Corporate Companies embracing Social Media Marketing

I spend hours on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and the likes, reading about various aspects of the social media. The fact remains that Social Media is powerful. I read about many successful “social media case studies” and also about corporate companies that trust social media, and how they are embracing these unique ways of promoting business. There are companies who fear using these unique ways of promoting their companies. The companies that ignore the efficacy of the social media are:

• The ones who are not aware of social media, or
• The ones who are interested but don’t know how to use it, or
• The ones who do not believe the power of social media strategy.

Here, I would like to highlight few corporate houses that are engaged into Social Media Marketing:

Procter & Gamble’s “Being Girl” is a site targeted at 13 year old girls. P&G used an indirect approach and created a community for young girls to discuss the issues that usually plague 13 year old girls. And it worked like magic.

P&G

Coca-Cola Conversations” is a blog written by Phil Mooney (Coca Cola’s archivist/historian) that focuses on Coke collectibles. The blog also has a number of Coca Cola stories, recipes that use coke as an ingredient; and just about everything from the world of Coca Cola.

coca

Jet Blue Travel Stories” is how an airline is telling a story about the travelers that use its services. It lets its customers upload their stories in a simple yet unique manner, and these can then be played for the world to see.

jetblue

On the Go with Amy” is a Blog that is sponsored by Best Western. Amy, the author, travels the country writing about her varied experiences in a manner that is fun to read, and also gives travelers/readers important travel related information from time to time.

onthego

The Platform” hosted by Cisco addresses a variety of audiences for their global business. It discusses various aspects such as relevant news, security, collaboration, the web experience, etc.

cisco

GM next- Driving Change” has blogs by GM to communicate directly with its customers around topics ranging from design to green tech. Besides, GM has also made its presence felt on social media sites such as Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube.

gmnext

While this does make it seem like the pool is full to the brim, social media allows a business to do so much more. I would love to see some more corporate companies engaged into social media in the comment section 🙂

The fifth 'P' of Marketing- "PARTICIPATION" in Social Media

With the advent of the Internet, it is easier for small businesses to market their products and services. The variety of social media tools, available today in the market, has made it easy for businesses to reach out to a wider consumer network and instil brand loyalty towards their products or services. Web 2.0, a second generation of web based services, has led businesses into the arena of social media marketing. Traditional marketing and its classical 4 “P’s”, being Product, Price, Place and Promotion have been changed to suit the current needs and is extended by adding the fifth “P”, being Participation.

Today, competition has increased because of the information glut caused by various media specialists believing in social media marketing for business promotion. If you want to maintain brand loyalty, visibility is the key. To be visible on the Internet, word of mouth marketing is a powerful tool used by businesses. The fifth “P” or Participation comes into play in such a situation as it allows you and the customer to interact with each other, thereby developing a mutually beneficial relationship.

So, you might ask that how exactly does one use and benefit from this fifth “P” of marketing or Participation? Web 2.0 marketing experts have claimed that there are four steps that need to be followed in order to maximize the Participation factor in promoting your business. The first step is to listen to the customers for which you have to monitor all talk that is generated about your company. In order to do so, you may use a RSS reader as most of these conversations are RSS enabled. The second step is to create awareness about your brand and you can do this by using social media tools to your advantage. Blogs, Wiki, etc can be used to your advantage for creating brand perception among customers. The third step is to measure the extent of presence of your brand.

Social media experts claim that after you have completed the first three steps, you have to Participate. This can be done by way of participating in existing blogs, sending e-mails, creating chat rooms on your website where customers can talk to you about their problems, and even by allowing customers to post testimonials about your brand and company. In short, participation means allowing the customer to have a say in all activities of the company, making sure that they are involved in the entire brand loyalty process, rather than being led by the company.

By using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and the likes, you could create a fan-base for your company, who in turn could become your loyal customer and popularise your offerings online. Another method is to publish information or videos regarding your company and invite comments on the same. Start a blog on your own website, a place where customers can voice their feelings and be assured of a response and action, if required. On a concluding note, Participation is basically making sure that your presence is felt by the customers at all times and to make them convinced of your interest in their welfare.

What can Web Marketing 2.0 do that Advertising can’t?

As the Internet has grown with its huge database of information on varied sources, more and more people are spending their time online. This phenomenon has opened a new market of Internet advertising. Of the lucrative Internet marketing pie, Web 2.0 has a very important place. Web 2.0 refers to Internet-based services belonging to the second generation and consists of wikis, folksonomies, social-networking sites, blogs, video-sharing sites and mashups.

The reach of traditional form of advertising is limited and the whole process of developing the ad-copy and marketing it using the services of a PR person takes a lot of time, money and effort. On the other hand, Web 2.0 marketing has a wide pyramid-of-influence that can be reached pretty fast and using just a fraction of the cost that would have been used by traditional marketing methods to reach the same number of people. What’s more – with Web 2.0 marketing, geographical borders vanish and you can reach a global audience to market your products and/or services. However, you would need to do your own homework and become a web 2.0 marketing expert to reap the optimum benefits of this online media.

Unlike traditional advertising channels that were highly controlled and limited by nature, Web 2.0 marketing offers a much liberal space to customers where they can freely discuss about your products and services. So, against the traditional advertising channels that could only allow one-way messages, the dynamic arena of Web 2.0 marketing offers a much bigger participation for the consumers. Moreover, as everyone can generate and shape the message on Web 2.0, you can no longer control the nature of message, unlike the standard channels of traditional advertising like radio, print, and TV. As peer-to-peer communication and “word-of-mouth” marketing is the driving force of Web 2.0 marketing, you can spread your intended message in a viral fashion by doing proper planning for it. Just imagine what a cakewalk it would be to pass on a message related to your products and services to hundreds of friends and contacts all around the world with almost no cost and within a fraction of a second!

As you can’t control the nature of message that will get circulated on Web 2.0, the next best thing that you can do is to influence it. Try to build a good brand image online by taking an active part in the conversations about your products and services. Be an active listener and try to learn what your customers’ needs are. Then, design and deliver your offerings accordingly to delight your targeted clientele. Remember – Web 2.0 marketing is a lucrative opportunity that you can use to engage your community and turn strangers into fans. These fans would act as your online salespeople who would promote your products and services. If all these steps sound like an uphill task, you may consider hiring a social media expert, who would do the job with professional precision and bring you the desired benefits.

All these explain why web marketing 2.0 can help you achieve a lot with proper planning that traditional advertising can’t even think of!

My Trip: I Dugg, Twittered, Mixxed and Eventually Stumbled!

social-media-bandwagon
An increasing number of online communities are vying for the top places and are fervently trying to attract new users. StumbleUpon boats of in excess of 7 million users (registered) and Twitter has about 4 million. The numbers did rise when Ashton Kutcher and NBC were in the race to get 1 million followers.

While some regard these figures as mere numbers, to many these numbers represent the population of the community that they are part of. With no ‘constitutions’ to rule over them, all that the users have to do to be heard on these platforms is do adhere by a fairly simple set of rules and regulations. With social networking continuing to gain credence, it is no surprise that these platforms are been viewed as a great way to put across views, raise issues, as well as market ones wares.

For the uninitiated, this write-up will bring to the fore a number of social networking sites that you can be part of, and also how these social networking sites will play a significant role in the things to come. If you are already part of the bandwagon, you can simply read on to build on your existing knowledge bank.

Becoming a member of a social networking site such as Twitter, StumbleUpon, Mixx, and the likes is not at all complicated. With some personal information to be furbished, and once you’ve chosen a user name, you are pretty much good to go. Mentioned below are brief descriptions of the more popular social networking sites.

Digg.com:

Digg is definitely amongst the most popular social networking site. I personally think that Digg is quite picky when it comes to choosing the content and it does take a fair amount of commitment and time for one to succeed using this platform. However, Digg is great for networking and can be fun to use, and I have made a number of friends thanks to Digg. The one thing that is of utmost important on Digg is the front page, and if your blog does reach the front page, success is inevitable (as long as you continue to put in a fair amount of effort, because other blogs are also vying for the same spot).

Reddit:

A lot is said about Reddit being the ‘geek’ platform, despite which, I continue to like it. Also, it does seem fairly easier to appear on Reddit’s homepage in comparison to Digg and the amount of traffic that it directs is easily at par with Digg. Besides, it also has a number of categories that one can choose from and also has wide comment participations. The one glitch that I noticed is that the moderators (who, incidentally, are also users) can delete other submissions randomly and do so at fairly regular intervals. Another aspect is that while one submission of yours might receive unprecedented support, other submissions might be totally ignored, for reasons you cannot quite comprehend. Lastly, despite its perceptible usability, finding your way around can be quite a pain.

StumbleUpon:

Stumbling upon this site was quite a pleasure for me, and this continues to remain my personal favorite. This social networking site seems more friendly and warm in comparison to the rest, besides having an eclectic mix of users. It gives you the ability to post your content in areas of specific interests and you get to view content that you can relate to as opposed to content that is highly voted. The best thing, according to me, is that StumbleUpon has the ability to send lingering traffic your way even after the initial popularity fades; as opposed to Digg and Reddit which only send traffic your way as long as the popularity factor is high. Besides, a majority of the people I stumbled upon here actually seem interested in things that they say interest them.

Mixx:

I heard a lot about Mixx, therefore decided to mix in it myself, and have absolutely no regrets in doing so. Mixx allowed me to create ‘groups’ in accordance to topics of my choice and I now add pertinent content to these groups. In populating these groups, one can either send out invites to other ‘Mixxers’ or just wait for other Mixxers to join of their own accord. The opportunity of making your ‘group’ private or public is a great option. Another great thing about Mixx is that you are not limited to sharing your content with other Mixxers. Using the ‘share this’ option, I could comfortably submit content to Google Bookmarks, Facebook, StumbleUpon, MySpace, Windows Live, and a few other platforms; an option that isn’t available on Digg.

Twitter:

Launched in 2006, Twitter lets its users post text messages which cannot exceed 140 characters, and is an easy to use site. Tweeter also allows tweeters to keep followers updated even when they nowhere near a computer, thanks to their cell (mobile) phone. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m sure it’s quite handy. Besides, my ‘tweets’ only go out to users who have opted to become my followers. I have noticed that a large number of businesses have now turned to using Twitter to keep their existing/probable customers updated about new products/services. I’ve hear rumors about Twitter forming an alliance with other social networking sites, but for now, rumors are what they remain to be.

Facebook:

Again, a fairly busy networking site, Facebook allows its members to upload photos besides getting to interact with other Facebook users. Owing to its multiple options, I recently moved all my pictures from Picasa to here, and these pictures can be viewed by any one of my ‘friends’ or I also have the option of keeping albums ‘private’. It also allows you to write on someone else’s wall, play games, partake in surveys, etc. One thing you should be wary of while using Facebook is your content being stolen if you are careless about it.

MySpace:

Primarily home to the younger generation, it is amongst the most populous social networking sites. If your profile age does not say you are young, do not expect too many interactions. This is also a platform that many recording artists use to interact with their fans, with a number of recording artists allowing their fans to preview upcoming releases.

FreindFeed

A relatively newer community, I think this site shows a lot of promise. A fair amount of Twitters have moved base to this site simply because of its high interaction levels; for every post of yours, you can easily expect around ten comments. This is surely a site that will rise in the days to come.

LinkedIn

This social networking site is for the corporate world. While this site is quite limited when it comes to interactions, it is a great place for businessmen looking to increase their contacts/opportunities.

I know these aforementioned descriptions are brief, so please feel free to add to what I’ve said and experienced. Also, are there any more important social networking websites that I’ve missed? Lastly, if you are already part of the growing phenomenon of social networking sites, which one do you like best and why?

Do post your comments and hopefully, this could become a rather informative page for the layman and the technocrat alike.

Cheers!

Twitter Guide- The Overview Part 2

Here’s adding to what I’ve already said about Twitter through my previous post.

Twitter – The Social News Channel:
This is what differentiates Twitter from sites such as Facebook, wherein you set up a profile and essentially connect with people you have known in the past. Twitter is more of a ‘social news channel’ where you have real time access to news from across the world which comes directly from the source, unfiltered.
One more aspect of Twitter that really appeals to me is that I get to decide who is important to me. I choose to follow people who can influence me positively, as opposed to people tweeting about where and when they had coffee.
A recent survey showed that only 10% Twitters actually Tweet, which goes to show that this is not a place where everybody is doing the talking. A majority of the people on Twitter come here essentially to listen to what they find interesting, and connect and communicate with people that matter to them.
Twitter, as a social news channel, also makes you a part of the overall experience. It is people like you and me who contribute to Twitter, and we are essentially the people who make it work. This also goes to show that we could very well be the people that others choose to follow (of course, this depends on what we want to Tweet about).

Being Followed:
Twitter helps bringing passions to the fore, wherein if you are zealous about anything, or are working on something special, you could have a following too. Depending on what you Tweet about, you could end up being the leader of a number of followers who want to hear what you have to say. This could include Tweets about some project that only a handful of Tweeters find relevant, or views about matters that appeal to the masses. Besides, Twitter is not a contest (although CNN and Ashton Kutcher would tell you otherwise), and it really does not matter how many followers you have as long as there is something that you do which other people could be interested in.

twitter-love

Partaking in the Experience:
Since Twitter is real time active media, it pertains more to today, as opposed to yesterday or the day before. The Tweets relate to what is currently happening, and the views/opinions are based in the present. When people Tweet about any topic that is relevant to you, you are always free to Tweet back with suggestions, ideas, or feedback. You can also help by providing direction to people in spheres that you know of well.

Looking for Insight:
While you can share your knowledge with others, you can also look for people who would be willing to do the same. If you are stuck in the middle of a project, or simply need ideas for new ones, you can get fellow Tweeters to help you with the same. You can also ask Tweeters what they think about anything in particular. All the questions that you put forth on Twitter are very likely to generate responses.
The more the questions you put forth, the more the responses that you get, and the more you connect with likeminded people.

If I were to sum it up in a couple of lines, I would describe Twitter as a place where you can share information/knowledge about matters that interest you with people who you find interesting; and it is the resultant conversations that add to the excitement.

Cheers!

Twitter Guide– An Overview Part 1

the-beginners-guide-to-twitter-430x286
There is no dearth of videos and articles when it comes to describing what Twitter is, and there are scores of surveys telling you how may Tweeters actually Tweet, but I have noticed that most of these fall short on describing Twitter, and some even end up giving the viewer/reader the wrong idea altogether.

I have been a Twitter for a long time now (if you take into account the total time that Twitter has been around), and have seen it grow and develop tremendously since its inception. What was originally a place where you could tell your friends what you were doing, like ‘sitting at home watching football’, has now evolved considerably.

Twitter, according to me, is not a community, not a conventional social network, and not a place where every user wants to say something. Twitter isn’t like MySpace, LinkedIn, or Facebook. It is not even in the same neighborhood.

Following People:
To start with, Twitter is a place where you can follow people that you find interesting. These could include celebrities, trendsetters, business leaders, inventors, sportspersons, as well as your friends. With Twitter, you would be following what they do, what they think, what they want you to know.

Following Communities and Companies:
In following different companies, you can know of the advancements they make from time to time as well as their upcoming products and services. You can also follow various groups in seeing what they set to accomplish and you could also partake in their journey.

Getting Reactions:
Through Twitter, you have access to the world’s collective consciousness. Irrespective of what the subject/topic is that you wish to know about, you would invariably find insights/opinions on Twitter. This could include the recently concluded Iranian elections, China’s policies on the West, reactions on sporting events, what people think of the new iPod, and even problems that people are facing with a particular product. This is amongst the most important reasons that businesses are increasingly using Twitter.

There is far more to Twitter than what I’ve spoken about, and I will add to this in my next post. Do share your views on Twitter, and if you have any questions about Twitter, shoot.

Until the next post, Cheers!