Archives for February 2014

3 Reasons Why Your Business Should Use Twitter

By Kate Lee | 02/24/2014 | 11:13 PM | Categories: Weblogs

Twitter is one of the more powerful platforms to influence consumers and grow a business. Is your business on Twitter? If not, here are three reasons why your business should be on Twitter:

1.       Be Found

When business consumers are searching for products and services, they typically start online.   According to a recent study by Pardot, 72 percent of B2B buyers begin their research with Google.  Other starting points for research: personal networks (15.58%), Yahoo (5.53%), Bing (2.76%), LinkedIn (2.51%) and social networks (2.01%). 

Having a strong presence on Twitter- which has nearly a billion users – will significantly increase your business’ search engine rank and increase visibility.  Why is this important?  If you don’t rank well you won’t be found – 75 percent of users don’t scroll past the first page of search results.

2.       Provide Customer Service – In Real Time

Twitter is an increasingly effective way to provide customer service – and a channel to which many consumers are turning. Your customers may run into issues with your product or service and not have the opportunity to simply make a phone call to a call center or customer service center to take care of this issue. Furthermore, in this day and age, people are using mobile devices more often for their business needs, and Twitter – being a primarily mobile social media network – provides an excellent outlet for customer service representatives to help customers in need. Customer service representatives can communicate more effectively and execute troubleshooting techniques with Twitter than with most other platforms due to the ease of accessibility.

The number of companies handling more than 25 percent customer service inquires via social media has increased from nine percent (2012) to 18 percent (18 percent).  Even as more consumers are turning to social media for customer service, many companies are falling flat with respect to providing quality customer service.  Only 36 percent of consumers report that their customer service inquiry was dealt with efficiently and effectively.  This an opportunity for companies who can/do provide excellent and timely customer service via social media - a J.D. Power and Associates study found that 87 percent of consumers reported that their online social interaction with the company positively impacted the likelihood that they'd purchase from the brand, and that the responsiveness of the service representatives were a key of that satisfaction.

3.       Keep an Eye Your Competitors

Since Twitter is a public platform, ite nables you to see what your competitors are doing. When performing an industry or business related search, Twitter can provide valuable insights into what kind of information and services your competitors are providing for their customers as well as help you keep an eye on significant achievements – and sometimes, failures – that your competitors will experience, helping you to make important decisions.


Social technologies at work

By Kate Lee | 02/17/2014 | 7:12 PM | Categories: Weblogs

Social technologies offer business enormous potential – potential to unlock value and to increase productivity.  How enormous is this potential?  The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) looked at four sectors (consumer packaged goods, consumer financial services, professional services, and advanced manufacturing) in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, and France and found that social technologies could unlock between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion across these sectors on an annual basis.  With respect to productivity, MGI found that social technologies have the potential of raising the productivity of high-skill knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent.

What are social technologies?  Gartner, Inc. defines social technologies as: “Any technology that facilities social interaction and is enabled by a communications capability, such as the Internet or a mobile device.”  Examples of social technologies are: blogs, social media (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), social business software (e.g., Jive, Moxie), and supply chain operating networks (e.g., GT Nexus, E2Open, One Network).

Social technologies are powerful tools because they improve communication and collaboration.  MGI estimates that a shift from channels designed for one-to-one communication (e.g., phone, email) to social channels could reduce the time an employee spends on email by 25 percent per week and the amount an employee spends searching for content and expertise by 35 percent per week. 

To capture the potential value offered by social technologies companies need to go beyond purchasing social enterprise software or having employees sign up for Twitter.  To capture the potential value, companies must incorporate the social technologies into daily use, establish a culture of openness, and must also have widespread participation.

Don’t get discouraged by this.  James Manyika, Michael Chui, and Hugo Sarrazin (all from McKinsey) note that establishing a culture that supports social technologies is worth it:

It may take years to establish the conditions of openness and to build trust across the organization, but the companies that accomplish this transformation will not only reap the greatest benefits from social technologies, they will also find that they are faster on their feet, more adaptable, and much more capable of absorbing — and acting on — new ideas. Not a bad investment.

Not a bad investment at all.

Why visibility is an essential business strategy

By Kate Lee | 02/10/2014 | 7:28 PM | Categories: Weblogs

A recent study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Marketing Leadership Council found that the average customer progresses nearly 60 percent of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales rep.

Where are customers looking for and finding information?  Customers are turning to the internet and social media.  If they are looking for your company – what are they finding?  A key finding of the CEB study was: “companies that fail to ‘show up strong’ in this context are underserving potential customers and are at risk of losing mindshare and, ultimately, sales opportunities.”  This is largely due to when customers tend to buy.  Specifically, 80 to 90 percent of prospects who first engage with a company are not ready to buy.  Forty percent of these prospects will be ready to buy within a year and 80 to 90 percent will be ready to buy within two years.

Improving your company’s visibility can be achieved by establishing a presence and by optimizing your presence.  This is inclusive of launching a company blog, participating in social media, creating YouTube videos focused on your company’s products and services, and ensuring that your website is easily navigable and provides both current and potential customers with the information and services they need.

There are several tactics that can be used to increase visibility and help with measurement efforts include leveraging multiple digital platforms, regular analytics reporting, mobile optimization and content curation – a more recent trend which marketers and business owners have found as an effective method by which to establish online influence.

Both Kinaxis and SJF Material Handling Equipment have invested in becoming visible and both have seen positive results.

Kinaxis, a supply chain management company, launched an online social media campaign with the objective of doubling leads and web traffic numbers.  The campaign included two online comedy series (Suitemates and The Late Late Supply Chain Show) and the launch of the company’s 21st Century Supply Chain Blog.  The campaign was successful – traffic increased by 2.7 times and leads increased by 3.2 times.

SJF Material Handling Equipment the largest stocking distributor of new and used material handling equipment in the United States, has a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. The company reports that nearly 20 percent of their website traffic is driven by social media.  Stafford Sterner, President, notes “If you’re trying to reach out to totally new markets, then you might want to do Facebook and Twitter.  If you’re comfortable building that relationship with people or companies you’re close to, then it’s LinkedIn.”

Being visible is an essential part of any business strategy.  Take the time to make your company visible. 

What is social media and why you should care

By Kate Lee | 02/04/2014 | 8:47 AM | Categories: Weblogs

Research conducted by Adrian Gonzalez, founder and president of Adelante SCM, found that 30 percent of respondents (supply chain professionals) reported that their companies block access to social media sites.  One of the reasons for the lack of participation in social media by these companies is likely due to a lack of understanding of what social media is and the role it can play in business.  As noted by Gonzalez: “many supply chain executives and companies are stuck on the starting line because they can’t get past the word ‘social’ and the perception it creates.” 

In a 2013 article in MIT Sloan Management Review, Gerald C. Kane, Associate Professor at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, wrote: “When asked to define social media, most people probably rely on something similar to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity: ‘I know it when I see it.’”  Unfortunately this approach to defining social media tends to perpetuate stereotypes and does not accurately reflect what social media is and how it can be utilized by business.    What, then, is social media?  Social media is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” These websites and applications are inclusive of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.  Social media is part of a larger framework called social technologies.  The McKinsey Global Institute defines social technologies as: “IT products and services that enable the formation and operation of online communities, where participants have distributed access to content and distributed rights to create, add, and/or modify content."  Social technologies are inclusive of Yammer, Jive, Moxie, and Supply Chain Operating Networks such as Descartes, GT Nexus, Elemica, E2open, LeanLogistics, and One Network.  Also included in social technologies are network-based business intelligence and analytics.

Clara Shih, CEO and Founder of Hearsay Social, and Lisa Shalett, Managing Director and Head of Brand Marketing and Digital Strategy at Goldman Sachs, call attention to the fact that when you get right down to it, social media encompasses “a set of new and innovative ways for businesses and customers to do what they have always done: build relationships, exchange information, read and write reviews, and leverage trusted networks of friends and experts.”  Furthermore, engaging in social media and utilizing social technologies provides business with the tools to manage status, social networks, and established relationships—all drivers of firm performance.  Social media and social networking also enable companies to be able to better manage risk, create demand, define their reputation, innovate, enhance business intelligence, and improve productivity.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth Hines

Elizabeth is a content strategist with 12+ years of experience in content development, branding, marketing, and communications. As the creative/editorial director at Fronetics, she oversees all efforts related to content and creative assets, including strategy design and brand development.

She has written extensively about supply chain and logistics, and has developed content strategies across a number of verticals, including the B2B space. Prior to joining Fronetics, Elizabeth worked at Boston University, Prospectiv, and Cengage Learning.


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