Socialmedia Catalyst

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Web Influence

Book review – Leading Digital

Leading Digital : George Westerman   Didier Bonnet     Ndrew McAfee

The beginning: Are you ready?

And to add the conclusive words bring stark reality: we ain’t seen nothing yet. The barrage of technology will be so prolific that they will enter and reshape the business world.  Moore’s Law as central drumbeat of digital future says it all.

The authors focus on big companies, in industries from finance to manufacturing to pharmaceuticals. Succeeding companies are addressed by authors as Digital Masters who are 26 percent more profitable than average industry competitors, generate 9 percent more revenue with existing capacity and drive more efficiency in their existing products and processes. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Social Media Presence Is Essential for Online Companies? – Guest Post

Questioning on the importance of social media presence is equivalent to questioning on the relevance of having a marketing strategy for a growing business. The need for social media presence is inevitable if you want to develop your business. While internet has shrunk the world, it has increased the competition to your business. You are not fighting anymore with your neighborhood businesses; you are in the ring fighting big global names. Hence, it is essential that you have a strong social media presence so that you stay connected. Let us see why social media presence plays a dominant role to enhance your business.

Be Identified

It is no use if you are in business and people do not know what you are dealing with. It is not a 007 type of work that demands you work without others being aware of it. If you intend to stay in business, you need to create product awareness and the best way to do is to have a strong social media presence. Let people become familiar with your name so that they identify your product when they see it and as you go stronger, they will be able to recall your product when they look to purchase. Read the rest of this entry »

Brands start using Listening Platforms to monitor Conversations

400 million active users + thousands of fan pages + friend lists of at least 100 people + status updates and comment options = a whole lot of conversation. Facebook chat may suck, but that doesn’t constrict the amount of chatting on Facebook. People talk about all sorts of things, their lives, their partners, the past day, shopping, your brand…..

Social media is the most valuable resource currently available that gathers customer opinion without any specific effort on the consumer’s part, even. Surveys are too much of an effort, and have too many hazards of bias. Social media, on the other hand, is open, free, and puts no pressure on the consumer to like or dislike your brand. Twitter is the new Opinion column in the Mumbai Mirror. Bad service, pushy staff, unavailability of products – irritated customers proclaim their dissatisfaction on the microblogging site to their followers. The customer also alternatively tweets about the wonderful time she had, the great dress she bought, the rocking grill at the food-court and the gig in the car-park.

Monitoring social media can help you capitalize on this availability of information. It includes collection as well as a comprehensive analysis of web opinion. Consumer opinion just got so much more accessible.

What is a brand missing out on, if it isn’t monitoring conversations about it? A whole lot of things: opportunities for interaction, low-cost customer service, promotion at an opportune moment (If a tweeter tweets asking about Gucci purses available in Bombay, the brand can tweet back updating the tweeter on their store at Nariman Point), knowing mass perceptions of your brand, and of course, crucial information.

Social Media has caught on rabidly and it is best if brands and companies join the band – if only to watch.

Unique Social Networking Strategy by Sears:

Many companies, both online and offline can appreciate the benefits of networking and how it can clearly benefit their company. In the form of offline, traditional networking, many companies use their Chambers of Commerce such as Bombay chamber of commerce and industry (BCCI) or Federation of Indian chamber of commerce and industry (FICCI), Lunchtime networking clubs and the most effective word-of-mouth referral system.

In today’s changing global landscape, online social networking has quickly become the method and the means that numerous companies are using as their platform for reaching out to customers

The Sears Corporation has set a directional course on becoming a social shopping hub on the web. For over 100 years, Sears has provided customers with quality products at very reasonable prices. They are as famous as Coca Cola.

They are now strategizing to become an even bigger integral part of the online community with new changes and developments that will likely place them as a front runner of social networking and involvement.

Sears will develop a marketing-based strategy that will enable users to log onto their Sears accounts online and have options to access other social sites like Facebook, Twitter etc.

One of Sears’s goals in developing this strategy is to enhance their customers’ shopping experience as much as possible. Ultimately, they would like to have customers share their shopping experiences, share photos of their purchases, give and share feedback on their buying experiences and perhaps serve as a referral for new customers as they become more visible on social sites.

With social platforms like Twitter and MySpace, the social sharing should be relatively easy for Sears customers to adapt to. Whenever people find a product or service that they really, really like, they want to share it. Having these kinds of options will certainly enhance the buying experience and will also help guide Sears in the direction that they need on this web marketing strategy as they see what customers need, like and gravitate towards.

Tools of social networks:

The past couple of years, largely with Facebook and Orkut growing the social networks and social computing tools having grown into the edges of mainstream, nearly every argument made against these tools and services was laid down against e-mail, rich UI desktops (people spent hours changing the colors and arranging the interfaces), and Instant Messaging years ago.

The only place that these tools are “seemingly” not working is mostly attributed to a severe lack of defining the value derived from using the tools. These news tools and services, even more so those of us working around them, need to communicate how to use the tools effectively and efficiently. The conceptual models & frameworks for those of us analyzing the tools have been really poor and missing giant perspectives and frameworks.

One of the biggest problems with many of these tools and services is they have yet to move out of early product mode especially in developing countries where the internet awareness and reach isn’t widespread as against developed countries. The tools and services are working on maturity getting features in the tools that people need and want, working on scaling, and developing based on early adopters which is not necessarily how those who follow will use the tools or need the tools to work.

Simplicity and limited options on top of tools work easily and provide good derived value for the worklife. As the tools that were disrupters to work culture in the past, the focus needs to be on what is getting done and let people do it. Befriending people, adding applications, tweaking the interface, etc. are not things that lead to easy monetization.

Tools that help people really be social, interact, and get more value in their life (fun, entertainment, connecting with people near in thought, filtering information from the massive flow, and using the information and social connections in context where people need it) from the tools is there things must head. We are in the process of building the platforms for this, but we need to also focus on how to improve use of these platforms and have strong vision of what this is and how to get there.

Social Network Types and Motivations: (contd..)

The most obvious gated community/trust based network is the family (“the network you don’t get to choose”). Many people want better tools to stay in touch with extended family now that families tend to be so geographically dispersed. If a gated community for models seems small and frivolous, what about one for doctors or lawyers or architects? Trust is critical in this case. Doctors need to be confident that they are able to communicate with each other without the pharma or the insurance industries eavesdropping.

Trust vs. Openness
Viewed from this perspective, companies are just one more example of a gated community. The Internet dramatically reduces transaction friction, making it easier for networks crossing organization boundaries. Companies are now far more “porous” (open to the external world) at every level and so in our work life we may be part of many networks – not just the network defined by the organization chart.

However, the trust issue for companies remains very real. You cannot simply allow everybody to see everything. Technically it is all about security, rights and permissions control; which has been around in different ways for a long time. So this looks less like a technology opportunity than an implementation, consulting, professional services type of opportunity.

A lot of the debate about Facebook vs. MySpace or any other social network is just a question of choice. It’s a question of “where do you want to hang out?” That’s why the students in Facebook will move on if Mom & Dad join. This is simply an update to the old private club, which may mean that we see more club type rules emerging online. The two principle rules are (a) a new member has to be proposed by an existing member and (b) through some form of voting arrangement a member can be “blackballed” (thrown out of the club). These types of exclusivity rules help ensure trust through member/peer pressure.

Branding in Social Media vs. Traditional Media

Integrating social media plan into your promotion and branding strategy has moved from being an option to becoming a necessity for survival in today’s fast moving marketplace. Gone are the days of doing business in a conservative manner and without the aid of technology. If you are not visible in the virtual world i.e. the internet, it would seem you are resistant to change. The new fight for customers will be online and if you lose out on social media, you have already lost half the battle. Online media is the most effective way for reach and power in order to drive returns.

With that shift in strategic direction in mind, we will consider the ways that social media differs from traditional media described below.

Source

Social media is produced through self-publishing and user-generated content vs. the professional media outlets such as television, radio, newspapers and magazines used in traditional media. E.g.: the good reviews on blogs or Orkut, Facebook gives the equivalent publicity as online “word-of-mouth”, no other thing can give the review as strong credibility.

Marketing

Social media leverages pull marketing while traditional media relies on push marketing strategies.

Cost

Social media requires a far smaller monetary investment than traditional media usually does. The increasing cost of print media, electronic media and the stratospheric levels to which advertising rates have reached on television force marketers to look at other options

Market/Audience

Social media typically reaches and influences a highly targeted or niche market vs. traditional media which often reaches a broader audience. This is advantageous since there is focused approach on that market and efforts are concentrated on those we know rather than anyone who comes across the media.

Messages

Social media messages come directly from individual consumers while traditional media messages most often come from the company behind them. This as I have mentioned is about viral marketing through grapevine techniques.

Interactivity

Social media is highly interactive generating ongoing conversations between multiple individuals while traditional media provides one-sided messages in a passive format. This is the reason why markets are turning towards online; it gives them real time feedback about their product or service.

Based on the differences listed above, it should come as no surprise that well-executed social media marketing campaigns can be highly influential. On the other hand, a negative buzz that spreads throughout the social web can be very harmful to a brand. The lesson to learn is that social media is here to stay. While the recipe for success in leveraging the social web to build brands has yet to be determined and quantified, the point is ignore at your own peril.