Monday, May 28, 2007

Levels of social participation in Social Media

As per the Social technographics report published by Charlene Lee of Forrester Research, there are six levels of social participation in social media in the U.S.This comprises creators, critics, collectors,joiners, spectators and inactives.Interesting comparison of Apple and Dell users and relevant from the point of view of marketers who can identify their target market and which rung of the ladder they are on, thereby creating appropriate strategies towards using web 2.0 for onlime marketing and branding, developing customer relationships, and using customers from a CGM and customer evangelism point of view.
However, if we consider the case of a country like India, where the total population is something like 1,129,667,528 and 40,000,000 web users , with a .035% web usage, the majority of the population would be in the inactive segment.How relevant something like this would be in an Indian context is something for only the urban population to decide.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Leveraging CGM for understanding Consumer Behaviour

As consumer generated media reflects the voice of the consumer in a huge way, the study of Consumer Behaviour has now got a new source of information that can be tapped.
Wikipedia defines CGM as
"Consumer generated media (CGM) originated as a reference to posts made by consumers within online venues such as internet forums, blogs, wikis, discussion lists etc., on products that they have purchased. Shoppers who are researching products often use other consumers' opinions when making buying decisions."

As huge volumes of User generated content floats around, organisations need to sit up and take note of the voice of it's empowered consumers.As prospective consumers rely on the opinions of the already existing consumers, leveraging CGM and channelising it appropriately has become critical for organisations to understand and manage market performance.This creation of social media is now influencing consumer behaviour, affecting product positioning and driving brand reputations in such a big way, that the power of the ordinary content creator can no longer be ignored.

As per reports published by Nielson Buzzmetrics, there were as many as 25 million blogs, 90,000 Bulletin Boards & Online Review/Feedback sites, 45,000 Usenet newsgroups, in end 2006, and the huge volume of daily postage data( daily postings for blogs:1,500,000, the online sites: 3000,000 and the newsgroups: 225,000) generated by the above has made CGM a force to reckon with.

The message is clear-These new social media tools , by giving birth to CGM have changed company relationships with their consumers from a unidirectional "attract customer" strategy to a culture of participation and co-creation. As consumer voices start echoing, the need is to establish a meaningful interaction with them and use them as advocates for the company.

A miniature case study on Dell shows how CGM has started raising it's head...well the head can be ugly too at times....

Dell has a blog called Direct2Dell, which it claims is for one-to-one communications with DEll. With over 800 inbound links, the site can boast a respectable Alexa traffic rank of 72,529.

Further a Trend Result by the keyword "Dell" on Blogpulse indicates that in May'07, the word 'Dell' found place in almost 0.475 percent of total blogposts.
Also, a technorati search reveals that the total no. of blog posts about Dell is 688,024 and 3025 blogs have already written about Dell.

Sounds interesting. But is it?

Consider what this dissatisfied user posted on the Dell blog-

"I use other social networking sites with a much broader reach than most blogs... the videos, discussion groups and online postings are just as anti-dell as ever and this is creating an impression (negative at the moment) on the entire generation of purchasers dell needs to win over. Dell needs to watch carefully what is going on in those areas of the internet as well.
Me? If I am unhappy with dell and shop elsewhere, Dell will miss selling me probably 5 more computers in my lifetime, add in 5 for my wife too... (we won't calculate friends who learn of our nightmares and also choose not to shop Dell, the figures are too hard to quantify here), so no big deal in the grand scheme of things, BUT if they also lose (for example) my daughter, her friends, their friends, etc. they stand to lose a further 12 sales (for each person based on a purchase of one computer every 5 years) in their lifetime! On Facebook alone she has 162 friends! This should be setting off alarm bells across the board."

...And if this was not enough, the concerned gentleman maintains a blog called Dell Hell revisited....A quick read tells you that it is clearly a 'I Hate Dell' Blog.

To further take a look at Dell's woes, courtesy CGM, A video on Youtube, supposedly called the 'My PC is on Fire-Dell Laptop Tribute Video( Numa Numa Song) which is apparently a parody of a pop song, and is aimed at Dell has as of now attracted 229,076 views. It has 463 comments and has been favourited over 1200 times. The power of replication of data and how it travels virally across the internet is better left unsaid.

And the impact Dell is facing courtesy this negative CGM drive is eventually something that Dell needs to measure and understand. In a business universe where Customer Collaboration and Advocacy are the new found norms, it is time Dell wakes up to these new challenges to face its 'EMPOWERED CONSUMERS'.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Employee communities in the web 2.0 space

Sandeep Dadlani's post on Linked-in across the extended flat world enterprise reiterates the need of an information structure within an organisation wherein the offerings of Web 2.0 can be leveraged to gain access to an employee database with personal information and probably employee photographs to get a personal feel of the entire setup. He sites geopgraphical locations as the primary cause for organisations to feel the need of sucha set up. This is very relevant with respect to developing an employee community where employees can communicate and collaborate with others with si,ilar skillsets and objectives and at the same time giving them a forum to voice their views. Communities are important not only as they provide employees a sense of belonging, but also an opportunity to showcase their achievements. Networking helps them develop affinity with other members at the workplace while simultaneously increasing the approachability of the members at the higher level.The ease of access provided by this model definitely makes it a viable option for organisations.Several organisations have already developed such communication models-The Sun Microsystem blog system is a case in point and the site statistics are impressive-
Total weblogs: 3200
Total users: 3557
Total entries: 67200
Total comments: 63417

The ideology behind floating the blog is aptly reflected in the fine print on the first page:
"This space is accessible to any Sun employee to write about anything."
Well, employee opinions matter...don't they...and as the 67200 entries show, it looks like...employees do have a lot to say!!!!

Infosys Blogs...contd....

Mohan Babu, who blogs at the 'Managing Offshore IT Blog ' at Infosys tells me that Infosys has several more blogs. Thanx for the info Mohan.
The other blogs are
IT Matters:A blog for IT professionals interested in improving corporate IT performance and making IT needs evolve to support the business in a flattening world.
Livewire: An infosys blog for the emerging communications industry.
Infosys-Microsoft Alliance
Managing Offshore IT-Offshore Management Framework: The key to managing projects across time, distance and cultures
SOA–Snake Oil Applied?: An infosys blog on the application of SOA.
Think Flat
Web 2.0:Web 2.0 is about harnessing the potential of the Internet in a more collaborative and peer-to-peer manner with emphasis on social interaction.

As i ventured into the Web 2.0 blog, the archives made interesting reading. However the number of posts are few. Started in October 2006, the blog can boast of only 7 posts. Ain't that too less for a company the stature of Infosys?

The posts obviously are impressive. I like the post on
Dimensions of differentiation in Web 2.0 Business Models". The dimensions drawn include Differentiated User Interfaces, Differentiated peer-to-peer interactions and collaboration mechanisms, Differentiated Network participation,Differentiated collective intelligence creation and Differentiated aggregation mechanisms...Interesting.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Corporate Blogs and their objectives

Corporate Blogs are now becoming authoritative sources of information regarding a company. There value and importance can be gauged when a simple technorati search on the word ' Corporate Blogging ' yeilds more than 19000 results. Considering the amount of buzz generated by the same, their importance with respect to leveraging consumer intelligence and magnifying success stories is now undeniable.

As Linkedin launched its corporate blog , the objective they stated was interesting-
"Linkedin was started with the goal of helping you manage your professional relationships better, and today we’re launching our corporate blog to not only help you leverage LinkedIn more effectively but also to provide you a sounding board for all things LinkedIn. So, if you’re looking for a singular information source on LinkedIn with regular updates on upcoming product features, tips-and-tricks, and events or if you’d just like to hear about all the fun stuff associated with working at LinkedIn, you have reached the right place."

A query on the objective behind the Corporate Blog of Bill Marriott, CEO , Marriott Hotels states the following blog objective-
"The purpose of the blog is to create a forum for people to interact with Bill Marriott. We're proud of our culture, history, service excellence, and especially our 143,000 associates whose Spirit to Serve makes us so successful. Part of what makes us great is our belief in service to the customer and Success is Never Final.This blog allows us to hear from you and build on the community that we've nurtured for 80 years."

The DellBlog-
"Our goal is to build Direct2Dell into a community that’s driven by direct communication. We hope to provide you insights into Dell and the employees that drive the company forward."

Digital Straight Talk is a blog produced by Cox Communications. It's a source of views and news on the many issues affecting broadband providers and consumers.
"High-speed Internet, cable telephony, HDTV and a whole host of related innovations and issues in the digital space have created intense competition among providers. And, where there’s competition, there’s no doubt info overload for consumers and others trying to make sense of it all. With Digital Straight Talk, we want to make sure those in the industry, consumers and others who care have a clear understanding of our vision, direction and opinion."

Corporate Blogs are set up by companies to-
1.Build Product Brands.
2.Create a customer-centric approach for the company.
3.To give people a contact point by attaching a face or name they can interact with, hence catering to the concept of relationship building.
4.Create a buzz about New product/project launches.
5.Act as a source of consumer redressal.
6.Act as a source of viral marketing. Its a place where people chat about the company and the products and if they talk well, well you've got a word of mouth campaign already started.
7.Create communities for communication, collaboration,customer-interaction.
8.Image building purposes by showcasing any good work done by the company.
9.Showcase any achievements by the company and any recent successes...

At the end of the day it all boils down to securing more customers and retaining already existing ones....broadly....add to the value perception of a company's customers!!
Don't you think Customer Relationship Management is the ultimate goal of any corporate blog?