COM0015 Assignment #5 | Socially Driven Collaboration: How Social Business Is Changing the Role of Marketing and IT

Marketing and IT statOn Nov. 19, I participated in a webinar hosted by Social Media Today entitled Socially Driven Collaboration: How Social Business Is Changing the Role of Marketing and IT. As the person responsible for marketing and communications for my organization, I’m interested in any opportunity to learn about trends and best practices related to my field. And, as our organization is incorporating social media more into its communications and business models, I thought this webinar would be a worthwhile experience.

The webinar explored the fact that as more companies are embracing social business activities (e.g. using social technologies to listen, respond, gather feedback and connect with customers and partners), marketing and IT departments are having to work together to achieve social business goals. The webinar focused on how to achieve better alignment between the marketing and IT departments as collaboration improves all outputs/outcomes. The webinar offered five tips for better collaboration:

  1.  Get C-suite buy-in for shared goals.
  2. Understand your peer’s perspective. Understand the needs and offerings of each group.
  3. Be the role model. Reach out to the other department. Make the first move to work together.
  4. Find meaningful metrics to measure your success. Collaboration can yield many benefits.
  5. Avoid tech mistakes by carefully choosing your tools.

The webinar was moderated by Paul Dunay, Global Vice President of Marketing for Maxymiser, and featured panellists Erika Jolly Brookes, Vice President of Product Strategy for Oracle, and Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks. The speakers and participants could all interact with each other through Go to Webinar or on Twitter using the hashtag #SMTLive. Many people, including me, were tweeting quotable quotes from the webinar or asking questions and tagging them with the hashtag. I was happy to see Vanessa DiMauro answer my question. As an organization without an IT department—we have one person on staff for basic support and to liaise with our IT consultants—and as an organization that has a number of small businesses as stakeholders, I wanted to know if the rise of social business was enough of a business case for convincing your CEO to build an IT department into the business plan. Vanessa responded that identifying a business process that could be enhanced or accelerated via social technologies could help make the case for an in-house IT department.

Through the webinar, I gained a better appreciation for our IT consultants and see how it’s important to keep them in the loop of our activities. The message that I took away is: “When marketing and IT collaborate, the results are stronger marketing messages and a reduction in operational costs.” The webinar left me thinking of how I could work more collaboratively with our IT consultants to select or develop tools that will help us become more socially enabled.

Social Media Today offers free, weekly webinars on a variety of topics related to social business. I find the topics relevant to my job, and as they take place over the lunch hour, they’re very convenient. You also get a copy of the presentation, which makes great reference material. I highly recommend these webinars and will be attending more in the future.

What free social business-based webinars have you come across and would recommend?

Image from the presentation Socially Driven Collaboration: How Social Business Is Changing the Role of Marketing and IT by Erika Jolly Brookes and Vanessa DiMauro.

COM0015 Blog #4 | Cyberbullying: The Ugly Side of Social Media

cyberbullyingPerhaps I’m too much of a decent human being—or just too naïve—but, I’ve never once thought of using social media to harm people or ruin their lives.

Social media has proven itself to be a valuable tool for communicating, engaging and forming relationships, but by the same token, it has also proven itself as an effective tool for cyberbullying and propagating hate. We’ve all seen spiteful messages exchanged on Twitter and Facebook. While adults are guilty of such behaviour, cyberbullying seems most prevalent amongst young people. A survey conducted in 2011 by Kids Help Phone found that 65% of respondents, aged 13 to 17, had been the targets of cyberbullying—defined as being insulted, being threatened or having rumours spread about them via electronic means—at least once. Also according to the survey, cyberbullying is most rampant on social networking platforms with harassment via text messaging coming in second.

No one can dispute that youth must be protected from cyberbullying. Kids Help Phone recommends educating people in Canada about issues relevant to cyberbullying, developing clear definitions and guidelines about what constitutes cyberbullying and supporting work that addresses cyberbullying.

After three Canadian teens, victims of cyberbullying, committed suicide within the last two years, the federal government has decided to crack down on cyberbullying. Last week, the government tabled a bill aimed at modernizing the Criminal Code and combating cyberbullying. If passed, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act would amend existing criminal harassment laws to cover harassment through electronic means. The bill would also make it a criminal offence to knowingly distribute sexually explicit photos of a person without consent; an act punishable by as many as five years in prison.

Along with legislative changes, the federal government announced that it’s taking action to address all forms of bullying through education, awareness and prevention activities, including a number of websites that Canadians can use to get the information they need to protect themselves from online threats as well as report incidences of online sexual exploitation.

Bullying is a behaviour that will most likely never go away, and with the popularity of social media growing, especially among young people, it’s a problem that will only become more prevalent. Legislative changes are helpful, but education is what’s needed. Bullies need to learn the true consequences of their actions, and victims need to know where to turn for help. Society also has a role to play: bullying must become unacceptable. Just as society’s attitude towards smoking changed, so too must its attitude towards bullying. And social media would be the perfect vehicle for an anti-bullying campaign.

Image from the Canadian Press/Sheila Boardman

COM0015 Blog #3 | A Shy Person’s Plan for Networking

shy_person_networkingAs a shy person, I much prefer networking online. I like that you can seek out people with whom you’d like to connect and learn a little bit about them and find the things you have in common to help you make that connection. It’s a lot less intimidating to reach out to someone in a controlled environment.

While personally, I dread the idea of networking, professionally, I understand the value of networking to gain and retain clients and to form relationships with suppliers. To help me do this, I plan on growing my network on Twitter and attending at least one—baby steps!—professional networking event in person within the next six months.

I recently changed my personal Twitter account into a “professional” account—meaning I’ve now identified my employer and position; I’m reaching out to stakeholders, retweeting my employer’s tweets and sharing content that’s more oriented to best practices in business communications. I’ve already gained over 60 new followers in the last month, so I’m growing my network. The challenge for me right now is to find the balance between “personal me” and “professional me.” Now that my employer is known, even though I’ve posted a disclaimer that my tweets are mine, I want to remain professional, but I also don’t want to censor everything I write.

To meet my goal of attending at least one networking event in person, I will finally accept an invitation I receive from a supplier. Planning events is a big part of my job, and I often receive invitations from hotels and tourism bureaus. So that I’ll feel comfortable knowing at least one person in the room, I’ll grab a colleague and go. I’ll admit I’ll have to work really hard at keeping this goal. In-person networking intimidates me, and I’ve gotten good at finding reasons to avoid it.

Communications professional and educator Susan Murphy offers great networking tips for shy people in her blog post, More Advice for the Shy. This is advice I’ll definitely follow. How about you?

Image by Dell.

COM0015 Blog #2 | Social Media Heroes and Zeroes

Social media heroThe Heroes
I’ve always maintained that my top two social media heroes are WestJet and Starbucks. These are two of my favourite companies. Not only do I enjoy their products and services, but I like their brands. Both companies believe in building a community with their employees and customers. This sense of community—of accountability, of corporate social responsibility and of building something beyond a business-to-consumer relationship—is what drives the actions of both companies, including their social media activities.

WestJet maintains an impressive following on social media with over 244,700 followers on Twitter and over 463,900 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote ticket sales, services and destinations, respond to feedback and inform people of flight delays, career opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share travel plans and pictures. Sharing pictures is especially popular on Winglet Wednesdays where passengers take a picture of the plane’s winglet—the near vertical extension of the wing tip—and post it to Twitter using the hashtag #wingletwednesday. This is a great way to have some fun while promoting the various destinations to where WestJet flies.

WestJet is excellent at responding to questions and comments in a timely and empathetic way. WestJet is also a fun company with a sense of humour and it shows through in its posts—jokes (its April Fool’s Day prank of a new Furry Family program was particularly good), entertaining questions to spark lighthearted discussions, pictures of staff and guests enjoying themselves and of the scenic destinations where it flies. But what impresses me most is WestJet’s ability to remain professional and to handle negative feedback positively, always working towards resolution.

WestJet is an airline that really cares for its customers—online and in the air.

Like WestJet, Starbucks Canada maintains an impressive following on social media with over 93,300 followers on Twitter and over 642,400 fans on Facebook. It uses Twitter and Facebook to promote its products, respond to feedback and share job opportunities and corporate news. Its followers use these same channels to ask questions, complain, praise and share favourite menu items and pictures. I especially like how Starbucks sells its products through social media by posting either tantalizing pictures of its drinks and food items or comforting pictures of, say, a drink cup next to a novel or a cup with a sweater cozy. Through these images, Starbucks is attempting to make an emotional connection with its followers, selling them an experience.

Starbucks is also excellent at engaging with its followers. It wants to know what people like about the Starbucks experience and what it can do to improve. The My Starbucks Idea allows people to suggest new products and services via an online forum. Others can then discuss and vote on the idea. Ideas with the most votes receive serious consideration from the company and can be implemented. The soft pretzels that Starbucks has introduced to its line up of baked goods are due to someone’s Starbucks Idea. Starbucks is also very good at answering people’s questions via Twitter and Facebook. From personal experience, questions directed to the company were answered within 24 hours.

Starbucks aims to share great coffee with its friends, and it does this both in its stores and online.

The Zero: Metro
Calling Metro a zero is a bit harsh since it does have a Facebook page, with over 99,500 fans, that it uses to promote its online flyer, products and recipes—along with enticing pictures—respond to customers’ questions and engage them by asking them about their favourite recipes and other food-related questions. However, not only is Metro missing an opportunity to engage with people on Twitter as it does on Facebook, it’s missing the chance to gather input on its existing and potential product-lines (Selection and Irresistible brands). This focus-group type activity could be done through Facebook or Twitter, or it could be done through an online discussion forum that’s integrated into Metro’s website. Metro is also missing the opportunity to be of service to people by providing them with consumer alerts and tips on healthy eating and food safety.

Metro could learn from its competitor, Loblaws—another social media hero—on the benefits a comprehensive social media strategy could have on a grocery chain.

What social media heroes or zeros have you encountered?

Image by JD Hancock

COM0015 Blog #1 | Tools and Sources to Help You Achieve Your Social Media Goals

20-social-media-iconsAnyone who works with social media or who has read anything about social media knows that listening is the first step in developing a social media strategy. In fact, listening is the most important thing you can do on social media. Listening to what people are saying about you or about or industry, knowing what they like or the problems they’re experiencing will help you engage appropriately and develop content that will be appreciated and valued.

But with all the social media listening tools out there, how do you choose which ones to use? In all honesty, it’s a matter of personal preference, but from my experience, my two favourites are Google Alerts and Twitter. I like Google Alerts for its simplicity and convenience. You just enter the keyword or key phrase (one word or phrase per alert) you’d like Google to search the Internet for and you get emails sent to you with the search results. You can even create an RSS feed from the alerts and import them into a feed reader or a social media listening dashboard tool (a tool that gathers all of your feeds) such as Netvibes. Twitter is great for monitoring what is being said about you in real time. Twitter will alert you by email every time someone mentions you in one of their tweets. Twitter also has a great search engine that you can use to search key words, key phrases or hashtags. Twitter feeds can also be imported into a tool like Netvibes.

Now that you know of a few tools will help you monitor what’s being said about you on social media, how do you choose which sources to listen to? Where to go for news or updates depends on your objectives. If you’re looking for industry related content to share with your followers, you may wish to subscribe to an industry magazine’s e-newsletter or RSS feed. If you’re looking for general commentary about your product or service, you may wish to join an online community or discussion board. Of course, you could use Twitter as your main source for information and follow the people, organizations and publications that will help you meet your objectives. This is what I do. Twitter is my go-to place for news and updates because it’s current and convenient and it allows me to easily create content for my Twitter channel by sharing tweets with my followers and engaging with those I follow. A second source of information that not only helps me at work, but is of interest to my customers, primarily SMEs looking for best practices in customer service and marketing, is Inc. Magazine. I subscribe to Inc.’s newsletter and I follow the magazine on Twitter. This is an excellent publication filled with advice on anything business related–human resources, customer service, marketing, leadership–and updates on the latest trends and innovations in processes and equipment.

Listening will pay off in dividends if you do it right. It all starts with knowing why you’re listening, who you’re listening to and what you’re listening for. The right tools and sources will help you gather the information you need to be of value to your current and potential customers. I’ve provided you with some suggestions. What other tools and sources do you find valuable?

Image by GraphicsFuel