Sample Essay on Integrating Social Media in the Operation of Ritchie’s Warehouses

Question1

The chosen business is work scenario c. That is, integrating social media in the operation of Ritchie’s Warehouses. Richie’s Warehouses have been operating in Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John cities for over 40 years. The company’s management is considering launching a social media marketing platform to enhance its reach to more potential customers. The three difficult tenets of social business to implement are nos.5 (engage the right community for business purpose), 7 (eliminate all potential barriers to participation. Ease of use is essential) and 10 (the most effective social business activities are deeply integrated into the flow of work).

The most popular contemporary social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Wikis. Depending how it is adopted, social media marketing can either promote or kill a brand. If well launched content properly managed, social media has the potential of increasing sales and consumption of the product in question because of exposure to a large customer base. However, the following difficulties abound in the implantation of the afore-listed social media tenets:

       Engage the right community for business purpose: Social media offers a platform for creating and sharing contents as well as comment and like other user’s posts. In this case, the aim is to use social media platform as a marketing tool to reach many potential customers without geographical and demographic barriers. Since the network user aims at reaching the highest number of viewers without his control, it becomes to get the right community for one’s business. Like Facebook, creating a Facebook page for a brand implies positioning the brand before more than one billion users across the world. The content creator, in most cases, has no control of the viewers who has never encountered before. Some will launch critical attacks to the brand that might affect it negatively. Others may make positive comments or like or even dislike the brand without showing any further connection to it. Others may still just do nothing about it. In over one billion social media users, it becomes difficult to determine the right community that can meet the business objective of Ritchie’s Warehouse.

         Eliminate all potential barriers to participation. Ease of use is essential: social media content for an organization will target potential customers, employees and other stakeholders and partners. There are many barriers to the implementation of social media in an organization. The first barrier is resistance. Many people, especially the older generation, will resist such an initiative that requires some level of tech-savvy skills. Access to social media also requires an access to the internet. Not all employees in an organization and customers alike may have access to the internet. Therefore, eliminating limited access to the internet as a barrier is difficult and can be impossible. The complexity of social media is a major barrier to the implementation of social media marketing. Simplification of the platform to the base level where everyone can participate in it is not an easy task.

The most effective social business activities are deeply integrated into the flow of work: It is difficult to integrate the whole organization’s workflow in the social media strategy while still retain its ability to attract the attention of the end users. First, there are internal organizational barriers to social media such as resistance to change, age differences, limited access to computers and internet-accessing gadgets among others. It may not be easy to eliminate all the internal barriers to enhance organization-wide implementation of social media platform. Secondly, it is difficult to take the whole work flow of the warehouse on the social media platform while maintaining it brief to attract the attention of impatient social media users. Many end users will close a detailed technical page that requires comprehensive reading to understand it.

 

Question 2

The chosen business is work scenario is b. That is, implementing social media strategy in coffee bean micro-roaster business. The business has been operating in Saint John city with a specialization in direct trade of fresh organic coffee. The business owner plans to expand into selling roasted coffee in restaurants and directly to consumers in the region. The long term goal is to open a mobile or brick-and-mortar outlet for selling beans and coffee brews. This implies the need to create potential markets by increasing awareness about the brand of his business before opening the outlet. Social media strategy integrating Web and mobile can be an effective tool for executing the planned business strategy. Social media can be used to drive online marketing to popularise the brand as well as gather sufficient market intelligence required for making expansion decisions. In this case, the social media marketing strategy will include developing a unified communication, crowd-sourcing and innovation management strategies, workforce collaboration enterprise and content management. An intranet is required for managing internal and customer communication at the social strategy level. The intranet offers an internal information sharing platform for the business.

Instant messaging, e-mails, voice communication (IP telephony), presence information and desktop sharing can be implemented as a unified communication strategy to promote workforce collaboration. Workforce collaboration is used as dashboard for information and knowledge sharing. Tools such as SharePoint and e-mails can be implemented for internal communication among company members. Innovation management strategy should capture both business innovation and technology innovations. In this case, business innovations entail the ongoing re-engineering, branding and market positioning to achieve the business objectives. Technology innovations may entails review of information communication tools and platforms used to communicate with the market.

Once the back-end platform has been established, the business need to develop an online digital brand for coffee products, social media policy, digital marketing options (such as e-mail campaign messages, videos and pods), e-commerce sale strategy and the supply chain. The internet (Web) and mobile platform provide an interface between the business/ brand and its potential customers. For the web, social network sites such as Wikis, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn provide suitable platforms for presenting the product to potential customers. The platform does not need any development or customization. The company only need to open social media pages with either some or all of the afore-listed social network sites for online product presence. Besides maintaining online presence through managed social media pages, the company can also engage podcasting and online ads to increase its brand popularity. The company also need to develop a social media policy that will guide the online conduct of employees as agents of the company. It is a framework of reference on whom and how to respond to a customer inquiry or comment about the company’s digital brand Direct-emailing of the customers also falls under the internet strategy.

For mobile as a digital marketing strategy, mobile content enablement and platform is required for messaging. Special mobile applications can also be developed to enable interactive interfacing between the customer and the business. Such a platform will enable digital marketers to engage customers through mobile messaging options.

The combination of the internet (Web) and mobile forms an effective digital marketing strategy through which the business can expand its reach to more customers. For instance, the integral strategy will be used for e-commerce where a customer can place an order for a product and pay for it online and await for delivery depending on the agreed arrangement. Giving customer the opportunity to buy goods and pay for them from the comfort of their houses can increase sales and profitability of a business venture. An online payment solution is necessary to realise e-commerce. Simplification of the social business strategy is essential to enhance widespread participation. According to the authors of the book, technology complexity is one of the major barriers to participation in social business initiatives.

Question 3

Participation as a strategic technique of social media marketing makes the most sense for rolling out Ritchie’s Warehousing business to social media platform. Participation embodies the sixth and the seventh social business tenets. According to the sixth social business tenet, participation can take any direction. Therefore, Ritchie’s Warehouses should expect different conversation drifts both from within the organization and without. Although it is hoped that all employees should support the social media strategy, some will not support it while others will criticize the initiative. Preparation is essential in ensuring that both positive and negative conversational directions are used to achieve the company’s marketing objectives. According to the authors of the book, both constructive and destructive conversations have the potential to help the enterprise improve its product and service offering. The management of Ritchie’s warehousing ought to use negative internal criticism to ensure that if not all, most of the employees are on-boarded in the social media strategy. Training of all employees to built change management capacity may be a necessary preparation to ensure success of the initiative.

The company also need to develop a proactive social media policy and ensure that each of the employees is well trained to ensure effective online conducts that promote the image of the company. A careless emotional response to another user’s comment can deal a serious blow to the brand. Similarly, a careless post in the social media on behalf of the organization can dent the company’s image. Negative feedback from participants (employees, partners and customers) should offer an opportunity for brand re-designing and improvement of positioning and product offering. Introduction of social media strategy in the business signals a change of business direction. It implies the uptake of online information technologies to promote the business brand and drive up sales. This is a typical change program that requires a change management team. Therefore, it is important for Ritchie’s warehouses to establish and train a change management team to coordinate the implement process of the new business initiative. In general, preparation allows the business management to take advantage of inputs from participants.

The seventh tenet of social business is elimination of all potential barriers to participation. Process complexity is one of the main barriers to social media participation. For instance, not many people can access computers. Therefore, Ritchie’s Warehouses should simplify the social media marketing strategy to the mobile level where participants can still access it via their mobile phones, ipads and other potable hand-held gadgets. Thus, a mobile application platform should be developed for those who do not have access to computers but have mobile phones. Therefore, simplification is essential in eliminating all barriers to enhance widespread participation in the social media. Widespread participation is essential in creating positive communities for business as well as capturing the general market’s response to a brand. Therefore, it is essential to eliminate all barriers to participation to enhance widespread participation.

Ritchie’s Warehouses is planning to embrace social media marketing to promote its brand image and curve a new market share from the online communities. Company-wide participation by all organizational members is essential in ensuring that all the views of employees are integrated in digital brand positioning. Elimination of all barriers is important in preparing each organizational member to respond to a customer query regarding the brand, either online or offline according to the established social media policy. Business re-engineering is an essential strategy in a competitive market environment. Encouraging customer participation in the social media helps the organizational management to understand the weaknesses and strengths of the brand. This information is essential as the business will leverage on its strength to overcome its weakness for business growth.

 

Question 4

 

The three interesting things that I have learnt from Hinchcliffe and Fitzpatrick’s 2012 book are (1) social media as a driver of global business opportunity; (2) various social media marketing platforms and (3) the ten tenets of social business.

When the needs of the business, the target audience and the business objectives are known, social media can be used to drive business. Knowing business needs entails identification of business marketing objectives. In this case, social media campaigns through Facebook, Twitter and You tube can be used to promote market awareness of a given brand if image promotion was the objective. Increased market awareness also has the potential to increase sales and consequently improve business performance of the organization. Knowing which social media platform to use is also an essential strategy for driving business. It this case, one has to select a media platform that has the potential to meet the business objectives. For instance, Facebook has over one billion users. Therefore, it offers the best platform of exposing a business brand to the highest number of viewers possible. It is also important for an organization to determine the personality of the social media page and the target audience. Launching an organization to a social media platform without the right personality and content manager can cause an image crisis. In this case, it is important to have the social media page manager and a pro-active social media policy to ensure that social media meets the business objectives. If effectively launched, social media can be used to undertake a global market research to gain business intelligence about a brand. For instance, a Facebook campaign can be used to research about the popularity of a global brand such as Coca Cola at a minimal cost and within a short period of time.

The second thing I learnt from the book is the various social media platforms that can be used in social media marketing. They include social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Blogs and Wikis. All these inter-net based platforms can be used by organizations to market their products online. The social network platforms have different strengths that can be tapped to advance a company’s marketing objectives. For instance, Facebook and Twitter are good for crowd sourcing. You tube is good for posting and sharing online podcasts and videos. Blogs and Wikis are good for general brand information dissemination. The main objective of using a given social media platform for marketing is to increase sales by attracting buyers. Therefore, it is essential that one weighs the options before settling on a given social media platform.

I also learnt the ten tenets of social business and their implications for social media marketing. I have learnt how all the ten tenets can be used to form For instance; the first tenet contends that anyone can participate in social media marketing. The second tenet is creation of a shared value system which can take the form of a business objective or social media policy. This ensures that all information shared in the social media is directed towards addition of value to the business and the community. The third tenet is focussing social media participation to the business outcomes. The forth tenet is targeting the largest audience possible to achieve the desired results. Just as a majority is required to win an election, a critical mass is required to drive a revolution.

The fifth and the sixth tenets are engaging the right community for the business objective and bi-directional participation respectively. In the later case, organizations should be prepared to take advantage of both positive and negative conservations about a digital brand image. The seventh tenet is about elimination of potential barrier to social media participation to achieve desired results while the eighth tenet is listening and continuous engagement with relevant social conversations that have business potential. The ninth tenet is about the social media conversation language (casual language tone is proposed) while the tenth proposes deep integration of social business activities with the business work-flow

 

Question 5

Generally, I have learnt various tips on how to attract more followers in the social media, how to integrate social media and blogging, how to optimize a social media profile from Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick’s book. The book discusses various tips on how to optimize one’s social media profile. I did not know that trivial things like the size of one’s profile photo, profile cover page and linkages with other social media profiles are important profile optimization techniques until I read the book. Using Facebook’s example, Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick contend that a right-sized photo and a cover image attracts the attention of media users to one’s profile. Thus, effective social media branding requires a well dimensioned profile photograph and branded cover photos and images. The authors also contend that complete filling of one’s social media profile fields improves the profile as a brand.

Another profile optimization tip that I learnt from the book is linkage of social media profiles. For instance, one can optimize his Facebook profile by linking it with other social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Linking social media profiles optimizes the probability of viewing. For instance, by viewing another user’s post on LinkedIn, one is easily prompted to visit a linked Facebook profit to know more about the individual behind the two profiles. Another profile optimization tip is the symmetry of the profile picture. Contrary to my expectations, Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick advise that a symmetrical profile photograph makes one’s profile less interesting. Their observation is that viewers are more attracted to asymmetrical profile photos. Thus, putting an asymmetrical photograph on one’s profile increases the possibility of viewers landing on his social media page.

The second thing I learned from the book is how to attract more followers in the social media. From the book, trivial things such as being valuable, being clever, being gracious, and being organized, being dramatic, being optimal and being active and curious are essential strategies of attracting followers in the social media. On curiosity, Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick advises social media users to experiment constantly and to watch and follow what social network users are doing. Being active is about updating one’s profile frequently. Boldness is about declaration of one’s stand on an issue and expressing his personality. Jumping into topical issues while the conversation is still hot also has the potential of increasing one’s followers. Dramatic users add visuals, user-generated contents and texts on top of visuals to attract followers. Organization through consistency about an issue, use of calendar and right media tools also increases one’s followers in the media. Grace is about showing little love and kindness to other people’s contents. That is, posting light comments on what sounds controversial to you and giving thanks to people who shares your contents.

That is, the frequency of one’s update influences the number of viewers and followers. According to the book, following smores (people with large following) improves one’s probability of being followed by others. Smores may not reply to your text message but appearing to have something in common with them is a selling point for someone who wants to increase the number of followers. Another way of increasing the number of followers is to follow all the people who are following you.

Another tip I have learned from the book on increasing the number of social media profile following is the use of auto-update softwares such as Buffer in twitter to schedule updates. Auto-update keeps a user’s profile updated even when he has not accessed it. According to Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick, the use of expressions such as ‘what no one tells you about…’ and ‘How to rock…’ also has a huge attraction potential to increase one’s following on twitter.