This is written by Campbell Scott of IGOPeople.com. All comments, queries and case study suggestions welcomed via comments below. Thanks! – RS, IIA.
Our previous case study gave an excellent overview of some of the social media tools that are available to businesses, including blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Youtube etc. This case study is based on observations about how O2 Ireland have embraced the use of social media, to get closer to their customers (and potential customers). This summary records some of the interactions with customers that have taken place, some of these on IGOpeople.
O2 were well aware that their brand, products and services, pricing etc. were all being talked about online by their customers. These discussions were taking place on blogs, discussion forums and social networks. Many people would have posted comments which were negative in tone, complaining about specific problems or the way they had been treated by O2 as a customer. For O2, the challenge was how to engage or join in the conversations taking place. Many of the comments in discussion forums are anonymous, or take place in a tone and context where O2’s response or involvement in the discussion may not be particularly welcome.
O2’s answer to this problem was to take the brave move of creating their own, open user discussion forum, where customers could ask questions and seek help, voice their opinion or complain. Registration was a requirement, to help O2 get in touch with members privately if required. This was a very positive move which was received well by O2 customers. As this was new territory for O2, they did demonstrate some early naivety, by correcting the content of some members posts, but their customer community was tolerant of this, as it was a new environment where everyone was learning.
Although the O2 Forum has developed from these early days and is now a popular and active community, O2 have extended the range of social media tools they use to reach customers, including Bebo, Twitter and now IGOpeople (links take you directly to the O2 profile page). We’re delighted to have O2 as part of IGOpeople, but everyone can learn from some of the specific conversations they have become involved in.
O2 have jumped straight into IGOpeople, posting regularly about items of interest to their customers – promoting shiny new phones and new product releases. This week, they offered customers the opportunity to direct any questions they may have to the Head of Customer Care – not something that is available to a consumer every day of the week!
However, the thing that is impressed me about O2, is the willingness to reach out to customers. There are a number of conversations where they acknowledge their shortcomings and state how they will fix things up, or recognise the need to make changes in the future. Their answers don’t always give you the answer you might demand, but they are there to listen and consistently discuss the issue, in a really honest and believable way – even if the answer isn’t quite what you want.
Here are some nice examples of the conversations they get involved in
The following post was written by Richard Bowden on behalf of the Web Development Working Group and summarises the key findings of their recent survey asking you what kind of outputs you hope to see from the IIA Web Development Working Group.
The Web Development working group was established under the auspices of the Irish Internet Association to review best practices in the area of website development and make recommendations that will be of benefit to both website owners and developers.
To assist the group, an online survey was used to get feedback from people with either a business or technological perspective on the areas on which they would like to see the working group focus. Within a short time of the survey being launched, the group had received a range of feedback which has been beneficial to their work and they would like to thank all the respondents and the other organisations that marketed the survey to ensure that the group had feedback from both IIA members and non-members.
In summary, some of the interesting points contained in the feedback included;
- While there was an even spread between the topics of interest to the survey respondents, the following were ranked in the top six;
- Web development best practices
- Ways to upgrade existing websites
- Managing and writing web content
- Planning for growth / scalability
- Going mobile
- Making the business case for investing in web development
- Nearly half of our respondents consider themselves both as purchasers and sellers of web development services. A third of the respondents consider themselves solely as purchasers of development services with the remainder categorising themselves as sellers
- There was a wide range of business sectors that responded, including Tourism, Marketing, Financial Services, Public Sector, Manufacturing, Health, Education, Web development and design.
- The range of responses were evenly spread as regards number of employees, with approximately a third of responses in each category; 1-3 employees, 4- 50 and 51+ employees
- In relation to the web technologies that each respondent is using; the majority are using either a content management solution and/or web applications such as blogging software on their website. Nearly 1 in 5 is using web based intranet technology while 10% of respondents are using a static brochure type website. 1% of respondents have no current website presence.
- In terms of web technology spend in 2008, nearly half of the respondents spend over €50,000
- A selection of additional comments included;
- An interest in Open source vs. proprietary solutions
- A benefit from having access to a standard practice for estimating and pricing web design and development projects in the Irish & EU markets.
- Promotion of good software development practices and highlight successful software projects
- A need to highlight the importance of accessibility
The working group is now in the process of reviewing the responses and analysing related best practices with a view to initially preparing a breakout session at the IIA Congress on May 21st and subsequently producing a practical guide for Irish businesses.
IIA Members may download the results as a PDF here. (PDF, 264k, password required)
This week I am going to hijack Feedback Friday for my own purposes. *Rubs hands* However rest assured that this is still all about you, the IIA members and all businesses using the internet in Ireland. The IIA currently has six working groups made up of between 10 and 15 expert volunteers each from all sectors and types of business in Ireland. They work hard to produce whitepapers and events. However we are not 100% sure that the medium is currently suiting the masses (whatever about the message: that’s a discussion for another day!) Therefore we would like you to take the poll below in order to let the working groups know what medium most suits you for their outputs. For example would you prefer a series of 5 minute videos to a 10 page whitepaper on a given topic? More options listed below and please feel free to add your own via the “Other” option.
20/02/2009 15:05 Edit: FYI I set this poll to one response only because we are interested in your preferred output medium. I too like to choose how I digest my material depending on a number of factors, one of the most important being whether I am using my laptop or phone for example. However if I had set it to multiple choice, as PollDaddy call it, it would have muddied the results. However I welcome the qualitative feedback via the comments – thanks!
The following post is contributed by Brendan Hughes, Chair of the IIA Social Media Working Group. The IIA facilitate and support a number of working groups – information about all is available on our website. If you have a particular interest in any of them please contact me, Roseanne Smith, Membership, Marketing and Communications Manager at members at iia punc ie.
Last Wednesday night saw the first gathering in the Digital Depot of the IIA’s new Social Media Working Group. When asked by Fergal O’Byrne (CEO of the IIA) to chair the group I was happy to say yes as I see this an important development in the Internet landscape in Ireland. To my knowledge this is the first co-ordinated attempt to gather together social media experts and business people with a view to providing information and best practice advice for businesses. I am certainly not aware of any library or resource that is independent and can freely be tapped into – this is what we hope to deliver.
The meeting was attended by thirteen of the sixteen members of the working group (the other three had solid alibis and are still very much in the group). I’ll ensure that the full list of members is made available on the IIA site, but without mentioning people individually I’m very happy to say that we had a very impressive collection of people round the table. We had luminaries from the blogging community, academia, big business and small business, organisations serving big and small businesses, and people who are starting new businesses. What we had in common was a very clear belief that this “social media thing” is important for organisations, and an enthusiasm to get stuck into the detail.
Our task last night was to get to know each other and to tease out a little of our vision, scope and how we are going to work together. The vision has started out looking something like: “the group’s aim is to be the thought leader – developing and sharing insights – in the appropriate use of social media by businesses in Ireland”. We had lots of discussion, as you can imagine, around some particular words – “thought leader”, “appropriate use”, “social media”. This vision might be a little bold for a voluntary part-time group, but we’re going to stick with it for now.
Much of the discussion centred on how we would tackle our planned outputs. We intend to deliver white-paper documents on some of the key social media that are relevant to both small and large businesses in Ireland. Initially we are going to pick off blogging, social networks/online communities, audio and video podcasting, and RSS. On hold for now are collective intelligences (wikis etc), peer-to-peer networks, mash-ups, web services and instant messaging (and anything else that we haven’t thought of).
A question arose about how deep we should go on each of these and that discussion is still ongoing today. We are all agreed that the first and most obvious need in the market is for the simple guide to each of the social media mentioned. Once businesses understand what they are they will very quickly want to figure out what potential there might be for their business and what the rationale / business-case might be for engaging. We do intend to get stuck into all of this and I think we have the right people on board to make this happen.
In order to keep things manageable, I going to keep the membership of the group limited to the sixteen who are currently on board. We do however intend that the process should be outward looking and we will be inviting contributions from people outside the group. We are setting up a wiki to facilitate this. We’re going to try and use social media as much as possible in the operations of the group – in order to prove to ourselves at least how beneficial it can be. Our next meeting will be via Skype conference and we’ll be posting updates on progress over the coming months here on the IIA blog.
If you are interested in participating in the group please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put your name on the list if some of the existing members leave. And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog for the updates.
Bernie Goldbach of Tipperary Institute of Technology has blogged about the meeting describing us as social media plumbers who “understand the flow of conversations and how surges of information gurgle and sometimes spit in vitriolic ways.” Very nicely put, Bernie – thanks!
John Kennedy writes in SiliconRepublic about last week’s Congress, “Bartley O’Connor, associate director of PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland, said there is a digital divide emerging between businesses that have broadband and those that don’t.” He quotes Bartley as saying ““This is affecting business start-ups, not just end users. There could be hundreds more businesses in the country if not for the lack of broadband. People are losing out.”
We’re acutely aware of this in the IIA. A search of our online member database using the keyword Donegal, for example, shows exactly how few companies in Donegal are members. (Yeeessss ROADTRIP!!) Joking aside the IIA is seeking to address this and other issues by bringing together industry experts, interested parties and stakeholders in Working Groups. In relation to this issue the Infrastructure Working Group are already busy and we expect to see a position paper from them in the near future.
Regardless of the broadband situation, the IIA is a countrywide organisation and the 4th of June will see us not quite in Donegal but in Derry running a course entitled “Making your Web Strategy pay”. This event is sold out but you can catch it again in Belfast on the 5th June.
John Kennedy also writes about how his meeting with Bebo’s Head of Sales Mark Charkin and their new Head of Sales in Ireland Philip Macartney at the IIA Congress. John describes how this pair told him about how they are “forging alliances with major media firms including the BBC, MTV and CBS to drive its monetisation strategy.”