the core of social
Lithium social software helps the world’s most iconic brands
to build brand nations—vibrant online communities of
passionate social customers. Lithium helps top brands such
as AT&T, Sephora, Univision, and PayPal build active online
communities that turn customer passion into social media
marketing ROI. For more information on how to create lasting
competitive advantage with the social customer experience,
visit lithium.com, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and
our own brand nation – the Lithosphere.
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we help companies unlock the passion of their customers.
The Lithium Social Customer Suite allows brands to build vibrant customer communities that:
reduce service costs with grow brand advocay with drive sales with innovate faster with
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Ready to be a
shouldn’ttake social media to the next level?
hostage for a way to jumpstart your social
CRM program? Consider integrating support
and knowledge communities into your social
technology effort. The answer may surprise you, for two reasons. First, consider
the path to advocacy, the process through which an ordinary
Social media-based marketing programs, typically built
customer is raised to super fan status. It doesn’t happen in
around outreach and scheduled outbound communication,
conventional marketing alone, because advocacy is driven not by
are one element of the marketing effort in savvy
a promise made, but by a promise kept. That means operations.
organizations. Fishing where the fish are (Facebook just
surpassed 1 billion members worldwide) makes a lot of Second, that promise-keeping technology isn’t found in
sense, especially when highly targeted advertising based on your brand outposts: it’s found in the interaction between
verified demographics that were only dreamt of 10 years ago customers that is facilitated by those outposts.
is within the reach of any marketing professional.
What’s this mean in plain terms? It means that a well-built
But beyond outreach, what do you do? How do get the fish support forum can be a powerful marketing tool. Expand
into the boat? the definition of “marketing” to include all forms of brand-
building communication: outreach, advertising, and pre-sales
experiences are clearly part of this. But so are post-sales
experiences (which typically outnumber pre-sales over the
customer lifetime) like service requests, resale/renewals, and
requests for referrals or recommendations.
These are all driven by the same thing: customers sufficiently The challenge of meeting customers’ increasingly
delighted by past experiences that they are willing to seek sophisticated service needs arises as customer acceptance
help when the inevitable issues arise, to re-up for another of forums grows: the unwary brand can find itself quickly
year, or to offer via their social graph their positive comments disintermediated by failing to capture customer knowledge in
for others to consider. a branded support environment.
At the center of the support process—driven by the social Moreover, empowered customers are significantly more
web, customer empowerment, and the diverse experiences of likely to talk in highly connected social channels about
customers—is the support forum. Unlike a telephone-based their experiences with your brand, product, or service. That
process, the support forum is a ready-when-you-are, 24/7 means you need to be prepared to participate—at scale—and
source of information. to ensure that your customers see you or your brand as
responsible for their satisfaction.
To be sure, there are some issues—getting a seat on a plane
or securing a return authorization—that require an agent. If you want an interesting insight into the development of
Successful firms have invested billions of dollars in creating early, innovative customer care platforms, check out Chapter
great agent-based service experiences. At the same time, 15, “Beyond the Status Quo” in Howard Schultz’ “Onward.”
customers not only want to answer questions themselves but
Today, most brands are in effect playing catch-up: they’re all
to also cover more situations and get the information they need
over the social web with marketing programs but are just
at a lower cost. That’s good for your business on all counts.
now connecting the dots with operations and customer care.
And they are discovering it’s really hard work. Integrating a
support forum into a marketing program is — let’s be honest
— easier said than done.
Traditional advertising combined with “800”-based service
agents means that customers hear your message—and
only your message—across all touch points. That makes
consistency easier but also gives your customers the least
flexibility when seeking information.
Decoded, that means they turn to the web and compare That community will provide more than answers, too: it will
you with what is available via search. That’s hard enough to drive innovation, it will provide defense in times of crisis, and
compete with, and even harder to win against. Yet, building it will give you a platform on which to test new ideas. Built
“social” into your care program is fast becoming the new front around the needs of your customers, support forums can be
in the push for business success. the ultimate anchor point for your social marketing program.
Opening up the brand and participating on the social web As you scale up and build your social web presence, be sure
addresses the challenges of traditional approaches to to consider the role that a support forum can play: helping
business: by being present and participating on the social customers help themselves to a better experience, with your
web you “become part of the action” and customers become products and services, in a context where sharing comes
less likely to “seek the truth” on the social web and instead naturally, can be just the ticket to winning on the social web.
come to you with questions.
Sure, smart consumers still actively research using search,
but to the extent they see you as an ally they are checking
options rather than looking for an alternative. Every edge
helps in modern marketing, and being perceived, as a partner
is a big edge.
Extending your social marketing into support by integrating a
support forum is a logical step. By giving customers a place
where they can interact and share questions and answers
with other customers you’re inviting customers to bind
themselves not just with your brand but with the community
that you helped to build around your brand.