Online Marketing by an Undergraduate

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Radian6 Case Study – Embarq Telecommunications

This morning, I read my first case study (I know, it wasn’t a white paper!). Published by Radian6, this social media company explains how they helped take telecommunications company Embarq’s social media strategy to the next level.

I like this case study because of the insight I get into how Radian6 adds value to their clients. I can pull my favorite elements of Radian6 and mash them together with other best practives in this space, helping me create a new business to serve my local community.

In my post, I want to walk through the stages of this case study, and provide my thoughts on each one. You can download the case study here: http://www.radian6.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/embarqcasestudy.pdf

The Challenge

A spin off from Sprint, Embarq faced restrictive legacy online communications policies. They wanted to get involved with social media, but how?

Listening to Stakeholders

Amazing part of this story – Embarq spent one year (ONE YEAR!) developing a social media plan. Not only that, they spent NINE MONTHS listening to their customers, prospects, and competitors. On the one hand, this is only my first case study, and maybe this length of time is the norm, but to me, that just sounds like a long time. On the other hand, after spending the time it takes to birth a baby listening to your stakeholders and competitors, you will probably have a deep understanding of their needs, a leg up when the interaction begins (if ever!).

INSIGHT: Embarq used free tools to aggregate all the information online.  ACTION: Assemble a list of the free tools available to me (eventually cut the list down to the good ones) .

With these free tools at their disposal, Embarq saw their customers and prospects talking positively and negatively about them online, which they saw as a good sign because people were talking.

The inefficient organization of their customer data made aggregation time consuming, inaccurate, and not actionable. Seeing the limitation of the free tools, Embarq needed help getting to the next level. Enter Radian6.

Engaging

Radian6 developed a dashboard that provided two huge huge benefits to the Embarq team: 1. With information streamlined and organized the Embarq team could quickly delegate actions among different departments and act in real time, 2. When the time came, the C-suite could easily understand the presentation of data and they could track customer trends in real time.

With the Radian6 solution in place, Embarq’s next step was to engage. Planning to roll out slowly, their plans were dashed when the employees jumped in within weeks. What Embarq did next, reminds me of the lessons in Marcus Buckingham’s management classic, First Break all the Rules.

The Embarq team’s desired outcome was improved customer engagement, improved customer troubleshooting, and an improved brand image. Rather than defining the path to the desired outcome and squashing their employees outreach in favor of the “plan”, the Embarq team encouraged their employees to embrace this social media outreach, recognizing another way to success other than the one designed. Their instincts were right, the employee engagement was succeeding.

The Metrics

Prove it to the C-suite! That is the last stage of many social media endeavors, prove your worth using data.  To start, the team compared the success of the social media to other customer promotions within the company. Here I find another lesson — when presenting to an audience (like the C-suite) start with the familiar before getting fancy.  The Embarq team used familiar metrics in a new setting–to break the audience in easy–to engage them. Having established credibility, the team branched out to show other cool features and benefits of their new social media strategy.

Today, management uses the Radian6 dashboard as a snapshot of the company. The information helps them direct their energies effectively, and discover new customer and prospect trends.

My Final Thoughts

Radian6 positions themselves as a social media monitor, and I like how they make customer data actionable for their clients by gathering quality data and presenting it simply. This compares with another company I have been learning a bit about, Hubspot, who, as an inbound marketing company, would probably focus more on generating content to build more leads that convert to customers. While in the same space–engaging with customers–the two go about helping their clients connect in very different ways. I am interested, how might your business approached this problem?

Lastly, as a note about social media, I think in the future, as more companies engage their stakeholders online and offline and by so doing increasing transparency, people will look at corporations less like adversaries, and more like for profit communities, or at the very least, people will begin to recognize the human qualities and personas within any given company. Where do you think?

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