Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Salute to Mumbai – Sustained the Blasts with True Spirit and Judicious Use of Technology, Social Media

Mumbai is back in action today despite yesterday’s serial bomb blasts. Schools are open, shops are functional, locals are running and people are already in offices. Mumbai and its people have shown that nothing can stop them - again this time.

Yesterday after the blasts, I preferred being on Twitter and Facebook rather than watching the senseless coverage on various TV channels. I am amazed and proud to see the way people used social media and technology yesterday. Rather than spreading ridiculous rumors and discussing who was behind the attacks and why the attacks could have happened, the netizens chose to use social media for a better cause. 

Twitter was flooded with messages about the blasts. The latest news were posted through #mumbaiblasts hashtag whereas the tweets about help were tagged with #here2help and #heretohelp. Those who needed help tagged their message with #needhelp. Twitter was also used to share hospital numbers, blood requirements or cab availabilities.

Hat’s off to the person who thought of creating a Google Spreadsheet of all the help numbers and details regarding help in terms of stay, food, ride or even help in passing on the messages. Who says there is no discipline in India? The open-to-all document was full of relevant information without a single incorrect detail.  

Facebook status updates passed on similar information about latest news and help numbers/ details. Many Facebook pages which have a large fan following decided to use that fan following to spread relevant information and help details.

Radio Jockey offered to air live messages for those who could not be contacted.

I received messages to just update the Blackberry messenger status to notify where I am and if I am safe or not. Amazing! So much thought in using the technology to ensure that the mobile network is not blocked with unnecessary calls.

I think I am too small to praise those who have shown the courage and strength to sustain such attacks. I can just salute the Mumbaikars and the netizens! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Social Media for Product Companies

Let’s accept it – social media is changing the way we live today. So if you believe that your products are going to change people’s life for good, you need to be closer to your audience through social media.

Let us take up three popular social media platforms and see how those can be used for your products business. 

Facebook: More than 700 million people are on Facebook and that’s a very significant number itself. You can use Facebook as a very powerful platform for:

  • Educating People: This is especially very useful if your product is innovative, based on some ground-breaking idea, involves concept selling and requires explaining some new concepts.
  • Generating Feedback: Got a new version of the product? Ask the users about their views. You can also gather feedback about specific features, customer support, an advertising campaign or even your ads. Since the feedback comes right from the existing or potential users of your product, it is a very valid which can immensely help you in your product development, technical support as well as marketing and sales.
  • Knowledge Sharing: Share useful tips, knowledge-base articles, cool short-cuts and tricks for effective use of your product. This will not only keep the fans engaged but also provide great value to the users.  
  • Customer Support: Want to be closer to your product users? Allow them to post their questions and queries on Facebook. If possible, provide immediate answers or route the query to customer support team/ support forum.
Twitter: Twitter is a perfect broadcasting medium to convey your message to a large user-base.  Use Twitter for:
  • Announcement: Announce new release, new product, deals, special offers, webinars and collateral release like white paper or ebook. Twitter has tremendous potential of reaching out to a large audience in a very short period. Remember to use appropriate hashtags to get maximum reach.
  • Knowledge Sharing: Share interesting news, articles, your own blog posts, news items and establish your thought leadership.
  • Customer Support: Many companies like ComcastHomeDepot are effectively using Twitter for providing customer support. But make sure that your support staff is extremely well trained to provide real-time, online support on social media.

YouTube: Online video marketing is growing, and it’s growing very fast. If you have not yet included it in your marketing strategy, it’s high time that you take it seriously. YouTube, with more than 2 billion views per day, undoubtedly holds a prime spot in your social media tools list. 
Here are the types of videos you can upload on YouTube:
  • Product Videos: Upload your product demos, how to videos and videos explaining critical features. This is sure to get appreciation from your product users. For new users, it’s so much easier to look at the audio-visual format than read plain text to understand the product.
  • Technical Support Videos: Provide videos for most frequently asked technical questions like installation/ un-installation of the product, activation or even using a popular feature. This will surely reduce the load on the technical support team.
  • Conference Speeches: Is someone from your company speaking at some conference? Record the speech and upload it for those who missed it. This will be great in establishing your thought leadership.
  • Customer Testimonials: Go beyond textual testimonials. Have videos of customer testimonials. If one picture is worth 1000 words, one video could be worth a million words :-)
So get ready with your social media strategy and get maximum from it. Remember, don’t start with “how to increase sales through social media” but see “how to engage and converse with your audience through social media”. After all, conversation comes before conversion. Sales will be an obvious byproduct if you have engaged audience.