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Enterprise social networking strategies

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My last post on Enterprise 2.0 focuses on social networking strategies for your organisation and in particular, the International Geological Congress (IGC). Social networks form the fabric of today’s social and business environment.

Most employees are already involved in social networking in their personal lives and increasingly for work. Organisations can either choose to ignore this phenomenon or be proactive in harnessing potential benefits and managing the risks of social networking.

This includes better work efficiency, greater collaboration, harnessing collective intelligence, product and business process innovation, better human resource management and new profitable business models. My article will present three examples of how organisations utilize social networking  to great effects and the success that came along.

Dell

After successful social media campaigns such as Direct2Dell, IdeaStorm, @DellOutlet and Direct2Dell Chinese, Dell assessed how to leverage its existing social media best practices to tackle China’s unique social media marketplace to engage existing and potential customers there while staying authentic to their brand and culturally sensitive.

Dell realized that China’s online population uses Sina.com, a unique platform to the Chinese marketplace as the primary micro-blogging tool and not Twitter. Dell started a mini-blog on Sina.com and immediately raised the bar for corporate presence on the channel. Dell started to offer exclusive coupons on the platform, conducted customer surveys and formed a team of Employee Ambassadors to engage customers online.

They became the first international company to do any of these activities on Sina.com. Within six months, Dell became the third most followed international brand on Sina.com with approximately 20,000 followers. Dell’s approach changed the way an international brand engages its customers on this platform. It was like a breath of fresh air and Dell had succeeded in reaching out to the online population in China.

Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins have some of the most devoted fans in the NFL and they exploited that to great effect using Four Square. In 2010, the NFL team rolled out Foursquare as a way for rewarding fans that attended home games or rallies during away games. The results were stunning.

By December, Redskins fans had logged more than 20,000 check-ins at their home stadium FedExField and tens of thousands more at venues across the D.C. metro area. For the past few years, the Redskins have relied on both Facebook and Twitter to build their fan base.

However Foursquare was a different ball game in terms of engaging the fans – to reward those who show up in person. By establishing a Foursquare presence, the Redskins became the first NFL team to have a badge on the location-based social networking site. Shripal Shah, Sr. VP, Digital Strategy at Washington Redskins said:

“We picked Foursquare for a couple of reasons,” Shah said. “A, it has the largest user base [among location-based services], and B, it allowed us to do a bunch of things, yet keep it really simple for our fan base. We didn’t want to make it too complicated. We wanted to make it fun and reward fans for coming to our games or watching the games.”

WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment)

People tend to perceive the WWE as a fringe cable channel with a small group of die-hard fans, outrageous story lines (like Trish hooking up with Vince McMahon..) and epic drama week in week out. But behind the scenes, there’s a real fight to engage its audience. WWE used to support its own social network called WWE Universe during the last three years.

Soon, they realized that it’s main Facebook pages were more active than its custom social network. The company shut down WWE Universe in January 2011, and in preparation, began migrating its audience to its Facebook pages. WWE has focused its attention on making sure its content is available on the key social networking sites where its community is growing rapidly such as FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

So what exactly was the reason for social networking? Purely and simply, to fill in the gaps that occur between TV episodes, by creating a connection via social media.

“Our form of content is really entertainment, it’s not sports. So, a lot of ‘news,’ if you will, is really an extension of the storyline that you’re seeing on TV. One of the things that WWE can do as a program that runs 52 weeks a year that is literally scripted week by week, is that we can augment our storylines with simple feeds to these social networks on a weekly basis. So, with a two-hour show that runs on Monday, we have the ability to, two or three times a week, prompt that something else is happen and that [fans] should see it. [We can] continue the story that ended on Monday night and carry it through to the next Monday night.”

Final thoughts

As mentioned in the examples above, it is never enough to just settle for one social networking platform hoping that things will work out by itself. Leveraging a combination of social networking tools will greatly enhance an organisation’s digital presence and develop their networks across multiple social networking platforms.

For your enterprise social networking strategies to be a success, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are your target audiences?
  • Where are they “nesting”?
  • How do i engage them in a way that interests them?
  • What are the tools that suit my social media campaign?

Washington Redskins targeted their loyal fan base and made good use of Foursquare to interact with them. The fans enjoyed the process as it was a fresh idea that was not done before and there were incentives up for grasp. Dell realized that most of their potential customers were “nesting” on a local platform instead of Twitter.

They moved swiftly to join the crowd. WWE used a variety of social networking tools to fill the gap between each TV episode by enticing viewers to watching their TV shows and keep them excited. And now, i present my social networking strategies:

  1. Understand your customer’s needs (e.g. ask the four questions above)
  2. Find ways to use social media in filling up the gap when customers are not directly interacting with your brand or product (e.g. viral marketing on Twitter)
  3. Excite your customers – Give them something to look forward to (e.g. rewards, incentives)
  4. Fully utilize existing social networking tools when fit to engage your customers on all fronts (e.g. get people to check-in at conference venues using Foursquare).

Here are some links and references: