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Building The #Social Ecosystem

LHI-logo-cuv 200x100When it comes to new technologies or applications around them, we need evangelists to promote them in a generic way. Someone has to be available to show around many aspects of what you need to learn, especially when you have a stiff learning curve. Not everyone has that interests and patience to make it a model for them. Lighthouseinsights.in seems to have that when it comes to #socialmedia. Hence I like them.

Some of us who are in the new space of advising on #social business find it extremely helpful to refer prospects to a neutral place where they can see for themselves what is happening around in the world of #social.  I find Lighthouseinsights.in is a good place for such a reference.  Those articles render credibility to our arguments on why businesses should become #social.

Further I thought I would share what they (applicable to someone similar to them) can do to contribute more to the business community. The following are my thoughts:

  1. Continue “more of the same” as it is good work done. I am finding it easier to refer people to read up a lot of examples in one place and also with more relevance to India. They told me that they would cover the whole of Asia as they go by.
  2. Move to the new #social business news rather than stand-alone #socialmedia strategies. I mean, by #social business, the convergence of #social, #mobile, #cloud and #bigdata.
  3. Interview regular traditional business people and publish what they think. It would be interesting to listen “for” and “against” #social from traditionalists. It will also help a lot of us fine-tune. Ask traditionalists their pain-points and ask specialists what and how they think #social will solve it.
  4. Partner a set of #social biz advisors who can blog for you about various aspects. You can use point 3 to create more relevance for this.
  5. The partner advisors can be used to create awareness programs with various associations, industry bodies and various organizations. Offline promotions will go a long way to gain traction.
  6. Release white papers and e-books on selected topics, which are handy guides to those who are in need.
  7.  Open a #social clinic where you can match the advisors (specialists of social media, cloud, mobile, bigdata) and business needs (customers) for an exclusive Q&A between both. They already post jobs related to this field.
  8. Have a sponsored kiosk in physical traditional events to promote awareness.
  9. Newsletters, Webinars and on-demand workshops.
  10. You are doing a great job of not promoting tools but examples of business applications with those tools. Kudos and continue with that.

Please do add others that you know who do a similar job of promoting #social with news and examples. It will be useful to refer. It will contribute to the ecosystem of businesses.


Social Media Knowledge And Practice

If you want social media to help you grow your business, both social media knowledge and social media practice are important. One without the other will not lead you to success.

Think of lack of knowledge as being blind. Think of lack of practice as being handicapped(a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult). Now I am sure it drives the point.

Only when you gain knowledge and practice it to understand how it fits your business, you will be able to use social media for business growth.

Learn a tool-practice it-teach someone. Now repeat. Thats the way to go. Cut the hype and go for organic growth with your tools.

Remember knowledge and practice should go hand-in-hand.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Will Social Media Transform Your Business?

courtesy: fb share
To understand this question, you should not start with social media tools or the technologies behind them. You should start with primary functions of your business and see what business metrics you need to achieve as results. 
Repeatedly I get the question if social media will help achieve the next month’s target. Sadly it is a “no”.
To understand Social Media and use it well for your business, think about the following:
How your business gets done–has it changed? I mean the nature of your business and how your industry/sector has changed. List out the changes.
How you do business-has it changed? With respect to your own customers, what are the changes in your activities that have been implemented or to be implemented? List out the changes. 
How you run your organization-has it changed? What are the organizational changes that you have brought in or needs to be brought in? List out the changes. Is it in sync with the above two changes?
Most importantly, what has been driving these changes? 
This will be a good starting point to understand what changes have happened and what you should change. This is the hardest part. Understanding this change. Once you realize this change, you will easily understand it has three parts: cultural, technological and operational. The first and hardest part would be the cultural change. Rest two can be done relatively easier. The first change i.e. cultural change will help you implement operational changes. You will also realize that any one individual in one of the functions cannot bring about such changes in an isolated way. It has to be across the board. The organization as a whole has to change to get the results. 
Forget the tools initially. Appreciate the basic ideas behind them and how it can be useful with respect to your business functions. This will help you understand the tools that you need. 
Now look at what kind of social media tools will fit.  You will start understanding how social media tools can fit your business. There is no one single answer. Last few years the answers have been changing. The impacts of tools are dynamically changing. Keeping track of things and catching up has been hard.
Depending on your engagement, social media tools will help you in all-round development of your business. This will include sales, better customer satisfaction, market intelligence and productivity of your employers. The list is only indicative. You can decide how Social Media will transform your business. 
Try this method. Let me know what you arrive at. Want to talk specific about your business? Just buzz me. I will be happy to talk to you.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Bridge Your Business Objectives And Social Media

You have understood what is Social Media. You know a lot now. You know the reasons why you should consider Social Media. You still have questions.  Where and how do you start and go about using all that information for your business?
Let me share a framework I use with my clients.
Start with an objective. Examples of objectives are Increasing Sales, Customer Support, HR, Market Intelligence, PR etc. Pick your business objectives. Pick that priority business objective(s) for which you would like to test the social tools and would like to build a strategy. 
If you have an on-going business, the business objectives are already there for your business. You are not going to set a separate business objective for-social-media-sake. If you are looking at 100 new customers for your business, dont say you want to “reach” 1000 people or want to have “a lot of followers” when you think Social Media. So start with the business objective and go forward to link every activity of yours to it as you will do in traditional methods. 
Once you have the business objective/goal in front of you, set the targets. For example, if your business objective is “increasing sales” then your target could be a specific number within a timeline. If your objective/goal is “customer support”, your target could be “reducing costs by %” or “better serviced customer ratios”, with a time frame.
You now have objectives and targets. 
Now comes the Social Media part into discussion. Now think of strategies. If your goal is sales, then your strategy could be “x number of new customers”, “developing existing customers”, “more transactions per customer” or “more value per transaction” etc. Evaluate which tools are right for the chosen strategy. What are the methods that can be used with these tools(example online discussions, forums etc…) towards that objective. What are the metrics applicable to the tools that can be measured and reviewed to achieve the objectives. Learn what are the best practices to be followed. Implement. 
Identify people who can implement. My advise is to use qualified people within your organisation. For example if you are implementing social media strategy for customer support, then use a person who is qualified to do customer support and train them on social media tools. Avoid hiring social media experts and training them in customer support or with your domain knowledge. 
What do you think? What is your framework?  Feel free to comment. I will be happy to have a customized talk with you for your business. Call me anytime. 
Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

The Only Way To Propel Your Company

foto: fb share
Is your company restrictive at work place?  Time to question Why spend time and money on restrictive policies?
Being connected 24×7 is the norm today. Younger generation bring gadgets and use social networking tools at the workplace, whether you like it or not. While you can restrict them from using official resources for such personal networking, you cannot prevent them from using their personal gadgets and discussing official things. Within colleagues of the same organization, to do their job better, work effectively, to cut time and location issues, they tend to discuss official matters using personal gadgets or using social platforms, especially when there is no official platform to collaborate. This exposes companies to the damage from content outside of their control and processes. Added to that, when the employees leave the organization, all the content created thus is lost and creates huge communication gaps. This creates great loss with time, energy and money.
Think about it.
If you don’t embrace it officially, people will use it unofficially. They will learn and use it elsewhere when they join. Better use it for yourself productively. 
To know what you are missing you have to use it and see it for yourself. Being open to new ideas is an important part of the new culture. If you ask me, the only way to propel your company into the next level is culture.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Build Your Brand Series: Social Media Strategy For An Educational Instituition

foto courtesy: facebook share

I met an old time friend recently. We were buddies during our representative days. He has been a super salesman and my admiration for him still holds good. He is currently running a management training institute/business school. I like what he does because it is so different with lots of value for students. Value for money. I like their concept. Our discussion proceeded towards devising a social media strategy for them.
While talking to them, I understood that they are very confused about #socialmedia. They are looking for “quick growth” (that which would fix their monthly goals). Looks natural to me. I shared the basics of Social Media with them.

Situation: They are a management training institute. They are trying to reach prospective students and their goal is to promote the courses they have, detailing their uniqueness, which will benefit students. They have the uniqueness where students will get to work while studying, get international exposure and finally get good placements.
I am extremely happy that they are very clear about goals.

My point of view is as follows:

  • Do some research and find out where are the students online today.
  • Use #socialmedia tools to find conversations of such kind among students and, may be, among parents.
  • Find what kind of topics students are discussing. 
  • Check what their online social orientations are. See how they are using online social tools towards their decision making. 
  • See who are the influencers for them. See who they trust and listen to. Also see if other successful students are influencing them. 

You can do these research with in-house people or use a consultant who can assist you doing it. Once you have these findings, formulate your action plan. Such an action plan will lead you to your well-informed marketing efforts. Then do your homework on #socialmedia tools, learn the best practices and use them towards your objectives. I am sure the learning curve would be steep but you are sure to arrive with a good #socialmedia strategy and results.
Let me know what you think. Feel free to question.
You think your situation is different? Want to talk about it? I will be happy to talk to you. Buzz me here.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Comments: Yes, but why by email

Add Your Comment
Add Your Comment (Photo credit: premasagar)
My recent post Marketing a product: Is that an opportunity? has elicited good response. A lot of people have sent me emails with their comments discussing individually their own experiences with specific details of the company and relevance to the post. Some have been skeptical on this idea and have explained what they tried along these lines and why it did not work. There are people who have extended my thoughts and there are those who had agreed verbatim. 
One reason I see that people send me comments by email is to share specifics with me to take the discussions forward. I welcome that. But I also think the generic discussions will help other readers if you comment on the post itself. 

Long back I posted Blog Comments: The why and how. Take a look to see if that is valid. Let me know what else will encourage this trend.

Thanks one and all for the time taken to send your comments and taking the discussions forward in a more specific manner. Nothing motivates me as good as your comments and participation. Keep them coming.
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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Social Media And Its Impact On Marketing

Be it personal or professional lives, the interest in Social Media tools has been on the rise. I have been blogging to share my ideas with more number of people. I have also been speaking at seminars and through webinars. A lot of people are using Social Media tools but find it difficult to navigate when it comes to a brand or business. I have been concentrating on the theme of business with social media tools and trying to help from hand-holding to self-sufficiency. My approach to Social Media is slightly different and it is more towards defining it as “connecting to people with objectives through a strategy using technology”.

I am sharing a recorded version of one of my recent webinars. Listen to it and let me know your comments.

Social Media and Its Impact on Marketing from Varadharajan Krishnamoorthy on Vimeo.
This is a recorded webinar on Social Media and Its Impact on Marketing.

You can have a quick glance at the slides here.

If you need a seminar/webinar/workshop customized to your industry/business or further want to talk to me on effective Social Media strategies for your business objectives, feel free to contact me here. I will be happy to help.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Help Customers To Help You

Customers are Ignoring You
Image by ronploof via Flickr

If you have a shop, you invite everyone in to your shop. To invite everyone to visit your shop, you spend huge sums of money on promotion.

People come

  • Just to know what range of products you have.
  • Sometimes with the option and intention of buying.
  • To buy a needed product desperately looking for it.
  • To update themselves (window shopping).
  • As a companion with these prospects.

Some don’t have the intention and some don’t have the money but they still come, spend more time, ask you all kinds of questions and bargain on prices and do not buy.

Now, while you would like to have more of customers who need the product and those who have the option of buying, you cannot pick and choose your customers. Some will waste their time and yours. It is part of the game.

The only way to learn how to handle each one of them is by experience. The importance of experience cannot be more stressed in these areas of business. You need to stay ahead all the time to convert the prospects, not to loose the straight forward customer and to minimize the wastage with time-wasters. Even the time-wasters can serve as ambassadors of your brand by referring others. You should sound nice to all of them and ensure that each one of them goes back with a good experience.

Sounds common knowledge? Yes, but when it comes to Social Media, people forget this. They fail to extend real world practices. Social Media is a set of online tools for online social interactions. I explained how what holds good in real-world practices holds good in Social Media also. Extension of logic is useful. So use your successful examples of real world with social media tools also.

Help customers to help you

Communicate small achievements. Communicate often. Imagine 300(just a number) small updates in a year to your prospects Vs 5 pages of achievements 6 times in a year. Small, frequent updates will help you get the top-of-the-mind-recall. Make it easy for them to share your message and refer you to others. I learnt this in my early years. Even in a job, imagine communicating daily or weekly achievements to your management Vs sitting down with a big list once-in-a-year when your appraisal is being done. The former is more likely to create an impact. Remember, Out of sight is out of mind.

Participate. Have conversations. Conversations should be with people and not at them. You may be observing everything, everyone. But in online world, how do they know that you exist, follow them and are available? Keep conversing. The biggest challenge remains that of inexperience of triggering conversations. While communicating to others, what can we check for? A lot .

Help wherever you can. Always be in the ready mode to ask “what can I do for you?”. When people benefit from your answers, they tend to reciprocate.

Have you tried online conversations with your customers? How do you find it? Feel free to buzz me if you need to know more about engaging your customers online.

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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com