Sunday, November 16, 2008

Putting Customers First

Whether we are focused on social or traditional media, one of the most important things I tell my students (and which I shared last week at the San Diego Social Media Breakfast) is to listen to customers before doing anything. Sometimes, we all need to take a step back and hear what our customers are telling us, and each other, before proceeding.

I will help you, my readers, do that over this next week. I am blogging at the NACCM Customers 1st Conference, being held at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. You can follow me via Twitter, my blog Customers Rock!, or on the Customers 1st blog. I will be attending both the conference as well as the "outside the walls" sessions which take place in the Disney theme parks. One of the sessions focuses on creating the "next generation customer experience" for consumers who are spending a lot of time on social networks and with social media. Stay tuned!

I will also be spending time with some of the guest speakers in one-on-one interviews, so let me know if you have any questions for any of them. You can find the list of speakers here.

Come follow me around the Magic Kingdom this week and learn about putting customers first!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Social Media Metrics - The Final Frontier

Well, as we wind down class for this quarter (to start up again in January!), we turn to a very important topic: measuring social media. Much of what should be measured will depend greatly on our goals and objectives for social media in our business. (Note - objectives below are based on Groundswell, our textbook.)

Do we want to listen? We can measure how much of the conversation we are listening to (and hopefully acting on if needed).

Do we want to talk with customers? We can measure how much they talk back.

Do we want to energize our customers? We can measure the viral spread of our brand message.

Do we want to support customers? We can measure the number of customer service issues answered through social media/number of calls averted.

Do we want to embrace customers? We can measure the product/service ideas we are getting from customers and how many we implement.

Suggestion: Only choose two or three metrics, at the most, to track for social media. Incorporate them into your marketing dashboard (you are looking at social media as another set of marketing tools, aren't you?) Follow the trends over time, rather than obsessing on daily changes.

There is also a great post today over at MarketingProfs on social media metrics.
(Photo credit: shaja)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Social Media Users Influence Others

I just watched a very interesting video from a sociology professor at Columbia University, Duncan Watts. He did a study on how the presence of "popularity" data on a website helped influence music downloads on a social networking site. In a nutshell, two different sites were created for the study, each with the same list of songs for downloading. However, one list of songs also showed the total number of downloads. Simply by listing which songs were more "popular" (higher number of downloads) greatly inflenced the behaviors of the social network users.

Check it out for yourself on this video:

Several of my blogging friends have wondered whether to show the number of subscribers to their blog. Some feel it shouldn't be done until a critical mass of subscribers has been reached. Others feel that there is benefit in showing the numbers in order to help "prove" that the blog is worth reading (if others are reading it, then you should, too!). I have chosen to show the number of subscribers to my Customers Rock! blog as I think it gives the site more credibility. The above study done by Mr. Watts helps to support my point of view.

In our class we have talked about the Critics, from Groundswell, that group of social media users who rate and review other sites. A company who has customers that are willing to rate and review should most likely embrace those customers and enable them to share their thoughts and ideas on the corporate site/blog. Even if the ratings and reviews are not all good, there is an opportunity to open up a dialogue with customers, right on the site, to look into and address any concerns. Being willing to be open, transparent, and honest is a key to social media success.

What do you think? Should blogs show the number of subscribers? Should companies showcase reviews of their own products and services? Let me know what you think!

(Hat tip to The Market Research Event blog for the info on Duncan Watts.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blogging: Gotta Try It!

One of the most interesting homework assignments I give my students is to start a blog and maintain it over the class term. This assignment really helps the students understand what it takes to create and maintain a social media property. Last night, we discussed the process of blogging and the student reactions to it.

Choosing a Topic

Some students found it difficult to find a topic they could blog about for several weeks. They had a lot of ideas but weren't sure which they could sustain!

Teacher's Advice: Always choose a topic you are passionate about. If you hope to make money from your blog someday, be sure to choose a topic others are passionate about as well. :)

Naming Your Blog

Other students struggled with finding the right name. They had noticed that, given a list of blogs, they would be more inclined to read those that had interesting names.

Teacher's Advice: While a good blog name is important, the more critical aspect of blogging is the actual content that goes on the page. A good name may bring someone to your blog once; great content brings them back!

Finding Your Blogging Voice

Students also shared they had a hard time deciding what the tone of the blog should be. Should it be very professional, with sentences properly thought-out? Should it be casual, as if one was carrying on a live conversation? The students are writing blogs on both ends of that spectrum, and both are generally OK!

Teacher's Advice: Write in a way that is natural for you and also encourages your readers to participate in the conversation.

Determining Blog Goals

One of the most important aspects of creating a new blog is deciding what you want the blog to accomplish. Is it a blog to educate others on a certain topic? Are you trying to persuade people to your side? Do you want to be seen as a content expert in a certain area?

Teacher's Advice: Determine your goals, and your audience, before writing even one post. Then, use those goals to guide you on future content, frequency, voice, and linking strategies.

Let's Blog!

Please check out the blogs from both this term (Fall 08) and last term (Summer 08) on the right. A blog to note is Blogging Around the World. This blog was started last term here in the USA which the student, Nicoletta, has decided to continue now that she is back home in Rome. She even attended a Web 2.0/blogging conference in Italy - both as an observer and as a participant. Well done, Nicoletta!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Communities in Social Media

This upcoming week in class, we are going to be discussing microblogging, which includes Twitter. Here's one great way I use it: I find all kinds of links to interesting posts. I just saw one about the difference between communities and online conversation, thanks to a Tweet from Matt Dickman (@technomarketer).

Here is an excerpt from Beth Kanter's blog (which, BTW, is on using social media with non-profits - pay attention, students, as your final project fits the bill here!). This excerpt should get one thinking - and spark some conversation:

A traditional online community is a group of people who interact
together and have a relationship over time on a site where people can interact around a common interest. A loosely coupled online community is a group of people who are joined together by a common interest and have conversations is different - this might include groups on social networking sites or a network of blogs. It's important to determine if your organization needs a traditional online community or something else.

Later in the post, Beth discusses whether our communities are more like book clubs, where members all discuss the same book (she used movies as her example), or are they more like real social clubs, where we meet and discuss our interests and dreams. There is a big difference!

What do you think, students and readers? In which cases would the first example work vs. the second example? Let's discuss!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Updates and Great Links

This post has info for the students as well as for other interested parties (go to the end of the post).

For the students:

Now that the mid-term exam is over, we can focus on the road ahead of us over the second half of the term:

• August 6: Viral marketing and intro to final project – guest speakers from Brickfish
• August 13: Microblogging and widgets
• August 20: NO CLASS - work on your projects!
• August 27: Communities and Creating a Social Media Plan -guest speaker from Intuit
• September 3: Final Project presentations

Our final project will be to put together a social media plan for the non-profit organization We Rock 4 Kids! Be sure to bring your questions, as we will get the "client brief" tomorrow night in class.

For Everyone

In my Google Reader today, I spotted a great graphic that was shared with me by Phil Gerbyshak of the Make It Great! blog (thanks, Phil!). The graphic was part of a blog post put together by Matt McDonald as an easy way to explain social media. Here is the graphic:

Matt goes on to explain the difference between his three circles of socially created content, social networking, and socially highlighted content (as well as the in-between content!). In class, we have covered the first two quite a bit; the latter weeks of class will round that out, as well as dig into the power of social media in highlighting content for others (the "collectors" written about in Groundswell, our textbook).

Check out the comments, too, for a discussion by the community on where improvements could be made to the model (including "swirly circles within circles and bathroom people"). I have added my take to it as well, as I am not sure how this would go over in a "B2B" or business-to-business company.

I believe it is important for us to be able to speak the language of our audience in order to share our ideas well. I think we are on our way, but many times, we are best at speaking our own language (as it is the most comfortable for us). Right, international students?

What do you think?

Is Matt missing anything? Does this picture make social media easier to understand? Add your comments here or on Matt's blog!

(Photo credit: 3pod)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Are Blogs Good for Business?

One of my students sent me an email with this opinion:

"I'm not a fan of blogs. I receive the Google alerts for news and blogs related to my field, and virtually 100% of the blogs are essentially a waste of space. I feel compelled to read them in the event something interesting is written (which I cannot afford to miss), but my ROI on reading blogs is truly negative. Indeed, I spend 15 minutes of my day reading blogs that add no value. That is 62 1/2 hours of wasted time a year.

Most of the useful stuff people accomplish through blogs seem perfectly capable of being accomplished via Facebook or related tools. I therefore only see personal reasons for having blogs, versus business reasons. Granted, some Fortune 500 companies have blogs, but that isn't exactly an endorsement."

A blog is not appropriate for every business. It makes sense when companies want to create a two-way dialogue with their customers/clients/donors. For some, it has created a lot of discussion. For example, the Southwest Airlines Nuts About Southwest blog requests customer feedback, and Southwest employees definitely respond. The most comments seem to come on posts where the airline is discussing something controversial, such as this one announcing their winter schedule.

It is great to have varying viewpoints, as they create a healthy discussion. So, let's open this up for conversation!

- Can Facebook or other social media tools accomplish what blogs can accomplish for a business?

- There are many reasons for a business to have a blog (listen to customers, talk with them, be seen as an expert, create a community). Which reasons have you seen work, and for which company?
- Has your company tried a blog that didn't work out? (I showed the example of Moosetopia, from Denali Ice Cream, to my students last week; it was cute, but didn't get much interaction from customers.)

Let's hear about it!
(Photo credit: head-off)

Monday, July 21, 2008

To the Students

Every now and then, I will have a blog entry geared to the students in my class. This is one of those!


Please continue posting to your blogs, as well as linking to and commenting on each other's blogs. I would also like to see links to blogs that are similar to yours. The best way to link is to write a post, then refer to someone else's blog in your post. Be sure to include the address of the blog post you are referring to in your post link! You can also add blogs to your blogroll/blog list.

Remember, in social media, participation and conversation are key!

Textbook Reading

You should be working your way through Groundswell, with a goal of reading through at least Chapter 7, Energizing the Groundswell, by class this week.

Midterm Exam

The midterm will be next Wednesday, July 30! It will be a few multiple-choice questions, but most of it will be a written response. You will be getting a case study to read and work through, targeted at what you would recommend for this company.


I have been trying to figure out the best way to get you slides, and I am still working on it (the file sizes are huge). Blackboard is probably it, and I am trying to get them up there. I will have something for you this week so you can review for the midterm!
(Photo credit: kjpargeter)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Social Media and Conversation

Now that the students are blogging (see My Blog List on the right to view their blogs - and you should!), they are beginning to have a different understanding of what it means to converse with customers. We spent quite a bit of time discussing what works and what doesn't in a blog, using Denali Ice Cream and their blogs Moosetopia and FreeMoneyFinance (a non-ice cream blog, but "sponsored" by Moosetracks). We also learned about linking in order to help further conversation.

I would like us to discuss here what "conversation" could mean from a social media and corporate perspective. The conversation actually started with Jeremiah Owyang's blog post on why some don't need to "join the conversation" because not everyone is part of online dialogue exchange. It continued on Peter Kim's blog on whether or not a brand can blog. I left the following comments on Peter's post.

- The "conversation" doesn't always have to take place between company and customer in order to be effective. When customers use voting, tagging, and sharing, the conversation is between customers - and it truly beneficial.

- We can't force customers to converse with us any more than we could "manage" their relationships (when the buzz was all about CRM). I think one of the key benefits of using social media is helping to make a company seem a bit more approachable, genuine, and real. B2B or B2C, it is all about people.

- Social media should probably be a part of a marketing toolkit, but the tool used is most likely different for different companies. Some may use quite a few of the tools, as their customers want to engage with them that way, and others may use only one (and that just to listen to customers). Either way, it should not be ignored but should be explored.

Now to you

What do you think? Can a "brand" blog? Who should blog from a company? Does the entire company need to embrace social media in order to create successful conversations with customers?
(Photo credit: redbaron)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Learning in Plain English

Where can you find the simplest explanations of some of the most difficult social media concepts? The CommonCraft Show, of course! I show a CommonCraft video at the beginning of my class each week; so far, we have seen the videos on Social Media and Blogging. They explain these concepts in "plain English", which is very handy for a class mixed with American and International students! I think our only request might be for Lee to speak just a little more slowly. :)

These videos provide us entertainment as well as basic information to get us started with our social media lessons. I like the way they take out all the "techno-babble" and use every-day language, along with simple images, to help the un-initiated understand the new world. I also like the fact that they can be found translated through dotsub!
We plan to watch RSS in Plain English this upcoming class period. Now that the students have been blogging (for one week!), it will make more sense.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Student blogs

The best way to learn something is to do it yourself. Hence, I have asked my students to each start their own blog. Here was the assignment:

Homework Assignment Number 2: Start Your Own Blog!
1. Decide on a topic (it should be something you would enjoy writing about; please keep it appropriate)
2. Choose which blogging platform you want to use: or (both are free) (I use wordpress)
3. Pick a name for your blog (you will need it when signing up)
4. Set up the blog, including the theme and color (how you want it to look)
5. Write at least three posts (at least one paragraph long each) before the next class
6. Send me the link!

I am posting the student blogs in my "blog list". They are very diverse, as these students are coming from all over the world! The perspectives are great.

In our next class, we will be taking this learning experience further and talk together more as a class about blogging strategy and how you can engage your readers via comments, polls, and questions.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Welcome to class!

Learning Pyramid
Originally uploaded by dkuropatwa
This blog will chronicle my experience teaching Marketing via New Media at the University of California San Diego Extension (UCSD). The class is 9 weeks long and covers why and how to use social media as part of the corporate marketing tool box, including strategy and case studies. I currently have 30 students, including students from several countries: India, Brazil, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, and South Korea. The textbook: Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.

This will also be a place where I can communicate with my students and link to their newly-created blogs.
Let's rock!