TWITTERPATED!!!

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How many of you have a Twitter account?  I know I didn’t up until a few months ago and now I am addicted!  With homework, working out, plus friends and family time, I find it difficult to find time to watch the news and keep current.  Twitter enables me to keep current on the go – on my mobile Twitter App!  I follow certain Twitter accounts such as CTV News or the Edmonton Journal and their tweets keep me informed about current events!  I am able to stay in the loop!

Signing up for Twitter is so easy; it is free and simple, and it allows you to follow people immediately and tweet updates quickly.  Companies are taking advantage of Twitter by listening and interacting with their customers.  Twitter can spread brand messages far more effectively than television can, and can do so at a much lesser cost.

Tweeters are among some of the most influential people out there.  The social technographic profile of tweeters include highly active users: joiners, creators, critics, conversationalists, spectators, and critics.  The demographics of tweeters are 64% male with an average age of 32 and an average household income of $91,000.  52% have a college degree and 72% often tell friends about products that interest them (WOW! Talk about word of mouth)!  If you think it is only the young people who are tweeting, guess again!

As a company, before you embrace Twitter you should ask yourself what your groundswell objective is, as I mentioned before in POST: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and/or embracing.  With Twitter, you can have more than one objective.

  1. Listening: with Twitter, listening is essential.  You need to listen to know what you are getting into; watch for trends!
  2. Talking:  it is easy but don’t be boring!  Tweet things that you believe might be picked up and followed by others.  Make sure you respond to others as well!
  3. Energizing:  listen first and find the people you want to energize (those who like your products).  Respond to fans and re-tweet them, plus give them content to re-tweet to their followers.  For a great example of this, check out @Zappos_Service!
  4. Supporting:  respond to questions and complaints; listen to unhappy customers and reach out to them!
  5. Embracing:  this is more difficult when there is a limit of 140 characters per tweet, however you can use Twitter to drive people to surveys and links, plus provide incentives such as contests and draws. The best way to embrace, however, is to simply enter into a dialogue with followers.

Once you determine your objective(s), here are some tips for successful tweeting:

  1. Lock up your handle – tweet from your handle and don’t let someone else get it!
  2. Listen first – know what people are tweeting about before you post!
  3. Be ready to support people – people want responses!
  4. Follow others – people love when you pay attention to them!
  5. Be ready for a crisis – people will look to your Twitter account for a response!
  6. Respond, re-tweet, and link – and add a little personality!
  7. Staff it – make it part of someone’s job description!
  8. Check with legal and regulatory staff – it is public speech so be careful!
  9. Don’t waste a following – once you have it, keep it going and be creative!

Many companies are using Twitter now and are having a lot of success with their customers.  It is a cost-effective way to meet the needs of consumers and send them messages as well as support them.

Have a look at my Twitter account https://twitter.com/HollyMGoodman and follow me!  Creating an account is so easy to do!

Source: Groundswell

Helping the Groundswell Support Itself!

Have any of you ever heard of CarePages?

I had a friend once whose little boy was dying of cancer.  There is enough to deal with when you have a sick family member, let alone all the calls that you receive from friends and family offering support and asking for updates.  It can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed more than you already are.  My friend became a member of CarePages, where she was able to post updates regarding her little guy and other people were able to respond and offer their love and support.  People supporting people; this is an example of the groundswell supporting itself.  Supporting the groundswell is one of the objectives of my previous POST blog.

Supporting customers can be a real burden; usually if you receive a call from a customer after a purchase, it means something is wrong with the product.  These calls can be very expensive and time consuming!  In today’s world you will most likely notice that company’s are encouraging customers to go online for support.  Many companies have answering services when you call their telephone line, indicating that you can find support on their websites.  The other day, for example, I needed to talk to Shaw regarding a movie refund for a movie that didn’t record properly.  I called their phone line, where I waited on hold for 20 minutes.  While I waited, I was able to go to the website and start an online chat with a customer service representative, who was able to assist me.  I hung up the phone before getting through to a telephone customer service representative.

The reason for the push towards online support has a great deal to do with cost.  Many companies have moved their call centres overseas, where it is 40% less expensive to compensate the call centre employees!  Have you ever had this experience, however, and become very frustrated with the language barrier on the other end of the line?

This is where the groundswell comes into play once again in a big way.  Who are you more willing to trust: the company you purchased a product from or other customers who have similar products that are able to support your queries?  Customers trust other customers more, and they are willing to spend time helping each other.  

Have you ever joined a forum?  Forums are a great way for customers to share information and opinions.  They are also a great place to get help.  If you have a problem with your printer, how convenient is it to go online and be able to ask a question and get an immediate response?  Perhaps the question has even been asked before and the answer is available to you without even having to ask!  Forums also have a tremendous cost savings, as illustrated in the following ROI analysis:

roi

Wikis are also an option to reassure clients.  Think about Wikipedia for a moment.  Imagine if you can build something like that for your own customers?!  Well you can.  The benefits of wikis include client support, enabling clients to feel like they are solving problems together!  You must determine, however if a wiki is right for you!  Are your customers ready to share in a common collection of information?  Wikis are more difficult than forums are to get going, so you must make sure your customers are ready for it!

The cost benefits of groundswell supporting technology such as forums and wikis is immense.  People post questions and other people answer them – genius!  However, the groundswell needs your participation as well!  If you decide to move forward with building a supporting community, here are some suggestions:

  1. Start small, but plan for a larger presence – for example, start with only one product line but plan to include all of them down the road!
  2. Reach out to your most active customers – find your enthusiasts and ask them how they’d prefer to participate!
  3. Plan to drive traffic to your community – advertise and don’t forget search engines!
  4. Build in a reputation system – encourage users to participate and behave in the right manner!
  5. Let your customers lead you – listen to your customers’ opinions!  They will tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong!

People expect you to listen and respond to them so make sure you do so!  Embrace the dialogue and collaborate with your customers!

Westjet has a FlyerTalk forum, where customers communicate with one another and ask each other questions.  Westjet can look at the forum and observe what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.  They can then join in, supporting their customers and learning from them in order to improve their business.  They also have a Wikipost, where they are able to share information with their customers in an efficient manner.  Westjet is doing it right!

POST! – Your Groundswell Strategy Tool!

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Now that you all know about the Groundswell, I am excited to share POST with you!  We are learning so many interesting things in my Social Media Marketing class!

As the groundswell increases in popularity, some companies will be aware that they must embrace it in order to reach their target market, however they most likely will not know HOW.  Companies may not know what their objectives are, or which strategy or technologies to use.

It is important not to go through the groundswell strategy backwards!  There is a four-step planning process called POST that can be used: people, objectives, strategy, and technology

1.  People:  what are your customers ready for?  You need to listen to them to find out!  Remember the social tehnographic profile I posted earlier?  That is where you can begin to understand what your current customers’ movements are in order to reach them.  G Adventures’ customers, for example, are mostly spectators and joiners.  They are also mostly females between the ages of 25 and 34 who are working and have some education.  This is very important and useful information that can be used to determine a strategy!

Objectives:  what are your goals?  There are five objectives that companies can pursue in the groundswell: listening, talking, energizing, supporting, and embracing.  Listening means monitoring your customers’ conversations with each other, rather than using surveys and focus groups.  The goals is to gain insights for marketing and development.  Talking means participating in stimulating two-way conversations your customers have with each other, not just outbound communications YOU have with THEM.  This can be accomplished through blogs for example!  Energizing means making it possible for your enthusiastic customers to help sell each other.  Use the groundswell to supercharge the power of their word of mouth!  Supporting means enabling your customers to support each other! Embracing means to integrate your customers into your business, including using their help to design your products.  This means helping your customers work with each other to come up with ideas!  Through all of these objectives you will need to be consistently listening!

Strategy:  you need to determine how you want relationships with your customers to change.  Do you want them to become more engaged?  Do you want them to carry messages to the market?  G Adventures, for example, can use the knowledge of the majority of customers being spectators and joiners and create a place for them to interact with one another through various technology applications.

Technology:  which applications will you build?  You can look at this only AFTER the above three steps have been determined.  You will then decide which social media applications to use: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, wikis, etc.  G Adventures uses ALL of these!

Once you have determined your groundswell strategy (POST) be sure to actively listen to your customers continually and use this knowledge and information to reach them and provide them with what they need!