In my class of Qualitative Research, we were assigned an interview task to conduct an interview with someone, who we do not know well, about his or her personal usage of social networking websites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. For students, like me, in Marketing major, we need to interview the person from a marketing point of view.
Being an active social media user, I of course posted a message in my Facebook status looking for someone to interview for my assignment. Quickly, my friend in Facebook connected me with his friend who is an owner of an IT consulting firm, so I accomplished my assignment easily and satisfactorily.
It was a very interesting moment when every student of the class met yesterday and reported out their interview result. The purpose this exercise is to learn conducting interview for our future qualitative research. There were frustrations, disappointment, and satisfaction (like my case) among our five students. Not to mention our learning for improvements from this simple assignment, I found there are at least four entirely different social media users identified among a case of mere five interviews .
1. Mature user
My interviewee is a mature user. He uses every social media tool: Facebook, Linkedin, Foursquare, etc., and knows the boundaries and limits. He also understands the power of social media and leverages its power to market his own business. He has many family members in his Facebook friend’s list and he uses Facebook to update them with any important status as a way to keep his family members informed. He selectively likes fan pages, only when he feels the fan pages can bring him useful information. He also uses those Facebook Ads when he is in the market looking for something, such as getting some fishing tools for his fishing hobby. He also uses LinkedIn, but as a tool to open the door for his professional network. He still believes that nothing can replace face to face meetings and handshakes. He also uses Foursqure. As a matter of fact, he enjoys those promotions by checking in Foursquare. Being an active social media user, he also started being the social media champion for his own business, and uses social media to get referrals from his friends. However, he knows very well the limitation for personal usage of social media, which means no crazy comments or outrageous photos which will damage his image. Marketers will love this type of mature social media user. They are not afraid of social media; they know what they are looking for and at the same time enjoy the benefits brought by social media.
2. Selective user
Selective users will only use heavily one type of media which is a benefit for their professional image or career. They have a Facebook account but barely use it at all. They do not feel updating status in Facebook is a good way to connect with their friends. They consider Facebook as a youngster’s toy and actually despise it in some way. They feel using Facebook-type social media is wasting their time. However, they do not hesitate to invest significant amount of time in professional social media sites such as LinkedIn. They use LinkedIn to build their professional network. They check their connection’s connection and expand their network through connections. They invest their time and efforts in LinkedIn groups by joining group discussions, as a way to build their professional reputation. They also use LinkedIn to connect with HR and use it to identify talents. This type of users is normally at a higher position in an organization or seeking the opportunities to build their professional business or career network. Their goal of using social media is to enhance their professional image not their personal image. Selective users can be quite difficult to target by consumer goods marketers because the marketers can hardly know what their true personal flavors are in terms of goods and services. But they can be great customers for business to business marketers.
3. Social user
I will say that social users are the majority of social media users. Social Users use social media because it’s convenient to connect with their friends, not necessarily their family members. They use social media also because their friends are using it. They spend significant time every day on social media websites to chat with their friends, to look around their friend’s status, and to comment on the status. They might post every single photo showing their day to day life even though some of them might not be considered as “safe” from a professional image point of view. But they show their true personality in social media so marketers can easily target them as their potential customers. However, they might not be the best consumers to the marketer. They might shop around, costing a lot of Ad expense of the marketers, but not necessary convert to a real purchase in the end.
4. Withdrawn user
Marketers will have no way to connect the withdrawn users through social media. They might have had a social media account in the past, but some incident happened to them in which they were perhaps embarrassed or hurt by other user on these social media sites. As a result, they totally withdrew themselves from social media, especially Facebook, closed their account and never tried social media again. Their negative attitude towards social media might stay with them forever. Marketers will not be able to find those users through social media so they will need to use traditional marketing channels to reach those former users.
Without further researching if there is a similar theory existing in the market, which by the way is absolutely not recommended for any academic research but forgivable for my quick blog writeup, I summarize this analysis purely out of the discussion from my class interview assignment. I am very surprised to see that we can easily identify four types of social media users out of five interviews. I believe a solid deep research will further develop and establish a profound social media user profile. The users with different profile use social media in different ways with diverse social or professional behaviors, and react or interact with social media marketing approach at different levels. For social media marketers, there will be a huge marketing opportunity by utilizing social media user profile, to establish their social media marketing strategy applicable to their products and services, and to allocate their marketing efforts and resources wisely for different users. By then social media marketing will not be an abstract concept anymore.
(P.S. thanks again to Zac for his proof reading and improvement suggestion for the blog. )
Our first Podcast about social media with Jodi Kiely is discussing two important perspectives about Foursquare: the viewpoint of the consumer and that of the business owner. For anyone who has questions about FourSquare, we hope our work will address your doubts about it and you will start seeing Foursquare in a new way.
JODI: Welcome to our audio discussion on social media and communications. My name is Jodi Katherine Kiely and I’m a freelance communications and public relations professional based out of Orlando, Florida.
ZAC: And I’m Zachary Long. Personally I’m a technology nerd but professionally I’m the Assistant Front Office Manager at the Orlando World Center Marriott where I set up our professional twitter account over two years ago and have recently begun using Foursquare for business for our hotel as well.
JODI: Zac and I have teamed up for this audio discussion after many emails, face-to-face meetings and hours of discussion about the use of social media applications in the business world with particular focus on the social media game foursquare.
Zac and I know a lot of people out there know what foursquare is, but we also realize there are many who are unfamiliar with it, so before we get into the meat of our conversation, we’ll just give a brief run-down of the game for any newbies out there listening. ZAC: Foursquare, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a social media game that allows users to “check in” to certain registered venues such as restaurants, stores and offices via their smart phones or online. As users check in to more and more venues, they accumulate virtual badges as a sort of reward. If someone checks into a place more times than any other foursquare user, they are crowned mayor of that venue. In most cases, the title is just for bragging rights, although more and more venues are offering benefits to their mayors – but we’ll get to that later.
JODI: Because foursquare is a social media game, it allows users to connect with other foursquare users as you compete for the most badges and mayorships. You can even be notified each time one of your friends checks into a place – a feature that is useful in the case that you are in the same area at the same time and want to meet up. So for example, if I were to visit, oh, let’s say the neighborhood Coldstone Creamery, I would start foursquare on my phone, find Coldstone’s listing which would pop up based on geolcation technology, and press the “check-in” button and then share my location and its address to my fellow foursquare users.
ZAC: So if you caught onto that, by simply checking in and announcing her visit to Coldstone to her foursquare friends, Jodi is also doing a little free advertising for the company. Let’s say one of her foursquare friends sees her message, is in the neighborhood and wants to connect. This could potentially translate into not one ice cream sale for Coldstone but two or more, depending on who is in the area when Jodi checks in.
JODI: If you’re still confused and have no idea what Zac and I are talking about at this point in the program, I encourage you to check out foursquare online at foursquare.com and to search for articles I have written about foursquare on my blog at JodiKiely.com, that’s J-O-D-I-K-I-E-L-Y (one word) dot com. Zac is also featured in one of my articles with great advice on using foursquare. This audio clip will always be around so feel free to come back to this after you have a better understanding about foursquare if you feel a bit lost.
Anyway, today Zac and I wanted to take our discussion about foursquare off paper and into your cars, homes, offices, iPods, speakers and headsets since we both have different views on the application, its uses and effectiveness.
While I need no convincing of the marketing power associated with foursquare, as a recreational user, I feel a bit disappointed in my foursquare experience. Zac, on the other hand, has benefited much more from foursquare having used it as a consumer in a greater capacity than I have and as a small business owner, which is what he is going to focus on today.
I’m going to let him take over right now in sharing his experiences using foursquare from a business standpoint, but stay tuned because I have some thoughts on the application from the standpoint of a consumer, along with some tips for any business users considering foursquare as a marketing tool.
So Zac, take it away!
ZAC: When foursquare finally launched here in Orlando back at the end of 2009, I set up a venue for the hotel immediately. At first it seemed like I was the only one who ever checked in there, I would look at the app or on the site and hope I would see someone else! As the months passed we began seeing more check-ins posted to twitter, and this is how we have truly been able to take advantage of foursquare. As part of our Social Media strategy at the hotel, we attempt to connect with guests over these new mediums and a check-in from foursquare that is posted to twitter gives us an immediate notification that someone is here at the hotel.
Now that foursquare has launched its new foursquare for business feature we were quick to sign up for that at the hotel as well. With this we have seen success in driving our internal scores through our first Special. We offer anyone that shows us our special screen on their phone 250 free Marriott Rewards points, no strings attached. This forces people to come to the Front Desk to get their reward, and thus gives our Front Desk clerks a reason to talk to the guest and thank them for being a Marriott Rewards member, which is a score we are rated on.
JODI: Like I said earlier, I myself need no convincing about the marketing potential foursquare offers users from a business standpoint, and I think Zac’s experience is just testimony as to how this can be an effective tool. But as a consumer, I’ve felt a bit disappointed about my foursquare stint, and I’m hoping my experience can serve as valuable customer intelligence for any businesses out there using foursquare or thinking about using foursquare. Having said that, I would certainly use my foursquare experience from a consumer standpoint when consulting any clients considering jumping into the game.
One thing I’d like to mention is that consumers have a bottom line too. Now those bottom lines can vary from having the ability to unlock as many badges as possible to becoming mayor of more venues than any of one’s friends. But for me, the game itself is not of importance.
My needs are simple: I want good tips on where to go, what to do, what to order and what to watch out for when checking into certain venues and, I want to save money and gain rewards beyond virtual badges that are of absolutely no value to me.
ZAC: So does that mean you don’t really care about your mayorship at Publix super market?
JODI: Not unless Publix starts giving me some love back for frequenting their store and publicizing it to my network, no, I could care less!
Now I realize foursquare is designed to meet these two needs through user reviews and the ever elusive foursquare deals some venues have been known to offer, but so far, my experience using foursquare has little to show for that.
This is probably a very localized issue – for example, foursquare users in New York City may be benefitting daily but here in Orlando, or at least parts of Orlando that I frequent, the city just hasn’t caught on to foursquare fever.
This is peculiar to note because I live in and frequent Orlando’s tourism area which is extremely service-oriented and just literally screams consumerism. You would think that out of all places in town, more people would be checking in and leaving tips about their experiences and that more places would be offering foursquare deals – but I just haven’t seen much of either yet. Once ina while I’ll hit a spot that generates a lot of tips, but sometimes there will be none at all, and it surprises me. Maybe I need to get out more, I don’t know!
But I guess my point is this: It’s one thing to be on foursquare as a business and reap all the marketing benefits, but it’s another to actually offer something of value to your customers who do use this application on a daily basis.
For example, if I’m walking through Pointe Orlando and pass by all these lovely restaurants, I’m not likely to go into any of these if there are no user reviews saying how great these places are. Likewise, if I pass a restaurant I haven’t been to before, unless I’m on a mission to eat and try something new, I’m probably going to just keep on walking – however – if you offer a free drink to any foursquare user (not just mayors by the way) who shows their foursquare check-in at the bar, I may not only come into your establishment to claim my free drink, but I’d probably bring a friend with me and we’d probably order some appetizers and make it a happy hour!
ZAC: I definitely agree and part of the problem is there is no widespread adoption of foursquare just yet. It took about 3 years for Twitter to really take off to the point it is now, that I see ads on CNN telling me to follow people. The other issue is that Foursquare uses by nature need to be using a Smart Phone, and tend to be the early adopters and more tech savvy to begin with. Jodi, maybe you just don’t live where all the cool kids are or just that tourists may not be in that demographic.
When we traveled to Washington DC and even Atlanta, larger cities than Orlando of course, we did notice a lot more usage of foursquare with users leaving tips and businesses offering specials. Walking down a street and pulling up the application in Midtown Atlanta for example, I had some tips for what taco to try at Tin Lizzy’s and a special from the place next door for free drinks for the mayor of Front Page News.
Walking around other populous areas like in DC, people are offering specials not just for mayors which would definitely drive repeat business. Bars or restaurants that offer discounts for 2nd or 3rd visits are a measureable way for businesses to drive repeat traffic while appealing to that demographic of smart phone users.
JODI: So would you have stopped by that establishment had they not offered a foursquare deal?
ZAC: Well obviously a foursquare deal alone wouldn’t change my mind if the place looked shady, but if I’m in an area and I get a “Trending Now” notification that multiple users are all checking into the same location I might want to at least peek in and see what is going on. The crowd mentality at work again! A foursquare special would influence me to check something out though, again because the whole system is relatively new so anyone using foursquare as a business has to be pretty cutting edge and in the know.
JODI: So yes, that would be a good example of a business effectively using foursquare to reach out to new or current customers. I love that!
Now, maybe I am doing something wrong on my end, but hear me out because I have a very good reason for my online behavior.
It has been suggested that because I don’t tweet my foursquare location on Twitter, I’m missing out on potential deals because businesses to track the mentions of their establishments on Twitter by foursquare users. But here’s my little problem with tweeting foursquare stuff on Twitter:
1) I just consider such tweets spam. My Twitter followers don’t care, and I do have an online reputation I’d like to keep – that being that unless I’m at some place really cool, you’ll never see me tweet my foursquare location or activity on my Twitter stream. That’s just me and my idea of quality content. Obviously not everyone agrees because I see people tweeting their foursquare stuff online all the time – and yes, it annoys me because frankly, I don’t care – but hey, maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. (that’s because you only check-in to Publix!) J
2) I don’t necessarily want the whole world to know where I am at any given time. I just don’t like that. I don’t mind sharing it with those in my foursquare network – that’s one thing – but everyone else in Twitterville? I’m still not comfortable with that idea.
So I’m not sure if this is keeping me from really benefitting from foursquare or not, or if it’s just the nature of where I live, but there have been many times when I’ve considered quitting foursquare. The time it takes to check in and stuff, you know, I want to feel I’m getting something out of it, too. It just hasn’t happened yet – at least not here in the heart of Orlando’s tourism center which surprises me.
And I do want to add, that I do share, too. I feel I’m doing my part by leaving tips for other users and while some people share tips, I don’t find any as often as I’d like to.
I’m not sure yet if foursquare is worth it for me. I can see how it may be, how it could be, but right now, I’m still not sold on its relevance – as a consumer, that is.
ZAC: Privacy issues will always be a concern and one of the barriers to entry for something like foursquare to really take off and have a mass effect. As we saw with Facebook a short while ago, privacy is a real concern for users, and Facebook had to go back and switch its privacy controls to make them more user friendly and easier to not share everything with the world.
I see Foursquare continuing to develop as small groups of trusted friends, like facebook, not wide open and public like Twitter. Even with this model they can still be successful and relevant to everyone, as you mentioned about Tips, these are public and go towards creating a better ecosystem of user-generated content. The other issue is along the lines of what you are dealing with right now, in smaller cities or within groups of friends where not a lot of other users are on foursquare – what’s in it for you? The time investment to remember to check-in to a location just adds to that “one more thing to do” on your social media platter. However, as larger companies begin to get into the game – think the Starbucks Frappuccino promotion – I think the popularity and public acceptance will rise. Once users understand what to do or not to do, think PleaseRobMe.com, foursquare will become like Facebook when you ask someone “what do you mean you’re not on facebook yet?”
JODI: Anyway, we’ll see. I’ll keep using it for some time and oh – just a warning to anyone who listens to this – don’t take offense but if I don’t know you, I’m not accepting your foursquare friend request. It’s just my own personal decision and again, I’m not sure if it’s a decision affecting my less than impressive experience with foursquare or not, but it’s a decision I’m standing by for now at least.
What about you, Zac? Are you accepting friend requests from strangers?
ZAC: Nope, no strangers. I treat my foursquare friend list even more strict than my Facebook friend list where I do accept all requests. Knowing where someone I have no vested interest in is checking in has no benefit to me by being my friend. I will still see their tips and to-do’s that they leave around town, and if I’m checking into a venue I will still see them present there.
JODI: Ok, so as we tie things up, I think some valuable points were made in this discussion. One being that foursquare, if used properly, can be a tremendous marketing and customer service tool for companies and two, if no one is using it to share, then, well, it’s useless unless you’re only in it for the badges and mayorships.
ZAC: That’s why it’s up to users like us, the early adopters, to be the evangelists for foursquare! From a business perspective I have definitely seen the number of unique check-ins steadily rise at the hotel. The momentum is there and with corporations and advertisers starting to get into the game as well, this will only increase. As a business owner I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to at least try it out. One of the great things about Social Media is the low cost of entry, and unlike a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter Account, once your foursquare venue is setup you don’t really have to do much else. Of course launching a special would require the analytics necessary for any ad campaign to see if it is working.
JODI: So that wraps up today’s audio discussion on social media, communications – and today’s topic of foursquare. Thanks for joining us!
And nce again, feel free to visit my blog at JodiKiely.com or follow me on Twitter at @Jodi underscore Kiely (that’s J-O-D-I as in “igloo”, underscore K-I-E-L-Y as in “yo-yo”
ZAC: Follow me on twitter as @zacharylong and follow the hotel as @thefrontdesk.
JODI: And as we close, I just want to give a special thanks to our technical specialist who oversaw the technical recording aspects of putting this audio show together. A huge thanks to Betty Feng who also has a blog at GSC Motion dot wordpress dot com and who is on twitter at BettyFeng (that’s F-E-N-G), BettyFeng (one word). Betty has also shared her thoughts on foursquare with me on my blog and I encourage you to search for the article in my archives and read what she has to say on the topic, too.
So thanks again for tuning! We hope you got a lot from our discussion and please feel free to leave a comment on my blog as this is a topic that holds potential for much discussion!
There are so many articles and blogs about marketing through social media. I just read one titled Social media: Listen Less and Sell More, by Clay McDaniel. It’s a great article about how companies should use buzz-monitoring tools to find out what people are saying about their brands and what people want, and then give customers the right promotion through social media.
Although Clay meant that companies need to analyze social media data to get social medial promotion right, the title “Listen Less” might be misleading. As a matter of fact, companies need to continue to listen more and then sell more!
I wish my personal experience can be a showcase of why companies need to listen more to Voice of the Customer (VOC) through social media and keep customer loyalty.
My husband and I used to be loyal Amazon.com customers. We bought everything from books to high-end camera equipment for our small business because their price is almost always lowest one in the market. We paid for an Amazon Prime membership so we could enjoy two-day free shipping. We also shop from their vendors through Amazon marketplace so we don’t need to register at other sites. We might not be their biggest customers, but we spend a fairly large amount on their site. We also rarely returned any shoppings, one or two out of our hundreds shoppings, as I can remember. We’re the best customers every company desires. However, our feeling got hurt recently by their ignorance of our voice through twitter.
Recently there have been quite a few incidences of stock-out and long delivery lead-time up to two months with Amazon.com. So, my husband and I both tweet @amazon and asking about the stock-out situation. I understand stock-out happens as a supply chain professional, but I need a response to let me know when I can expect to receive my product, not up to two months! No response. Quiet. So, I tweeted: ”@amazon has fulfillment issue lately even we paid for Prime membership! Too busy with their acquisitions apparently.” Still NO response!
Now, I’m angry. Amazon apparently is not listening to customers now because they are too big and too busy, so they don’t need to care about customers experience although they say so all the time. Thus, we found the same products at B&H Photo and Video at competitive price. We would rather pay for shipping to get the products quickly. My husband sent a tweet: “Just placed 1st order from @bhphoto (since @amazon was out of stock).” We didn’t expect @bhphoto to response, but Henry Posner @bandhphoto saw our tweet and bumped our shipping to UPS 2-day rush! This unexpected surprise definitely made us decide to more business with B&H in the future.
Now, it’s fairly clear how company should use social medial to sell more. They need to constantly listen to what their customers say about their brands and then interact with their customer. Many times, customers just need some little comfort from their response. It’s OK to be out of stock or delay delivery, but they should do something, such as a small coupon for next purchase, to rectify the situation and keep our loyalty.
Service companies already realize the importance of social media and utilize these tools to interact and communicate with their customers in order to provide better customer satisfaction. For example: Marriott hotels were one of the first to use twitter to engage directly with customers through their @MarriottIntl account. My husband, as a Front Office Manager, even monitors the comments about his hotel at property level through @TheFrontDesk on twitter. Many times, I hear stories how customers are happy with their quick responses and small little ways to remedy the damages. Just like us, many customers prefer to express their opinions through the internet even when they’re at the locations, hotels or restaurants. Through monitoring the social media closely and responding to customers complaints will significantly improve customers experience and improve their reputation through “word of mouth”.
Yes, I’m now leaving Amazon.com because our Amazon Prime membership didn’t give us customer satisfaction, especially because they ignore our voice through social media and deeply disappointed our trust of their service. Companies listening to Voice of the Customer and giving more than the customer expected will definitely sell more and win over the market.
Recently, I’m working on a project to help a Chinese tissue culture company to break into U.S. market. Something totally different from my past supply chain experience, but it’s quite an exciting experience for me to visit trade shows across the country to learn a new market and its customers.
I’m first of all surprised to see that nursery industry is a little bit “low-tech” comparing to all those industries I have been worked with. I would think that U.S. has far more advanced in bio tech than China, but I was constantly told in the trade show that “tissue culture is too high tech to us.” Then I realized that many of the target customers, the growers, don’t provide emails in their business cards. I know emailing is my bad habit, but it surprised me that many are quite resistant to new way of communication when I live in the era of smartphone, Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps nursery industry is quite different from others so I need to adjust, or I should not consider those, who resist e-communication or social media, as the target customer because the tissue culture will be too high tech for them. Oh well.I might be too new for this industry to make comment, but I feel the frustration of when hi-tech meets low-tech.
One more thing blows out my mind is when Sales of some companies told me that: I’m Sales, not procurement (so, don’t talk to me). OK, then it’s not right, not only because of their impolite attitude. So, Sales don’t communicate to Procurement regarding using new product or adapting new technology? So, Sales never discusses with Procurement regarding what they’re looking for to be competitive in the market? So, Procurement will make their purchasing decision and Sales will try to sell whatever the Procurement develop? It seems that lacking of communication among “supply” and “demand” can be a huge potential issue for those companies, which indicates that they won’t be an ideal business partner as well.
Technology and communication are two essential components for a business to stay competitive; otherwise, newbies will soon catch up and get the lagged one out of the market.