The Social Contact Centre

to a social networking way of working through the eyes of a Contact Centre manager

Posts Tagged ‘Pinterest

Pinning your hopes on a new social media product?

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ASOS’s Pinterest page

One of my mantras is that “Social Networking is permanent, Social Media is fashion”. Regularly new social media platforms emerge and get publicity and some of them gain momentum. MySpace, Friends Reunited, and Bebo had their time in the spotlight and were superseded by Facebook and Twitter as the dominant platforms. This year has marked the rise of Pinterest and Instagram.

In the Social Media B2B world you can’t afford to ignore anything – any strategy based on any one platform or anything anchored to just Facebook and Twitter is bound to founder sooner or later. You need to keep monitoring the blogs, checking the statistics and talking to customers to understand what’s hot. Trying to make sense of what is happening is more challenging. Is the growth of Pinterest based on new social media users who have found the platform they like, switchers from Facebook and/or Twitter, or does it serve a need which isn’t being addressed elsewhere so that it is a true addition to the social media? It’s too early to tell in my opinion and the best practise is to wade in and try to understand what Pinterest is about. As with most Social Media platforms the concept is really simple and the applications are really easy to use. The big question is always Why? What is it that drives people to move beyond just registering an account and into becoming a daily user and contributor – a content provider rather than a lurker?

The figures speak for themselves. Development started at the end of 2009 and in 2010 the first users were invited to use the controlled beta version. By the end of 2010 there were 10,000 users. The site really took off during 2011 with the launch of an iPhone app so that by the end of the year there were 11 million visits a week and the site was listed as one of the top ten social networking sites. In August 2012 the site was made available to everyone without invitation. There are now 29 million weekly North American visitors and the company is valued at $1.5 billion.

So what’s so attractive about a pinboard all of a sudden? Like most social media applications there is nothing revolutionary about the concept but something has absolutely struck a chord. The company says “Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people.”  Unlike Facebook which is geared around linking up with people through friends, and Twitter which is about sharing what you are doing or thinking to strangers, Pinterest is about linking people together through things. People say that you can tell a lot about someone by seeing their record collection, bookshelf or wardrobe and Pinterest is building on this. It is also building on the growth of scrapbooking and the standard practice of creatives to collect pieces of inspiration in a book.

The applications are interesting and are part of what drives lots of social media usage – they are the way that social media moves from being a passive page to something much more interesting and creative. The examples on the Pinterest home page are of people gathering ideas either for personal inspiration or to crowd source opinion – weddings being organised with input from friends and family, designers gathering inspiration online in a way which previously would have involved a scrapbook.

From a B2B perspective the challenge is then whether to and how  to use Pinterest in a way which is sympathetic to your business objectives and the Pinterest user community. With anything new the risk is that either companies pitch in because they feel they need to have a presence or conversely shy away because they don’t understand what it does. Retailers have been pioneers in this area – they have latched on to the vibrancy of the platform and the behaviours of younger fashion customers leafing through magazines for inspiration. It’s still early days but ASOS are pioneers on many things Social http://pinterest.com/asos/. Does it work in terms of money through the till? It’s too early to say but it does have 14,000 followers. The biggest brand on Pinterest, with almost 300,000 followers is The Perfect Palette. The biggest user is Ez Pudewa, a blogger, with 2.8m!

There is an excellent article assessing the power of Pinterest from a marketer’s point of view here http://www.zazzlemedia.co.uk/blog/assessing-pinterest-for-uk-marketers-do-we-really-need-to-care/ by James Carson of Bauer Media.

Written by greencontact

October 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm

The Community Manager

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The role of Community Manager is becoming more and more prevalent. As businesses establish their social presence they begin to link it with their overarching brand and marketing strategies. So what should the Community Manager do?

For me the key word here is Community. I’ve banged on before about the importance of Social Networking above Social Media and the irrelevance of numbers in Social Media. A community illustrates this perfectly. The definition of Community is (according to Meriam-Webster):

1: unified body of individuals: as a : statecommonwealth b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e : a group linked by a common policyf : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society 
2: society at large
3a : joint ownership or participation b : common character : likeness <community of interests>c : social activity : fellowshipd : a social state or condition
The emphasis here is about common interest. To be meaningful that common interest has to be you/your brand/your beliefs. This is very difficult to achieve but some brands have been successful. They have created a sentiment about what they do which is very powerful. In the UK consider Marks and Spencer. When I was growing up I could have believed that this was a nationalised industry; so passionate were those people around me about its activities and trusting in its stability. Think about the Apple community worldwide – advocates, contributors and investors.
That is the goal to achieve. As a community manager the first task is to understand what your community is or could be. If a community already exists, outside your control, the objective is to become an accepted part of it. Google keywords and product names, search for hashtags in Twitter and Groups in Facebook. Monitor them through your social media listening tools to assess the scale and sentiment of what is already out there. Only then can you realistically set the objectives for the Community Manager role.  For example many brands may already have only negative communities – the crowd is always keen to share its negative opinions. Objectives must be based on something real and achievable and so an objective may only be to be an accepted and trusted voice in those communities. Even in a negative environment though, community management can be powerful. Take the example of  Dell Hell – a phrase triggered by this blog from journalist Jeff Jarvis http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2005/aug/29/mondaymediasection.blogging. Dell did a great job of listening and using Social Media to respond to a catastrophic situation. Thanks to Mei Lin Fung for this summary of the turnaround http://www.customerthink.com/article/you_can_learn_dell_hell_dell_did
Going forward with the strategy the Community Manager is responsible for:
  • Recruiting – seeking out the people who would enjoy being part of the community. This involves establishing the Social Media groups on the platforms most suited to the brand. ASOS’s use of Pinterest is a really good example of this – it uses a great medium well for the type of brand and the type of customer. The Community Manager in this role needs to be involved in the marketing strategy to use existing campaigns in a way that will attract – e.g. getting hashtags, @s and Facebook pages publicised along with telephone numbers and email addresses.
  • Entertaining – Creating unique content which will appeal to the community. Especially in the early days this is important – you want to keep the notoriously fickle attention (Facebook group active lifecycles are short). Research has indicated that successful community managers are posting 4-6 items of unique content each day. This can be boosted by retweets and other third party content. Remember, this isn’t just retweeting anything mentioning your brand in a positive way but also spreading the word of people who influence you or think like you. This recycling of content is a great way to attract the attention of people you would like to become members of the community too.
  • Engaging – Community Managers need to listen carefully to what the community is saying and engage with it in the voice of the brand. Larger brands will have more than one individual working with the community and although you want their individuality to be apparent, the message will be consistent. Asking questions and thanking are easy ways to do this. Some brands have experimented with engaging with people outside the community through Random Acts of Kindness. As ever Trendwatching have some good examples of this: http://trendwatching.com/trends/rak/
  • Interacting – This is the ultimate challenge: to step into the community and treat it as a communication challenge. Dealing with public criticism and customer service situations in an open social media forum is challenging but has huge rewards. It can be a real way of both differentiating the brand (exaggerating the overwhelming positive sentiment) and greatly reducing service costs (through crowd-sourcing).
The Community Manager needs many hats to be able to turn a Community into a Managed Community.