Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
8/2/2009
06:09 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: Why CIOs Need The Transformative Power Of Twitter

Twitter is driving significant business value in large organizations, and CIOs can learn how from examples involving PepsiCo, Hyatt, Mayo Clinic, superstar coach John Calipari, and more.

(a) Mayo broke sharply with tradition by reaching out, via Twitter, directly to patients and bypassing journalists. Which of your own traditions are ready to be embalmed in the company museum? (b) Look at the title of the Mayo Clinic manager quoted above: "manager of syndication and social media." Is your organization ready for such new roles and responsibilities? (c) The article describes the move as "an unconventional perspective," and too many companies today let convention constrain their thinking. CIOs today can't afford such limited thinking, and Twitter can help break through the fog.

2) PepsiCo: Check out this quotation from a Pepsi manager: "Consumers own the brands as much as we do, and they want to share their interests and likes," says Bonin Bough, director of social and emerging media for PepsiCo. "Twitter is the only medium where we can have a two-way continuous dialog about the brand."

These Tweeters are volunteering to be part of your field-marketing and evangelist teams -- why would any company in any industry not want to enlist them?? Here are two pieces of such feedback from the field that were posted to the "@Pepsi" Twitter feed over the weekend:

queenanthai @pepsi You know how your store locator lists #Throwback as available at the Winn-Dixie on Tchoupitoulas in New Orleans? Not anymore. HOARDED about 19 hours ago from web

justajester wish @pepsi would come up with sthin simlar whn Tlkar Retires. 100 times more impact on India than MJ had on US. http://tinyurl.com/2rvj8l 1 day ago from TwitterFox

In the first one, we've got a Tweeter telling Pepsi three important things: First, she's using the "Store Locator" feature on the Pepsi Web site; second, its highly promoted new "Throwback" beverage is out of stock at a particular location; and third, this particular customer loves it and has "HOARDED" it. She's a huge fan and she's telling Pepsi she's a huge fan and otherwise Pepsi would never have known that. So now Pepsi can ask "Queenanthai" if she'd like to be included in some upcoming promotions, and as that happens isn't it likely she'll spread the good word about how cool Pepsi is?

In the second one, a customer from India is suggesting that Pepsi could benefit in that country by creating a tribute to Indian performer "Tlkar" along the lines of what Pepsi did recently in the U.S. following the death of former Pepsi celebrity Michael Jackson. Now, maybe PepsiCo India was all over this Tlkar promo idea already -- but maybe not.

With such events, Twitter helps Pepsi "move at the speed of culture," says brand director Anamaria Irazabal in the PepsiCo case study on the Twitter site, adding that Pepsi's main focus is to engage with customers:

"Twitter means we can react to something that happens and provide a platform for dialog. That's the key word. It's about engagement and building the relationship. ..."

"We try to gauge the overall tone and type of problem," says Josh Karpf, manager of social and emerging media for PepsiCo. If somebody doesn't like a piece of advertising, the company accepts that. But if a person has had a problem with a product or is attacking the company in some way, Pepsi has a process in place to resolve the issue directly. The company responds once in public, and if the person stays negative, they switch to DM [Direct Message, a one-to-one Twitter feature] and then to e-mail or phone if needed. Internally, a cross-functional team can help solve problems.

"When we respond quickly," says Irazabal, "people give us kudos."

3) Teusner Wines: Twitter has helped Teusner Wines tell the world about its products, let customers connect with each other, and given Teusner's Dave Brookes a chance to build direct relationships with customers he would otherwise never have known existed:

"It's not about trying to sell your product, but more building relationships with customers and potential customers," says Brookes in a case study on a brand-new portion of the Twitter site that's aimed at helping businesses adopt the microblogging platform.

Once Brookes had a feel for Twitter, he began reaching out to people talking about Teusner wines. When he finds them, he sends a friendly message. "We say, 'Thanks for trying the wines, we're really glad you've tasted them. G'day.' They're really surprised, and they're happy to hear from us," the case study says.

Since Brookes started using Twitter, the winery has seen increases in tours of its facilities, Web site traffic, and inquiries from the U.S. and Canada about which stores and restaurants carry Teusner wines (the winery's not allowed to sell directly to individuals outside Australia due to shipping restrictions).

4) Major League Baseball: Twitter lets fans watching MLB.tv or using MLB.com to interlace with other fans, either regular civilians or specially designated "insiders" from each team's official Twitter account or fan blog, says CNET.

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