1. Effective use of social media

    May 15, 2016 by BPIR.com Limited


    Originally posted on Blogrige by Harry Hertz

    In 2013, the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence started asking questions related to an organization’s use of social media. An emphasis was placed on effective use of social media. In the early days of this criteria change, many users of the Criteria had limited engagement with social media. More recently, every organization is using and must use social media, but not always effectively.

    So you might ask, what is ineffective use of social media? We probably all have personal experiences that could fit in this category. This blog was conceived after I received a recent marketing e-mail, the kind that has your name in the salutation. This one read as follows:

    “Good afternoon [first name],

    Hope this note finds you well. Based on your interest in …”

    How do you know my interests, if you address me as [first name] and don’t even know who I am? This was further exacerbated by actually dealing with a subject of absolutely no interest to me.

    This solicitation reminded me of other personalized solicitations that use mailing list information directly and start with something like:” Dear Hertz H,”. Will solicitations like these cause me to read further? Certainly not, other than to note the sender’s organization and lower my opinion of them and their brand. And with that goes overall brand image.

    There are many other examples of brand image that suffer because of ineffective use of social media. Some that have affected me and really strike a negative reaction are:

    • The charitable organization that solicits me by e-mail (and snail mail) several times a week. Am I contributing to their cause or their social media campaigns?
    • The organization that is regularly surveying me, but never seems to respond to customer feedback in any manner: not by a personal response (although I don’t expect that), not by changes in their performance from a customer’s perspective, and not by general responses through a blog, web site change, or mass e-mail that says we have listened and here are some changes we have made. The organization usually states my time is valuable, but in practice they don’t seem to value my time at all.
    • The company or organization that has been hacked and my data compromised, but the organization never notifies me or notifies me by a blanket announcement only after the press announces they found this out weeks or months after the actual occurrence.

    There are other examples I could cite and many more you could cite from your personal experiences. The Baldrige Criteria questions are designed to cause you to think about your organization from a systems perspective, to think about key linkages and cause-effect relationships. The 2015-2016 Criteria for Performance Excellence have added the consideration of brand image. Item 3.2 on Customer Engagement, has the following question: “How do you leverage social media to manage and enhance your brand and to enhance customer engagement and relationships with your organization?”

    Effective use of social media has become a significant factor in customer engagement and ineffective use can be a driver of disengagement and relationship deterioration or destruction. It is also a key factor in employee engagement. How effective is your organization’s use of social media? What impact has it had on your brand image, customer engagement, and employee engagement? Let me know your experiences (without mentioning brand names, please).

  2. BPIR Best Practice Newsletter No. 2 – 2012

    March 1, 2012 by

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  3. Relationships: is social media a help or a hindrance?

    September 3, 2011 by

    check in

    Social media is undoubtedly changing the face of business. Business experts are increasingly encouraging businesses to utilise social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the new player Google+.

    At the same time, there are a lot of stories about the negative effect of social media sites  on business such as employees getting dismissed  for posting malicious content about their companies and decreased productivity due to distraction and time needed to follow up and update social media websites.

    The below article outlines some helpful steps to make social media a great help for your business.

    Ahmed Abbas

    By Claire Sporton, Director Enterprise Feedback, Confirmit

    In a multi channel world that now includes social media, the opportunities to build relationships with customers has grown exponentially. Whilst this is an extremely positive move, it has to be said that it is very difficult to maintain, let alone control, relationships with customers over such a broad range of communication vehicles.

    The rise in social media – 100 million Linked In users, 95 million tweets per day worldwide and 30 million Facebook users in the UK alone – means that there are billions of conversations going on at any one time, many about companies and brands and they are making an impact – a big one. It is estimated that 34% of bloggers regularly post comments about brands and companies but how many organisations track this activity to find out what is being said about them and use it to positively enhance their relationships with their customers? Given that the implications of good and bad word of mouth are mind blowing, companies really should ignore social media at their peril. 

    Although every facet of customer relationships has been investigated for many years and companies have invested in technology and processes to help manage them more effectively, the addition of social media as yet another channel of communication obviously raises certain issues.

    It is important to remember that social media was not set up for companies to build relationships with customers. Its raison d’etre is to help individuals manage their personal and business relationships with other human beings. Companies imposing themselves in this space can be seen as a hugely inappropriate. For example, it has been muted that 96% of social media advertising doesn’t work because people see it as an intrusion. 

    As a result, companies that intend to use social media as part of their customer relationship management strategy should plan their entry carefully.  There are three levels of engagement to consider:

    Listen    Respond   Initiate
    It’s important not to force your way in, initiating conversations that have not been requested. Start by listening to existing conversations and use this as another feed of data into your Voice of the Customer programme.  Social media scrapping, linked to text analytics, introduces the capability to categorise what is said and analyse the sentiment expressed, which enables you to listen more effectively to the chatter.

    Only when you are confident that you can respond in a timely and appropriate manner should you start attempting to respond via social media.  There are examples of companies doing it well – for example Virgin Media have “The Tweam” monitoring and responding to tweets. 

    Then and only then can you start thinking about initiating conversations with the community.

    That said, companies need to be careful not to rely too heavily on social media feedback when creating and maintaining relationships with their customers. Just because a small minority shout out loud about an issue or create a fuss about a ‘squeaky wheel’, it does not necessarily mean that their comments are representative of the majority. 

    Companies will need to confirm that the feedback they get via the social media channel makes sense for the whole business.  Otherwise they risk making poor, perhaps knee jerk responses to what they hear on Twitter and other media when it is not reflective of the entire customer base.

    Combining social media activities with a strategic customer feedback programme will help to create a more two-dimensional relationship that both parties can rely on:

    1. It makes feedback representative: People using Twitter to complain doesn’t tell you what your customers think. By sending out a survey to a representative sample of your customers you’ll develop a much clearer idea of what the impact of your decision will be. Use social media to find out which questions you should ask, but use the responses to those questions to give you real insight.
    2. It helps you to make the right decision at the right time: Social media might very well provide a live window into people’s thoughts but feedback needn’t be a slow process either. With online and mobile feedback platforms, it’s simple to create, launch and report back on a survey over a weekend if you need to, particularly if you have a loyal customer base who are happy to share their opinions. You can still make decisions fast, but you’ll be making them based on better data from the right people.
    3. It proves that you’re listening, not panicking: When you go back to your loyal customers to say “we’ve heard people say this, we’d like your opinion”, you demonstrate that you’re not only paying attention but that you genuinely want to understand their views. By reacting too quickly, purely in response to a media storm (social or otherwise), you risk looking like you’ve panicked and doubt your own decisions. Asking people for their opinions shows a more mature approach to customer-centricity.

  4. Social Media Assists Small Businesses

    May 31, 2011 by
    Social media and business

    Everywhere you look people are writing about social media: newspapers, magazines, bloggers, news channels, books. After reading a few of these articles you will notice the same key theme coming through; if your business is not using social media then you are missing out on massive opportunities.

    We now operate in a world where hundreds of millions of people are seamlessly connected through devices and the Internet – sharing billions of pieces of content, information and experiences on a daily basis. In many ways social media has become a very powerful way to share information and experience.

    A good case study on the power of social media for a small business is the story of Wendy Maddocks-Jennings a skincare products producer based in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

    After one year of utilising the power of social media Wendy been able to increase sales 25 per cent and that’s due to regular facebook updates, tweeting and blogging.

    Below is the full article.

    Success: Social media helps to reach the world

    By: Christine Nikiel

    Facebook, Twitter, blogs are cost-effective ways to target a specific market, says business owner.

    Wendy Maddocks-Jennings is aiming to use only New Zealand-grown plants in her range of skincare products.

    Two years ago, former nurse Wendy Maddocks-Jennings would have told you that Twitter and Facebook were just amusing distractions for teenagers.

    Now the small-business owner relies on social media to promote her natural skincare products to the world.

    Sales for her Palmerston North-based company, MJ Health, are up 25 per cent on this time last year, thanks to her regular tweeting, blogging and Facebook updates.

    Maddocks-Jennings exports most of her completely plant-based products to beauty salons and spas in Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. She says adapting to social media has allowed her to find customers who would otherwise have been out of reach.

    Twitter, Facebook and blogging are a more cost-effective way for a small business to really target specific groups of customers than traditional print advertising, she says.

    The main cost in using social media is time, says Maddocks-Jennings, who estimates she spends 10 or so hours a week tweeting, updating her blog, responding to comments and posting videos on YouTube. She hires a contractor for media research and the advanced technical stuff.

    MJ Health makes its plant-based skincare products under the Dr Wendy's brand. Another range, Earth's Gift, is mainly sold on Trade Me but uses some non-plant-based ingredients.

    Maddocks-Jennings first recognised social media as a great way to promote brand awareness for her fledgling business after attending a social media marketing course run by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and the natural products industry body, New Zealand Natural Products.

    During the course she discovered she was the only one of about 20 who had a Facebook page – and she'd only set that up to keep in touch with a friend's plans for a school reunion.

    The number of Kiwi businesses using social media has been a trickle rather than a flow. In March, the annual MYOB Business Monitor showed only 14 per cent of the 1000-odd Kiwi smaller businesses that were surveyed used Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or YouTube to promote their business. Similarly, just 12 per cent of all business owners wrote online newsletters or blogs to promote their business to existing and prospective customers.

    Maddocks-Jennings says the trick when tweeting, blogging and posting is to keep things conversational, and to engage with and inform people rather than do the hard sell.

    "It's definitely not about bombarding people with information. For example, I contribute to conversations in chat rooms where I'm not necessarily saying, 'try my products', but I might be informing people about the ingredients that I use."

    She shares links to various industry-related blogs, news and events, and comments on industry-related news.

    This doesn't just raise brand awareness, but also shows that the company "has a wider consideration than just the business side of things".

    There is some direct promotion. Maddocks-Jennings has a small budget for Facebook ads, and offers products as giveaways at certain events.

    Despite quickly getting up to speed with the technology, Maddocks-Jennings recognised she needed help with some of the more technical and time-consuming stuff.

    She also needed to effectively research and communicate with her most lucrative markets: Hong Kong and Singapore. She hired a Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking intern to surf the net for product reviews and comments, and to do the more advanced technical things such as write html code.

    Maddocks-Jennings, 45, had always had an interest in natural products, and had mulled the idea of starting her own business for years.

    While nursing she had developed some serious allergies to hand cleaning products and latex. She found a teaching job at a local polytechnic and opened a small aromatherapy clinic.

    When an opportunity for voluntary redundancy came up, she knew it was now or never for her business idea.

    She set up the company in 2006 after studying for a doctorate in health science at Australia's Charles Sturt University. She spent 18 months developing a product range under her Dr Wendy's brand, and door-knocked pharmacies, beauty salons and health food shops around the North Island. She found it tough going: the recession was starting to bite and businesses were reluctant to take on a new product.

    On the advice of a business mentor she narrowed her market focus to women over 30 and targeted only beauty salons, spas and therapists.

    Knowing an export market would provide a bigger pool of customers, she successfully launched the product through distributors in Britain, and turned to Asia via Hong Kong, a common entry point to the Asian market because of its location, market size and because English is spoken.

    She ignored Australia, having been advised there were already a lot of local brands with a loyal following.

    Now Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Britain make up 80 per cent of her market and the rest is sold in New Zealand. Maddocks-Jennings aims to further develop the local market with a new range of salon-only products, and will tackle the Korean market this year.

    All MJ Health's products are manufactured in Palmerston North. To cut costs Maddocks-Jennings hires a local commercial kitchen and a handful of staff only when an order comes in.

    Being small allows her the flexibility to customise her range, which is important to her Asian market, where customers have different skin types.

    The Dr Wendy's brand which sells in Asia is altered slightly to suit not only the local skin type but also to ensure the product's longevity in the humid climate.

    Maddocks-Jennings aims to use all New Zealand plants in her products; right now she's at about 70 per cent.

    She's also 80 per cent toward her goal of being completely organic.

    The natural products industry in New Zealand is thriving: industry body, Natural Products NZ, estimates it is worth about $1 billion annually.

  5. Social Networking A Boon For NZ Businesses

    April 18, 2010 by

    Goodbye corporate brick wall. See ya later marketing spin doctors.

    It's hello to social media – the thing many write off as being "only for the young" – but is now being used by businesses to talk directly with customers. Companies are now also reaping the rewards of engaging in the new media space where others have been criticised for spamming users with marketing guff. And the main ingredient to the success? Humanisation.

    "Social media" is a term to describe tools such as Twitter and Facebook that people use to share and discuss information.

    Neil Forster, one of around eight regular staff members who tweets from Telecom's Twitter account @TelecomNZ, said customers were often shocked that a "real" person responded to feedback left about the telco. "One of the first comments was 'I didn't think Telecom could do this'," he said. Telecom opened a Twitter account around two years ago as part of a conscious shift in the company's culture. It now has more than 6000 "followers". "It's not a controlled marketing stream. We're an eclectic bunch of people," he said. "We think we have done a really good job."

    The team of technology enthusiasts has used Twitter to deal with customers' queries during arguably one of the toughest times the company has faced during the various XT outages. "The really good thing that I saw come out of that event was the increase in improvement of communication," said Mr Forster. "It's a lot more dynamic – there's really powerful value in it. "From a business point of view there's brand benefit, better communication with customers. It's really enhancing that whole cultural change." So while some customers were using the portal of Twitter to "rant", a lot of "positive stuff" was also coming in, he said.

    Telecom's success with social media is mirrored at Air New Zealand.

    General Manager of marketing, Steve Bayliss, said the company began to get more serious in the social media space around 18 months ago "both as a channel to gain valuable customer feedback and as a channel to share brand messages". Air NZ have dedicated staff working on a social media strategy and execution of its accounts, including @flyairnz (with more than 12,600 followers) and @airpointsfairy (with more than 3400 followers). Mr Bayliss said the Airpoints Fairy – an account set up with a fictional Tinkerbell-like character who "grants wishes" to do with AirNZ products – was set up after a Wednesday morning idea from the internal team and went live by 3pm the same day.

    "That's the speed of these new social channels," he said. "The reaction has been terrific. We keep being tempted to expand the Fairy as she has such a strong following, but then taking a breath and reflecting that a broad scale commercialisation would spoil the intrigue." Mr Bayliss said the biggest benefit of social media has been the speed with which you get customer feedback. "It's unfiltered, free form, instant, and brutally honest." He said social media will be a "massive area of growth and change" in the marketing industry over the next 24 months "especially in the way we do customer surveys and gather insights".

    Others businesses not only use social media but were actually born out of the communication medium.

    Tom Reidy, co-founder of Wellington-based company @Tweet4yourtee, puts it simply by saying his company wouldn't exist without Twitter. The company, which helps people promote their Twitter profile through personalised t-shirts, began in November. The response, says Reidy, has been "awesome". "The sales were a lot more than we expected. We're selling t-shirts globally – that wouldn't have happened without Twitter," he said. Tees are being worn by customers in Australia, Denmark and United States. "It has been a really fast growth. It's been pretty surprising though, especially the speed it's picked up."

    Kevin McKenna