“Amazingly, people are willing to spend lots of time helping each other, if you just get out of the way”

Without even realizing, your customers actually save you a lot of money. Crazy, right? Just by simply reaching out and helping one another solve problems instead of spending hours on hours trying to either get through to a call center or receive a call back from the Joe you were speaking to about your issue with the product and somehow your issue gets lost in translation and you’ve got to start alllll over again..Sounds like a headache, doesn’t it? Well luckily, your customers are able to help the groundswell support itself. Because oddly enough, people are willing to help complete strangers. And with that power, you’re not only bringing your customer base together, but essentially saving your company a lot of time and money.

As stated in the chapter this week, “supporting customers is a burden” (Li & Bernoff, 2008). So before you look into outsourcing your company to call centers, think again. Do these calls really help your customers? When you think of call centers, do you dread doing it before dialing that number? Of course you do. It isn’t about whether the person on the other end is from Ireland or India; its whether he or she can actually help you. So after the hit and miss calls, you as the customer starts to question the company, right? Have you instead looked at what other customers have said about potentially the same issue? Of course. And why? Because you trust what they’re saying considering they’ve had the same issue as you. This creates a support system in the groundswell and you’ll be able to see that people are willing to spend time to help one another, whether it be for gratitude, validation, or belonging to a community. “Caterina Fake, co-funder of the photo-sharing site Flickr, called it “the culture of generosity.” We call it the search for physic-income” (Li & Bernoff, 2008). Psychic income is free – paid in love, not money.

For example, take TripAdvisor; it is literally a online forum website dedicated to customers writing reviews on places of travel, vacation packages, etc. Anyone has access to it and can help another customer choose where and when and who to book with. Boom. An online forum that works in favor for all. Not only do the hotels, trip advisers and more get feedback, but the consumer is able to be helped by other consumers. And although I’m making it seem like a walk in the park, online forums take a lot of effort on your part before they can get rolling. There are three main questions that need to be asked and further examined before you can implement a forum in your business. So, should you tap into the search for psychic income? Ask these questions beforehand…

  1. What problem is your support activity trying to solve? Why will people participate? -“Psychic income is a lot more powerful when you tap into the problems people like to talk about most. So if you sell electric guitars, maybe you’d be better off with a support forum about the challenges of making it as a musician, not about whammy bars and wah-wah pedals” (Li & Bernoff, 2008).
  2. Groundswell support needs your participation – Support communities need activity – few will go to a forum that’s not buzzing with activity. Activity creates content, which creates traffic and links, which boosts  search engine placement, which drives more traffic, and so on. A great example would be Apple. They have an official forum where users of the Apple brand are able to solve one another’s problems, and if you own any Apple product, you know there is always activity on this site because of the popularity of the products.
  3. Why build it if you can join it? – You should check whether there is an existing community for your customers or create one. Customers are wanting to hear from the company. Posts by your company will attract a lot of attention, so you must consider joining your online community, sponsoring it, or forming a relationship with it so you can help your customers support themselves.

Here is an image about the benefits behind an online forum. It shows how factors such as marketing, competition, sales and development all come into play into why online communities matter to your business. online-community-impact-640x9481432916736

So, if your business decides to go forward with building a community for support, here are some great suggestions that will benefit you in the long-run:

  • Start small, but plan for a larger presence. Looking at past blogs about the groundswell, it is best to start off small in any situation. If you have multiple products, start by building up around one of them to test the waters and see if the online community will flourish.
  • Reach out to your most active customers. Your most active customers are essentially going to be your most important tools in the building process. Find out how they’d like to participate, because keeping them satisfied is whats going to keep your online community alive. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
  • Plan to drive traffic to your community. When you first open your doors to the community, the likeliness of people flooding in to get their opinions and answers, is zero to none. And that’s just because no one really knows you exist yet, and that’s okay. So advertise on places your customers shop, drive a little attention and with the more activity there is, the higher your community is going to show up in search engines.
  • Build in a reputation system. Looking back at psychic income, some of your users and there to give themselves a little ego boost with their knowledge, so let them. Allowing them to build up a reputation is beneficial to the both of you. “Users will spend hours a day building their reputations in a community. A well-built reputation system encourages users to participate and behave in the right manner” (Li & Bernoff, 2008).
  • Let your customers lead you. Communities are going to be made up of very different customers, and with that, comes a lot of different opinions on EVERYTHING. Not only will they tell you what features need to be added, changed, or removed but they’re going to tell you what’s right and wrong about even the forum itself. So be sure to include a thread for “improving the community,” and pay close attention.

So take the plunge into the online forum world and let your customers support each other. But also, be prepared for how your business is going to change. Your forum is going to be a laboratory where your customers are going to talk about everything. From sales tactics, to competition, to even your logo and advertisements. This can be the ultimate opportunity to advance your business, so embrace it. You’ll be able to collaborate with your customers to create even better services and products. So, what are you waiting for??

See y’all next week,

Beverley Small 🙂

 

References:

6 Benefits of Branded Forums and Online Communities. (2015, June 5). Retrieved November 21, 2015, from http://blog.proofhq.com/6-benefits-of-branded-forums-and-online-communities-007555/
Apple Support Communities. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2015, from https://discussions.apple.com/welcome

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Goundswell, Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies. Boston, Massuchusetts: Harvard Business School Publishing.

TripAdvisor: Read Reviews, Compare Prices & Book. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2015, from http://www.tripadvisor.ca/

 

“With so many products trying to get people’s attention, shouting at them isn’t nearly as effective as it used to be”

Marketing Funnel

So you want your business to stand out but you have no idea how to get your consumers attention huh? Well have no fear, I’m here to tell you exactly how you can! If we think of marketing as a funnel, it’s much easier to picture how consumers “march down the path from awareness to purchase and loyalty. Shouting – advertising – herds them in the big end. Activities in the middle try to pull them down to that purchase, and if you’re lucky, they come out the other end as consumers”(Li & Bernoff, 2008). In this blog, I’ll be teaching you various methods of how to get your voice out there and when you should be using social networks to promote your brand!

So you’ve been lost out in the blogosphere for a while now and you’re confused as to what your next move might be. There are a number of options that are effective in the social media world today. The four I will be focusing on is to…

  1. Make a viral video! Remember the videos you spent hours watching of cats or that new Justin Bieber video? Bam, viral. People have an interest in it and within hours or even down to seconds, the video becomes viral. It’ll be the number one video posted on your Facebook feed, you’ll see it on TV shows, you may even see clips of it within another ad..but it gets your attention, doesn’t it? For example, Lexus has always been a company of luxury and higher end products and when they released a teaser of their new product, the Hoverboard, people went nuts. Literally. There was discussion about it over any social network you could name, and with over 12 million views on YouTube, its name in the market became that much bigger.
  2. Engage in social networks and user-generated content sites. What we mean by this is to create a personality through networks such as Facebook or Twitter, etc. A great example of this would be Starbucks, who took it into their fans hands and created a Facebook page where consumers were able to post on the wall. On this network, they were then able to post ideas for drinks which ended up trending and Starbucks made their own “fan-based” secret menu. Genius. So next time you’re drinking your “red-velvet cheesecake” frappuccino, you know who to thank.
  3. Join the blogosphere. Get your co-workers to start writing blogs! Get them to bring customers into the life of someone who’s working for your company. This doesn’t even have to be done through a blog, it can be done through Twitter or an even more popular one, Instagram. For example, Lexus makes its employees feel like a second-family. We goof off and have a good time when we can and we like to promote that through our Instagram page and through our own personal Instagram accounts. Not only are we promoting where we work but showing that we love working there which is a huge contributing factor when people are looking for brands to be loyal to.
  4. Create a community. As spoken in the text, “communities are a powerful way to engage with your customers and deliver value to them”(Li & Bernoff, 2008). They’re also effective as long as you’re not shouting out to your customers trying to gain their attention. Subtly branding is how you want to get your customers attention; by delivering a big dose of emotion with a little dose on information and an even smaller amount of branding message. Lexus had an idea to use television as a way to reach their consumers of differing interests. They had released a comedy series from SNL writers’ for subtle branding. Here is a trailer of the comedy series, Hudson Valley Ballers, which is to feature auto related humor and showing off Lexus’ goofy side to the company.

Whichever you choose, you need to know the knowledge of blogging or else you’re just going to be posting and nobodies going to be picking up what you’re putting down! When you start a blog or a community, you want to engage your consumers enough that they’ll want to talk back and amongst one another! With this in mind, we look at the POST method which I blogged about last week! Take a peak and it’ll explain all you need to know 🙂 But for now, here’s a few tips to keep in mind while writing up your blog…

  • First thing’s first, you need to develop a marketing plan so people can ACTUALLY find the blog! A good way of doing so would be to get your consumers attention with a viral video or post. They’re all over the Internet today and people continuously share them day in and day out. Included in this blog post is a YouTube video that demonstrates how to create a viral video for all y’all newbies 😉

  • Blogging is MORE than writing. Biggest tip I’ve ever taken from this course…I kept writing and writing and it felt as though I was writing my textbook over. Don’t be afraid to put a little personality in there..add some photos, put some links in, spice it up so it doesn’t feel like you’re being another boring blog about some technical marketing stuff. Let people learn from you and see what you can learn from them!
  • BE HONEST. You need to respond to those listening and responding like a real person. Nobody wants to hear the typical robot computer answers. Be real with your customers, tell them the negative in with the positive; consumers want the truth. This is how they stay loyal to you and keep invested in your business.

When you’ve come up with a way to communicate, whether it be through a video or building a community you need to figure out where your consumers are within the marketing funnel. At the beginning of this post, I had attached an image of how the marketing funnel works. So you need to look at your business and figure out where your area of work needs to be focused on. Is it that people don’t know about you? Could it be that you have complicated messages to get across?

Viral videos are best for punching through the white noise…if you have a brilliant idea. Without one, your viral video is going to be lost in the YouTube world gaining comments from users who want to “follow for follow” or “like for like.” Social networking is a great way for word of mouth problems. Think of all the people you could get to retweet and repost your business ideas. For example, Shredz Supplements, a fitness group, involves their trainers within their company by reposting their pictures and getting consumers to upload progress pictures to their website and Instagram account. Bravo for Shredz, because it works. With the reposts, customers are then entered into contests or given discounts off their next purchase of supplements. And with the fitness trend going on with the younger crowds, it’s a huge step forward for Shredz. They’ve begun to now produce apparel to brand their products even more. Although these are great innovations, the biggest problem for most companies is complexity. Lexus still struggles with complexity, but they always ensure they’re keeping in contact with their customers before, during, and after the sales. They’ve started to build up a community, which is a long term commitment, but one Lexus is willing to hold up to keep their customers happy and communicating.

Communication is huge within our world for marketing and anything, really. But whether consumers are talking positive or negative, their responses are going to be read by potential customers and that still counts for something. Make yourself aware of the marketing funnel and teach yourself to talk, listen, and respond and you’ll master the funnel.

Until next week,

Beverley Small 🙂

References:

(n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/blogosphere
Homepage. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.shredz.com/
Lexus releases SNL writers’ comedy series for subtle branding. (2015, August 13). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://www.luxurydaily.com/lexus-releases-snl-writers-comedy-series-for-subtle-branding/
Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Talking with the groundswell. In Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies (pp. 99-127). Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.
Starbucks Red Velvet Frappuccino. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from http://starbuckssecretmenu.net/starbucks-secret-menu-red-tuxedo-frappuccino/
The Lexus Hoverboard: It’s here. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwSwZ2Y0Ops
Viral Video Marketing – How To Do It and a Viral Marketing Example! (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhCk0YLmGFc

“When it comes to the Groundswell, Charlie knows his company has to be there, but he doesn’t know why”

Hello again,

This week in reading about the Groundswell, I looked at things like P.O.S.T. and how to assemble basic elements we need to build a groundswell strategy for our business. In order to put together elements and come up with a strategy to better your business, you have to have a specific goal or you will ultimately fail. BUT not to fear, because that goal can be as simple as just listening to your customers input! And once you get started and achieve that goal, you can accomplish much more than what you intended! (Can you tell I’m not a marketing student yet?) Hahaha.

Before beginning, you need to understand what P.O.S.T. is though! I have attached an image which gives you an outline of what it involves and what each step needs in order to move on to the next. For people, you’re going to assess your customers’ social activities which can outline which objectives you’d like to focus on. These objectives being, listening, talking, energizing, supporting, or embracing. All equally important, and some companies may only need to focus on one where some may need to focus on all. Once objectives have been set, we look for strategies in order to obtain these objectives to which then leads us to what technology are we going to invest in or use in order to achieve the big picture.

When I took this process into account of where I’m currently working, I looked at what Lexus is doing right now to achieve using the groundswell strategy. For People, we assess our customers’ social activities by having a chat room for customers and surveys sent out regularly to let them let us know how we’re doing, whether it be sales, customer service, or just the products itself. When looking at objectives, Lexus can do wonders by talking; meaning to use the groundswell to spread messages about the company. Lexus doesn’t advertise much due to its “luxury” image, but in order to increase consumer activity, i think its crucial for them to do so, to get the name into more customers minds. Even embracing would be great for the company because that way we’d be integrating our customers into our community. This could be anywhere from holding company events and allowing buyers to attend and engage with one another, which can also lead to a higher customer base and allow us to listen in to what they want out of the company. Perhaps this could even mean to help design future products. Last but not least, we look at the technology step in which I believe Lexus could benefit from more of a social networking approach. To really get the name out there and see what others have to say about it so we know what to do in the future to fix or improve.

Essentially what I had learned from this chapter was that we cannot just rely on our product and how it will sell and how our customers will react, but our marketing strategies and the way we communicate with our consumer market is HUGE. Like seriously big! We KNOW we have to reach out to our customers, many of us just don’t know HOW. It all depends on your market as well, some companies will use blogs and some will use private communities to allow a smaller number of customers to engage in conversation. Once we know whats best for us and for our customers to feel like we care, then we come up with a strategy that will further this communication. Once you’ve got this down, there’s no going back.

The Groundswell is a move forward trend and cannot be stopped. As the chapter states and I will leave you with this, “there is no right way to engage with the groundswell.” (Li & Bernoff, 2008).

See ya next week!

Beverly Small

References:

Li, C., & Bernoff, J. (2008). Strategies for tapping the groundswell. In Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Press.
Groundswell POST Process. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2015.