Nov 12 2008

4 Reasons Social Networking Websites Should Go Corporate

Posted by cheyennejack at 7:00 PM
2 comments
- Categories: SEO / Marketing | Social Media

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At the Atlanta Jive Fall Road Show they talked extensively about social networking websites in the corporate arena for marketing. They outlined several success stories including Nike+ , a corporate social network launched in 2006.

Today, I was passed on this article talking about Nike+ and some of its successes. While a good article it feels more geared more toward asking "if this will be a successful model" rather than recognizing that indeed "it is a successful model" and explaining how they have become and will continue to be successful.

Corporate social networking websites have barely splashed the bucket. Here are a 4 reasons why they will succeed and change business and marketing completely.

Social Network Theory and Evolution

There will always be an unlimited number of vertical market communities out there. For every business, every ideology, and even a mohawk hairstyle a community can form, just like sea life does around hot spots in the bottom of the ocean. The goal of your corporate social network will be to provide that hot spot, and to seed it with a few community leaders with the appropiate passion and direction. These vertical markets have always been there, but with geographical barriers tumbling with the spread of the internet, small communities now grow with vibrant color and new ones form daily.

The biggest thing to understand is that with or without you they will form. So why not help them grow into the flower garden you desire instead of endlessly trying to catch up on weeding out the hydra of negativity that could swallow your corporate image alive without proper communal cultivation

Social Network Analysis

The data gathered from users interacting in a social way is an invaluable tool. Analyzing a market takes three key steps; Gather the Data, Analyze the Data, Understand the Data. Setting up your own corporate social network immediately resolves step one. No more random phone calls, mall hounding or endless boring polls.

People are doing what they enjoy doing; socializing and interacting. You are collecting that data without them having to fill in mindless circles and data input. At the same time you are providing a service and supporting their passion be it running or understanding a health concern like diabetes.

Social Network Software

Social network software is now readily available from a variety of vendors. You don't have to play in Facebooks garden, you can branch out with Jive, Ning and other platforms. Utilize the option to host the data and software yourself, and you will have step two at your hands providing a wealth of knowledge in the data analysis springing forth from your new community. You will identify new thoughts, ideas and plans your company had never even thought possible.

Example: Say 20 years ago you were Arm and Hammer and didn't realize your product was being used for toothpaste - you then turn around and create that product and bring it to market - a market you already know is thriving, exists and for which you have contact points ready to go.

Social Network Experts

All of this data analysis, these contact points and the social evolution of your community will point to experts you did not know existed. These key opinion leaders, vocal by choice in your community, can grow an idea, sometimes in seconds. Last night Kevin Rose of Digg announced on Twitter that he had a cold. Suddenly an account was created for @kevinscold and 500+ people were following his cold within an hour. Talk about viral marketing.

Utilizing their software Nike identified 15 key opinion leaders within their fledgling network. They brought them to the headquarters and listened to what they had to say. That is they chose to learn from their evangelists, not market to their masses. They fulfilled step three by understanding not only the data but the key influencers behind that data. That is probably the main reason why Nike+ has succeeded where some of the other early corporate adopters have struggled.

Begin. Now.

Start your community.

Cultivate it with passion and direction.

Invest heavily in the beginning with time and care.

Finally sit back listen, learn, grow and reap the rewards of social interaction with your community.


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Comments

David Phillips

David Phillips wrote on 11/14/08 3:22 PM

I'm a management student concentrating in IT and Operations Management and have started many conversations with professors on how social networking will change the business platform in years to come. Most agreed and told me it will certainly offer new innovative ways to run adverts, but few seem to realize how this will absolutely re-define consumer, product, and producer relationships. Companies like Nike who are on the front side of this curve will hold almost immeasurable advantages with margins in data collection and data utility. Consumer data is much more than recording POS transactions--though Starbucks has certainly transformed POS data collection in a way that will transform the entire game...I could rant on that for awhile. I wonder how long it will take for a majority of companies to hop on board? I wonder if the data and information margin will be too wide at that point and force them into obsoleteness without being able to compete on such an intricate and intimate consumer-producer data relationship. It will be interesting to see how companies manager their social network identities and strategies over the next few years--I firmly believe their long term existence will hinge upon them.
CheyenneJack

CheyenneJack wrote on 11/19/08 5:12 PM

I agree wholeheartedly David. There is a distinct possibility that the information age will be followed by an age of emotional brand aware connectedness that crosses geographical boundaries in a way we have not seen.

In a way its too bad that people are blinded both positively and negatively by the advertising impact social networks represent. People, especially youth, tend to develop personal brands by a collection of strong brands around them.

The more opportunity you give the consumer to connect, express and combine their brand with yours, the greater success your product will have down the road. Sales is obviously the first most easily noted measure. Hidden and yet more valuable under that will be the trust, identity and desire to help your brand improve.

Just think about the potential difference in "I told Ford to use that color for their new model" vs. "I love the new color Ford is using." The first delivers emotional impact that becomes evangelism 100, maybe a 1000 fold or more.

My aunt and uncle asked me when I was 5 if I wanted to name my soon to be born cousin Brian or Jason. I chose Brian, and even to this day that carries an emotional impact that I helped name him resides. I'm extraordinarily logical person that now knows that most likely they had a name chosen and probably were just playing around in asking my opinion, which happened to coincide with theirs. It doesn't matter, the emotional impact was made.

How can your brand use social networking and key opinion leader identification to create emotional impact events in your best evangelists?

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