Posted tagged ‘Twitter’

Lesson 8: Rethink…and Rethink Again

April 17, 2009

Clearly, companies are beginning to use social networking in unprecedented ways.

The Wall Street Journal in its April 8th edition reported that the Ford Motor Company has “picked 100 young, Web-savvy drivers” to get behind the wheel of its new Fiesta for the next six months and report on what they think about this car on sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. Ford is giving them the use of the car and covering their gas and auto insurance costs – all in exchange for online reports of their involvement and experiences with the Fiesta.

One of the most interesting elements of this campaign is that while it will start later this month, the Fiesta will not be available for purchase for about a year!

Ford’s trying to create buzz and attract attention. They also want to reach a new, younger, sophisticated consumer. They selected the 100 participants from 4,000 video submissions. These submissions were graded based on how many followers the participants had, how many platforms they worked across and creativity, video skills and the ability to “hook the viewer” in the first 5 – 10 seconds.

Ford will have no control over the content or the posts. Talk about “driving without a net.” Ford views this as an acceptable risk since most consumers seek out Internet reviews before purchasing a car anyway.

But Ford is not alone in this effort.

Toyota is working to create an online community for its Scion. And in March 2008, before it received a government bailout, GM allocated $1.5 billion dollars to digital and one-to-one marketing.

Closer to home, Intel contacted my 16 year-old son last week. Much like the car companies, Intel is looking to leverage a less traditional form of opinion leaders. Eli writes a blog for teens on technology and Intel wants him to evaluate two computers for them. They’re looking to find out what the next generation of users like or dislike about computers.

It’s clearly a new world and such a new world requires that each of us step outside of our traditional ways of thinking.

And in the end, that may be the most interesting and greatest challenge of all.

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Lesson 7: Use Technology to Forward Your Business

April 12, 2009

We’ve laid the foundation for our solution by discussing numerous disciplines which will be incorporated for re-establishing marketing and sales control within our housewares industry, The remaining area for us to explore is technology.

As is always the case, technology is never the solution in and of itself. Rather, technology is a tool – a very effective tool for transforming the way one processes transactions on behalf of its customers or delivers products or services to them or communicates with them.

In recent months – and although it feels longer than that – it really is months -we have been exposed to a new use of technology, a tool called Twitter. Twitter takes texting to another level. This service allows people to send and read “micro-blogs” or “tweets” of up to 140 characters. That’s about the same length as one of the sentence in this paragraph. Here’s a quick overview.

People who use twitter a re called “tweeters.” They set up free accounts on Twitter and post these very short blurbs. Anyone with Internet access can log on and see these “tweets.” The difference though is this. People can elect to have these tweets sent to their cell phones, mobile devices or computers.

How can one sentence of posting make such a difference? Consider this report from the April 8th New York Times and reporter Ellen Barry.

“A crowd of more than 10,000 young Moldovans materialized seemingly out of nowhere on Tuesday to protest against Moldova‘s Communist leadership, ransacking government buildings and clashing with the police.

The sea of young people reflected the deep generation gap that has developed in Moldova, and the protesters used their generation’s tools, gathering the crowd by enlisting text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter the social messaging network.

The protesters created their own searchable tag on Twitter (ed. note: thus allowing you to look up links that are tagged with one or more subjects), rallying Moldovans to join and propelling events in this small former Soviet state onto a Twitter list of newly popular topics, so people around the world could keep track.

By Tuesday night, the seat of government had been badly battered and scores of people had been injured. But riot police had regained control of the president’s offices and Parliament Wednesday.

After hundreds of firsthand accounts flooded onto the Internet via Twitter, Internet service in Chisinau, the capital, was abruptly cut off.”

If political revolutions can be initiated, how can a business one be started?

On the site Read Write Web, http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/zappos_twitter.php) you can learn how Zappos, the Internet shoe retailer is using social media to forward its business.

There are literally more than a 100 Zappos employees with twitter windows open waiting to respond to customer service questions.

Here’s a short sample from today’s Zappos Twitter site. I’ve slightly modified each name and removed the links so as to be sensitive to the identities of the individuals since I am using this for a different purpose.

  • @samdeck I want to apologize for your hold time. We’re here for you 24/7 1-800-927-7671. Have an awesome day!!! about 2 hours ago from web in reply to samdeck
  • @onfiref I apologize for the confusion, but which shoes do you need a picture of? Let us know or call us 1-800-927-7671 about 2 hours ago from web
  • @Glorial congrats! We look forward to meeting you! about 21 hours ago from web
  • @mkntz we did upgrade you to next-business day shipping for free on your order! You should receive it 4/14/09 at the latest. about 21 hours ago from web
  • @hinia I would be happy to answer your question. There is no tax when shipping to California from Zappos. 2:30 PM Apr 10th from web

This is customer service in 2009!

Zappos though is also intent on building a community. There’s a dedicated site where you’ll find all of the twittering Zappos employees who tweet about what they are working on and interesting resources on and off the Zappos site. There’s an employee leader board that shows who’s on twitter an dhow many followers they have.

There’s also a page that aggregates all of the public mentions of Zappos. And Zappos has also set up pages for those who rave about the company and its products.

Want to know more about how to use Twitter in your business? Do a Google search on “twitter” and “business”…

Ah, technology as a tool…

Branding and Gaining Control of Your Business in the Age of Twitter

March 19, 2009

Today, I received a really provocative and interesting challenge. A business that makes kitchen gadgets has lost its leverage with its customers and wants to know how to get that leverage back.

The kitchen gadget industry is really quite interesting. Inventors create and design products. These gadgets need to solve a problem and be very easy to use. Once they have created a prototype and tested it with some audiences, these inventors then take their products overseas to be manufactured. Some of these inventing companies protect their products with patents and sometimes they don’t because the patent will not afford them enough protection to prevent others from copying their products with minor alterations in design.

But now, the business environment is even worse for these companies.

It wasn’t that long ago that the inventing companies could sell these products to lots and lots of stores. But then the industry began to consolidate. Soon, it became apparent that if you wanted to sell to your target market, the only way to do that was to sell these products through superstores like Wal-Mart, Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

This is a problem though for these companies. Because these distribution channels are so large and dominate the marketplace, these department and superstores can dictate the margins and the way these products go to market. The inventing companies must tolerate and accommodate the requests made of them because upsetting one of these large companies could doom the product.

The question that was posed to me today was how to help these companies build a presence so that alternative channels for identifying products that need to be invented can be identified, products and related concepts could be tested faster and better, and alternate marketing channels could be developed.

This seemed particularly fascinating to me so I agreed to take this on.

Here’s my plan.

I think that this is a serious and meaningful strategic question for our times so I’ve decided to be public about it and write about it in this blog.

I am also identifying and approaching a cross-section of friends and colleagues to provide insight. They include one of the fellows accountable for building communities for a large software developer, a PR firm, a specialist in search engine optimization and web site development, my mentor who is an expert at identifying market targets, a senior advertising exec at large advertising company, my son who is one of the founders of TeenTechBlog www.teentechblog, my wife who is a stellar teacher and master chef… and you.

I would like to invite you to join me in this research. If you are interested, please e-mail me at david_blumenthal@msn.com. I plan on speaking on this topic in six weeks and if you assist me, I will share my session with you.

The journey promises to be a lot of fun.


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