Archive for the Social Media Marketing Category

Social Media Usage in Purchasing And Other Enterprise Applications

Posted in Enterprise applications software, Social Media Marketing, Twitter on July 7, 2011 by Shankar Saikia

Business operations such as purchasing, order management and others can benefit from social media capabilities such as collaboration, sharing, communication and transparency. At present the most common applications of social media in the enterprise are in marketing, branding and general collaboration. One of my favorite examples of social media marketing is Fashion TV’s  Youtube channel.  I believe that areas beyond marketing and communication can also leverage social media capabilities and behavior.

This post answers the question “how businesses can use social media” by listing social media’s main characteristics, highlighting user behavior, providing a methodology for evaluating how social media can benefit enterprise operations and finally describing an example of how social media can help an organization’s procurement operations.

Clearly social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are gaining incredible popularity among individuals – for example, Facebook  just confirmed 750 million registered users.  While social media applications gained traction as consumer applications (i.e., for individual users) business applications are emerging. Examples of business applications are Youtube for marketing, Facebook for branding, Twitter for customer service and Yammer and Salesforce Chatter for internal collaboration. While marketing, branding and collaboration are the most common applications of social media today, I posit that other areas such as procurement, order management, manufacturing, human resource etc. can also gain significant benefits from social media. The key to success will be using the core capabilities and behavioral aspects in a way to meet the business objectives of each operational area.

First, lets look at the main CAPABILITIES of social media:

  1. Content is user-generated: content, such as comments and conversations, is created by individuals, instead of being seeded by the enterprise.
  2. Anyone can contribute: as long one is a member of the network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) one can contribute a wide variety of unstructured content such as text, pictures, video and audio.
  3. Anyone can access: a member can access content for which the member has permission.
  4. Sharing: members can easily share content with other members
  5. Transparency: the ease of contribution, access and sharing enables an organization to make more information available
  6. Security: permission for contributing and accessing content is based on permission levels.
  7. Conversation and relationship: social media enables individuals to have a dialogue with an organization, leading to a closer relationship and increased trust
  8. Speed: contribution, sharing and communication happen very quickly with minimal latency.
  9. Integrated networks: content can be shared across networks such as from Twitter to Facebook to Youtube.
From a BEHAVIORAL perspective social media has changed the nature of interactions between users and organizations. Here are some examples of behavior fostered by social media:
  1. Sharing: users are willing to contribute content that will help other members
  2. Transparency: individuals can get more information from organizations
  3. Communication: users can easily connect to each other and to organizations
  4. Conversation: social media enables users to have a dialogue with organizations
  5. Speed: sharing and communication happen almost instantly, similar to the speed of short messaging service (SMS) and instant messenger (IM)
Now we can answer the question regarding how social media can benefit business operations. Let me use procurement as an example. Let’s start with some of the core objectives of procurement:
– streamline process of buying products and services
– lower cost of products
– improve quality of products
How would social media help meet and exceed these objectives? Let’s take each objective and determine how to apply social media.
  1. streamline process: what if a user could easily share information such as “I just ordered a new iPad”? Other participants such as approvers and reviewers can use the notification to expedite the process and have a conversation with the user.
  2. lower cost of products: what if a  purchasing agent could share a PO with multiple vendors? The vendors could engage in a conversation with the agent and the vendor with the lowest bid would gain the business.
  3. improve quality of service: what if users could use the conversation aspects to  provide feedback to vendors? Vendors can use the feedback to provide quicker resolution to problems.
These are examples of how social media capabilities and behavioral aspects can help purchasing operations. You can apply the same methodology to evaluate how social media can help other operations such as order management, manufacturing, human resources or recruiting. Notice that I have not specified any specific tools such as Twitter or Youtube. The key is to use the architectural components such as messaging, users, content and security to configure and construct social media applications.
Can you think of how social media can be used in your area?
Use the following METHODOLOGY:
– determine business objectives of your area of operations
– figure out how social media capabilities will help meet objectives
– configure and build applications
Which operations in your organization can benefit from social media?

Will Color Be Bigger Than Google or Facebook?

Posted in Data mining, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Google, Innovation, Social Media Marketing with tags , , , on April 22, 2011 by Shankar Saikia

In one’s quest to be entrepreneurial one often ponders new products and ideas. This week I started playing with an iPhone application call Color . This is a photo-sharing application like Instagram, but with a twist. Instagram enables you to take pictures with your iPhone and then share it with friends on a social network like Facebook, Twitter etc. Color is different – first of all it allows you to join a group within a certain distance of where you are physically located. Second, any pictures that you take are shared with that group. Third, and I have not tried this part yet, you can receive messages from group members! It’s a strange application, primarily because it is so different from social networks that we know – Facebook, Twitter etc. In a conventional social network, you join a network. In Color you join a group without joining a social network. Still don’t get it? Me too 😉

Two weeks ago Silicon Valley and by extension the tech world, was abuzz about Color – one reason, and probably the main reason, being that venture capitalists injected $41 million into a series A round into the company. Once I heard about the investment I became curious, downloaded the app and started experimenting. Then I read that the $41 million is part of the quest for “the new Facebook”. I can see why the search for the new Facebook has begun. It appears that Google is having problems, Twitter is having challenges and Facebook is highly valued – so, no time like the present to search for the next big thing. After all, this is Silicon Valley where tech innovation never stops.

While I certainly do not fully comprehend everything about the Color app, I admire the thinking outside-the-box of the founders. In some ways, Facebook is becoming predictable and boring. Maybe now is the time to “friend” someone you do not know, as long as she or he is physically near you – wow! how cool would that be?? That’s just one aspect of Color. There are other angles such as data mining – for example, how does a person behave when in a certain group? Well, just study the data gathered from that person’s interactions in that group…

These are exciting times in this age of mobile, social and cloud!

Any outside-the-box ideas that you are pondering?

10 Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

Posted in Social Media Marketing, Twitter on November 19, 2009 by Shankar Saikia

10 Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips

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Social Media Marketing – What is it?

Posted in Social Media Marketing on November 18, 2009 by Shankar Saikia

Earlier today I heard one of the client’s executives walking past our conference room say “oh wow, since you guys are talking about social media marketing, it must be cool stuff .. I want to be in YOUR meeting.” That was a revealing comment because it gave me more evidence that the term “social media” has entered the corporate lexicon. Later in the day, a friend of mine and also a top executive at a tech company, mentioned that he wanted to get a better understanding of social media marketing.  Let me see if I can explain social media marketing.

I like to compare “traditional media” with “social media”.  Traditional media is content created by companies – either media companies like newspapers, magazines, television broadcasters or non-media companies like your friendly automobile company, or hotel chain etc. Social media is content that is created by … society .. i.e., you and me!  … writing on a Facebook wall, writing or commenting on a blog are examples of social media.  Social media marketing is the use of socially generated content to build awareness of a product/service etc.  Writing a blog post about a product or service, posting updates on Twitter etc. are examples of social media marketing.

You may ask: what does web 2.0 have to do with social media or social media marketing?  Web 2.0 is a general term for technologies that enable normal ( ;)))  ) people like you and me to create our own content.  Technologists like to use the words “interactivity and interface” to describe the main characteristics of web 2.0.

Do you have a better understanding of social media and social media marketing now?

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Social Media Marketing: It’s the PROCESS dude!

Posted in Business Process, Social Media Marketing, Twitter on July 9, 2009 by Shankar Saikia

One of the most important lessons that the enterprise applications software business taught me is that business processes are more important than specific enterprise applications software vendors. For example, Dell’s success was mainly due to its build to order (BTO) model, and not necessarily the ERP or supply chain software vendor that Dell used. Similarly, Southwest Airlines’ business practices led to its unparalleled performance.

Similarly, success in social media marketing will result from proper business processes and not necessarily solely from the use of any specific software platform. For example, one company may rely on Twitter whereas another may depend on a suite of different tools. What is absolutely important is to determine the set of business processes that are appropriate for each firm. As I survey the social media landscape I am amused at how there is a different flavor of the day – MySpace yesterday, Facebook today, Twitter tomorrow etc. Regardless of the specific platform, social media is here to stay. We live in an internet democracy and the users have voted – social media beats mass media, social media marketing beats traditional marketing.

For a great writeup on how social media marketing helps brands, read this post from Bob Warfield.

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Personal Branding Using Social Media: How To

Posted in Personal Branding, Social Media Marketing, Twitter on June 29, 2009 by Shankar Saikia

For the last few weeks I have been trying to understand how to use social media for personal branding. It is interesting to note that when we graduated from college 20 years ago there was very little we could do to brand ourselves. The most sophisticated practice was to print a resume on a laser printer (wasn’t that cool??) and snail-mail it to companies (yes, we mailed the resume to many companies hoping that a few would give us the opportunity to interview with them).

Fast forward to now and look at the plethora of ways in which we can market ourselves  – Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Scribd etc. Marketing has been democratized – it’s marketing for the people and by the people! Social media is just that – we control the distribution of information as opposed to traditional media (e.g., newspapers, TV, radio etc.) where corporations control the distribution.

So, I asked myself: what is the most efficient way in which I can market myself:
– what tools should I use
– what should be my strategy

Here is what I came up with:

(1) CONSISTENT MESSAGING: have a consistent message across all the tools (i.e., whether you are on Twitter &/or Facebook &/or LinkedIn, you should have the same message that briefly summarizes who you are, what you can do etc.)

(2) FEW KEY TOOLS: use a few different platforms. For example, I use the following

– LinkedIn
– Twitter
– Blog
– My company website

(3) STREAMLINE NAVIGATION: ensure that regardless of which platform your viewer accesses, he/she can easily access all sources of information on you. In my case, here is the navigation for each tool:

(i) LinkedIn (has links to my Twitter, Blog and Company)
(ii) Twitter (has links to my LinkedIn)
(iii) Blog (has links to my LinkedIn, Blog and Company)

Since each site has a different type of information, a reader (e.g., recruiter, hiring manager, decision maker) can access any of my sites and easily go to the other sites to get a complete view of who I am and what I have done (LinkedIn) as well as what I am thinking of and writing about now (Twitter and blog respectively).

So, to summarize:

(1) use a few different tools
(2) have a consistent message across the tools
(3) provide links to all the tools/sites

I hope this gives you some tips on how you can use social media to brand yourself.

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