Don’t Forget the “Other Guys”

This blog is a response to chapter 12 of the groundswell textbook called “the groundswell inside your company” for my MARK4474 course.

So, you have an awesome social media strategy – customers are engaged, word is spreading and things are looking up! But what about what’s going on inside your business? Are your employees engaged? Do you have a strategy to connect with them?

Employees are an important factor to a company’s success. In a perfect world, employees should also want the company to be successful, and be passionate about what they do. However, that’s not always the case. The bigger the company, the more of a problem communicating internally to staff is, and the harder it is to hear your employees thoughts and ideas.

There are a few different ways companies can connect to their employees:

  • internal social networks
  • collaboration via wikis
  • contributing to idea exchanges

These three things all tap the power of the groundswell of ideas among employees – the people who know how your business runs best (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 234).

Of course, you can’t just implement the technology thinking that people are going to pick it up and run with it. Change takes effort. An easy way to promote change and get the ball rolling is to have upper management involved and actively using the tool you choose. Change also takes the right tool. If your objective and the medium you choose don’t go together, you’re not going to experience a positive outcome.

One company that did experience a positive result, was Best Buy with Blue Shirt Nation.

Best Buy created an internal community site for employees (Blue Shirt Nation) to listen to their employees. Not only did Blue Shirt Nation achieve this, it also enabled employees to help each other (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 236).

Like Best Buy, AMA also has an internal community site for employees called “The Backyard”. In this space, employees can find information that’s posted by different business units – kind of like a wiki. It’s a hybrid though, in the sense that on The Backyard you can also post in an area called Communities and Collaboration, where employees can talk to one another, ask questions, share stories and more! These two areas help AMA management listen to employees, and allows employees to talk to one another in a more social area. Sharing stories about great service or touching moments on the job also energize other employees, spreading the good feeling around the company.

Successful companies connect to their employees. They listen to what they have to say, provide them with tools to collaborate and exchange ideas. If employees aren’t happy, or at their full potential, then they can be harmful to a company’s brand. By connecting with employees, you can solve problems from the inside out, or before they even start.

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

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Energizing! (It just keeps going and going…)

This blog is a response to chapter 7 of the groundswell textbook called “energizing the groundswell” for my MARK4474 course.

The word energizing always makes me think of the Energizer bunny.

This commercial is almost as old as I am. Scary. But, like the end of the commercial says, “it just keeps going and going”. This is pretty much what energizing is. Energizing is getting people excited and talking, creating word of mouth and starting a chain of people talking about the same thing. Word of mouth just keeps going and going… whether it be one person telling another, who tells another and then another, or multiple people that tell multiple others, or anyone who will listen to them.

Word of mouth is a form of advertising that shouldn’t be underestimated…

  • It’s believable. Testimonials and stories from real people are more credible than media sources, or what the company says itself.
  • It’s self-reinforcing. The more you hear the same thing from different people, the more you know it to be true.
  • It’s self-spreading. If a product is worth using, people will share and spread the word (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 130)

According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Marketing Association (WOMMA), word of mouth “is the most honest form or marketing, building upon people’s natural desire to share their experiences with family, friends and colleagues.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 131)

By connecting with customers, you are energizing the groundswell. You are getting people to talk – mostly your loyal customers. Think of a brand, a brand that you really like. I mean REALLY like. Why do you support them? Is it because you like their products/services? Like mentioned above, people will share and spread the word about something they enjoy and/or are passionate about. Customers can become the best brand ambassadors.

Here are three ways to tap into your brand enthusiasts:

  1. Tap into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews.
  2. Create a community to energize your customers.
  3. Participate in and energize online communities of your brand enthusiasts (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 134)

I really think that AMA can benefit from the first point – tapping into customers’ enthusiasm with ratings and reviews. Having the ability to rate and review different travel packages, from Disney vacations to Las Vegas deals,  on the AMA website would help the decision making process of visitors. If other customers rate it as a great package/deal, then they are more likely to take the leap and book a vacation. The higher the ratings on anything – the more likely they are to buy it. On the AMARewards portal, members are given the opportunity to rate member rewards offers and comment on them. The only part that the portal is lacking is notifications. When someone replies to another person’s comment – they aren’t notified, and if the person doesn’t check back, they won’t know. This is also a negative as when AMA replies to negative comments, as the member can’t be reached. Contrary to belief, bad comments aren’t totally bad. They do make the website look more believable. If the AMARewards portal was full of positive comments, it would appear too good to be true, or unbelievable.

To wrap up this blog – energizing customers, and creating word of mouth, is an powerful and risky technique and it can be very rewarding. I think if AMA taps into the groundswell and energizes it, they will see more success!

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Can you hear me now?

This blog is a response to chapter 6 of the groundswell textbook called “talking with the groundswell” for my MARK4474 course.

Everyday, people are bombarded with marketing messages. Commercials, billboards, posters, signage, web ads, flyers, direct mail – the list goes on. Every company is SHOUTING, wanting their message to be heard. WHEN EVERYONE IS TALKING TO YOU LIKE THIS IT IS EASY TO IGNORE THEM. But, when a company talks to you, whether it be one-to-one or a message to a group of people, it kind of makes you want to listen. It’s interesting.

While advertising (SHOUTING) creates awareness about a product/service to consumers, talking to people about their opinions or even reading a stranger’s reviews on a product online greatly affect if the consumer will buy or not. Marketers call this a “marketing funnel” which follows the path of a consumer during their decision making process from start to finish.

Customers in the middle of the funnel are engaged in conversations on blogs, in discussion forums, and in social networks. Your company can participate in these places, but shouting doesn’t work. Conversations do.” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 102)

A great example that the textbook uses is Blendtech, which is known for their “Will it Blend” YouTube videos. Via the company’s  blog, they let people know when and where they can see a blender demonstration, and they also invited people to suggest different items to try and blend in their YouTube videos (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 102). One of my personal favorites is when they blend a bunch of glowsticks! Blendtech understands that they must talk to their customers, as well as listen and respond to them – and not constantly SHOUT.

 

There are a few different techniques for talking with the groundswell, they include:

  • Posting a video online, and letting people share it (aka “go viral”)
    • Creating a viral video is best for creating awareness
  • Engage in social media websites
    • Social networks helps spread word of mouth about your company
  • Start a blog
    • Blogs help solve the problem of having a complicated message (ex. complex products and services)
  • Create a community
    • Creating a community allows a company to move the conversation to a place where you can participate (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 103, 124-125)

When looking at the company I’ve been discussing in my blogs, the Alberta Motor Association, they are talking via both social media and blogs. Like previously mentioned, they have a Facebook page where respond to members posts, ask them questions and post relevant information related to AMA and Alberta. And with the relaunch of the AMA website, they started producing blog content. I think that AMA started to produce and talk via blogs to help solve the problem of having a complicated message.

AMA has so many products and services to offer and that the message can be a bit confusing. Of course, AMA wants members to know and feel that being a member is rewarding. Members can take advantage of AMA’s registry services, travel agency, insurance, and as a member, you can get discounts at places all across Alberta and around the world! Of course, most people get the membership for roadside assistance. However, it is important for members to know that their membership can also do so much more. If a member doesn’t use roadside assistance for some time, they may feel like it’s a waste of money. I think this is why AMA producing blogs is so important – so they can communicate and talk to members about everything AMA has to offer, as well as show that they are practically family, by posting blogs about topics that matter to Albertans.

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Do It Right The First Time

This blog is a response to chapter 4 of the groundswell textbook called “strategies for tapping the groundswell” for my MARK4474 course.

Chapter 4 discussed using the POST method as systematic framework for assembling your plan when it comes to tackling the groundswell. Simply, POST stands for people, objectives, strategy and technology (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 67).

I think that using the POST method is a great way for companies to create a good foundation from where they can leap off of. Many companies make the mistake of thinking that they have to do something because someone else is, or they want to do something for the wrong reasons. This can lead to failure, and cause confusion amongst your target audience. It’s always a good plan to put your best foot forward – and the POST method can help companies do that.

Here’s a quick overview of POST, and how I would look at things if I was a social media marketing specialist at AMA.

People. Who are your customers? How do you think they’ll react? What are they currently doing?

  • In chapter 3 I looked at the Social Technographics Profile of both males and females aged 35 – 44. A majority of them were joiners and spectators, with some being critics as well. I think that many people in this age group are involved in social media somehow – as many use it to keep in touch with family members. If they saw AMA was actively using the groundswell, they’d want to keep in touch with us as well.

Objectives. Set goals. Are you interested in listening? Talking? Energizing? Supporting? Embracing?

  • Because I know that a majority of my target audience are spectators, it seems logical to set AMA’s goal as talking. Talking includes, “using the groundswell to spread messages about your company (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 68).” They are also joiners, so I know that they will be on the social media sites AMA will talk on.

Strategy. What are the steps that need to be taken to make your goal a reality?

  • My strategy would be to get the different business units involved (travel, insurance, rewards) to make sure that they understand the objectives of the social websites we use, and also ensure that they understand why I may reject certain content suggestions. I would also make sure that everyone on my team is on the same page as well.
  • I would then ask for the business units to brief me in on their campaigns, so I can become more involved and do digital marketing and social posts that integrate with their campaigns. By doing this, I am spreading the message about what AMA is doing, and the same message is being promoted across all mediums. Because of this, our campaigns will have a higher reach and frequency.

Technology. What technology are you going to use? Blogs? Social Media? Etc?

  • I’d use social networks – the biggest one being Facebook. If people like our page, then I know that they would want to hear more from us. Twitter would be another good one, if the message is brief and works for the medium.

To wrap things up, another mistake a company can make is to ignore the groundswell. A company that doesn’t evolve with the times is not going to succeed. By using the groundswell properly after considering the four components of POST, a company can be successful in achieving their goal and in turn, improve their business.

This short video also sums it up nicely – a business is almost “irrelevant” if they don’t use social media, but even when they do – they have to use it right.

What’s your favorite example of a company using social media right? 🙂

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.

Using the Groundswell to Your Advantage

This blog is a response to chapter 11 of the groundswell textbook called “how connecting with the groundswell transforms your company” for my MARK4474 course.

Sidenote: I finally got my hands on the latest edition of the groundswell textbook! I wish all of my textbooks cost $15! 🙂

Chapter 11 gave a few examples of how companies used the groundswell as a marketing vehicle. One great example is a video called, “Dove Evolution” which became a viral success in 2006. Currently it has over 17 million views on YouTube. Check out the video below!

The video caused a surge of traffic to Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty website, which is more than double what their 2006 Super Bowl ad drove. The 30-sec Super Bowl ad cost Dove $2.5 million, whereas the cost of uploading the “Dove Evolution” video on YouTube was zero (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 216). This shows the power of the groundswell, and how companies can use it to their advantage!

Another company that comes to mind and shows creativity when using the groundswell is Old Spice. The videos they post to YouTube are hilarious, and their campaigns are interactive. My favorite is when Wolf Dog took over as the new chief director of marketing for Old Spice. They created him to promote Old Spice’s new Wild Collection Cologne. From what I can remember, they conducted interviews with people who applied to be Wolf Dog’s assistant, and people could ask him questions and he’d respond via live chat – the amount of interaction in this digital campaign was unreal. And it was hilarious. You can read more about it here. Unfortunately, all of the YouTube videos regarding Wolf Dog are now set to private.

How can a company prepare for transformation to repeat the success that Dove had? (Or Old Spice?)

  • Start small. Change takes time. Start small, see what works and go from there.
  • Educate your executives. Get executives to use the technology, and maybe start using the tools internally to show the value.
  • Get the right people to run your strategy. Get someone who is passionate or interested in starting a relationship with customers.
  • Get your agency and technology partners in sync. Get them to invest time and resources, so everyone is on the same page.
  • Plan for the next step and for the long term. Nothing much more to say here (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp. 230).

The company I have been looking at in for my activities/blogs, the Alberta Motor Association, has been dipping their feet into the water that is the groundswell. Here is quick look at what they are doing:

  • Facebook: 19k likes. Post updates on where AMA is at (ex. sponsorship events), reminders, news about Alberta (ex. flood watch) and share blogs.
  • Twitter: 1.2k followers. An account focused on AMA in the community. Tweets reminders about events, car care, etc.
  • Blogs: AMA creates content that is shared via Facebook, and an Newsletter. This content is seasonally relevant, and also shows the value of an AMA membership.
  • YouTube: 175 subscribers. Not much going on here. Just a few commercials posted, and a few other videos. None of them have gone “viral.”

AMA so far has started out small in each area, and has done many things that other companies are already doing. They are listening and responding to people on social media, and writing blogs about content that members may be interested in. In order to excel more in the groundswell, they may need to invest more time and resources to see better results including more likes, shares and interactions with people in the groundswell. I am sure there are many ways AMA can show that they are “practically family” by using the groundswell.

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press

Hey, listen!

This blog is a response to chapter 5 of the groundswell textbook called “listening to the groundswell” for my MARK4474 course.

A wise fairy once told me, “Hey, listen!” This fairy was Navi of course from the Legend of Zelda series. I did not hear this once, but multiple times. The shrill piercing voice of Navi can easily be recalled from memory.

What wise words of wisdom they were! Listening is an important talent to have. Yes, I’m calling it a talent, as many people don’t know how to listen – most people just know how to talk.

Many people can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Many companies may think that they can and currently are. But are they really?

A really interesting point from the textbook that caught my attention was,

Marketers tell us they define and manage brands. Some spend millions, or hundred of millions, of dollars on advertising… We bought this brand, they say. We spent on it. We own it.

Bull.

Your brand it whatever your customer says it is” (Li & Bernoff, 2008, pp. 78).

Companies can spend as much money as they want trying to shape who they are, but when it comes down to it, what people think of a company’s brand is what is really is. A brand can be really convincing, but if the company doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, then that vision shatters.

The Alberta Motor Associations brand is “practically family”. AMA is there for your when you need them – they “save the day” rescuing when you’re stranded on the side of the road because your car broke down, or slid into a ditch in the winter time. And they’re also there for you for a lot of other things – from insurance to travel, and rewards to driver education.

I did some listening of my own for AMA, and here is what I found:

  • Googling “Alberta Motor Association sucks” revealed a blog from a couple years ago that had a chart comparing the different roadside assistance options. The blog itself was fair, but in the comments there was a disgruntled customer. However there were also many positive comments about AMA. The second listing on Google was a comment on the AMARewards portal sucked, as the member wanted to be able to take advantage of it in-store and not online.
  • Googling “Alberta Motor Association is great” showed multiple happy customer reviews on Yelp.
  • Taking a quick peak at the Alberta Motor Association Facebook page showed there are many positive wall posts made by people, and very few negative.
  • Searching for the Alberta Motor Association on Twitter didn’t pull up much besides some new articles and posts from the AMA twitter account.

Do people think that AMA is practically family? Well, a lot of people are thankful that AMA was there for them when they need it – especially for roadside assistance. AMA definitely has the opportunity to work with vendors that provide professional tools to help them listen, and set up private communities so they can gain more insight onto what their members are thinking. AMA can use this information to help change and adapt so they are viewed in the light they desire.

Listening is great skill that everyone needs to use and practice. Any relationship – whether it be husband and wife, friends, or a company and their customers, requires listening so they understand one another. Check out the video below to learn about how Ford uses social media to listen to their customers.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

-B.


Bibliography

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Press

The Social Technographics Profile

This blog is a response to chapter 3 of the groundswell textbook called “the social technographic profile.”

This chapter talked about how people participate in the groundswell. For the uniformed, the groundswell is, “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations” (Li & Bernoff, 2008, p. 9).

In order to analyze the activities in the groundswell, we can look at the social technographics profile.

The social technographics profile includes the following groups:

  • Creators: these people publish blogs, upload YouTube videos, and create content that other people can view and share on the internet
  • Critics: similar to a movie critic, these people post comments on videos and blogs, rate things, and post reviews of product/services online
  • Collectors: like their name suggests, they collect things. In this case though, they collect URLs/webpages/images and do this by using the bookmarks feature in their browser, or other websites that help facilitate this
  • Joiners: people that join and update their social media sites
  • Spectators: also known as “lurkers” on parts of the internet. These people consume what everyone else produces – whether it is original content from creators or comments from critics
  • Inactives: nonparticipants. Yes, they exist (Li & Bernoff, 2008, pp. 43 – 45).

Using Forrester’s Social Technographic tool, I looked at a target market of people ages 35-44 that lived in Canada. The target market I had listed in my first activity for AMA was quite broad, so I decided to narrow it down. I did two versions – male and female, as I was curious what the differences would be.

1

(Forrester Research, Inc., 2012)

2

(Forrester Research, Inc., 2012)

Taking a look at this data, males ages 35-44 are more likely to be creators, critics, collectors and spectators when compared to females of the same age. In contrast, females are more likely to be joiners. The amount of inactives is relatively close. This really surprised me! When looking at the indexes, females aged 35-44 are more likely to be joiners when compared to all adults and males are more likely to be creators.

(Alexa Internet, Inc., 2014)

(Alexa Internet, Inc., 2014)

Using the tool that is provided by Alexa, I looked up ama.ab.ca and found that the website ranks 5,935 in Canada, with a majority of its visitors located in Canada as well (Alexa Internet, Inc., 2014). The audience demographics for AMA’s website are more skewed towards females, with no college education and somewhat to those with a college education. The most popular browsing location for this website is from home. This does surprise me a bit, as I definitely thought that our audience’s demographics would have a higher education. However, if our audience is mostly females, with no college education and they’re browsing from home – maybe they are a stay at home mom? However, the confidence rating on this data is low, so I am not sure how accurate it is.

To wrap up this blog, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at myself and think of what I am compared to what the Forrester tool states for social technographics profile. And I gotta say, they hit the nail on the head.

(Forrester Research, Inc., 2012)

(Forrester Research, Inc., 2012)

I definitely am a joiner (I am on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc, etc.) and on all of those websites I spectate, posting occasionally (a bit of a creator) and responding sometimes (a bit of a critic).

Thanks for reading! 🙂

-B.


Bibliography

Alexa Internet, Inc. (2014). Alexa. Retrieved June 7, 2014, from http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/ama.ab.ca

Forrester Research, Inc. (2012). What’s The Social Technographics Profile Of Your Customers? Retrieved June 7, 2014, from Empowered: http://empowered.forrester.com/tool_consumer.html

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business Press.