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.

Tweet a little Tweet on Twitter

This blog is a response to chapter 10 of the groundswell textbook called “tapping the groundswell with twitter” for my MARK4474 course.

Like the title says – tweet a little tweet on Twitter! If you don’t get the reference, it’s from this musical and lyrical YouTube video.

Oh, Twitter. Some people just don’t get it. I however, love Twitter – I’ve almost migrated from Facebook to Twitter completely – almost. I still scroll through my Facebook feed briefly every day,  but find that the content isn’t interesting, or it’s repetitive. I find that Facebook is mostly used for people updating you on their boring lives, or in my step dad’s case, sharing every single video/image he says followed by “LOL”. Twitter on the other hand is more digestible. People can talk about their lives, but they’re limited to 140 characters! Ah! Besides, most people don’t boast about their lives on Twitter. It’s used for interacting, engaging with others and finding cool content. You can follow anyone, search for hashtags, retweet interesting tweets, share links and follow updates easily. It’s easy to use, mobile-friendly, and fun.

While great for personal use, Twitter is also a great tool for companies to take advantage of. Some companies are great at interacting through Twitter, while other companies fail to remain relevant and interesting. AMA’s main Twitter account, AMA in the Community, does a pretty good job of listening, talking, energizing, supporting and embracing with Twitter. AMA responds to people who ask them questions or mention them on twitter, and listen to what people are saying about us. AMA also retweets people’s tweets, like positive experiences they’ve had with AMA – or more recently, photos of people enjoying their ice cream from the #AMAIceCreamTruck. This Twitter account also lets members know what’s new in the “AMA world”, and tweets about other happenings in Alberta, showing that AMA is #PracticallyFamily.

AMA in the Community's Twitter Account

Of course, Twitter is most effective if you choose a clear objective and strategy. Some learnings before going out and creating your own Twitter account (whether is be for a company, or person use) include:

  • Lock up your handle.
    • Make sure you get the Twitter handle you want. For example, if you’re company is called Super Sandwiches you’d want to get @SuperSandwiches as your twitter handle, before someone else does.
  • Listen first.
    • Simple enough.
  • Follow others.
    • Following someone can give them a thrill if you’re a well-known company/brand. You also need to follow them to give them a DM (direct message).
  • Be ready for a crisis.
    • Have a PR plan in place for when things go wrong. People will look to Twitter to get answers, and you better have them.
  • Respond, retweet and link.
    • An effective Twitter camapaign usually contains all of these elements.
  • Staff it.
    • Someone needs to have time to incorporate Twitter into their job (whether it be full-time, or an added duty).
  • Check with legal and regulatory stuff.
    • Don’t publish personal/private data on Twitter. It is open for the public to see. Also be sure you are prepared when doing contests on Twitter.
  • Having gathered a  following, don’t waste it!
    • Keep people engaged and continue to be active on Twitter (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 210 – 211)

If you don’t have a Twitter account yet, I definitely suggest you get one! It’s simple to use and sign up for. 🙂

-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.

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

MMOs are Social Media?

Hello Internet,

As a part of my Social Media Marketing Class (Mark474) at NAIT, I’ll be writing a blog each week! 🙂

This blog is in response to an article called, “Users of the world, unite! The challenges of opportunities of Social Media” by Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein.

Something that definitely piqued my interest was the classification of virtual game worlds as social media – I guess it just never occurred to me. Now, I played World of Warcraft (WoW) from Grade 11 to my first year in college (I quit before Mists of Pandaria), and I’ve always thought of massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) as just that – video games!

According to this Wikipedia article:

Social media is the interaction among people in which they create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.

So by this definition, MMORGs like WoW are considered social media…?

The picture below is an old one from “back in the day” with a few guild members which I guess could also be called a virtual community. We interacted with one another; we talked, we raided, we helped each other out. BAMMO! That sounds just like the definition! Case closed, MMORPGs are social media.

ImageHowever, I personally think the definition is a bit to broad.

Similarities & Differences:

I can see how a virtual social world like Second Life can be considered social media because that’s what it was meant for – socializing. But MMORPGs are just so much more than socializing – it’s about grinding levels or gear, progressing in game and reaching different achievements. Not to mention, you don’t even have to be social. Some MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft, have a tool that helps you find other people to queue with for dungeons, etc. – no socialization required.

On the other hand, if you want to be social in MMORPGs you can add friends, block people, join a guild, have a conversation… Sounds a bit like Facebook, right? (But the guild would be a “group” instead.)

Both MMORPGs and social media are also similar though, in the sense that people want to do well or achieve something. On Twitter, you want to gain more followers and popularity, on Facebook you want your status updates to get tons of likes and in MMORPGs you want to gain more skill, gear and achievements so you are seen as “better”. Everyone loves getting rewarded, and both social networking websites and MMOs deliver that. Lots of people use social media for “bragging rights”.

Another similarity between MMORPGs and social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, is that they are very customizable. People want their profile or avatar to reflect who they are in a good light. Whether it’s having an amazing profile picture or having the best looking gear in the game, it’s essentially the same thing. People that use these mediums want to out their best face forward.

One of the main differences that I see between MMORPGs and social networking sites like Facebook and microblogs like Twitter, is that you have companies actively trying to engage you and get your attention. Maybe this is why my brain says, “NO! MMORPGs aren’t social media!” Maybe this is also a huge opportunity that is being missed by companies? … Who knows? Virtual game worlds have a high social presence and media richness, allowing for them to be a powerful medium.

As a gamer, I’m always going to think of MMORPGs as just games, but there are definitely many parallels between them and today’s popular social media platforms. This article on Mashable does a good job of explaining them! 🙂

-B.

NAIT Promo Awards

I’m a little late blogging about this, but after the awards ceremony, I went to bed, woke up and had to present a mock trade show for my business to business class. Maybe now I’ll finally have the time to press some keys and make a blog happen. Here we go… !

Overall, the NAIT Promo Awards were delightful. I sat at a table with Laurie from DDB, Dana from Kick Point and Sona from Venture Publishing, who were all amazing. Dinner was delicious, as well as desert. I couldn’t tell you what was in that cake – it really was something different.

My friend and fellow project partner Danny Siman did a great job being the MC for the night. He had nothing to be nervous about! All of the other speeches were captivating as well, especially the one by Sylvia and Jordan from Calder Bateman. I don’t know how I will ever 1-UP that cover letter by the man from Scotland, but I’ll figure something out.

During the awards ceremony, I’ll admit, I had a bit of trouble breathing. There was so much anticipation and excitement!

First off, congrats “Cannonball Marketing” for winning the Best Media Solution award with the campaign you created for Ernest’s. You guys deserve it! I’ll definitely be checking out Ernest’s sometime in the near future!

Congrats to “Pinnacle Advertising” for winning The Big Idea award and the Best Presentation award for the NAIT Advising Center campaign! Your group was so energetic and positive, I had no doubt that you would win the Best Presentation award. The energy you guys have is contagious!

Lastly, I wanted to thank my group. We put a lot of time and dedication into this project. There were many weekends spent at NAIT, doing work, and practicing our presentation. Many days it felt like I had no life, but in the end it was worth it. Tatianna and Danny, you guys are awesome. Congrats to us for winning four big awards for our Avonair Junior Program campaign: Best Overall Campaign, Visual Excellence, Brand Management, and Best Use of Direct Marketing Piece! Also, I wanted to thank our graphic designers, Kyle and Annelies! They are AMAZING!

And of course, congrats  to everyone who made it to panel and didn’t win awards. Everyone did an amazing job and I know a lot of hard work was put into all of the projects.

A big thanks to Bev and NAIT for making this course possible. I anxiously await for the Promo Awards website to be updated. I can’t wait to see pictures!