Tag Archives: Web Marketing

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

Growing Social Networks

Social networks are a fantastic way of growing personal and commercial brands. The larger the social network the better they are for meeting your goals, be they fame, monetisation etc.

Social networks grow because the members of the network perceive value in the network and they engage within the network and invite other people to join the network. The value and therefore growth of social networks is a function of:

  • the size of the network; and
  • the activity within the network.

The size of the network

The size of a social network’s role in its growth is as a result of the “network effect” which means that the bigger the network, the more value it has to each of its members.

When you want to grow a social network, you need to aim for the highest value to the members.

Network coefficients are the number of members that each member recruits into the network.

A viral coefficient of one means that each member recruits one member and the resultant growth is linear. A viral coefficient greater than one leads to exponential growth, for example a viral coefficient of two means that each member effectively doubles the network growth by inviting two people who invite four who invite eight, sixteen, thirty two etc.

The aim, when growing social networks is to maximise the viral coefficient.

The most difficult time to grow a social network is usually in the beginning because there is little value in people joining small networks, generally it is a good idea to invest in a recruitment campaign at this stage.

Viral coefficients are increased by:

  • Making it easy for your audience to invite other members;
  • Recruiting entire networks through collaborating with other social networks to cross pollinate;
  • Motivating your audience to recruit more people by offering rewards etc.; and
  • Running trigger campaigns that make your audience feel and look good by growing your membership.

The size of the network is limited by the universe.

If you are creating a network for the mothers of small boys for example, your universe is limited to women, who have small children, who happen to be boys, at this time, who are aware of your network, Internet literate, interested in networking and know other people of the same demographic on line. This is fine if you are creating a social network to build a universal brand such as a make of nappies, because you have the entire online world as a starting point. If, however you are trying to grow a network for a niche product, you are going to have to put in a lot more work.

The amount of activity within the network

The amount of activity in the network is influenced by the members of the network who create content, interact and share with each other.

The activity can be increased by:

  • Increasing the density of interaction through triggers such as people who did X also did Y;
  • Facilitating interaction through creating and managing content, building communities of interest and hosting events etc.;
  • Letting your audience create content, profile themselves, post interesting articles, share interesting articles, comment on each other’s status, write blogs, collaborate on wiki’s etc.

Increasing the viral coefficient as described above also increases the audience activity because the audience is so much bigger.

These activity driving triggers require a lot of time, effort and experimentation.

It is a good idea to build your social network around as broad a niche as possible so that there is some underlying common interest and enough material to be interesting, but your member base should be big enough to build a substantial community.

One last thought, you need to know why you are building the community and to understand what your metrics are so that you know whether you are successful.

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

Blue Ocean 2.0

Blue Ocean Strategy is a business concept developed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne of INSEAD that promotes the creation of new market spaces or “Blue Oceans” rather than competing in existing industries which they term “Red Oceans”.

Red Oceans are industries in existence today—the known market space. In the red oceans, industry boundaries are defined and accepted and the competitive rules of the game are known. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of the available demand. As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commoditised and cut-throat competition turns the ocean bloody, hence, the term red ocean. The competition is this on the supply side of the micro economy.

“Blue Ocean Strategy” aligns innovation with utility, price and cost positions to create competitive advantage by influencing or creating demand. Value Innovation is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost, and focusing on the buyer to drive demand. It is the creation of an uncontested market space and makes competition irrelevant.

The powerful new web 2.0 is creating the opportunities for forward thinking organisations to change their competitive landscape forever. No longer are industry boundaries fixed, but with a little imagination they are nonexistent.

The four principles of blue ocean strategy formulation include how to create uncontested market space by

  • Reconstructing market boundaries,
  • Focusing on the big picture,
  • Reaching beyond existing demand; and
  • Getting the strategic sequence right.

These formulation principles address how an organisation can create blue oceans by looking across the conventional boundaries of competition, reduce their planning risk by visualising strategy, creating new demand by unlocking the non-customers and launching a commercially-viable blue ocean idea by aligning unprecedented utility of an offering with strategic pricing and target costing and by overcoming adoption hurdles.

The new economic principals of the web include

  • The law of abundance whereby things can be created once and sold many times
  • The networked economy whereby the value of a (social) network is increased with every additional member; and
  • Unfettered geographical constraints where we have access to audiences outside of our immediate environment.

Using these new economic rules we can break out of the traditional competitive (structuralist) strategic thinking and grow demand and profits for our businesses and the industry using blue ocean (reconstructionist) strategic thinking to redefine the business rules.

The winning organisations will be those whose leaders can overcome the key organisational hurdles that prevent even the best strategies from being executed – the cognitive, resource, motivational and political hurdles that prevent people involved in strategy execution from understanding the need to break from status quo, explore the opportunities provided by the modern internet, commit the resources to implement the new strategic shift, keep people focused on implementing the new strategy and from overcoming powerful vested interests that may block the change.

Extra demand is out there, largely untapped, the problem is how to create it. By exploring the value of web 2.0 and questioning our traditional thinking around business models and what is and isn’t possible we can shift of attention from supply to creating new demand, from a focus on competing to a focus on value innovation. The simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low-cost a model is ideal on the internet. Competition is rendered irrelevant. By expanding the demand side of the economy using the modern web, new wealth will be created.

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

Profiling for Effective Enterprise 2.0

To many organisations an Intranet is merely a repository for documents and some kind of informative web interface where news can be published. Unfortunately, this thinking governs how modern Intranets are being designed for the future and limiting their potential value to the organisation.

Despite having access to web 2.0 tools such as wikis or blogs, the teams have not realised that the modern Intranet is an incredibly powerful tool. Often a decree will emanate from the IT or Financial Manager that employees will not be given their own profiles because they will waste all their time socialising.

Employee profiling is what gives the power to the Intranet. These days we employ knowledge workers for their intellectual ability to ensure competitive advantage in a rapidly changing business world. These knowledge workers are required to collaborate and innovate our organisations into the future.

When we profile employees we bring additional abilities to the system and enhance the value of each knowledge worker.

Employee profiling consists of attaching various data to an employee profile which could include name, department, contact details, skills, experience, projects worked on, thought leadership areas etc. depending on your organisational strategy.

These profiles enhance the user experience of the Intranet because we can use the variables to enhance the search functionality based on where the employee fits in the organisation, for example the kind of information a marketer is likely to be looking for is going to be different to what a corporate governance official will need. By profiling the individual, it is possible to filter the search results to suit the employee’s requirements. In the same way we can improve collaboration by matching experiences, positively impact project success rates by identifying skill sets from elsewhere in the organisation.

Employee profiling is also a very effective way of engaging on a personal level with employees because peoples profiles are an extension of their personal brands and by acknowledging their value through a public profile within the organisation, companies can go a long way to growing employee loyalty.

Segmenting employees by functional area, skills, projects, experience, seniority or interests will enable us to communicate in a much more granular way, with the employees having their own customised view of the Intranet based on what they will find relevant and useful. This reduces communication fatigue and the spam of “all at” eMails that are deleted along with the eMails that we want our audience to read.

Assuming your employees profiles are a nice-to-have is very short sighted, employee profiling is critical to the future of your organisation.

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, Semantics, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Blogging for Business

As we start to see business blogging becoming more main stream, it is time that we turn our attention to how we can best use it in business. Here are six reasons to blog for business;

  • To promote your business brand;
  • To educate your audience;
  • To increase findability;
  • To demonstrate Thought Leadership;
  • To engage with your audience; and
  • Drive website traffic.

The reason that we blog determines the way we blog, the length, style and content.

Promoting your business brand

When promoting your business brand, you need to know what your business stands for as well as the qualitative and quantitative brand attributes. Is your business funky or serious, does it stand for having fun, security or making money? These attributes will determine whether you use words like “phat” or “optimise.”

Your messages behind your blogs will also be determined by the brand attributes. What would a funky brand customer like to hear about – the latest dance party, fashion in shoes? What would a serious brand client find interesting, trends in your field, conferences you attended, interviews with speaker?

Educating your audience

Often, when you have an intangible product or service, it is difficult to get your concept over in 30 seconds or a print advert. You need to spend time contextualising your offering and explaining why it is important to your audience. Very often educational blogs follow themes that build upon each other and reinforce central concepts.

Increasing Findability

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not the only way you can ensure that your audience is exposed to your brand. SEO might help when your audience is using search terms to research the service that you offer, but what happens when they don’t know that they need you?

Your blogs should appear in places that people who need your offerings hang out on line, for example on Industry websites. They may not be looking for you, but if the blog is located in a place where they are interested in the category, they will become aware of your offering and may read on.

Generic blogging sites or websites are best for this. For example a general marketing website could be a great place to talk about the latest trends in CRM. Of course to get onto the general sites, your blogs must be interesting and informative, rather than biased and self promoting. Unless your blog offers value to the site’s reader, the site owner won’t publish you.

Demonstrating Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership is a powerful form of competitive advantage. It sets you apart from your more prosaic competitors, and if your customers learn from you, they are more likely to engage and eventually do business with you.

Generally, thought leadership articles have an authoritative tone and tend to be longer, sometimes even representing white papers. Are you in an industry where you sell IP? The thought leadership may also be part of your employees’ personal branding as thought leaders. Organisations that trade in IP tend to be an aggregation of individuals with high levels of IP and your audience will be interested not only in the content of the blogs, but also in the combined gestalt of all the thought leadership in your organisation.

To engage with your audience

Seth Godin is the master of engaging. His blogs are pithy and provocative. Audiences are encouraged to comment and share his copious wisdom.

Blogs aimed at engaging need to stimulate conversations not only between you and your audience, but also between the audience members themselves.

Driving website traffic

Driving traffic to your website is usually only the objective if you are

  • gaining new audiences;
  • your website is dynamic and constantly changing;
  • you are soliciting new members of a network or online community; or
  • you have an eBusiness where you can transact on line.

If your website is a bog standard brochure site, think carefully about whether this business objective is likely to result in bottom line benefits to your organisation. A high hit rate with a high bounce rate may be an indicator that you need to rethink your digital strategy because your audience doesn’t find any value in your site. Blogging is time consuming and resource intensive, don’t waste it chasing the wrong objective.

Getting the most out of your blog

In order to gauge whether your blog is working for your business you need to quantify the success indicators. Do you measure your blog on:

  • Findability – Number of hits?
  • Sharing – Number of times the blog is shared, pinged, retweeted, quoted etc. If sharing is your objective, make sure that your audience is equipped to do so with “share this” buttons, “follow me”, retweet or link with me etc.
  • Conversion into sales – if you have an eBusiness, you should be able to quantify your conversion of hits into sales. Increasing conversion ratios can indicate that your blogs are working for you
  • Commenting and engaging – sometimes the number of comments and quality are an indication of the value that your audience derives from your blog. Of course different types of blogs will solicit different types of comments. Provocative blogs may stimulate a conversation while thought leadership blogs may merely solicit a terse “nice post”.

There is no one right answer to how to blog, each blog must be designed to deliver on your specific blog and brand objectives. The one rule however, is to keep adding value, keep experimenting with what drives your objectives and results in you achieving material rewards for your efforts.

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

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