for my son. She paid 159 dirham for it, not a small amount in anybody’s books. When she got back to South Africa, we found that it doesn’t work.

She tried turning to their websites for recourse and wrote eMails to both the Hamleys in Dubai and England, to no avail.

Eventually in January she went onto the Hamleys Dubai Facebook group and wrote “I bought an expensive toy in Hamleys in the Dubai Mall while on holiday and now I’ve got it home it doesn’t work. I wrote to you but have had no response”.

Later she commented “I wrote to Hamleys in England but they won’t exchange it. What is your return policy for overseas purchasers? My grandson is so disappointed.”

Six weeks later she wrote “I would still like to know how to exchange the broken toy. Do you ever look at this Facebook page?”

In April she received this message from an “employee” of Hamleys Dubai on their Facebook group “U can not exchange it.” We thought that this was extremely rude and reflected very negatively on the Hamleys brand.

It used to be as a rule-of-thumb that unhappy customers would tell between three and ten people if they were dissatisfied. Between my sisters and I we have over two thousand “friends” on Facebook. That’s a lot of people who potentially have been made aware of this appalling service. Not only that, but all the members of the Hamleys Dubai group page can also see this interaction.

I went to the group, the same “employee” had posted “I love Hamleys”. I commented “You shouldn’t, look at how badly you treat your customers! See post below where you have ignored a customer who bought an expensive toy which was broken and you refused to exchange it. Hamleys Dubai should be ashamed of themselves!”

Now, there are three negative comments in a row on the Hamleys group.

One of my friends then pointed out to me that there was no group administrator and this might be a rogue group or an abandoned site, left over from the days before companies could set up Facebook pages. So I went into the profile of the person who had answered my Mum. From his photograph, he looks like a young man, may be even a teenager, from India. It is not clear whether he works for Hamleys, or whether they have outsourced their social media management to a company in India or whether he is just a (misguided) fan of Hamleys.

On his profile he had a link to the official Hamleys page. I clicked through and it was even worse. There was a deluge of comments about how unresponsive they are.

Here is a sample “I would be grateful is someone from this company would reply to any of the many hundreds of emails, calls or message that have been left for you in the last twenty four hours about your stupid idea of having live penguins in your hot and noisy store. You have removed all reference from your website but the public are not stupid and you can not just keep ignoring this issue because thousands of us are not going to let you. Oh and if you delete this I will just keep posting messages, emailing and calling until you put out an official response to this issue.”

There are some positive comments too, to be fair.

Social media is incredibly powerful, not only because of the sheer numbers of participants on line, but also because of the viral nature and the ease with which it can be shared, not to mention the risk of rogue curators who can manage your brand to your detriment.

If you don’t manage your digital footprint, you can be sure your customers will.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

 

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Filed under Digital Communities, eMarketing, Facebook

Social Media and the Mix

The marketing world is full of “social media experts” running around proclaiming the end of marketing as we know it. Many of these experts have a technical background rather than a marketing one. People are creating Fan pages on Facebook and marketers are tweeting left right and centre, writing keyword dense articles for SEO and blogging like mad. But has our world really changed?

Although there is a strong correlation between some companies’ growth in share prices (notably Nike and Starbucks) and the number of followers and fans of their social media, this is probably more attributable to the fact that they are growing their brand awareness and engagement. But there is more to marketing than promotion. These companies are getting the rest of their marketing mix right too.

We were all taught about the famous four P’s – Price, Product, Place and Promotion.

The term “marketing mix” became popularised after Neil H. Borden published his 1964 article, The Concept of the Marketing Mix. Borden began using the term in his teaching in the late 1940’s after James Culliton had described the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”. The ingredients in Borden’s marketing mix included product planning, pricing, branding, distribution channels, personal selling, advertising, promotions, packaging, display, servicing, physical handling, and fact finding and analysis. E. Jerome McCarthy later grouped these ingredients into the four categories that today are known as the 4 P’s

Recently the four P’s have fallen a little out of favour but they are still relevant. Some academics have also included a fifth P – People – the value your people bring to your business by providing service to your customers and this is critical to the social media mix as your employees network and engage with your audience.

As marketers, social media is changing our advertising, branding, promotion, fact finding and analysis, but we still need to get the other ingredients right in order to be successful. When we incorporate social media into our marketing mix, we need to make sure that the novelty and technologies don’t overshadow the strategy and we need to focus on the rest of the mix too..

http://www.netmba.com/marketing/mix/

http://homebusiness.about.com/b/2007/07/24/search-engines-and-the-5-ps-of-marketing.htm

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create business cases, digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Facebook, Google

Three reasons not to block Facebook in corporates

It always amazes me, when dealing with large corporations, how many of them have blocked access to Facebook. I understand this when people are doing boring, repetitive jobs, but I am seeing it in organisations who employ knowledge workers for their innovation, creativity and their relationship building skills.

When I ask them why, there are usually two reasons; bandwidth and productivity.

Too much time spent on Facebook by employees is not a sign that Facebook is bad. It is an indicator of the level of engagement of an employee. If he wasn’t on Facebook, he would be on the phone or playing solitaire anyway. The cure for too much time on Facebook is to engage the employee whether it is through motivation, training, counselling, changing the level of complexity of the work. Switching Facebook off only serves to send the bored employee elsewhere.

The secret to increasing productivity and bandwidth use is to take a strategic approach to Facebook. Here are three reasons why leaving Facebook on could be good for your company:

  • Employees become real people to your clients;
  • Employees learn about personal branding and how to use other social media; and
  • Employees can endorse your brand by association.

Being real people

The lines between our personal and professional lives are blurring. Facebook is enabling everyone to become more approachable and to build accessible personal brands. By capitalising on this, knowledge workers can develop closer more robust relationships with clients. Research shows that when client relationships are rich, clients are likely to be more tolerant if we make mistakes and will allow us to rectify them. Close relationships with clients often leads to advocacy, when clients actively refer us to other clients. They also shorten sales cycles and make sure that we are in the right place at the right time when our clients need our services.

Using social media and building personal brands

Social media is changing the way enterprises work. It is flattening out organisational hierarchies and is fast becoming a way to improve communication, capture knowledge and enable innovation across the business. The quicker employees learn to use social media tools, the more effectively they will adopt and use enterprise 2.0 tools like SharePoint 2010.

Employees who build strong personal brands can cement stronger relationships within the organisation. Enterprises with strong employee relationships experience lower levels of attrition, and will find it easier to attract and keep good people.

Brand endorsement by association

In their private lives, employees are surrounded by people, either digitally or in the real world, that organisations recognise as their target audience. Intelligent and relevant updates on Facebook , keep people top of mind and ensure they are remembered when people are looking for related services.

If our employees have a strong personal brand, the fact that they work for us adds to the organisational brand.

A word of caution

Facebook and employee branding can be an incredibly powerful tool, used properly, but used badly they are very dangerous. Facebook usage must be monitored for abuse or counter branding. This leads to questions of privacy and employees should be aware that if they have access to Facebook at work, we reserve the right to monitor what they are doing.

Conversely

Happy engaged professionals recognise their role in building our enterprises. They don’t only need to be in the marketing department to participate in growing the brand. Employees with strong personal digital brands from all over the organisation, from finance to operations, can contribute by virtue of association.

If you have switched Facebook off in your organisation, you could start switching it on based on the employees’ digital behaviour and personal brands, or as a reward for great performance. Your access levels to Facebook could be used as a status symbol within the enterprise.

The world is changing and enterprises need to change too, especially in the way they engage with employees. Enterprise 2.0 is about people. The focus needs to be on managing people for optimal productivity through committed employee relationships rather than on managing technology. A strategic approach to Facebook is just the beginning.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, HR Intranet, Web 2.0

Five lessons from crowdsourcing innovation in South Africa

Last year a client approached us to assist them in rejuvenating and creating a new brand for a consultancy which specialises in innovation in the corporate world. The original consultancy had been around for five years and the partners had decided to split up and go their own ways.

Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community, through an open call.

In his book, The rise of crowdsourcing (2006), Jeff Howe established that the concept of crowdsourcing depends essentially on the fact that because it is an open call to an undefined group of people, it gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most relevant and fresh ideas.

We suggested crowdsourcing on Facebook to get our “friends” to contribute to selecting a new name for the company, upon which to build the brand and the innovation profile of our client.

We posted the following message on my status update:

“Get your thinking caps on and win R1000. One of our clients is an Innovation company. They want to use crowdsourcing to find a new name and logo. The company provides practical embedded innovation solutions for corporates. Ideally the name should be as descriptive as possible, alternatively something cool that we can build on. The word “consulting” should not be part of the name.”

We received over a hundred suggestions and eventually my client selected “Innocentrix”.

Despite the fact that we successfully crowdsourced a name for our client, there were some lessons learned along the way. Here are some of our findings and suggestions for why we saw what we did.

Only a small percentage of Facebook users participate

Conventional wisdom has it that there is a 1:10:100 ratio in terms of participation in social media; for every one person who posts, ten are more likely to comment and a hundred will read. Obviously this is a general rule, governed by what is posted and the nature of the audience. Howes maintains that the audience should be undefined. This project was

  • a competition;
  • requiring creativity from my personal Facebook audience of just over a thousand friends;
  • a willingness to participate in a crowdsourcing experiment; and
  • potentially an interest in innovation.

Just over five percent of the audience responded, which lead us to postulate that these governing parameters halved the number of potential respondees. It has to be borne in mind that the audience was also my group of friends on Facebook who are likely to have been at school or varsity with me, or whom I have worked with. They could also be friends of friends and ninety nine percent of them are based in South Africa. This makes the audience more homogenous and defined than the universe of general Facebook users.

Rewarding the audience

Given that five percent responded despite these constraints, this is a higher percentage than we expected. This may be because we offered a monetary reward, and it could also be attributed to the fact that we continually “rewarded” the audiences with updates and thank yous.

Keep updating

Because most people do not keep up with their friends on their “walls” and profiles, but rather on the “newsfeed”, only those friends who were on line at the time of the status update, (or have so few friends that their newsfeed is very limited) would see our posting.

We posted new status updates every two days for a week and managed to solicit a few extra responses, but the initial interest was much greater, which leads us to suspect that those people most likely to respond are on Facebook more often.

Tightening up the brief

During the process we started to identify two trends:

  • the names were either mutations of “innovation” and combinations of words like “Innocentrix”, or
  • they were creative combinations of unrelated concepts like “cracked pepper”.

We attempted to refine the brief, on instruction from our client, to include a name and three associated words like “fast, efficient and creative”. There was a big drop off in the number of responses, which may suggest that we had annoyed our audience by changing horses mid stream. It may also just be that we had exhausted their contributions up front.

Not everyone is willing to share ideas

Crowdsourcing is a relatively new concept brought about by the democratic nature on the Internet, but we noted a marked trend amongst our older respondents to “in-box” me with their suggestions, rather than sharing them in the public domain. One of our respondees even removed all of his suggestions when we announced the winner to prevent them being used in the future.

This was an interesting, successful, non scientific experiment, but a lot more research is required to understand audience behaviour, crowdsourcing and motivation on Facebook in South Africa.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Crowdsourcing, Web 2.0

The Porous Web

I often see clients who ask me to assist them in developing a web site, potentially in SharePoint 2010 or using some other open source technology. While it is important to have some kind of digital real estate, it is more important to look at how people use the web these days.

From our audience point of view the Internet is one great big environment from which they can consume information, engage with each other and entertain themselves.

Our domain is only one place they can go to to do this, but there are multiple other places. We need to consider the entire environment. The website is only one element of our conversation on line. These days our audiences practise osmosis as they flow from places of low value to high value.

High value is a product of information and context. Information is available everywhere, but if it can’t be found or it does not come from a trustworthy source its value is compromised. So how do we make sure that we deliver high value in this porous environment? We do this by designing our projects around audiences through content architectures, digital geographies, SEO and curatorship.

Content Architectures

Content architectures are thought constructs which examine how we wish to position ourselves in our audience minds, and what we need to say or do in order to achieve this. They require a thorough investigation into our audience’s motivations, worlds-views and environments.

Digital Geography

Digital geography is concerned with where our audiences are, are they on social media sites, looking through lists, browsing or on special interest sites. Do we need to make sure that we have a presence on Facebook, Twitter or that on-line newspaper? What industry forums are they consulting, who are the thought leaders?

SEO

These days, very few people type in the name of our domain to find us, they are far more likely to go to their preferred search engine, whether it be Yahoo, Bing or the ubiquitous Google and type in a search term. If we can’t be found easily, we have wasted our efforts. We need to make sure that whatever we put out there can is as search engine friendly as possible.

Curatorship

Curatorship is the human intervention which adds value. These are trusted sources of information who assemble information and contextualise it. They may be thought leaders, bloggers, on line journalists or even someone inside our own company who engages with our audience or who they follow or engage with to filter the masses of information out there and make it easy to consume.

Far too many companies develop website strategies, but to create competitive advantage in the digital world, we should rather create digital strategies which encompass the entire digital milieu.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Blogging, Business, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Facebook, Google, Web 2.0, Web Marketing