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.

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.

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.