How to use microblogging in a business environment Corporate microblogging
This slideshow will show you how to use microblogging (e.g. Twitter or Yammer) in a business environment. This information is based on a series of blog posts available in German language at http://conception-blog.com/einsatzgebiete-von-microblogging-in-unternehmen-teil-1-von-4/2009/ This presentation is not exhaustive. There are surely more applicable cases of corporate microblogging. Do not hesitate to send us your comments .
Cases of microblogging in business environment are divided in two major categories: Internal use Using microblogging platforms in a closed system for employees only. Enterprise knowledge management, social networking, short internal notes, reporting, distribute corporate culture, project management, suggestion scheme External use Microblogging is used to communicate with externals like customers or investors. Marketing, monitoring/market research, customer relationship management, crisis management, sales, recruiting/human resources
Internal use Although Twitter & Co. is said to be a broadcasting medium to inform an interested online-community what you are doing, microblogging platforms could be used as a closed system as well. You can protect your Twitter updates, but using Yammer would be the better choice if information shouldn‘t leave your company. Yammer makes sure that only users with a company email address can access your messages. But how can we use microblogging for internal use?
Internal use Enterprise knowledge management Even if 140 characters looks much to short to distribute knowledge, it is enough for a teaser link to a new intranet article or to a changed site in your corporate wiki. Moreover if you come to a new interesting conclusion microblogging offer a quick way to let your colleagues know. Short messages are written quickly. They are read quickly as well. At the moment there is no faster way of distributing short messages.
Internal use Social networking Especially in huge enterprises the question who is the right contact person for a special topic is not answered easily. The problem: There are many experts but nobody knows them! Conversation by microblogging could be read company-wide. Thus you will quickly recognize which employee is the right one for a specific topic. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if a colleague (employed in another department/location/country) is working at a similar project or solved your problem yet?
Internal use Social networking By using microblogging in your business you will easily see, for what projects your employees are specialists for. The result: Problems solved once must not be solved again. Furthermore you will find so called “super spreaders” in your company. These are employees with a lot of useful contacts. With this kind of network existing knowledge must not be acquired again.
Internal use Short internal notes In every company there are short notes for the staff: “ Due to maintenance work the northern car park is closed tomorrow”, “It’s John’s birthday today” or “From 10:00 to 10:30 there is no water. Do not use toilets during this period”. There are a good examples for microblogging, don’t you think?
Internal use Reporting Since many microblogging platforms can be accessed via mobile phones you can report from all over the world. Imagine a worker who is visiting a fair, joining a meeting or is sitting in a conference. By using a mobile device news from events can be published for the colleague in the office. For example our company conception used Twitter to report live from CeBIT 2009 .
Internal use Distribute corporate culture New employees know this situation: You are feeling foreign. Newcomers have a lot of questions. It’s not a secret that conversation is the key for quick integration and efficient workflow. Why don’t you use the microblogging channel to enhance and speed up this conversation? The advantages: Questions reaches a bigger audience and questions and answers stay alive in the digital archive. Future newcomers can access this FAQ catalog too. With every question asked this catalog will grow in a dynamical way.
Internal use Distribute corporate culture Personal conversation (even with a microblogging tool) makes employees familiar and connected with their company. By doing so microblogging helps employees to internalize and to actively shape corporate culture.
Internal use Project management Microblogging cannot substitute a project plan. But it can complement it. Each team member can inform about the project’s progress without any technical barriers. Achieved milestones can be reported as well as moved deadlines or unexpected incidents. With a short status update everybody can indicate that the timetable is exposed. By using SMS this warning can even be sent while on the way (e.g. construction area or field installation).
Internal use Suggestion scheme Which company is not happy about good ideas? Although many companies charge business consultants good ideas often start in the minds of the company’s workers. Give your crew a voice. And listen to them! Microblogging can be used to collect suggestions from everywhere. Quick, compact and straightforward.
Internal use Couldn’t we use an intranet for this? Yes you can. But you shouldn’t. The problem is, that there is rarely a real conversation in intranets. There are various reasons for this: Because of technical complexity people do not use this system. Maybe a complex right management denies publishing content. Also the lack of time is one of the most common heard excuses. Every employee should have time to write 140 characters. Furthermore the technical inhibition level is extremely low. Just type in a text and submit. Could it be easier?
Internal use Couldn’t we use an intranet for this? However the major difference between intranet and microblogging is the direction of conversation. Most intranets are organized top down. This means that leadership members are author of posts. The other way round (bottom up) could be more effective. Listen to your employees and give them a chance to communicate. So they will help to form the company’s success! Sounds good? Microblogging could make this happen.
External use People are talking about your company. If they don’t you should engage them to do so. That’s the good news. The bad thing about this is that people do not always talk good about you. Accept this! Nevertheless this could be your chance. Give your business a human voice. Meet your customers in web 2.0. React to criticism, questions and problems. Be there if customers call for you. You can use microblogging to put your company on the market.
External use Marketing Twitter (or other microblogging systems) gives you a great chance to present your business to customers. You can inform about new products, publish corporate news or emphasize cross media campaigns. But be prepared for feedback! Do not use microblogging as a PR channel only. Be authentic and react to customer feedback. Customers will reward your efforts in the long run. Maybe this is the reason why many politicians discover Twitter as a campaign medium.
External use Monitoring/market research Another benefit Twitter brings along is market research. Several services like search.twitter.com , tweetbeep or TweetAlert give you the opportunity to see how customers are thinking about your brand. Watch the microblogging cosmos to identify critical and positive opinions about your products, services or campaign. Use microblogging platforms as an early warning system for your PR.
External use Monitoring/market research The former Pepsi-Max marketing campaign offers a good example. Pepsi showed a “very very very lonely calorie”, which is going to commit suicide. Once the picture of the suicide calorie was published in a print magazine criticism spread over Twitter very fast. One of the critics was Christine Lu who lost her sister by suicide. Pepsi react and stopped the campaign immediately before media made a big PR fiasco of it.
External use Monitoring/market research Huw Gilbert (Senior Communication Manager of Pepsi) used Twitter to apologized for the advertising. This scenario shows how you can use microblogging to monitor markets to prevent marketing fiascos.
External use Customer relationship management (CRM) If you mend the mentioned use cases “monitoring” and “marketing” you will come to the next field of application: CRM. To observe and react to customer statements is the 101 of CRM. Microblogging can do a great job at CRM. The airline JetBlue gives a good example. Questions like “Does anybody know when the terminal will open?” or “Baggage lost. What now?!” are answered by a special Twitter agent. The result: Pleased customers!
External use Crisis management If a crisis occurs a company must have a plan to react quick and effective. In summer 2007 there were incidents in the German atomic plants “Krümmel” and “Brunsbüttel”. The operating company Vattelfall didn’t communicate about it. As a result many citizens were concerned. These concerns played into the hands of the opponents of nuclear power. In the end the missing openness was strongly criticized by press and politics.
External use Crisis management Lessons learned: A fair and square crisis management (e.g. using microblogging platforms such as Twitter) could have satisfied the citizens’ need for information. An early use of microblogging could have change public opinion to the benefit of Vattenfall. The PR tragedy could have been prevented or at least softened. As a side effect other departments in the company like call centers would have been relieved noticeably.
External use Sales Earn money via Twitter? Dell shows that it is possible. At http:// twitter.com/DellOutlet the hardware manufacture uses the microblogging platform as an outlet store. This use case shows that you can convert 140 characters into real money. In 2008 Dell made public that they earned 1.000.000 Dollar using Twitter. Consequently DellOutlet is not the only account used by Dell. A total of 34 Twitter accounts is being used for digital marketing according to Dell’s homepage .
External use Recruiting/human resources (HR) The personnel department can offer jobs at microblogging platforms. You can also refer to fairs or other events where candidates can get in touch with your company. On the other hand HR departments can search for experts who recommend themself by expert posts. Meanwhile there are special search engines which search for job vacancies (e.g. www.twitterjobsearch.com ) and special job accounts like the German elbjob .
Conclusion The lesson is clear As shown microblogging can find its place in business environment. Both for internal and external use. Currantly the number of users are still small. But a growth of 1382% in the last 12 month (February 2008 to February 2009) shows that microblogging is rising quickly. You get the idea - act now! It’s time to use microblogging in business environment.
Markus Möller About the author Markus Möller works as a web-developer at the German advertising company “conception” located in Siegen (North Rhine-Westphalia). He is interested in social media marketing and published several blog articles about Twitter in the corporate blog at http:// conception-blog.com / (German). You can follow him on Twitter @ derlangemarkus (German). Corporate news are available @conceptionblog (German). Feedback about this presentation is very welcome. You can reach the author at [email_address] .
Thank you for your attention. www.conception.cc