as not just a marketing channel but also a source for product ideas
and customer feedback. Earlier this week, Starbucks began a Web
site called MyStarbucksIdea.com that solicits ideas for how the
company can improve its service and products. Similarly, Dell has
run IdeaStorm for gathering ideas and feedback. As a result of
feedback from the site, the company made a Linux-compatible
Darren Rowse, of ProBlogger.net, makes a living out of blogging and provides advice to business folk who want to use the medium more effectively. He claims lack of objectives is the most common mistake people make with their business blogging. “The key question to ask is ‘what do I want to get out of this’?”, he says. “Establish your objectives and let them inform everything that follows, including design and content creation.”
Knowledge@SMU: How can companies make better use of social media?
Goel: In the past, companies would usually just take out a print advertisement to market a new product. Some consumers would like the product and some wouldn’t which was fine. Now, companies can put their product on a blog and, overnight, it is possible to have their product ousted from the market or be a resounding success. There’s so much more at stake and the market could go either way. Some companies are fearful of this, while others take their chances and ride the social media wave to reach greater heights. For example, Chevy Tahoe, an American automobile company, decided to invite people to post their own commercial messages about America’s best-selling SUV online where the ads would be free to migrate to YouTube or anywhere else. Chevy supplied the video clips and music. Users could then mix and match the material and add their own captions. The response was off the charts. In the wake of environmental concerns, there were rogue entries which subverted the Tahoe message with references to global warming, social irresponsibility, the war in Iraq and so on.
Knowledge@SMU: Is social media more relevant for tech-savvy people who can adapt better to online communication?
Goel: Initially, when I started exploring social media and its effects on communication and society, I thought that introducing a new ‘online’ culture would be a culture shock for some individuals, particularly the older and less IT-oriented groups. Over time, through conversations with many people, I’ve changed the way I look at this. It’s not about how old or tech-savvy you are but it’s all about attitude. My grandfather in India sends me more messages through YouTube videos than my friends overseas do. In fact, I’m convinced that he’ll probably start his own podcast before I get to mine. So, it’s not about what you can do as much as what you want to do. The essence of social media is attitude.