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Posts tagged ‘private community’

Listening to the Groundswell

download (4)Listening to the groundswell is one of the five objectives that companies can pursue in the groundswell to better understanding their customers. It is important to listen to the customer because your brand is whatever your customers say it is and the groundswell is where they communicate with each other.

Listening is more than conducting surveys or focus groups. It’s about observing your customers in their natural habitats because they leave clues about their opinions on a daily or hourly basis through blogging, discussion forums etc. They rate your product, talk about the pros and cons, prices and customer service, whether it’s positive or negative.

Two main strategies for listening are:

  1. Set up your own private community. “Daycare Bear, The Canadian Childcare Providers Information Network” is a good example of a community forum. It also depends on your market you’re trying to reach, as for myself I would create a private community for parents to discuss topics involving my product or service in a narrower community, such as, Wabasca, AB rather than all of Canada.
  2. Begin brand monitoring. This is done by hiring a company to listen on your behalf. What I mean by this is that the company you hire can research different blogs, forums, or any social media networking for what your customers are talking about and they can deliver a summary report about what’s happening and this way you can address any issues that arise.

Six reasons why your company should start engaging in a private community or brand monitoring:

  1. Find out what your brand stands for. Meaning, are your customers understanding the message you’re trying to get out and if not, then what stands in the way?
  2. Understand how buzz is shifting. Buzz leads directly to sales in every industry. Keep listening and understand change.
  3. Save research $$ and increase research responsiveness. A regular research budget is cheaper than conducting research occasionally.
  4. Find the sources of influence in your market. Who are talking about your product? Such as, bloggers, communities on Facebook, videos on YouTube etc. Once this is discovered the influencers you can cultivate them.
  5. Manage PR crisis. This is an early warning system that involves your company to respond to negative feedback before they get out of hand.
  6. Generate new product and marketing ideas, for free. As long as you’re listening to your customers they can generate new and intelligent ideas on how to improve your product and to be more efficient.

If you decide to listen, you then must carry out a listening plan. This involves checking the social technographics profile of your customers. Depending on the percentage of creators and critics in your customer base helps you decide on which strategy to utilize. Then start with a single brand and monitor that. This will eventually grow as long as you know who will be monitoring and how. An experienced team will help you create and manage information coming in and to understand the results in your listening vendor. Managing this resource is important. Have one staffer dedicated to reading the reports, interfacing the vendors and suggesting new information to retrieve. They must also put together the insights from listening to the groundswell with other research, surveys, and focus groups to create a complete market picture. Be prepared!

Your company will not be the same once you start listening and act on the information retrieved. First, your job becomes to communicate what you’ve learned – to insight into change. Second, listening becomes a bigger part of your company; you should integrate the results into corporate decision making. Then your company will be no-more-being-stupid factor. Meaning every company has stupid products, policies and organizational quirks because of executive biases or tradition. It’s hard to deny your own flaws but will evaporate because of visible customer feedback. Finally, if you are listening now expect to be talking soon too.


Information a company needs to know when deciding to use Social Media

After reading the article“Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media” by Kaplan, Andrea and Haenlein,

images (10)Michael, the ten pieces of advice for companies deciding to use Social Media is what caught my interest.

This information is a guideline to help people move into the right direction because Social media is growing significantly at a fast paste. Since the components consist of Social Media, the first 5 points are on Social, and the next 5 are on Media.

Social Media is all about participating, sharing and collaborating rather than advertising and selling.

1.      Make a right choice.

There are many options of Social Media application, for that reason you should choose carefully. If you are not “active” in the application, images (12)it will not work. When deciding you must think about the “message” you’re trying to get out and which “target group” you want to hear the message.

I have tried a few social networking applications myself, such as, Hi5, MyLife, Bebo, tagged and facebook. I was searching for the right one to keep in touch with my family and friends. The one that works best for me is facebook because my friends and family were all on facebook.

2.      Make or buy.

The next step is to decide whether to choose an existing Social Media application or make your own. The only reason to make your own is if there is “no” application that has the target group you want to reach.

The industry I am interested in is Childcare and I would like to find a Social Media application that has users specifically interested in Childcare (daycares, schools, head starts, and pre-schools., etc), where advice, stories and successes can be shared. LinkedIn has a variety of industry groups that I am still researching and learning

images (13)about, this might be a good place for me to start, since they have numerous participants already.

3.      Alignment

If you decide to use several Social Media applications to reach the largest target groups possible, you must make sure all your activities are aligned with each other. It can be a profitable strategy if it is done properly.

4.      Integration is key!

mentos-diet-cokeThe relationship between social and traditional media is that they are part of the “corporate image” in the eyes of the customers. A great example is when the experiment of “Diet coke and Mentos” went viral in YouTube and then aired on the Letterman show. This is what you call low cost media coverage.

5.      Who has access to the site?

Lately a lot of companies block Social Media applications such as download (2)facebook from the work place to avoid the over use of it, and employees not being productive. A company must work out some kind of system where employees can update, respond to comments; give feedback etc when using an application because after all it’s all about being active.

6.      Being active!

Being active means staying on top of things, building relationships through actively being involve in the preferred application by having new content and engaging in the conversations with customers or potential customers.

7.      Listen, develop and post

These three steps will help you deliver interesting content that meets the expectations of your customers (people) and make them want to come back for more. I know I don’t like to read or pay attention to things that are boring and has no value to me.


8.      Learn, practice and participate!

Be humble about where Social media came from and realize it’s been around long before you stumbled upon it. Take the time to learn about the site, its history and rules. Explore it before participating. Once you understand what the site is about then participate. This means feedback is critical, don’t just post and re-post.

I have recently signed up in LinkedIn and I am taking the time to learn more about it before I start posting. I am building up my profile first then I will start commenting and engaging into conversations.

9.      Blend in

Social Media users are people just like you, so don’t over use professional content that is hard to understand. Using personal stories about making mistakes or anything the user can relate to because it’s useful and free advice.

10.  Honesty

Bottom line, no one wants to be reading misleading information. Some sites are known for the content to be true, such as, Wikipedia and they don’t allow “companies” to add-in information about themselves. If a company tries to get involved by using a different account, they will find out and will put a stop to it. These are some of smartest people online that we deal with, so respect the rules of the game and be honest.

This article describes the challenges and opportunities of Social Media and I (Renita) believe’s that being knowledgeable about the applications is an opportunity for the user.