Altabel Group's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Social Media

The digital age has changed customer behavior forever. They have no patience with 9 to 5 and they’re shredding the concept of after-hours and weekends. They have a voice, and that voice demands to be heard whenever, wherever.

Working hours, what’s that?

Banks—previously such strict observers of “working hours” all over the globe—have risen to the challenge by embracing technology. Net banking and ATMs have virtually done away with the need to visit those hallowed brick-and-mortar portals. Mobile payments are being made directly from person to person, minimizing the need for even small amounts of cash. While this is great news for all of us as individuals, the risk for the bank is that it becomes a marginal player in the life of the valued customer.

Let’s take a look at E-commerce. This is the case with several consumer-facing industries, such as cloth, books, groceries, appliances, furniture and such—all of which can be ordered online and delivered while you are away at work. No interface or face-to-face conversation with the company required.  Especially when you’re working from home, you meet the shipping company rep rather than someone from the company you ordered the goods from.  This is perfectly okay for the average buyer, except when something goes wrong!

Say you ordered blue curtains, but what you saw is not what you got. Colors on the digital screen often look different than when seen off-screen. Simply returning what’s arrived is not the solution. Speaking to someone and explaining what you had in mind so you get the right product is. This means that online dealers need to have someone customers can have a live discussion with. Beyond a live agent, online dealers more than ever are finding customers who expect to engage in live conversations any time of the day. Research by Social Bakers, an agency that measures how well brands perform in terms of social customer care, found that the number of questions asked on brand pages on Facebook has increased by 85 percent over the last year, and that airlines had the best response rate of answering 79 percent of these promptly. “Working hours” is not a phrase that works anymore.

Engage, not enrage
Companies selling anything at all cannot afford to be out of touch with their customers. So while digitization may keep the consumer from physically visiting you, it has also forged a path for newer ways in which to meet up through social media. Businesses are following their clients where they go, meeting them where they hang out, not in their offices but online.

Have you noticed that the online store you bought something from recently keeps popping up not only when you google something but also on all kinds of websites that you visit? That’s because The Web knows and tracks your online preferences. Personally, I find pop-ups asking to indulge in a live chat very intrusive—it’s like a store attendant following you everywhere and asking, “Can I help you?”  While it’s good to know there’s someone who can answer your queries, nobody likes to be stalked.

Smart businesses know how to keep track of the customer without being obviously there.

Keeping them engaged is in fact a bigger challenge than ever before since your customer can close that communication window with just a click.

Fly with the experts

Let us take an example of an airline that’s effectively engaging with customers. Lufthansa has its fingers on the pulse of the customer, and potential ones, through an enviable Facebook presence. Contests, events, quizzes all have earned the airline something every self-respecting Facebooker looks for—likes! Over 300,000 likes (on the India page alone), and if even a small percentage decides to fly with it because of the online excitement generated, that’s a big win.

Understandably, retailers and consumer-facing companies have a big Facebook presence. Coca-cola, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Walmart, Levi’s, Target, Nike, Kohl’s are among those that have the highest number of likes. Twitter accounts of many of these companies also have a very, very large number of followers. Clearly, they have managed to reach out effectively to their potential customers using social media.

What to outsource!?

These are still early days for outsourcing social media marketing and engagement, but it makes sense to outsource at least some of your efforts to begin with. Look holistically at your social media marketing plans and start by assessing what skills you have in-house and skills you are lacking. You may decide to start with getting the design and development built by an outsourcer to get your framework up front.

Other areas to consider include:

Savvy social media writers may be a skill your current writing team lacks, so content writing could be a place with clear payback. If you’re content doesn’t attract and maintain customers, you could be doing more harm than good to your brand.

Analytics can easily be done by a third-party and is probably the least vulnerable to subjectivity. That will save precious resources that you can deploy towards strategizing and hiring in-house of local experts to manage the customer community.

Customer experience management or customer care is another area to consider, especially if your customers are global and resident in different time zones. Be cautious to consider outsourcers who understand your business and your customer engagement model.  Since the outsourcer will be “you” during customer interactions, you need to feel confident they can successfully represent your brand.

Needless to say, do monitor what’s going on closely enough so you can step in when necessary. The important thing now is to be open for business all the time. Not just 24/7 but 24/7/365 and even up to 366 in a leap year!  Business process outsourcing companies are gearing up to meet the demand when it arises. That will finally help harried executives to get their well-earned weekend off to do their own personal networking, online or otherwise.

Testing could be outsourced. Minimizing risks and cost either manual testing or automotive one can easily be performed by third party.

Recently we could see the most prospective and fast growing social spheres that potentially need and could outsource a big part of them. There are:

–   Banking /finance

–   Mobile development sectorE-commerce

–   E-commerce

–   Medical/health care

–   Tourism

Has your organization outsourced marketing and customer engagement yet?

Polina Mikhan

Polina Mikhan
Polina.Mikhan@altabel.com 
Skype ID: poly1020
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

There are many ways to connect your website to social media networks, and it would be impracticable to cover them all in this article. So I have created this quick list of tips geared toward the small business website. In most cases small businesses have very limited resources for a chockablock marketing department or a generous advertising budget. These simple tips will help generate more traffic to your website and business and don’t require a big budget.

This article presupposes that you have already set up your business accounts with the various social media networks of your choice, such as Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Instagram, Pinterest, just to name a few.

Quick tips for social media success:

1. Use images – People respond to images more than any other media type, so be sure to post at least one image per business day on your social media network accounts. Images can include business events, products, services, trade shows, conferences, business milestones, and any other activities related to your business.

2. Engage your customers – Be sure to get your customers engaged in your responsive social media. Reply, respond, re-tweet, and be sure to answer any questions or critiques that customers may post on your social media sites.

3. Build relationships – Don’t just hawk your products and services every day on the social media sites and don’t underestimate your customers and followers. Be sure to make interaction with your followers and customers the daily goal, and don’t create an expectation of getting sales directly from that interaction. You want to educate your following, provide information about your business, or maybe provide a Do- It Yourself type of tip that relates to your service or product — something that gives your customers a sense that you are providing a personal experience.

4. Be creative and interesting – Sometimes you have to give the followers what they want or are interested in, and not just what you want them to get. This means being creative and funny on occasion. Think of a daily question or daily tip to post; make it funny or spirited. The more positive responses you have, the more exposure you will get.

5. Consistency – Be sure that all of your social media handles and profiles are the same. You want to maintain a consistent naming convention and interaction level among all your social media accounts and profiles. Having your Facebook account with a slightly different name than your Twitter account might confuse some followers, and could result in losing some customers or valuable interactions.

6. Timing – Start spending about thirty minutes to an hour a day on social media, and make a few posts typically in the morning, which is a good time to reach your followers; the hours between 8 am and 10 am are a good time frame.

This is a short list of tips that will get you on your way to starting a good social media interaction between your small business and your client customer following.

Do you have social media tips to share? Tell us about them below.

 

Kristina Kozlova

Marketing Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

WHAT

In today’s business and technology world you can’t have a conversation without touching upon the issue of big data. Some would say big data is a buzzword and the topic is not new at all. Still from my point of view recently, for the last two-three years, the reality around the data has been changing considerably and so it makes sense to discuss big data so hotly. And the figures prove it.

IBM reports we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. In 2011 our global output of data was estimated at 1.8 billion terabytes. What impresses it that 90 percent of the data in the world today was created in the past two years according to Big Blue. In the information century those who own the data and can analyze it properly and then use it for decision-making purpose will definitely rule the world. But if you don’t have the tools to manage and perform analytics on that never-ending flood of data, it’s essentially garbage.

Big data is not really a new technology, but a term used for a handful of technologies: analytics, in-memory databases, NoSQL databases, Hadoop. They are sometimes used together, sometimes not. While some of these technologies have been around for a decade or more, a lot of pieces are coming together to make big data the hot thing.

Big data is so hot and is changing things for the following reasons:
– It can handle massive amounts of all sorts of information, from structured, machine-friendly information in rows and columns toward the more human-friendly, unstructured data from sensors, transaction records, images, audios and videos, social media posts, logs, wikis, e-mails and documents,
– It works fast, almost instantly,
– It is affordable because it uses ordinary low-cost hardware.

WHY NOW

Big data is possible now because other technologies are fueling it:
-Cloud provides affordable access to a massive amount of computing power and to loads of storage: you don’t have to buy a mainframe and a data center, and pay just for what you use.
-Social media allows everyone to create and consume a lot of interesting data.
-Smartphones with GPS offer lots of new insights into what people are doing and where.
-Broadband wireless networks mean people can stay connected almost everywhere and all the time.

HOW

The majority of organizations today are making the transition to a data-driven culture that leverages data and analytics to increase revenue and improve efficiency. For this a complex approach should be taken, so called MORE approach as Avanade recommends:
-Merge: to squeeze the value out of your data, you need to merge data from multiple sources, like structured data from your CRM and unstructured data from social news feeds to gain a more holistic view on the point. The challenge here is in understanding which data to bring together to provide the actionable intelligence.
-Optimize: not all data is good data, and if you start with bad data, with data-driven approach you’ll just be making bad decisions faster. You should identify, select and capture the optimal data set to make the decisions. This involves framing the right questions and utilizing the right tools and processes.
-Respond: just having data does mean acting on it. You need to have the proper reporting tools in place to surface the right information to the people who need it, and those people then need the processes and tools to take action on their insights.
-Empower: data can’t be locked in silos, and you need to train your staff to recognize and act on big data insights.

And what is big data for your company? Why do you use it? And how do you approach a data-driven decision-making model in your organization?

Would be interesting to hear your point.

Helen Boyarchuk

Helen Boyarchuk
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com
Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Social games not only represent a lucrative new revenue channel for social media sites but they also signal a fundamental change in the structure of the social media industry. Social networks can no longer afford to rely solely on advertising revenue—they must master the intricacies of directly monetizing their users via virtual currency, virtual goods, and social games.

Social games are the perfect addition to the social network. They provide a lightweight, social form of entertainment that enriches the interaction of a site’s users. As a result, social games on smaller social networks often meet or exceed the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) observed on Facebook. And, unlike advertising, which detracts from the social experience of a site, a successful social games strategy will simultaneously increase a site’s stickiness and significantly increase revenue. However, implementing a successful social games strategy is not easy; new technology, new skills, and an ongoing commitment are required to succeed.

There are three main pillars that anchor a successful strategy: The platform, the content, and the distribution. If any one of these pillars is weak or missing, the true potential of social games and the virtual goods sold within them will remain unrealized.

The Platform

The first step in a successful social gaming strategy is creating an application platform from which social games can be distributed to a site’s users. A great platform must enable social games to be well integrated into a site’s structure, have access to essential social information about a site’s users, and monetize a site’s users with the least possible friction.

The Content

A site’s content strategy must be focused on developing a portfolio of games that are the best fit for its users. One or two social games are seldom enough to transform a site into a virtual goods powerhouse. The sweet spot is to launch with at least five games and most smaller sites can support twenty or thirty popular games before attention gets spread too thin.

Sites should deploy games that:
Appeal to the site’s core demographic;
Promote the behaviors that are key to the site’s appeal — whether that is flirting, keeping up with friends, or gathering around a particular theme.
Have already proven to be engaging.
Are continually optimized and refreshed to retain users.
Crafting an initial portfolio is often more challenging than expected. Great content takes significant skill and resources to build. In addition, it’s important to realize that many games have a limited shelf life, so new content must be continually added in order to keep a site’s social gaming ecosystem vibrant.

The Distribution

It won’t just work to simply add a “Games” tab to a site and call it a day. The goal is to get a site’s users so immersed in social games that some users are willing to pay to get ahead. To do that, social games must be promoted as a core element of the site’s feature set and the site must be proactive about driving traffic to the social games.

Social networks have three methods for driving traffic to social games:

Premier placement: Not only creating a dedicated section for social games, but also implementing hooks for those games into a site’s features such as profile pages, activity feeds, and the site’s main navigation.

Ongoing promotion: A site will dedicate high profile real estate to promote game launches, in-game events, and other calls to action that drive traffic into the games.

Viral notification channels: A site will allow social games to have reasonably unfettered access to a site’s communication channels including user-to-user messaging, invitations, and activity feeds.

A site must use all of these methods extensively in order to build its base of social game DAUs (Daily Active Users), which are key to driving revenue.

These are some key points to be taken into consideration how you could benefit from the social gaming. They would help companies understand how social games can transform the engagement and monetization potential of their social media sites.

Looking forward to hearing your comments!

 

Natalia Osipchik

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Social Media is a tool on the Internet. It is not a business. Like any tool, it can be used to enhance and promote an enterprise if you have a niche, a target market, a business plan and ambition. Let’s have a look at the preferences of LinkedIn community.

«I wanted to be flippant and say “all of them” but that’s not true and it wouldn’t be helpful. Pick the right tool (social media platform) for the job (communicating with people who might want to know) and you’ll have a better chance of reaching them. At this moment, my primary toolkit includes LinkedIn, Quora, Twitter, my blogs, my mailing list, Facebook.»
Erica Friedman,
Social Media Optimizer

«I pass the following experience on to others in the belief they may benefit from a similar approach:
In order to manage high volume of inquiries in federal government contracting, I set up a Google blog as an extension of my volunteer work that blossomed into a web site ($10 a year to buy and convert it from a blog to a domain in my name) containing the basics of entering and succeeding in the venue as well my books and articles on the subject for download via Box Net (also a free application). The idea was to refer clients to article links at the site to avoid repeating myself over and over to new business clients and still keep myself available for specific inquiries and problems. I linked everything together on “Linked In” and began answering questions at the “Answers” feature there as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that could benefit my work. Twitter, BlogCatalog, Facebook, Widgetbox, Friendfeed, Ning and similar free applications served my site well.
The Adsense Feature added cash flow. Roughly 30% of my clients began coming via Linked In or Linked In related networking.
The result has been heavy traffic, good efficiency in supporting in excess of 4000 counseling cases over the last 5 years and virtually no expense to me as a volunteer working for a non-profit organization.»
Kenneth Larson,
MicroMentor Volunteer and Founder “Smalltofeds”

«I normally use Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Sometimes I also use Pinterest and Google+.
You shouldn’t just share your content on these social media, but also others content. If you want to build relationships and generate leads with social media, you need share others content more than you share your own content. Other social media you could use to share content are Stumble Upon and Tumblr. These two social media are getting really popular. »
Mitt Ray,
CEO Social Marketing Writing

«It depends on your audience and the goals of the services/products that you intend to support.
I used Facebook as kind of a catch-all account because it has the most laid back aspects and it is where most people are. I use LinkedIn for the professional side and make sure that I have a business page. The personal page has done much more for me than my business page.
I have a blog to keep my name up front. And finally Twitter to support it all. Basically, anything I tweet posts on LinkedIn and Facebook.»
Tom Brown,
Social Media Specialist

«I use a networked approach to share content. Each network has a different readership and I cater the phrasing of the posting and the type of content to what that group wants to hear. For example, sharing a quick link and a catchy title on Twitter reaches a wide array of businesses and if it gets re-shared I can reach a lot of people I don’t know yet. On Linkedin I tend to share only business information that would be of use to my clients or potential clients and I phrase it in a business friendly way. On Google+ there is an advantage in creating circles for very narrow niches and posting information specifically targeted to the people. On this network it’s even more important to share unique information, not re-sharing what everybody has already seen. On Facebook I share more fun stuff because it gets shared more and so it keeps my Edgerank up on my Facebook page. Most of my followers are in the same industry as I am (Social Media consulting) so it’s easy to add information there that is fun, yet relevant and we all share each other’s links.»
Janet Fouts,
Social Media Coach

All in all primarily you shouldn’t think about which tools to use, but where your audience is. If they are on a mailing list, or a forum, you’d better go there. If they are on Twitter, or LinkedIn, you must be there. The point is to be where the people who might care about a topic are, just as the point of picking a tool in the hardware store is not which hammer is the best, but what task you need to do.

Best Regards,

Kristina Kozlova

Marketing Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com


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