Not everyone can present at every conference. If you have valuable information for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference audience, add your insight or link in comments below.
Over the summer months, I submitted several sessions to present at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference. Having provided enterprise social community software to businesses since before Mark Zuckerberg even applied to Harvard, I figured Socious had some valuable lessons learned and guidance for the Enterprise 2.0 audience.
Though we didn’t make the cut this year, I still believe that our experience can help social business and marketing professionals who are planning Enterprise 2.0 online community initiatives – both the people attending the Enterprise 2.0 Conference and those who will be following the conference online from their offices.
1) Online Customer Communities Are Not a Communication Strategy, but Part of Your Product Strategy.
If I were speaking at Enterprise 2.0, I would let the business audience know that the age of selling products and services is over. What do Apple, local restaurants, and your church have in common? They understand that the value of their products or services grows exponentially when you couple them with a thriving customer community. They have known this for quite some time.
- Apple. Though well designed, Apple’s products would not be as successful without the community of passionate, enthusiastic customers that give their products a life, lore, and prestige that no company can manufacture.
- Local Businesses. Coffee shops, restaurants, and local retail businesses have embraced location-based networks, like Foursquare, to make what was typically a solitary buying experience into a community of patrons, customers, and fans that can engage one another and stay connected to the business.
- Houses of Worship. How many of you look forward to church on Sunday solely for the sermons and sacraments? Church leaders know that there is more to their value proposition than the preacher-deity-individual relationship. Churchgoers attend in large part for the educational programs, helpful services, and community of people who share common values and interests.
As the competitive advantages of existing products flatten over time, it is a strategic imperative for mid-sized and large businesses to create online customer communities to augment their value to their customer base and cost-effectively differentiate their product offerings.
2) Enterprise 2.0 Is About ALL of Your Communities
If I were speaking at Enterprise 2.0, I would speak with those in the room about the importance of bringing together all communities. I’m concerned that at times the social enterprise conversation focuses too much on internal, intranet-like social networks geared toward employee collaboration. While increasing productivity is important, it is critical that Enterprise 2.0 technology be discussed in a broader context.
The Forrester report, The Enterprise 2.0 User Profile: 2011, brings this point to the surface. Among companies who use social technology to promote content sharing and collaboration between employees, only 22% of social software users see the platform as vital to their work day.
At Socious, we are seeing that the companies where social business and community-building strategies are having the most impact on their core business objectives are the organizations that bring all of their communities together for the success of their direct and indirect customers.
Over time, your online community platform can provide value to customers, resellers, distributors, partners, employees, advisory groups, and vendors. Using enterprise online community software, you can bring these audiences together, as well as create helpful segmented communities built around each group's specific business goals.
3) Enterprise 2.0 is About Being Helpful
If I were speaking at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference, I would discuss the power of customer success. In a business environment where customers are connected and Google never forgets a bad review or scathing article, being helpful is the new marketing. Your #1 social business objectives should be to find ways to make your customers more successful with your products and services.
Though your company wants to reduce costs, increase productivity, and improve customer retention. You customers don’t care. Let’s take that a level lower. You want to launch an online community to promote social connections, discussion, and collaboration. You customer’s don’t care.
What do customers care about? Getting help. For instance, customers care about:
- Validating ideas before presenting them to their management
- Getting home to see their kid’s soccer game
- Finding solutions when they are stuck
- Making your product more useful in their businesses and lives
- Job security
Your online customer community will include connections, discussion, and collaboration, but they all must be designed to help your customers succeed. By bringing your customers, employees, and partners together to help your customers to get more from your products, your company will reap the rewards of higher sales, increased customer retention, and lower support costs.
Add Your Own Enterprise 2.0 Insight
Whether you will be at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference or not, I encourage you to create your own blog post or video with the key takeaways that the Enterprise 2.0 community should know about. Add the link in the comments below.
Lastly, we’ll be at next week’s Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara. If you’ll be there, drop us a note at @SociousSoftware. If you won’t be there, leave a comment or send us a tweet anyway to share your ideas.