From Facebook through Twitter and studiVZ, almost every large enterprise has a profile on a social media platform. That’s because companies want to be where their customers are. Facebook now has around 400 million active members, and there are approximately 130 million blogs worldwide. In 2009, Facebook and Twitter were the fastest growing Web sites in terms of coverage. And communication using the Internet will continue to increase. That’s why many companies use social media platforms to publicize their products, tap new markets, and retain existing customers.
No single recipe for success
At the Web 2.0 Congress in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, various enterprises talked about their Web 2.0 strategies. And the conclusion was that there is no single recipe for Web 2.0 success, even if Twitter, Facebook, and co. are now a permanent part of the landscape. Every company has to find its own path. But one thing is certain: Social media platforms are an ideal way of discovering what the target group is up to, what it’s looking for, and what it wants.
But before a company signs up for Facebook or Twitter, it needs to think about what it wants to achieve (or who it wants to reach) with its social media concept. It must also decide whether the social media account should reflect the customers’ view or the company’s view. Furthermore, it should address the issue of formality and informality, to ensure it adopts the appropriate tone.
Not only can a company that is active on social media platforms improve its image, it can also gauge the success of its campaigns, maximize customer loyalty, and tap new customer segments.
Lufthansa uses Twitter as a support channel
Lufthansa actively maintains profiles on Facebook, XING, and other platforms, but Twitter is its real secret weapon. Europe’s largest airline uses the microblogging community to inform customers about current prices and provide help with issues such as strikes or chaos caused by adverse weather conditions. As Marcus Casey, director of e-commerce and mobile at Lufthansa, revealed, Twitter is accessed more frequently when there are disruptions to air traffic – and he had the figures to prove it. When a cloud of volcanic ash recently hovered over Europe causing flights to be cancelled, Casey explained, Twitter was used successfully as an information and support channel, which provided help by responding to individual tweets – and sometimes even offered more up-to-date information than the Lufthansa hotline. Twitter is therefore an important communication medium and information channel for Lufthansa, as well as a barometer of trends and public opinion.
Coca-Cola – free tickets for soccer fans
Coca-Cola launched a very special campaign on schülerVZ, the German social networking platform for high school students, for the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship. Users had the chance to win free tickets to a soccer match. But there was a catch. Two soccer fans from opposing teams (for example, FC Bayern and Hamburger SV) had to get together to win a pair of free tickets using the Fan Fair Generator. Up to 60,000 users took part, and some 54,000 fan pairs were formed.
Many people are familiar with the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck, which tours German cities in December. But Coca-Cola’s Christmas activities on YouTube and schülerVZ were also highly successful. Last year, users had the opportunity to decorate their virtual homes with Christmas lights – and the campaign clocked up more than 1.5 million visits. Around 210,000 houses were adorned with festive cheer.
Dr. Oetker aims for individuality
Dr. Oetker is one of the world’s leading producers of baking aids, cake and dessert mixes, and frozen pizza. In Germany, the company set up its own online community Rezeptwiese, which translates as Recipe Meadow. The community currently has around 15,000 members, who have already exchanged a staggering 45,000 recipes. According to Martin Stodolka, head of marketing and customer loyalty at Dr. Oetker, the company does not doubt the immense success and huge coverage of Facebook. But because Dr. Oetker sells other products and uses other recipes in Germany than in, for example, Turkey, the company prefers to take an individual approach and operate its own online communities. There’s even an iPhone app for budding amateur chefs to get the latest recipes.
Keep it simple
If an organization decides to use Facebook, Twitter or the like, it has to be clear about its objectives. Internal guidelines also have to be established: Which employees should blog on which subjects? Where are there restrictions? How can blogs, Web site content, and Twitter profiles be linked together to the greatest advantage?
At the Web 2.0 Congress, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, recommended that people who blog or tweet in their employer’s name should not face too many restrictions, to keep them motivated. However, many Enterprise 2.0 platforms are still too complicated. As with the iPhone, he said, ease of use and clarity are what really count.