Tag Archives: Social Media Consultant

Ten lessons learned from successful intranets

Not all intranets are created equal.

Great intranets increase productivity, knowledge sharing, collaboration, communication and delivery on strategy. Lousy intranets are at best repositories for leave forms, but more dangerously, with the advent of social media and employees’ concomitant expectations from their experiences on the web, they can become bottlenecks and a source of frustration and disengagement.

Here are ten lessons that we have learned from developing Intranet strategies for large corporates.

Hard code the organisational strategy into the intranet

Interactive tools on the intranet enable much more robust interaction between employees and departments. It lets employees do things far more effectively and quickly, including the wrong things…

The organisational strategy needs to be examined in terms of where it is going, how it is configured to get there and the key performance areas in order to support each employ on the intranet.

Profiling

By profiling each employee we can customise the intranet so that they only see what is relevant to them, this reduces information overload and communication fatigue. Profiling also enables us to attach employees to certain projects, track on line behaviour, understand organisational networks, or to search for employees based on their skills and experience and availability.

Process

Processes are the glue within the organisation. The more effective the processes, the more effectively the organisation functions. Buy evaluating which processes are responsible for creating the most competitive advantage and optimising them on the Intranet, you create high performance organisations.

It is important to bear in mind that technology must enable organisations, particularly with new social media functionalities. Organisations shouldn’t be squashed into processes within technologies.

Integration

There are other technologies in the organisation which could be integrated into the Intranet to provide useful data, for example MS Outlook could be integrated into SharePoint 2010 to ensure that only available employees are surfaced when searching for resources across the organisation for projects.

Other technologies which we have found useful to integrate include SAP which supports the organisational processes for servicing customers and SAS data-mining tools.

Have a strong content governance structure

An intranet is only as good as the relevancy and currency of its content. Ensure that roles are defined; owners, authors and approvers are trained; content management functions are built into the job responsibilities; and process champions are identified.

Ensure user adoption

Due to the federated structure of large organisations we recommend that you get inputs from all the different business units and departments during the course of the project.

Several rounds of usability testing should be conducted during the design and development of the intranet.

Road shows, timely communication through emails and web meetings and efficient internal marketing should be conducted throughout the roll out.

Reserve time for beta testing where users from different departments do multiple ‘test drives’ and provide feedback.

Technologies are better adopted when people see the purpose of using them, they are intuitive and when they make the user look and feel good, yet another reason to profile employees and map the digital processes to the way they work in the real world.

More isn’t necessarily better

A portal with a lot of outdated content has very little value.

During the planning stages of content migration, identify which content is outdated or irrelevant. Conduct content identification exercises with your departments using content architectures and migrate or create new content as applicable.

Strong search is important

Search is the most frequently used functionality on any Intranet, be it people search or content search. Provide different ways of searching, but keep it simple. The majority of users like to just key in a keyword, press ‘enter’ and be provided with relevant results.

The intranet should help many people be more productive, using their time to full potential instead of trying to find information for half the time.

If you are using SharePoint 2010 create document libraries which enable information to be created once and updated in one place despite multiple views, that way all the information on the intranet will be kept consistent.

Listen

Listen to what users have to say. Provide multiple avenues for gathering feedback and be open to feedback regardless of how harsh or positive it might be. Listening to the users is the best way of identifying user behavioural patterns and enabling you to keep improving the Intranet.

The intranet isn’t an IT-driven initiative

Many companies think of the intranet as an IT-driven initiative. This isn’t true and should not be the way an intranet is approached.

As the department responsible for improving communication, Corporate Communication is the champion of the communication, the same goes for the role of HR and line management in employee relationships, and operations in process optimisation.

It should be a partnership with IT bringing new ways of using technology to the forefront and enabling the company through tools that support their workflows on the intranet.

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, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets

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

Ensuring that employees have the web tools they need to manage an interactive website

The modern website is a critical tool for engaging with and serving customers and other stakeholders. We need to ensure that we equip our employees with the right tools to continue their day to day actions to manage the organisation’s relationships and support the brand.

A website essentially serves three functions:

  • Provide information
  • Automate processes; and
  • Deliver services.

In order to ensure that the right tools are available, we start by looking to the organisational and divisional strategies asking questions like

  • What is the vision and mission?
  • What does the organisation do?
  • How does it do it?/What are the key process?
  • Which competencies and skills do we have?
  • What products and services do we offer?
  • Where are our markets?

Having examined these key areas, we then start to translate the answers into a Digital Strategy, by asking questions like:

  • Where can we enhance these products and services using the web?
  • What processes can be automated?
  • What digital products could we provide?
  • What are customers looking for?
  • Are there any additional markets and geographies that we could serve through the web?
  • How does our brand translate digitally?
  • Which other technologies (Geographical Information Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning Systems etc.) do we have which can enhance our digital offerings?

The we look at what web tools could be created to assist the employees to enhance their work through the web and what do they need to be able to do? For example:

  • If they need to be able to post events to a calendar, should there be various views, by event type, by date, month, day etc.
  • If events must be created, they need to give the date, an expiry date (after which the event won’t be visible in the current view) a title, a description, a date, a venue, key words/tags so that the event can be searched, RSVP, share on social media sites, the ability to synch into the viewers’ Outlook calendar etc.
  • Press releases need headings, introductions, the body of the text, release date, meta-data for searches, downloadable pictures etc.
  • Blogs need a heading, the body, meta data, tag clouds, share on social media sites, defined audiences using key words such as type of audience, geography, interests, profile etc, who can comment. Wiki’s could be similarly designed.

There are many universal tools that can be made available to employees who should be allowed to use them using permission based access.

When enabling employees to interact directly with customers, the same care must be taken as in the real world to make sure that they act in the best interests of the organisation. With the web we suggest that policies and procedures, content architectures and on line brand iconography guidelines be developed.

The core processes need to be mapped or redefined for the web. Examine who requires the automated process (could we use Geographical Information Systems or Profiling to customise his view?), where they will find it (what meta data will help in the search?), where other technologies will be integrated (Where do we get data about an account e.g. SAP?), how do we route queries? Should we use SMS’s or eMails to let the user know how far we are in the process? etc.

The next phase is to review our services. Could we create additional value for our audience by providing digitised products such as templates, calculation tools etc.

The modern website provides endless opportunities to surprise and delight our stakeholders, by giving it some careful thought we can also enable self service and reduce our costs of delivery.

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, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Approaching Enterprise 2.0, beware your mindset

I recently read an interesting article by Donald Sull entitled “Why good companies go bad” – Financial Times (3 October 2005). In it he expands on the concept of “active inertia”, saying that “companies  often respond to even the most disruptive market shifts by accelerating activities that succeeded in the past. When the world changes, organizations trapped in active inertia do more of the same. A little faster perhaps or tweaked at the margin, but basically the same old same old.”

Sull uses the example of organisations trapped in active inertia as resembling a car with its back wheels stuck in a rut. Managers step on the petrol and rather than escaping the rut, they only dig themselves in deeper.

He talks about clear commitments being required for company’ initial successes, but he says that these commitments harden with time and ultimately constrain a firm’s ability to adapt when its competitive environment shifts. He discusses distinctive success formulas which focus on employees, confer efficiency, attract resources and differentiate the company from rivals.

Five categories of commitments comprise the success formula for organisations:

  • Strategic frames – What we see when we look at the world, including definition of industry, relevant competitors and how to create value;
  • Processes – How we do things – entailing both informal and formal routines;
  • Resources – Tangible and intangible assets that we control which help us compete, such as brand, skills, technology, real estate, expertise, etc.;
  • Relationships – Established links with external stakeholders including investors, technology partners or distributors; and
  • Values – Beliefs that inspire, unify and identify us.

Initial success reinforces management’s belief that they should fortify their success formula. With time and repetition, people stop considering alternatives to their commitments and take them for granted. The individual components of the success formula grow less flexible – Strategic frames become blinkers, resources harden into millstones hanging around a company’s neck, processes settle into routines, relationships become shackles and values ossify into dogmas.

Ossified success formulas are fine, as long as the context remains stable. However when the environment shifts, a gap can grow between what the market demands and what the firm does. Managers see the gap, often at an early stage, and respond aggressively to close it. But their hardened commitments channel their responses into well-worn ruts. The harder they work, the wider the gap becomes. The result is active inertia.

One seismic environmental shift, apart from structural changes in the global economy, is the advent of web 2.0 or the interactive internet. The new Internet has radically changed the rules of the game, customers have more power, companies have the ability to harness the Internet to apply many minds both internally and externally to collaborate and innovate.

Many companies are investigating Enterprise 2.0, but they are still filtering their interpretation through their existing success formulas.

In organisations I have worked with, I often see the role out of Enterprise 2.0 technologies from the IT department as though it was any other Enterprise technology like SAP or Oracle. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the technology being owned by the techies, web 2.0 has fundamentally changed the way that businesses will do business in the future and should be owned by the business. Often web 2.0 seems to be interpreted as the technical ability to blog, or a wiki, bolted onto a content management system for a website, or the document management system within an organisation.

In reality Enterprise 2.0 should be accompanied by a strategic review of how a company is doing business, its environment and its new, empowered customers and expanding markets. Processes need to be reviewed and designed from the user backwards, the way we handle orders and complaints needs to be streamlined, or the world will know all about a company’s unwillingness or inability to address issues. People’s skills need to be analysed, have they got what it takes to be able to communicate across porous company boundaries, do they know how to maintain their personal and company brands in an increasingly transparent business environment, has the organisation got enough dedicated resources to engage with powerful consumers and other stakeholders? What relationships are going to be key to the future of doing business and are the entrenched value systems compatible with a new business environment?

Many companies are looking to their suppliers for advice on how to roll out Enterprise 2.0, if the suppliers are technology companies or PR companies, firms need to realise that they will approach web 2.0 from their own mindset. PR companies see web 2.0 as an extension of the companies’ communication. Technology companies see it as an addition to the application architecture.

Microsoft has just released their magnificent SharePoint 2010, but it is important to realise that this is still just a software application. Granted its potential is fabulous, but until organisations review their strategies, processes and competencies, they are not going to realise the full power of the web. If they don’t think through their success formulas, the application will be implemented in such a way as to reinforce or aggravate the “active inertia”, enabling people to do more of the same more quickly. Generally the skills in technology suppliers are geared towards rolling out seats and adhering to good project management principles. They are not strategic business thinkers and need to partner with people who are focused on how companies create competitive advantage and function in the business environment.

Applications do not conduct business, people do. If employees in the organisation are required to collaborate for the organisation to become more successful, then the fact that they now have the tools to do so is not necessarily going to improve collaboration, they may need to be taught to collaborate – when, why, how? If people are required to engage with customers to shorten sales cycles, but the value system within the organisation is all about risk mitigation and proprietary methodologies, then the value system may need to be adapted to fit the modern business environment. If processes are designed from a point of view which suits the organisation and call centres have been deployed to cut costs, then no amount of wiki’s and blogs or the ability to “share” on Facebook is going to appease outraged customers who will take their gripes public.

Enterprise 2.0 requires greater levels of maturity within organisations and sophistication in how they function successfully in an ever changing environment. By reviewing their success formulas companies can use the web to compete in an extraordinary way and conduct business in a structurally changed business environment.

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, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, Macroeconomics 2.0

The Role of the Intranet in the Modern Organisation

The Modern Intranet is changing the way that organisations conduct business, providing them with operational support, employee profiling, transparency and collaboration abilities that we have not seen before. As an integral part of how an organisation operates day to day, the Intranet should essentially serve five purposes:

  • Decision Support
  • Risk Mitigation
  • Innovation
  • Learning
  • Employee Engagement

Decision Support

Organisational flux, rising competitive pressures and the expanding global reach of many organisations place a premium on information that helps executives to make the decisions required to manage a company. New demands for transparency from stakeholders and regulators magnify the need for better and more timely information.

The Intranet needs to provide two kinds of decision support;

  • pull support when executives actually go out and look for the information they need in order to make decisions; and
  • push support where the information is pushed to the executive by way of creating awareness, or educating or as an early warning status which requires action.

Pull Support

When people need to make decisions, they need to have access to the latest information, be able to find the most up to date version of the document, relevant reports etc.

Document management used to be the domain of the individual on his own C-drive (and prior to that in his filing cabinet), later documents were posted to share drives in whatever categorisation made most sense to the individual. Gradually project managers started imposing some structure on the share drive and people began using the shared information to inform their decision making.

Today’s business environment has become infinitely more complex and it has become necessary for people, not only to look for what they need based on how they expect the information to be categorised, but to be able to actively search using key words on the Intranet.

It is possible, using the modern Intranet, to enable employees to surface the information they require to make decisions based on a search functionality as well as individual profiling. This means that if one employee is profiled as a “marketer” and another as a “technologist”, when they search for documents and type in the words “networking event February” the marketer will get the latest plan for a breakfast she organised for senior staff members to network with clients, and the techie will get a list of disruptions on the company network during the month of February.

Push Support

Push support is generally in the forms of RSS feeds which are set up in order to ensure that the latest relevant information from outside the organisation is reaching the right executive. This may be economic data, technology development, trends analysis etc.

Push support also includes aggregated information about the company in the form of regularly updated news portals or progress reports etc.

Knowledge Management is also an important part of decision making. All to often companies deploy knowledge management tools without thinking about the kinds of decisions it may support.

Risk Mitigation

In order to be fully equipped to make any decision it is clear that the executives and employees need to have the correct information at the correct time. Care must be taken with version control and other document management activities to ensure that this is the case.

Company Policies are also incredibly important when it comes to risk mitigation and of course the documentation pertaining to governance must be easily findable and accessible on the Intranet.

It is also important to build corporate governance into the operational processes on the Intranet. For example if certain people may not speak on behalf of the organisation, they should not be able to post on the corporate blog, some employees might need to be moderated and some actively encouraged to create thought leadership blogs etc.

Risk can also be mitigated by building flags into the Intranet, for example when a senior engineer resigns, anyone who is working on a project with her is immediately notified and can proactively co-opt a new resource onto the project. Another example could be when a supplier has let the company down, that the system alerts the accounts manager that there may be a delay on delivery to the client.

Innovation

We all know that the pace of change is rapidly increasing and the Intranet is a fabulous collaboration tool for different employees from different parts of the organisation to become aware of Innovation projects and participating in innovating into the future.

Well designed Intranets let the employees attach all the related documentation to the Innovation project as well as the profiles of the individual participants, so that in future this data can be interrogated to understand the innovation process or to identify people will great innovation skills. This is a great knowledge management tool.

Learning

The Intranet can incorporate workflow which enables the employees to identify gaps in their knowledge and to book themselves on courses. It can provide on-line material and the succession plan can also be built into the individuals profile as they learn and progress through the organisation.

Employee Engagement

The Intranet is a fantastic tool for connecting and communicating with employees, whether it is providing them with interesting content, rewarding them for contributions or enabling them to see how they are performing or just letting them network and up-skill each other within professional communities of interest.

The ability to profile employees leads to all kinds of opportunities from improving their search experience, enabling people to find certain skills within the organisation.

The days when an Intranet was a nice to have are gone. The modern Intranet is a critical strategic and operational tool which no medium to corporate business or public sector organisation should be without.

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, Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Semantics, Web 2.0

Digital Conversations – Science or Art?

One of the things that I find so fascinating about social media, is that it transcends the traditional artificial barriers that we have erected in business, letting us do things we never thought possible, or that in the past were more trouble than they were worth.

For example, an Interactive (web 2.0 enabled) Intranet means that now a marketing project can span the boundaries between HR, Marketing, Finance, Project Management and Operations, because they can all collaborate with each other on the success of the project, not just report to each other on their progress.

Social media also negates the barriers between organisations and employees. Employees are becoming an integral part of the corporate brand and customers are interacting more directly with the individuals in an organisation. I have direct relationships with many of my business partners and clients on Linked-In and we IM each other on Facebook, rather than going through the company switchboard.

Social media transcends the barriers between the public and private self; your private behaviour on-line is now part of your professional brand. When you Google someone you can find out a lot more about that person than his professional profile on the company website.

We can micro analyse niche groups and still have to contend with the “law of big numbers”, which means that mass community behaviour is not an aggregation of small communities of interest.

When communicating with our customers on-line, we can participate in their conversations. Their behaviour and personal networks are much more explicit than in the past. We can experiment with certain triggers to see what influence they have on consumer activity and we can analyse and detect quantifiable patterns and improve our product design based on what our customers are doing and saying on-line to whom etc.

But our ability to do things we have not done in the past brings about a requirement for a new type of skill, we have to become generalists, rather than specialists, both right and left brain thinkers. Although our ability to measure initiatives and behaviour on-line has greatly improved, because of the breaking down of barriers and the fact that our customers are dynamic and participating in the market on their own terms, we are going to have to find ways to skill ourselves up on understanding the intangibles, like behavioural drivers and the psychosomatics of our audience too.

Social media requires us to become both artists and scientists, an interesting challenge which I look forward to.

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, Digital Communities, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Web 2.0 and the Brand

Marketing is evolving toward a new thought-framework where the intangible experiences, transactional processes and relationships are becoming central to the brand and the customer has become a ‘co-creator’ of the brand rather than simply just a ‘user’.

The logic of branding is shifting from the conceptualisation of brand as the collection of attributes determined by the organisation, to the brand as collaborative, value creation between all stakeholders including organisations, employees and customers. This shift in logic is important when considering the Internet as a brand-building medium because its modern interactivity or web 2.0 places the user as a co-creator of the content and therefore the brand.

A strong brand provides a series of benefits to both buyers and sellers, simplifying the buyers’ search process and simplifying some of the sellers’ tasks, and enabling competitive advantage through preferential pricing.

Branding is defined as the process of creating value through the provision of a compelling and consistent offer and customer experience that will satisfy customers and keep them coming back1 . Companies are beginning to realise that brands are among their most valuable assets.

The Internet has had a transformational impact on business shifting the balance of power from companies towards customers  adding further complexity and dynamism to branding strategy. These days brands are socially constructed by consumers who are actively involved in brand creation.

Consumers respond to brands within communities, where the members of the community have a sense of shared consciousness, personal stories, morals and traditions that are all associated with a branded good or service. A great example of this is the new mums community on the Pamper’s community platform. Their brand conversations are not limited to nappies and creams, they are part of building the Medical Aid brands as they share experiences and provide advice on which Medical Aid to choose.

Brand communities have the ability to influence members’ perceptions and actions and can lead to a socially embedded and entrenched loyalty. Although negative implications involving brand communities exist, such as the ability for negative rumours to pervade the community, competitors gaining information through the community’s internal communication and normative community pressure, brand communities offer an effective method for building brands. Companies are able to advance customer engagement with the brand, foster the creation of stronger brand relationships and in so doing mitigate customer exit barriers resulting in increased competitive advantage.

The development of a strong brand community significantly influences brand loyalty and as a result positively impacts on a company’s financial performance and competitive advantage. Online community members potentially have stronger commitment to the brand and are more likely to buy the brand repeatedly, spread more positive word-of-mouth information and provide useful information to the company.

Web 2.0 simplifies the development of an online brand because it facilitates the creation of user-generated content by the community and the interactions of its members around this content.

1 Aaker, D. (1991) Managing Brand Equity: Capitalizing on the Value of a Brand Name. New York: Free Press

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.

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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