Tag Archive for: Web 2.0

Three facts and 6 myths about Web 2.0

The three facts:

  1. Forrester’s 2008 Technographics research found that over 50% of the members of all major age groups are actively engaged with at least one Web 2.0 application, including blogs, user reviews and social networks.
  2. A 2008 McKinsey study of over 1900 large enterprises around the world found that only 28% were applying at least one Web 2.0 technology or tool.
  3. Of those companies surveyed by McKinsey that had applied at least one Web 2.0 tool to their business in 2007 and 2008:
    • 21% were very or extremely satisfied with their investments
    • 22% were very or extremely dissatisfied with their investments

 Yes, more businesses were dissatisfied with their investment in Web 2.0 tools than were satisfied.

The six myths:

  1. My customer (or employee or business partners) base is too old to engage with Web 2.0 and social media tools. This makes a lot of sense for businesses that cater to a younger population, but not for us.
  2. Our business is in a serious industry where privacy is very important. Therefore using Web 2.0 tools would not be appropriate.
  3. Web 2.0 is a fad and it will go away.
  4. Less than 30% of businesses are using Web 2.0 tools; if it doesn’t fade away, the next person in my job can deal with it.
  5. Social media applications do not need to be “launched” either internally for employee applications or externally with customers or partners. You should just put them on the web or your intranet and if they are valuable, people will use them. We tried an experiment and nothing happened, all of the above are correct.
  6. No one has been able to measure the business impact or the ROI of investing in social media technology.

Data and case studies to support 1-6 to follow in future posts.  Let me know your favorite myths. 

BMW falls in the gap between consumer expectations and business engagement with Web 2.0

Net: The fact that 50% of all consumers are engaging with social media, but less than 40% of businesses are doing so means that some companies are leaving their customers exposed to competitor’s initiatives. BMW is one of many examples.

Last fall, I leased a new BMW X3 to replace my old one whose lease was expiring.The replacement X3 did not have the built-in navigation of its predecessor, so I decided to go online to search for a portable unit.First stop was BMW.com, where I expected to find an owners’ community where I would be able to ask others for advice.

When Underwood Partners conducts a Web 2.0 audit for clients, one of the outputs is a “heat map” that visually shows competitive and complimentary companies’ use of social media technology tools. The map is color coded: green represents a highly visible and useful application; yellow represents an application that is either buried deep in the site, poorly marketed or has a confusing user interface; red indicates that either the company is not using the application or we can’t find it. And given the amount of time we spend online, if we can’t find it, we don’t believe customers will either. [Note this graphic was first developed by Max Palmer when we worked together at Social Sphere.  Max claims it was called a “Palmer Map.” He’s a great analyst, but not so good on the marketing front!]

If we were doing a Web 2.0 audit of www.BMWUSA.com, the column Customer Forums would clearly be coded red.Although “My Account” has lots of information about how to make payments, pay off my lease early, order a new vehicle, etc., I couldn’t find any place to connect with other customers.So, I logged onto Edmunds.com, one of the pioneers of providing user reviews, customer forums, and other Web 2.0 applications in the automotive space.

On the Edmunds’ site, it was easy to find a BMW X3 Forum in their “Car Space” section where I was able to start an online discussion asking for help with aftermarket navigation systems. But as I was doing so, I noticed that Cadillac ads began appearing on the page. By not investing in Web 2.0 applications like customer forums, BMW literally drove me to a place where I was being served up competitors’ ads.

Some businesses delay developing a Web 2.0 strategy because they are afraid of “losing control” and fear their customers will post negative comments about their products on their own web sites. As this example shows, if you don’t provide an opportunity for customers to talk to you and each others about your products, someone else will. At best, you will have lost an opportunity for customer engagement, research and communication. At worst, you will be giving a third party the opportunity to monetize your customer through selling ads to a competitor. Which, at the end of the day, could ultimately cost you the customer’s business.

If the Mayo Clinic can use WordPress blogs, Facebook and YouTube to help achieve their enterprise goals, why can’t you?

Net: Despite being in a business where privacy is heavily regulated and systems stability can literally be a matter of life or death, The Mayo Clinic has established itself as one of the leaders in applying social media technologies to build their brand and engage employees and customers (i.e. patients). And they are doing so with great agility and very little incremental investment.

How many times have you thought or said one of the following rationales for not developing an internal and external Web 2.0 strategy to build your brand, engage your employees, customers and business partners in the co-creation of enterprise value, and increase profits?

“Our brand is a matter of life and death to our business.”

“We are in a serious industry.”

“We can’t diminish our brand by playing around with something my kids do.”

“We are one of the country’s oldest and most revered companies in our business.”

“Protecting our customers’ information is a top priority.”

“Our lawyers and IT executives will take years to even think about approving something like this.”

I just listened to an outstanding interview on the For Immediate Release (FIR) podcast. Started in January of 2005 by Neville Hobson, one of Underwood Partners UK colleagues, and Shel Holtz, from Concord, California, FIR is one of the longest running podcasts. In addition to their twice weekly podcasts on business and nonprofit enterprise applications of Web 2.0 and social media technologies, Shell and Neville frequently interview leading edge practitioners. The February 5th FIR Interview featured Lee Aase, Manager of Syndication and Social Media at the Mayo Clinic. The interview is very well done, lasts about 50 minutes and is well worth your time. A few highlights:

  • The Mayo Clinic began experimenting with podcasts in 2005 by taking interviews with their doctors they had developed for their web site and posting them on iTunes . They were surprised to see downloads rapidly grow from 900 to 74,000 a month. As a point of reference, the Mayo Clinic treats about 50,000 patients a year, or less than 4,200 a month.
  • Lee’s team found using flip video cameras to interview doctors to be an efficient way to get breaking news (e.g. research findings) to media and patients. Paraphrasing Lee: “It was low cost and enabled us to be a lot more nimble. Instead of going through the four day process to get copy editing done for a traditional news release, we shoot a ten or fifteen minute interview and pull out five minutes of it for video news releases.
  • The Mayo Clinic created what they call “a culture blog” sharing.mayoclinic.org, where patients share their experiences with diseases and treatments.
  • Mayo uses WordPress for their blogs with the full blessing and support of IT. Lee: “We have been very blessed with our IT colleagues who were supportive of using WordPress.” Mayo uses CSS customization and maps the blogs to a sub-domain of their patient web site. The Mayo Clinic is paying about $55 a year per blog or “about a couple of Starbucks per month.”
  • Health care providers are all bound by HIPPA regulations that prohibit them from providing information about patients’ conditions. But the legal team working with Lee, whom he describes as innovative, supportive and “enlightened folks,” determined that if the patient decides to tell their story it is the patient disclosing information, not Mayo Clinic. He adds that the Clinic has blog guidelines and encourages patients to think carefully about what they put on the site.
  • Mayo Clinic has a Facebook group with 5,577 members. The Mayo Clinic main page on Facebook offers people a chance to write on their wall. Said Lee: “We did this so that people’s friends would see that they wrote on our wall and what they said about us.”
  • The Mayo Clinic YouTube channel was established 12 months ago. Although some questioned “whether YouTube was the kind of place for an august dignified brand” like the Mayo Clinic, Lee’s team did research and found that among those who had an opinion, 39% were positive about  a Mayo Clinic page and only 6% were negative .
  • YouTube was also a no or low cost initiatives as the videos come from interviews used for other purposes and YouTube is free for nonprofit organizations. They use YouTube as their video server because is far cheaper than self hosting and easier for others to imbed in their blogs and share with friends and colleagues. (They also make the raw files available.)
  • The Mayo Clinic engages employees with an internal blog “Let’s talk” and has used it to engage Mayo’s 50,000 staff members in their strategic plan by inviting comments and asking employees to collaborate on such topics as “What does quality mean in your area?”

Why engage in social media? Lee states that the primary drivers of patients to Mayo Clinic are word of mouth and stories in the news media. Their social media programs combine the power of both while increasing engagement and collaboration of many of Mayo Clinic’s stakeholders. He goes on to add:

“We treat 500, 000 patients a year and have 50,000 employees. Our goal is to engage and empower them and to get them involved.”


If the Mayo Clinic can use Word Press blogs, Facebook and YouTube to help achieve their enterprise goals, why can’t you?

Response from Dell

Just noticed this response from Dell manager. Bonus points for finding this new blog and post and for the very candid response on how Dell’s culture is still evolving to embrace customer and customer service collaboration. His comments:

Good points on social media in the enterprise as a whole. Thanks for the write-up. While we at Dell place social media as a top priority, clearly we have room to improve.
To be honest, even though we consider ourselves leaders in the PC business on social media, our “corporate culture” is still evolving. We implement changes based on what our customers tell us on IdeaStorm, Direct2Dell corporate blog, and our own Dell Community Forums constantly.
This is clearly an area where we have some work to do- getting front line tech, care, and sales agents steeped in social media concepts like ratings and reviews.
I thank you for pointing out our shortcomings in this area, and will make sure to pick up the “Read your own ratings and reviews” baton myself, and get the word out.

Tim Horton’s and Facebook – A Case Study of Lost Opportunity

this post was also posted on Social Sphere Strategies

For the past six months, we have been recommending to clients, potential clients and anyone unlucky enough to sit next to one of us at a dinner party that all businesses need to do the following:

1. Get smart – find a way to get senior executives aware of the philosophy and applications of Web 2.0, including how other leading businesses are beginning to use 2.0 to collaborate with employees, business partners and customers.
2. Look around and listen in – audit competitors’ web sites and the greater web to see if others in your industry have embraced Web 2.0 and what your customers and employees may be saying about your business on the web.
3. Authentically interact – if your brand is being discussed within an existing community, assign someone the responsibility of interacting with the community so your side of the story gets out.
4. Activate your stakeholder communities – we believe all businesses have at least an internal sphere opportunity to use Web 2.0 to proactively engage their employees in creating business value and most also have partner and customer opportunities.

We often get push back along the following lines, “I know all about Facebook, my kids spend all their time there. But that’s because they don’t have jobs and mortgages. There is no way they’ll be able to spend that kind of time on-line when they are adults. This whole thing is a fad.” To this we usually respond with a non Facebook Web 2.0 personal example. Mine is often around an experience I had recently trying to find after market running boards for my Lexus 400h SUV by looking for a user group on the manufacturer’s web site. When that attempt was unsuccessful, I went to Edmunds.com. Although I found a user group for my vehicle, it was sponsored by competing SUV ads. By not hosting a user community, Lexus had driven me to their competitors’ ads.

Last week, a better example of the importance of understanding and embracing Web 2.0 was reported in the National Post in an article about the Canadian coffee and donut chain Tim Horton’s, “Tim Horton’s employees lay down rules for cranky customers.”
Tim Horton’s is the “Dunkin Donuts of Canada.” Their stores are ubiquitous and the product a cultural phenomenon (Horton was a Canadian hockey star). A reporter for the National Post – a Canadian nationwide business paper – found over 500 Facebook groups related to Tim Horton’s and chose to focus on one with 3,400 members called Tim Hortons Rules of Ordering and More which features employees and former employees complaining about customers. The group is described as:
“This is for everyone who gets fed up with people who don’t know what they want, and for workers who have to put up with this everyday. If people would just listen to these rules when ordering the world will be a better place,”

The Post reported that the “80 rules or so spell out how to make your visit to Tim’s more efficient: ‘When you want a coffee with no sugar, do not say no sugar it sounds like your saying one sugar” or ‘If you don’t say you want anything in your coffee don’t expect to get anything in it, we can’t read your mind’ and ‘Stop telling us to stir it well there is no button on the cash register for that.’ ”

The article continued “But the coffee slingers are not the only ones airing their beefs on Facebook. Frustrated clients also have their support groups such as Tim Hortons Screws up my Order Every Time and Tim Hortons Service Sucks.”

Although the reporter focused the bulk of her article on the negative aspects of this particular group, she did report “But there is a silver lining for Tim Hortons employees. Many Facebook groups, like Addicted to Tim Hortons, are very positive and they seem to always have time for Tim Hortons.”

Apparently unaware of what was on Facebook, Tim Horton’s PR did not return reporters calls. It appears Tim Horton’s didn’t invest the resources to “listen in” to what was being said about their brand on the web.

Imagine how different this could have been if Tim Horton’s executives were (a) aware of what was being said about their brand on the web and (b) embraced an employee community.
If the company had been monitoring Facebook, they would have found that some of the largest groups are actually positive ones – Tim Horton’s for Our Troops – has 16, 965 members and encourages people to send gift certificates to members of the armed services. There are actually 3 “addicted to Tim Horton’s” groups which total over 15,000 members and “Tim Horton’s is like a religion to me” has over 1,900 members. The application “We Love Tim Horton’s!” described as “The best coffee ever! Fans of Timmys can now send Double Doubles, Tim Bits, Steeped Tea, Cruellers, Iced Cappucinos & lots more to your friends! For Canadian and US Coffee Lovers everywhere!” has over 84,000 daily users. Keep in mind that Tim Horton’s is largely a Canadian company and that there are roughly 1/10th as many Canadians as Americans, so you can multiply these numbers by 10 to get an idea of how large their Facebook following is.

Redirecting the reporter to these facts would probably been a better response that not returning her calls.

Although many will see the cost of this article as at least a minor PR challenge, we see a greater cost in the missed (but not necessarily lost) opportunity to have engaged the employee sphere to help address the very real problem of customers that can be hard to serve. The fact that so many of Tim Horton’s employee (and customers) have written about their experiences – both positive and negative – is a clear sign of a very engaged community. You need look no further than this week’s post from the group’s administrator:

I just want to let everyone know that just because I made the group certainly doesn’t mean I hate my job. Personally, I love my job. I like the people I work with and the regulars that come in every shift …If I wanted to disrespect my job would have made a group called “I hate my job, Tim Horton’s sucks” but I didn’t. … And yes, I still have my job there.”

Management could have asked employees to create funny videos explaining how to order more efficiently, done “best and worst” customer stories, etc. Employees and customers could have rated the stories. Product or customer bingo and Tim Horton’s trivia games could have been created and challenge matches forwarded to friends.

So, the questions for those of you who still think Facebook, blogs and wiki’s are for your kids or a fad that will surely fade are:

1) What’s being said about your company on the web?
2) Will you be ready to take a reporter’s call or unavailable for comment?