Harnessing the Power of Social Media

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Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Shanmugam Periasamy




Abstract
The affirmative power of social media offers a transformational opportunity
for companies, making a significant impact in the way they do business. From
connecting directly with end customers and engaging with employees to
collaborating with partners, social media provides a significant value proposition
that companies ignore at their peril. As stakeholders increasingly adopt social
technologies, the potential of social media can help companies grow customer
loyalty, accelerate growth and unleash their potential. This paper provides insight
into how enterprises can effectively exploit social media technologies to build their
brand, increase sales and improve customer satisfaction.




                                                              Infosys - VAugust 2011
                                                              iew Point | 1
                           Introduction
                           Even as the flattening world creates new opportunities for
                           companies by opening up unexplored areas of growth, the
                           expansive reach and enormous potential of social media has
                           served to increase these opportunities exponentially. The flat
                           world is becoming social, where social media technologies are
                           enabling change and enterprises and consumers across the world
                           are adopting these technologies.

                           As pervasive technologies enable demanding customers to
                           become more networked, enterprises need to:
                             • Establish direct connect with their customers
                             • Drive awareness on their products and services
                             • Provide a platform for their end customers to seek support
                                and discuss issues
                             • Make their diverse employee base more productive and
                                drive innovation
                             • Monitor and maintain their brand value across the
                                blogosphere

                           Social media can be utilized by enterprises to address these
                           issues. Traditional mass media is limiting - users have content
                           pushed on to them, and their sphere of influence only extends
                           to consuming or ignoring the messaging. However, social
                           media gives control to the end users, where they can guide
                           choices, become engaged in providing feedback, participate in
                           discussions and collaborate with their peers.

                           Therefore, enterprises can leverage social media to mine the
                           collective intelligence of a community of users - be it their
                           employees, customers or partners. Outsourcing, as we have
                           known it, is legacy, and crowd-sourcing is the order of the
                           day. Social media enables user-generated content, community
                           formation, influence creation, and collaboration among
                           community users by means of various applications and tools.
                           Moreover, these technologies also endow enterprises with a
                           scalability advantage, allowing them to employ social media to
                           target any number of user bases. Thus, social media helps level
                           the playing field of the flattening world.




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                           Social media is abuzz with conversation about companies, their products and services, their branding,
                           their capabilities, and their ability to meet customer expectations. companies cannot stop or control these
                           conversations. However, they can ensure that they become a part of these conversations, listen to consumer
    APPrOAcH               views, work to shape opinion, address issues, and foster customer loyalty.
       FOr                 Thus, Web 2.0 comes with a critical rider. With the emergence of user-generated content, enterprises must
  SOcIAl MEDIA             deal with the voluminous flow of reactions about services and products that hits them with an intensity
                           and pace that they may be unable to handle. To realize the potential social media has unleashed, companies
                           need to have a well-structured strategy - or they must pay a bigger price in terms of an adverse impact on
                           their brand equity.




                        The 4c Approach to Building a Social Media Strategy

companies can leverage the advantages of social media                     community is a powerful means of bringing together like-
using the 4c strategy - content, communication,                           minded people on a single platform where they can connect
community, and collaboration.                                             with each other and collaborate on common themes.
content refers to both user-generated content and content                 community establishes sense of belonging and engenders
                                                                          a trust factor among members which helps in the sharing
published by enterprises. Widely available tools and
                                                                          of knowledge and enables co-creation.
technologies enable users to generate content - video, audio
and images - and facilitate the participative process. A                  collaboration tools provide a means for diverse teams to
company's social media strategy must empower consumers                    work together effectively to achieve a common goal. Wiki
and employees to create content in a trouble-free manner.                 is a classic example of the effectiveness of collaboration
The content can then be used by the company as a feedback                 where more than three million articles are created and
mechanism for social media initiatives.                                   updated successfully by people from all around the world.
communication: Enterprises must have a clear strategy                     Effective utilization of collaboration tools improves team
                                                                          productivity and enhances output quality.
on the varied channels through which they want to
communicate with their employees, partners and                            What binds this strategy into an active endeavor culminating
consumers. Blogs are an effective means of communication                  in benefits for the enterprise is the listen, Engage and Act
where enterprises can have key stakeholders register their                process. An ongoing process which helps enterprises
thoughts on some key issues and strategies. Direct internal               reach the end goal of their social media initiative, it entails
and external communication of key messages by the senior                  'listening' to stakeholders, 'engaging' them in productive
management can have a significant impact on stakeholders.                 conversations and taking visible 'actions' on their feedback.


             ArEA                               PurPOSE                              SOcIAl MEDIA TOOlS/TEcHnOlOgIES

                                   creation and distribution of quality              Videos, Photos, Audio, content Aggregation,
           content                               content                                         Widgets, Mashups


                                       Internal and external official               Blogs, Micro blogging, Events, chats, Podcasts,
       communication                         communications                                           rSS feeds


                                       Bringing like-minded people
         community                   together for a common purpose
                                                                                               community applications



                                   collaboration among employees and                 Wiki, Discussion Forums, Ask and Answer,
        collaboration                            partners                         review and ratings, Social Bookmarking, Tagging



                                                                                                                Infosys - View Point | 3
                                            Social Media Maturity Model

Enterprises are going wherever the customer is, to be part                        differentiate themselves from the crowd and engage with
of the conversation, to feel the pulse of the customer, and                       and satisfy customers.
to connect with stakeholders in an environment they find                          However, before embarking on large-scale social media
comfortable. Beyond that, they are leveraging the power of
                                                                                  initiatives, enterprises must analyze where they are in the
collaborative technologies for everything from community
                                                                                  process of social media adoption. This helps them
building to product research and from marketing to
                                                                                  understand their current status in the social media journey
customer service.
                                                                                  and define a road map to reach the highest maturity level.
After all, the opportunity is clear. With most of their                           The following are indicative guidelines to understand the
customers online and connected, collaborative technology                          various levels of maturity.
becomes a critical facilitator in helping enterprises



                                  • Lack of a consistent approach for social media initiatives across the organization
         1 rEAcTIVE
 level




                                  • Governance and processes do not exist for social media usage within and outside the enterprise
                                  • Different technology and solutions used for various implementations across the enterprise
                                  • Absence of buy-in and support from senior management on social media adoption and roll-out
                                  • No common group identified for anchoring social media-related initiatives

                                  • There is a centralized social media group responsible for all initiatives, but driving adoption is
         2 PrOAcTIVE
 level




                                     challenging
                                  • Individual groups within the organization are convinced about social media; however, adoption is
                                     happening in silos
                                  • Some products and technologies are standardized but still not consistent across the enterprise
                                  • Governance and processes exist but are still in an evolving stage and not adopted completely by
                                     various departments
                                  • No framework for measuring the success and ROI for different initiatives

                                  • Organizational structure for driving and managing various social media programs is in place
         3 PrEDIcTIVE
 level




                                  • Well-defined social media strategy exists with governance and processes defined and enforced
                                  • Technology, architecture and road map are in place and standardized for existing and new
                                     implementations
                                  • Mechanism for measuring the ROI on various social media programs is available
                                  • Approach for analysis of inputs and feedbacks from different social media programs is available
                                     and creates actionable initiatives




How Enterprises can Leverage Social Media
With growing competition, companies are continuously pushed to reduce costs, improve productivity and drive innovation.
Social media technologies help to achieve these goals by proper planning and without making huge investments. There are
numerous ways social media technologies can be leveraged within and outside the enterprise. The key to a successful social
media roll-out is not to do it as yet another initiative, but have a road map on where these technologies can be used. Moreover,
the adoption needs to be prioritized across various business scenarios.



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At a high level, some focus areas where social media engagements can be initiated are:
customer connect: Empowered by the collaborative technology revolution, consumers are spending more time online,
interacting with each other even as the number of social media sites keeps increasing. So it is important for the enterprises to be
part of the conversation.
Employee Engagement: companies need to be more transparent and provide a platform to the employees to promote a culture
of openness, collaboration, co-creation, passion and innovation to succeed in the current environment.
Sales and Marketing: Enterprises must focus on increasing the relevance and preference of their brands in the online social space.
great brands do not tell their own stories but empower and enable the consumers who can tell great stories for and about them.




Connecting with Customers

                        ... Young people are so convinced of the value of peer networks that they will
                        trust the advice of a total stranger over that of a professional marketer ...

                          Paul gillin in 'The new Influencers'



Social media helps feel the pulse of the customer first-hand, an activity that has traditionally been carried out through surveys
and polls by a third-party.
Establishing a new relationship with customers, one that involves a hitherto unpracticed two-way communication, companies
must engage with them, utilizing the already present customer base and deploying social media for customer care. Enterprises
must provide a platform for their customers and enable them to discuss their products and services in social properties which
can be monitored by them. This transparency helps build trust with customers and strengthen the brand.
The social media strategy must ensure that consumers transform from being mere listeners who browse content to active
participators who become brand advocates providing recommendations to peers.



                         customer Peer Support: customer support communities enabled with relevant content and tools
     KEy                 provides an easy way for customers to resolve their issues which helps in reducing customer service and
                         support calls. 'Discussion forums' and 'Ask and Answer' are excellent tools whereby active customers can
     ScEnArIOS
                         support each other, thereby reducing support cost to a great extent.
                         Idea Management: Idea management solutions can help directly invite suggestions and ideas from
                         consumers on improving their experience or getting inputs for a new product or service. This will create a
                         sense of ownership on the brand they like and enable them to participate in the improvement process.
                         Product Feedback: This involves using discussion forums and communities to get product suggestions
                         and feedbacks directly from the end consumers. These forums must be made transparent with active
                         participation from key stakeholders on the suggestions.




The HP Support forum, which won the Forrester groundswell Award for 2010 in the support category, is a great example of
how HP used this community to improve customer satisfaction and reduce support costs.




                                                                                                               Infosys - View Point | 5
Engaging the Employees

                           Only 31% of employees are actively engaged in their jobs

                            recent study



As companies grow in size and employ a geographically distributed and culturally diverse workforce, effective collaboration
and co-creation among employees become increasingly challenging. This is especially the case when, as usually happens,
information is generated and consumed in silos. This makes finding the right information at the right time a near impossibility,
creating a potent - though common - barrier to growth.
Social media is a catalyst for collaboration, enabling effective co-creation, and efficient knowledge management. It helps integrate
innovative insights in real time to help ensure that companies meet their requirements in designing products and services that
reach the market faster. This facilitates innovation and improves the overall productivity of the workforce.



                           Workforce collaboration: using email as the primary collaboration tool within the enterprise
      Key                  is no longer the productive approach. Social media tools and technologies provide a means for the employees to
      Scenarios            get to know each other and collaborate effectively which helps increase workplace productivity.
                           Knowledge Management: Information silos and the inability to contact the right people at the right time
                           are among the bigger challenges facing enterprises today. Wikis, communities, and Folksonomies help
                           create and structure the content collaboratively and enable employees to find the right information quickly.
                           Drive Innovation: Social media tools provide an ecosystem where employees can come and share their
                           ideas and suggestions for a product or process, discuss and debate about them and eventually make
                           them actionable.



Dell is one of the pioneers in using collaboration technologies for employee engagement. Their Employee Storm internal
community has made a significant difference in connecting their 80,000+ strong workforce and driving innovation.


Sales and Marketing Engagement

                           40% of Nike community members become converts to the company's shoes

                            Trevor Edwards, VP of global Brand Management



The customer is demanding exemplary service, low-cost tailored products and a positive experience across multiple product
channels. Social media has given enterprises another channel with which they must satisfy customers even as it presents another
opportunity with which they can engage with them for sales and marketing.
As consumers rely more on social networks to find out about products and services, enterprises need to look away from
traditional top-down marketing strategies. connecting with customers by joining them in their space on their terms, they
foster a holistic relationship of opportunity that gives returns to both parties in influence and investment. This is critical in a
dynamic marketplace, where due to increasing costs and growing competition, companies are forced to reduce their marketing
spends. Social media has a comprehensive reach, allowing enterprises to connect to an ever-growing online audience without
having to make huge investments unlike with the traditional TV and print media. Thus, social media-enabled marketing helps
achieve more with less.

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                         Brand Building: companies need to be more transparent with their customers in terms of communication
                         and responses for building their brand. With the increasing popularity of social media, shaping brands
      Key
                         is more in the hands of the customers rather than the brand itself.
      Scenarios
                         new Product launch: Social media is a great platform for creating the right buzz before launching a
                         new product or service. The marketing team can invite the SMEs to write blogs or publish their video
                         interviews on the products to create awareness and generate interest.
                         Marketing campaigns: running periodic marketing campaigns can be planned and executed effectively
                         through various social media avenues. The key difference with social media campaigns is that they
                         encourage end-user participation which is a more inclusive approach and pays greater bigger dividends
                         through increased sales.



young & Free Alberta is a great example of how a credit union successfully connected with its young target audience of between
17 and 25 years by creating a community and providing a platform to connect and discuss their issues. This resulted in $4M
increase in new deposits from 2000+ new accounts.



Social Media Concerns and Challenges                                   • There is no proven way of measuring the rOI in social
                                                                          media initiatives and enterprises need to develop their
Even as it brings a world of opportunity, social media comes
                                                                          own model based on experience
with its own set of challenges for companies where security,
privacy, information sharing and controlling are of utmost             • need to seamlessly integrate an enterprise's social
importance. Before embarking on a large-scale social media                channels with third-party sites such as Facebook,
implementation, enterprises need to have a strategy in place              youTube, Twitter, etc.
to address some of these issues in a proactive manner.
Some of the key challenges while implementing social
                                                                       References
media include:
                                                                       • Infosys Social Edge Platform (http://www.infosys.com/
• need for tight information security controls to ensure
                                                                          socialedge)
  that only correct and consistent information is shared
  with the outside world across multiple channels
                                                                       • "The new Influencers" by Paul gillin
• Define and rollout comprehensive social media policies               • young & Free Alberta http://www.youngfreealberta.com/
  and guidelines and make sure awareness is created both               • http://www.forrester.com/groundswell/talking/common_
  internally and externally                                               welath_credit_union.html
• Strategy must be constantly revisited and updated in a               • http://Forrester.typepad.com/groundwell
  fast-changing technology landscape
                                                                       • http://www.thesocialworkplace.com/featured/1558
• Provide an integrated and consistent social media
  experience, rather than using point solutions for various            • http://www.blessingwhite.com/eee_report.asp
  social media initiatives




    About the Author
    Shanmugam Periasamy is group Project Manager with the Business Platform group of Infosys. He has more than 16
    years of IT industry experience, providing and implementing business solutions for global customers.
    His area of expertise includes customer delivery, program management, solution development, and implementation
    leveraging the global delivery model. He has successfully managed several large-scale social media implementations
    for various customers under the SaaS model using the Infosys SocialEdge Platform.


                                                                                                            Infosys - View Point | 7
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DOCUMENT INFO
Description: social media marketing; customer care; customer engagement; workforce collaboration; customer loyalty; connect with customers; social collaboration; direct communication; idea management; innovation