Business Analysis, Business Case, Information Technology, Product Development, Social business, Social Technologies

“The old computing was about what computers could do…the new computing is about what people can do“, Ben Shneiderman’s saying is as much relevant today as it ever was.  The impact of social business and social technologies on our professional and personal lives is so profound that businesses now are re-thinking their strategies in the light of ‘social’ context. The social web offers a lot of opportunities by harnessing the tremendous potential offered by multiple disciplines ranging from marketing, consumer behaviour, information technology, design, data analytics, gamification and customer experience and cognitive psychology, to name a few. The nice thing with the social strategy is that virtually anybody or any company can get on the board, however it does not guarantee success to all players in the game. The definition of ‘success’ in this context is debatable and fairly open, so I shall consider effectiveness over success. In this post, I wish to highlight the key pitfalls you must avoid, which would help you to get it right with your social strategy.

1. Giving only lip service to ‘people power’

All along, we have been hearing companies and people claiming “we are in the people business“, or “I am a people person“. In the context of Social web, these phrases are now acquiring new meaning and perhaps ‘the correct’ meaning. Now more than ever, opportunities are opening up, which will enable you to really do what you mean and put people in the rightful place they belong to and given the attention they deserve. Whether its the customers who bought your products, users who are facing problems using them or those people, who you think, know you by your name or brand are becoming your potential target audience. The nets are widening to reach out to the larger audience and in the broadest of contexts. The social channels are helping organisations reach out, listen to customers’ heartbeats and not just their voices, and providing support to the needy in real time. I have seen instances on Twitter when British Gas attempted to respond, advise and resolve the issues of their customers, on Twitter.

Put the people focus back into your business

 2. Getting aboard all the social trains

Resist the temptation to get on to every social and professional network available. As the old saying goes, “tell me your company and I shall tell you who you are”, the same holds true with the social channels and networks. Carefully consider who your target users are and identify those networks where your presence adds value to your brand, offerings and customers. For instance, just because everybody is creating a Facebook page, you don’t have to create one, when your product is targeted to the older generation users or high-security defence-component manufacturers. Look out for the maximum buzz and check if it suits you to have your presence there. Also, sometimes it is not the quantity that matters, but the quality. For example, Facebook and Twitter might have millions of users, but just focusing on them may not work well, if you are a large brand with global presence and rich legacy. To better leverage your interests and aspirations, a different network, say Pinterest could be a better bet, considering that it is the fastest-growing social network specially for the big brands out there.

Answering the following questions will help you choose the networks, wisely!

  • Who are my target audience?
  • What is my real offering and how does it help the users?
  • Where (which online networks) can I find my target audience, the most?
  • What is the nature of my business offering – social/professional?
  • Which networks should I consider for my presence?

3. Thinking “Social is the flavour of the season”

From businesses, news corporations, traditional media houses, celebrities and common people, everybody is getting active on the social networks. Don’t just focus on the social aspects at the cost of losing the advantage with traditional media. You need to ensure that there is harmony and congruence in your offline and online presence. Yes, it is true that to host a campaign on Facebook or run a series of hashtag tweets on Twitter it might be a lot cheaper or perhaps costs nothing. Add to that it could be the easiest thing to create, track and manage campaigns on these online networks. However, without careful consideration and calculation of cost-benefit analysis, don’t ditch the traditional marketing channels and rely solely on the social channels. With all the positive vibes going around with the social media, there is also another side that needs to be looked at. These social media can make or mar the reputation of your brand in no time with as much ease and speed you had in creating the campaign. For instance, McDonalds ran a campaign on Twitter with the hashtags  #McDStories and #MeetTheFarmers, but the campaign backfired thanks to the comments by some ‘enthusiastic’ users and their sarcastic tweets on McDonalds and their products.

4. Excessive focus on your products and services

Gone are those days when only your customers and users were talking about the products and services that they bought and used.  You were happy interacting with the people you know – whether  its your preferred partners, loyal customers or willing prospects. Now the context is changing  rapidly and the landscape has been extending further to prospective customers, friends of users. The World is indeed becoming one global village with inter-connected networks and individuals, intersecting each other in a criss-cross fashion. The interactions that you encourage among the various stakeholders, customers, users and followers need to be focused on the brand and not necessarily the products or services alone. Newer measures and metrics such as awareness, engagement, influence, reach, buzz and total customer value are complementing the good old measures like sales per product line, customer satisfaction index.

Unified Experience goes beyond products and services

5. Quitting before you start seeing the benefits

Let us accept it, just because you have hopped on to the social strategy earlier does not make you a leader in your industry. Getting social has become a sanity factor and more of a tick on your checklist, than a well-thought strategic directive. Often it takes more effort, time and perhaps other resources such as people, money too, to take off to a proper shape. Don’t give up just yet. Here are a few tips that will help you get better at the game of social media.

  • Set realistic goals which need to be tracked on a continual basis
  • Be persistent with your efforts
  • Learn from the leaders and follow the paths which worked right for them
  • Monitor the impact of social operations on your core business
  • Track and analyse the key measures and metrics to assess how you are performing
Hope you find the above tips helpful with your social initiatives. Don’t hesitate to mix and match different things that could work wonders for you. Do share your feedback. We shall discuss more interesting stuff in the upcoming posts. Till then, ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

Remember the times when you read the online reviews and researched products on the Internet, only to buy them in showrooms and stores later. Now, people are increasingly going into the stores for looking at the products, but buying online for better prices. Showrooming, as the Wall Street Journal calls this behaviour, is on the rise and retailers have to brace themselves for the new revolution. This is just one facet with the Social Web, which not only is aiding online and mobile commerce but also helping evolve newer business models. Not just business, but it is aiding the emergence of related media buzz and technologies such as Big Data. However, Social web is not just about business and technologies, nor it is about content and media, but it is built around people. It addresses more fundamental aspects such as the convergence of people’s online and offline interactions and their social behaviours. At Texavi, we created the Unified Experience Framework, leveraging the social mega trends. In this post, I give a few tips on how you can embrace the social web to your advantage.

Texavi's Unified Experience Framework - Prominent behaviours

1) Meaningful conversations, not just loads of content

With the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, content is being created, curated and consumed in humungous volumes. Sample this, every day just the ReTweet button in Twitter alone generates no less than 1 TeraByte of data. While it is true that now virtually everybody can become a publisher of content with ease, it is also true that there has been a deluge of content that is invading our professional and personal lives.  A study conducted by University of Massachusetts concluded that there has been a decline in the number of blogs maintained by large corporates. This goes on to prove that just having a blog up for the sake of it, will not help, unless it is not helping the objectives of the businesses, in this case. Large brands need to track the conversations that are happening about them and also understand how meaningful these conversations to their own business and to their customers.

2) Sustainable commerce, not just sporadic transactions

People are getting comfortable  buying, selling and trading online more than they were a few years ago. Businesses are realising that web commerce does not mean merely having 128-bit encryption and ‘https’ web sites to help people use credit cards for payment. The social web is making companies and people cross the chasm of the security, associated with the online commerce. The commerce here actually connotes the true sense of complete experience of offline and inline interactions. This healthy blend of offline and online experiences start from advertising to create noise, arousing interests, spreading the word of mouth, through reliable sources, prospecting, from trying and leading into buying.

3) Unified experience, not just web sites

Have you got a web site? Great, but don’t be ecstatic, just yet! You have passed the examination, but just scored enough to pass. To be able to compete in this ever-changing world, you need to be agile and nimble with your products and services. Web sites are, of course, more dynamic than print, but then they are not agile. To be truly agile and go to where the people are going, you need to get social.  “If you build it they will come” may not hold good now, one thing that will certainly work in today’s world is “Go to where the people are!”. That is what businesses and people are doing, going to the social platforms where the people are already hanging around, conversing, sharing and commenting. However, don’t get overwhelmed by this social revolution, and ignore the basics. Fundamental to your business is the core mission to deliver value and delightful experiences to your customers, users and partners.

Texavi's Unified Experience Framework

4) Caring and championing, not just sharing

Social media are not all about sharing, commenting and liking the content created or uploaded by your friends. It is also about sharing the feelings, emotions, pains and pleasures of others. Human beings are social creatures and nobody can deny the power of social media to reach out the needy and those who need the help. Whether its the movements to oppose the suppression and dictatorship, or the protests to demonstrate the unity against growing consumerism, social media have been playing a significant role. From campaigns supporting the environmental issues to the campaign to help donate the bone-marrow to a promising young entrepreneur suffering from Leukemia, social media are being used to the right cause.

Texavi's Unified Experience Meter

5) Actionable insights, not just plain numbers

I am a statistician by qualification and millions like me, around the world are happy to see the surge of statistics and analytics, thanks to the social media. From Google Analytics to marketing budgets and companies’ performances, numerical data are finding prominence. There are a plethora of services that came up in recent times to compute your engagement, influence, reach etc. Don’t be enamoured by the ranks and scores and target the influencers or mimic the content with high engagement scores. For instance, Paul Adams, in his book Grouped, quotes a research about how common people do not get influenced by celebrities or those with high scores of influence and reach. As per the study, people generally get influenced by people like them and tend to follow their behaviour. So, know fully well that the data and analytics that you gather are only as good as their use. Unless they are put to the right usage, context and value-add to your business and customers, they remain just numbers.

Hope you find this post usable, as always, welcome your feedback. I shall touch upon more practical challenges in delivering the unified experience and how you can overcome them. Until then, have fun!