Post your ideas out there and people will find you... Is this the mantra of the future? Or is it "KNOWLEDGE FINDS YOU"? Are businesses NOT doing social marketing in danger of losing the stream of ideas? I'd argue they are.
Lately, I've been obsessed with the social web and how businesses, and even government, can benefit from an ever-changing and evolving internet. In fact, it is the evolution that makes the internet so wonderfully powerful; like us, it gets better the more interactions it has. And one very important evolution is how YOUR customers engage with you, or without you, in this powerful ecosystem! There are ways to benefit from the vast internet community, so don't through in the towel yet. In this post, my goal is to offer up a theory of practice that all companies should consider. After this blog, and the comments, I will also post a preso for review... (Hopefully, you'll add your comments and reactions, too...)
Practice 1 - Create An Application:
Ever watched someone use Google, or Facebook and smile? What you might be experiencing is joy, or just someone finding value via a web-based application. Part 1 of this series of blog posts is all about creating value for your customers via a web-based application (or service) that they find just valuable enough. Yes, it is true, you don't have to create the killer application, you have to create enough value so they like it.
What do I mean by application? I mean something that adds to the service or solution you provide - a widget, a special web page that only customers have access to, an open source database/application/code, a once-a-month report, a service... You offer your customers something that they LIKE to use that isn't challenging. Why would you offer this? It is all about brand stickiness...
The goal of the application is not to gain revenue (although you might be able to). Your objective is to keep them interested and coming back for more! The application is a connection; a touch point with your customers and even future customers. It is part 1 of your social marketing portfolio.
Credit card issuers do this very well, as do banks. All offer "online banking" as the application. In fact, just last night, I watched my wife try to log in to her credit card online banking account (not a good idea when a user can't log in by the way). After several attempts she even called the company (I would've given up by then). She logged in and right up front, was an offer for airline miles. What did she do? She clicked! Talk about a great example of THE HOOK. Now, imagine if she had found joy in the application, the issuer might've actually earned a sale. My point is the application is something that she was willing to fight for, it is ours! We have our password to that website and come hell or high water we will be able to access it. You need the same for your company - free or paid. But there's more... You need to wrap a community of application users around the application.
I'm going to save some of my community commentary for Practice 2 - Creating A Community of Practice (CoP), but like all good writers, I've got to wet your appetite. Let's just say other users need to know about other users. What's more, your community will tell you what they like, or don't like about your company and the application. You community approach is all about a deeper engagement - stay tuned...
Thanks to the great bloggers at HeadRush for the amazing picture - again, I wish they were still blogging!