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Study: Social Network access at work? Teens expect it!

social-networks-sepia1Your company thinks about limiting or restricting the access of social networks during working time? You better have a second thought about it…

A recent study states that for the net generation social networking has become a crucial part of their business life. It is so central to their lifestyle that it becomes one of the main decision criteria when weighing job offers.

The Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey shows that 88% of teenagers use social networks on a daily basis. 58% of the teenagers surveyed said that they would consider the ability to access social networks when considering a job offer.

Business decision makers in companies should be aware of the fact that this might become a central question in recruiting talks. Teenagers will definitely make decision pro or contra a job on considerations about having the ability to access Facebook, Twitter, and the lot when applying for jobs.

Spot On!
Teenagers don’t use social networks to waste time witht heir peers, or even be unproductive. The main reasons for the use becomes clear when taking a close look at the results. 51% of the surveyed teens use social networks to help others. And 29% use the social benefit to create awareness for a cause. So, if you think of improving customer service, you should consider these facts and try to transfer the social abilities of the networks in order to build a stable customer communication world – with the net generation.

Is Twitter a sales tool?

twitter-dollarIn a lot of talks and meetings with clients I am asked if Twitter is a sales tool. Now, what would you say? The university professor might answer with a Solomonic answer: “Well, it depends how you see it…”. Being a member of the Twitterati it is one of these questions where you have to hold on to your horses in order not to be too excited. The best answer is probably: “Yes, it is… and No, it is not!”…

The why for “Yes, it is”…
Looking at the latest development in the “Twittersphere” it can be said that the micro-blogging service can be used as a push tool for sales promotions meant to generate an upside in revenue. The best examples are accounts from companies like Dell (selling re-furbished IT for 3 mio. USD), Threadless (selling shirts – no numbers released yet) or Zappos (selling shoes – no numbers released yet).

Although we don’t know see any revenue figures of Threadless or Zappos, seeing the follower numbers alone offers the option to sell through the indirect way to this new “distribution list” by keeping up the conversation with new thoughts and ideas gathering engagement – or direct via ‘extraordinary’ offers. Just take a look at my sales statistic or metric, I summarized on the Dell Outlet account and you can evaluate your sales options.

Especially, the aviation industry has used the power of pushing their offers through this new media channel – thus uplifting their revenue figures. Some airlines like JetBlue (called “JetBlueCheeps“) and United Airlines (“twares”) offer cheap seats Twitter sales promotion programs (also for unsold tickets). The companies push their announcements via Twitter and the user -hopefully- listens to their Tweets and needs exactly the route offered.

In Germany Lufthansa has also started with sales promotions via Twitter – and obviously after this test the worldwide Twitter offering is “coming soon”.

The PRO view…
Yes, Twitter is a sales tool as there is no limit in terms of target-group, industry sector, the costs of the product or the product and service itself. Use it as a sales tool if you think your customers or your desired target-group is open-minded, loves last-minute offers or is ready to be engaged via social media.

The why for “No, it is.”
Nevertheless, the way how companies use Twitter to address their target-group with their sales promotions appears like some kind of old “watering can” marketing principle. Is this really time-to-market sales? Can this be called “targeting” which is the modern form of receiving sales promotions? One thing is for sure: Forecasting on such sales push activities is nearly impossible… the proof is in the test. But: once started, there is no way out. Sales promotions on Twitter are relying on the “hope” factor by offering an additional sales channel called “SomeTwitterAccountByOurCompany”.

And sales strategies go against the means of social media anyway. Sales philosophy is “We know what you want and here is your customized offer!” – social media is “We listen, learn and share what our customers want to buy from us!”.

From the airline examples we can learn that the offer is not just positive extra media promotion. It is limited in its sales power in a way that consumers need to be flexible and last-minute offer driven. Sounds a bit like the ebay way of selling…

So, Twitter sales promotions are relying on the “hope” factor by offering an additional sales channel called Twitter account. Some follow as they are just listening to the company or product development, some as they learn from the tweets and some as they want to share common knowledge. Not all followerrs really want to buy something. You are in good company when your company does not want to aggressively buy followers in order to go down the good old spam route.

The CON view…
No, Twitter is not a sales tool but more a customer service tool with the positive side-effect that you can sell indirect by giving good service, helping your customers and solving their problems in real-time. Don’t use it when you think your customers are bound to traditional cliches, rarely take the advantage of accepting fast shopping opportunities and don’t know what social media can do for them.

Spot On!
Generally speaking… – From a followers point of view (in this case meaning customers), there is a positive argument about Twitter sales promotions: Interested customers will follow (=read) the sales push tweet – uninterested won’t, they will ignore it. And customers don’t even have to delete the message like a spam mail. It is dying with the followers timelife stream…

Advice
The Critical question to ask are… Do we have a long-time social media strategy or do we just want to “drive” a short-time sales push? What have we done in the past to push our sales revenues? What worked out well? I am sure, if you ask yourself these questions, some more questions on your web strategy in terms of sales achievements will follow…

Am I right…?

CMO report: budgets better than expected

Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council’s Marketing Outlook 2009 states that CMO’s see their budgets stable. Almost half of all asked CMO’s (54,1%) say their budgets will increase or at least remain.

What is the value of a click? Obviously, the best deal is transforming a consumer into a customer. For 36% this seems to be the biggest issue: converting clicks to sales and finding the value of online marketing. Just 9% of the chief marketers argue about their online performance capability as being “excellent”.

The outlook in the recession is not too bad… The majority of top marketers answered their traditional marketing focus (print, outdoor and TV) remains the same, and especially digital advertising (also social media and search marketing) will increase. But it also has to me mentioned that 45.7% said their spending budgets will decrease.

“Senior marketers are looking to hold budgets steady and not make tremendous cuts in headcounts,” said Liz Miller, the council’s VP of programming and operations. “Instead, they’re reallocating both their budget and talent into those areas that better engage and communicate with core audiences and customers.”

Spot On!
The loyalty of customer becomes more and more an issue for marketers. Who would be surprised… Those who want to study as deep as possible how the customers thinks, don’t ‘owe’ the sovereignty on customer service and support issues, nor have they big influence on CRM, the survey says.

The question remains why the majority of marketers rely on old online measures (i.e. page views and registrations 64.6%) and not focusing on more modern online engagement opportunities which keeps the consumers with the brands. The most obvious options could be personalization and client first programs (i.e. client opinion platforms or community building) which could replace the old-school “watering cans” techniques. The more companies focus on the client, the ‘happier’ the revenue lines will show.

The report was co-sponsored by Deloitte, Jigsaw and Ad-ology and asked 650 worldwide marketers.