Sunday, January 24, 2016

Customer Experience Driven By Social Media Intelligence

With internet & social media, customer experience has completely changed over time. It has brought brands closer and accessible to customers and vice versa enabling real time conversation. The always connected consumer immediately gets to know the good, the bad & the ugly about a brand. All thanks to social media, phew! 
"Advent of social technologies has led to shifting demographics, real time sharing & adding sheer dynamism to marketing." - Dinesh Kulchandra
Indians make use of various communication channels to talk about customer service experiences. 
Did you know? According to American Express Customer Service Barometer, Indians continue to be the most digital savvy with 71% utilizing social media to get a customer service response. 
Embrace digital platforms to deliver better customer experience 
Companies should embrace digital platforms to build personal connect with their audience. In the past, if a customer had bad experience with the product or company, there wasn't much they could do about it, but now they can tell the entire world about a poor experience they have had with the product/company. Internet has given consumers a powerful voice and they're not afraid to use it. 
 78% of online customers recommend a brand to friends & other contacts after a great customer experience - @helpscout 
Interestingly, it's said that customers who engage with companies over social media are more loyal - @Talkdesk 
Social media can be a blessing for businesses that use it well and a curse for those that don't. Today’s networked & omni-channel customers demand personalization and prompt response from the companies. When customers reach out to companies on social media, they expect a response:
  • 15% in less than an hour
  • 46% in 24 hours or less
  • 14% in 48 hours or less
  • 25% never
With social media playing an imperative role in delivering better customer service, analytics plays a HUGE role in understanding consumer behavior & personalize their brand journey to enhance their experience. 
Social analytics provide useful insights which can help make smarter and better decisions. It touches across multiple user generated interactions impacting customer experience. Smart companies use analytics to figure out deeper issues with their product or service and resolve them.
While social media lends itself to creating communities, social analytics helps with engaged communities. Customer experience driven by social media Intelligence helps in building highly engaged communities - @Gartner_inc 
To conclude, here's an interesting info graphic by @Talkdesk which highlights the best practices for boosting customer service on your phone and social media.
 Best Practices to Boost Your Customer Service Across Channels

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Digital Marketing for Indian Startups

The Indian startup ecosystem has really taken off in the recent years. India has paved its way to
secure the third position in the world in terms of the number of startups. According to a recent report by NASSCOM-Zinnov, India is one of the first five largest startup communities in the world with the number of startups crossing 4,200, a growth of 40%, by the end of 2015! It's indeed fascinating to see the startup boom in India. Gone are the days when Silicon Valley used to be considered the "only place" for startups!

That said, Indian startup ecosystem faces quite a few challenges - from scaling up, to marketing their product & services. 

'Great marketing starts with a great product!'

Today, consumers have such a strong voice through social media that they can either propel a product to stardom or obsolescence! As Sorav Jain rightly pointed out during the #SocialPowWow Twitter chat, it's imperative for a startup to pick the right medium and put together a competent marketing team at an initial stage. 

"While building a great product is the key, marketing is the keyhole which opens doorway to customers" - Sorav Jain

Most Indian startups put money in product, processes, people etc. but do not allocate the right budgets for marketing. Startups must plan and know how much they can spend and over what time period. Poor marketing strategy can lead to a failed startup.  

With the evolution of social media over the years, digital has become the go to medium to attract and engage consumers. 

According to EY’s second annual social media marketing India trends study, about 90% of organizations reached out to in the study planned to spend as much as 15% of their annual marketing budget exclusively on social media, up from 78% organizations in 2013. 

Indian startups should invest in smart custom audience based marketing on Twitter, Facebook and Google for brand recall. Digital marketing not only helps in getting leads and sales conversion, but also helps the brands to understand consumer behaviour.

Analytics in fact, play an important role in understanding consumer's journey. While social media lends itself to creating communities, social analytics helps with engaged communities.

"Make community building and audience development a primary goal of your digital strategy. A startup can't make it with out" - Kelly Hungerford

So if you are a startup or an upcoming startup OR an upcoming unicorn: Be nimble. Experiment with social media strategies. Be willing to change strategies or tweak if not working. Don't be rigid!

Note: Digital marketing & marketing challenges for startups was discussed during the #SocialPowWow Twitter chat and the full transcript of both the chats can be read here: / 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2016

In 2015, what marketers did right and where they missed the mark: 
In 2015, marketers understood the importance of mobile. We also observed increased use of videos and images too this year. 
It's said that by 2020, there will be over 5 billion internet users, with over half of them accessing the internet over handheld tablet devices and 80 billion connected devices worldwide! 
With increasing internet users & connected devices worldwide, marketers will push more content to their audience. While some marketers are already overdoing content, good quality content will triumph quantity.
"Storytelling" as a jargon has been used quite a bit  by marketers in 2015. However, not many have mastered the art of storytelling just as yet. Marketers must first understand their audience and what kind of stories they are likely to respond to. It's imperative to build the story in a brand's DNA, amongst its employees, content and finally in the marketing efforts.  
Time & budgets likely to be spent by marketers in 2016
According to Gartner. marketing budgets in 2016 are set to increase on an average to 11% of total company revenue. 
As we saw increased focus of marketers towards mobile and video, it's expected that marketers in 2016 will be $pending heavily on mobile and video. WithGoogle pushing video "micro moments", it will be interesting to see how brands will capitalize on videos. The purchase journey of a consumer has been fragmented into hundreds of micro-moments.
It's important for brands to be present in those moments with relevant, useful videos to establish brand equity and connect with their consumers. 
A study by Web Video Marketing Council says that 96% of B2B marketers are now using video marketing. 
Needless to say, content marketing is set to rise in 2016! As per the Content Marketing Institute (@CMIContent), 51% of B2B companies plan to increase spending in content marketing in the coming year. 
It's the age of data and it makes every spend accountable and measurable which implies analytics will be big in 2016. According to @brandanewco, expenditures on marketing analytics are set to rise by 60%. 
Smart Marketers will also reserve some $$ for organic/earned & engagement! 
Wearable technology & smart devices expected to gain more traction in 2016
As more people strap technology to their wrists, wearable devices are set to become powerful platforms for customer engagement. Wearable devices will give marketers an opportunity to analyse habits, attitudes & behaviour patterns to better serve consumers. 
Healthcare industry will be one of biggest beneficiary of wearables in my opinion. 
A report by @McKinseyDigital states that wearables are set to become $11 trillion market!  
Evolution of Paid v/s Organic 
Convergence of earned, paid and owned media will remain the sweet spot for marketers. Smart marketers will find the right balance between the three that will work for their customers. 
While it is said that paid is taking over organic growth, I believe in the long term organic growth helps build trust and loyalty with the customers and eventually lead to sales. A paid campaign can get you more eyeballs, but organic still has a long tail!  
So, what are your marketing trends and predictions for 2016? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
Note: This topic was discussed during the #SocialPowWow Twitter chat and the full transcript can be read here: 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Role of a Community Manager

I often come across people who think the role of a community manager is to manage the social networks of a company/brand! Little do they realize that the role of a community manager goes way beyond managing social networks of a company/brand. 
Community manager is the "human" behind the brand who talks to its audience online.
That doesn't mean their role is restricted to posting updates & engaging with the audience on various social platforms. 
An informed community manager:
  • Uses social listening & analytic tools to track conversations around the brand & industry
  • The analysis of such conversations can help businesses take informed decisions for their content or marketing strategy
  • Ensures that the community grows and stays vibrant; makes new members feel at home and enforces rules of engagement
  • Creates a platform of conversation to help marketers engage with desired target audiences
  • Helps build relationships within the community and between the company and community. Some community managers plan events, run forums and more
Strengthen relationship beyond a virtual handshake
A community manager strengthens relationship with it's audience/customers beyond a virtual handshake. Listening and responding genuinely plays a big part in strengthening relationships. We strive to deepen relationships one-on-one as we're so grateful for each customer and friend. It's important for a community manager to be personable and not just act like a machine responding to its customers/audience.
It's so great when a company can "come to the rescue" in times of frustration
Surprise & delight the community
It's imperative for a community manager to go beyond the screen! A simple 'Thank You' note is more powerful than just connecting virtually. Such initiatives cement a brand's place in people's mind and are shared & treasured by all! Surprise and delight is all about strengthening the one-on-one interactions with intangible ROI. 
While a community manager does all the above to manage and build a strong community, a company's values also contribute to the well-being of a community.  
If you have a culture of collaboration, your company will succeed for better. 
Managing a community, keeping them engaged, surprising & delighting them at all times isn't an easy task. Community managers face challenges in their roleto create a close knitted and strong community: 
  • Time management - is the biggest problem for community managers. Not only do they manage the brand pages but also listen to what their fans and followers have to say about them. Solid listening tools can help ensure that the community manager is able to respond to all the great mentions. It can help to have different team members "own" different areas/platforms so they ensure all mentions are covered
  • Content strategy - community managers have to prepare content that appeals to various segments of audiences, creating unmatched value proposition for all 
Trust your intuition and be yourself while building a community.  Take the time to invest in one-on-one relationships by listening, responding, sending gifts (of any kind!). Continue to care & share, tweet by tweet & post by post! 
Note: This topic was discussed during the #SocialPowWow Twitter chat and the full transcript can be read here: 

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Power of Community Building & How it can Benefit your Business

A community is real or virtual place where everyone with similar thoughts come together to discuss about a subject they are passionate about. Communities share their ideas, experiences and learn from each other on an on-going basis. An online community is a group of people with similar goals, interests, passion to connect & exchange information digitally. Thanks to social media that communities aren't restricted geographically anymore but are now global!
Build community with a purpose
Community building starts by understanding the needs and wants of your community. Who, why, what? Take time to understand who you will connect with & who is connecting with you already AND why you are building a community. 
Find that common thread of interest & bring them on a platform that lets them contribute to it effectively! Once you really know who your community is, you can begin to think about how you can benefit one another.
Importance of community building for your business 
Every business needs a community. Advocacy is key purpose for marketers; one of the most potent long term goals attained via community building! 
Those who regularly interact with a brand are the ones who share and spread content, recommend your brand and are repeat customers. When you invest in your community, you invest in the future and are ready to build a better business together.
Powerful community have positive impact on your business
Brands + communities have the power to bring change together and make positive ripples in this world together! It is the first defensible asset if something goes wrong. A powerful community will ALWAYS stand by you. 
Communities definitely impact your bottom line with word or mouth. Give them something to love you for, make it positive!
It spreads your word around, protects you when you're facing crisis, becomes a sources of ideas and content.
So start building your community today if you haven't yet! 
Note: This topic was discussed during the #SocialPowWow Twitter chat and the full transcript can be read here:  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#SocialPowWow: Share, NOT Save Knowledge

I have always believed in the power of community and over time have formed a community of like minded people who share similar interests.
“Power is gained by sharing knowledge, not hoarding it”
That said, I recently started a Twitter ch #SocialPowWow. The idea behind the chat was to build a community:
  • For Indian Entrepreneurs, Marketing, PR, Advertising and Digital professionals
  • To exchange ideas and start discussions around topics to explore endless possibilities that are transforming the world of business
Till now, five chats have been successfully hosted on Twitter and the response has been superb! Here’s a list of topics we have covered so far and in case you haven’t check out the chat as yet, please do give a read to the re-cap:
  • Social Media for Public Relations & Strategic Communications
With our special guest Vikram Kharvi, Senior Group Head, lead B2B & Tech Practice @AdfactorsPR, the chat received a great response from the PR & digital marketing professionals in India and globally. The chat focused on the role social media plays in strategic communication, especially for those in PR, how social media can be beneficial in PR crisis management and best practices for PR teams in managing brand position on social media. Here’s the full transcript of the chat:  
  • Content Marketing for Businesses
Olga Andrienko, Head of Social Media at @semrush spoke about content marketing. We all say content is the king and rightly so! How do you create scintillating content for the readers, align content marketing with your business objectives and tools you can use for content creation is what was discussed during this chat. Here’s a quick re-cap:
  • Digital Marketing for Startups
The chat with Sorav Jain, Thinker in Chief @echovme was focused around digital marketing for startups, how much should one invest in digital marketing, tools which can be helpful for marketing for startups and much more! Catch the full transcript of the chat here:  
  • Social Media Analytics
Social media analytics with Shonali Burke, CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. was a fun and engaging chat. The chat covered how social media analytics could benefit businesses and clients, how to develop strategies and measure KPIs, challenges faced to get buy-ins from the upper management and the tools that can help in social media measurement. Check out the chat transcript here:
  • Storytelling & Social Media
After an engaging chat with Shonali on social media analytics, we had another insightful chat with her on storytelling & social media. The topic covered the importance of storytelling in social media, focus of brands on storytelling in their campaigns, best practices in storytelling and how customers’ perception play into effective storytelling. To read the full chat transcript, click here:
I’m thrilled to have such wonderful and powerful #SocialPowWow community! Always around to exchange knowledge, share ideas, examples and enticing case-studies. Let’s strengthen the community and learn from each other’s experiences. Join us for #SocialPowWow, every Thursday 9PM IST; 11:30AM ET. Look forward to your participation.