Social Media Workplace

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Social media is all around us. It is the news we share. It is what we talk about day and night. It is what keeps us connected with the world. In this entry, we will explore what social media is and where it came from. We will explore how social media is changing the way we do business today and its effects on businesses. We will look at how some businesses (big and small) are taking up social media and integrating them in their business model. Finally, we will look at where social media is taking business in the future.

Contents

Social Media and its Impact on Businesses

Social Media could be defined in many ways, but I found the definition by Anthony Bradley, a group VP of Gartner to be the best. He defines social media as a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate. IT tools to support collaboration have existed for decades. But social-media technologies, such as social networking, wikis and blogs, enable collaboration on a much grander scale and support tapping the power of the collective in ways previously unachievable. [1] According to a study by Trend Micro, the use of social web increased in the workplace from 19% to 24%. [2] However, it is unclear if the use of these social web tools were spent on driving the business or for personal use. Nevertheless, we will continue to see more trend in how social media is transforming businesses today and tomorrow.

Still don't get why businesses should jump on the Social Media bandwagon? Take a look at this video, it's in plain simple English.


History of Social Media

Precursors To Social Media

  • 1979: Usenet Systems and Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs)
These were systems that let users post articles or posts to newsgroups, which were different from most Bulletin Board Systems and forums because there was no centralized server or dedicated administrator. Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) were the first type of sites, which allowed users to log on and interact with one another.
  • 1980: Online Services
CompuServe was the first company that offered online chat system. Then, Prodigy made these online services more affordable since CompuServe was extremely expensive ($6/hour plus long distance, adding up to around $30/hour).
  • 1988: IRC
Internet Relay Chat (IRC), the ancestor of instant messaging, was developed. It was used for file sharing and keeping in touch.

Early Social Networks

  • 1997: Six Degrees
Six Degrees was the first social networking site, which allowed users to create profiles and become friends with other users.
  • 1999: LiveJournal
This was a change to Six Degrees. LiveJournal was a social network built around constant updates on blogs. Users can follow one another and create groups, as well as interact.

Advances In Social Networking

  • 2002: Friendster
The first modern and general social network was founded. It allows people to expand their networks by discovering friends and then friends-of-friends, and so on.
  • 2003: LinkedIn
This was one of the first social networking sites devoted to business. It allows users to post profiles (or resumes) and interact through private messaging. Other features include groups, forums, and real-time updates.
  • 2003: MySpace
MySpace allows users to customize their profile looks, post music from artists, and embed videos. These features set aside itself from its competitors. In 2006, it became the most popular social networking site in the world.
  • 2004: Facebook
It started out as a social network only in Harvard University, but it quickly expanded to other schools and everyone. In 2008, it surpassed MySpace when it became the most popular social networking site. Facebook lacks the customization feature that MySpace offers. However, it allows users to post photos, videos, and customize their profile content and arrangements.

Niche Social Networks

  • 2003: Photobucket
This is the first major photo sharing site that allows users to share photos publically or in password-protected albums.
  • 2005: YouTube
YouTube was the first major video hosting and sharing site that allows users to upload videos up to 10 minutes long each and share or embed them on other websites.

Real Time Updates

  • 2006: Twitter
Real-time updates are the new norm in social media. Twitter involves itself with third-party sites and apps, turning it into more of a platform than a single service.
  • 2007: Tumblr
It is a cross between a lifestreaming application and a microblogging platform. It lets users post photos, video, text, audio, links, and conversations.

Example of Businesses Using Social Media

Burger King

The "Whopper Sacrifice" campaign was Burger King’s Facebook application that gave you a coupon for a free Whopper if you delete 10 people from your friends list. After you deleted a friend the application would post a message on your ex-friend’s wall saying “(your name) sacrificed (your friends name) for a free Whopper." The promotion was limited to one coupon per Facebook account. Many people found this promotion to be entertaining and funny, while others had more negative feeling to being “unfriended”. In the end Facebook did not like what the application was doing and shut it down, though the page still exists.

Rogers

RogersMary is the community Manager on the Social Media team at Rogers and Fido and is part of the @RogersHelps and @RogersBuzz teams on Twitter. She provides useful information on updates, answers questions and helps customers with any difficulties they are experiencing with Rogers via twitter. Roger’s regularly staffs representatives to be online during regular business hours, but by using this type of channel many representatives often go online during weekends and evenings to help answer customer questions. Overall, Rogers’ uses Twitter as a complement to its existing channels for communications and customer care and not as a replacement. RogersMary currently has over 1100 followers.

Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard entertainment has created several Facebook pages for many of its games and also for many different languages of their games. These pages talk about upcoming games or changes and provide information on various events going on in their gaming community. Highlights of user created artworks and videos related to the games are also showcased here and prior to the launch of their newest game StarCraft 2 many contests were held on these pages for a chance to win Beta keys for the game, which kept subscribers to the pages checking them frequently. Blizzard has also implemented Facebook integration tools into their games, which links a players Blizzard account to their Facebook account (if the email that registered each account with was the same) and allows them to quickly check their Facebook friends list for people who also play Blizzard games and gives them an option to add these friends to their in games friends list.

Sprinkles Cupcakes

A Beverly Hills based cupcake baking company having over 145,000 fans of their Facebook page uses its Facebook page as a two way means of interaction with its customers. The company regularly posts information on upcoming promotions and asks for customer opinions on new flavours of cupcakes it plans to release in the future using their page. Additionally, everyday Sprinkles Cupcakes posts a secret word on its Facebook page, which allows the first designated amount of customers that mention the word to staff at stores of the selected location of the day to receive a free cupcake. Photos of people having a good time enjoying Sprinkles Cupcakes are also posted in the photos section of this Facebook page by customers and staff alike.

Old Spice

Using YouTube Old Spice created a very successful viral video campaign titled as “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”, which featured their TV commercial star Isaiah Mustafa, later to be known as “the Old Spice Guy”. Old Spice used several social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Digg as ways for people to send questions or comments to the Old Spice guy, which he would then respond to in short videos uploaded to YouTube. The campaign’s series of short videos, in total have achieved well over 122 million views on the company’s YouTube account alone and sales of the company’s body wash have since been doubled.

Recruitment via LinkedIn

Not only are Social Networking tools used to improve customer relations and marketing, it also enhances professional recruitment. In the case of several companies who have created a LinkedIn profile such as eBay, Google, Yahoo and Oracle, they have testified that more and more of their recruiters have found top candidates through LinkedIn's tools for professionals. They could track the movement of even passive, but talented candidates who do not post their jobs on traditional job boards. Companies like eBay would also have a 50% higher response rate in their InMail, plus a there would be a significant cut in cost per hire. Now companies have enhances recruitment processes through social networking tools.

Small Businesses and Social Media

Small businesses are also taking advantage of social media through its branding opportunities. Having a company's brand and it's own URL in different sites such as Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube will give them more control on where customer searches will land, which will be the official profile set up for each site. Social media sites also cut costs by increasing the use of natural links to a company's, as opposed to paid ones. The use of viral videos as mentioned above has also helped small business like BlendTec to attract traffic by their 'Will It Blend" videos. This is a series of short videos where they blend things such as golf balls, credit cards and even an iPhone to show the durability of their blenders. It also provides small businesses cheap means to create networks and interact with the public.

Limitations and Challenges

There are many benefits to use social media for business purposes and there are also some difficulties that come with it. For one, the benefits from using social media sites are often difficult to monetize. Click rates or interactions on a company’s page are usually also unavailable to the company. Whereas, if they create their own webpage, this useful information could be available to them. Furthermore, large amounts of social networking site users have inaccurate profile data, which may skew marketing efforts to target the correct audiences.

Regulating what is said about your company is also difficult or inappropriate to do. There is not much a business can do to stop a disgruntled customer from slandering your company all over your company’s page. When companies start a social media site, they must be willing to accept the ability of users to post all the positive and negative comments that they may want to make.

Additionally, as more and more marketers and marketing efforts enter social networking sites, users often start to leave. As a social media site becomes saturated with advertisements and promotions, many users will often just move on to the next emerging social media site.

The Future

Corporate Websites Irrelevant

Currently customers are more likely to listen and trust their friend’s opinion over a corporate website or a salesperson. These types of conversation are happening off of corporate websites and are taking place on other sites such as Digg and Slashdot. Corporations will begin to create websites that look more like streams of conversations from people talking about your product 3. They will fragment their websites across multiple channels such as Facebook and twitter, website will become more than just a single URL 3.

Real Time Interactions

The future of social media will take into account the fact that information and interactions are taking place all the time. Posts that go up on Friday on a corporate website cannot be left to sit for the weekend and checked again on Monday. Listening programs will need to be implemented so that information pertaining to a specific corporation can be monitored and responded to quickly and efficiently 3.

Customer Relationship Management

One of the key areas that social media will affect in the future will be Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Through social media CRM will become more transparent, customer-centric and customer-driven 1.

Transparent CRM

Social media allows companies to become transparent about their values and building their brands 1. Not only does it help CRM become more transparent it is also a way for CRM to become bidirectional. With customers maintaining public profiles and companies with public profiles both corporations and customers can find out about each other. This leads to companies being able to generate high-quality and high-qualified leads while respecting customers privacy. This means that customers and corporations can both learn as much about each other as they desire 1. Companies will create communities, build feedback mechanisms on their brand Web sites, communicate the fact that they are present in social media and welcome their audiences into a conversation 2.

Customer-Centric CRM

Through social media customers are sharing more data about themselves online than ever before 1. From hobbies to career, all this information is being shared on customers’ profiles. Through the use of social CRM applications marketers will be able to use this information to better learn about their customers and prospective customers and build better relationships with them 1. Also, companies will use the spectrum of social media formats to hear what their audiences need and want from them from other sources outside of the company’s community 2. From these areas companies will then make changes to their products, messages and processes to enhance the value that is being received from the customer 2.

Customer-Driven CRM

With the amount of information that is available to customers and to corporations it is imperative that companies focus on information that is relevant to their customers. Customers rely on those they trust, and like as filters for recommendations on things to purchase 1. Companies need to invest more customer loyalty and take steps to empower customers with tools, information, and incentives to be an effective sales and marketing force 1.

According to Jeremiah Owyang,4 an industry analyst for Altimeter Group and a columnist for Forbes CMO Network, there are six things that companies need to look out for in the future:

• The social web is quickly evolving. Develop long-term strategies now. Stop playing the one-off games and think about how this is truly changing your business.
• You need to integrate social technologies into your corporate Web site or Google will render you irrelevant.
• Join communities where they exist.
• Develop a listening and advocacy program.
• Think holistically: this is not just marketing, it's sales and PR and recruting and support.
• Prepare for personalized content to come to your web sites.

References

1. Smith, Clara. CRM Magazine, Nov2009, Vol. 13 Issue 11
2. Public Relations Tactics; Jan2009, Vol. 16 Issue 1
3. The Future of Social Media and business
4. McCarthy, Caroline (Feb, 2008). Delete 10 Facebook friends, get a free Whopper Retrieved August 1, 2010
5. RogersMary Retrieved August 1, 2010
6. Sternal, John (2009). Example Of Using Facebook For Business Retrieved August 1, 2010
7. Shaw, Hollie (July 2010). FP Marketing: The unstoppable Old Spice guy Retrieved August 1, 2010
8. Old Spice Channel Retrieved August 1, 2010
9. Old Spice Retrieved August 1, 2010
10. Chapman, C. (2009, October 7). The History and Evolution of Social Media. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/10/the-history-and-evolution-of-social-media
11. Borders, B. (2009, June 2). A Brief History of Social Media. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://socialmediarockstar.com/history-of-social-media
12. Leveraging a Truly Professional Network to Source Hard-to-Find Candidates [3] Retrieved August 2, 2010, from www.talent.linkedin.com
13. Search Engine Guide [4] Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www.searchengineguide.com/david-wallace/5-ways-small-business-can-benefit-from-s.php
14. Owyang, Jeremiah (Feb, 2008). The Many Challenges of Social Network Sites Retrieved August 7, 2010
15. Bradley, Anthony (Jan, 2010). [5] Retrieved August 1, 2010
16. O'Dell, Jolie (July, 2010). [6] Retrieved August 1, 2010

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