Are You Listening…? Just Checking.

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The days of one-way communication contained a problem. That problem was the inability to listen. Now consumers have gained a new niche in the online community to be heard; A consumer revolution if you want to look at it that way. Corporations are beginning to see that utilizing social media is cost efficient, brings together employees as a collective, improves brand awareness for product innovation and fosters customer service and satisfaction by creating conversation online.  Yes, the whole idea is to reach out to customers but lets not forget the fact that it fuels greater employee bonding by allowing communication to flow better. According to Social Corp: Social Media Goes Corporate by Joel Postman, companies like Intel use social media to share common skills and expertise allowing for interaction on a professional and personal basis. They even utilize executive blogs read by 50-70% of the employees and most notably, the CEO responds personally to comments on his blog. More on CEO Blogs later.

Moir Azhar of New Straights Time Press, discusses the effects of social media and why connecting and communicating is important in an article, Igniting Brand Passion.  Azhar interviews Pang Yee Beng, Managing Director for Dell in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore and he notes that listening is key and customer insight will help you come to a resolution to your marketing plans. It goes to show when Pang says that Dell is mentioned 5,000 times a day, that Dell is doing well catering to customers in the social media world after going  through a reputation slap in the face. The idea is to force marketers to be more cost efficient with plans and budgets. Dell in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore are touching bases with where people reside online by using what Pang calls ‘accessible and powerful online tools,’ which include twitter and Facebook.

Three Companies That Started Down the Trust Path with Customers First, by Valeria Maltoni, illustrates some great blogs that listen. I’d like to highlight one in particular: Kodak.

According to the blog, The Viral Garden by Mack Collier, Kodak has a great philosophy going with the way they are applying social media. In essence, they listen, they comply, and they even fail here and there, but all this is considered social media energy that helps them excel as a business while fostering value among customers who reside online. It is called Kodak Convergence Media Ripcurl. Take a look:

Kodak Media Convergence Ripcurl

Most notably, Kodak doesn’t stress the social mediums used due to the fact that it is about the customers, unlike what Pang said above about jumping on available tools. This is what happens when Kodak listens in tactical terms:

Kodak Convergence Media Ripcurl: Tactical Approach

Not to get off topic. Listening is key. And I highlight Kodak’s successful use of listening as an example of how a small part corporate blogging should work. Kodak even has a blog that is very popular in the blogosphere called A Thousand Words. The blog itself is not about Kodak cameras as it is so much about how cameras are used in people’s lives. A celebration of people and pictures! You feel very at ease with the quality Kodak brings.

Stay tuned for my next blog on, “Who is Corporate Blogging?”

Have I lost you? I bet you stopped listening.

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Social Media Purgatory

September 26, 2009

Corporate Blogging

Companies that still have yet to sign on to adopting methods of Web 2.0 or are starting to realize the need to provide an outlet to the public, rest in a state of what I call social media purgatory. A state where a wall exist where moving forward into the future of social media is a barrier in reaching its heavenly potential. The days of one-way communication tactics are coming to an end, as generation X and Ys proceed with change. If Barack Obama voiced about change, then companies with loss of trust from the publics will have to change as well in hopes that the fears and doubts of utilizing these new media tactics will dissipate.

A great step forward that is still under looked is corporate blogging. Blogging has evolved into a medium that has substantial influence in the media world. It has grown to become a sophisticated tool that allows for enhanced communication from all rankings in businesses, mostly providing customer service help. The success of blogs comes as factor of building a voice and presence in the online world. A voice that is not fabricated to sound like an advertisement or press release. Let me repeat that. A voice that is not fabricated to sound like an advertisement or press release.  To implement a conversation friendly atmosphere is the key distinction that holds value and uniqueness to the medium itself. According to Ten Corporate Blogs Worth Reading, examples of successful companies with blogs are a great way to illustrate the outcome of blogging:

* Google’s Blog: Google has a great foundation to setting up and combining user-friendly applications. They are always updated and conveniently have tutorials for everyone and anyone to use and their blogs are a great way to find out what’s updated. They are also ranked #1 on Technorati’s top Corporate Blogs.

* LinkedIn’s Blog: Linkedin.com is a professional interconnecting networking site where you can stay in tuned with professionals. A lot of Fortune 500 companies are linked into it, providing a new form of professional “Facebookers.”  On the other hand, the LinkedIn blog carries a great professional tone about what goes on in social media.

*Whole Foods’ Blog:  Being one of the top retailers in the food industry, the Wholefoods’ blog hits home with its recipes on food, business, and organic philosophy.

There still is this problem:

According to Firms Find New Outlets with Blogs, by the Wall Street Journal, there seems to be the notion that people are still skeptical about blogs because they do not trust companies. This article also highlights how General Motors (GM) uses its blog to provide reports and communication to its publics. Even though the company itself has lost the trust of the public, one can’t help but think that they have utilized an outreach tool well and have lived up to the term transparency which is key in Social Media.

The idea to start a corporate blog must be thought about in small steps. But it’s the small steps that make the small connections, which builds trust, and in turn builds value for a company.