Posts tagged crowdsourcing
The following excerpt is from an article written by Sarah Johnson and published on Intuit. Johnson offers helpful tips on how to keep tabs on what your customers are saying on social media. View the full article for more of her advice.
Here’s how to stay abreast of what customers are saying about your company on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
1. Set up alerts and conduct regular web searches. To find comments outside of your own established business pages, set up Google Alerts for your name and your business name (put quotation marks around any proper names to get the most accurate results). For the result type, click on Everything to receive email notifications whenever your business gets mentioned on blogs and discussion sites. Meanwhile, use the search tools on social media sites to plug in keywords related to your company and industry. This will pull up what’s being said in the social sphere about your business and businesses like yours.
2. Consider investing in a monitoring tool. “With a small business, you want to make sure you have a pulse on what’s being said about you,” says Andrew Caravella, vice president of marketing for Sprout Social, whose social-media management software includes a monitoring component. The system scours Facebook and Twitter for mentions of a particular brand or keyword. Other useful tools that can find social media conversations: Topsy, Trackur, and Radian6 Social Marketing Cloud.
3. Make people feel as if they’re being heard. Although you don’t want to get caught in the fray of complainers who spend their free time criticizing everyone online, you do want your business to come across as caring and responsive. Often the complainers just want to be acknowledged. A restaurant owner, for example, should respond to a negative comment by saying, “‘We want to make this right’ and offer the person a coupon or something like that,” advises Andrea Vahl, a social media coach for businesses. Look for opportunities to be appreciative, too. When Vahl stumbled across a positive mention of her name on a site, she jumped into the conversation. “I commented on that forum thread and said, ‘Thanks for the shout-out, and let me give you some more insight,’” she says, noting that doing so could catch the attention of potential customers.
Creating a social media page is simple enough, but getting your customers to engage with it can be no easy task. That’s why Dixie State University Campus Store continually looks for new ways to cross promote their social platforms and get students excited about interacting with them.
As a prime example, the store recently hosted a Cutest Couple Contest that encouraged students to interact with them via Facebook and Instagram. Starting in late January, they prompted students to pose with their college sweetheart and post the photo to the either social platform using the hashtag #dixiescutestcouple. They were even permitted to post once to each page as a strategy for increasing their odds of winning.
The store promoted the new initiative to students through a variety of channels.
The only requirements were that both participants were current Dixie State University students and that they each had proof of student identification. Once all the submissions were received, the race was on! Each entry competed to see who could collect the most ‘likes’ over the next three weeks.
“We had over 20 entries and all of them were eager to win,” Greenleaf said. “It really helped increase interaction on our pages and we gained quite a few new fans and followers in the process.”
The top 5 pairs were then invited into the store for a one-of-a-kind giveaway drawing. The store selected one couple at random for the grand prize: a one minute shopping spree! Standing back to back, the couple’s midsections were duct taped together and the 60 second countdown began.
“We gave them each a large shopping bag and set them loose in the store,” she said. “We roped off certain areas such as electronics, textbooks and computers, but other than that they had free reign!”
The two then raced against the clock while hoarding as much as they could into their shopping bags. The couples who had gathered for the drawing stayed to cheer them on, along with the store’s staff members.
“We played the Jeopardy theme song as they went, which created a fun atmosphere,” Greenleaf added.
By the end, the couple scored $1,500 worth of store merchandise!
“They were ecstatic,” she described. “They even decided to share their winnings with the four other couples by divvying out Dixie sweatshirts, which was so generous. I think it’s fair to say that all five couples walked away feeling like winners!”
Greenleaf believes that the promotion was well worth the cost.
“It was fairly easy to implement, and the students did a lot of the work for us,” she said. “It definitely created a buzz and, by the end, we had 10 new brand advocates wearing our apparel around campus; it was great!”
The following excerpt is from the article, My Starbucks Ideas Boost Customer Loyalty, Profits, and Employee Engagement That U.S. Restaurant Chains Can’t Afford to Ignore, and was written by Barbara Farfan for About.com’s Retail Industry section. View the full article.
In my e-mail yesterday was a message from Starbucks about the newest ideas that have been implemented in Starbucks stores as a result of its My Starbucks Idea website. Starbucks wasn’t promoting anything, trying to sell me anything, or trying to persuade me to take any kind of action. They just wanted me to know that they care what their customers and partners (employees) think, and as proof of that care, they take action on the feedback they receive.
Message received. Loyalty reinforced.
The My Starbucks Idea system is a formidable best practice that creates customer loyalty, employee engagement, and profits that the U.S. restaurant industry can’t really afford to ignore.
The ideas that are being implemented because of the My Starbucks Idea system are neither small nor insignificant. It probably took Starbucks user AB523 about 10 minutes to type out a very detailed and thoughtful suggestion about how to accept mobile payments at the Starbucks drive-thru windows. But for Starbucks to implement that idea effectively, it took a significant investment of time, talent, and capital.
Sourcing the technology, installing the hardware, and deploying the training necessary for a drive-thru mobile payments solution that is both customer friendly and operationally sound is no small task. First and foremost it took a commitment by Starbucks leadership to care about improving the Starbucks customer experience.
Truth be told, the idea of accepting mobile payments at the drive-thru had probably been discussed by more than one Starbucks executive prior to the posting by AB523 on the My Starbucks Idea website. But providing the forum for ideas to organically emerge from the customer community helps the Starbucks leadership team to get a genuine read on the urgency and priority for improvement projects. When the Starbucks customer community makes it clear that something is important, then the Starbucks management team clearly knows what should be important to them as well. Nothing is more annoying to customers than to see a bunch of changes being implemented that nobody cares about while the “important” things are left unchanged.
Ask customers what they want and then find a way to give it to them. It seems like such an obvious retailing formula, it’s difficult to understand why every retail company in the world is not more aggressively focused on doing it. Who would have better ideas and suggestions than the consumers of your products and services anyway?
That question is not completely rhetorical. The people who might have even better ideas for your business than your customers is your employees. When I observed a fast food manager barely listen and then do nothing with a customer’s suggestion (Customer Satisfaction Ratings May 20, 2012), it was a strong indication that there was either no formal system available to employees for communicating suggestions, or if an idea processing system did exist, there was little motivation for employees to use it.
The partner suggestions that have been implemented through the My Starbucks idea system, seem to be not nearly as complex to implement as most of the customer ideas have been. Requesting smaller steaming pitchers, hand lotion, and pocket-sized training cards are not big-deal employee suggestions. And that’s exactly why Starbucks should (and did) implement them – because they are no big deal, but they help eliminate employee hassles.
What is big about collecting and responding to employee suggestions is the care, respect and appreciation that it demonstrates. Engaging the minds of your employee team in making your business better creates a level of employee ownership that has value beyond any number that could be included on any balance sheet.
“Ownership” is another concept that seems nice, but is often difficult for retail leaders to fully imagine. Here is one great example of ownership that I observed just yesterday.
Sitting in the lobby of a privately-owned boutique hotel, I observed the owner interacting with the guests as they were checking out. With each departing guest Tony went through the necessary check-out procedure and before sending his guests on their way he asked one additional nice-but-not-necessary question… “Where are you headed today?”
In each case when that question was asked, a friendly exchange followed, during which Tony had the opportunity to offer a suggestion, a brochure, an added piece of advice, or a solicited opinion about whether a certain destination was “worth it.” In each case when that extra few minutes of conversation was concluded, the guests walked away with smiles and obvious feelings of appreciation. It was a brilliantly simple way to make a positive last impression.
I shared how impressed I was with what I had observed with Tony, and his response demonstrated his clear and conscious commitment to creating an excellent customer experience. He told me that he saw his role not as providing lodging facilities, but rather as contributing positively to the traveling experience of the person in front of him. Specifically his goal is to “make a substantial contribution” to the quality of each person’s trip and when he had made every effort to do that, it was a successful transaction.
Tony and his wife built the hotel from the ground up, so obviously his ownership stake is inherently high. But as Starbucks has demonstrated, a “partner” that is truly treated like a partner can have a sense of ownership that is just as high.
Leaders create the engagement, employees with ownership create engaging customer experiences, loyal customers create profits. Sometimes retail success is much simpler than we allow it to be.
The following social media mistakes often translate into missed opportunties for businesses. Take a look at Mashable Contributor Riley Gibson’s suggestions on how to overcome them from the article, 5 Ways Businesses Can Use Social Media as a Tool for Progress:
Companies Don’t Ask for New Ideas Over Social Media
Customers love having the opportunity to influence the direction of companies, but they’re unlikely to provide valuable ideas without being prompted first. Companies need to start by proactively posting or tweeting questions that ask for customers’ thoughts on specific product ideas, marketing strategies, or anything else relevant. And when people answer you, dig deeper! Turn any initial feedback you get into a conversation, and try to create something real from the dialogue.
Companies Use Social Media for Self-Serving Information
Since it’s usually the marketing department that controls a company’s social media activity, it’s not surprising that the majority of information companies share over social media is about their own products or services. The problem is that promotional tweets and Facebook posts don’t generate useful conversations with fans. It’s not all about you! Instead, companies should post fun contests, polls, and questions to let their customers know they value their opinion, and that they have a personality.
Companies Are Strapped for Time and Labor
Most companies believe they’d be better at social media conversations with customers if they had more people or time to work on it. While this is probably true, the misstep in this situation is neglecting to realize that effective social media engagement doesn’t have to take a lot of time to be effective. In most cases, those managing social channels just need a bit of direction and focus. Often, just getting together with the marketing, product development or customer service departments can help you set a course that’s both manageable and worth the time and effort.
Companies Receive Overwhelmingly Positive Feedback on Social Media
When I speak with companies about the feedback they get from customers over social media, most are overjoyed by the amount of positive comments they receive. Sure, knowing what you’re doing right can be helpful, but companies need more than positive feedback to help drive progress. For more useful feedback, companies should post and tweet questions that are relevant to specific areas the business explores. Feedback in response to the question “What new watch designs should we offer?” will be more valuable than compliments on how sweet your watch bands and face designs already are.
Companies Receive Feedback, Then Nothing Happens
Usually the people who monitor social media channels within a company aren’t the same people who make decisions about the direction of the company. This means that many valuable ideas that come in through social channels are never even considered. To fully take advantage of social media as a tool for progress, a system needs to be put in place to make sure the ideas coming from customers over Facebook and Twitter are passed along to the appropriate decision-makers. Communication is essential in order that feedback can actually cause change. Also, once customers realize their ideas are being turned into reality, they’ll be more likely to contribute new ideas again.
The good news about social media is that it’s prime real estate for trying out new things and talking to your customers all at once in a way that’s never been possible before.
Ever find yourself violating any of these social media faux pas? What have you done to make your communities more vibrant channels for capturing ideas?
You’ve probably heard a lot about Pinterest over the last few months. Undoubtedly one of the most popular new social networks, the site is a place to organize and share online images and ideas that you find interesting or inspiring.
Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as ‘Pins,’ which the user can place on customized, themed Boards. You can create Boards for any topic imaginable, from clothing to recipes and everywhere in between!
Although it’s new, the site’s popularity has exploded from 1.2 million users in August to over 7 million today, according to Mashable, and that number is only estimated to grow in 2012.
Take a look at how your store can take advantage of this captive audience on Pinterest:
Post your merchandise:
Add some of your most popular apparel items to Pinterest! It’s a great way to gain attention from not only current students but also others across the country, who may be diehard fans of your football team or alumni of the school. Once uploaded, the pin will link back to your e-commerce site, so viewers can easily purchase it, too!
While you may be tempted to only post promotional items, you should expand your Pinterest account to include topics that aren’t self-serving. Create a variety of boards that make students view you as a resource, offering them advice and fun ideas on topics that may not necessarily directly relate to your store. Here are some ideas:
• Finals study tips
• Dorm room decorations
• Words of wisdom
• Tailgating recipes
•Get to Know Campus (with local attractions and resources for new and prospective students)
Crowdsource or Run a Contest:
Create a ‘Biggest Fan Board,’ then encourage your students to post pictures of themselves with their favorite product of yours and tag you, using the @ symbol.
You can easily repin it to your designated Board, which will show potential customers that your current users really like your products. You could even offer a prize for the best submission!
Add the “Pin It” Widget to Your Website:
Even if you choose not to create an account for your store, this option will still let you take advantage of some of the site’s benefits. Just like you’ve added other social network widgets on your website and blog, you can add the Pin It widget, as well. This allows visitors to automatically share something they like on your site to Pinterest.
Around the holidays, many users also create a “wish list” board on their Pinterest page to curate the gifts they’re hoping for, so you can use this feature to encourage them to add your merchandise, too!
That’s only the beginning, though! There are endless possibilities when it comes to building your customer base through Pinterest! Want more ideas? Check out this article for additional advice on how to use the site to engage with customers. Need help on getting started on the site? Take a look at Mashable’s Beginner’s Guide!
If your store is already active on Pinterest, share your ideas and/or a link to your page in the comments section below!
The following excerpt is from the article 6 Pro Tips for Marketing to Digital Natives and was written by Lauren Drell, Associate Editor of Supported Content for Mashable. View the full article for even more advice!
Are you trying to reach an audience of 17 to 34-year-olds? They’re “Millennials” — those who came of age in a post-Internet world — and they’re unlike the consumers that came before them. Millennials can sniff the hard sell, and they won’t buy it. The way to win over these digital natives is to add some value, provide utility, entertain, acknowledge their individuality and get friends involved.
Most importantly, be mobile — it’s less a tip than it is a must. Millennials grew up on the Internet, and they’re extremely connected. On average, they have 2.4 devices, between smartphones, tablets, laptops and Wi-Fi music players. They’re more likely to research a product on their mobile device than Gen X, and they’re pretty much always connected. Intent to purchase desktop computers is falling, and smartphone penetration is on the rise, expected to hit 38% by the end of 2011, making mobile even more of a priority for this demographic.
So, if you want to market to millennials, here are some tips for reaching and converting them.
Cater to Their Needs
According to Matt Britton, the founder and CEO of millennial marketing agency Mr Youth, the key to appealing to this demographic is driven by certain major needs including:
Recognition: Be appreciative of your fans’ interest and support of your brand (it doesn’t have to be monetary — even a “thank you” will go a long way). Branding isn’t just important for companies — millennials are all building their own personal brands, too. If they get a shout-out or their work is selected in a UGC campaign, that’s going to help them build their brand. Getting a nod from a well-respected brand — like when Honda mowed a fan’s name into the lawn at headquarters as part of its “We’re fans of you, too” campaign — goes a long way toward fan retention. Britton says recognition of this nature is “a longer path” that will lead to more brand loyalty over time as deeper relationships are formed between consumers and brands.
Rewards: Who doesn’t love swag? For millennials — who are either in school or haven’t amassed much savings yet since they’re relatively new to the workforce — swag is valued social currency. But rewarding is most effective as a retention tool, and not an acquisition tool, Britton says. Offering a prize to your 10,000th follower might get you a few more fans, but they’re only there for the free stuff and not because they love and live your brand. On the other hand, rewarding your existing fans is a great way to bolster their connection to your company. Whether you’re offering first-to-know content, an exclusive coupon or a prize, be sure to reward the existing fans who got you where you are today. These are your loyal fans who are most likely to stick with you, unlike a fair-weather swag junkie.
Information: The Internet has put a ridiculous amount of information at our fingertips, and one huge reason we use the web is to find more of it. Therefore, brands can play a huge role in content creation, using platforms like Tumblr to build a brand and publish content, as if it were a media company. Britton cites the French Connection YouTube channel‘s webisodes as a stellar content series. The webisodes features videos “as told by” French Connection apparel — the magic dress (above), the jumper, the blouse — to show off the season’s pieces. The videos are quirky and entertaining, but most of all, they position French Connection as a fashion-forward and digital-savvy brand.
Gamify With Friends
The newest era of games, like Words With Friends, let you play with your friends, serving to strengthen bonds, foster friendly competition and help people keep in touch.
Gaming has evolved from a solo activity to a fun and engaging group activity, and game mechanics are key to capturing — and keeping — the attention of digital natives. All it takes to gamify is to offer points or pit friends against one another with a leaderboard, like with the new location-based application SCVNGR and its spinoff, LevelUp.
Through LevelUp, brands can offer the “$10 for $20 worth of food” kind of rewards that, when redeemed, unlock the next “level” of even more savings, thereby enticing the consumer to become a repeat customer — it’s a “the more you play, the more you win” model that can quickly become addicting.
“LevelUp turns the daily deal space on its face, turning value to the consumer immediately, which is very much a millennial characteristic — now, now, now,” says Chris Mahl, chief brand alchemist at SCVNGR.
Give Them Ownership
Millennials tend to be brand-loyal, and they want to have a stake in the company as a sort of reward for their loyalty. They don’t want to just consume content, they want to participate and create content. Just look at Doritos’ user-generated Super Bowl ad and SCVNGR‘s create-your-own-challenge aspect, which Mahl says is a great way to engage millennials and lets them become authors of the game.
“Millennials are creators, not followers,” says Mahl. “They’re not about being told to do something — they’re about creating it themselves.”
New research shows that when consumers are contemplating buying a product, search is the most important factor. Make sure your SEO strategy is well executed, and make your website pop — it should embody the personality of the brand and house all relevant brand information, including links to social pages.
As with all marketing, it’s important to have a presence on major players, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but you should experiment based on where your segment of millennials are spending time and where you want to go as a brand. Fashion brands, for instance, are experiencing great success with Tumblr and Instagram. Just remember that no one platform holds the key to millennial success — “the channels are only as good as the ideas,” says Britton.