For years we have been talking about how great it would be if we could find a way to engage with people beyond the walls of our facilities. To communicate with the 88% of the population who aren’t currently coming into our clubs and leisure centres.
And then our prayers were answered and social media burst onto the scene. 73% of UK households now having access to the internet (Office for National statistics) and the internet is placing a huge and growing part in the way people are communicating. Unfortunately, just having a website is no longer going to be enough to convince ourselves that we have an adequate and successful web presence. Social media gives us exactly the opportunity we have been crying out for.
How many of us feel like this at the sheer thought of getting involved in social media? So why is this? I have been delivering sessions like this to our industry for 3 years unyet there is still only limited engagement. The sessions draw the crowds so there is a general interest, curiosity and belief that e should all be doing something, but why then are we not? I think there are twomain reasons
I think there are two reasons we are reluctant to get involved Firstly, and this is the scary one – we are not confident with our level of service provision. In the past marketing has been about shouting our key messages and our brand values at the consumer. Social media is all about two way dialogue – conversation. It’s also not a quick fix. It’s about forming relationships, engagement and advocacy. The consumer now has a voice and this voice can be shared with thousands (millions) of other likeminded consumers at the click of a button. This scares us and makes us view social media as a big scary monster
So lets go back to my original question. Why are we all being so slow to engage? Stutler and Waldorph I think one of our main worries is that people, our customers, will say bad things about us. Push the issue of service quality to one side for a minute. This obviously needs addressing but our fear about this should not hamper our progress. We worry that everyone is a critic. Of course, social media does make it far easier now to share bad experiences with our networks but in practice, how much of a threat is this? We it appears not as much as we fear.
The reality is that people are far more likely to share positive experiences than negative ones.
The second reason we are not getting involved I believe is one of education. We don’t know how. The interest is there and we are on the verge of understanding the opportunity but we just don’t know where to start
It’s like buying flat pack furniture. We understand the opportunity to create something that will deliver a great result and fulfil a marketing/comms function but the instructions how to get there are unclear. I can help with this today. The other education issue is convincing the powers-that-be in your organisation that social media is here to stay and that opting out will very soon not be an option if you want your business to remain competitive in the market. Not only will you have to convince then that they should consider a strategy but this is a bigger shift in the way we reach our communities than just the marketing team can manage. You will need to engage all departments of your organisation marketing, operations, R&D, finance etc. Not an easy job but one that you should start to work on. You also need to consider giving the power back to you people. Social media is not about controlled messaging forced on the consumer those days are gone, its about conversation. You allow your staff to talk to customers every day. Why then are you so scared to let them do the same online?
Because consumer behaviour is changing and if we are to capitalise, we need to move our businesses to map against this behaviour. Some stats for you Think about how find information and make purchases. When we book at holiday we used to wait to Saturday, pop along to a travel agents, sit with them and at the end of the meeting walk away with a holiday. If that travel agent had been to the destination you were considering you would ask for their opinion and feedback. Today we will probably research the internet to find out what holidays are available and to get a price indication. We will then probably visit a review site like trip adviser to read comments from consumers who have been there. May also ask our friends via our social network as to where they recommend. This isn’t the future, this is now. This is how people in our community are making purchasing decisions and social networking sites will become more and more important in the process of finding information and make a purchasing decision. If you still need convincing that social media can have a hugely positive impact on business, watch this short video
Facebook = the social sharing network Linked in = the online resume/recruitment network Twitter = thought provoking, information delivering. Learning network
Facebook is where your community is when its not in your facilities and its not just the youngsters. Until recently the over 55 femail age group was the fastest growing group on Facebook, (it had grown to 16% by March 2010), it is now the fastest shrinking group and has just surpassed this year by the under 18s in the last 6mths Facebook really is the ‘community’ site. This is where your users are when they are not in your facility. And what are they doing there? Talking and sharing. What are they sharing – photos, games, information, recommendations. Facebook has gathered such momentum and stature that it is highly unlikely that we will see it collapse, at least anytime soon. It is more likely to evolve. It’s functionality is changing all the time in response to online behaviours. Opening the platform up to developers &lt;Beta&gt; has meant that it can respond extremely quickly to changing consumer demands and behaviours. For example, last month Groups were launched &lt;insert detail of Groups eg this will make it easier for Facebook users to share information with more targeted groups eg family photos with just the family. So, I think it is fair to presume that in the future Facebook will look very different to the way it looks now but it is certainly not going anywhere&gt;. This month we see the launch of Deals So what does all this mean for business? If we truly want to engage with a wider community, Facebook is your destination. Online presence currently is your website and we are still all investing in our website development, but this is not the future and the future is getting closer and closer, quicker and quicker. Facebook is rapidly becoming an operating system on which to build an online consumer facing presence. We need to be where consumers are. Doesn’t make sense to keep using time and energy trying to move them from where they are comfortable to our website. We must go to them. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed then Mohammed must go to the mountain.
The fact that EasyJet has a Facebook page probably isn’t surprising but earlier this year the company took things one step further and developed a system that allows customers to make a purchase without leaving the site. They can complete the entire transaction on Facebook. This is the future. So, while we are all still busy spending our marketing budgets on updating our websites, we need to ask the question – how long will this investment be of relevance? Should we at least be investigating opportunities to develop better functionality on our Facebook pages?
Over the pond they are already there. The budget chain in Australia ‘Fit n Fast’ is already offering the option to buy memberships online. Great news. If anybody knows of any brands in our sector doing this then please let me know. I’d love to include more examples of this and chat about how it is working out.
It’s clear to see the opportunity.
Some stats for you. Some examples of where this is being used in our industry
People talk of Micro Blogging but there is really only one site with any momentum we need to concern ourselves with in this field and that is Twitter. Also, 75% of Twitter users, use a third party app to administer tweets such as TweetDeck, Echofon or &lt;insert&gt;. These don’t register in the official stats. Also – Twitter has struggled to cope with the volume of users and too often we see ‘Fail Whales’. You’ve got to think that this platform will grow even quicker once they sort this rather annoying technical glitch.
The world has gone mad with twittering and tweeting. Its received international recognition as a result of high profile celebs like Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher and Jonathon Ross all early adopters. I often hear people saying things like, “Why would I be interested in knowing what my friends had for breakfast’ and this is the comment from somebody who doesn’t understand and hasn’t embraced the power of twitter.
So what is the power of Twitter. For me it is about real time news, filtered by me, straight to my PC, phone, iPad etc. Take the CSR, I use a tool called ‘TweetDeck’ which helps me to sort tweets from those I follow. Column on the right = hashtag for all that references the CSR. Govt Group = politicians talking about the review. Fitness – comments from the industry and news/comms = media.
If we are looking for a place to meet new potential members and talk to our current ones we need to be on Facebook. This is where your local community is hanging out when they are not in your facilities. As an industry we need to start taking its growth, presence and opportunity seriously. Most of us consider our website to be the answer to our online comms solution, which is fine for now but we are missing a trick. What role will websites play in the future of online comms? There is an opinion that company websites house corporate information but that all consumer engagement will take place in social networks. Savy companies are already starting to use Facebook as an operating system on which to build their company profile and this trend looks set to continue. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed then Mohammed must go to the mountain. Lets look at some examples. If we want to talk to our business network we need to be on Linked in. At the moment a lot of people use Facebook for personal comms and Linked in for business but over time these lines will become more blurred and Facebook will increase its importance in business comms. If you want to push messages out quickly and or receive information that interests you and is relevant to you direct to your PC or mobile phone – Twitter is the tool for you. Again this is growing in popularity by the day &lt;insert figure&gt; And then there is You Tube and Flickr, both content sharing sites (you Tube video, Flickr pictures). Both of these can be linked to Facebook to help increase the interest and expand the boundaries of your Facebook content so…
This is the future – this is where your information needs to be and ‘yes’ customers will talk back but we need to embrace this. We are a service industry and most of our staff are in the sector because they enjoy interaction, talking to people, helping people, solving problems for people. Our resistance to explore this huge opportunity therefore seems a little odd
At some point you are just going to have to make the jump – your customers will demand it. But how do you get started?
IN 2005 Jeff Jarvis – Author of What Would Google Do and writer for The Guardian wrot ethe following on The Buzz Machine – his blog post. In the old days a rant like this would go pretty much unnoticed by the general population and could be brushed under the carpet by the brand in question. Not so today. What followed was the beginning of a horrible episode for Dell. The blog post attracted huge attention and subsequent articles about poor customer service were picked up by the media. Two days after the post The New York Times ran a feature and the following week Business Week did the same. It went viral and almost brought Dell to its knees. But Dell fought back. Instead of trembling in the corner hoping that the storm would pass the company embraced social media. Their action plan looked like this:
#1 73% of UK households now have internet access
#2 60% of UK adults access the internet every day
#3 31 million people made an online purchase in last 12mths
#4 42% of internet users post messages on social media sites
Source: ONS Opinions Survey
Social media – reminder
The social sharing site
#1 500 million users
#3 Average user has 130 friends
#4 1 million businesses have integrated
#5 38 is the average age of a user
#6 30 billion pieces of content shared per month
Source: #1-#4 Facebook press room #5-#6 Google AdPlanner
Source: Linked In
The digital resume & corporate profile site
#1 80 million members
#2 A new member joins every second
#3 The world’s largest professional network
The real time information site
#1 1.2 billion tweets in January 2010
#2 300,000 new users sign up every day
#3 55 million Tweets are sent every day
#4 75% of traffic comes from third party apps
Source: Twitter, April 2010
“I just got a new Dell laptop and paid a
fortune for the four-year, in-home
service. The machine is a lemon and the
service is a lie.
I'm having all kinds of trouble with the
hardware: overheats, network doesn't
work, maxes out on CPU usage. It's a
Jeff Jarvis ,1995
7. You Tube
#1 Online community of 3.5 million
across Twitter, Facebook, IdeaStorm,
#2 Contributes to more than 2 billion
customer contacts per year across
internet, telephone and email
#3 @DellOutlet - more than 1.5 million
#4 Dell has generated global online
reveunes of $6.5 million via Twitter
Josh Bernoff & Ted Schadler
Josh Bernoff & Charlene Li
What would Google do?