Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New New Media and 21st Century Business

Business has become more interactive in the 21st century, and that change is due to “New New Media.” The term Web 2.0 is often criticized because the web is always changing. In “New New Media” by Paul Levinson, Levinson explains the problem with using numbers to describe new media by saying, “...Unlike words, they have no semantic content and therefore convey no meaning, other than a comparison with something before or after but with no clear indication of the basis for that comparison (pg.4).” Web 2.0 is a term that was coined by Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media and Media Live in the year 2004. It refers to the new two way communication between internet users. Both terms refer to the same context but are disputed due to their implications. However, no matter what term we use to describe this new found interactivity, it is obvious that the days of internet users being limited to just reading information and not being able to respond to it or correct it have been over for a long time. Now internet users have control over the internet. By control, I am referring to the power to offer an opinion on virtually anything and be heard. However it is not just a medium for consumers and other non-corporate internet users to provide their input. It has become a medium that allow businesses to build rapports and strengthen relationships with existing and potential clients or customers. It has become a way for businesses to reach out to the public to get a better grasp on their public image.
            The interactivity allowed by “new new media”, has given businesses the opportunity to gage the interests of their target audiences, to repair damaged reputations, and open up a forum that allows users to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the company. In this report, I plan to examine the use of “new new media” on 21st century business. I will also examine how it is utilized through social networking sites, with a special emphasis on the social network, Twitter. Before going into a detailed case analysis of new new media and social media in many different companies, I will provide you with a little background on “new new media” and its influence on 21st century business from a general perspective.
            Techtarget.com defines “new new media” and Web 2.0 as “popular terms for advanced technology and applications including blogs, wikis, RSS, and social bookmarking.” While Paul Levinson defines New New Media as a roster including blogging, YouTube, Wikipedia, Digg, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and podcasts (page 5). Although there are many terms for and definitions of “new new media” available on the web, this is the one that is the most collaborative or agreed upon by all. It differs from the traditional World Wide Web (often referred to as Web 1.0) because it encourages users to interact with one another. In a sense, it serves as a stage for collaboration between internet users, enterprises, and content providers. Web 1.0 limited its users to viewing and downloading information. Since the integration of “new new media”, users have more capabilities to give to the nature and scope of web content and often have same-time control. Examples of “new new media” innovations are Mash-ups, blogs, RSS, wikis, advanced games, social networking sites and more.
            “It is true that there are major changes afoot – the industry is currently developing quickly ahead of an undoubted period of consolidation. As a result, I am constantly looking at the variety of social media which now exist, of which a business blog is certainly one. In the future, while the number of potential avenues for social media continues to expand, I still see a blog playing the central role for companies wanting to engage with customers and prospects using social media and general online method (Mark White).” Blogs are often referred to as online journals. There are sites that allow internet users to start their own online journal to discuss virtually any topic. Blogs can be updated at anytime, but many choose a consistent period for updating such as daily or weekly. Each time the blogger updates the blog with a new journal entry, it is referred to as a “post.” They allow anyone with a computer to be a reporter and report on whatever they want, whenever they want (Levinson 19).
            A business blog typically consists of some sort of social networking; i.e. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc, podcasts, video sharing, and other interactive mediums. Below is a chart of the typical business blog and the many different mediums that it entails.
           
Twitter is a micro blogging site. It allows users to communicate by posting status updates that are one hundred forty characters or less, hence the term “micro-blogging.”
“You can disseminate whatever information you please, to whatever portion of the world you like, as long as the people in that portion have accounts on Twitter. That would be 32 million people in the world at large as of May 2009, with Twitter growing faster than any other social medium, , and the first tweet from outer space on May 12,2009 (Levinson, 133).”
Many companies use Twitter as a means of getting the word out on new promotions, products, and contests. It also gives the users a chance to respond to the statuses. The “posts” or “statuses” on this topic are called “tweets.” Users on Twitter have the opportunity to “follow” other users. This helps many companies contact not only new clients or customers, but also to build a rapport with their loyal customers. Following is a feature that allows users to be notified in real time of every tweet that is sent by a person or persons of the user’s tweet. For example, if I chose to follow Pepsi’s Twitter Account and they tweeted about a “2 for 1” deal at every location that sells Pepsi Products, I would be notified as soon as they sent it. Since most people choose to “follow” more than one Twitter account, these tweets are presented in a list format in order from most recent to oldest. This list is called a timeline.
            “Twitter is a communication platform that helps businesses stay connected to their customers. As a business, you can use it to quickly share information with people interested in your company, gather real-time market intelligence and feedback, and build relationships with customers, partners and other people who care about your company. As an individual user, you can use Twitter to tell a company (or anyone else) that you've had a great—or disappointing—experience with their business, offer product ideas, and learn about great offers (Twitter.com).”
            There are many examples of customers reaching out to companies through Twitter for resolution with their bills and other problems, but there have also been numerous cases of companies benefitting from Twitter. “When people working in the Empire State Building twittered that they were craving ice cream delivery, New York local chain Tasti D Lite was there to listen and meet their need. When electronics buyers look for good deals, the Dell Outlet Twitter account helps them save money with exclusive coupons. When Houston's coffee drinkers decide where to get their daily dose, many choose Coffee Groundz, which lets them order via Twitter (Twitter).” These examples show how Twitter has become an aiding force in gaining business and has given businesses an opportunity to be a fly on the wall of many conversations concerning their business. This helps the companies to project a positive image, because they can get an accurate view of the image they send to the public and repair it if necessary.
            Companies such as Best Buy, Jet Blue, and Pepsi have found Twitter to be a great way to gain business, communicate with their customers, and improve their customer relations. Best Buy created a group of employees specifically for Twitter. This group is called the Twelpforce. The Twelpforce is a group of Best Buy employees and technicians, who will answer any questions regarding Best Buy and/or its products and services. The user must simply direct the the question to the Twelpforce by writing @Twelpforce in the question or “tag” the question “ #Twelpforce.” Tagging refers to a simple term, usually preceded by a number sign that allows members to search it and see all of the tweets pertaining to that topic. As of January 11, 2009, Best Buy had answered more than 19,500 customer questions via Twitter. They also had 2,300 employees signed up to answer questions (Twitter).
            “It also provided an opportunity to expose employees and the Best Buy Brand to social media. Through conversational employee/customer interactions via Twitter, they hoped to humanize their entire organization. Twitter let the employees be authentic, transparent, and bring more of "themselves" to the table. They felt the @twelpforce initiative in particular was a game changer since it was the first time a company used Twitter to create real-time customer service (Twitter).” I found this quote to be interesting, because it relates to transparency and disclosure which are areas we have discussed in class. Best Buy has allowed customers to ask them anything and to have employees answer without being coached and going through a publicist. This builds a reputation for honesty for the company, which encourages customers to trust Best Buy more. It also allows them to stand out from the competition since they were the first company to attempt this act of real-time communication. By searching to see what people are saying about their company and attempting to solve any problems customers may have with Best Buy, the company is showing they care about the customers and want to provide grade A service. This not only attracts new customers, but helps retain old customers building brand loyalty.
            Jet Blue was one of the first companies to join Twitter in spring of 2007. Today, the company has nearly a million followers. Twitter’s business site refers to Jet Blue as one of the smart corporate twitter users. The company makes it a point to ask the members of Twitter what it is that they want from the Twitter account. Are they looking for great deals, resolutions to travel troubles, or resources? Most of the users responded that they just want to be able to give Jet Blue ideas on how to improve their service. Jet Blue also searches their name often to see what users’ concerns are. In the beginning, they saw many complaints about traveling with the airline, so they contacted these users to resolve the problems.
            Pepsi holds two twitter accounts, one for the soda and another account for Pepsi products. Although Pepsi has had a hotline for quite some time to gain customer feedback, they find the Twitter accounts to be much more helpful. “Interestingly, the company finds the conversations on Twitter are different from those on the toll-free line. The callers, says Irazabal, tend to focus on products. Twitterers, on the other hand, tend to have opinions not just on the products, but on  promotions, too. “They feel they’re invited to give their opinions on the how the brand should move forward, and they’re very detailed.” (Twitter).” Pepsi has even implemented a process to handle customer complaints on Twitter to save the image of the company and provide the best service possible to the customer. ““We try to gauge the overall tone and type of problem,” says Josh Karpf, manager of social and emerging media for PepsiCo. If somebody doesn’t like a piece of advertising, the company accepts that. But if a person has had a problem with a product or is attacking the company in some way, Pepsi has a process in place to resolve the issue directly. The company responds once in public, and if the person stays negative, they switch to DM and then to email or phone if needed. Internally, a cross-functional team can help solve problems (Twitter).”
            With Social Media revolutionizing corporate America, it is no surprise that Pepsi has a manager of Social Media, along with a whole team of people just to handle social networking sites.  Rachel Mills is Pepsi’s marketing manager. She works with two agencies to run Pepsi’s Twitter account. One agency deals with the daily twittering activity. The other agency is in charge of setting up and organizing digital promotions three months ahead of time. This agency also suggests the tone of voice used in tweets and how the company responds to comments. The close attention and detail in the way in which the company tweets attempts to give it a global voice that is the same no matter where or how you interact with the company.
            Lots of companies are now using web videos to reach out to current and potential customers. They're building more personal relationships with their client base and reaping the benefits of this creative indirect marketing strategy (Male, 2010).” The biggest benefit for companies using web videos is that most of the time, it’s free. The most popular web video site is Youtube. It costs virtually nothing to put up a Youtube video. The company just needs a camera and they can upload the video for free. Many companies upload existing television commercials, press confrences, or other visual media concerning their company. There is also a choice for the company to enable comments for the videos. This way they can interact with their target audiences and others. If the comments are enabled, the company can reply to the comments and view the comments of people who viewed the video in a message board environment. The popularity of Youtube is largely due to its accessibility to millions of videos. According to Paul Levinson, Youtube is has become the medium of choice for people to catch the recording of an event after it has been played on television
“The relationship of Youtube to television in the coverage of public events complements the relationship of blogging to newspapers and helps pinpoint the position of new new media in our culture. Blogging provides commentary far faster than the op-eds of any printed newspaper. Youtube provides audio-visual records of events on television that would otherwise be gone the instant they conclude… (Levinson, 66).”
            The Miller Beer Company cites the three main goals for any business to meet in corporate videos are to inform, educate, and entertain. The goal “to inform” concerns communicating the viewers with facts and information on the company. Examples of the correct execution of information in a corporate video are providing the viewers with the company’s mission statement, a special promotion, or corporate news that may affect them and definitely affects the company. The next goal is to educate. This is very similar to the goal of informing because it also provides factual information. However, educating is meant to provide some sort of service to the viewer. Examples of educating through corporate video are how-to tapes and product demonstrations. The third goal is to entertain. Corporate videos whose purpose is to entertain, try to attract the viewer by exciting or enticing him in some way. They usually appeal to humor, interest, or emotion.
            Although many companies choose to use web videos as a marketing tool, it does not mean that they all do a good job. According to BusinessInsider.com, there are five rules to great corporate videos:
 1. Good content. You want to tell the consumer important information in an engaging way and make them want to share your video with their friends, Nand tells us. And above all, you should try to entertain your viewers -- whether you shock or surprise them, or make them laugh, or cry.
2. Plan ahead. Start out with a clear vision of the reason you're making the video, and what you want to end up with. If you go into it with a plan, you'll save time and energy and make better content.
3. Don't blatantly market yourself. You can't just put a commercial up and call it a day, Miller says. People don't come to YouTube to watch commercials (SuperBowl ads aside). Your videos have to be a "soft sell" -- entertain them or offer them some information of value, and market yourself indirectly.
4. High-quality production. For YouTube standards, all this really takes is a basic video camera. A tripod can help, too.
5. Keep it short! The audience on YouTube has a very short attention span. Keep your video under two or three minutes, Grenney advises. If you need to make longer videos, break them up into separate segments, each on a specific element of the larger topic. (BusinessInsider.com)
            No matter if the medium used is a corporate blog, Twitter Account, or a Youtube video, there is no doubt that New new media has revolutionized the world of business. Corporate America is no longer untouchable by the consumer. We can now interact with businesses and each other at the click of a button. This has its negatives because it is easier for people to spread the word on business they are not happy with and people can say hurtful things without fear of reprimand behind a computer, but it also has just as many, if not more benefits. Companies can better understand and detect the needs of their target audiences. Consumers feel like they have a voice in the products and services that they spend their hard earned money on. No matter which side one may take, it is evident that New new media and social media have had a major impact on business in the 21st century.

Check Out these links to see just how much consumers are influenced by social media and vice versa
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AH5R56jILag  ß Dominos Pizza’s Youtube video
http://twitter.com/#!/twelpforce  ß Best Buy’s Twitter

10 comments:

  1. It really holds true that Twitter and social media platforms in general, have radically restructured the way companies do business nowadays. However, I have my doubts about BestBuy and their method of allowing employee answers go unfiltered on Twitter. I am not saying that they necessarily direct every employee toward a specific way of replying, but they have to have some kind of general guidelines, otherwise their reputation would be put to danger due to internal factors. I would also find appropriate to mention another example in regards to social media and how it is used for reputation management and crisis communication. It has to do with General Motors and the crisis they went through in late May, early June 2010. The company's director of social media decided to extend the social media team, normally consisting of 5 people, to 12. That team's responsibility was to inform customers and any public in general on all the latest updates regarding the GM crisis. In other words, they would post tweets or statuses on facebook about how they are doing, what measures they are taking to fight the crisis, and they would go the extent of even addressing personally every question that was made by users. This was done on a 24/7 basis. As a result, they managed to gain the sympathy of the audience. Whereas in the beginning there were people that critiqued them on the slow descent of the company, now everybody would admit the fact that they did wrong in many ways but they are now doing their best to get back on their feet.
    I am posting the link to the article here for anybody that is interested in gaining further knowledge in the subject: http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/TheStrategist/Articles/view/8650/1013/General_Motors_manages_crisis_with_social_media

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  2. The opportunities that are found through Web 2.0 and all forms of social media for companies are limitless. Having a marketing background, I know from personal experience that many companies and institutions that fully utilize an online presence do better in the long run. They have the opportunity to be successful in the creation and continuation of their brand.

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  3. I enjoyed this paper as well as the links posted. The YouTube Social Media video was very informative and alarming. Its interesting to think how the younger generations will grow up or how our future kids will. Will my future kid be learning about Twitter and Facebook in elementary school? Its weird to grasp, but if they do start tweet so young, this can really spiral out of control.
    I have seen companies that set up twitter acocunts and ask employees to tweet and promote them. Whether it was successful or not is up for debate, but then is it really ok to ask employees to do that?

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  4. I guess it is ok to ask employees to promote the company on Twitter, since it is a means for creating corporate image. Plus, it has started becoming the norm, rather than something new that is used as a complimentary tool. I do not know if you were referring to the employees' personal accounts or to the company's corporate account on Twitter, but I guess having a team of people that deals with company updates on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is very common nowadays.

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  5. From an advertising perspective it is a good idea to have employees give their feedback on their jobs. It should be optional and not something that is required of them. Then again this is more of an old school mentality on something relatively new. These social networking sites are becoming more powerful as time passes. It is kind of disturbing to think of how the new generation is being raised.

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  6. Social media has definitely had a great impact of businesses in the 21st Century. Not too long ago, businesses would advertise their websites. In many cases that is still true, but more and more businesses are promoting their social media much more. The commercials before social media completely took over, would end with a mention of the website. This is a great tool because a commercial is usually 30 seconds, not enough time to fully explain to the educated consumer why they should buy this particular product. So, this consumer would go to the website to learn more. The thing about social media that makes it so great is the participation on the part of the user. Now that businesses are promoting their Facebook pages instead of their website, people can read what others have to say about the product. They can give their own opinion. The interactivity of social media makes it a much strong tool to use when advertising a product or service.

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  7. I agree with Kenny. Social Media has intertwined itself with businesses. For one thing businesses use social media like Facebook or Twitter to get interest in their company. It is a way to get the word out to people without having to spend lots of money on pointless fliers when it can be done easily and free on the internet. Social Media is also used when people are trying to get a job. Businesses look at people's Facebook's and Twitter accounts to see what these people have been doing in their personal lives and will either hire, fire, or not give you a chance based on what you post.

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  8. I agree with the statements Alex and Caitlin has made. In an advertising perspective Facebook and Twitter have been great ways to promote to customers. Who doesn't have a Facebook or Twitter? If you want the attention of customers you have to find the medium where the population of people are high and in today's society social media is where it is. I enjoy the part where you talked about YouTube. Many people don't consider YouTube as a social media site given the fact that it is very different from Facebook or Twitter but when you think about it YouTube is where you can find everything. In terms of advertising I feel that out of the many social media sites, this is where advertisements are highly viewed. Not only do we receive a high amount of advertisements on YouTube but this is where people run to when they miss something on television. A lot of people use YouTube as a source of information, when you want to hear about the latest news you can easily go on YouTube. In terms of business I do find that social media is the best source to gage the interest of particular audiences. Not only does it help get the attention of an audience but businesses also use social media as a source to network and a way to find information about there employers. In many ways social media benefits the business world.

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  9. I definitely agree with Sasha. It's great that many companies gain more work and even credibility through social media, but what about good old advertising? All of the money is being given to facebook instead of people taking out ads in newspapers or magazines. Isn't this somewhat hurting our economy and job market?

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  10. With the Internet all companies has been designing their own websites for marketing. Nowadays they are all shifting to social marketing.Podcast,blogs,videos,reviews,pictures,online PR, and social profiles are very important for customers these days. I am not saying that websites are no longer important but they are not enough anymore. If you do not have an friendly website with Facebook,and Tweet links you will loose business. Networking has always been an important skill for people and businesses. If you know people or if people know a lot of about your business, you will be a success story. Linkedin is a very good example how social media is affecting our businesses and people in our digital age.

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