If you were to ask anyone these days to give you a brief history of Social Networks, they would most-likely think about Facebook, then do a bit of research and come up with this:
1971 – the first e-mail is sent (and no, the text was not some inaugural speech, it was something more like QWRTYDHS – a test between 2 computers over ARPANET, a network of computers preceding the Internet)
1997 – the birth of the instant message, thanks to AOL
2002 – Friendster – the network that connected online real-world friends
2003 – MySpace – a Friendster clone, is born.
2004 – Facebook enters the market
2006 – Twitter is launched.
Well, that’s all fine, but there’s more to it…
…or how companies can benefit from customers sharing their positive brand experiences on social networks.
Market Research has now reached a point where it’s too much about anonymous respondents, even though in this day in age, people tend to build their Social Media reputation based on the product reviews they write and talk about.
This is why I believe 2012 will have to bring a huge change, because companies will start to realize the dormant power of social media influence on brands. Satisfaction Sharing. SatShare, if I may.
Let’s say you analyze a Market Research report where 50% of your 1.000 respondents have given positive reviews. In a conventional situation, these 500 people would end up in a spreadsheet and clearly, important decisions would be taken based on this. But if you took an innovative approach to this figure and gave these 500 people the opportunity to share their satisfaction on social networks, then you’d stand a good chance of reaching about 50.000 people instantly, considering at least 100 of them would share the info to 500 friends (on average)…
Networking is a lot like PR. In order to be successful at it, you need to be the best you can be.
At first, I wasn’t going to go into the advantages/benefits of good networking, because stating the obvious is not something we’re used to doing around here. But once in a while – 2 days before New Year’s Eve, for example – it’s good to take a step back and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. And I’m not talking here about the usual reasons, because those answers are easy (finding a new job, meeting new clients, etc.), but I’m talking about the kind of motivations that are even more obvious:
- Because we’re social animals and networking feeds this natural need for all good people. If you have doubts about this, ask Tom Hanks why he felt the need to make friends with Wilson in Cast Away.
- Because your friends / network say as much about you as your clothes do. “Tell me who you’re friends with and I’ll tell you who you are” didn’t just come out of thin air.
- Because networking brings out the best in people. Unless you’re Michael Jackson material, you can’t afford to be “bad”. Not these days…
The long lasting debate over Social Media at work just got fueled. Again.
Yet another study by Cisco revealed that “56% of twentysomethings would refuse to work in a job denying them access to social media or would attempt to sidestep the rule”. More than this, one in three respondents ranked social media access on the job as more important than salary and according to another study, 46 percent of teenagers aged 18 to 24 prefer Internet access to having their own automobile.
Now, these findings sound like huge alarms all over the world. Pessimists are already heralding the end of the world “as we know it”, teachers will probably try to ban smartphones from classes and automakers will have to try and change the 100 year-old concept of delivering to people some metal on rubber wheels. If they want to keep up productivity and sell cars to young people, they will have to deliver them a whole new experience, one that integrates the natural movement from A to B with every other gadget out there.
Stumbled upon an interesting blog post the other day on Software Advice.
After a sit down with Brian Solis, a rather careful consideration of some Razorfish studies and some common sense observations about how the interactions between companies and customers have changed over the years (first of all because of the internet and lately, because of social media & mobile devices), Lauren Carlson points her story at the 6 Rules of Engagement, or what we can basically call the Solis definition of engagement, as the next level of relationships between companies and customers.
According to this, consumers in the Egosystem want value, efficiency, trust, consistency, relevancy and control from the companies they interact with. And if this is what the customer wants, then that’s what most socially aware companies will try to give them.
But that’s only part of the problem, solved. Because after figuring out what the customer wants and what to give him, the next step – equally important, I might add – is to find out the best way to deliver all these things. Most companies that realize the importance of reaching their customers through social media already have the usual channels at their disposal. They will have a Facebook page or a Twitter account in play, only there’s more to Social CRM strategies than business pages on these websites.
The Satisfaction – Engagement Loop
In order to properly engage the customers, companies have to consider two things: first of all, the technological side – the platform that actually supports the engagement – and then the cultural climate of the organization itself, which has to be the actual resource of the engagement. As long as the people behind the company understand and relate to the cultural obsession towards the customer, then things are bound to move in the right… engaging direction. The only thing that remains is now to properly close the circle and provide the users inside the organization with the proper technological tools to keep the customers satisfied. But how?
Integrating Companies with Social Media. Or the other way around.
Now, after understanding the Satisfaction – Engagement Loop, there’s two ways companies handle the social appeal to customers. There are those who look at their business and then start acting on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube or LinkedIn, and there are those who first of all develop a Social CRM and then try to connect with the customer through social media platforms.
What we have found out developing the Clintelica Network CRM application though, is that Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Youtube or LinkedIn are all amazing in themselves, but they are also distinct communities where not only the the way of engagement differs, but also the response of the customer (if any) is different.
So, in order to properly engage an organization with it’s customers (especially when we’re talking about 100+ employees, hundreds or thousands of customers and suppliers), you need to have a powerful CRM system that works in a perfect, traditional way, offers features that enable you to manage & understand huge amounts of information (Newsfeed), and then gives you the the opportunity to use Social Media to reach the connected customer, keeping him satisfied through Networking and understanding his Feedback instantly.
OK, boundaries are changing every minute, mobile gadgets are becoming socially acceptable in Theaters and probably tomorrow reading Zite stories on your iPad in a face-to-face meeting will not be considered rude anymore. But in order for the customer engagement to be meaningful, it’s becoming more and more clear that social media platforms should be the tool and not the purpose.
People have been on & on about the addiction to gadgets and social media ever since… well, gadgets and social media were invented.
Aside from the dozens of theories on how this destroys not only your efficiency at work, but also your mind set, making you more and more dependent on small bits of superficial information rather than keeping you focused on a longer logical meaning, it seems there’s no stopping the trend. While talking about what’s right and wrong concerning smartphone usage, for example, the boundaries change by the minute. Whereas a while back texting made students alienate from social activities, being a teenager and sending an SMS while interacting face to face with other people is not that big of a deal anymore.
The same way, it seems, sending social vibes online from theaters is becoming more and more interesting. In a new report from USA Today, we’ve just learned that several Theater Halls in the US now have special seats for those who wish to live-tweet performances.
Of course, there are those that still maintain that tweeting while watching artists performing on stage is not properly enjoying the show, but as long as crowds that gather into theaters diminish more and more, it seems only natural to stop fighting the phenomenon and try to adapt to it.
In the end, we have to admit, we’re all hooked to socializing, networking and using our smartphones.
Socializing as a Group
When people first find out about Clintelica and our focus on networking, one of the first reactions we get is “Oh, so you’re a kind of LinkedIn, aren’t you?”. Well, NO.
Until we define our under construction FAQ section, let’s make it clear here and now.
Clintelica’s philosophy, the basic idea behind our patent pending solution and our main goal is to increase and properly use the overall connections of a group of people. While social media / networking as we know it so far is about the individual, Clintelica’s networking approach is all about the group.
Be it companies, departments, alumni classes, business networks or simply groups of people that share a common interest, we can connect not only the individuals within each group, but also each individual to the group’s overall connections. The resulting potential reach increases exponentially with each new individual.
We’re in the Army Now
Now, if Clintelica works for companies, then it most definitely can work for BizNet’s as well. But if it works for Business Networks, then it will certainly work for any network.
We are now in a beta test phase with the fine people that have served in the Swedish Navy. We’re talking here about at least 5.000 people, ex-Marines, who have been through the same stuff. These are people who obviously have great respect for the job, for each other, and who will from now on have the possibility to get interconnected based on the fact that they went through the same military education.
By all accounts, getting these people connected through the Clintelica application will create a network of about 2 million people, accessible to any of the members in two or maximum three steps.
You might have heard by now, there’s a new very successful app out there.
It’s called Post Secret and, like most successful ideas, it’s mindbogglingly simple. It’s so simple, in fact, it makes you laugh. Basically, what you do after downloading the app is you anonymously post secrets, share them with the world, discover secrets from other people and interact with them. Why didn’t you think of that?
But, more importantly, what makes a social network idea successful? What’s the thing that separates the winners from the losers in this ocean of chatter about Social Media, Social Networks and all apps that get born, grow or die each and every day?
Some say it’s all a matter of luck. Others say it’s all about having a bright idea at the right moment and amongst the right people. But aside from all this, I think Social Networking ideas that really make it are those that tap into basic human emotions.