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Recommend Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy for My Company

The company I work for,  Avanade, is embarking on a new strategic marketing campaign called digital workplace. This integrated marketing communications evaluation and partial plan provide guidance on communications strategies and tactics Avanade can utilize to enhance the market awareness and audience recognition of its digital workplace campaign.

A Bit About Avanade

Avanade is a professional services firm that sell and implements technology solutions for businesses worldwide. The company focuses on helping its customers realize results in a digital world through business technology solutions and managed services that combine insight, innovation and expertise focused on Microsoft® technologies. Avanade combines the collective business, technical and industry expertise of its worldwide network of experts with the rigor of an industrialized delivery model to provide high quality solutions using proven and emerging technologies with flexible deployment models–on premises, cloud-based or outsourced. The company, which is majority owned by Accenture, was founded in 2000 by Accenture LLP and Microsoft Corporation and has 23,000 professionals in more than 20 countries.

Target Audience

Avanade’s target market is large business enterprises (for example, multi-national corporations) across the world. The company targets companies in multiple industries including retail, consumer goods, banking, insurance, health, energy, utilities, and communications. As a provider of technology solutions, Avanade first targets marketing and sales communications and interactions at the Chief Information Officer in these companies. However, as the line of business functions in many businesses become more involved in recommending technology purchases, Avanade has started to focus more attention on communicating to the line of business leaders.   Line of business targets include executives and management in human resources, finance, field operations, sales, and marketing.

 Avanade’s Strengths and Opportunities

Like all companies, Avanade had certain strengths and opportunities that guide its decision making.  Here is how I see Avanade’s strengths and weaknesses:

SWOT

The Need for an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan at Avanade

Avanade’s is on a multi-year journey to transform its service offerings to help its customers become digital businesses. Digitization is the significant technological force driving (and enabling) businesses of all types to rethink how they respond to markets and reshape their operations. Avanade desires to be the go-to digital technology adviser and implementer that helps businesses rethink and reinvent business models, employee and customer relationships, businesses partnerships and more in the digital age.

A major part of Avanade’s digital journey is its digital workplace initiative and campaign. Digital workplace focuses on helping businesses apply digital technology to redesign how people work so that every action, every day creates competitive business value. Digital capabilities provide the intelligence, information and personalization that match the distinct industry and context of each employee’s work role, requirements and environment to help optimize work performance.

As digital workplace is a new and unique go-to-market campaign and initiative for Avanade, a careful and well-thought out integrated marketing communications approach and plan is needed to inform and educate Avanade’s target market of the capabilities and benefits of digital workplace.   Since this integrated marketing communications approach and plan will be supporting a digital business topic, it must embrace the characteristics and attributes of today’s digital age.

Embracing today’s digital age in its digital workplace campaign means that Avanade must consider carefully how today’s businesses evaluate and buy technology solutions and services.   Research performed by SiriusDecisions shows that 7o% percent of a business buyer’s total purchase journey is managed digitally, including social media. Global consulting firm McKinsey refers to this change in buyer behavior as the new customer decision journey. This journey is circular, rather than linear, as customers self-guide themselves through different decision sources and paths rather than being guided in a linear path by a sales person. Avanade needs an integrated marketing communications approach and plan to help customers find, understand, and use the relevant, pertinent, and compelling information need to evaluate digital workplace needs, approaches, and technologies that ultimately help drive a purchase decision.

Recommendation for Avanade

Avanade has a unique opportunity to position itself as a leader in digital workplace strategy and solutions.   A critical factor in determining if Avanade will capture this opportunity is how Avanade executes communications and conversations with its target market. As digital workplace is a new concept, significant market education must occur to build awareness and demand. Avanade can secure the opportunity to lead this education effort, which will put the company in a leadership position to sell and deliver digital workplace solutions.

Any communications plan Avanade executes must take advantage of Avanade’s unique market position. This position is Avanade’s relationship with Microsoft and Accenture that allows the company to market to Microsoft technology to Accenture’s customers, as well as Avanade’s direct customers. Accenture is seeking to be a leader in digital business. Hence, Avanade already has a large known target market in Accenture’s digital business target customer base to involve in extensive pull marketing. As such, Avanade’s integrated marketing communications plan for digital workplace should position Avanade as leading information source and trusted advisor to Microsoft and Accenture customers for everything about digital workplace strategies and solutions.

To become a leading information source and trusted advisor, Avanade must look beyond the traditional marketing communications tactics of blogs, social media posts, and event participation. While these tactics are essential in building market awareness across a general audience, Avanade must look at tactics that are highly focused on communicating with Accenture’s customers and prospects.

Marketing communications tactics to use with Accenture’s customers must allow Accenture’s extensive network of sales people to deliver content directly these customers in a compelling way that grabs attention. In other words, the content must be packaged and presented in a way that encourages Accenture’s time-starved customers to engage and interact with the content.

With these factors in mind, the recommended marketing communications tactic for Avanade to adopt immediately in support of its digital workplace campaigns is a quarterly interactive newsletter.   This newsletter would be distributed directly key Accenture and Avanade customers and prospects.   It would take on the high quality of design and content found in the best the technology and strategy newsletters, such as the McKinsey Quarterly.

mckinseyquarterly

Recommended features of the Avanade digital workplace quarterly newsletter include:

  • Electronically delivered as a summary email with links to a dedicated newsletter website.
  • Presents highlights of key digital workplace content curated and created throughout the previous quarter.
  • Presents at least two new feature articles on a digital workplace topics. Ideally, one article from a quest author (outside of Avanade or Accenture).
  • Enables linking to interactive demonstrations of capabilities mentioned in at least one of the articles.   This allows the newsletter to become live and encourages readers to engage with real-life examples of the content.

Through its digital newsletter and supporting digital and social marketing tactics, the Avanade digital workplace campaign can position Avanade as an information leader and trusted advisor on all things digital workplace. By taking advantage of its unique access to Accenture’s customers, Avanade can turn the newsletter into a highly valuable pull marketing tools that build awareness and ultimately, sales pipeline.

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What Insight Can Your Gather from Facebook Analytics?

Facebook analytics provides a business a fairly rich set of data to measure the performance of the business’ social media activity. But what insight can a business gather from this data? In the end, it is just data unless a business can derive some insight that enables it to determine if adjustments should be made to its integrated marketing communications plan and social media strategy and execution.

One of the ways to gain this insight is to ask what story you want the data to tell you. With Facebook results, the story I want to read is one that tells me if I am converting reaches to clicks. In Facebook world, post reach is the number of Facebook users who have seen your post. In other words, a post reaches someone when it is shown in the Facebook News Feed. Reach figures provided by Facebook are for the first 28 days after a post was created.

While reach may indicate that people are becoming aware of your post, it is clicks that matter.  Clicks indicate that someone is interested enough in your post to click it and learn more. Clicks is a critical measure for businesses posting ads on Facebook with a call to action, such as an offer or promotion. It is critical because it indicates that your potential customers are interested to learn more, which may result in the ultimate desired conversion – a sale.

So let’s look at an example of seeking the story in Facebook data. In this example, XYZ Company is a heating and cooling company (HVAC) in Western Massachusetts. This company is a recently launched business that’s starting to use social media to promote its business. Facebook is the primary social network they are using to advertize. They have a Twitter account, Yelp page, and Google+ page but are not using these yet for advertising. They are also sending direct mail to a 30-mile radius.

The Results and Story

XVZ Facebook Results

XVZ Facebook Results

As the above results show, XYZ is reaching a decent sized population with it’s advertising on Facebook. Without knowing the exact Facebook user population in western Massachusetts, it is a fairly safe assumption that XYZ is reaching a decent size population with a post reach of over 3,600 in one week. Further analysis shows that the majority of XYZ’s reach audience is within the western Massachusetts area telling the story that Facebook advertising is helping XYZ reach is desired audience, at least from a geographic perspective.

XYZ Geographic Reach

XYZ Geographic Reach

While reach seems to produce solid results, I am more concerned with engagement and post clicks as they may indicate the reached audience interest that may lead to a purchase. On the surface, XYZ’s engagement results seem to be moving in the right direction, but the devil is in the details.

The following statistics show that 5% of XYZ’s reach audience is engaged with XYZ through likes, comments, and clicks. Further, the engagement rate is increasing over the previous period (by 65%).

XYZ Engagement

XYZ Engagement

But what I am looking for is the number click-throughs to XYZ’s posts.   And to best understand this, I want to look at the success of individual posts.   While there are no standards for click-through rates on Facebook, many marketers believe that a click through rate on posts in the Facebook new feed below 1% in the news feed is a poor result requiring rethinking of the post while a click through rate above 2.5% is a very positive results indicating the post is performing well.   Here are XYZ’s click through numbers for its last five posts:

XYZ Click Throughs

XYZ Click Throughs

While all these click through rates are above 1%, some of the numbers are so low that they are not producing a significant amount of potential leads of XYZ.   What is interesting and important to look at is when the reach rate gets higher does click through rate also increase? At first, XYZ’s click through rates DO NOT increase as reach increases.   For example, the first post promoting the “March Mini Split Madness” – the post with a reach of 3,500 – only produces a click through rate of 1.26%. Not a great result.   But look what happens after this post. The next post on the “March Mini Split Madness” produces a click through rate of 2.6%. Why is this? What is making the difference for XYZ?

Unlike other posts by XYZ, the March Mini Split Madness posts indicate some relationship to an integrated communications plan.   First, these posts have a relationship to a relevant and pertinent current topic – March Madness of the NCAA basketball tournament. Second, XYZ is repeating a message first posted a few weeks ago. This repetition of the message of the message may resonate with XYZ’s audience who did not react the first time the message was delivered. What these results indicate that the more attention XYZ pays to the contents and the planning of its posts, the greater results the company achieves.

Moving Forward with XYZ

XYZ should continue the pattern it started with its March Madness posts. This pattern involves posts of relevant and pertinent topics executing with the timing and repetition, so the posts resonate with its audience. For example, this pattern may include topics on the current horrible weather in the Massachusetts area and planning for better weather. Further, XYZ should become an active participant on Twitter to promote these topics and drive traffic to its offers.

Suggestions for Handling Customer Complaints Online

Customers will complain! It is almost impossible to please every customer. But how handle customer complaints can make the difference losing or keeping the complaining customer. Further, how you handle customer complaints on public forums, like social networks or online review sites, can make the difference between gaining and losing other customers.

The following suggests ways to handle customer feedback properly when responding on an online forum. An example from the hospitality industry is used to demonstrate proper feedback handling. This example is for educational purposes only.

General Guidelines

The following guidelines should be applied when responding to customer feedback online, whether the feedback is positive or negative.

  • Be timely in your response to demonstrate that you are actively listening to customer feedback.
  • Listen carefully to what the review says and respond to the review with a unique response, not a cookie-cutter response, which reflects the specific feedback.
  • Emphasize the importance of customer feedback in helping the business improve the customer experience.
  • Empathize with the customer’s inconvenience or problem, even if minor.
  • Be authentic in your response; do not be disingenuous.
  • Demonstrate that you will take action, even if a small action.

The following provides examples of how to apply these guidelines to customer feedback.

 Handling a Customer Complaint

 In this scenario, a customer left a negative comment about a hotel.  Presented first is the customer feedback and then an example of how the hotel should respond to the feedback.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

Hilton-example-2015-2

HOTEL RESPONSE

Dear Luvt2travelwithhubby,

Thank you very much for your candid review of your recent stay at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina. I am sorry to hear our hotel did not meet your expectations. Your feedback is important and valuable to my team and me as we strive to improve our hotel with each and every guest stay. I greatly appreciate your comments about aspects of our service that need attention. I will be certain to review with my team the special request (rollaway bed request) and maintenance issues you raised and ensure the issues are remediated. And regarding the parking lot gate box, I am sure we can find a solution to reduce the impact our hot (and absolutely wonderful) sun. I hope that we can convince you to change your mind about another visit to our property. Please reach out to me directly at [email] if you would be willing to give us a chance to improve your experience with our hotel. It would be such a pleasure to personally welcome you back to beautiful Fort Lauderdale.

With much appreciation,

General Manager

Handling a Customer Compliment

In this scenario, a customer left a positive comment on an online forum.  Presented first is the customer comment and then an example of how a hotel should respond to the comment.

CUSTOMER FEEDBACK

Hyatt-example2015

HOTEL RESPONSE

Dear Travelwith3kiddos,

Thank you very much for your positive and comprehensive review of your recent stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. I am happy to hear you are a repeat guest. I am even happier to hear that we helped make your family trip to Orlando an enjoyable experience. We are working hard to make our hotel a comfortable and enjoyable experience for business and pleasure travelers alike! The feedback you provided will help us continue to improve our guest experience.  I hope we have the opportunity to service you and your family in the near future.   If you any questions, please reach out to me directly at [email].

With much appreciation,

General Manager

Using Social Media to Promote Events

Social media can be an effective tool in promoting events and conferences as well as communicating to event/conference attendees. The following analyzes how a large trade show organizer uses a social media based integrated communications plan to support its event.

For this exercise, the Catersource & Event Solutions Conference and Tradeshow (hereafter referred to as Catersource) is analyzed. This conference and tradeshow took place at the Paris Hotel & Las Vegas Convention Center from March 8 to 11, 2015.   It is an event where catering and events communities come together to learn new ideas and insights and spend time networking with their peers.

Usage of Social Media Channels

Catersource used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in support of its 2015 conference and tradeshow.   Facebook and Twitter were used pre-show while Instagram was added to the communications mix for within show and post- how communication.  Almost all of Catersource’s usage of social media was centered on the event itself with brief attention paid to subjects surrounding the event, like the event location or venue.

Pre-Show Communication

Catersource utilized Facebook and Twitter extensively to promote the conference and tradeshow.   Promotion started close to six month prior to the start of the event:

Promotion started with communicating the availability of registration:

EventPromoFB_1

EventPromoTW_1

Promotion continued throughout the months proceeding the conference and tradeshow with communication highlighting various planned meetings and sub-events:

 EventPromoFB_2

eventpromo_TV_2

Within the Show Communication

Catersource utilized Facebook, and Twitter to communicate about upcoming meetings and special events while the show conference/tradeshow was in progress. Further, Catersource used these two channels as well as Instagram communicate progress and results in real-time.

Catersource used Facebook and especially, Twitter, to communicate about upcoming meetings and special events during the conference/tradeshow:

 CaterInShowUp_TW_1

  Catersource added the Instagram channel to its communications mix to visually communicate the progress and results of the conference/tradeshow in near real-time.

 CaterInShowUp_Instagram

During the conference/tradeshow, Catersource engaged with our show participants through retweeting of show participants as well as highlighting sponsor participation:

 cater retweet 

Catersource’s Facebook posts or Twitter Tweets drew little response from its audience. The posts that typically drew the most response involved special events or celebrities, such as in the case of this Facebook post regarding a celebrity event planner:

 CelebrityPost

 An example of one of the rare times Catersource’s communications involved a subject surrounding the event. In this example, a Facebook post about the location of an evening party:

 CaterVegasPromo

Post-Show Communication

Catersource utilized Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to recap the results of the conference/tradeshow once it completed.

Catersource used Twitter to thank attendees for their participation in the conference/tradeshow:

 CaterSourceThankYouTweet

 Brand Consistency Across Social Media Channels

 Catersource’s integrated communications plan to support this conference/tradeshow demonstrated strict adherence to brand guidelines. Posts were consistent in language and imagery usage across channels. Further, the timing of posts was highly consistent across channels.   This observation indicates the Catersource tool a highly professional approach to managing its conference/tradeshow communications across its utilized social media channels.

Catersource used consistent language in its posts across channels:

 CaterLangConsTW

 CaterLangConsFB

Catersource used consistent timing in its posts across channels:

CaterTimingFace

CaterTimingTwitter

Use of Other Communication Channels

Catersource also uses media channels other than social media channels to promote the Catersource & Event Solutions Conference and Tradeshow.

Catersource used the January edition of its monthly newsletter “get fresh” to promote contests at the conference/tradeshow:

 Cater_Newsletter

Catersource used the February issue of its magazine to spotlight the sponsors of the conference/tradeshow and the industry award winners:

Cater_Mag

The Good and Not So Good of Catersoure’s Communications Plan

Catersource executed a well-structured and professional communications plan in support of its 2015 Catersource & Event Solutions Conference and Tradeshow. Of all the communications techniques and tactics Catersource used to promote the conference/tradeshow, the use of social media to promote meetings and special event during the event was most effective. Catersource especially used Twitter effectively to communication about upcoming meetings and sessions. Catersource’s use of Twitter showed that this social media channel can be used more than just a promotion tool. The following shows how Catersource used Twitter to communicate about conference/tradeshow proceedings once the show started:

CatesInshowBig

While Catersource did so much right in the planning and execution of its pre-show and within-show conference/tradeshow communications plan, it did not execute well in its post-show communications. Only one Twitter post was committed to post-show communication. In this day and age of real-time communication, it would have been nice to see Catersource do real-time post show results across all social media channels. This real-time communication includes video. Video can tell an amazing story of results. I would have liked to see Catersource post videos on the event by the end of the week of execution.

Promoting the International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot

The following proposes an integrated communications plan for Epcot to execute across Facebook and Twitter. This plan focuses on communicating the very best of Epcot’s renowned International Flower and Garden Festival. The goal is to promote the excitement of Epcot and draw visitors.

This plan was prepared for educational purposes only and does not represent the Epcot or the Disney Corporation.

Wednesday, April 1

Facebook:

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival continues for the whole month of April.   Visits the festival for great food, concerts, and of course, enchanting Disney character topiaries.

Include link to Festival site: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-flower-and-garden-festival/

Include picture:

The Topiaries at Epcot

The Topiaries at Epcot

Twitter:

The International Flower & Garden Festival continues at Epcot for the whole month of April.   Come visit! #WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Friday, April 3

Facebook:

This weekend is another Fun Fresh Weekend at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival!   The Orchestra will be on stage performing their hit Evil Woman. Check out the weekend schedule here.

Include link to Fun Fresh Weekend page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/

Include picture:

The Orchestra

The Orchestra

Twitter:

The Orchestra plays Epcot this weekend.   Come here Evil Woman and more. #WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Saturday, April 4

Facebook:

It’s another beautiful weekend in Florida! A great time to have a meal outdoors! Come visit our outdoor kitchens at the Flower and Garden Festival.

Include link to Outdoor Kitchen page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/outdoor-kitchens/

Include following picture:

The Wonderful Food at Epcot

The Wonderful Food at Epcot

Twitter:

Great Weather! Great Food! The beauty of the outdoor kitchens at Epcot! #WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Monday, April 6

Facebook:

What a great weekend at Epcot! Sun, food, music, flowers, and good friends! Here are some pictures from the fun this past weekend. Make your plans now visit Epcot.

Include link to Epcot main page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/epcot/

Include pictures such as:

Weekend Fun at Epcot

Weekend Fun at Epcot

Disney Parks Blog

Add the picture to the Disney Parks Blog weekend wrap-up. http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/

Wednesday, April 8

Facebook:

Disco is back at Epcot! The Village People play the Garden Rocks Concert Series this weekend. Come and get your grove on at Epcot.

Include link to Epcot Fun Fresh Weekends page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/

Include picture:

The Village People

The Village People

Twitter:

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A. The Village People at Epcot this weekend.

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #villagepeople

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Friday, April 10

Facebook:

Considering visiting Epcot? Here are the five reasons why should attend Epcot this month.

Include link to shared content from Capturingmagicalmemories.com: http://www.capturingmagicalmemories.com/epcot-flower-and-garden-festival/

Include following pictures:

The Weather in Florida

The Weather in Florida

Twitter:

It’s probably still freezing where you live! Reason number one why you should visit Epcot now.

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #OrlandoWX

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Saturday, April 11

Facebook:

All of Epcot is grooving to the Village People today. Why aren’t you?   Epcot is the place to be this spring!

Include link to video from first concert on Saturday. If no video the share this existing Village People video: http://youtu.be/1wc-AQJ2MYo

Twitter:

All of Epcot is grooving to the Village People today. Why aren’t you?

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #villagepeople

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Monday, April 13

Facebook:

Another great weekend at Epcot! The Village People were awesome. And as spring moves forward, Epcot gets more beautiful than ever. Make your plans now visit Epcot. Check out these photos from this past weekend’s festivities.

Include link to Epcot main page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/epcot/

Include pictures of activities at Epcot over the weekend.

Disney Parks Blog

Add the picture to the Disney Parks Blog weekend wrap-up. http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/

Wednesday, April 15

Facebook:

Florida’s own John Secada serenades those lucky to visit Epcot this weekend.   Come hear his hits “Just Another Day” and “Do You Believe In Us” and more.

Include link to Epcot Fun Fresh Weekends page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/

Include following pictures:

John Secada

John Secada

Twitter:

The sounds of John Secada will fill air of Epcot this weekend.

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #JohnSecada

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Friday, April 18

Facebook:

Next Wednesday is Earth Day! This weekend at Epcot we celebrate Earth Day with a series of events including a talk on conservation efforts to protect coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks and more at The Seas with Nemo & Friends.   Learn more at:

Include link to Epcot Fun Fresh Weekends page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/

Include picture:

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

The Seas with Nemo & Friends

Twitter:

Epcot is celebrating our most precisious asset this weekend, Mother Earth. Learn more at:

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #earthday

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Saturday, April 19

Facebook:

The cools sounds of John Secada are filling the air at Epcot today.

Include link to video from first concert on Saturday.   If no video the share this existing John Secada video: http://youtu.be/TRTzMqT_rt4

Twitter:

John Secada is amazing at Epcot!

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #JohnSecada

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Monday, April 21

Facebook:

This past weekend was very special at Epcot as we celebrated Earth Day. We support Earth Day’s year-round mission to broaden, diversify and activate the environmental movement worldwide. Check out how we did are part this past weekend.

Include link to Epcot main page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/epcot/

Include pictures of activities at Epcot over the weekend.

Disney Parks Blog

Add the picture to the Disney Parks Blog weekend wrap-up. http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/

Wednesday, April 23

Note: There are two posts today

Post 1

Facebook:

The Guess Who returns for another year at the Garden Rocks Concert Series. Come hear their hits “No Time“, “American Woman“, “These Eyes” and “Share the Land.” Learn more at:

Include link to Epcot Fun Fresh Weekends page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/

Include picture:

The Guess Who

The Guess Who

Twitter:

These eyes cry every night for you…the Guess Who play Epcot this weekend. Learn more:

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #theguesswho

Include same link and picture as Facebook post. 

Post 2

Facebook:

Today is Earth Day. Support Mother Earth and protect all she gives us. Learn more at Earth Day’s site.

Include link to Earth Day site: http://www.earthday.org/2015

Include picture:

Earth Day 2015

Earth Day 2015

Twitter:

Today is Earth Day.   We honor Mother Earth.

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks #earthday

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Friday, April 25

Facebook:

This weekend we are celebrating the best of Florida with our “Florida Fresh Weekend” experience. From 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, head for the Festival Center and discover why Florida is one of the top agriculture producing states in the nation! Learn more at:

Include link to Epcot Fun Fresh Weekends page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/

Include following pictures:

Twitter:

Discover at Epcot this weekend why Florida is one of the top agriculture producing states in the nation! Learn more at:

#WaltDisneyWorld #DisneyParks

Include same link and picture as Facebook post.

Saturday, April 26

Facebook:

The sounds of the 60s and 70s are filling the air at Epcot today – The Guess Who is rocking the stage.

Include link to video from first concert on Saturday.

.

Monday, April 27

Facebook:

This past weekend celebrated the best of Florida during the International Flower & Garden Festival. Only a few weekends left is the wonderful celebration of spring.

Include link to Epcot main page: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/epcot/

Include pictures of activities at Epcot over the weekend.

Disney Parks Blog

Add the picture to the Disney Parks Blog weekend wrap-up. http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/

My Favorite Industry Related Social Media Site: CustomerThink

There are many industry-specific social media sites on the good old Internet. Some are blogs. Some are content communities. Many (unfortunately) are marketing/advertisement sites parading as social media sites. Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk in her article “Industry-Specific Social Networking: Fad or Future? defines industry-specific social networking sites as sites that “allow you to interact with professionals from your industry exclusively and are focused on news and events that affect your business directly.” The key word in this definition is interact; meaning enabling professionals within an industry to share information on an industry topic. I have found it very difficult to find industry specific social media sites (or at least claim they are social media sites) that allow any interactivity. However, I have found one, and it is one of my favorite sites on the Internet. That site is CustomerThink

What is CustomerThink?

CustomerThink calls itself “a global online community of business leaders striving to create profitable customer-centric enterprises.” The site focuses on the cross-industry topic of customer experience management.   A common definition of customer experience management, according to TechTarget, is “the processes a company uses to track, oversee and organize every interaction between a customer and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle.”

CustomerThink serves over 80,000+ visitors per month from 200 countries. It serves as a place for professionals to learn about every facet of customer experience management in the form of articles, blogs, interviews, and news. Professionals visiting the site include customer relationship management system designers, architects, and developers as well as customer service process designers and managers.

Why is CustomerThink important?

CustomerThink focuses on a business area of significant importance. Customer experience management today is an area of focus for almost all businesses. According leading industry analyst Gartner by 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago. Gartner further predicts that by 2017, 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.

What do I like about CustomerThink?

I like CustomerThink because it works to create a vivid and active community on the subject of customer experience management. Unlike most industry related social media sites I observe, CustomerThink attempts to initiate two-way conversations. With CustomerThink, anyone can write content, post it, and request comments.   This interactivity is in contrast to most sites that I observe, which only allow a small pool of content authors to post to the site.   As a result, CustomerThink generates a rich set of content on the subject of customer experience management.   Its rich, multi-sourced content is why it stands out from other sites that address the subject of customer experience management.

CustomerThink posts regular content from a pool of experts in the field of customer experience management:

CustomerThink Expert Posts

CustomerThink Expert Posts

CustomerThink also allows any author to post to its blog:

CustomerThink Blog Entries

CustomerThink Blog Entries

CustomerThink allows any author to post featured articles, as long as the article meets CustomerThink’s article guidelines and passes review board validation:

CustomerThink Submitted Articles

CustomerThink Submitted Articles

And CustomerThink does a great job of reporting on the latest news in the field of customer experience management:

CustomerThink News Posts

CustomerThink News Posts

How does CustomerThink work with other social media and marketing Tools?

CustomerThink interacts with other social media sites and marketing tools to communicate the availability of its stories as well as market news and other viewpoints on the subject of customer experience management.   Its integrated communications plan ensures timely communication of stories and news via Twitter, LinkedIn, RSS feeds, and newsletters:

CustomerThink Twitter Page

CustomerThink Twitter Page

CustomerThink currently does not use proximity-marketing techniques. There is limited potential for the use of proximity-marketing as CustomerThink does not have a strong relationship with any location.   The only possibility for the use of proximity-marketing is directing to the community to local events on the subject of customer experience management.

What can be improved on CustomerThink?

CustomerThink is a content rich site that produces relevant, pertinent, and timely information. It does a good job of inviting a wide community to share content. However, it can do more to facilitate conversations among the customer experience management community. For example, an interesting community function would be polling or survey functions that allow the community to respond to questions with their opinions and viewpoints. This further interactivity would allow for faster sharing of viewpoints outside of blogs and articles.

 

Did You Know You Can Crowdsource Opinions?

Do you have a question that you need an answer to? Do you need an opinion on something? Well, there is a digital age solution ready to help.   It is called Thumb. I recently checked it out, and here is what I found.

What is Thumb?

Thumb is a peer-to-peer social networking mobile application that enables users and brands to use crowdsourcing to gather opinions. Users of Thumb can request feedback from other users of Thumb on virtually any topic such as music, artwork, shopping, hairstyles, relationships, movies, food, etc. Thumb is available as iOS and Android mobile applications and via online. You can download the mobile application or sign-up for access at www.thumb.it. Users primarily interact with Thumb through the mobile application.

Thumb is more of a content community than it is a social networking site. In the case of Thumb, the content is the opinions of other people in the Thumb community. Thumb allows people to enter a question with a picture supporting the question and request feedback instantly on a question. Feedback is in the form of up (positive) or down (negative) thumbs and free-form text. For example, using Thumb, I can request an opinion on a paint colors when deciding what color to paint my office. The value of Thumb is access to a community that exists to engage with others in expressing their opinions on any subject. Thumb claims that users get close to fifty responses to their queries within the first five minutes of submitting a question.

Thumb Pro is the latest offering of Thumb.   Thumb Pro focuses on supporting businesses and their brands. It gives brands a dashboard to communicate directly with the Thumb audience.   Brands can use Thumb Pro to get instant feedback on new promotional ideas, products, and ad copy. Further, it allows brands to interact in a conversation with Thumb users who have responded to a question. For example, a brand can ask follow-up questions to a response. This allows a brand to gain further feedback on a question.

Thumb’s target market is English speaking (the application is only available in English) social media users over the age of 13. For Thumb Pro, the target market is businesses and brands of any size seeking opinions on different business topics.

Key Features of Thumb Pro

Thumb Pro provides the following features to enable businesses to solicit feedback:

Ask Questions:

Businesses can pick their target demographic (limited to gender and age) and ask them a question.   Questions can also be assigned a category (e.g., food and drink) allowing users to search for questions they want to respond to by category.

Thumb Pro Ask Question Function

Thumb Pro Ask Question Function

Questions automatically request a quantitative response (via the simple thumbs up or thumbs down response). Further, a qualitative response may be requested, where the response is free text entry. All questions require an image to support the question (indicating the visual nature of the application).

Get Results:

Businesses can monitor responses to their questions.   Responses come in as thumbs up, thumbs down or neutral responses, as well as free form text.   Responses are exportable to Microsoft Excel. Responses can also be filtered by gender and age.

Thumb Pro Analyze Responses Function

Thumb Pro Analyze Responses Function

Interact with Responders:

Businesses can interact with each responder and ask further questions to clarify an original response.

Thumb Pro Respond to Feedback Function

Thumb Pro Respond to Feedback Function

Pricing for the service is based on number of allowed responses to a question. Thumb Pro has three pricing tiers, starting at $95/month for the basic plan and going all the way to $995/month for the most full-featured option.

History of Thumb

Thumb, originally called Opionaded, was first introduced to the market through a private beta launch in June 2010. From 2011 to 2013, the company received       $11.5 Million in four funding rounds from nine Investors including well-known venture capital funds SoftBank Capital and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

In 2013, Thumb merged with Ypulse. Ypulse offers content, data and insight as well as syndicated research on the behaviors of Millennials: tweens, teens and young adults. Ypulse’s gathers intelligence from the company’s direct relationships with over 2 million Millennials across the company’s two communities: SurveyU (a traditional online research panel) and Thumb. Terms of the Ypluse merger with Thumb have not been disclosed.

Thumb introduced Thumb Pro after the merger with YPulse. YPulse already had a business audience through its intelligence services. Thumb Pro provides YPulse with a new capability to market and sell to its businesses customers.

Thumb has garnered considerable recognition in the press for the design of the application and its use of crowdsourcing principles. In 2012, CNN named Thumb one of the top 50 new tech tools people should know about. CNN characterized Thumb as “crowdsourcing made super simple.” Fortune magazine named Thumb one of the 7 social networks to watch in 2013. Fortune highlighted the responsiveness of Thumb’s users: “simple questions typically generate hundreds of thumbs up or thumbs down.”

Thumb User Base

Thumb last published statistics on its user base in 2013. There are no other statistics available on Thumb’s user base.   The following charts show the two primary usage statistics available on Thumb: number of users and average time on the application per month by a user.

 

Thumb User Base and Usage Time Statistics

Thumb User Base and Usage Time Statistics

Thumb also claims that over 1 Billion responses are made annually to over 20 Million questions posed on the platform.

The most touted usage statistic about Thumb is the time users spend using the application each month. According to an article in Venture Beat, Thumb’s users spent an average of 3 hours and 50 minutes on its mobile app every month (as of 2013). When matched against Nielsen data on the average time users spend on a social networking site per month (when the site is accessed by a mobile device), Thumb ranks above Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram for active engagement and below only Facebook. Engagement is an important statistic for brands considering Thumb as it may indicate that Thumb users are highly engaged in providing their opinions, which can provide a brand with an active community to use to solicit opinions.

Social Networking Integration

 Thumb is integrated with Facebook and Twitter in the following ways:

  • Enables login with Facebook or Twitter account.
  • Supports inviting Facebook friends or Twitter followers to become Thumb community members.
  • Allows for sharing of questions with Facebook friend or Twitter followers.

Why Thumb Pro?

The following Prezi presentation provides a summary on the case for businesses to use Thumb Pro.

The premise behind Thumb is compelling: crowdsourcing opinions from an engaged audience. Thumb’s user statistics (although a bit old) show that Thumb’s users are very willing to engage and participate in providing their opinions. While there is a cost for businesses and brands to use Thumb Pro, the cost may be nominal as compared to the cost of executing market surveys.

A problem with Thumb and Thumb Pro that may turn off some businesses and brands is the lack of information available on the application. Current user statistics are unavailable. And it there is no available information on businesses or brands that use the Thumb Pro.   As such, this may leave some businesses and brands uncertain about using it to support their research needs.