A Business Technology Place

An idea to engage loyal customers

A friend recently converted trinkets and memorabilia from his place of work into a photo album on Facebook. It was simply entitled “The Office”. He had each item placed on a white background for the photos. Then he tagged friends on Facebook who had some part in the historical story related to the item.

The Science of P3

An example image from "The Office" photo album

As I looked through the album I thought about how this idea could be used by companies to create a virtual museum of historical artifacts related to their company. Imagine a longstanding company like Coca-Cola or General Electric with a series of online catalogs on their web site. The catalogs could be grouped by business division, decade, or artifact type.

This gives customers, or really the general public, a chance to see the rich history of a company and a chance to explore the stories and meanings behind each item. It’s a social engagement to create a connection. With a social site, such as Facebook or a company blog, the company could further engage with customers through comments.

An alternate view: The end of blogging

blog-bloggingI read a post today by Andrew Serwer titled The end of blogging. While I agree with the premise that the manner in which we communicate is rapidly changing, I disagree that blogging is dead. I too use both Facebook and Twitter as a communication vehicle with family, friends, and those interested in my thoughts and writings. However, I see distinct usages and styles forming that differentiate the use of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

In my experience, Facebook is used as  mostly social medium for personal messages. My friends are posting updates on everyday life. Facebook provides an easy tool for those who don’t want to write fully versed and thought-out blog entries. Instead they can type short simple status updates about themselves, their families, or their interests. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t require alot of  mental wrangling on a topic. For those that do keep blogs, they have to decide if they want to filter their Facebook status updates from having links to the blog or other promotion type messages. The risk is that too much self promotion or other content push outside of a personal status could alienate them from acceptable behavior (Facebook etiquette) and they could be dropped as a Facebook friend (gasp!).

I see Twitter being used more for business and information-push type of messaging. There are a large amount of personal status updates on Twitter, but short messaging has really taken with business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) updates.  Just take a look at the number of businesses using Twitter for customer service relationship management or businesses using Twitter as a syndication vehicle to promote their content.

Twitter Business Examples:

Marriott

Intuit

Starbucks

SouthWest Airlines

While Twitter is changing communications to short messages, bloggers are using Twitter to publish intros to their content along with a shortened link. Bloggers and businesses see Twitter as a vehicle to establish relationships which then leads to links to other types of communications such as blogs, video, audio, etc.

So is this the end of blogging? In my view, no!  These new communication devices simply provide another vehicle for bloggers to promote their content. Blogging gives people a forum for in-depth thought and focused discussion.

Photo Credit

Social media awareness

social-media

A classic marketing framework for describing consumer behavior is awareness,  interest, desire, and action (AIDA). Tim Ash does a good job of relating the AIDA model to eCommerce and Internet Marketing. Over the past several months, I’ve been trying to promote the ‘A’ for awareness with social media with my organization, friends, and family. It’s been a surprisingly difficult task.

At work, I routinely collect and share social media examples with peers and managers. Now, I don’t consider this a spamming effort. I try to make the content of each message relevant. It might be about relationship building or how businesses are using social media to reach customers. My Starbucks idea is a great example of this.

Here are some typical responses from work:

  • Something like “that’s nice, come back to me when you can prove it will make a million dollars in 90 days”
  • “That would never work here”
  • An acknowledgment that it sounds really cool.
  • No response, no acknowledgment. I translate this to mean, they are too busy to read the message, they don’t understand the message, or they think social media is a home based fad with no business relevance.

I see this as a battle between classic push marketing (paid print ads, internet banners, etc.) and value based marketing (content based where customers elect to see your content). Before I can get people to be ‘interested’ (AIDA) they need to be aware of just what social media is.  The ideas of building relationships, offering helpful services, and being authentic are not new. What is new, is that you would do these activities without charging the customer for each interaction.  Awareness.

At home, or with friends, I often hear comments like:

  • Why would I put my personal life online? – Pick and choose what you share. But its a good way to build relationships, because people will post what’s important to them or what they are passionate about. It definitely gets you past the shallow conversations about the weather!
  • “Who has time for that?”  – I guess you have less time if you just turn on the TV and plop on the couch. Everyone has the same amount of time in the day. Make your choices about what you’ll do with it.
  • “I’ve never heard of that or wouldn’t know what to do” – People are creatures of habit. Have you seen the fastest growing segment on Facebook?

How do you promote awareness of social media in your organization, family, or circle of friends? Write me, I’d like to get some insight into what has worked for you and what has not.

Photo Credit: Relationship-Economy