Tech Insights: Tips on Maximising Social Media for your Business

Tech Insights is a new series where we speak to experts in the DWEN community about hot technology topics.

Previous topics have included Cloud and Mobility. A forthcoming article will cover Data Management & Security. 

This third article in the series shares the knowledge of two entrepreneurs who have successfully navigated the maze of social media and are are reaping the rewards for their businesses. As Danae Ringelmann (pictured right) and Heather Gorringe explain, social networking is a means to increase awareness and loyalty, improve perception and gain insights.

Danae Ringelmann co-founded crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to democratize fundraising. Passionate about helping artists and entrepreneurs embrace crowdfunding, Danae speaks often at conferences. Recent speaking engagements include SXSW, MAD Hong Kong, TED, Big Omaha. Fast Company Magazine recently named Danae one of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Technology. Prior to Indiegogo, Danae was a Securities Analyst at Cowen & Co. where she covered entertainment companies including Pixar, Lionsgate, Disney, and Electronic Arts.  Danae also focused on cable network, NFL, newspaper and hedge fund clientele while at JPMorgan's Investment Bank and Private Bank

Heather Gorringe is co-founder, with her husband, of Wiggly Wigglers and The Great British Florist, both companies selling produce from their 1200 acre farm in the UK. Eco-gardening company Wiggly Wigglers was the UK’s Small Business Champion of 2005 and in 2008 won its first ever global award - the Dell Small Business Excellence. Heather is a 2007 Nuffield Scholar. The Nuffield Farmers Scholarship selects 20 or so farmers or similar to travel the world and spend time studying a subject that may be of benefit to them and their business and also the wider rural community. Her topic was Social Media and what it could deliver to farmers and the rural community.

TNW: When did your company start using social media? Which platforms do you use?

DR: Indiegogo launched in 2008 to empower people across the world to fund what matters to them.  We’re the only crowdfunding site that launched to be an equal opportunity platform, meaning we care deeply about creating an experience where people can easily connect and fund via shared passions.  To achieve this, we’ve integrated social media from day 1 into the campaign experience. 

For example, when people fund a campaign, they’re prompted automatically to share their action with followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook. 

Such seamless integration turns passionate funders into evangelizers with a click of a button, thereby organically building the community and funder base around the campaign. 

Since crowdfunding is new and different for every campaign, the best way to learn how to socially amplify one’s campaign is to learn what others have done successfully. Therefore, as part of one of our first and continued initiatives, Indiegogo has been using social media to share success stories and surface strong campaigns for others to learn from and enjoy.  

As a meritocratic platform, Indiegogo needed a way of selecting campaigns to highlight via social media, so we developed the gogofactor – our proprietary algorithm that measures the activity of a campaign and the responsiveness of its community.  The higher the gogofactor, the more likely the campaign will end up on Indiegogo’s home page, high in the browse pages, and in our newsletter and social media outlets.  We use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+ to ensure our community discovers the campaigns that are doing a great job activating their community into funders too.

We also use platforms like Instagram and Vine to engage with our community and have a little fun showing life around the office.

In turn, we see our campaigners leveraging the full gamut of social channels beyond those mentioned above to connect with likeminded audiences around the world.

HG: Wiggly Wigglers started to use Social Media in 2005 with a blog and a podcast. Now we mainly use Twitter and Facebook and Video, but still have a blog and are looking to restart our podcast later this year. We are starting to get to grips with Pinterest and Instagram.

TNW: What is the main objective in using social media (authority building, service desk, sales channel, customer service etc.)?

DR: We use social media to empower our campaign owners and establish ourselves as crowdfunding experts.  We integrate social media triggers and functionality to organically and automatically amplify the audiences of our campaign owners.  This social media integration helps Indiegogo campaigns not just reach their inner circle of friends, family and followers, but also their circles, and their circles’ circles as well.  Through the gogofactor, we help campaigns find stranger funders on Indiegogo as well.  One customer recently said nearly 80% of funding came from funders they didn’t know – either friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, or Indiegogo browsers.

We also use social media to educate our customers and respond to their questions.  All through our social media channels, we share success stories, webinars, and data insights on factors that correlate to funding success—on our blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and beyond. Folks will often ask questions about Indiegogo on these social platforms, so we make sure we’re there to hear them and provide them with answers. 

Tip 1: It’s important for people to know that, when they’re commenting on our Facebook page or responding to us on Twitter, they’re dealing with real people who want them to succeed—not automated machines.

HG: Our aim is to use social media to help our customers feel part of the Wiggly community and encourage them to talk to us using the tools they use in every day life. 

In particular we have found Social Media really useful in the following aspects.

Listening: 

Tip 2: The Social media tools are a great way of listening to your customers, your advocates, your suppliers, and your critics.

Where else can you overhear so many conversations and filter through to the relevant ones to help business?

Building a Community: Social Media has helped us build a genuine connection between our business and our customers and potential customers. It suits us with an informal but direct approach.

Tip 3: Sharing stories and tips can be much more useful to a customer than the very salesy approaches that traditional marketing led promotion delivers.

PR: Journalists use twitter every day to source stories for their reporting.

Tip 4: We are easily able to court the journalists and provide them with useful information to build our reputation through word of mouth and editorial. 

Sales and Loyalty: Increasingly customers are using online recommendations to find out what others think about brands, shops, food etc etc. The power of word of mouth marketing has always been obvious - online word of mouth is even better in my view as the message has the ability to travel so far and wide so quickly. 

TNW: How do your employees use social media? Do you issue a directive on how to use it?

DR: One of Indiegogo's values is Authenticity.  We only hire people who bring their entire selves to work, and who fundamentally believe in our mission—to empower people to fund what matters to them, whatever that might be. We bring the same equal opportunity of our platform to our workplace. Just as we don't judge our customers and tell them what they can and can’t raise money for, we also don't heavily govern our employees’ social media use.  Instead, we offer guidance and best practices (like we do with our customers), and we trust that the smart authentic people that we've hired will remain true to themselves and their passions - which is 100% in-sync with Indiegogo’s mission.

HG: Our florists use Facebook to post photos of the bouquets and flowers they are producing and share our customers photos and thoughts etc. Tanya is our mistress of money (and sorts out our accounts) - she uses it to share behind the scenes at Wigglys and support our marketing. Farmer Phil gives the farmers point of view, and I manage the overall twitter and facebook account where the aim is to encourage our customers to share their ideas and experiences that are relevant to other customers, in whatever format they like.

At the moment on our Facebook page people are sharing videos of feeding their birds, we are being tagged on Facebook where we have arranged some lovely wedding flowers, and on Twitter the current conversation is around natural slug control.

Tip 5: Being able to easily share customers experiences helps us to build brand loyalty and also reduces the need for individual emails.

We use a very simple Social media policy by David Coursey:

Tip 6: “Treat others the way you would like to be treated yourself. Don’t Lie, Don’t cheat, Don’t Steal, Don’t reveal”

In real life this works as follows

1: Listen first: Listen to the community wherever they are first. Contribute when you can add value to a conversation.

2: Be yourself: If you want to share information about your company, don’t use it to directly promote products and services unless you are absolutely sure that they will be useful and wanted.

3: Be respectful: Even if you disagree with other people – keep your comments polite and reasonable.

4:  Be Honest: If you are engaging in a forum or posting information use your real name and make sure people know your company if the information involves the shop or business. Your profile is an important part of this – ensure it represents you well.

5: Confidentiality: Your privacy  is important – only share the personal details you are comfortable with.

6: Copyright laws: Unless you have permission don’t use content or images found online.

7: Use your common sense: Never respond to comments or content without due care and consideration about the implications. If in doubt – stop…

TNW: What results have you seen from your social media channels? 

DR:

In a nutshell, we’ve seen happier customers, a stronger community, and greater loyalty because of our social media efforts. 

Our channels have proven to be invaluable ways to connect with our community and provide support for our campaign owners and contributors, helping them connect with audiences that are more distant from their immediate networks. Social media has also given us an excellent channel with which to promote our high gogofactor campaigns, exposing them to those who may not have seen them otherwise. This, in turn, raises awareness about the power of crowdfunding to those who may not have been previously aware.

HR: We gain around 7% of our web traffic as a direct result of Social Media, but the value I think is in the engagement. We have over 2900 Facebook members to our group and between us as a business we have over 9000 followers on Twitter. Many of these people are advocates and actively encourage other people to check us out and buy from us. We have had articles in Newspapers and magazines as a direct result of our Social Media Channels, and some of these have been in other countries not just the UK. We have taken part in numerous radio interviews, appeared on TV as well as the more obvious blog features and links. 

It is impossible for us to measure accurately all the benefits social media has brought us but bearing in mind that we live in a village with a population of 63 and absolutely no passing trade I think it is obvious that social media delivers on every level to us.

Trying to measure every aspect of social media is a bit like trying to measure every conversation you have in your life and every mention of your company by other people.

The tools are just that. The conversations are the useful bit and as with everything else, what you get out is directly related to what you put in.

TNW: What is your biggest concern with social media?

DR: As an equal opportunity platform with thousands of very diverse campaigns raising money around the world, consistently making sure that we're giving our community the most relevant content to them via social media can prove to be a challenge.  For example, Twitter doesn't give us the option to serve tweets to specific audiences, so we’ll need to layer on more personalization efforts on top of our social media efforts ourselves.

HG: I can see that one of the main threats is that we are becoming bombarded with information to the point, where it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. The same goes with the tools, there are so many to use you have to pick the ones that are likely to work the best for you and focus on those.

TNW: and the biggest advantage?

DR:

The advantages of social media are truly unlimited for Indiegogo, but I would definitely say that the biggest one is being able to get real-time feedback from our community.

It gives us a powerful tool to identify what we're doing well and what we can improve on, giving us the ability to work as efficiently as possible to keep our customers happy and deliver interesting and helpful resources and education.  Social media is also particularly important for anyone running an Indiegogo campaign because it provides them with a channel through which they can reach out to their networks. Social media is the quickest and most effective way for campaign owners to do this. Sharing campaigns through social media provides campaigners with exposure to a potential audience that can only be achieved through the online channels that crowdfunding provides. 

HG:

This is true revolution. Our children, our customers,  suppliers, advocates (and enemies) are already there online now using social media.

They can share information globally at the press of a key. Thats's amazing. It's word of mouth marketing with really fast global reach and it's free to use. I cannot imagine our business without social media. 

The Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN)celebrates the wonderful accomplishments of women in business, whilst looking forward at how we can progress and learn from each other. Natural networkers and relationship builders, women have innate flair for entrepreneurship. With DWEN, Dell is helping women in business to expand their networks while offering technology capabilities designed to help them innovate and grow their businesses.

The Tech Insights series is a spin-off from our hugely successful The NextWomen DWEN Interview Series, which profiles the world's most influential female founders, investors and decision makers. The interviews were so popular that we are creating a new series, speaking to experts in the DWEN community about hot technology topics.

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