I Won A MacBook In A Digital Life Competition!

October 8, 2007

Recently, Patricia and I took part in a blogging competition organised by IBM and Digital Life of the Straits Times! Topic was on how social computing tools can be used to benefit organisations and businesses. And yours truly won 1st prize in the inter-organisation category whereby the prize was a freakin Apple Macbook! And Patricia won 2nd prize in the intra-organisation category which was a Nokie E90 comunicator though it was eventually changed to a Sony Ericsson P1i due to availability issues.

Ok I know this is long overdue, as the contest results were announced last last week. But pardon me as I’ve been really busy recently (yah yah excuses again). I made a resolution (or should I say goal) to blog at least thrice a week. So pls bear with me.

But anyway, we were really ecstatic over our truimph in the blogging competition and more importantly our acquisitions! (who wouldn’t!) To think it was only a last minute decision to take part as I had 3 tests to study for the following week so was really tight for time. Nonetheless, I asked Patricia if we should take part and she said why not. So we collaborated and came out with two entries, one in the inter-organisation category and one in the intra-organisaton category.

It took us around 3 hours to complete the two entries and we’ve visualized it, believed and received our miracle. (all glory to the Lord) We just feel so blessed and favoured!

Shall post my winning entry over here for everyone to see and critique!

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It’s a given fact that people are spending more time on the Internet searching for information they need. They search for information about the product that they need; the company that they intend to invest in; the organizational culture of a company that they intend to work for and a company’s credentials, track records of projects and accomplishments when searching for reliable service and product providers. Companies are always looking for cost-efficient mediums to share such information and connect with people. What better way to do so than through the use of blogs, online social networks and other social computing tools.

Business blogs are certainly a great way for companies to share information about the organisation’s portfolio, list of products and pricings. Blogs are easily set up using blogging platforms rampantly available online and organizations can choose to set up public or private blogs depending on the purpose of it.

For instance, the purpose of the blog can be to share with people (i.e. Consumers, Investors) its product development plans, presentation of possible offers and the appeal of them and new product concepts or marketing ideas. Given that there are many online widgets available, organisations can easily conduct polls too. They can upload images or videos into the blog for concept testing. By creating such content rich blogs for such purposes, companies can quickly create for themselves a community which they can test ideas on, get feedback and criticisms from and discuss between their customers.

Other than blogs, forums are popular amongst internet users because it allows them to interact and provide feedback and comments about a product, topic or area of interest. People can also freely express opinions and discuss specific questions and offer help to one another. Feedback on forums is also almost instantaneous and the insights from the consumer-to-consumer conversations and how they compare with other products on the market are priceless for organisations that thrive on satisfying consumer needs.

Organisations can set up forums for their current and would-be consumers to exchange user experiences with one another, and for past consumers to have an avenue to give their criticisms and suggestions on how to improve the company products, services etc. In addition, surveys can also be posted through the forum which can be carried out using a threaded discussion.

Both blog reading and participating in forum discussion have become the most popular pastimes of the online community because the informality in writing makes content easy to read and enables readers to connect more personally to ideas, information and suggestions that are offered on both the blog and forum. And traffic and readership is targeted, meaning to say that people who are reading them are definitely interested in the company, its products and services and even providing their two-cents worth. 

Another social computing tool which should be utilized once companies have set up their own business blogs is the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. RSS feeds automatically update whenever the business blog is updated. Readers can get first hand notification of blog updates when they log in to their RSS readers and will know all about your company activities, ideas, launches etc. For people who do not subscribe to RSS feeds, companies can enable email notifications on the blog where updates get emailed directly to your customers email inbox. Annoucements and news can then be quickly spread through these two mediums. RSS Other popular social computing tools include real time communication tools such as live chat and video conferencing tools and companies can make use of it to provide personal assistance online. It can build up consumers’ trust and increases the company’s credibility. It can shorten customer service queues and make convenient for consumers who have trivial matters to settle such as queries.
Companies can provide a tagging service through their site where tagging is a social computing tool that companies can utilize and they can enable consumers to easily share data with one another by tagging interesting documents, reviews, product photos or music and it makes it easier for them to search for such data.  

Given the rise of Facebook and Myspace, it’s no wonder why companies are wondering how to apply the idea of social networking to their businesses. One thing is for sure, and that is it allows companies to connect with customers and members and communicate to people beyond their organization. Social networks by nature grow virally and when consumers join as members, invite their friends to join, view interesting reads and grow their own online networks, companies or businesses benefit because many more viewers know of your company name and brand. This increase in consumers’ awareness of the company will in turn mean increase in sales which in turn can bring about an increase in revenue. Moreover, a social network will be a site where the company can provide all the pieces needed to meet a customer’s entire need.
For instance, a computer manufacturing company can aid not only in the process of buying a computer but also provide an entire social network of other complementary service providers, such as anti virus software companies, companies selling computer educational learning programs and computer accessories etc. It increases consumer satisfaction as they are able to fully help meet a customer’s need.
Besides, in the social network, consumers are able to view the basic profiles of employees inside the company, their individual experiences, location and interests. This can greatly reduce the time required to find a person who has attended to the consumer before. Basic customer service can also be provided in the network because customers can connect with experts in an organization who have deep knowledge in a particular area. It also facilitates the creation of strong communities and relationship amongst consumers and employees.
Furthermore, the social network can reduce customer service costs and maintain customer data because consumer profiles can help keep track of your consumers’ data such as their likes and dislikes, favorite movies, books, music, websites, activities and more.

Also, the more the time the consumer spends on the social network created by the company, viewing the company or brand name and marketing message, the more likely they are to utilize company services and participate in activities organized by the company. Also, after consumers create profiles and add their friends and journals to the company’s social networking site, they will remain with your network because they have established their social base there. In such a way, the network helps retain customers and encourages branding activities.

Differentiation from competitors will be easier because the social network can enable a customer to easily identify his or her areas of commonality with the company and to have some sort of assurance that the organisation will understand his/her interests etc and in turn, provide the type of product or service that the he/she expects and supports.This enables organizations to stand out more prominently in the marketplace because not all companies/businesses will set up a social network for their consumers and by doing so, will help you to connect your consumers to you and make them repeat customers.

The use of the Internet and the various social computing tools have allowed greater variety within industries and can be organisations’ applications of such tools can determine the point of difference between their competitors and them. It is important for them to realize the huge potential of using the Internet and specifically, social computing tools as a platform for them to manage their business relationships with others in just a short period of time without much costs and effort!

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Comments

One Response to “I Won A MacBook In A Digital Life Competition!”

  1. Kindaichi on October 10th, 2007 12:19 am

    Congratulations !

    You last minute can write all these and then win the first and your friend second prize.

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