Detroit Still Has A Long Way To Go

Recently Men’s Health posted the Top 100 Socially Networked Cities in the U.S. There were a few surprises, especially with some cities that I expected to see in the top 10 (Chicago #39, New York #53).  There was also a little disappointment to see Detroit ranked #94 in the study and listed under “least socially networked.”  Yes, I know it’s ridiculous to put any weight in a study like this however, it did make me realize that the place I call home has a long way to go.  I sometimes forget that not everyone uses Foursquare or Gowalla to check in.  People I know still don’t get Twitter.  What is Instagram?  Tumblr…huh?  I think you get the idea.

This ranking goes further than being socially networked.  It goes further than the many entrepreneurs I know that are determined to open up shop in the city and look for their opportunities to make a difference Detroit’s rebirth.  What is going to actually make a difference?  I think it has to be the adoption of not just the social tools I mentioned earlier, but also the adoption of the technologies that are available today by the large corporations in the area.

Look at what Ford has done in the social space.  They are leveraging the tools.  They have created a personality behind the blue oval.  They are developing vehicles that leverage the new connected customer and making the car more than just a car.  Don’t blink.  Now they are looking to the cloud.

The biggest thing that we can do as “socially connected” people is educate.  We have a network that we should leverage and begin to find ways to teach others.  The biggest asset we have is not a particular product or service.  It’s actually our intellectual property and what we know about technology and the web that we must share.

I still see companies trying things they’ve always done before.  Marketing has changed.  PR has changed.  Sales has changed.  Customer service has changed.  All because of the web and the social tools at our disposal.  I’m not suggesting the web is the cure for everything (but it’s close!).  What I am suggesting is that the web has now become more of an integral part of how people and companies do business in the world today.  The “traditional” methods of doing business are now historical methods.  The “future” technologies are now current technologies.

It’s time to educate so Detroit can move up from least socially networked to one of the top socially networked cities.  What are you doing to teach others?  Start by inviting them to 2 upcoming events this April…Ignite Detroit on April 14th and Future Midwest on April 28-29.  After that, do something with the knowledge you’ll gain and the connections you’ll make.  #makeithappen

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Get Glue…evolving the “check in”?

Location based services have been the talk of the tech community over the last year.  Foursquare, Gowalla and now Facebook Places are being adopted and used more as people get into the game.  People share their location in their Facebook profile or their Twitter stream and it’s provided another avenue for people to connect and make comments.

What I think is yet to be solved is how marketers can leverage these services to get their brands in front of people who might share some information with their networks.  This answer might be coming soon now that Get Glue has jumped into the “check in” scene.  At a high level, Get Glue allows users to “check in” to their leisure activities:

  • Watching a TV Show
  • Listening to Music
  • Reading a Book
  • Watching a Movie
  • Playing a Video Game
  • Thinking about a Topic
  • Chatting about a Celebrity
  • Drinking Wine

Now where I think brands can play is in any of the “paid media” activities like TV, Music, Movies, Games or Music.  Imagine a brand, Chevrolet for example, developing a promotion that encourages viewers to check in to the show, Glee, and watch it in it’s entirety INCLUDING the commercials for its brand?  I think there is still undiscovered opportunity here that might allow brands to get something for the millions in media dollars they spend each year.

When I watched the Super Bowl last year, I paid close attention to my Twitter stream when the commercials aired.  It was amazing to see the other game that was going on…rating the commercials.  Could Get Glue be a tool that advertisers could leverage as they continue to look for new ways get in front of consumers?  I guess we’ll find out when the first advertiser gives it a shot.

What do you think?  Would you use it?

For a great blog post about Get Glue, CLICK HERE to read Richard MacManus’ (from Read Write Web) interview with Get Glue founder, Alex Iskold.

Why I Think Foursquare Matters

Over the past week, I’ve seen quite a few blogs and articles on the relevance of Foursquare and any other location based service.  Titles like Why Most Marketers Should Forgo Foursquare and The Time for Foursquare Marketing is…Later? might lead you to believe companies should wait to see if there is any benefit to these services.

These articles go on to provide statistics on the usage.  “Only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps.”  That percentage might seem small but I would argue that although small the opportunity to lead is greater with limited risk.  My friend Gini Dietrich broke it down this way in her blog post about the location based technologies:

Worldwide, nearly 2 billion people use the Internet and, in North America, there are more than 265 million. If 4 percent use Foursquare, that’s 80 million people worldwide and nearly 11 million people in North America. If you break it down even further and say you only want to reach the 1 percent who check in at least once a week, that’s still 800,000 worldwide and 106,000 people in North America.

If it were up to me, I think a test market with the sample size of 106,000 is enough to get learnings on the best way to use these services.  There are enough ideas to test and the brand or marketer that can figure it out first (congratulate Starbucks on being one of the first) will be a step ahead of those just starting to think about it.

So why am I writing another blog post about the location-based services?  I have a personal example of why these can be an extension of a company’s marketing efforts.  Last week, I was in the process of getting a loan to buy a car at Cornerstone Community Financial.  I was there a couple of times and checked in on Foursquare eventually getting the mayorship of that branch.  As I went through my day yesterday, I received this tweet from Cornerstone telling me because I was mayor, I won a $5 gift card to Blockbuster!

This isn’t a huge deal but this is what it told me:

  • Cornerstone was paying attention to who visited their business by using the social web
  • They value their customers by rewarding them for repeat business

I’m now impressed with them and am thinking about changing banks as I listen to Julianne complain about PNC as she does our monthly budget.  (As a side note, if you go to PNC’s Twitter page, they clearly state the account is “intended for distribution only.”)  I think most of us as consumers might find even this little token of appreciation enough to think about a switch.  All this for just a check in!

The final thing I’ll leave you with is this video from Charlie Wollborg.  He talks about how Foursquare can be used to encourage others to vote.

Imagine the possibilities if you take advantage of a minuscule 4% of the online adult population.  Does it matter to you?  Is it worth the risk?

4 Opportunities for Buick and GMC

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while but finally decided (after some encouragement from my friend Gini Dietrich, a.k.a. Wonder Woman) to put my ideas out there.  I’ve talked a lot about why I think the social web is important.  Now I want to give some practical ways I believe large companies (like mine) can benefit from the social tools and begin to build their community.

There is a huge opportunity to truly interact with our customers through the tools that are now commonplace with most other companies.  Last month, I blogged about how important the customer was and posted a video from the Saturn Homecoming.  Today’s post expands on that.  These are 4 strategies that I’d love to see implemented at Buick and GMC.

1. Develop a loyalty rewards program
I believe Loyalty Reward programs have tremendous value.  Think about how many people wanted to rack up their airline miles for free tickets?  I’d take this to a different level for us.  I’d establish a Buick and GMC Loyalty Rewards program for owners.  Once you buy a vehicle from us, we reward you with a baseline amount of points.  These points can be used for discounted subscriptions for OnStar and XM.  What about using the points to attend special events sponsored by Buick and GMC?  Additional points can be earned when purchasing accessories or doing regular maintenance at a Buick and GMC dealer.  Why not reward someone for making a major purchase decision in your favor?

2. Interact with the 47,000 Facebook “likes”
Humanize your brand.  Give it a personality.  Develop a community and an environment people can interact with people.  For one thing, I’d showcase some of our employees.  Who is the face behind the all new Buick Regal?  What do you want to know about the Marketing Manager for the GMC Terrain?  (Ford recently did this with Explorer.)  I believe this would change some of the perceptions that currently exist about our company and the type of consumers we attract if they got to know the employees behind the logos.

What about showcasing the people that bought our products?  Facebook is really their forum.  As a marketer, I want to know who bought from us.  Encourage new owners to post pictures with their new Buick LaCrosse or their GMC Sierra and give us a comment as to why they love it and share their story!

3. Start a Corporate Blog
This idea started swirling around my head after I read this post from Social Media Examiner.  It talks about the influence blogs can have in search rankings.

  1. Adds naturally occurring, keyword-rich pages.
  2. Increases the potential for incoming links from high-quality websites.

A blog is one of the best ways to continually add pages to a website that generate relevant and reputable links.

If you want more reasons to do a corporate blog, Ted Defren just published this post on his blog.  In short:

  1. Blogging gives your company a voice
  2. Blogs are better place to direct people than your corporate website
  3. Blogging enforces respectfulness
  4. Blogging is timeless
  5. Blogging enforces content creation

Another reason to start a corporate blog is to further give the company a personality and build our consumer community.  Is there content that we could offer that talks about things other than the vehicles we sell?  Could it be social causes?  What about biographies of our leadership or employees?

4. Foursquare
Location based services are the current rage.  Foursquare is offering window clings to companies like Whole Foods to display so customers will check in and learn about special offers these stores offer.  Why not take this same approach to our dealerships or locations where we have sponsored events?  This could tie back in to the Loyalty Reward program I mentioned above!

The final thing I’ll leave you with is this.  Joseph Jaffe talks a lot about customer service in his book, Flip the Funnel.  Last night, I came across this quote as I was reading his book:

Customer service is a front-office strategic imperative that belongs at the same table as strategic planning, marketing communications, branding and advertising.

I’d replace “Customer Service” with “Customer Experience”.  Either way, this needs a seat at the strategic planning table.  This is where leadership buys in to the plan and is willing to invest in it.  With the web as a platform for consumers to get their voices heard quickly, you need to make the investment in money and man power to participate in this conversation.

By no means are these ideas “new”, but they may be “new” to my industry.  I just see these as great opportunities to integrate into our traditional marketing efforts.  What do you think?  Would this work for you as a consumer?

More Future Midwest 2010

If you are at all interested in “what’s next” in the social web, then you have to begin to investigate tools like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Brightkite.  These location based technologies provide an INFINITE amount of data that can be analyzed and used to connect with consumers.  The video (from Simple Geo Inc.) below was presented by Ken Burbary (@kenburbary) on Saturday of Future Midwest 2010.  It visually shows all “check ins” from this year’s SXSW in Austin, TX.

More to come.  In the meantime, this was eye opening for me and how data and analytics can provide the framework for a strategic social web strategy.